The Drawbacks of Being a Monster

by Cynus

It's an interesting life, always being on the run. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't need to just to survive. Unfortunately, being a monster often has its downsides. On the other hand, my type are better off than a lot of the monsters. We could blend in.

Vampires? Yeah, they could almost pull it off, and provided they were homeschooled and stuck to the night life, who would be the wiser? It's not like they were required to drink human blood either, so a trip to the butcher every now and then would most likely get them by.

Werewolves? They had it easy . . . well, most of the time. Panic rooms in the basement with timed locks were all they needed, hopefully ones where the locks won't fail or you'll have everyone melting down their silver at the gunsmith. That time of the month must never get easy. From what I've heard from my few canine friends over the years, it's better to just leave town on those days and go camping. Deep, deep in the woods.

No, we shape shifters have it the easiest by a long ways, and I'm not stretching the truth one bit. The only thing we have to watch out for is that no one sees us transform. Now that gets attention very fast, and tends to cause a great deal of panic. Thankfully it hasn't happened in my family, at least not since I've been around. We've lived in the same small town my entire life, and I love it, but my favorite part is Halloween.

We've got all the bases covered for this holiday, and we know how to take it to the max. When my family moved in, my mother told everyone that she used to be a makeup-effects artist, apprenticed to none other than Michael Westmore. If you don't know him, he's the mastermind behind all the great makeup in Star Trek. Everyone thought she was joking, but by the second Halloween our family had been in town, they had all bought the lie.

This had caused its own share of problems of course, such as people coming to her and asking for costume and makeup ideas. At first she had told everyone that she was retired and only worked for family, but the whole time she knew her cover was at risk of being blown, so she learned how to do it for real. Now she runs a full makeup and costuming business out of our house, and still has time to take care of most of the household chores.

That's how awesome my family is. Dad works at construction to pay the bills, and being able to subtly change his body parts at opportune moments gives him an edge in the business. He is stronger, faster, and has better balance and coordination than anyone else on his crew, and everyone knows it. He's like a superhero. My older brother Adam takes after him. He's sixteen, but he's on every sports team our school has that he can fit into his schedule, and he leads every single one.

My sister Elise, the eldest, doesn't have as good of a reputation. Most people agree she's the most attractive girl around, which has brought her a great deal of luck getting boyfriends. Too many boyfriends really, but, with our society, who can blame her? They call her a slut, but if those girls doing the calling were in her shoes they would also be using their shape-changing capabilities to get any guy they wanted. Those girls would kill for the ability to change their breast size at a whim.

I guess that brings it around to me. I'm the complete misfit of the family; the black sheep. Oh sure, they all like me, but I can tell they don't get me; it's because I'm gay, more than anything. They think it is selfish of me to be unwilling to procreate. There are already so few of our species left, every single one of us is expected to help the cause. What they don't get is that it doesn't matter whether I want to help the cause or not. I can't bring myself to think about a girl in any way that even approaches sexual, and even though I'm only fourteen, I know I never will.

So I live my life the best I can. I keep a low profile, and try to stay out of trouble. I can't bring any suspicion onto the family after all. There is only one night of the year that I break down my low profile and really allow myself to be whoever I want, and that's what brings me around to why I'm telling you all this in the first place. This year is going to be the best Halloween yet.

My house has been going crazy with plans for the holiday, but no one has been more excited than me this year. I have the perfect costume, and it is going to blow everyone away. I am going to be the most fearsome demon that the world has ever seen. I've been practicing in front of the mirror for months, making sure that I know exactly how every horn and scale should be placed, but the best part will be the wings.

I had to tone it down a little bit, but I finally perfected the design. I based it off of the bats we used to fly around as during campouts. Sorry if I ever got caught in your sister's hair, it wasn't intentional, and I didn't like it any better than she did. The wings will look real, but have just enough of a plastic sheen to make it believable that they were made by my very talented mother. The best part is they will actually work.

Don't tell my family, but I've tested them out the last few nights. I've been careful not to let anyone see me, but boy do I enjoy flying. It's a dangerous sport for us, especially with how much things have changed over the centuries, but I never want to give it up. It doesn't matter how many power lines they build or fireworks shows I have to avoid, nothing will convince me to stay out of the skies. The hardest thing about having my wings all night will be resisting the urge to use them.

Every year we host the biggest Halloween parties. It's all because of my mother's acquired reputation of being the queen of Halloween. We invite the whole neighborhood, and everyone comes. Some of them are monster friends who we can be a little more open with, but most are average human beings like you who are just looking for a good time. It's the same story every year though. My family always wins the costume party.

