Conceptfan's Shorts


No.5 - "Beautiful Monster"




AUTHOR'S NOTE: All of my stories have been written for an exclusively adult audience. They contain descriptions of violence, some of it of a sexual nature. They also include other sexually explicit depictions. They are in no way suitable for minors. Furthermore it is against the law in many parts of the world for this type of material to be read, either by minors or by minors and adults. Please make sure you are not acting contrary to local legislation before reading on and please do not read any further if you find this type of material offensive in any way. This is a work of fiction and any similarity between the characters and events depicted and any people/events in real-life, past or present, is purely co-incidence. A number of the characters and events portrayed are inspired by, or based upon, existing works of fiction. Although I have made every effort to keep plagiarism to a minimum, I must acknowledge a debt of thanks to the many artists and writers who have shared their talents with the public. I've released my stories to the public domain to make sure that as many people as possible who share my interest in this type of fiction can enjoy them. Please feel free to re-distribute them by whatever means you like, provided you respect the following points: (1) The stories will be re-distributed exactly as they are - unchanged and unedited. (2) No other person will claim authorship of any of these stories or any part of them. (3) The stories will not be distributed for profit, either on their own or as part of a group of other works. Lastly, thank you for your interest in this story. I hope you enjoy it!



20th March 1833.

At last!   My years of painstaking research in the vaults of the world's archaeological museums and libraries has come to fruition.  I have finally gathered enough evidence to justify an expedition deep into the jungle.  For so long, I have been the subject of my fellow experts' derision, but now it is my turn to laugh at them.  The fools!  They said the original document I discovered a decade ago was a fake.  Then, when I challenged them to prove their lies, they announced that I had mistranslated the text.  Even when a dozen linguists agreed with my findings, they claimed that what I had discovered were nothing more than the writings of some ancient lunatic.  But soon, my mockers will be silenced.

Now, I hold in my possession no fewer than a dozen ancient artefacts, gathered from the corners of the globe, that show that my original text was anything but the work of a madman.  I am now utterly convinced that the being - the thing - described in the text did once walk the Earth.  No longer do I entertain doubts over the existence of the "beautiful monster" that so terrified the author of the text.

I have located two parchments, found preserved in South American swamp mud, both of which contain descriptions too similar to my original document to be co-incidental.    In a private collection in Lisbon, I discovered an ancient golden statue whose exquisite proportions match those in the three texts.  Carved in the statue's base, the words "Beauty", "Evil", "Deity", "At rest" and "Nearby".  Some papers that were kept with the precious object suggest it was discovered not far from the swamp that had hid the parchments.

A museum in the United States was holding a collection of severely damaged weapons - swords, spear- and arrow- heads - which were recovered from the very same part of the jungle.   The curator believed these battered bits of old metal were proof of the use of highly sophisticated armour around the end of the tenth century.  I believe they are further proof of the existence of the "undamageable one" referred to in my text.   The curator points to the discovery of a huge number of mutilated millennium-old corpses in the region as proof of a major battle around the time I am concerned with.  I am certain this massacre was the work of the "beautiful monster" - a creature whose strength one document compares to the mighty Amazon river itself.

There is also a travelogue - which I have in my possession - written by a European merchant who travelled through the region only two centuries ago (about six hundred years after the creature if my beliefs are correct.)  The merchant speaks of a small temple-like edifice, hidden in the greenery, which housed a sleeping god.  The local inhabitants told the merchant that, before time began, their tribe had been assigned the task of guarding this "resting chamber".  From the description in the European's journal, it is clear that the entire tribe were prepared to sacrifice their lives to prevent the god's repose being disturbed.  I do not know what happened to those people, but I must presume that contact with the "old world" heralded their total destruction.  However, there is no record in any Spanish or Portuguese writings of the time that suggests that the temple was ever discovered or looted.

I believe that those people were, indeed, guarding something.  Increasingly, I am convinced that it is the strange "beautiful monster" and that this creature sleeps to this day, untouched and possibly unseen for a thousand years.  I can only speculate as to whether this being is as human in form as the statue I found suggests.  If the golden sculpture is an accurate likeness, I fully comprehend the ancient scribe's use of the adjective "beautiful".  But as to the other word - "monster" - I am completely ignorant.  Likewise, I can only hazard wild guesses at "deity", "strength of the river", and "undamageable".

It is these unknowns that dictate that I must investigate further.  If I am correct, somewhere in that jungle, there is a link to a ten-centuries-old wonder.   A wonder since unknown anywhere on our world.  I must find the "beautiful monster" that spilled so much blood and determine if it is of human origin.  If it is not, I must determine if it comes from heaven or from that other realm - the world of beasts and eternal pain - or even from another place as yet unknown to Man.  Then, I must revive it from its slumber, tame it and bring it back to Paris so that all society may see that I have been correct all along.

Now I must leave this journal for there is much preparatory work to be done.

 

May 5th 1833.

It would appear that, despite the overwhelming evidence I have now accrued, I stand alone in my belief of the existence of the "beautiful monster".  Not one member of the Institute has been prepared to grant me assistance in my quest and I regret to announce that no support - moral, financial or otherwise - has been forthcoming.  Therefore, faced with the possibility of the mysterious creature remaining dormant and undiscovered for a further millennium, I have taken upon myself the task of mounting the expedition.

To this end, I have found a purchaser willing to part with many thousand francs for my residence and another who has offered an even greater sum for my offices next to the Institute.   Naturally, when news of my desire to sell reached the ears of my colleagues, there were fresh cries of "Madness!".  I long for the day when I return from South America laden not only with untold riches, but also the living breathing proof of my sanity - a being perhaps not even of this world.

But the path I must travel until that day is difficult and generously endowed with pitfalls.  First I must assemble a crew for my journey.  Without the blessing of the Institute, I must draw my men from beyond the ranks of the scientific community.  I have already informed my two most faithful servants - Christophe and Marcel - of my intention for them to accompany me to the jungle.  But it is essential that the ship I will hire to transport us across the ocean is supplied with a working crew for not one of the three of us has any nautical experience.  The remaining required labour must be recruited from amongst the desperate rabble that throngs the establishments of ill-repute next to the docks.

These men will be complimented by a party of native guides whose services I will purchase upon arrival in the New World.  It is to be hoped that the Indians will be able to lead us to a supply of gold or other precious minerals in order for our return journey to be funded as I fear I will only have sufficient wealth for a single sea-journey.   This lack does not concern me, however, as the discovery of the "undamageable one" and its delivery to the Institute will be worth untold fortunes to me.  I go now to begin endeavours aimed at securing a ship to carry my ragged band of explorers.

 

July 15th 1833.

