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MONSTER

Stanton was furious. He turned to Alika and his voice trembled. 'Look at them! Look at those bloody idiots! Can't they read? The sign states clearly that no animals are allowed.' Alika stared at him blankly through her enormous sunglasses and then continued to paint her toenails. Stanton handed her the binoculars. 'Have a look,' he said. She took it and laid it gently on the table. 'I am not interested,' she said and took a slender cigarette from a gilded holder. She lit it and let the smoke roll slowly over her full lips. 'Why are you so obsessed with what's happening on the beach?'

'Obsession is the mother of success, my dear. Something you are quite unfamiliar with.' He had difficulty in hiding the venom in his voice. She pouted disapprovingly and produced a nail file from her bag. Stanton knew that it meant that the conversation was finished. At least from her side. He rubbed his temples, silently cursing the headache he was developing. 'I'll see you later,' he mumbled and marched out of the house.

The breeze was soothing, the saline smell of the sea carried on it like an exotic perfume. Coarse sand was massaging his bare feet. He stared philosophically at the bleeding eye dipping behind the horizon. Success meant nothing, he thought. Not without adventure...

His headache was but a distant memory, and he felt strangely elated. Being on the beach, close to the sea always smoothed his ruffled feathers. It was just those damn holidaymakers, despoiling the scenery, snarling up the traffic, creating noise wherever they go...

He noticed the light going on at the house. Alika. She was an expensive piece of furniture, a cute little toy, he thought. She went well with his beachfront cottage. Her days were filled with toenails, dresses and shopping. She made such little effort to understand him, even though her simple mind understood his monetary position perfectly well. But it made scant difference to him. Users can never be used.

When he arrived at the house she was paging through the evening newspaper. He poured himself a whiskey and went out to the balcony, without saying a word. She put the paper down and joined him, gently rubbing his shoulders. 'You were gone for a long time, darling. I thought you'd left me for good,' she whispered in a hurt voice. He laughed. 'That's only wishful thinking on your part, my love. The sea, the sand, the air...that's me. That's my life. I would never leave here.' Alika moved closer to him. 'Stanton, I love you, you know that. You are just so intense about everything. And you have such a temper!' She moved away and lit a cigarette. 'Isn't it terrible?', she said. 'They found the bodies of two people on the beach this morning. They were both strangled and mutilated.' He turned to her and smiled. 'Since when are you so interested in the news, darling?'

'Stanton, it happened right here, in our area! Aren't you worried about it?'

'No, not really. If one were fearful of everything that's written in the newspaper one would be scared of life, not so? The victims were probably just holidaymakers, anyway. Not local.'

'But Stanton, I am scared. They say there's a serial killer or something in the neighbourhood.' He looked at her frightened face in surprise. For the first time since he'd known her, he sensed some genuine emotion in her, albeit fear. 'Come, come. I won't let anything happen to you,' he said tenderly and put his arms around her.

He was up early the next day, savouring the spectacular sunrise over the peninsula. Life was at its most glorious. He made himself a light breakfast, careful not to wake Alika, found his binoculars and took up his favourite position on the balcony. It was a short while later that Alika woke to a strange noise. A low, growling noise was coming from the balcony. She tried to wipe the cobwebs of sleep from her mind as she stumbled out of bed and walked out of the bedroom. 'Stanton?' she called, but got no reply. Apprehensively she moved towards the balcony and heaved a sigh of relief when she saw Stanton, hunched over and staring through his binoculars. 'You almost gave me a fright, you silly thing,' she cried and walked to him.

'Look at them! This is just too much. They have actually started a fire, the cretins!' he grated.

Alika suddenly noticed the whiteness of Stanton's knuckles, and the dribble of saliva at the corner of his contorted mouth. She stepped back, sensing the raw, primitive anger, crouched and ready to pounce. 'Stanton...are you all right?' she asked, knowing but not believing the answer. Out of habit, she wanted to touch him, but realised it would no different from stroking a viper. Stanton gave a strangled chuckle, keeping his eyes glued to the binoculars.

'Someone will have to teach them a lesson they'll never forget,' he whispered. 'A lesson they won't live to regret!' 

Etienne A.  Marais   1996