Dr. Lena Mendez stared at the computer monitor with rapt fascination, her dark brown eyes shining with wonder. She absentmindedly brushed a strand of slick black hair behind her ear and pushed a pair of light spectacles further up onto the bridge of her nose. Her full attention she gave only to what she saw on the screen.
It was hard to believe that she and her partner, Dr. Bobby Beakler, had come so far. It had just been a silly idea, a childish fancy, a thing she had dreamed about without any hope of it ever coming true. Now it was going to become a reality. Monsters were going to live.
Lena closed her eyes and pictured what the first monster would look like. A huge, single eyeball, with a short stalk and a big mouth. Suezo. A cute name for a cute monster.
“Lena.” Lena jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder. She opened her eyes and turned around to see her partner staring down at her, worry in his hazel eyes.
“Oh, Bobby!” Lena exclaimed. “You startled me!”
Bobby chuckled, rifling a hand through his short orange hair. “Come on, Lena, you’ve been sitting here all night. I wasn’t even sure if you were alive, you were so still. Now, why don’t we both go and get some rest? Tomorrow’s a big day.”
Lena reluctantly rose and followed his advice. Tomorrow she’d meet her first monster.
Lena’s eyes snapped open, but all she saw was gray. She felt a strange sensation in her stomach, almost as if she was floating. She looked down and gulped as she realized that she was floating. There was no floor beneath her. There was nothing to hold her up, only the endless gray surrounding her.
“A dream?” she wondered aloud.
A strange cloaked figure materialized suddenly beside her, and Lena took a frightened stepped back. His cloak was the same gray as her surroundings, making it almost impossible to see where he was.
“A dream,” agreed the figure. The voice was decidedly masculine, but not too deep. “And more than a dream. Dr. Mendez, you created – no, are about to create – monsters. Would you know what you have done?”
“What…what do you mean?”
“I live in your future, Dr. Mendez. Monsters were created to be highly intelligent pets, were they not?” The cloaked figure did not wait for her nod to continue. “They are not sentient, cannot speak and act as we do. And maybe that’s for the best. But seeing what I have seen, I must question that.”
“We could have designed them to be sentient, but…I just wouldn’t feel right, creating a sentient being.”
“But would you feel right creating them if you knew how they would be used?”
“Come, Dr. Mendez.” The cloaked figure made a sweeping gesture. “Let me show you what your monsters have become.”
The grayness swirled around them, forming different scenes. The first were happy, peaceful, just as Lena had hoped they would be.
A small girl huddled among stalks of tall grass in a meadow, giggling despite her obvious efforts to keep quiet. She gave a surprised squeak as a huge tongue parted the grass in front of her, and she found herself face to face with a bright green eye that was almost as large as she was. The Suezo jumped up happily and laughed at having found her.
The girl leapt to her feet and ran, laughing as the Suezo hopped after her. Finally the monster reached out his tongue and wrapped it around the girl’s waist, lifting her up and setting her down beside him. She hugged him and lightly kissed his cheek. “I love you, Suezo,” she said. The Suezo jumped up and laughed in pleasure.
That scene faded, and another took its place. It was a small, fenced off area outside of a tiny but cozy-looking ranch.
A boy looked up in awe at a Dino, the monster Bobby insisted on creating after Suezo. The boy then turned to the man beside him. “Help me up, Daddy, help me up!” the boy pleaded. His father grinned and lifted the boy, placing him in the saddle on the Dino’s back. “Giddy up!” the boy shouted, and the Dino began to run in circles around the closed area. The boy smiled and waved down at his father. He was having the time of his life.
The scene faded, and there was only gray once more. Lena turned to where she thought her mysterious companion was.
“But these are wonderful,” she said. “This is exactly what we intended monsters to be.”
“Do you really think that all the world can be like that, Dr. Mendez?” the cloaked figure asked. “Think again.” With another gesture, the grayness swirled once again.
Two Tigers, another of Bobby’s ideas, faced each other in an arena. Lena still wasn’t sure why Bobby had wanted to call them Tigers. They looked much more like wolves. She had said as much to Bobby, but he had only replied that that was exactly why he was calling them Tigers.
“Ready? FIGHT!” the announcer shouted, startling Lena out of her reflections.
The Tigers sprang at each other with a snarl, savagely scratching and biting one another. Lena stared in horrified shock as rivulets of blood ran down their fur.
“They’re…they’re killing each other,” she stammered, the color drained from her face.
“They don’t know any better,” the cloaked figure said softly. “Humans raised them to fight to the death, and all for the sake of entertainment.”
The crowd in the arena roared in unison as a Tiger lunged and ripped out the other’s throat. The victor calmly padded back over to its trainer while the loser’s carcass was hauled out of the arena. Money changed hands in the crowd; apparently several had bet on this match. No one bothered to clean off the blood on the arena floor as the next two monsters were led in.
Mercifully, the scene changed, and Lena prayed it wouldn’t be so bloody, so appalling, so wrong. It was the inside of a stable. A man stood, facing his monster, a Pixie. How can I know its name? Lena wondered. Neither she nor Bobby had yet come up with a monster like that.
“This is a dream,” said the cloaked figure, reading her thoughts. “And more than a dream. I show you what I choose, giving you the knowledge you need to understand it. That is why you know its name.”
Lena did not reply, only watched. There was a loud, resounding crack as the man hit his Pixie in the face. “Stupid monster!” He hit her again as tears welled up in her eyes. “This’ll teach you to make mistakes!” The Pixie didn’t fight back, only stood there crying as her master hit her again and again. “Next time get it right!” He punched her in the gut. With a pitiful cry of pain she sank to her knees. “You don’t like this, do you?!” He kicked her again and again, until finally she collapsed on the stable floor. “Don’t you ever, EVER make a mistake like that again!” He kicked her hard one final time, then walked out of the stable, slamming the door behind him. The Pixie just lay there, whimpering in pain.
“Why…why didn’t she fight back?” Lena asked as the grayness swirled beneath them, vanishing the scene.
“She doesn’t even realize that she can fight back,” the cloaked figure said sadly. “That’s a normal occurrence for her. He beats her often, and she can’t even understand why.”
“That…that can’t be.”
“But it is. It’s quite common for a person to mistreat their monsters. Most people in my time don’t even regard it as wrong anymore.”
“But that’s terrible!”
The cloaked figure nodded. “That’s why I am here, Dr. Mendez. You can make monsters as intelligent as humans. Then, at least, they’ll understand what they are doing. Then, at least, they’ll be able to fight back.”
Years later, from the diary of Dr. Lena Mendez…
Sometimes I wonder if this was such a good idea. Even though monsters were created sentient, people still misused them. But they did have the option of fighting back. Oh, how they have been fighting back.
Moo wasn’t in any of your predictions, was he, you mysterious cloaked man?
He’s advancing on this lab right now, with an army of monsters. They’re going to destroy us. They’re going to destroy the world.
So tell me, my strange cloaked friend, was it worth it? Was it really worth the destruction of our world, just so monsters could be sentient?
A man came to me the other day, saying that everything would be all right in the end. Both monsters and humans would fight this evil. There would be much pain, much suffering, but everything would balance out in the end. The world would be better in the end.
I laughed at him. Called him a fool. I wonder if it was you. You are a fool. Did you really think that all monsters would be good? Did you really think…did you really think that we could live in peace?
We can never live in peace. You fool.