At last it is done!   Our ship sails next Tuesday at dawn and upon its deck when the captain raises the anchor will be myself, Christophe, Marcel and the three men I have persuaded to join our venture - Jean, Philippe and Artur.  This foul-smelling, uneducated trio will be responsible for organising the native guide-party upon our arrival and for any of the other more physical tasks we are likely to encounter.   I pray that these are the men whose brute force will subdue the mysterious "Evil Deity" once I can both locate and awaken it.

Having paid the ship's master half his due as our arrangement calls for, sufficient monies remain to me to clear the rest of my debts upon arrival, but little else.  However, my thoughts now are occupied with the anticipation of the great discovery I will be bringing to the unbelieving world and not to my precarious financial situation.   It is too late now to suffer from a faint heart:  I shall travel to the jungle.  And I shall return with the mythical "beautiful monster" or I shall die in the attempt.

 

August 20th 1833

A black day indeed.  The sickness that has spread through so much of the crew of this creaking vessel has now claimed the life of one of my own men.   I write this having witnessed the diseased body of Philippe being tossed onto the waves.   This sight caused me great pain for the prospect of mounting a successful expedition with only four men at my command is not a welcoming one.  But it is far too late to amend the plans now, and the lure of what awaits us is as powerful as ever.  I only hope we can reach our destination without incurring any further losses.

 

September 8th 1833.

I have arrived in the New World.   The four surviving members of my crew have already unloaded my possessions - a meagre three trunks of clothing and equipment - as well as the two bags containing their own paltry belongings.   The captain of the vessel has been fully paid up, and as soon as I can arrange transport, we will be headed towards the area of the jungle where I believe the secret we seek is hidden.   The weather is beastly warm and I have encountered a fresh setback.   It is difficult to find a translator who speaks French, but I shall not be disheartened.  My quest will be fulfilled.

 

September 14th 1833.

Following our successful two-day struggle to recruit a translator, we have now been upon our feet for half-a-week.   The man I have found is a former seaman from Marseilles who seems to be able to converse with the locals well enough, even if his accent in French is a little provincial for my liking.  His name is Henri.  I have also hired two natives to guide us to the approximate area where, my evidence suggests, the temple of the "beautiful monster" will be found.  The party thus completed, we are, at last, on the way to the heart of the jungle.

Now, more than ever, I am convinced that my quest will be triumphant.  Through the interpreter, my two natives have told me of their reluctance to undertake our journey.  When I heard that a local legend tells of evil spirits living in the region, I pressed the natives for more information.  My heart began pounding in my chest when I heard them speak of a creature as powerful and as beautiful as the mightiest river.   They claimed this creature had caused great pain for their distant ancestors.  After many terrible days, the ancestors had placed a magical curse upon the monster, making it sleep.  But their people still feared that the creature might awaken once more one day.

To extract further information from the two Indians, I offered them each one quarter of a gold coin in exchange.  Delighting in the new-found wealth, they told me of a tribe who protected the evil spirit's resting place.  It was just as the European merchant had written!   I asked what had become of the tribe and the natives explained that diseases and white men had killed them off.

I knew at once that the men were speaking of the very thing I am seeking.  I understood that they were afraid that the arrival of strangers would awaken the slumbering monster.   Despite that being my precise intention, I have kept the matter quite secret from the natives.  Once we have arrived and I have exhausted their local knowledge and heard all the legends that they have to tell, I will inform them of my desire to awaken their "evil spirit" as a means of ridding myself of their company.

 

September 20th 1833.

We are now in the heart of the jungle.  Although as a scientific man, I have never given much credence to such things, I am experiencing the oddest sensation.  It is almost as though I can detect a nearby presence - a force of some nature.  My two natives have also felt it.  Both men immediately started to flee until Jean and Artur restrained them.  The interpreter informed me that the words they were whispering signify: "The spirit is near!  The spirit must not be awoken!   We must leave!"   Despite my offer of a further half gold coin for each man, neither would be calmed until Artur brandished his largest knife and let them see the murderous intent in his eyes.

We have settled for the evening, making camp in a small clearing.  Our meal of fresh meat and fruit was the most enjoyable since we arrived on this continent and I am preparing to take my night's rest.  Tomorrow we begin searching in earnest for the temple.  I am certain that it cannot be far from this very spot.

 

September 21st 1833.

Our two native guides have fled during the darkness!   My men have failed me, for although we had agreed that one of the four of them would always been on watch throughout the night, the entire quartet were soundly asleep as the Indians made their stealthy escape.  As punishment, I have informed them that their wages shall be cut when we return to civilisation.

More immediately, however, we are presently lost in the jungle with no local knowledge to guide us.  I have decided that the search for the temple must be our first priority, as that is the sole reason for our presence here.  The men, albeit with bad grace, have concurred.

 

September 25th 1833.

Four days we have now been searching and nothing have we found.   It is becoming increasingly difficult to ascertain whether we are retracing our own steps or forging new ground.  There has been no sign of the temple I seek, nor of any form of pathway.  In truth it had been a week since my eyes beheld the slightest  indication of human civilisation either present or ancient.  Only the peculiar feeling within us - the sense of a presence - remains to give us any hope.  We must find the "beautiful monster" soon, for I doubt we can survive much longer in these harshest of conditions.

 

September 29th 1833.

It has been more than a week now since we lost our guides and commenced our search for the temple of the "beautiful monster".  The moral of my men grows weaker by the day and I believe that the first rumblings of dissent will soon be heard.  I confess that I, too, grow weary and the lack of the comforts of civilisation bears down hard upon me.  But I will not leave my work for I am as sure as ever that we are close, perhaps very close, to the greatest discovery of our age.

 

October 1st 1833.

The most wonderful day of my life thus far, though tomorrow, no doubt, shall surpass it!  At dusk this evening, we cut our way through some of the densest vegetation we have yet encountered to emerge into a small clearing in the jungle.  As I stepped out through the branches and leaves, the strange feeling of a presence grew ever stronger within me, until I felt as though it would consume me entirely.   Then, I looked up and saw what I have been dreaming of these past ten years.  There, overgrown with centuries of thick, exotic plant life, was  a low, square stone edifice.

Immediately, I knew it was an ancient construction.  Instructing the men to stay away, I slowly approached it, and found myself gasping as the mysterious sensation manifested itself almost as waves of heat from a baker's oven, hitting my body, so it seemed, on the outside as well as the inside.  This was clearly no ordinary building.  Encircling it, I found it boasted no doorways or windows.  It was not designed for the easy entering and leaving of men.  The only feature on the stone I could discern were some worn-away symbols carved into one wall at about the height of my neck.

I called Henri over to study the symbols.  I was hoping that, given his mastery of local dialects, he might have experienced their like before.  Whilst he busied himself with examining the markings, I summoned Jean.  I had the big man stand me upon his shoulders that I might gain enough vantage to view the roof of the structure.  But alas, the roof was solid and featureless with no sign of any opening.  "Who would build a house one could not enter?" I conjectured.  Then, I realised that I had posed the wrong question.  This was not a house no-one could enter.  It was a house no-one could leave.  But who, or rather what, was inside?  Could it be the sleeping "beautiful monster" I seek?