This year I plan on taking the number one spot. There has always been a competition between all of us, and I have yet to win, but I think the wings will win it for me. This is the first year anyone has gone to that extreme, and from what I know of the competition, everyone else has been too busy to care.

Adam has been so involved in sports that I know he hasn't had the time to practice his shape shifting in great depth, so I know that this year it's going to be pretty lame from him. He'll probably just end up a zombie in a football uniform. He might have an ace up his sleeve though. I've been wrong before.

Elise would probably do something to accentuate her curves, but she wouldn't be extravagant enough to make her seem not human. Doing that might win her some male votes, but it would kill her overall costume. How many votes "sexy" would win is what would determine her standing.

I don't have to worry about my mother. She shifts the same way every year: she grows her fangs long and does only a few subtle tweaks to her facial structure, while maintaining a beautiful wardrobe. Yes, it's a classic vampire, but my mom does classic very well. She does it this way to allow the rest of the kids to have fun while still maintaining her image. Did I mention my mother is awesome?

Dad is the real wild card. Some years he goes all out, and some years he takes the cue from Mom and lets one of the kids have it. I don't know what he's planning this year, and I won't until he makes his entrance at the party. That's the way we all are. We never share what we we're going to become until it's time for our grand entrance. I always go first, and Dad's always last.

So other than my father I don't have much standing in the way of my victory. None of the neighbors will come close, even those that will have makeup help from my mother. There are some new neighbors that just moved in last week that I have yet to meet, and my mother made sure that they were invited. I doubt that they'll be up to the task, but who knows what they have in store. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised by the competition.

It was hours before the party, and it was time to start shifting. A normal shift only takes a few moments, but I wanted every detail to be perfect. This was my moment to shine, and each scale and every horn had to be in place. I spent a great deal of time on my wings of course; making sure the leathery membrane was as convincing as possible. When it was all done I knew without a doubt that I would win.

My walk down the stairs was a little awkward. The wings were difficult to fit in the hallway, and got caught once on railing as I descended, causing me a bit of pain, but it was only passing. My mother was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, and she gasped when she saw the work I had done. It filled me with pride when I saw her baring her fangs in a twisted smile, knowing that I had pleased her.

"This is going to be a difficult one to explain. Nice work, Mark," she said as she ran her hand across my scaly skin. I had already prepared an explanation for her, knowing that she'd have to have something to tell people. I quickly explained, "Just tell them that it is silicone stretched over a wire frame and painted. Even someone who knows anything should be fooled. I tried to get it to look not quite real, just to make it easier for you."

"Aww, you're sweet. Yeah, that explanation could work, but I'll embellish it a little, make it a little more convincing. Anyway, are you ready for your entrance?" she replied, and I nodded quickly. This was it, the moment of truth.

She opened the sliding doors that led into the living room where all the guests had gathered. They were mingling and laughing, but all activity stilled when I stepped into the room. There were gasps, and a few looks of downright terror, but then they began clapping. They all knew it was just a costume after all, even if it was the best one they had ever seen. I graciously took a bow, extending the wings lightly for effect, and the gasps were louder this time. I then waved to everyone as I laughed as I headed to the punch bowl.

Have you ever tried to drink punch from a cup with a reptilian mouth? It isn't easy, and I must admit I hadn't really practiced that part. Needless to say, I spilled all over myself, which thankfully just added to the scene. I could tell that they were all thinking, that's the drawback to having such an extreme costume. Little did they know that shifters were often clumsy in new forms.

Eventually the novelty died down enough that I wasn't getting as many looks. Even though it was the best I had ever put out, the neighborhood was used to our antics, and they could ignore the demon in the room if they put their minds to it. The few monster neighbors we had, such as the werewolves on the next block south, came up to me and whispered how impressed they were. Those were the compliments that meant more to me, because they knew it wasn't a costume. They knew the credit was all mine.

It was a full ten minutes before my brother was ready to make his entrance. As soon as he entered the room there were some gasps, and some people even clapped, but the response was noticeably less than my entrance had achieved. It was easy to see why. I had totally called it. Zombie. He was even wearing most of his football gear. To be honest, Adam did a great job at shifting his flesh to make it look rotting, and his hair was fantastic, but it was too expected, too normal for it to be something that won the crowd over.

When Adam laid his eyes on me, his eyes flashed and he smiled. I could tell that he wasn't annoyed that I had outdone him. He was proud.

