I had originally planned on having the seventh story in this collection - the one with Say It Ain't So as its theme - focus on Tien's struggles. I wanted the seventh story to be about Tien because Destructivedisk's Tien: Origins had its chapter names based around Say It Ain't So. However, as I was preparing to write the second story in Things Were Better Then, I somehow came across an image of Kuriza from DeadlyChestnut's deviantart. That artist has quite a few very high quality Kuriza pictures. I had not considered Kuriza before as a character I wanted anything to do with - his only appearances are in videogames/non-canon things - so it never made sense to use him in anything. DeadlyChestnut's pictures stirred something in me though. I immediately knew I wanted to write a story about Kuriza. The thing is, Kuriza can conceivably exist in canon, even if all of his appearances are non-canon. If we remove those appearances, he can still exist. Frieza can still have a son. So that's the rationale I used before doing this story. In fact, I was in such a Kuriza mood after browsing DeadlyChestnut's gallery, that I also decided to put Kuriza in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Planet Trade Organization. The chapter I wrote about him in that story is decidedly more comedic than Monster, though it was written at around the same time as this story because I was in such a Kuriza mood.
The picture that stirred the greatest emotion in me is the below picture of Kuriza and third form Frieza. It is beautiful and haunting and elegant. I love it. It's one of my favorite Dragon Ball pictures ever, if not my very favorite. I think it's, at least, top 3 all time. Now, I decided to craft Monster after that picture. I wanted to explain that picture in a story. Of note is that other DeadlyChestnut images from his gallery inspired small aspects of this story and of Kuriza's story in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Planet Trade Organization (more on that on that story's anthology page), but the below picture was the primary inspiration.
This was a spontaneous story. It was not planned like all the other TWBT stories. I didn't meticulously come up with lists in my notebook containing Kuriza. I was in a Kuriza mood in late March when I decided to write this story, as a result of me finding DeadlyChestnut's gallery. I knew if I waited and wrote this story seventh, I would lose that passion at least somewhat. It would be best to write it then and there. This presented me with another problem, since I wished for all of the stories to be released in sequential order. I considered writing Monster, but then not releasing it until the remaining five stories coming before it were done.
Yet, as I'm an impatient person, I decided to just write it. It would be an exception - every other story was supposed to be written in order, and they ultimately were. I am glad that I wrote Monster when I did, because I think my raw enthusiasm for the character and the emotion that the below picture evoked in me comes out in the text. I spent very little time coming up with the plot. I knew that Frieza had told the heroes on Namek that no one had seen his third form before, which left me in a dicey situation with that. The picture, after all, has Frieza looking right at his son in his third form - there's no way Frieza wouldn't know that Kuriza had seen him there. The way I worked around this was to have Kuriza see Frieza in his third form while Frieza doesn't know he's there and then to have Kuriza dream about encountering his father's monstrous form in a dream. This solved all of the problems and allowed for the image portrayed in the picture to exist in canon. I began writing this story on March 22, 2015 at 12:45 am and finished it at 3:19 am of the same day. I think the atmosphere of the late, dark night when I was writing this story aided the tone and descriptions of the scenery of Monster.
The theme color for this story is brown. As seen in the below picture, I had it narrowed down to several colors early on:
All four colors were strong candidates, though black was eventually eliminated because it worked best in the last song. I narrowed it down to brown eventually because of two reasons: one, the music video for "Say It Ain't So" has a brown feel to it (the video is set in a dusty house, reminding me of a quiet little tucked away place full of old mothballs and dust and worn clothes); the second reason is that the opening riff on "Say It Ain't So" is bluesy and rich and purely reminds me of the color brown. When we get into the chorus and stuff, that was more where the red and black colors came through (which is why they were considered), but ultimately, they didn't work as well as brown. Brown is the most cohesive color, thematically, for the song. As it relates to this story, I had fun with the color. It certainly influenced this story taking place at night in the mud. It might not have if I didn't have brown as the theme color. I'm not sure how I would have used the color had I written this story for Tien instead of Kuriza, but I'm glad I ended up using Kuriza because the brownness featured in Monster fits really well with the rest of the story, in my opinion.