Just then, Henri let out a cry of astonishment.  Dropping down from Jean's sturdy back, I approached the interpreter at an almost undignified fast pace.  "Monsieur," he began in his atrocious brogue, "I believe we may have found your monster!  I cannot believe it.  I thought you were perhaps a little mad -"

I interrupted him.  I have no interest in his opinion of me.  "What have you read, translator?" I demanded.

"Monsieur, " - he was apologetic now - "I cannot recognize all these symbols, but some I do know.  This one -" he pointed to one of the carvings, "-means 'divine being' or 'deity'.  And this one -" he indicated its neighbour, "-is to do with rest or sleep."  My heart was pounding in my ribcage now.  The sense of presence, so peculiar when I had first noticed it, now seeming an obvious effect of standing at that location.

"What else does it say?"

"It is hard to be sure, Monsieur.  These words were written a very long time ago and the language has changed greatly since.  I believe it is some kind of a warning.  It speaks of something 'greater than men', but I cannot be certain."  In truth, that was enough information.  Never have I been more certain of anything.  The object of my quest, the mysterious being, deity, whatever it is that no-one but me believed exists, lies inside that stone structure.

Tomorrow, at dawn, we will take our hammers and chisels in hand and commence creating the doorway that the ancients omitted to design.

 

October 2nd, 1833.

My eyes have seen the creature of the legend!   All these years I have endured countless insults for my belief but all that is a mere detail now.  So long have I wondered as to the appearance of the one described in the ancient works.  I have found, to my shock, that it is the sculpture I located in Portugal that is the most accurate portrayal.  For, far from being a monster or a demon, the creature's beauty surpasses any I have ever encountered.  I understand now the epithet "deity" for surely nothing of this earth could reach the physical perfection that I have observed today.

It took us the entire morning, working with our tools, to create an opening in the wall of the stone house large enough for a man to pass through.  As the last pieces of rock fell away, a fresh, remarkably intense wave of what I now call the "presence sensation" washed over us.  Intrigued by the feeling of getting ever closer to its source, I crawled through the hole without a second thought.

There was just enough light entering behind me as I stood for me to see the entire inner chamber.  No bigger than my study back in Paris, the stone room was cold despite the midday sun, and its walls were devoid of any decorations or markings. Perhaps, a thousand years ago when it was built, something was placed there, but the centuries must have reduced it to dust long before I arrived.  All I saw was the single feature of the interior of the "temple":  a column of what appears to be almost completely transparent amber.  Taller than I by at least a hand span, it is as wide and as circular as a tree trunk.  But it was only as my eyes accustomed themselves to the gloom that I understood that I was in the presence of a thousand year old legend.

For standing upright, entirely encased in the cold glass-like amber, was a young woman.  A young woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Lisbon statuette.  But to see her in the flesh was an experience as far removed from beholding that shaped lump of gold as staring at the midday sun is removed from gazing at a candle.  I confessed that I stared for quite a length of time at this particular object of radiance.  She was clothed in a manner that I have never encountered - at once primitive yet ingenious, suggesting both barbarous times and also the lowest morals of the Roman Empire.

Two main garments adorn her body.  The upper seems to have been designed in such a way as to afford the male observer the most gratifying possible view of her feminine charms.  These are, I feel compelled to state, maybe the most sensuously formed globes ever to grace any girl's perfect ripe body.  Her lower garment serves only to hide from view her most intimate area, its shape accentuating the smallness of her flattest of waists, all of which is displayed.  Her limbs are slender and long and shaped as though carved from marble.  Her face is that of an angel with full lips and straight dark hair that falls over her smooth shoulders.

I spent the next several minutes carefully and minutely examining every centimetre of the creature that I could see through the thick glass-like casing.   In the interests of science, my eyes passed over the entire exquisite form, studying it in the finest details.  Nowhere upon that wonderful form did I spot the slightest mark or blemish.  Just endless, perfect, youthful skin.  In the most appealing shape I have ever encountered.  Yet it - or she - is supposed to be over a thousand years old!

My mind was ringing with questions.  What is the material she is encased in?  Is she truly asleep in there or was I merely observing a well-preserved corpse?  The others had entered by now, and each in turn was being drawn to the remarkable beauty of the girl in the column.  I chided both Jean and Artur for their lewd remarks, but I could see both men's minds were on matters far distant from scientific study so I reconvened the party outside the stone building, away from the visual distraction of my discovery so that I could better ponder my next course of action.

We took a small lunch, the best we could plunder from mother nature, and then, tools in hand, we re-entered the stone building.  Nothing had changed.  The creature with the beautiful countenance remained unmoving in her glassy prison.  I understood quickly that the easiest operation would be to completely remove the column from its place so that we could then decide whether to bring it back to Europe whole or to access its remarkable contents right here in the jungle.  So, with this in mind, I instructed the men to begin chiselling carefully away at the place where the glass-like material met the cool stone floor.

It soon became apparent, however, that our tools were not disturbing the smooth surface of the pillar.  No matter how much pressure the men applied, the material remained intact and unscratched.  With my blessing, they began using mallets to apply blows of ever increasing strengths, first via the chisels and then directly onto the case itself.  Nothing had the slightest effect.  I sent the men outside to gather rocks with which to try and crack the pillar, but even though they pounded the thing with all their might using hard, sharp-edged stones, the material still showed no signs of yielding.

My servant, Marcel, then had a splendid idea.  Using the guts of a monkey he had killed for food on a previous day and some young tree branches, he constructed a crude catapult which he erected inside the stone chamber.  We loaded rock after rock - some of them so heavy they needed three men just to lift them - into the catapult and shot them at the pillar.  To our general amazement, even the biggest impacts that shook the ground failed to cause even a scratch on the "glass".

Being unable to disturb the material surrounding the mysterious young woman, I decided next that we should dig it up from underneath.  After all, even though our tools were ineffective against the case, they are more than adequate for digging through stone.  And so the task of digging a pit around the object began.  The men worked hard and well, despite their chisels having become blunt during their futile battle with the strange glass.

Now, many hours later, as the last vestiges of light are disappearing from the sky and the stone room is too dark for work to go on, we have created a hole as deep as a man is tall all the way around the pillar yet we have still to find its base.  It is as though what were observing in the room is but the tip of a much, much longer object that has been secured by some unknown force deep into the Earth itself.  We must now leave our labours for tonight.  Tomorrow, we will continue to search for the bottom of the incredible column.

 

October 19th, 1833.

