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When Monsters are Real

Estimated reading time — 8 minutes

There are many stories about monsters. Have you ever stopped to think about what makes something a monster? Charybdis, Dracula, Grendel, and Slenderman are all different, yet they share some fundamental quality. I suppose you could say you know one when you see one, but do you really? What is the shared ingredient connecting them all? You could call dictators, zombies, murderers, and violent animals monsters. Some are orderly and well dressed, some are falling apart, and some are only acting on instinct. I think it’s that they all have the capacity to harm the innocent.

I would like to tell you about a particularly frightening monster. This one is different from what you find in a typical horror story for two reasons. First, it is completely senseless and barely mobile. It does not think. It will not chase you, or intentionally try to harm you at all. It is unaware of your existence or its own; an idiot lying alone in a crushing blackness. At one single point in time it lashed out in an act of violence, but ever since it lies almost perfectly still in the darkness, while people try to forget it existed. Now, it simply sits there, even if you approach it, neither fleeing nor pursuing you. It will not try to psychologically manipulate you, trick you, eat you, or anything we often associate with monsters. It is more dangerous than that. If you get too close to it, it will destroy you. You won’t even notice it is happening until it is too late.

The second thing to keep in mind is that it is real. Many scary stories claim to be true, but by the end of this reading you will realize that I am not lying. The monster is out there in the world, right now, as you read this. You probably don’t believe me yet, but allow me the opportunity to convince you.
Before we begin, some background. Years ago mankind created it with the idea that they would keep it contained and use it as a source of energy. Thanks to carelessness and poor training, however, the experts lost control of it and in return it caused a massive explosion before escaping into the basement where it waits to this day. I can tell you how to find it yourself, but please don’t actually try it. To begin with, it is highly illegal. It was originally created by humans. The powers that be will not appreciate you looking for it. Anyone going on this journey will almost certainly be caught and arrested. They will be the lucky ones, facing only a fine and a stint in prison. These laws are in place for your own protection. Those who make it through will face almost certain death as the monster shreds their body to pieces before they’ve even realized it. How much are you willing to risk assuaging your curiosity? .


There are two options for getting close. I recommend the more difficult route, as your chances of success are higher. You must travel to a remote village and take a lonely hike through the wilderness and into the desolation. I suggest stocking up on backpacking and camping supplies, and enough food to survive a couple of days outside. You’ll also need a flashlight, because there is no lighting in its lair. If you don’t want to hike, you could book a tour. Of course profiteers sell tours of the area surrounding it. It killed many people and chased thousands more from their homes and now there are tours. People can be hard to understand sometimes. On the other hand, how different is that from your own curiosity? At any rate, I don’t recommend the tour. They won’t take you close enough to see it for yourself, and if you try to sneak away from the group, the authorities will be alerted to your disappearance and you will be caught. Stick to the lonely hike.
When you arrive at the starting point, you will find yourself in a small city of about 10,000 people near a river. They call it a city but it’s more like a modest town. This is the last populated outpost before you journey north into the realm of the beast. There are a few tiny villages ahead, but they are extremely small and remote. There are no more major roads. So I think your best chance is to get to this city and proceed on foot. Nearly everyone who used to live further north fled in terror, abandoning their homes and possessions in the process. Many did not escape quickly enough and perished shortly after.
From the city you need to head northeast. There is a dirt road that will take you through a few villages, and at this point in the trip you still aren’t technically trespassing. That being said, you will look out of place and arouse suspicion. You could alternatively try following the river bank, taking cover in the shallow part, or head straight north and then east across fields. The lack of humans has allowed the animal population to flourish. Be careful of wolves. I’ll let you figure out which way makes the most sense to you. But as long as you travel in that general direction, you will eventually reach a barbed wire fence and several warning signs marking the outer perimeter. This is the threshold. Now the fun begins. You will need to sneak across the barbed wire. From here on you will be arrested on sight. The fence will be watched, but beyond it the wilderness is punctuated with abandoned villages and other signs of decay. This will go on for miles. You should be able to find cover there. It may be wise to wait until dark to cross the fence and move on. The cover of darkness will help you move undetected.

