Editor’s Note

The editor of Tales From The Forest (one Rose Fortune) couldn’t resist this particular theme. This is a story titled Where Monsters Live, and it should really live with the rest of the creatures.

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Monsters predate humans. This is our first problem – the monsters were here first. By our own laws, they should have the right to the territory which they inhabit. They have marked it as theirs, they have built homes for their children and they have set up doctrines to live by. They are almost as civilised as we are. They are not savages.

Admittedly, some humans have in the past shown no issue with taking territory that was not theirs to begin with. The conquistadors did it, and were richly rewarded for it. Lands were named after discoverers who only succeeded in discovering a land which their flag had not yet lived in.

The second problem with monsters is, we do not understand them. Or, to put it another way, the problem with monsters is that we do not know how to fight them. They lived peacefully around us for so long, simply staying out of humanity’s way and living in our cast-off lands and our dwindling forests and our holes. Caves uninhabitable for humans produced entire neighbourhoods of monsters, of creatures with scales where they should not have scales and claws where there should not be claws. This was all well and good for quite a long time. But in recent years and recent decades, mankind has become more and more adventurous. Every hole we find is excavated or scuba dived into, or has torches shone into it, or gets turned into a tourist attraction in some exceptionally uninteresting towns.

Every section of the sea that was previously undiscovered has been set upon with ships and nets and harpoons. The air was colonised. The Grand Canyon was filled in to accommodate seven new motorways. The ground is mined and the wind is captured. The old green open spaces are built upon, and forests finally became extinct some time ago. We are left with a world where humans have taken the land, and the air, and the sea, and the earth. And once the last flag was planted and the last tree was felled, the monsters came out from the shadows.

If they attacked, we might begin to understand the situation. We have guns in 4,294 shapes and sizes and can harness the power of a tsunami if the weather conditions are right. We have bear-traps that might be effective on some of the smaller beasts. We have nets that are made from the end of the Amazon. Should we fight, there might be a chance.

But instead the monsters are suing. The most humanoid of the creatures was nominated to wear a person’s suit and draw up an official complaint against the human race. Tensions were heightened when the thing turned up in court wearing a person as a suit, but it was called a “faux pas” by a very forgiving or very frightened judge.

The complaint was accepted as valid by the same slightly shaking judge. Many are against the colonisation of the elements and the destruction of nature on the whole, so the monsters have plenty of support for their case. A new difficulty has been presented in trying to find a single person who will defend humankind and take the blame for the state the world now exists in. It’s essentially thought that the person who puts up their hands to say “I will be the defendant in the case of the peacefully co-existing monsters whose lands are now taken without their agreement” will have to also come up with a compelling reason to keep the land from the creatures, and to explain why the Sahara is now a lagoon.

If the case is lost by men and women, we are not sure what will happen next. People do not want to fight the monsters because very few people believe we can win against the bogeyman. The monsters will not go back to the shadows, because we have left none for them. We could attempt restoration, but it would be an arduous job to reintroduce trees to the world and re-terraform the earth. We also don’t necessarily want to let the ozone layer out of its box again.

There are those groups of people who are expecting to be banished. It might be the best fate we can accomplish, given how significantly we are outnumbered by the monsters. Or rather, the ratio is approximately 1:1, but that hardly seems like a fair fight when one side has the added benefits of flight, talons and possible magic/mystical powers/ability to blend into the night. It’s possible that our best course of action would simply be to leave the planet to the creatures from the darkest parts of the world, and make our way to another planet where we would, maybe, hopefully, be truly alone. The first edict of the new world will surely be to light up every shadow.

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