tagNonHumanBeautiful Monsters Like Us

Beautiful Monsters Like Us


Life isn't easy when you're what I am, but of course, most of my human acquaintances claim to have it tough even though they're living in a world where they are constantly surrounded by their own kind. I guess it's part of the human condition to feel dissatisfied with one's life. Since I feel that way sometimes, I guess I'm still more human than not. How I live is just a bit different nowadays, that's all. It's weird, the odd turns this life can take. I was born in the City of Alamata, northern Ethiopia, and moved with my parents to the City of Toronto, Ontario, three years later. I barely remember our ancestral homeland of Ethiopia, and grew up about as Canadian as maple syrup. I played ice hockey in high school and everything!

At the start of 2012, I was entering my second year at Ryerson University, where I studied computer science. I was there on an academic scholarship and I can honestly say that I, Maximilian Melku, had the world on a string. My parents, Bogale and Isabel Melku opened a second location for our family restaurant, Casa Habesha. The first one is near our house in the town of Brampton. We're opening a second one near downtown Toronto. A top locale, to be sure. We had to hire more people, and advertise more, but that's okay. We were happy to be doing so well. My parents, like the good Ethiopian Orthodox Church goers that they are, constantly reminded me to be thankful for all blessings. They came to Canada from Ethiopia because there was trouble back home. For me, Canada has always been home. Toronto is my hometown, the Argonauts are my favorite team in the Canadian Football League, and I still pray the Raptors will win the NBA championship someday. Hey, it could happen, right?

Anyhow, the year was off to a nice start. Over the summer, I met a gorgeous young woman named Fatima Ochoa. You've got to believe me when I say that she is beyond FINE, guys. Five feet ten inches tall, curvy and big-bottomed, with light bronze skin, long curly black hair and pale green eyes. Fatima is originally from the Dominican Republic, and this Latin American beauty is studying civil engineering at the University of Toronto. I was walking around Mississauga, a little tipsy. It was around three in the morning, and I wasn't feeling too good. I had gone to this party with my friends Miguel and Randy, a couple of Jamaican guys I knew from school, and they ended up leaving me there. I didn't have any way of getting home and with only eleven dollars in my pocket, I couldn't get a cab back to Brampton, where my folks and I live. As luck would have it, I found my way to a park bench and parked my ass there.

I sat on the bench, wishing I had a way of getting home. It was kind of chilly that night, even though it was the middle of July. Toronto weather can be weird sometimes. We're warmer than other parts of provincial Ontario in the winter, and our summers can be brutally hot too. Still, our early mornings in the summer can be surprisingly cold at times. I sat there, thinking about all the things I'd do to Miguel and Randy next time I saw their sorry mugs. As I mused over things, I heard a scream. It sounded like a woman. I looked up, and saw this broad struggling against a dude twice her size. Without thinking, I rushed to her defense. I just slammed into the dude, and he barely budged. The guy was big, white and kind of smelly, oh, and he was almost a foot taller than my five-foot-nine. He struck me, and I should have felt pain, but I guess the alcohol running through my system dulled my senses. I didn't fall, instead I dealt him an uppercut on the chin. Dude went down like a sack of potatoes.

I stood over this giant, the unlikely hero of this piece. I stood there looking at him, and was vaguely aware of someone touching my shoulder while talking to me. It was the chick I'd, well, rescued. She was talking in a language I couldn't understand. Maybe because it was Spanish. I speak English, some French and some Amharic, which most Ethiopians speak at home. I looked at the gal in question, and grinned. She was really pretty. Looked real hot in a red tank top and short white skirt. I should have said something cool, because she was smiling at me. Instead I doubled over and barfed in front of her. I'm usually man enough to hold my liquor but tonight after four Heinekens, two Molson's and three Alexander Keith's, I was just about down for the count. There are a lot of things in life guys wish wouldn't happen to them in front of a woman. I think vomiting because you've drunk too much and your dick not working definitely top the list. Luckily only the former has happened to me so far.

