In Competition No. 3118, which was inspired by Joan Didion’s wonderful essay of that title, you were invited to submit a short story whose last line is ‘I can’t get that monster out of my mind’.
Another notable American female essayist, Susan Sontag, has come in for a bit of stick in these pages over the past few weeks, and she popped up again, in Hugh King’s short story: ‘Susan Sontag, naked, terrifying, had come to him in the night, pinned him down with hawser-like arms, and demanded to know his views on post-structuralism.’ Other memorable ‘monsters’ included Beowulf, the Minotaur and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The winners earn £25 each.
It seemed that I passed through a gloomy cathedral and into a chamber of oppressive noise; and in that chamber was a beast with six hundred heads. The heads shouted, crowed, groaned and jeered, now one, now many together; for the heads were divided against each other, and subdivided. All of them were angry and intemperate. They spat hot bile at one another that formed a choking mist over all. Yet through the mist I saw one enthroned, that wielded a mace greater than himself; who jerked, cried and grimaced like one in pain, yet at his command the beast would sometimes obey, in part. Then once more I saw the youth, Albion, in the midst of the chamber, and the beast saw that Albion was fair, and fell upon him, with twelve hundred snapping jaws. The vision passed; but
I can’t get that monster out of my mind.
It was breakfast, a late one, and the phone rang. It’s me, man, said the voice, a voice swimming in drool.