Heaven forgive me.  I know, dear reader, that when you have reached the end of this text, you will judge me most harshly for not heeding the warnings all around me.  My punishment has already been served.  I have been cursed to live.  To be the one who survived.  My mind is forever scarred and I must carry that with me until I die when eternal damnation must surely await me.

I am changing the purpose of this journal.  I began it as a scientific work; a simple report of my expedition for the benefit of the entire anthropological community.  Now I am completing it for the benefit of all peoples.  The world must know what horror I have unleashed upon it.  This is my warning to you, and I beg you, for the sake of Man, heed my words!

It began the night after we discovered the pillar in the temple.  After dinner, I entered the stone room once again, with a torch in hand, lit from our fire.  I knew that with only a small door, smoke would soon fill the chamber, making the air unbreathable, but I intended only to spend a few moments in there, gazing upon the wonder I had found.  But something remarkable happened.  Thinking back upon it, my torch may have begun the nightmare that ensued.  For up until that moment, and ever since the building had been constructed, no light had ever touched directly upon any part of the pillar, save the part level with the opening we created.  Now, as I held my fire up to better see the face of the one I now know is the beautiful monster, direct light touched her features for the first time in a millennium.

If only I had dropped my torch a few moments before.  If only I had left that cursed temple in the afternoon, never to return.  If only I had never been born!  But it was too late.  The weak light cast from the torch had briefly illuminated her face.  Instantly, her eyes snapped open. Clear, dark eyes that shone even beneath several centimetres of the strange casing.  My first thought was joy.  I had been right - she was sleeping.  I let out a cry of delighted surprise, which summoned the others.  Soon we were all stood around the pillar, staring in awe.

A loud, creaking sound, like that of an heavy wooden door in an old country house, filled the air and Christophe cried "She is moving!"  I looked and saw the faintest flicker of movement from the long fingers of her left hand.  Then the fingers of the other hand twitched.  A look of confusion came over her face for a moment, and then vanished, as if she had resolved to do something.  Too late, we learnt what it was.

The creaking noise rose to an almost deafening crescendo.  Suddenly, cracks began to appear in the glass-like material around her two hands.  Slowly, she began to move an arm and the cracks rapidly widened and stretched until they began meeting one another.  Then with a snap, a large chunk of the casing broke free of the pillar, tumbling to the floor.  I expected to see it smash into a million pieces on impact, but it remained whole.  It was clearly as unbreakable inside as outside.  Yet a chunk had broken, and now the creature's exquisite arm, from the shoulder to the finger tips, was exposed to the air.

I was confused.  The material had proven unyielding to chisels, hammers and rocks, yet the thousand-year-old young woman appeared to have shattered it with her fingers and brushed it aside with her slender arm.  But I did not have time to ponder the dichotomy.

It was Marcel who was closest to that infernal arm.  He had moved in to examine the movement of her fingers and now he stood right next to her freed limb.  That was the moment I finally understood what the ancients had meant when they spoke of the beautiful monster.

Her lovely arm moved so fast, I could barely see it as its fingers took a hold of  Marcel by his throat.  What happened next will stay with me forever.  The monster lifted my servant off the ground, holding him purely with that one, feminine hand on his throat.  The rest of her slender body was still encased in the strange glass, but she seem unperturbed as she slowly closed her fingers.  Marcel's face turned purple and his two hands rose to meet her single one.  I could see he was struggling for all his worth, but he seemed unable to dislodge her grip.  Charles immediately leapt to help his colleague, adding his own strength to the struggle, but still it appeared futile.

As Marcel's struggles slowed, Charles in desperation bit down hard on the exposed arm.  I heard him yell and when he removed his mouth, I saw blood.  I thought he had wounded her, and could not understand why she showed no signs of pain or why she had not released Marcel.  Then I realised: it was Charles' blood I saw.  His teeth had been torn from his gums before they could puncture that perfect-looking skin.  I had no time to react when I heard a sickening crunching sound and looked up to see Marcel's head hanging limply.  The beautiful monster's fingers opened and the body of my servant fell to the floor.

Henri, Jean and Artur were already backing out of the tiny doorway, but Charles had taken a chisel from his pocket and was stabbing at the exposed arm.  I saw his blows striking again and again but none left so much as a mark.  As  he worked harder, he moved in closer until he put himself within reach.  The hand that had squeezed the life out of Marcel now laid itself flat with its palm against Charles' face.  I saw it move slightly, almost as if it was giving a gentle push, and Charles flew backwards across the stone room, his back slamming into the wall with so much ferocity that I knew he was dead before I even saw his blood spread on the wall behind him as his body fell to the ground.

What had I done?  I looked at the beautiful monster; at this perfect, ripe specimen of womanhood that had murdered two men with the simplest of touches.  Now I realised what the legends and texts had been describing, how this god-like creature that cannot be harmed with a chisel, really does possess the strength of a river.  I turned to run, diving towards the rough opening on the ground.  As I pulled myself clear I turned and saw, to my utter horror, that the creature's other arm was now free and that it was pulling and brushing the thick, apparently indestructible, casing away from its remarkable body, seemingly with ease.  Before I ran towards the shelter of the jungle, I saw the final pieces of pillar shattering around her lengthy legs, dissolving as she took a stride towards me, as if the very movement of her legs provided force enough to destroy this strongest of materials.

I ran straight across the clearing, into some thick bushes.  A rustle nearby terrified me until I heard a whispered voice "Shh!  Monsieur!  It is us!  Jean and Artur!".

"Where is Henri?" I asked.  They did not know.  The two men told me they wanted to run as far from there as possible, but I instructed them to wait.  A moment later, Artur whispered "We shall see you in hell, monsieur" and he and his colleague turned and ran from me.  Part of me was eager to follow them, but for some reason, I remained rooted to the spot, staring at the stone house.

It was difficult to see by the light of our dying fire, but the darkness was far from complete enough to mask the next impossible sight.  A sound like a cannon being fired rang out through the jungle and I saw the wall of the temple nearest me buckle outwards and then break into countless huge pieces of stone that flew out with incredible speed.  Had any of those chunks hit me, I would have been instantly killed.  Instead, they fell all around me and my life was spared.  I should have run, but once again, my feet refused to move.  I simply stood and stared at the vision before me.  The most beautiful young woman I have ever seen standing just yards away from me, her lovely, slender body having just smashed its effortless way through twenty-centimetre thick stone.

Some of the remains of the destroyed wall lay at her feet.  I saw in the flickering flames that those feet were as unblemished as the rest of her.  I saw her flicking her long toes against a rock the size of my head and watched that rock sailing over the trees, landing out of earshot, perhaps as much as half a kilometre away.  The beautiful monster!  Sleeping deity!  Strength of the Amazon river!  The Undamageable one!  It is all true.  I had awoken a monster of such unfathomable power and yet such delicate loveliness.  But once again, I had no time to consider the situation.

