10

I read this in a horror anthology, and thought it was called "I, Monster" but could find nothing through Google on this. Also thought it was an R Chetywnd Hays story, but again it seems invisible now.

I loved this story as a teen - plot as follows (Major Spoilers)

A young woman is in hiding in a house, kept there because she is hideous / bestial and human society would attack her. She is in love with the gardener at the house, peeking at him from hiding, admiring his 'strong back' and other fine features as he works.

She escapes and is hounded down and killed by a mob. As they kill her they recite a pseudo religious litany about how repulsive and dangerous 'beasts' like her are, but in describing the features of these beasts it becomes apparent that she is a beautiful young girl, and the mob are adorned with horns, etc.

Any ideas?

13

"The Monster", a 1970 short story by R. Chetwynd-Hayes, was reprinted in Fantasy Tales, Spring 1991 which is available at the Internet Archive. The story seems also to be the answer to this old question on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange.

A young woman is in hiding in a house, kept there because she is hideous / bestial and human society would attack her.

"Child, can you not see?” The Uncle snapped out the question. “Put out your hand. Now I will lay mine alongside. Look. Mine is shaped by the Almighty, yours ... Do not force me to describe what your eyes must see. Look at my face, then feel your own, the skin — the monstrous growth that covers your head. Can’t you understand that I feel sick in your presence, and I have gazed upon you for nigh on sixteen years. Think how that young man would react were he to see you as you are. He would hand you over to the temple elders for burning, as indeed I should have long since."

She is in love with the gardener at the house, peeking at him from hiding, admiring his 'strong back' and other fine features as he works.

The sin in Caroline’s heart became a canker, and Satan Atomo, no doubt gloating over his conquest, made sure temptation was always before her. The young man seemed to live in the garden. He hoed the black earth that glowered beneath the linen-white flowers, he trimmed the dark green grass with a scythe, and all the time his naked brown back screamed its untranslatable message to Caroline, so that her mind became a hothouse of searing, forbidden thoughts. She kept away from the window for as long as she could, walked round and round the room, and prayed silently to Almighty Jehovah for forgiveness, but always, whenever her attention flagged, she came back to that fatal hole in the curtain.

She escapes and is hounded down and killed by a mob. As they kill her they recite a pseudo religious litany about how repulsive and dangerous 'beasts' like her are,

The priest raised his voice to a near scream.

"And what shall there be on the head?"

"There shall be two ears."

"And how shall the ears be shaped?"

"They will be large, and black, and shall hang down, even to the shoulders."

"And what shall be on the face?"

"There shall be two eyes, one large, one small, and two noses, and twin tusks will grow forth from the cheeks, and the lips shall be black and spread wide, and the teeth shall never be covered. Thus saith the Almighty Jehovah."

"And what shall be on the hands?"

"Two fingers, and they shall have talons, even as the feet hath two toes, and a small tail, not more than twelve inches long, shall hang from the spine, even as Jehovah has decreed."

but in describing the features of these beasts it becomes apparent that she is a beautiful young girl, and the mob are adorned with horns, etc.

Caroline was crying now, not because they had lighted the faggots, but because she could see her reflection in the bronze mirror. She was ugly — it was good that all this ugliness was about to be burnt. She had no lovely brown wrinkled skin; hers was obscenely white and smooth; her head, instead of being nobly domed and ridged, was covered with a grotesque mop of corn-coloured growth, which covered her horrible small ears; she only had one nose, and her eyes were both the same size, but, and this was worst of all, not delicately addled, but blue, surrounded with white, and fringed by the same hideous growth that marred her head. Each hand had four long fingers and a shorter one that stuck out at an angle, and there were five toes to each foot. Her lips were red, not black, and covered her teeth, which should have been irregular, one behind the other; hers were disgustingly white and even.

  • Brilliant, thanks! That's the one! – Norm da Plume Oct 20 '17 at 14:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.