Aside from all that, there is little else for me to say. This story resulted in Piccolo being removed from Things Were Better Then (as Tien replaced him in story 5 as a result). It also is an example of me becoming a fan (quite late in my stay on this wiki) of a character whom I have known has existed in the DB universe for quite a while but never really spent much time looking into his character or fanon possibility. Overall, while me seeing the below picture resulted in this story, I think it had a bigger impact on The History of the Decline and Fall of the Planet Trade Organization, as before I had seen that picture, Kuriza wasn't going to be in it, and after I saw the picture, Kuriza was integrated into the plot and will become one of the most important characters in later volumes of that story (but more on that on that story's anthology page). Anyway, the only thing I remember about writing this story was that I was both exhausted and extremely proud of it when I finished it. I was very excited to post it on the wiki, an excitement perhaps only surpassed (in TWBT) by Before Creation Comes Destruction. So let's now get to the commentary of Monster.
|Things Were Better Then|
|Written:||March 16 - March 22, 2015|
|Released:||March 22, 2015|
|Theme song:||Say It Ain't So|
|Things Were Better Then track listing|
Kuriza hadn’t meant to go looking for monsters. He hadn’t meant to get out of bed and step outside, where the rain was falling hard and his breath was misting in quick puffs in front of his face. But he couldn’t sleep. Kuriza couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Ahead, between endless rows of Planet Trade Organization dormitories, the streets had turned to mud, overrun with rainwater in torrents and puddles. For a moment, Kuriza wanted nothing more than to run out there and jump in them and shout and throw mud at everything and nothing together. But he couldn’t.
Lingon, Kuriza’s guard, stood just outside his room with his back to the door. His skin was as dark as the mud in the streets, and though he was a stupid slave, he had sharp eyes. Kuriza feared Lingon would tell Lord Frieza that his son had snuck out again and stayed up all night - that is, if the man caught him. That would get Kuriza in a load of trouble. The boy’s heart quickened with the pitter patter of the rain. He wouldn’t let that happen.
Frieza’s son stayed with the shadows as he moved around Lingon. He movements were fluid and precise, like the falling rain, and soon he was lost amongst neverending streams of droplets. Once Kuriza made it around the first corner, Lingon could no longer see him, so the boy began to run down the street with quiet glee. Lightning flashed; Kuriza jumped with a burst of freedom; he smelled the mud and felt the rain on him. His body was drenched. It was all so real. Yet it wasn’t cold. Kuriza couldn’t feel what he didn’t think about.
The boy was careful to keep out of eyeshot of the other guards he knew patrolled the other dormitories. They were no better than Lingon, and they wouldn’t be able to spot him in the rainstorm if he didn’t make too much noise. Kuriza began to run again, his arms thrust behind him, the wind-rain in his face. He closed his eyes and let the storm carry him onward.
Where he came to a stop, covered in mud and glee, Kuriza saw a larger building - his father’s personal compound. They were only staying on this planet for a fortnight, so his father’s palace hadn’t been built from scratch - it was just an old warehouse left by the last outpost to occupy the planet before the dreaded space-badger infestation of the 701 Age had wiped everyone out. Only now was the Planet Trade Organization beginning to repopulate the planet, licking its wounds and starting over. Surely, Kuriza’s father wasn’t pleased with where he was staying. But he couldn’t do anything about that. Palaces don’t grow on trees after all.
Guards lined the front of the building, though Kuriza knew they were nothing more than formalities; his father did not need them. Frieza didn’t fear a single person in the universe. In truth, Kuriza didn’t either - except for the monsters that haunted his dreams.
“They feed on little boys and girls who stay up past their bedtimes,” his father had warned him as he had tucked Kuriza into bed that night. “Giant, ghastly things with sharp teeth and long, bony arms to grab with out from the darkness! Ho ho ho!” Frieza had chuckled, his face going red as the humor got to him.
“Bu… but, I’m stronger than most children. I bet the monsters are afraid of me! My father’s the strongest warrior in the universe, after all!” Kuriza had protested.