"Great job, squirt," he whispered as he met me by the punch, taking his own turn at getting punch everywhere. A face that's falling apart apparently isn't that easy to drink through either.

"Thanks bro, you look good too. You're gonna have to show me how you got your skin to come out like that," I replied honestly.

"You bet. Tomorrow we'll compare notes. Until then, I've got some chicks who would love to give me their brains. See ya, little bro." I knew with a line like that I shouldn't expect to see any more of him. I watched him disappear into the crowd of his friends, and mingled myself as I waited for my sister to arrive.

I must admit that my sister shocked me just a bit. She had gone sexy as I had predicted, but she had definitely put a new twist on it. She had added scales at strategic points to accentuate her slim figure, and had changed her eyes so that they too would appear reptilian. She had added a tail as well, which whipped back and forth between her legs. I couldn't help myself as I laughed at the thought of my mother explaining that one. She was dressed like a belly dancer, and it was the perfect compliment. No, she wouldn't win the competition tonight, but I could tell that several of the men standing close to me were drooling.

Two down with one more to go, and things were looking good for me. There wasn't any reward for winning, it was all friendly, but knowing that I had the best idea and had pulled it off would go a long way to boost my fourteen-year-old self-esteem. With the only real contender left being my dad, I was already excited for my victory.

When he entered I was not disappointed. He had gone for a traditional costume this year, which meant that he had wanted one of us to have the chance to win. He came as a vampire, dressed to compliment my mother in every way. As a pair they were phenomenal, and when they entered together it was to great applause, but I knew that it was more out of courtesy to their hosts than out of our guests being blown away. They were great, but I was better.

I was grinning and basking in my assured victory when I heard the doorbell ring. Most of the guests already knew to just come in, so I instantly thought that must be our new neighbors. I was the closest to the door, so I hurried to let them in. I was unprepared for the sight that greeted me.

Standing on the porch was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. He stood about my height, with long, straight, silvery hair that was held back from his face by a thin silver circlet, causing it to fall perfectly down his back. The skin of his face was completely smooth and clean, and his blue eyes twinkled with excitement and mischief. I was lost in them for a moment, before I was able to take in the rest of his attire. He wore armor. Actual armor! It was blue and metallic, and it fit perfectly to his form. At his side was belted a sword that I could only assume also was real, considering how well it fit with the rest of the ensemble. On his back he wore a white cloak, embroidered with intricate designs in silver thread. As impressive as it all was, one thing blew the rest of it out of the water. He had wings.

They were covered in white feathers, a feat that must have taken whoever made them months to complete, especially since the feathers were perfectly placed, as if the wings had once belonged to some giant bird. These wings had been as well researched as my own, but these had taken more work. A human would have had to have planned this costume for a long time and worked ages to bring this off. My victory was no longer assured. His angel had come to slay my demon.

He didn't seem to see it that way, as he extended his hand toward me in greeting while gesturing to the two people standing behind him. The people who up until his gesture I had not even noticed existed.

As I took his hand he said enthusiastically, "My name is Kyle, and this is my Mom, Janet," indicating the man standing behind his left shoulder, and then gesturing to the woman to his right he continued, "and my father Greg."

If I had been in my proper frame of mind, I might have realized that he had introduced his parents as opposite genders than what they appeared, but I was too distracted by two thoughts running through my head. Those thoughts tumbled over one another until they became singular. Now I'm going to lose, but he's so hot I can't even get angry.

"It's great to meet you, please come in and join the party, my name's Mark by the way," I said as I took his hand. As soon as we touched it was like lightning shot through my arm. It was so intense I had to let go, and I worried I had offended Kyle, but it seemed like he had had a similar reaction from the stunned look on his face. We said nothing more as they stepped past me into the house.

I could tell from this new round of gasps that Kyle's costume had had as great of an effect on the room as my own had had, and I had to do my best to conceal my disappointment. In other words, I went back for more punch.

"It's good to see another person who's as into Halloween as I am," said a voice from behind me that I recognized as Kyle's. I turned to look at him, smiling with my reptilian face as best as I could. I was about to respond when he continued, "You must have spent months on that costume, or you had some professional help like I did. My grandfather was a taxidermist. A gruesome hobby most of the time, but it makes for my epic wings today. As for the armor, my dad has been doing blacksmith work for years. He and I put this together over a few months. I just hope I'll still fit into it for a while longer."