The girl broke into a run.  Instantly, she was moving so fast, I could only just follow her with my eyes.  She flashed past me as if I was not there, heading into the jungle, her wake creating a momentary wind that almost knocked me off my feet. A few seconds later I heard a yell.  A second later, another cry rang out.  Then silence for twenty long, long seconds.  This was broken by the sound of undergrowth being crushed underfoot behind me.  I spun around to see the girl once more, walking through the tall plants as if they were no encumbrance.  I noticed she was carrying something quite large in each of her hands as they hung loosely by her sides.

It was only when she was close enough that I could see what she was holding.  I recognized them from their clothes.  In her left hand, Artur.  She had him gripped by his belt as if his entire body weighed almost nothing.  He wasn't moving.  Jean was similarly hanging from her other hand.  Her angel's face showed no sign of strain as she carried the two men, although I soon discovered that she had made each of them a little lighter.  For as she turned slightly, I saw that her hands and wrists and the upper half of her exposed legs were caked in blood.  Both men's heads had somehow been removed.   The girl dropped their corpses and tuned to stare directly into my eyes.  I was trembling and my face must have been white with fear.  I felt certain I was about to die.

Just then, there was a sound in the bushes immediately behind her.  Henri, my interpreter, jumped out into the clearing, with my rifle in his hand.  That was where he had been all this time, filling the chamber and preparing a shot.  Never have I been so relieved to see a weapon.  The girl turned around slowly to face him, paying no attention to the device he held in his hand.  Henri waited until she had taken a step in his direction, and then discharged the gun.  I was confused by the sound of two cracks instead of the usual one, but I realize now that the second noise was made by the bullet striking the creature's beautiful torso.  She remained upright.

"Oh my God!" cried Henri.  "She is a devil!"  He turned as if to run, but in three long strides, the girl had laid her hand upon his shoulder.  She lifted him into the air with this hold, her single hand crushing his bones as it held him impossibly tight.  Henri screamed as she reached for the weapon with her free hand, appearing to tear it from his grasp with ease.  Then she dropped Henri, and rested a single delicate foot on his chest.  I saw him fighting to dislodge her, but it was clear that she was pinning him in place with that foot.  Apparently ignoring him, she began studying the gun, turning it over in her hands.

Then it struck me: having slept for a thousand years, she had never seen such a weapon before.  She held it up in front of her face, one hand gripping either end.  I heard a scream that was almost human but must have originated in the gun metal itself, because when it was done, she was holding half a rifle in either hand.  She had torn apart my gun with her bare hands!  A gun whose bullet had bounced from her lovely skin as a dried pea bounces from a slab of marble!  The Undamageable One!

Apparently, the weapon no longer held any interest for her.  She tossed the two pieces of it over her shoulders.  I could not see their flight in the darkness, but wherever it was that they crashed down to Earth, it was beyond my earshot.  She bent down, a long arm reaching for poor Henri.  The terrified translator began to scream at her "Leave me be, you devil!" but she seemed not to even hear his words.  Once more, I witnessed the spectacle of the slim girl lifting a man from the ground with a single arm, this time with her fingers gripping the collar of his shirt.  He shouted at her in tongues I did not recognise, the terror clear in his voice.

The girl merely continued to raise him until his waist was level with her chest.  Then she gripped one of his dangling legs with her spare hand.  Henri's scream of pain fused with the sound of bones and sinew being crushed to paste.  Blood began to spurt from between her long fingers, splattering both her and Henri, but she did not stop squeezing until, with a terrifying thud, his amputated leg dropped to the forest floor.  The interpreter must surely have surrendered consciousness at that point, for when she repeated the process with his other leg, there was no scream to block the sound of tearing flesh.

Whether or not he was still alive as she lowered his shortened body so that their faces were level, I do not know.  But I saw her pulling first his left and then his right arm free of his torso with as much care and difficulty as if he had been nothing more than a over-roasted chicken. I felt myself about to vomit, but resisted the urge.  Still I did not run.  Something was holding me in place.  The beautiful monster turned to face me, her magnificent body splattered now in blood, the torso of my poor translator hanging helplessly from her hand.  With a flick of her delicate wrist she sent it flying across the clearing to land exactly at my feet.  Then she began striding towards me, her legs moving so gracefully, despite the incredible power I now knew they controlled.  I should have run, but for some reason, I could not.  I remained fixed to the spot.

In seconds, she was right in front of me.  For the first time, I could see her flesh without intervening distance or the strange glass-like material she had been encased in.  Her physical perfection stunned me.  Never has such beauty walked the Earth since.  And surely never such power either.  I am convinced that she comes from the very depths of hell, a trick of the Devil to put his most vile, invincible demon into the body of a delicate-looking nubile young woman.  As she reached for me, just as she had reached for five of my men immediately before killing them, I felt the strongest of terrors.  But I also felt something else, a feeling in my loins.  It seems her appearance is so striking that one part of me could not help but responding to it.

Her hand did not close around my neck as I expected it to.  Neither did it grip my legs or arms with enough unearthly force to tear them from my body.  Slowly, but steadily, her outstretched fingers approached my forehead.  I closed my eyes and muttered a prayer, believing that the moment of my death was imminent.  But instead I felt nought but the lightest touch of silken fingertips upon my forehead.  Looking, I saw that the girl had indeed merely reached out to touch me.  Then, the sight before me appeared to fade.  It was as though I was, in the space of a few seconds, losing my gift of vision.  The night time jungle sounds of insects also became swiftly less apparent.  She was still touching her hand to me, but now I could feel less and less of the contact.  Soon, I could hear or feel nothing, and all I could see was the vaguest outline of the beautiful demon.  Then that too vanished and there was nothing.

Nothing at all.  I could not see, nor hear nor feel as though my soul were no longer a part of my body.  Total blackness, total silence filled my mind.  I knew it was the girl, that somehow, by the merest touch of her hand, she had extinguished all my senses.  Another demonic trick!  Was this utter nothingness perhaps a taste of the afterlife that awaits me?  I shall not know until it is too late.  I don't know how long I was held in that ghastly empty limbo, but it felt like hours.  Perhaps it was only minutes or even seconds.  With no sensations, no nourishment for my mind, it was impossible to gauge the passing of time.

It ended not with the restoration of my senses, but with a totally new sensation.  An image, conjured from nowhere that appeared in my mind unbidden.  It dominated my thoughts, so that I could think of nothing else.  I cannot describe the image, because I cannot recall it, other than that I seemed to know instantly its significance.  Indeed, it soon became clear that the girl was communicating with me, speaking without sound, but with shapes; without language but with wordless ideas planted magically inside my head.  I could not shut out the messages she forced into my mind and I still could sense nothing of the outside world.  I could do nothing but, for want of a better word, 'listen'.