“Ho ho ho! Scared? Scared?! No, no, no! They’re starving, Kuriza. Hungry for your flesh. They will eat you as easily as they will any other child.” Frieza had pointed his finger at Kuriza then even as his son’s eyes had widened in horror and his tail had begun to tremble. “I don’t want you staying up too late ever again, do you hear me?! You are my son, Kuriza. You will obey my orders, or you will be punished. The emperor of the universe does not suffer insolence from anyone, not even his son.”
Frieza had went to leave when Kuriza had decided to press the issue: “But father, c-can the monsters sneak into my room and eat me while I’m sleeping?”
Frieza had grinned. “Only if they know you’ve been naughty. What do you think happened to your older brother? He would stay up all night, disregarding his father’s rules, and play around and wander the streets until the sun came up. He had not a care in the world. But he disrespected his father and brought shame upon his family’s name. So one night, a particularly hungry monster came and snatched him up.”
Kuriza hadn’t known he’d even had a brother. He wanted to ask his father about him - what was his name and what was he like? - but fear had kept Kuriza’s voice trapped in his throat. For a long while after, he stayed in bed, hiding from the dark images in his mind until he could bear it no longer. Anything was better than that. He didn’t want to think about the monsters eating him. He didn’t want to be scared anymore. So he went outside to clear his mind. And maybe he would find a monster out there, or maybe one would find him, but ever since Kuriza had come outside, a bold happiness had coated him like an aura and prevented the cold from getting in again. Now that he was deliriously sleepy, he was ready for them.
There was a feral space-badger with dark spotted fur digging in the trash bins behind his father’s makeshift palace. Kuriza threw a bit of mud at it and it scampered off. The boy laughed and chased the thing for a while until he slid into a puddle and lost the thing in the grey night. For a while, Kuriza sat in that puddle, letting the rain pound down upon him. On the one side was the darkness, and on the other, a large window peeking into the palace of the emperor. Kuriza stared out into the darkness and dared it to come at him.
“If there’s a monster out there, come and get me! I bet I can kill you!” he taunted. He was too tired to really understand what he was saying, yet he didn’t care.
Then, a light flickered on to his left, and Kuriza jumped up. He saw it coming from a room inside his father’s palace, and the boy ran up to the wall to peer inside. There was his father, pacing back and forth, talking to someone on his scouter. Kuriza couldn’t hear what his father was talking about over the pounding of rain, but he could tell Frieza’s voice was agitated, almost infuriated. Soon, Frieza began to yell at his scouter. He ripped it off his head and brought it around to his face, screaming and spitting into its microphone, his face burning red again. But there was no humor this time.
The only words Kuriza could make out were ‘father!’ and ‘not fair… Cooler has more…!’ but the rest was just noise to the poor boy. He felt anxious watching his father and for a moment, he felt the cold of the storm on his pale flesh. His tail twitched unconsciously.
Then, Frieza screamed and looked in Kuriza’s direction. The boy thought his father had seen him, so he ducked out of sight. When nothing happened, the boy lifted his head again just in time to see Frieza throw his scouter with such force that it left a huge crater in the side of the far wall. Frieza screamed again, and then a bright light covered his body and then the entire room, and it was all Kuriza knew.
When the light faded, after a time, there stood in that room not the boy’s father, but something different - something hideous and evil and scary - something new.
“Monster…” Kuriza muttered thoughtlessly. He knew the being that stood before him was Frieza, but it was not his father, not the father he knew and loved. Frieza’s head had become elongated and sharp, with spikes growing from the sides of his face. His body was longer, bulkier, and covered in spikes, too. His arms and legs had grown so that he stood much taller than he had before. “Monster…” Kuriza said again, this time thinking it through. He realized his father’s transformation looked much like the monsters he had described to Kuriza that very night.
Frieza was ranting to himself, throwing things, and kicking things, but he did not notice his son. Kuriza was completely shocked upon seeing this - he hadn’t known his father could change into a scary monster at will. Did that mean he had eaten his last son for staying up late? Did that mean he was coming for Kuriza? Did he know his son was outside the window?