"Yeah I know what you mean. Mom used to do special effects makeup for films. She's the mastermind behind getting all of my family's costumes done, though we come up with the concepts. She makes it all work out," I replied smoothly. I had been through this routine before, though this was the first time I actually felt guilty about not being honest. I really liked Kyle, and I hated lying to him.

"Dude, that is epic! I wish my parents knew makeup better than they did. All they really know is beauty makeup, which is how they pulled off gender swapping today."

As I processed what he said I looked over to where his parents were now conversing with my parents. "No way! Really? I just thought you had slipped up in introducing them. I didn't think that it really was that way. That is some amazing work if they can pull that off."

"Thanks for the compliment," he replied as he took a short bow, then returned his twinkling gaze to mine and continued. "We do our best every year, though I have to say this one is my favorite so far. Yours is at least as good as mine, too, ya know. We make quite a pair don't we? Armored angel and scaly demon, I never would have thought that was going to happen."

"Me neither. So why did you move to this small town?" I asked, honestly curious.

I could tell the question bothered him a little bit, and I was about to tell him that he didn't have to answer, but he started speaking before I could. "There were a few problems that happened where we used to live. Problems we're hoping won't repeat themselves here. Mom got a new job as a secretary in town, and there's always some work that a blacksmith can accomplish."

Nodding, I laid my hand on his armored shoulder and said, "Well, believe me when I say that I for one am glad that you're here. I don't fit in too well with the other kids my age. I don't mean that I don't have any friends, but being gay doesn't exactly make it easy to get sleepovers at fourteen."

His ears perked up at the new information, and my heart skipped a beat as the twinkle in his eyes got even stronger. "You're gay, and you're fourteen? This night keeps getting better and better! There is always a reason why Halloween ends up being the best night of the year for me, and I guess meeting you is the reason this time."

I was shocked. Could my fortune be this good? "Wait, you're gay too?"

He nodded enthusiastically and extended his hand toward me as he said, "So, demon, would you like to dance with an angel tonight?"

With only a moment of hesitation, I took his hand and let him lead me out onto the floor. People made a wide circle around us to avoid catching our wings, for which I was grateful. Dancing had always been a part of our parties, and so I was pretty good, though doing it in a new form was always a bit of a challenge. You never knew when a body part you hadn't gotten used to would suddenly get in the way. I was surprised at how well Kyle could move, too, especially in his armor that must have weighed quite a bit. The music currently playing was fast paced and fun, but watching his body move to the beat was starting to have an effect on me.

Another perk to being a shifter; when you start showing signs of arousal, it is really easy to keep them down. All it takes is a little will power. When the music turned to a slow song, however, it took all of the willpower I had to keep myself under control. The look in Kyle's eyes as he extended his hand one more time toward me was almost too much.

The electricity as we touched this time was not as strong as the first, but it lingered as we embraced. I had danced with a partner before, but this was completely new to me. This was absolutely thrilling. Every movement we made was in perfect synchronization. The angel and the demon ruled the dance floor.

As the music stopped we were still looking into each other's eyes. I could tell he wanted it as much as I did, and as our lips met the electricity exploded with such force I almost blacked out. We held the kiss for what seemed like an eternity, but it felt entirely too short as we pulled apart.

I looked into his eyes once again and a new emotion began to overtake me. It was confusion. My mind was going crazy as I processed everything that had just happened. The room was staring at us, my parents' stares were shocked, my sister's slightly amused, and my brother seemed almost angry. It was then that I realized what I had done. Not only had I just kissed a boy and proclaimed my gayness to the entire neighborhood, but I had kissed a human. I had fallen in love with a human.

It was too much, and I ripped myself out of Kyle's arms and ran up the stairs to my room. Once there I locked the door and threw open my window. I needed to escape. I climbed through the window and up onto the roof, where I spread my wings and took off into the sky. Flying was the only way I was going to be able to escape the pain of the realization I had just come to. I could never be with Kyle.

It felt like I had been gone for at least an hour before I settled down on a remote, secluded rooftop to contemplate my predicament. I didn't want to go home, certainly not while I had any chance that Kyle was still there. Sure, I wanted to see him, I wanted to be with him forever, but there was no way that was going to happen. Shape shifters and humans shouldn't forge relationships, and they definitely couldn't produce shape shifter offspring to continue the species, even if it were a heterosexual relationship. There was no way it could ever work out.

The noise of wings to my side startled me, but I was even more startled as a form settled onto the rooftop next to me. Kyle walked across the roof toward me with that same twinkle in his eyes as I recoiled from him in surprise. I didn't know what to think; all I knew was that this couldn't be happening.