Consider taking your time. People pay good money to see the devastation, and rarely does anyone get to explore unescorted. But make sure you do not linger for too long. You are now within the monster’s sphere of influence, though at this distance it is still fairly weak. You probably didn’t notice, but it already is beginning its work on you.
You need to travel east after crossing the barrier. If you begin to see blood-red, petrified trees you are starting to get close. The monster destroyed the trees in its outburst and caused them to petrify in this unnatural color. Only a few remain, as most have fallen. Your demise won’t be as glamorous. Eventually, through the murky darkness, you should be able to discern a large man-made lake with a mostly abandoned city on its northwestern shore, and an industrial site further in the distance. In the dark it may be hard to spot. Head for the city streets, but remember to be discreet. There are a few people here, mostly government approved workers. Some are working on the construction of a solitary new building; the others are there to arrest people like you. They rotate in and out, never spending more than a few hours in the abandoned city. You wouldn’t want to live there.
If you take the time to poke around, you’ll find the abandoned buildings full of relics from the past. While the workers still spend limited periods of time here, a lot of the city is frozen in a bygone era, with possessions dropped where they were when the masses fled. But this isn’t why you came this far, is it? It’s time to get serious. Further north and east, on the horizon it sits: a silhouette on the black horizon. It is the partially built confinement building. The arches are intended to keep the monster within. Humanity’s first attempt at such confinement was an abysmal failure. The second attempt was a decade behind schedule at this writing, and the construction is being threatened by recent armed conflict that has erupted nearby. If you’re still serious, you’ll need to ignore all of this. You wanted to see it. Your objective lies within the half-built structure. I suspect some readers have already figured out where it is by now. They are not likely to be comforted, as it has become apparent that I am telling the truth. I implore you to turn back now. It only gets worse.
Instead, you may be thinking that must get inside the dome without being spotted. I have no advice here; but the authorities don’t monitor it constantly, so it may be possible to pull this off. The dome is designed to keep the monster inside and is not intended for easy entry and exit. You’ll have to survey the situation for yourself. If you somehow manage to get in you will see before you the original confinement structure, cheerfully referred to as “The Sarcophagus.” Note the holes in the wall and the caved-in ceiling, evidence that it refuses to be confined.


The roof collapsed years ago; and even before that, the numerous holes in the walls rendered the entire structure ineffectual. Gaining entry from here should not be difficult and at this point the authorities will not be a problem unless you were spotted climbing into the dome. Rarely do people get this close. The monster’s effect on you is growing now. If you’ve made it this far, your chances of survival have decreased. It’s already destroying you. Perhaps descending directly from the tall smokestack of The Sarcophagus is the best way to get your bearings. The wreckage inside is immense and will make maneuvering difficult. The fallen metal beams are all around, with narrow and unstable walkways in between. Further collapses of the inner structure are possible, so proceed with extreme caution.
You need to proceed to the center of the structure, and then descend. There is a large pit several meters away from the base of the smokestack. The monster lies directly under it, but I recommend not crawling straight down through the pit. Instead, try to get at it from the side. Find a collapsed bit of floor to crawl into the dark basement. There may even be an access shaft or stairs available. Beyond that the beast is waiting for you. You’re very close now. I hope you brought a flashlight because it is the only way to see. The electricity doesn’t work. Take a look around at the halls and the inside of the moldering basement tunnel.
Have you kept your orientation? With the smokestack behind you and the pit in front of and above you, proceed down the hall. You’ll arrive at a corner. Pause here and take a breath. The monster lies in just around the corner. Take another breath. You are about to see something many people aren’t even aware exists. Are you sure you are ready to proceed? Then continue on.
You’ll see another hallway with the same dingy walls and no sign of a monster. The only thing out of the ordinary will be a rounded lump that appears to be partially liquefied rock, oozing from the back wall. It will seem almost alien. Go ahead and get close, reach down and touch it. It should feel warm. You’ve found it.
At this point you should ask yourself: What madness drove you to travel here?
The monster is most commonly known as The Elephant’s Foot. Sometimes it is called Medusa; looking at it means almost certain death. It barely moves, it won’t pursue you or try to psychologically manipulate you, but tearing through the fabric of the universe itself, it is destroying the cells of your body from within. It is considered by many to be the most dangerous object in the world. If you turn and run immediately, if you find a hospital, you may survive, but at this point it is unlikely. Within a half an hour, you will begin to feel nauseous and start to vomit. Within hours, you will have a headache, diarrhea and fever. You probably are already feeling weak, fatigued, and disoriented. Your hair will fall out and your skin will burn. You now belong to the beast and it will claim you within a few weeks. I hope it was worth it.


I have mentioned that it barely moves. But it does move, very slowly. It is still melting into the Earth through the concrete underneath. If it melts down into the groundwater, it could once again unleash its destructive force. It could render the water supply deadly, or cause another explosion. It could spew more of its damaging essence into the atmosphere. Its wrath may not yet be spent. The monster still poses a danger. Ignoring it is not an option for us.
But you’re not really there. You didn’t really go on this journey. You are still sitting safely at home, or a local coffee shop, miles and miles away from it. However, as I said at the beginning, this monster is different. It’s out there in the world, right now, as you read this, senseless in the dark.
A few people have seen it in person, and even been photographed with it. But the images come out distorted and ghostly. They look like they have been manipulated by software, but these are the actual images as they come out on film.
Go ahead and research it for yourself. You will find it’s all true.

Credit: C. Murphy

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14 thoughts on “When Monsters are Real”

  1. Millennium Falcon

    What a way to come up with this interesting description of Chernobyl and that lethal Elephant’s Foot… The word “Sarcophagus” and “tall smokestack” were the big clues to this horrible nuclear disaster, of which the effects are still being felt today!

  2. This was really well done. Early on it became obvious that its Chernobyl, and I started to get worried that this was going to be some kind of allegory against nuclear power. Instead you managed to take something we’ve all come to accept and make it frightening all over again. Keep writing!

  3. Coincidently I watched a video on the Elephant’s Foot yesterday and this paints an accurate description. Well done.

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