Talha Hasan, Grade 10
It stood, hulked over from the sheer mass it carried on its grotesque shoulders. It breathed its repugnantly pungent breath. Its petrifying eyes glistened and glowed against the unrelenting darkness. And it stood in front of the boy. The boy took a glance at this… this demon. That’s what it was, not a troll, nor a beast, but a demon. Perhaps even that was an understatement. For this timid, ill-mannered and reclusive male knew all too well, what threat the monstrosity facing him, truly possessed. The only thing louder than this lanky figure’s drumming heartbeat was the thundering growls emanating from the opposing brute’s throat, permeating the air with daunting tumult. But the air was taut with tension, a yearning, an almost seductive draw to an inky and final promise. Against every instinct, the boy stumbled forth. Perhaps this was a fight, but looking at the everchanging edges of the creature he knew, no weapon would harm it. Yet he took another step, and another. With a sudden uproar of pandemonium, the shadows converged. The boy froze, flight or fighting no longer seemed to be viable alternatives. As immediately as it began, the noise and movement ceased. The boy trembled, in anticipation and then confusion, as he peered into the tenebrosity. The youth registered what was once a hideous critter, but now looked vaguely like his… father? He almost scoffed, as he leaned forward to inspect this new enigma. The shadows of his sire snapped towards the boy, and crashed its fist against his face. For something without a steady form, its strength was impossible, lifting the boy off his feet and cracking his dome back. Coppery fluid violently flooded between the boy’s teeth. The boy stood again, unable to understand where he found the strength to do so. And once more he incredulously witnessed his limbs move. But the shadows had retreated, the pitch-black almost forgiving now. Compassionate peals of laughter erupted, reverberating not in his ears but in his mind. Warm and welcoming, once again drawing him forth. But no matter where he ran to, only gloom greeted him. It was lonely. The unsightly entity whipped into existence behind him once more, this time presented in gracefully repositioning organisms, almost feminine. They were calming, offering the tranquil of nostalgia, yet the memories wouldn’t embrace him, like a sneeze that wouldn’t eject. He floundered towards the illuminated shapes, openly weeping but unsure why. He had no recollection of the last time he had ever cried. As soon as the boy reached to hold this new amity, it retreated into nothingness, leaving only the distorted blackness for company. He felt… abandoned, and at that very moment, he understood he had lost. He opened his eyes to gaze at his reflection in the mirror. The cold ring of metal was still pinioned against the boy’s temple. He didn’t know how long he’d drowned in thought, but he steeled himself, lest there be a flicker of hesitation. The boy pulled the trigger.