Only family matters

only-family-mattersHoward was a shy and lonely boy. He didn’t care about having friends nor he liked to go out to play with other kids of his own age. He hated boys and completely disliked girls: they made him nervous.
His best friends were characters from books. He travelled the seven seas with Nemo, he fell in love with Leonore and he built the creature with Dr. Frankenstein. He was able to read for hours and hours, and that would make him as happy as he needed.
He lived with his mother and his grandfather. His father was gone, Howard had never met him. The only thing that his father left him was few words on a crumpled piece of paper:
Only family matters.
–You’re the devil son!-his mother used to tell him- You are as evil as he was. You’re a monster, just like your father!
His mother always reminded him- cover your face, before going out, don’t forget what you are, monster. What would the other children do if they saw your face? They would run away scared, this is what would happen, and you don’t want this, do you?
Obviously Howard didn’t.
So Howard always obeyed. He covered his face with a black scarf and his head with a big black hat. No one, in his village, knew how Howard looked like.
One day his grandfather told him to go to the square.
-Your mother needs her medication- he said.
-Why me?
-Stop being so coward, stupid kid. Face your enemies or live in the shadows, like the monster you are.
Only family matters.
He went to the drug-store, with the money in one pocket and a book in the other, keeping the eyes on the ground. He didn’t want to meet people’s eyes.
“Please don’t look at me”, he said to himself, “don’t, don’t, don’t”.
He bumped into something and fell down. There were only shadows. Then, a voice.
-Kid? Kid, ‘re you alright?
When he opened his eyes he saw him. A man. At least he thought he was a man, his face was covered in a giant blue scarf and wore a big old hat.
-’rrre you alright or not, kid?
Howard couldn’t stop staring at his eyes. So black, like the ink of his books and dark like the stories he read.
The man softly laughed. Just in that moment, Howard felt cold in his face. The scarf and the hat were right on the ground, and his book too. He gasped and he quickly picked up all of his stuff.
-Sorry sir. Sorry. Don’t look at me. Oh, I’m so sorry…
-What ‘rrre you saying, kid?
When he finally covered his face, Howard felt better.
-Please, don’t scream- he whispered, -I won’t hurt you, I swear!
This time the man laughed out loud. -Why would I be afraid of you, little piece of meat?
-Because I’m a monster.
The man looked at him. -Arrre you?
-My mother says so.
-I see. What arrre you reading, monster boy? Let me see-, before Howard could stop him the man took his book. -Edgar Allan Poe… The crow?
-Yes, sir. it Is a…a horror tale.
-A monster who reads monster’s stories? Fascinating… Let me tell you something, monster boy. There are so many horrors in the abyss of this earth, so many shadows crawling around us, even if we can’t see them. They would never hurt you until you deserve it. Remember: Only family matters.
So the strange man said, then he went away so quickly that Howard couldn’t even see his shadow in the mist.
But he left something. A book.
THE COVENANT OF SALT.
Alchemy rules.
Walking home, Howard spent his time reading the book.
He was so happy that he didn’t even care of his grandfather yelling at him, or of his mother screaming.
Probably his grandfather was right. True enemies has to be faced. Sooner or later.
His mother was sleeping when he came in to the room.
The first thing she saw was a shadow. Then many other shadows. And Howard, right there, smiling.
-Hello mother.
-Howard? What do you want, in the middle of the night?
-I wanted you to meet my family.
-What the hell are you talking about, lil freak? I’m your family.
-No. You’ve never been.
The last thing she saw was shadow tentacles, squeezing her ankles, covering her mouth. Then all turned black.
But the last thing she heard was Howard’s (‘lil creepy bastard!) voice whispering…
Only family matters.

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