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The beast is fear. Fear itself. It does not have a body; it does not have fangs or claws or a horrible face. Nor is the beast snakes, as the little ones think. It is fear of the unknown and of the dark; it is fear of fear and fear of pain and fear of suffering and fear of death. It haunts us and chases us and can never be escaped. Unless, of course, if you choose not to give in to it. But you're little and alone, and you're on a mysterious, undiscovered island, and when it gets dark you think vines are poisonous snakes or a pilot in a parachute is a monster. But the truth of the beast comes to Simon in the form of a pig's severed head on a stick and says:
“There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast.”
Simon’s mouth labored, brought forth audible words.
“Pig’s head on a stick.”
“Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”
Yes, the beast is in all of us, and if we succumb to it, it becomes us.
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