The creature came into the world with bright eyes. They had yet to be darkened, in the customarily cruel way, like the swift flick of a light switch. It was only alive for a moment before someone came in and left it standing alone in the dark to fester.
Naturally, the creature was naive. It did not yet have a reason to doubt anything, or anyone. No one is born with thick skin; it grows over time. That is precisely what made this creature, and all of the other creatures before it, so easy to catch.
It spent its days alone, but that was okay, because it didn't know any other way to be. It wandered nimbly through trees and forests and capered, unjaded and unafraid, through open and endlessly green fields. The world was a place full of wonder. Around every corner was a new species of flower, beneath every tree was an untouched blade of grass, and an infinite supply of sunlight leaked through each crevice and every crack.
The darkness came when the creature was expecting it least. It had left itself vulnerable without a cautionary thought, as it had not yet experienced genuine fear.
In the middle of a day that was like any of the others, which all amalgamated into one infinite measurement of time, it was lying beneath the shade of a Willow tree.
Then in an impossibly instantaneous moment it all slipped away through nighttime’s skeleton fingers. The chirping birds, the buzzing insects, the yellow air and the oil-painting sky. It was all gone, with the flip of a switch, and then the earth was suspended in unending nothingness that would only be nothing for the rest of eternity.
They took the creature and dragged it across the cold ground and they locked it in a windowless cage. It missed the sun, and now for the first time it knew what it was like to long for something out of reach. They kicked it and spit in its face and made it feel like nothing, somehow, without ever earning an explanation as to what it had done to deserve those punishments. Gone were the days that blended into one another; each set of 24 hours was a mark scratched, with freshly-grown claws, into the concrete prison walls.
In a matter of days, which painstakingly turned to months and then to years, the light was extinguished. The world was punishing the creature for merely existing. Tragically, there was nothing it could do to fight back; it could only adapt to the unjustly inevitable conditions it had been thrust into.
When they released the creature from the cage, after many sunless years, the yellow warmth was bittersweet. Now the sun was just a constant reminder of time spent in the dark. It hid behind trees and slithered between shadows, hiding from the infuriatingly jovial organisms. Because, to make matters worse, they had released it into a foreign world: the world of the humans.
The creature was hideous, now, covered in a thick, leathery skin that left it protected from any potential threats. Its eyes were as black, as black as the darkness of the world. It had grown claws sharp enough to kill, not because killing was in its nature but because it was provoked relentlessly until it was forced to fight back. It had metamorphosed into something beyond recognition.
The humans, the deaf, blind, mindless humans, they hated the creature. They hated it because they feared it, and didn't know how else to respond to their fear. They pointed at it and called it a monster.
They didn't know that it beneath its grotesque exterior was just a creature, a vulnerable creature that had long ago possessed the innocence that we were all born with.
Because nothing is born a monster in this cruel world; monsters are created.