"You are the one who awakened me." she 'said' - again for want of a better word.  "You are the one I will choose.  You will be my witness.  You will observe my power.  I will give you the -" I did not understand the next concept that appeared in my head "- and you will witness and not die."  Then the images ended.

My vision began to return to me, as though a shade were being pulled from in front of a candle.  The sounds of the jungle became audible to me once more as well and I could feel the night breezes against my skin.  The girl was no longer touching me; when enough of my sight returned, I was able to discern her lovely form some paces away. Her back was turned to me and she was walking towards the now half-destroyed stone building.  Once again, I considered for a moment taking the opportunity to run from her, but once again something within me keep my feet firmly in place.  I stood and watched as she went into the temple for a moment and then returned, clutching something in her hand.

She was holding a fragment of the material that she had been encased in.  I stared, both fearful and curious, as she rubbed the glass-like substance between her palms.  I had seen four strong men working with tools fail to even scratch the stuff, and yet now I observed this petite young woman sculpting it with ease with her bare hands.  She seemed to be stretching out the clear "glass", turning the chunk into something much thinner and longer.  She worked fast, the movement of her hands especially difficult for me to follow, illuminated as she was by the last flickers of firelight.  I noticed that the ends of the piece were now as thin as thread and that they were coiling now at her feet.  She was extracting meters and meters of cord from the solid lump of material, as though she were spinning wool from a fleece.

When she had finished, she had created a long, continuous length of transparent twine.  I remained rooted in place as she moved towards me yet again.  Too stunned or confused to react, I barely flinched as took hold of my hands.  Her grip was firm - slightly painful even - but I did not make a sound.  I just watched as she brought my two wrists together, transferring her grasp so that she held both my hands in one of her own.  Then, almost too quickly for me to see, she bound the end of the line tightly around my wrists.  Experimentally, I tried pulling my hands apart but, as I expected, the strange material refused to yield, even though I fought until the thread dug painfully into my skin.  Walking slightly away from me, she gathered up the other end of the cord and, in a blur of movement, tied it around her own, delicate-looking wrist.  She was putting me on a lead like a prisoner!  Or more probably, as I began to realise, like a dog!

She approached me once more, coming so close that the peculiar fabric of her upper garment was almost touching my shirt.  The thought of the wonders that lay beneath that garment being so near my own body stirred me greatly.  Her hands rose up and rested heavily on my shoulders and I noticed that her eyes were closed.  Then, incredibly, my entire body felt as though it had caught fire. A burning sensation unlike anything I have ever experienced before seemed to pass instantly into every part of my being.  So intense was it, that I screamed.  What seemed a moment later, the girl's eyes opened.  For a second, I thought I had seen her beautiful lips slightly smiling, but I couldn't be certain.  She took her hands from me and walked away, leaving me shaken and confused.  What had happened?  It was then that I noticed that dawn was just breaking in the Eastern skies.  Yet it had been twilight what felt like only an hour before. What demon process had been performed upon me? Was this the incomprehensible "thing" that she had "told" me she would give me so that I would "witness and not die"?

She was strolling towards the edge of the clearing whilst I remained as stationary as I had been for the past few minutes.  In the dim light, I could just see the remarkable thin rope she had spun uncoiling as she carried one end away.  The other end, of course, bound my hands together.  I should have realised what was about to happen, but it still came as a shock.  The line stretched out between us and then suddenly became taut.  She did not stop walking, the long arm with the cord attached, swinging nonchalantly by her side.  Without warning, I found my wrists pulled forward in the most violent manner, my feet leaving the ground for several instants as the rope - and the girl - yanked me.  I landed flat on my belly with my arms stretched out in front of me, the tension in the line keeping my hands a fair distance above the ground.

The fall hurt badly, making me cry out.  The girl seemed not to hear, or perhaps not to mind, for she continued to stride on at a remarkably brisk pace.  I was being dragged on my front across the forest floor as though I was tied to a pair of horses, rather than a young woman.  The pain as my body scrapped over branches and rocks was great and I could not help but shout in my agony although such outbursts made no difference to my captor.  Several times I was convinced that a sharp piece of stone or twig had cut my skin open, but when I looked, I saw no trace of blood.  For many minutes we continued in that fashion, the beautiful monster's long legs covering the ground with speed and ease, whilst I was drawn bodily and roughly over that same ground.  The pull on my arms was excruciating, the constant blows to my torso agonising, but the girl showed no willingness to halt or even slow her progress.

My low perspective made it challenging, but when we travelled over a flatter stretch with less undergrowth, I could see her striding forth some short distance in front of me.  Amazed, I watched as she walked on, hauling me all the while. A huge ancient tree trunk loomed before her.  I thought she would take a detour to steer around the massive obstacle, but she merely thrust out a single palm, and pressed it against the trunk.  The sound of splintering tore through the jungle as the two-meter-circumference tree yielded to the unworldly strength of this slender young woman.  With a mighty crash, the trunk tore in two near the ground and the enormous tree fell to the forest floor, bringing down several smaller plants as it tumbled, shaking the ground beneath me.

Having disposed of the obstacle, the beautiful monster then merely kicked her bare foot through the remains of the stump, making it explode in fragments of wood, as she continued her walk, her pace barely interrupted by the tree.  Forced to follow her path, I observed in horror as I was dragged rapidly towards the battered stump.  Certain that the imminent head-on collision would end my life, I screamed in a vain attempt at attracting my tormentor's attention.  She paid me no mind.  The top of my skull slammed into the wood, drawing yet another scream from me, this one of pure agony.  But the impact did not kill me.  I felt the jagged splinters pressing painfully hard against my face and then my body as I was drawn over it, but there was no blood.  Only pain.

So this was the mysterious "thing" she had given me!  She had made me as undamageable as she is.  I still felt discomfort, agonies even, that she clearly is immune to, but I could not be wounded.  I was invulnerable.  And that invulnerability was why she had said I would not die.   I saw then how I had been doubly cursed.  I could be dragged around and hurt at her whim, but my suffering could not be ended by death.  I had been condemned to be her witness - a pet who must watch her murderous violence.  A pet for whom even the escape of suicide was denied.  All faith in my situation now extinguished, I began to cry.

I do not know for how long she walked through the jungle, pulling me helplessly and painfully along behind her.  Finally, she came to a halt in front of a high, thick bush.  The relief generated by no longer being hauled over the undergrowth was immense, but short-lived.  As I was taking advantage of my stationary state by catching my breath, I saw the girl slightly raising her arm - the one with my lead affixed to it - and then snap it sharply forward.  There was a split second moment as her tug travelled along the "rope" before the most aggressive yank I had yet felt pulled on my wrists.  My arms were jerked forward so violently, that it was surely only the strange invulnerability spell she had cast over me that prevent them being ripped from their sockets.  My belly and then my knees left the ground, the strength of the beautiful monster's careless pull enough to lift my entire body and cause it to fly through the air.