That's how I met Fatima Ochoa, ladies and gentlemen. This gorgeous young Dominican woman who would end up becoming my first serious girlfriend. As it turns out, she came from the same party I just left, though I don't remember seeing her there. A tall, curvy Latin beauty with an ass like hers? Definitely someone I'd remember! Fatima apparently got into a dispute with her girlfriends, and they made her get out of the car and told her to walk the rest of the way. When she told me that, I laughed, and she told me in a heated tone that if I hadn't just helped her, she'd slap the bejesus out of me. I smiled apologetically and told her that my friends ditched me as well. When I said that, she smiled. I grinned and offered to walk her home. She declined politely, but did give me her number. Hey, considering I just barfed in front of her, I consider that a good thing. Fatima walked away into the early morning, and I watched that mesmerizing ass of hers practically sashaying from side to side like a pendulum of temptation. I've mostly dated Black girls in this lifetime. Had I known Latin chicks had butts like that, I would have dated one a long time ago!

Fatima and I would add each other on Facebook the next day, and we chatted on the phone. I asked her out to a movie and after some initial hesitation, she was cool with it. Friday night after sundown, I took her to the movies, and we both had a good time. That's how it all began between us. Now, I do wish that were the end of it because what followed definitely creeped me out. Fatima and I were off to a nice start, I guess. She's tall and beautiful, and she's also quite new to Canada. I was more than happy to show her around Toronto, one of the best cities in North America. Fatima was a lot of fun. She seemed so excited when I took her to the museum, and the movies. Now, I'm glad she liked these things, but she acted like it was an entirely new experience for her. Now, surely a gal that beautiful has been on her share of outings with men, right?

I liked Fatima, and she seemed to like me. When I asked her about her family, she'd get evasive, and tell me they were back in the Dominican Republic. I didn't press, you know, because I could tell it was a sensitive subject with her. We'd been going out for three months when I finally kissed her, and she kissed me back with a passion and a hunger that surprised me. I held her in my arms and caressed her as we played tonsil hockey. When our eyes opened and our lips parted, she smiled at me and told me she liked kissing me. I grinned and nodded. In high school, chicks told me I was a lousy kisser but Fatima liked what I did. I like that chick, man. That's why I asked her to meet my parents. I invited her over for Sunday dinner. When I said that, Fatima went pale.

I backtracked, thinking that maybe I'd rushed things, you know? I flashed her a nervous smile and told her that we could postpone it if she didn't feel ready to meet my mom and dad yet. Truth be told, I've only brought one other gal to meet my folks. The gal I went out with for a few weeks in the twelfth grade. Nothing before or since. Fatima is the gal I've gone out with in years. That shouldn't surprise you. Truth is, I'm a nerdy young black man. The ladies aren't exactly beating down my door. I go to Ryerson University, I balance the books at my parents restaurants and I go to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Toronto, that's all. Just your average guy, really. I considered myself lucky to date someone like Fatima Ochoa, gorgeous young woman from Latin America. I didn't want to ruin it by pressuring her too much too soon, you know?

Fatima looked at me for a long moment, then she smiled and told me she'd be happy to meet my parents. I grinned and sighed with relief. I took her hand in mine and kissed it. Then I drove her back to her place. She'd never once invited me over, but that's okay. Like I said, I didn't want to rush things. When I talked about her to my friends and family, they accused me of making her up. I showed them her Facebook profile. They were still teasing me about it. I didn't pay them any mind because my relationship with Fatima mattered to me, and I didn't want to jeopardize it. The next day, I thought it would be cool if I sent her flowers so I went to the University of Toronto campus downtown and asked around.

Now, I figured that since Fatima was a foreigner, so she was most likely an international student. When I went to the international students office, the lady working there smiled at me when she saw the flowers. I told her who they were for, and asked if I could leave them for Fatima. She was so kind and helpful, that lady, she decided to call Fatima. A lot of administration officials wouldn't have been so helpful. In this day and age, with psychos shooting people in malls and people killing their spouses for no reason, folk aren't too trusting when someone comes around asking questions. Not this lady. She looked up Fatima Ochoa in the computer and told me that no student by that name was or had ever been at the University of Toronto. I was flabbergasted, man!

