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Short Story - The Beast

            The curtains hang in dusty uneven folds, half hanging off the rail in places and only an inch longer than the window itself. They are aged curtains, abused by many years of rough handling and careless indifference. They are barely big enough and as thin as a summer smock. It was not summer. As I released my hold on the curtains, they ever so gracefully settled back against the aged walnut finish of the window sill where a quiet whisper comes whistling through. The beast outside, it seems, was desperately trying to convey its secrets and rumors to me through the ever expanding gaps in the shrinking cracked caulk and the quarter-inch thick single pane of glass that it still tries to maintain a grasp of. This aged and crippled shield that separated my kingdom from the lands of many holds within its twisted frame a view to the starkness and reality of what must be dealt with. The breath of what is waiting on the other side was sharp and piercing like a dagger with a thousand blades and the arguments that it's providing for the upcoming encounter has no purpose, save that, to discourage and dishearten and man from his quest. What is to happen next is done with the heaviest of hearts.
             With an outstretched arm covered with several layers of armored protection, I reach for the upside down convex image of myself being reflected in the rounded tarnish of the brass handle. Grasping the raw chill of the handle with a hand that somehow knows that this simple act is going to certainly lead to pain and suffering, it is turned ever so slowly. With tentative actions through careful consideration, the solid dark oak barrier that has protected my kingdom dutifully for many seasons from the lands beyond these walls is breached to reveal the source of my demise. Stepping through the portal to the outside world is met with a blinding white stare into the eyes of the beast itself. Squinting through the needles and freezing droplets of regret in my eyes they begin to adjust to the untouched virgin white world which lay before me.

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