The Heart of Stone Monsters

Leia’s heart seized as the lovely yellow flower was crushed beneath her brother’s stone foot. He marched on as if nothing had happened. In truth, he probably hadn’t even noticed or felt a thing. She shouldn’t have felt a thing, either; golems weren’t known for their feelings, physical or emotional. Either way, her heart broke at the destruction of such a simply beauty.

Her heart. It was a problem. As far as she could tell, her entire clan was a group of stone-hearted monsters, their hearts as hard as their stone bodies. She alone showed any remorse at the destruction they wrought or joy at the things they built. They were slaves, only animated by the will of their creator, but Leia couldn’t help but feel that she was different. Had she been made differently? Had their creator been distracted when she had come into being?

She enjoyed the simple things. Twinkling sunshine. Fluffy snow. Fiery sunsets. Brilliant flowers. Flowers were her favorite. So many colors. And she had heard humans talk about their smells, as well. As a golem, she hadn’t been given a sense of smell. She was starting to believe that maybe other golems didn’t see colors, either. But she did, and she relished in the art of nature.

Now, the ground they stomped beneath their feet was muddy. Grass had been torn up in clumps. No more flowers. And the mud was mixed with crimson. She wouldn’t let herself look at the humans, strewn broken and lifeless on the ground the golems trampled.

Their creator had gone to war. His golems—wood, fire, water, mud—had been defeated, one after another. He had finally sent his stone golems out. The stone golems were masons and builders, not soldiers. Not that there was any art to what they built, but Leia loved the work just the same. Her typically warm heart went cold when the orders came to march on one of the resisting villages.

When the stone army finally arrived, the village was awash with clashing colors and dissonant sounds. Roofs were burning. Carts overturned. The insides of cottages strewn all over the street. And everywhere screaming and crashing. If she were capable of shuddering, her entire stone body would have. It was the one time she was relieved to be without a sense of smell.

What were they even doing there, she wondered in horror as her brethren toppled towers and destroyed everything in their path. Surely these people had been sufficiently crushed. There was no resistance, only terror, or in some cases, resignation.

She stood as still as a statue outside of a tailor’s shop. Colorful fabrics had been set alight, and she watched broken-hearted as they blackened. It was then that she heard a pitiful cry. A child, clinging to a grown human. One of her brothers made his way toward them, methodically smashing windows and furniture. The grown human pushed the child behind her body and stood tall in front of the onslaught of stone.

Leia couldn’t watch, but she heard the sound of stone meeting flesh, and the horrible wet sound of flesh being rent. The child made horrible wailing sounds, and then was silent. Leia dared to look. The child stood looking up at the stone monster that towered over her. The golem had no expression on his face. Of course he didn’t. None of them had expressions. She wasn’t sure what the child was waiting for, but wetness poured down the child’s face, and Leia felt a tugging at her heart. Tears. The child was crying.

“Stop,” she shouted in a gravelly voice. They had been given the gift of speech so that they could communicate with human builders, but they rarely spoke. Her brother stopped and turned to her. Still no expression on his face, but she could feel his disapproval.

He didn’t stop. He reached his arm back to swing at the child, to crush it, send it flying. Leia didn’t think. She dove forward, and the stone fist slammed down onto her stone body.

“No more,” she said, and shoved her brother backward. Without looking to see if he listened to her, she spun and grabbed the tiny human child gently in her arms. She ran. She ran from the burning village with its pitiful cries and harsh, flickering colors. She couldn’t save the beautiful fabrics, the beautiful flowers, or even the quaint village, but maybe if she could save this one human child.

She didn’t stop running until they were far away from the burning village. She ran all night, until they reached the outskirts of another village. One her master hadn’t ravaged yet. She set the child down in a patch of daffodils, their soft petals brushing her stone flesh as she stood. How she wished she could have felt it.

The child, who had slept while Leia ran, was awake now, and crying again. The poor thing was covered in the grown human’s blood.

“I am sorry for your human, little one. I am sorry for what my stone brethren have done. But a new village awaits you there. Go. Warn them of what comes. Try to find safety.”

The child ran, then, and Leia watched. When the child reached the stone wall, Leia bent over again and picked one of the daffodils as gently as she could in her stone fingers. They were dexterous even if they were strong. They were craftsmen, so they had to be able to be delicate at times. She held it to her face, wishing she could smell. She glanced up, and she saw the child watching her, the loveliest smile on his face. When the child saw her looking, he ran off.

If golems could sigh, she would have then. It was time to go back. She could already feel her master compelling her to return. Her and her brethren. She didn’t know what would happen when she rejoined them. She decided it didn’t matter. She had saved a human child. That was important. Something greater than herself. A little act of defiance. Something that her heart had told her to do.

When she rejoined the other stone golems, they gave her a wide berth. She made her way forward, to the head of the group. The eldest brother, the first stone golem, stared down at her. In her heart, she didn’t feel fear. She couldn’t feel pain, so nothing he could do to her would be worse than what had already happened. She had already seen beauty crushed, and the secret smile on the child’s face had been more beautiful than anything she could ever see.

“You have gone against the creator’s wishes. Long has he suspected you were not made right. His apprentice…” The eldest stopped his speech jarringly, probably cut off by the master, and Leia realized why she was different. Their creator had not made her. The quiet, gentle apprentice had. The master had killed him when the war had started. She had never known why, but now she began to suspect.

“Judgement is at hand. You will be remade, and then you will lead the charge against the city you brought the refuge child to. No one escapes the will of the master.”

Fear seized her heart. “No!” she shouted and tried to flee. The stone golems surrounded her, pushed her forward. The eldest brought his massive stone fist onto her body, and she felt the stone of herself give way. The other golems began to pummel her, as well, grabbing chunks of her stone flesh and throwing them, stomping them, grinding them to dust in their teeth. She fought against them, swinging her massive stone fists, but there were too many.

When there was nothing left of her body, the eldest held her head in his monstrous hands. He was still expressionless, but she felt his triumph. His second in command held her traitorous heart before what was left of her face. Behind them, a brilliant sunset flushed the sky crimson, and she wished she could cry.

They destroyed her heart before her eyes. After a sharp jolt of pain, she felt no more. They began their long march back to the master’s tower, her head in the crook of the eldest’s arm. As they marched, she watched the sunset fade and felt nothing.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.