Tall Tales: Behemoth
From the blog of John Matteson
During senior year, a witch at school brought in a focusing crystal. It was a solid piece of quartz, about four inches long, and since we had some downtime in choir she was showing it around and answering questions about what she does with it and letting people take a look. I was reading when Rick nudged me and asked if I’d seen it yet. I told him I hadn’t.
“This is the type of thing you’re into, though!” he announced. I mean, yeah, I research magic here and there, but it’s less that I’m into magic and more that I’d like to understand why spirits keep wanting my attention. The nuance had always been lost on him.
“You want to see it?” she asked. It was then I noticed we’d drawn the attention of the whole group gathered around the crystal.
“Ah, no, me and magic don’t exactly get along,” I offered.
“Oh don’t be ridiculous,” she said, coming over. “Open your hand.”
“I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“I can tell, there’s something about you, try it. Just hold it for a second and see what happens.” I sighed and opened my hand, and she began to hand the crystal over. As soon as it touched me, it snapped in half, and she was left holding her end of it as the rest fell into my palm. “What the hell?!”
“I did warn you.” When I tried to hand it back to her she refused, stating that I needed to keep it. She wasn’t sure what had happened, but was confident that if I didn’t keep the crystal I would be cursed in some way. There was just something about it. I could have probably told her that this is what happens when I come across magic, but it didn’t seem like she was really listening, so I pocketed it and went back to my book.
I threw it into some trees on the way home.
I woke two days later and sat up to find a massive, black, four-legged beast sitting next to my bed and looking down on me with its white eyes. We stared at each other for a few moment before I registered that it was a spirit.
“What are you doing here?” I groaned, throwing off my blanket.
“Cuuuurse,” it whined. I sighed and got out of bed, heading to my dresser to get ready for school.
“Those don’t work on me. Did they not tell you that?” I turned and saw that it was just watching me. “Please tell me you can say something other than ‘curse.’”
“You want me to follow you?”
“…You’re going to follow me?” It perked up slightly.
“Awesome,” I muttered, turning my attention back to getting dressed. It just sat there, waiting, while I got ready to go. When I finally walked out of my room, it got up and started following, knocking my lamp over. I stopped. “You can affect the physical world?” It purred.
The thing is, it is true casting a curse on me would just not work. Any spell, really. Been like that all my life. But whatever was behind all of this was clever.
“You’re telling me that Tamara put a curse on you and it worked?” Charles asked. We were sitting at our lunch table after a disastrous morning. Behemoth, as I’d started calling it, was sniffing at my tray. No one could see it, of course. And it seemed to only affect physical things when it got very excited, which happened at the least convenient moments. Tapping at a brightly-colored jar of liquid in chemistry class was why I had some school-provided t-shirt on now.
“She warned me there would be a curse, but I don’t have any reason to suspect she cast it. And it isn’t a spell, anyway, it’s an actual being following me around.”
“Which you’re not protected from?” Rick offered.
“I assure you, if I knew how to get left alone by spirits, I would have done it years ago.”
“Right, but your-” Rick trailed off and wiggled his fingers.
“Still not magic.”
“Right right, but like. It’s weird, though.”
“So you think the curse didn’t stick so they just sent some…thing, to annoy you?” Charles asked. Behemoth got too close to my tray and materialized just enough to knock it to the floor. Charles and Rick jolted upright. I closed my eyes, took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
“Something like that,” I said. Behemoth was wagging its behind and trying to lick up my corn.
I barely made it through two days trying to ignore Behemoth. I had a black eye to show for the time I tried to distract it and slip away and it knocked into a linebacker while catching up to me and had to replace most of our glasses after trying to do dishes the night before. I was done.
It took me a couple more days of digging through dad’s books and my own to find a ritual that seemed promising. I couldn’t cast magic, part of the deal with being immune to it, but I suspected that if I could repel magic maybe I could use things that repelled magical beings. At this point, it seemed worth a try. I took off my necklace and stored it in my room before heading out.
I had to piece the ritual together, using pieces from three different sources, but in the end I had something that seemed like it would work. It didn’t, but it seemed to catch Behemoth’s attention. I fiddled with the details some, trying to find out if I just did it wrong, and then tried again in a secluded part of the park. Behemoth’s eyes turned glossy black and it reared up, roaring at me. A wind started to whip up around us, but only Behemoth, the paper I’d written the runic circle on, and I seemed to be affected.
“Shit!” I yelled, as I nearly lost the paper. Behemoth fought against the wind which was trying to push it back, and then charged at me. I stumbled backward and the paper slipped from my hand, fluttering around in the wind briefly before slipping under Behemoth as it got near me. I barely had time to notice that the runes lit up as it was under Behemoth, and quickly threw my hand out. As soon as I felt its fur, I screamed, “Begone!” and was thrown backward. I landed in a shrub and it took me a moment of fighting to get back out of it. When I emerged, I found that the wind had stopped and Behemoth was gone. The paper was laying in the grass. Lindsay, who sat next to me in trig, hurried around some trees.
“What’s going — John? What the hell? Are you okay?” I dropped down to sit in the grass and waved it off as i tried to catch my breath.
“Yeah,” I wheezed. “Yeah. Thanks.”
“Fucking weirdo,” she muttered, walking away. I just stared at the paper for a few minutes, and decided I needed a notebook to collect more like it.
Originally published at https://talltalesdepot.weebly.com.