Panic hit Kuriza like needling raindrops and he felt his entire body quivering with fear. The thought of being eaten, being taken, came to him again, and he regretted his previous boast. Exhaustion had made him stupid, and that made him ashamed. Kuriza felt small and helpless; he felt like a monster was watching him. He ran.
He fell. The boy had tested his luck in the best of times and now the mud was slicker and the water puddles deeper, and he was not ready. He fell face-first into the slush and felt his nose scrape against a pointed rock. Kuriza let out a little whimper and rolled over, feeling his raw nose. The brown sky above him was shooting fierce daggers at him. Blood was on his fingers for a moment, and then it was all washed away and the boy was on his feet again running back home. He didn’t have time to think.
It felt as if he was drowning in the flood, unable to escape. No matter how far he ran, Kuriza knew monsters pursued him, waiting to feast upon his bones. He was too small to escape them, too stupid for challenging them. They would never stop hunting him.
Then he saw Lingon ahead and Kuriza let out a cry of hope. He waved his hands above his head through the storming rain and the soldier saw him. Relieved, Kuriza rushed up to him and hugged Lingon, sobbing profusely.
“Lord Kuriza?” the squat-faced alien asked, puzzled. He turned around to look at the door to the room behind him. “How’d you get out here?”
“I-I snuck out!” Kuriza cried. “I’m so sorry! Please, the monsters are chasing me! Help!”
“Monsters? What monsters?!”
Not looking up, Kuriza pointed behind him into swirling darkness and sobbed. “They’re out there! They’re going to eat me!”
Lingon laughed nervously and picked Kuriza up, cradling the boy in his arms. Patting the little lord on the head, Lingon opened the door and walked into the boy’s room. “Now now master Kuriza, there ain’t no monsters out there. Monsters is fake. They don’t exist.”
“But I saw one!” Kuriza shouted, not wanting to specify which monster he had seen.
Lingon shook his head and set Kuriza down. “Your eyes must’ve been playin’ tricks, sir. There’s nothin’ out there. Come on, let’s get you cleaned off before you go to bed.”
Lingon found a towel in the bathroom and began wiping the mud and water and fear from young Kuriza’s body. “Yo-you won’t tell father, will you?” Kuriza asked with a shiver.
The alien shook his head. “No sir. I’m here to protect you, master Kuriza. Ain’t no monsters, real or fake, gonna get you, s’long as I’m around. I promise you that.”
And that helped, a little. But then, a thought returned to Kuriza that he had tried to run from - that single thought that had scared him half to death before: He was his father’s son. The same blood ran through Kuriza’s and Frieza’s veins. So what did that make him? Was he no better than those predators hiding in the shadows? Was he one of them?
Lightning danced across the sky in his dreams. The rain was not so bad now that he was asleep. He stood silently, heroically, in the midst of the storm. They were watching him, but he wouldn’t let them see him afraid. He wasn’t afraid. He was swimming through the sky, dodging rain drops. He was free. It was as perfect as could be. He was happy, for once. His nose was bleeding again, but still he kept grinning.
Then, another golden bolt impacted the cloud-ridden sky and he saw his father hovering in the air in front of him, anger and disappointment clinging eagerly to his lips. “The emperor of the universe does not suffer insolence from anyone, not even his son,” his father whispered.
His father charged up a death beam and shot him with it. The boy felt the pain shoot through his throat as he fell from the sky, spinning end over end, seeing nothing but grey and brown and darkness. But when he landed, the boy found the darkness to be not so complete - shapes of varied jagged and menacing shapes moved about on the edge of sight just fast enough that he couldn’t get a good enough look at them before they were gone. But he knew they were there. The boy stood up and the rain came harder still. His tail was shivering and he couldn’t control it. He was so tired, so cold. They were going to eat him, he realized, and there was nothing he could do about it. He wanted to scream but there was no one to scream for.
And then from the blackness ahead came a beast so wretched it took the breath from the boy’s lungs. Tall and grotesque was its shape, its horned, stout body composed of white and pink. He knew what it was, and he didn’t. The boy trembled and cried. He took a step back, but the creature was on him, the face on its elongated head studying him with a desperate, hungry look. He waited for it to make its move. All it did was smile.