In no time at all, without touching the ground, I had covered the distance between where I had been resting and where the girl stood.  Slamming into her legs, I was shocked when they not only failed to yield, but in fact remained utterly unmoving as I bounced from them, a fresh yell of pain on my lips.  I sprawled at her feet and she looked down on me. There was no indication of any emotion on her stunning countenance.  Her hand reached for me, her long fingers curling under my shoulder before she hoisted me into the air, holding me level with her hip, her slender limb comfortable by her side despite supporting all my weight.  It hurt where her fingers dug into my skin, but I bore it with clenched teeth.

As I hung powerlessly from this young woman's hand, I stared out at the thick bush in front of us.  In the comparative stillness I could hear noises in the distance - voices, animals and equipment.  Suddenly, I understood.  There was a camp of some kind on the other side of the foliage.  The beautiful monster was preparing to attack it, and I was being carried along to "witness."  I knew there would be carnage.  I had to warn whoever was there to flee!  I took a deep breath, the air hurting as it poured into my battered chest, and open my mouth wide, intending to yell the simple word "Run!" as loud as possible. But no sound left my lips.  I tried again, but still without success.  I do not know if so much screaming in pain had damaged my throat, or if the demon girl had cast another of her spells, but it did not matter.  I could not speak or forewarn anyone of the terrible fate awaiting them.

The girl stepped into the bushes, the leaves, stalks and branches bending or breaking to accommodate her superb body.  I followed, my head at the same height as her tiny waist, face first.  The bush did not yield to me, but rather it poked and scratched harshly at me, hurting me, but of course, not leaving an actual mark.  I was beginning to think that the beautiful monster was enjoying causing me such discomforts.  A few confident, long-legged strides later, we emerged.  I gasped as greenery finally came free of my eyes and I could see where we were.  This was no camp we were approaching.  It was a full, walled and defended, European-style fort!

The four, square walls of this outpost had been fashioned from bound and nailed vertical tree trunks.  At no point did I see a portion of wall less than twenty meters high and each trunk used in its construction was at least seventy centimetres around.  In the nearest corner of the fort stood a watchtower, a small hut built at the top of  four thick, thirty-meter high poles.  Two men with rifles stood guard inside the tower.  The rest of the fort was hidden from my view by the high walls.  I dared not think how many more men were inside.

The girl strode out towards the nearest wall, its immense scale dwarfing us both.  Evidently, the guards in the tower were performing their duty well that day, for only a moment after we emerged from the shadows of the foliage all around, I heard a shout from above and, twisting my neck, saw two men leaning over the parapet, pointing at us.  One of them called down some question in Portuguese.  The beautiful monster's wonderful lips did not move, and when I pushed mine to work, no sound would leave my body.  Thus, in silence, she walked right up to the wall, tree trunks towering above us.  With me still clutched in one hand, she used the other to punch the thick wood.  I shuddered as I saw her small fist penetrating the hard material until her arm was buried almost up to her shoulder.

Then she began to walk sideways.  Her shapely outstretched arm passed through the trunks as easily as it passed through air, the wood splintering and cracking against its silky perfection.  After a few meters, she stopped and bent her knees so that her limb now moved downwards through the wall.  I have never seen a machine that can cut through so much dense wood with such rapidity and ease, and I doubt if one exists.  She came back a few paces to create a second vertical incision.  In mere seconds, she had sawn a large doorway in the defensive structure.  The cut-away wood fell with a mighty crash inwards into the fort.  My first glimpse of the interior was of a dozen shocked faces turning as one to see the vast breech that had suddenly appeared in the wall.  Their surprise increased when they saw, standing in that new doorway, a beautiful young woman with a large man dangling from one of her arms.

The beautiful monster's partial destruction of the perimeter of the fort awoke the wrath of the guards in the tower first.  I heard the crack of a rifle above and actually saw the flash of light as a bullet, as though it were nothing but a raindrop, bounced from the crown of her head.  Another crack and this time I saw the tiny ripple of briefly disturbed flesh as the shot struck her exposed womanly breast and deflected away, leaving no trace behind it.  A third bullet actually hit me, striking my leg.  Miraculously, I found my voice had returned as I screamed, the intense, localised pain like none I had ever felt before.  Yet somehow, the shot did not pierce my skin.

The firing guards had called too much attention to themselves.  The girl walked over to the foot of their tower, oblivious to the two bullets which had struck her, and uninterested in the agony caused by the one that had hit me.  She placed a single hand on one of the four posts supporting the watchtower and slowly pulled.  I heard a creaking noise that evolved into a loud cracking and suddenly all four posts tore free of the ground.  Now the girl was holding the entire tower  - two men, their hut and the four pillars - and supporting the total weight with a single hand!  She shook that hand, making the tower move violently and the two guards immediately toppled out of the hut, tumbling to the ground far beneath them.  I knew that no-one could survive such a fall.  The beautiful monster acknowledged their deaths by tossing the complete watchtower over her shoulder as though it were a pinch of salt, not a thirty-meter high wooden structure.  It travelled well clear of the wall behind us before landing noisily in the jungle, maybe a hundred meters away.

Now the whole fort had been alerted.  Shots rang out all around us, a few hitting me, eliciting screams but no blood.  Many, many more hit the girl, ricocheting from her perfect body, eliciting no reaction whatsoever from the unworldly one.  Groups of men, bayonets, knives and swords in hands, charged at us from every possible angle.  The girl released her hold of me, letting me fall to the ground by her feet.  Bayonets, pressed into her flat belly, round hips and smooth back, snapped in two but did not seem to affect her in any way.  Swords clanged down on her, some breaking against her invulnerability, others producing sparks but no cuts.  Daggers had even less effect.  One or two blades were thrust at me as I lay, without a weapon, my wrists bound, unable to defend myself.  The points of the knives pressed my skin until I yelled with the excruciating pain of it, but my blood remained inside my body.

Down on the ground I saw how the attempts to hurt the beautiful monster were futile.  From there, I was well-placed to see her arms flash out towards the onrushing men in response.  I tried to look away, to close my eyes, but some inner compulsion, perhaps yet another demon-trick, forced me to watch as her small hands carved through flesh with even more ease than they had carved through wood.  Blood began to splatter over me.  Heads were removed from shoulders, limbs from torsos.  Men were split asunder vertically and horizontally by those feminine hands.  Her feet kicked out, sending some bodies soaring into the air, and causing others to explode in gore.  Vomit rose in my throat but I did not throw up.  Still, I struggled to gain enough control of my body to avert my gaze and still I found that I could not.

