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Nimue's Grotto

To be, or not to be, a Monster

by Ryan Hale

The Supreme Council of Monsters sat at the dimly lit Grand Table with expressionless faces. The situation was grave and every member knew it. For over a thousand years the Supreme Council had safe guarded the 4th Realm. Through generations of turmoil, civil war and political change they had maintained the peace and now that stonewalled fortress of a realm had become a house of cards.

They looked around at each other and none wanted to admit the truth. They weren't the same caliber of leaders as the generation before them. Who knew where it had gone wrong and what their parents had done to them to make them this way. Maybe it was the cell phones. Maybe it was the Wi-Fi. Maybe it was the "every little monster gets a trophy" trend. They didn't know what had caused it. But they all knew it wasn't their fault. They were just products of their environments and they hadn't created that so...

It wasn't like they had inherited all that great of a realm anyway. They had been left with budget challenges. Their parents hadn't left them very much extra in the coffers and the download speeds were terrible. Every one of them had experienced the excruciating pain endured by viewing a streaming video that buffered. Sometimes more than once in a week.

Life had gotten hard around the Realm. 10% of the monsters had side jobs because the low coffers had reduced the stipends. Electronics were starting to get hard to come by. Sure they all had cells and laptops but they didn't all have tablets. And some of the younger ones only had a single next gen gaming system. All this strife and turmoil had of course shattered the foundations of the 4th Realm, and now this.

Like an earthen dam that had sprung a small leak, this didn't appear to be a big deal. But it would grow. It would erode away everything it touched and claw with its fluid fingers until it ripped out the heart of the fortress wall. Meaning, the wall was already lost. They were lost.

Two warring factions had caused this but they weren't at war with each other like the Vampires and the Werewolves. A problem like that could be managed successfully, as it had been since the beginning of that little squabble. These two were at war with themselves. At war with the core foundation of Monsterhood itself. They weren't just any faction either. Certainly, they weren't of the Noble class. It wasn't the dragons or the gorgons. But they were of the Killer class and a great many of the lower classes of monsters looked up to them. It wouldn't be long until they followed suit and the warm breath that rode that kiss of death would blow down their house of cards.

The 4th realm would be no more.

Grizz the Killer Bear sat at the Grand Table. He had been Chairman of the Council for a while. He wasn't reelected after his first year though because his two heads could never agree. But they agreed on this point. It was a very bad sign.

Both factions had delegates at the Council meeting with their signed and notarized Writs of Realm Change, Petitions of Name Change, and Surrender of Title forms. They were serious about it too.

Grizz wept in his paws as his old friend Caerby the Killer Rabbit, his high school locker partner, a monster he thought he knew down to his supposedly evil soul, stood before the Council and read the documents for the Killer Rabbit faction. Next up was Pen, leader of the Killer Clowns. He read the documents for his faction in a slow and deliberate manner. By the time he was done there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

They had all the right signatures, there was nothing the Council could do. Their first measure of business when they inherited the Realm was enacting a parliamentary procedure abdicating responsibility for voting. They had done it so they could take a gap year and not have to work. Nobody reminded them to change it though, so it still stood. It was out of their hands and it wasn't their fault.

Afterwards silence filled the Great Hall as the Ex-Killer Clowns and Rabbits lined up at the portal door. One line for each and both in single file. They were calm and subdued, yet they held a glimmer of excitement in their eyes. They knew they were about to turn a page in their life and enter a new world and become new things. The Clowns had just dropped the 'Killer' from their names but the Killer Rabbits rebranded completely and were now calling themselves the 'Bunnies'. This new world wouldn't be so hard. They wouldn't have unrealistic demands placed upon them and they'd be treated kindly.

When the portal door opened Caerby and Pen stepped through and scanned the signs that pointed to the various other worlds. They found what they sought quickly and called to their factions to begin their march. Not a single one looked back as they followed the sign marked Birthday Party.

The portal slammed shut with a deafening thud that reverberated through their hearts as they sat at the Grand Table and wondered what was next. They were rudderless failures responsible for the destruction of all monsters and they knew it.

They didn't know it then but all was not lost. Through all the commotion of those leaving, no one noticed what had entered. A family. One in search of change for their kind because they had tired of their lot in life. A family that had braved the journey under the guidance of a strong leader. A leader that now stood in the corner of the Great Hall and surveyed the Realm he would soon lead back to greatness.

His name was Harry.

Harry the Hamster.

About the Author

Ryan Hale realized his love for writing in the 8th grade, and the value it had in entertaining his peers while annoying his Reading teacher. He enjoys writing short stories because of the lack of commitment implied right from the start. He has three children, all boys, and has taken upon himself the challenge of ensuring his level of maturity, when appropriate in their company, is right on par with theirs. He loves sarcasm nearly as much as irony and lives in the Northeast but hates the cold and thinks it's a stupid personal failure on his part that he doesn't live in Florida.