Thunder boomed. The monster’s teeth were unbelievably white up close. The boy stared into its eyes and felt something he could not explain pang through his heart. And then everything else was forgotten - the monsters, the cold, the anxiety. The sounds and smells of the storm evaporated. It was just the boy and the creature. A calm washed over the boy then, as instinct took him. He placed his hands on the creature’s face and studied it. He knew that face. It knew him.
Its head was as big as the boy. It could swallow him in an instant. Yet, he did not panic. “You’re a monster. You’ve come to eat me,” he said matter-of-factly. Somehow, he was not scared of it anymore.
“Aren’t we all?” it replied in a booming voice.
He stared into the creature’s red eyes. Rain poured down the boy’s face and his white-and-red body, but he did not feel it. “I know what you are,” the boy stated after a while and then let go of the creature. His green eyes rippled like puddles that had been jumped into. The boy looked over his hands, arms, and lower body. The same blood coursed through both of them. He and the monster were One.
He pointed at the fearsome thing defiantly. “I know what I am too.”
Like father, like son, Kuriza understood. Still, that did little to quench the weariness that tugged so relentlessly at his beating heart.
- I named this story "Monster" because the monster that Kuriza sees in this story - Frieza in his third form - scares the boy really bad. He begins to question if he is a monster too, as he has his father's blood in him. I also included the story about Kuriza's older brother getting eaten by a monster to add another layer to this meaning. Additionally, it's not too radically to suggest that Frieza is actually a monster - though more because of his actions and not so much because of his appearance. This idea of what makes one a monster is played with throughout the story as is Kuriza's quest to find out if he is a monster too. Of course, Kuriza is fearful of superficially becoming a monster (by transforming physically), with only a few subtle hints that he understands the more serious psychological and emotional meanings behind the word. He seems to fear those in the last few words of the story, enriching his character but also leaving the story to end in ambiguity.
- I wrote the first line of this story on March 16, 2015 on a sheet of paper at school. That is why on the template, it says this story was written from March 16 - 22, 2015. Everything else, aside from that opening sentence, was written on March 22, 2015. I wanted to do something different than I had done with the other stories. I wanted the first sentence to really lead into the entire story and give a good indication of the themes from the get-go. This kind of direct opening sentence is something I had not done so much in previous one-shots of mine, so it was a conscious effort on my part to try something new.
- The idea of Kuriza wanting to play in the rain was inspired by the Sigur Rós song, Hoppípolla. Kuriza had a reckless innocence about him that I wanted to explore in this story, and that song was a major inspiration for that character consideration.
- Kuriza not being able to sleep is based on my own inability to sleep sometimes, particularly when I was writing this story (I had planned to go to bed before writing it, but ended up staying awake until past 3 am to finish this story since I couldn't get to sleep).
- Lingon's name is a pun on Lingonberry, a type of berry I had eaten on a sandwich a few days before writing this story.
- Lingon's skin is brown because that is the theme color for this story.
- The idea of the mud being highly symbolic came naturally to me in this story, since Monster's theme color is brown. The mud is mentioned so much because of this, and it has several meanings that the readers can interpret and discern for themselves.
- The sky is dark and swirling with rain and lightning in this story, emblematic of the struggle throughout of Kuriza trying to figure out if he is truly a monster.
- All of the TWBT stories have a turn in them. For this one, the turn happens when Kuriza sees Frieza's third form. Before that, he's carefree and wild and happy - again, influenced by Hoppípolla, but also to set up his change of emotions after seeing his father. By providing this contrast early, I hoped to have the turn be emotionally resonant and palpable.
- The way Kuriza runs is based on how Sonic the Hedgehog runs.
- What is interesting to note is that Kuriza is playing in a storm - literally and figuratively. This was no accident on my part. I wrote the storm to have multiple meanings.
- Continuing on the above point, Kuriza doesn't feel the cold of the storm because he's so intoxicated with excitement at this point.
- The backstory of this planet was fun to come up with, as it expands on my own DB universe specifically. I like using space-badgers when I can, and coming up with planet histories is also something I like doing, so the planet's backstory was a win-win.
