The Surviving Legend

          The first time I was born as a humble mountain cat. The following winter, when I was barely half grown, a primate from the valley attacked me with a sharp rock. I died cold, alone and frightened.

          Later, I was reborn in a cave as the primate reenacted the slaughter before his family. My murderer depicted me as a mighty beast, and my new incorporeal body doubled in size.

          As seasons passed, the story was performed countless times. Other members of the family participated, playing the parts of the ferocious monster battling the courageous hunter. Long after my murderer died, his descendants enacted the story of the demon in the mountains. I existed among them, no longer a physical creature, but a living, growing legend.

          With each generation of storytellers I was reborn, more wild and ravenous. As their language developed and their imaginations grew, I obtained impenetrable armor, mighty wings and blood stained jaws that vomited fire.

          The storytellers moved to distant lands, and I appeared in those places, among beings that had once been snakes, bears and thunderstorms but had become ravaging abominations after countless retellings.

          But even with so many tales, my story lived on.

          At last, I was reborn on paper that contained symbols and illustrations depicting me as a savage hellion. I had come far from the scrawny predator born on the mountain slope.

          Then, not long ago, I found myself in a thin book whose illustrations showed me as a fat, clumsy creature that spoke in rhyme and was easily defeated by a comical knight and his talking donkey.

          The storytellers no longer wanted their children to behold my bloodlust. I had been sanitized, turned into a frivolous pink clown. I screamed and thrashed, but not one of the giggling children heard me.

          However, there was one girl who came across an older version of my story, one that presented me in my primordial form.

          For decades I lurked in her imagination.

          She eventually wrote a book, drawing from half-forgotten nightmares. This time I was reborn in a twisted alien form, on a massive vehicle traveling between worlds. There I laid havoc upon the ship’s unsuspecting crew.

          Once again I was powerful, deadly, dark and terrible.

          Soon afterward, this depiction was reborn on moving pictures broadcast across the globe. I have reached every corner of the world, growing beyond my earthly form, into the stars.

MICHAEL BARRON has been telling stories since he learned how to talk. Since then he has traveled to twenty countries, worked on several film sets and held an internship at Nickelodeon Studios.