A/N This is an English class assignment, from the POV of Grendel ravaging Hrothgar's village.
The Eyes of the Monster
The all-knowing darkness surrounds me as I lay in the silence, trying not to think, trying not to breathe. From my own little corner, my piece of this spiteful world, I watch Mother's slow, steady breathing, finally asleep. Finally drifting through the quagmire of dreams, drunkenly navigating the wreckage of Memory and attempting to dodge the most damning, like a stranded sailor in a tiny wooden lifeboat, desperately paddling around his wrecked ship. Dreams hold no sleep for those of us whose memories hold no rest.
My weak eyelids sag; I cannot hold sleep at bay forever.
"Better succumb now," a voice whispers. "Sleep, and be strong. Whatever you do, you must be strong."
My traitorous eyelids oblige, sinking lower and lower, until the darkness is complete.
Pain wracks my entire being as the sharp, gleaming claws, a glory unto themselves, strike, once, twice. Again. Again. I lie still, hoping that if she thinks I am dead, Mother will cease her assault. My own heart betrays me, though, pumping still more blood, bathing me in its warmth. Why, then, am I so cold? Time gains a life of its own and refuses to be held captive by the likes of me as the minutes drag into what must be hours. But I don't care, or even realize. I am numb. Finally, she speaks.
"Whatever you do, you must be strong," she hisses sheathing her claws and padding slowly out to the waiting water.
I focus on breathing. In, and then out. In and out. In….
I exhale with the rather depressing sound of a punctured balloon as a sharp prod rudely jolts me back into the land of the living. Mother looms over me, eyes gleaming with thirst. I shrink into my corner as a sunflower flinches from the bite of winter. Mother's face contorts into a withering, disgusted look that plainly asks what she has ever done to deserve such a son. She raises a paw –
"N-no, wait –" I stammer, "I-I will go." She grunts in approval, and settles back down on the floor, awaiting her supper.
Hurriedly, I give an almighty push off of the rock ledge at the mouth of our cave, propelling myself up, up, into the waters just barely touched by the moon's waning light, into the realm of sea monsters, and then, that of humans. A sense of power, of pride fills my chest cavity, an inflating balloon that lights my last few feet, until my head explodes through the barrier between water and air, announcing my arrival. Here, in this distant world, it is worth announcing.
A few powerful strokes, no effort at all, sends me gliding over the water's smooth surface. My paws touch the bottom impossibly quickly, and I am again amazed by the lightness of air.
"Humans have no concept of their own weakness," I think as I shake dry my thick, brown fur on the shore of the great lake.
Padding silently up the gently sloping hill, I am aware of every life form around me. I smell the squirrel scurry up his tree, hear the colony of ants marching back home with their prisoners-of-war, see the night owl swoop down to collect his well-earned prey. The circle continues.
I smile faintly as I reach the outskirts of town, anticipating what is to come: the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of the kill, and, finally, the sweet meat of victory.
A hush blankets the town. Not a soul comes to welcome me, no herald proclaims my coming, no parade celebrates my arrival. Instead, I am alone, proudly sauntering down the main street, surveying my kingdom. Hrothgar can keep his crown, I decide; it means nothing next to my claws, thick as tree trunks, and my teeth, peppered with the bones of his kinsmen. Here, I am king.
At last, I behold the doors of the great dining hall, my royal banquet. The wood, so sturdy to human eyes, appears to me frail and delicate. They do not block my way for long; my ravenous jaws rip iron from iron, and the door buckles amidst delicious screeches. My palace awaits.
Mother stalks forward toward me, her claws screeching on the floor, her eyes a deep, maroon red, portals to hell.
My hair bristles and stands on end; the sound of drunken snoring is just two tables away. I tense my muscles and prepare to pounce….
The cave echoes with her fury, deafening screams of rage. I close my eyes, not wanting to see her leap through the air, not wanting to feel her when she lands.
My teeth are stained a deep crimson when the screaming starts, infuriatingly loud, the noise bouncing off the stone walls. I bellow in agony and tear off a leg from the man whose backbone now crunches beneath my teeth, flinging it across the hall, decorating the stone with arcs of red. The screaming eventually stops.
The silence is deafening, closing in on my ears, suffocating me. I cannot move; I cannot breathe. My stomach leaks red across the floor; I follow the liquid's slow progress across the expanse, fascinated by its dancing design as it mixes with the water, graceful, fluid. My eyes are glass, reflecting Mother in the distance, licking her paws clean of my blood. I suppose I am lucky; I get to live another day.
I do not remember returning to the water, dinner clamped firmly between my jaws. I can only see the greedy water, draining the corpses of blood; a red carpet unfurls behind me, tracking my progress, mapping my way home. By the time I reach the cave, dawn is breaking, and I think longingly of tortured sleep. The fresh meat rouses Mother, who heavily pads toward the sodden bodies. The water has done its job, preparing the kill just the way she likes it: cleaning, stealing, stripping, until each body is identical, no longer human. Food.
The lake has deigned to spare the dozen pairs of lifeless eyes that now stare blankly into Mother's ravenous maw, and I know what I will see tonight, behind the veil of sleep. I will see what those eyes saw, feel what they felt, and share the memories of the dead.