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  • Grace O'Hare

Book Excerpt: Monsters Outside

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Here's a short sample of The Moth and the Bear, the beginning of Chapter 3. Enjoy!


“Jani… listen,” Kaelin grabbed the eldest Vienn sister by her arms.

Jani just looked confused. There was so much noise in the main room no one else had noticed what Kaelin had. Knowing it was there, she could still feel, rather than hear, the rumble beneath her feet. Outside, the summer sun shone down from a cloudless sky.

Kaelin suddenly grasped what the rumble reminded her of: what a couple large rynos pulling a cart side-by-side sounded like, only much slower and heavier.

Massive, four-legged footsteps.

A metal teapot fell from its place in the kitchen with a clang and the babble in the house ceased. In the stillness, Kaelin could just barely make out what may have been screams in the street, and the rumbling came stronger. Kaelin saw the terrible realization dawn on all the faces around her.

“Medved’ Beis,” someone whispered.

Abruptly the rumbles halted, and the world became unnaturally quiet. Kaelin heard someone’s voice from outside, muffled by walls and doors. They seemed to be yelling.

Another voice responded; a dark, feral voice unlike any Kaelin had heard before. It reverberated as though amplified through the walls of the house and sent ghastly shivers up Kaelin’s spine. Even with its bizarre volume, Kaelin could not understand it, as if it was too deep to comprehend.

That’s when she realized the voice wasn’t speaking Sorian, the language Kaelin had been using for years. It was speaking Tobrish.

Kaelin struggled to remember what she knew. Demyan had made a point of speaking Tobrish at every opportunity, even going so far as to teach Peter some phrases, but Kaelin hadn’t spoken it in years.

A sharp series of rumbles made the two youngest Vienns, Fiona and Matilda, squeal in terror. Eva shushed them fearfully. Somewhere, the brave soul who knew Tobrish spoke up, his feeble voice barely audible.

“You already took him five years ago! He never returned!”

In reply, a voice like the crumbling of a mountain roared, sending everyone in the cottage scrambling for a hiding place.

“Did I?” The walls trembled. “All these villages look the same…”

Jani, Lila, Fiona, Kaelin, and Mrs. Vienn all crammed themselves into a closet, but there were too many of them to shut the door. Lila shoved Kaelin out and slammed the door without another glance while Eva, Matilda, and their father scattered. The speaker was very close.

“No, couldn’t be. You lie.”

There was a tremendous crash and a great deal of screaming from somewhere. Kaelin shuddered fearfully as she shuffled underneath a table.

“What is it saying?” Eva hissed to her from a cupboard.

“I think they’re looking for someone…” Kaelin whimpered.

“Bring him out!” roared the impatient Medved’ Beis. “Do so or I will decimate your homes!”

“Father,” groaned another Beis. “Maybe it would be easier to-”

“Hush, I’m sure there’s a blacksmith here that will suit you,” snapped the first. “All that these humans need is coaxing. You hear me? Bring him out!”

“We have none! He’s gone!”

“Lies! We heard him working last night in that… oh what’s it called…”

Another voice cut in, weak and trembling with fear: “That was his daughter!”

A wave of burning cold rattled down Kaelin’s spine. She looked at Eva, then at the other girls peeking out of their hiding places. “They want a blacksmith…” she breathed.

“A daughter?” the Beis laughed humorlessly. “Don’t taunt me.”

There was another horrible noise, the sound of rending wood, rattling the table over Kaelin’s head. A vivid determination ignited behind her eyes. Quickly, Kaelin scrambled out and ran for the door. She could end this.

“Kaelin, no!” cried Matilda, and Kaelin hesitated. She turned to see Matilda clawing to escape from the kitchen pantry, fighting against the hands of her terrified father.

“Don’t listen to her,” hissed Eva, her round eyes set in a face pale with fright, “go, save us!”

A chorus of hushed pleas echoed through the cottage, and Kaelin set her shoulders, needing no more encouragement. She sprung again for the door and was struck with a sense of inevitability, as if a dispassionate hand were pulling her along by her belt. She burst into the sunlight without apprehension and looked around at the trees for a sign of the monster terrorizing her village. She felt brave, strong, purposeful. She could save everyone, she could end this.


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