- As mentioned above, the story of the monsters that Kuriza remembers Frieza telling him was added in to reinforce the varying multi-layered themes about monsters in this story.
- It's lightly implied in this story that Kuriza did not have an older brother; Frieza probably made the story up merely to frighten his son. This reveals a lot about Frieza's character - he's lazy and weak. He doesn't know how to parent aside from using fear (which is how he operates the Planet Trade Organization as well), and this, in turn, heavily damages Kuriza's psyche.
- Frieza telling Kuriza about monsters before Kuriza goes to bed also foreshadows the second section of this story. It's implied that Frieza oft tells his child tales before bed that give him nightmares. Thus, him being unable to sleep is a result of the fear his father has put in his head. This fear poisons much of Kuriza's thoughts in this story.
- "He didn’t want to be scared anymore." - this is such a crucial, sad line. I think this aptly explains all of Kuriza's actions in this story - why he wants to go out and play in the storm, why he runs from his father, why he needs Lingon to console him, and why he feels so melancholic at the end of the dream.
- I find I am at my boldest when I am deliriously sleepy, which is why I had the same happen to Kuriza.
- The space-badger is a vestige of the old space-badger revolt decades earlier. Its brown fur alludes to the story's theme color. Of course, why I put this space-badger in the story has to do with the theme on the monsters and the old history, but it's up to the readers to come to their own conclusion about what it means specifically.
- Kuriza's boldness contrasts Goku's innocence in the previous TWBT story. Both are happy little boys at first. To draw a distinction, Kuriza is far more arrogant and bold and reckless (like his father, if you notice). Him calling on the monsters in that rainstorm is something a madman or someone incredibly naive would do. Perhaps Kuriza is both of those things.
- Frieza is complaining to his father about the number of planets he has in comparison to Cooler. This could be gleaned from the text, but it's best to say it here.
- The whole point of getting Frieza angry was to have him transform. As I stated in the opening monologue, Frieza stated in canon that no one had seen his third form before. That meant that the picture DeadlyChestnut made can't exist in canon. And I never intended it to. Canon must be followed. So to get around this, I had Kuriza accidentally see the transformation so that he could later dream about it. The dream is not reality, so the real Frieza (in his third form) never sees Kuriza. Also note that I've been building up to Kuriza seeing a monster in his dreams from the get-go, and this is just another moment of build-up for that.
- Kuriza feeling the cold of the storm for the first time hints that seeing his father distressed also distresses him greatly.
- One of my favorite moments of Monster is Kuriza's gut reaction to seeing his father's transformation. He calls Frieza a monster without even thinking. Even Frieza's own son can see what he's become (physically), while we, the readers, know how that parallels what Frieza is (figuratively).
- It is interesting to note that Frieza looks like the monsters he described to his son in the remembered story. This was probably an unconscious move by Frieza, further highlighting how fake that story about Kuriza's older brother was.
- After Kuriza starts feeling fear after seeing his father, I made a conscious effort to make the prose full of suspense and emotion, more so than what was seen in the prose up to that point.
- Kuriza calling the sky brown again references the theme color of this story and also shows how the sky's muddy look is related to Kuriza's emotional state. He's conflicted and scared and doesn't know what to do, and that is reflected in the sky.
- Kuriza gets a nosebleed to reference Hoppípolla, which has some lyrics about dancing in a puddle with a bloody nose.
- "It felt as if he was drowning in the flood, unable to escape." - this line is a reference to a lyric from "Say It Ain't So", which is this story's theme song.
- Kuriza is obviously paranoid; no monsters are really pursuing him. However, there is enough doubt from his point-of-view that maybe there are actually some creatures pursuing him, but probably not.
- "They would never stop hunting him. " - this line is a reference to a quote about the Nazgul in The Lord of the Rings.
- "“But I saw one!” Kuriza shouted, not wanting to specify which monster he had seen." - I love this line because it shows the family pride Kuriza has in him, even in his extreme fear and paranoia. It's also rather ironic.
