Once upon a time, deep within the darkest of forests, there lived a monster.

A terrifying monster with claws like blades, and a mouth that smiled far too wide with teeth far too sharp, and black tentacles atop its head like hair.

It was so terrifying that only the bravest of the brave could look upon it and live.

The rest all died from fear.

Because of this the monster was often alone, for no one dared to go near it.

As a result its ferociousness was lost, and loneliness came to replace it.

It started to go a little mad.

One day a stranger came to the land, a man in a long coat, and a wide brimmed hat.

He stopped in a town near the dark forest to rest in an inn for a night.

"Those trees out there," he said to the innkeeper, referring to the dark forest, "hardwood I believe. They'd make for great lumber. Who would I have to speak to about purchasing a few acres of them?"

The innkeeper went wide eyed and pale.

"Oh, no!" he said, "You ought not go anywhere near that forest! Don't you know a monster lurks deep within it?"

The stranger laughed.

"Monster?!" he questioned, "Nonsense! Someone probably just got scared of a bear standing on its hindlegs."

"Bears don't have tentacles." the innkeeper said.

"Tentacles?" questioned the stranger, "More nonsense! Stop this and tell me who to speak to about buying some of that forest, I have better things to do than bicker with idiots, you know!"

The Innkeeper got a little upset.

"How about this," he said, "you go out there and hike some. If you come back I'll tell you who to speak to."

The stranger scoffed.

"Very well then." he said, "I will. Would you lend me a lantern?"

The innkeeper went and got him a lantern.

The stranger took it from him, then left the inn with his head held high.

He walked out past the edge of the town, then crossed the field of hay that stood between the town and forest, and walked right up to the forest's edge.

He stopped for a moment to light the lantern, then when that moment was over he took his first step into the dark forest.

He took another step in, then another, and another after that, and so on and so on.

On the hundredth step in he heard a twig snap behind him.

He turned around, and held up his lantern.

He saw nothing.

Nothing but trees.

"Must have been a deer." he thought.

He turned back around.

He was met with the face of the monster, its mouth in a grin.

The stranger dropped the lantern, and toppled over dead.

The monster started to laugh.

It reached down a tentacle from its head, and picked up the stranger's wide brimmed hat.

It reached down two other tentacles, and pulled the stranger's long coat off his body.

It then put them on.

"Oh goody!" it said, "Now I look like a gentleman! No one could possibly be scared of me now!"

It started to make its way out its forest.

When it was out it started to cross the field.

Across the field at the edge of the town stood the innkeeper, waiting for the stranger to return.

When he saw the monster come out of the forest, dressed in the stranger's coat and hat, he didn't know what he was seeing, what with the night being dark and all.

"Goodness!" he said with his eyes wide, "Did the fellow make it out? He must have the greatest luck in the world!"

But then he noticed something odd.

"Where's my lantern?" he asked.

He sighed, then shook his head.

"Must have dropped it and couldn't find it in the dark." he said, "I'll make him buy me a new one."

The monster drew closer, and the innkeeper noticed something even odder.

"What's that wiggling about around his head?" he asked.

He shrugged his shoulders, then shook his head.

"A mirage." he said, "Moonlight's work."

The monster drew even closer, and the innkeeper noticed another oddity.

"Why are his fingers so long?" he asked.

He tilted his head, then shook it.

"Probably just holding something." he said, "Sticks maybe."

The monster arrived at the edge of the town, stopping a few meters away with his head held down.

"You're back, sir!" the innkeeper said, "See anything out there?"

The monster raised its head.

It smiled to the Innkeeper.

The Innkeeper went pale and wide eyed.

The last thing he did was scream.

The monster lost its smile.

"No!" it whispered whilst stepping back, "No, no, no!"

It reached up and covered its face in its hands, then turned around and ran back to its forest, weeping as it did so.

Once deep within, it tore off the stranger's hat and coat and threw them to the ground.

"I'm a monster." it whispered to itself, "And I always will be."

As it wept its heartbeat began to slow.

It laid down on the forest floor, and closed its eyes.

The monster died.

The End.