Only a few seconds had passed, but we were surrounded by death.   Pieces of soldier lay all around and both the girl and I were covered in fresh blood.  The men of the fort were no longer attacking.  The devastating carnage had persuaded them of a preferable course of action and they began to flee.  The girl took pursuit after them, her legs moving  impossibly fast so that she could catch each group within a few strides.  I found myself being dragged roughly along behind her once again as she moved this way and that at blinding speed through the fort.  She chased after three men and reaching forward, sliced her hand clean through their necks from behind.  Then she turned and sprinted around a group of two, facing them before reaching out, placing one of her hands on each of their throats and squeezing until blood shot from their mouths.  Four more died when she ran along side them, kicking out at each in turn, sending them, spinning like children's toys, maybe forty meters into the air.

In the centre of the fort stood a large carriage.  Unfettered, its two horses had fled the moment the first shots were fired.  The girl approached it, using a single hand to lift one side of it clean off the ground as though it were weightless.  Then reaching down, she grabbed hold of the underside with her other hand and effortlessly hoisted the whole huge contraption over her head, holding it there for a moment.  Twenty men would have struggled to lift such an object, yet this lone girl found no challenge in the task!  I watched, helpless from the ground as she turned, drew back her arms and then hurled the entire carriage at the last group of fleeing men.  Unable to stop myself, I saw the black shadow descending upon them and heard their desperate shouts cease suddenly as the mighty weight bore down on them.  Five men disappeared in an instant beneath the carriage as it crashed to the ground, the growing puddle of blood beside it the only evidence of their existence.

Sickened, shocked and pained, I turned to look at the young woman whose unworldly strength had brought about so much bloodshed.  She stood tall and erect, body splashed with the gore of others, surveying the scene, as though proud of what she had done.  She pulled on the cord that attached us, and I flew violently from the ground to smash into her legs once more.  Then she lifted me by the arm pit, turning sharply to her left.  It seemed that there was, unnoticed to me, a survivor.  Carrying me as though I wasn't there, she walked over to a pile of wooden crates.  A sweep of her free hand noisily sent the boxes soaring over the far wall of the fort and revealed the man who had been crouching behind them.  A young man, perhaps sixteen or seventeen, he was shaking and sobbing, his terror both obvious and understandable.  But how had the beautiful monster known that he was there?  Had she smelt him?  I will never know.

She reached out for him, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt and picking him up.  His legs kicked out furiously at her flawless knees and his fists pounded her angelic face and her beautiful chest.  I could see his hands bruising with the effort, but the girl seemed not to notice the blows.  She changed her grips on the young man and myself, bring us both in front of her deep navel, turning our heads so that we faced one another and then pressing our cheeks up against her stomach.  Her smooth, flat and warm skin smelt of the loveliest garden on a spring day - despite the blood sprayed upon it.  But I knew it was the flesh of a demon.  I looked into the terrified eyes of the last survivor of the fort.  Like me, he was trapped, our heads held immovably in place by a vice one side of which was a girl's abdomen, the other her palm.

She was looking down at us, but, I suspected, particularly at me.  Suddenly, the young man screamed and I realised that she was squeezing his head against herself.  I was forced to watch as his face contorted, forced to listen as his screams gave way to the sound of crunching bone when his skull collapsed and forced to look as his head split open, erupting with blood just centimetres from my face, painting me with his gore.  The girl's very belly had proven so much harder than a man's skull!

She pushed his remains away from herself, deliberating catching my eye for an instant, making sure I understood that I was being spared such a horrendous fate only to suffer one even worse - that of being her "witness".  I felt myself being released and fell to resume the increasingly familiar position of lying at her feet, like a faithful dog.  An instant later, she strode off, the incredible rope around my wrists tightening and then dragging me off behind her.  She did not seek out the doorway she had created in the huge wall, she merely picked up a little more speed and let her magnificent body smash straight through the thick, strong wood, splinters flying out in all directions.  A few seconds later, I was towed, with much pain, through the rough hole her slender womanly form had punctured.

We travelled on roughly through the jungle for a while longer, my mind still filled with horrific images from the fort.  Was this to be my life now, to be hauled around for all eternity by a monster I had awoken, to witness such horrors?  The sight of the ground rushing and jerking by as my body bounced upon it was making me nauseous, but when I shut my eyes I saw only the poor young man's head exploding so close to my own.  I did not vomit, but tears stung my eyes.

Without warning, the girl stopped.  Had we reached our destination?  Were we already at the site of the next massacre?  I awaited the expected tug on my lead that would bring me violently to her side, but nothing happened.  Gathering my knees beneath me, I drew myself up to half-height and looked ahead.  The beautiful monster seemed to have stopped perfectly still.  From the trees around her, a group of around six natives emerged, cautiously edging towards her.  Still she did not move.  I studied the half-dozen men.  One of them carried a strange object about the size of my arm.  Made of silver or some other well-polished material it glinted in the increasing daylight.  I couldn't see well, but it seemed to be marked with symbols similar to those I'd seen on the wall of the temple that had housed the beautiful monster before my cursed intervention.

The natives continued to carefully approach the girl.  They began a low chanting and the one holding the metal object held it high over his head, letting the sun reflect off it.  Five of them encircled the motionless girl whilst the sixth approached me.  I looked up as he neared and recognised one of the two men I had hired as a guide.  It seems I had grossly misjudged this man.  He had fled our party not through ignorant, superstitious fear, but rather simple practicality.  He had also not told me the whole truth when I had questioned him about his people's legends.  He and his colleagues were the descendants of the tribe that had guarded the monster's temple, the men who dedicated their lives to protecting the world from the beautiful demon.  Men who were determined to save all mankind from a single girl.

The guide-turned-saviour looked at the transparent rope around my wrists and shook his head sadly.  Then he raised his hand high above my head and brought his closed fist down upon my skull.

 

 

 

I do not remember feeling the blow, nor anything of the two weeks that have passed since.  Two hours ago, I awoke here on the edge of the jungle with no possessions save my torn clothes.  There's no sign of the native group or the strange rope.   Nor, I thank heaven, is there any trace of the beautiful monster.  I can only believe that she has once again been imprisoned in a cylinder of that strange glass and housed anew in the dark temple.

Somewhere in that jungle sleeps a force far more powerful and a demon far more cruel than any that has ever walked the Earth.  A murderous creature, stronger than any river, and as undamageable as a deity.  Man has no hope of defending himself against this monster save the magic of a tiny group of native tribesmen.  And this unstoppable devil bears the appearance of a petite, slender, gloriously nubile young woman!

Reader, should you ever hear tales of the beautiful monster, think of my story.  And should you ever stumble upon the little temple in the jungle, turn around and leave.  The monster may be truly beautiful, but remember this:  Men are but flesh and blood.  But she... She is a demon.

  

Conceptfan, Jul. 2003.