- Lingon functions sort of as a father figure to Kuriza, providing him the emotional support Frieza refuses to provide. However, he's not very smart, so he doesn't fit the role of a father figure completely. This is shown with the reassurances that Lingon gives Kuriza - they are alright, but they don't help the boy that much. Still, Lingon's presence is far better than having no one there at all to comfort the little prince.
- The ending realization that Kuriza is his father's son and thus has the monster's blood in him chills the boy to the bone. He is so scared of monsters that when he realizes he may be one, that makes him even more scared. This of course influences his second section. His dream-thoughts are pretty much all about this single notion introduced in the last paragraph of the first section.
- I love writing dream sections. I've done it multiple times, particularly for stories not published on this site. I like having swirling blackness and figures on the edge of sight. These were influenced by similar figures I had in a story I wrote about the death of Icarus, where he was underwater in an alien world of deep sea monsters and angels. In this story, it's never made clear who the figures on the edge of sight are, but they are probably people from Kuriza's memory, such as Lingon.
- "His nose was bleeding again, but still he kept grinning. " - This line references both Hoppípolla and Glory.
- The pain shooting through Kuriza's throat can superficially be because of the death beam, but it is more likely that it is intense fear that is welling up inside of him.
- Some of the descriptions of the darkness not being so complete are based on a paragraph from The City & the City by China Miéville. It's the start of third section of the book. I will talk about this more in the anthology of A Soundless Dark, as that paragraph is more important to that story, but as it relates to Monster, the incomplete darkness also occurs in that paragraph. It's a dream-like sequence with the incomplete darkness and shapes shooting in and out of sight calling to the protagonist. I wanted to evoke the same kind of surreality in this story, so I had the darkness be not so complete. On a thematic level, this is also me showing how things aren't black and white - there is a lot more grey than anything else.
- "He knew what it was, and he didn’t." - I have several lines like this across Things Were Better Then. The duality of truth and falsity is always a fun dynamic for me to explore. The way that two overlap and sometimes don't seem so binary is also interesting to explore.
- The fifth paragraph of the second section is where the picture by DeadlyChestnut would fit into the story.
- I referenced the One and the Other in Glory, and I reference it here too. Notice how I referenced the Other specifically in Glory, while I mentioned the One specifically in Monster.
- Kuriza gets calmer as the second scene goes on, which defies what is expected. He begins to come to a realization about him, relating to his father and to monsters. His declaration at the end of "I know what I am" is his character arc reaching its climax.
- The story ends with, "Like father, like son, Kuriza understood. Still, that did little to quench the weariness that tugged so relentlessly at his beating heart." - These lines leave story in an ambiguous place. Kuriza seems to have accepted his role as a monster (although the opposite could be argued), but the weariness that is tugging at his heart is more than that. It's him realizing that his relationship with his father is more complicated than he wants to admit, and that there is pain in his life he doesn't want to face. The last sentence hints that Kuriza is still extremely afraid, though perhaps not of nameless monsters in the dark, but of one who has revealed himself and who cannot be vanquished by anyone Kuriza knows. It could even relate to him knowing he must accept that he a monster too, which is a melancholy ending, surely. Of course, all these revelations must occur in the dream, since Kuriza is so naive otherwise. His subconscious is working overtime.
I enjoyed writing this story and reading it over for this anthology. It certainly has a lot of complex themes and symbols and lush, elegant prose that elevates it above Glory, I think. There is a lot of subtlety too. I don't specifically resolve if Kuriza is okay with his father becoming a monster, and that knowledge affects him in an ambiguous enough way that the readers can make their own interpretations about how Kuriza dealt with the monster fiasco, but he still has a complete character arc in this short one-shot. The parallel between figurative and literal language was also fun to write, and the setting and characters I used were all exactly how I wanted them. Lingon especially is a nice minor character, and Frieza is too, despite not really being around much (yet he dominates the entire story with his ominous implied presence). The dream sequence at the end is poetry; the prose there is quite excellent, I think. I don't really have anything I don't like about this story. I think it was a skillfully-written insight into Kuriza, a rarely-written-about character, with a cool picture that inspired it, and a nice theme song to compliment it. Overall, I'd give Monster an S-.
<---- Part 44
Part 46 ---->