I went home that afternoon feeling like a sucker. I knew that Fatima was too good to be true. All of a sudden, I found myself questioning so many things about her. was Fatima even her real name? Did she come from the Dominican Republic or did she make that up? I just realized that the woman I care for, the woman I thought I knew, wasn't who I thought she was. I went home that night and honestly, for the first time in ages, I, um, cried. The next day, I called Fatima but she wouldn't answer her phone. I went by her building, or the building where she almost made me drop her off, and knocked on the door. I figured I'd talk to the super, pretend to be a potential renter, and see what's up. I never got a chance to do that, for I saw three men come out of a van. It was three o'clock in the afternoon and these four white guys came out of the van, with swords and sharp sticks in their hands. Even for the GTA, where all kinds of shit happens, this was the epitome of strangeness. Who were these bozos and what were they up to? I looked at them, and realized that one of them looked awfully familiar. Why, yes indeed, it was the guy who attacked Fatima in the park that night, all those months ago!

Man, this was getting stranger by the minute. I ducked behind a car in the building parking lot, and kept an eye on these creeps. I should have left and called the police, but curiosity is a mofo. I followed them in the back of the building. They went in through a back door, which they left ajar. I waited about five minutes, then went in. In hindsight, I probably did the worst thing anyone could have done upon seeing strange armed men entering a building in broad daylight, but hey, I was having a strange week. I went into the building, and was surprised to find myself not in some apartment but some kind of basement. It was dark, but I could hear shouting. I could hear men shouting, people hitting people, and something else, an almost feline sound. What the hell was that?

Somehow, my hand found the light switch, and I saw...what I shouldn't have seen. What I would never forget. Two guys were on the ground, bleeding profusely. They weren't moving. Two more guys brandishing swords stood facing a feral woman whose eyes blazed with fury. A woman with claws and fangs. A woman who couldn't possibly be human. The feral woman, whose eyes blazed bright red, glared at her attackers. A roar not unlike that of a lion escaped her throat, and she surged toward them. She raked her claws at the first man, and he went down, his throat ripped out. The last remaining guy thrust his sword into the bestial woman. A howl of pain, a defiant but pained hiss, and then she was down. The swordsman stood over her, and raised his sword for the killing stroke. What happened next surprised everyone involved. I don't remember rushing toward the two of them, or tackling the guy to the floor. I don't remember him stabbing me with his blade, or the woman seizing the opportunity to leap to her feet and eviscerate him with her claws and fangs. I do not remember all that. I was told later, much later.

No, what I do remember is lying down on the floor, next to the corpses of the swordsmen. I remember Fatima kneeling beside me, a worried expression on her beautiful face, which wasn't feral anymore. With a very human, non-clawed hand, she stroked my cheek and thanked me for saving her life. I remember looking at her and telling her that she could have been honest with me, and then I closed my eyes. Oblivion awaited me, the Grim Reaper was on his way to take me either to the Pearly Gates of Heaven or the crimson Gates of Hell. No way any human being could survive being run through with a sword like I had been. Death be not proud, thou hast come to claim the coolest black nerd since Steve Urkel.

I lay there and waited for death, but the Grim Reaper never came. I was snatched from the jaws of death itself by something powerful and immortal. When I opened my eyes, I was in another place. No, not a higher plane of existence. I was in a bed, in a nice-looking apartment somewhere. Standing over me was a worried-looking Fatima. She smiled at me and asked me how I felt. I rose to my feet and told her I felt great. I looked at my stomach, and realized that I was completely healed. A very tiny scar remained of the spot where the sword nearly cleaved me in two. How could that be? I looked at Fatima, puzzled. I felt...strange. Different. Don't ask me how, but I knew I had been somehow...changed.