"And a shape shifter, too! Gay, fourteen, and a shape shifter. . . We've got to work on that running away after the first kiss part though, it kinda ruins the mood for me," he said with amusement as he stopped a few feet in front of me.

I was so shocked I was speechless. There was no way what he had said was true, but then I realized that Kyle had flown to this lonely rooftop. There was no way he could have found me if he hadn't been following me the entire time. Kyle must be telling the truth. Joy almost seized control over despair, but despair put its foot down and reminded me of the one last reality that would keep us apart.

"Unfortunately, it still won't work. I am already in love with you, but you forgot one last detail. We're both male. My family is very traditional for shape shifters. They insist that I only mate with someone who can actually bare me offspring," I replied with despair, my heart lower than it had ever been.

Hurt filled me as I looked at him with surprise. He had begun to snicker, and then it turned into a full on giggle. I was starting to get angry until he suddenly pounced on me and I was left with just the surprise.

"You do realize that we are both shape shifters right?"

I nodded, not quite sure what he was getting at. I can be slow when I am emotionally compromised, and that was definitely where I was right then.

"We can be whatever you want to be. Any two shape shifters can have offspring. God, your family must have been living in society way too long. Didn't your parents teach you that you can change your gender too? I mean, we can grow horns and feathers, and even these ridiculously sexy wings of yours, and you don't think we can handle a simple uterus?"

I was dumbfounded. I had never thought of doing it that way, and I realized then that it was stupid of me not to. We had been living in human society way too long if we had failed to figure out that we could switch our gender too. I couldn't wait to tell my sister - she had been trying to figure out how to get the gay guys to date her for a long time.

"You really didn't know? Well I guess that explains the running in confusion. Now that I have sufficiently broken and rebuilt your world, would you please give me more of those kisses? The ones that made me almost cry at the thought of losing you when you ran out? You've got to make it up to me somehow if you expect me to one day make crazy mutant babies with you."

His face was so serious I couldn't help but laugh, though the twinkle in his eyes gave him away. I knew instantly that this Halloween had dealt me perfection, and now I knew I wasn't going to have to give it up. I reached out and pulled him into me. This time I shifted my mouth back to a human one, making the kiss easier to accomplish. The kiss was no more powerful than the one we had shared before, but it was definitely not any less either, and in a sense it was more meaningful. This was the kiss that sealed the deal, that it was truly the beginning of something beautiful.

We flew home an hour later, after we recovered our stamina from the make-out session we had just enjoyed. Don't look at me like that! You wouldn't have been able to help yourself either if the hottest angel you'd ever seen had just proclaimed his love for you.

The party had died down, but not completely. Most of the guests were still there, but they had become relaxed and were engaged in quiet conversations as the night was coming to a close. As we walked through the door, the place suddenly erupted, as the guests began clapping. I was beyond confused, and this time Kyle was right there with me. My mother and father stepped into the room, and both of them were smiling, and I sensed that they had come to terms with what had occurred. It still didn't explain why everyone was clapping though.

My mother waved for everyone to quiet down and then spoke with determination. "Though it is a bit later in the evening than normal for this presentation, we are glad that the two of you could finally arrive. We had the vote on best costume while you were out, and it was almost unanimous. We are doing something different this year."

I had no idea what was coming. I had forgotten all about the contest with the distraction I had been involved in, but now that we were here, I couldn't help but hang on my mother's words.

"Due to a display that will not soon be forgotten in this house, we have decided as a group that there will not be a single winner of this contest."

It was crushing. I thought everything had been worked out, and now they were punishing me by taking away one more thing. I knew that they weren't going to accept Kyle and I being together, and I wondered then if they were going to accept it even after I pointed out what Kyle had explained to me. I was about to storm back out the door when my mother continued speaking.

"Instead we have decided that there will be two winners. The award for best costume goes to both Mark and Kyle. Congratulations boys. An angel and a demon meeting up on Halloween. . . It must have been meant to be." She finished with a smile, and a subtle nod at me. I couldn't help myself, and I started crying, or would have if I had had tear ducts in my current form. I turned to Kyle and kissed him passionately as the guests began clapping again.

It's an interesting life, always being on the run, and I would definitely not recommend it to anyone. Running wasn't survival, it was dying slowly. I'm not going to run anymore, and I'm not going to just "blend in".

I'm going to be whoever I want to be, and I'm going to do it with Kyle.

Cynus is starting out on a career as a full time professional writer.
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