Fatima explained everything to me, once I was able to digest it. This young-looking woman whom I romanced was older than she seemed. Fatima was born in 1189 A.D. in Al-Andalus, which is the Arabic name for the nation of Spain when it was ruled by the Moors. The daughter of an Arab prince who married a Spanish noblewoman. Fatima lived a normal life until 1208 A.D. when she encountered an ancient creature while hunting in the Spanish countryside with her father. The creature was among the last of its kind. It was huge and hairy, ape-like, but with claws, fangs and glowing red eyes. The beast bit her, and transferred some of its essence into her. Ever since that day, she was...changed. Fatima discovered that she had the strength of ten men, she was immune to aging and illness, and she could no longer abide normal food. She hungered for the flesh and blood of living creatures. Raw meat was what she craved. She had become a monster.

Fatima smiled sadly at me while she told me various anecdotes from her eight centuries of life. Born in a Muslim household, she would grow disgusted with religion shortly after becoming more than human. Living eternally made her appreciate the frailty of human existence, and she saw what a destructive force religion could be. Shunning both Christianity and Islam, she left the continent of Europe and wandered across southeast Asia and even sub-Saharan Africa. As she encountered various peoples, she became somewhat of a legend. They called her the monster woman, the freak, the anomaly. Sometimes she was worshipped as a goddess, other times she was feared as a monster. Oftener than not, she was hunted across continents by a sect of men and women dedicated to ridding the world of unnatural creatures. The same guys who came after her recently. Fatima locked eyes with me and told me that she killed people when she had to and only when she had to. To stay alive, she said.

I considered all that, then asked her what was to become of me. Fatima gently touched my face, then told me that I would never grow old or get sick. I would heal quickly from any injury, and I would soon discover my system unable to tolerate ordinary human foods. Only raw meat and hot blood would sustain me. I would become stronger and faster than I ever thought I could be, but there was a price to pay. The light of day would always pain me. For now, I could walk in it without too much difficulty. In the coming decades, the sun's rays would drain me of all energy and I'd become weak to the point of being comatose when exposed to direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure would cause me to wither and die. I wouldn't burst into flames like a vampire in a poorly scripted television show. I'd simply wither, like a raisin in the sun. Sunlight was bad for whatever I was now. That's why most of our kind were nocturnal. Fatima had no name for what we were. She told me she'd been called a Lamia, a ghoul, a vampire and a demon. We simply are what we are, she told me. Then she kissed me.

The following morning, I left her. I went back to my parents house, and told them some story about staying at a pal's on campus. They were worried sick, but they forgave me. I introduced them to Fatima, and they were delighted to meet her. when I told them that she and I would be moving in together, they were less than thrilled. They felt we were too young for that. They thought they were looking at a pair of college-age brats. Before them stood an eight-hundred-year-old embodiment of the monstrous feminine and a fledgling monster...and they sensed nothing. Ah, humanity. I looked at my parents, told them I would always love them and asked them to respect my decision. I was doing this for their sake as well as mine. Whatever I was now, proximity and intimacy with humans would be a bad for me and for them. I am a monster. In the end, my parents respected my decision. I kissed my mother on the cheek, hugged my father and shook his hand, then I left.

I got in my car with Fatima, and we drove away. I don't know what life has in store for me, and honestly, I'm in no rush to find out. Fatima and I had a long talk. I am still trying to figure out this newfound existence of mine. There was much I had to learn about what we were. Our strengths and weaknesses. I found out that only the oldest and strongest among us could will their teeth into fangs and their nails into claws. For now, I wasn't a full-fledged monster yet. I was merely superhuman. Good to know I was still more human than not, at this point. It's a small comfort, I guess. It's not easy eating raw meat and drinking blood. I go to a butcher shop for that. You should see the looks on the butchers faces when I come for what has become my weekly routine.

Fatima and I got a condo together in York, and I continued attending Ryerson University. I continued to visit my parents, and spending time with my family. Fatima encouraged me to sever all ties with the human world, and I told her to mind her fucking business. We're of the same breed now, and we are lovers as well as allies, but I wouldn't call her someone I trust explicitly. There's much I still don't know about her. I'm trying to balance being what I am with being true to the person I was and continue to be. I am Maximilian "Max" Melku, comic book collector, video game addict, computer wizard and all-around nerd. And I am more than human. We all wear different hats, I guess. Mine are just more complicated than most. Wish me luck, eh? I think I'm going to need it. The forever business sounds complicated, to say the least.

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