Chained

Have you ever read a story that you didn’t like that much at first, but the more you thought of it, the more you realized how brilliant it was? That’s what happened to me when I read Born Of Man And Woman by Richard Matheson. When you read this very short science-fiction story, you will understand why I was so shocked by it. As a mother I just can’t envision what kind of parents would hate their child no matter how “monstrous” their little one is.

I don’t want to give away the premise of the whole story. Would like to add though that this was the first story written by Richard Matheson, when he was only 24, in 1950, and it instantly made him famous. Later he went on writing a number of episodes for the popular series The Twilight Zone, and several famous novels that were turned into famous movies, including The Shrinking Man, The Last Man on Earth, and the list goes on.

Now, considering that you’re warned, let me know what you thought of this short science-fiction horror story, that is if, of course, you’ll have the courage to read it till the end.

Born Of Man And Woman

by Richard Matheson

X — This day when it had light mother called me retch. You retch she said. I saw in her eyes the anger. I wonder what it is a retch.
This day it had water falling from upstairs. It fell all around. I saw that. The ground of the back I watched from the little window. The ground it sucked up the water like thirsty lips. It drank too much and it got sick and runny brown. I didn’t like it.
Mother is a pretty I know. In my bed place with cold walls around I have a paper things that was behind the furnace. It says on it SCREENSTARS. I see in the pictures faces like of mother and father. Father says they are pretty. Once he said it. And also mother he said. Mother so pretty and me decent enough. Look at you he said and didnt have the nice face. I touched his arm and said it is alright father. He shook and pulled away where I couldn’t reach. Today mother let me off the chain a little so I could look out the little window. Thats how l saw the water falling from upstairs.

XX — This day it had goldness in the upstairs. As I know when I looked at it my eyes hurt. After I look at it the cellar is red.
I think this was church. They leave the upstairs. The big machine swallows them and rolls out past and is gone. In the back part is the little mother. She is much small than me. lam I can see out the little window all I like.
In this day when it got dark I had eat my food and some bugs. I hear laughs upstairs. I like to know why there are laughs for. I took the chain from the wall and wrapped it around me. I walked squish to the stairs.
They creak when I walk on them. My legs slip on them because I dont walk on stairs. My feet stick to the wood. I went up and opened a door. It was a white place. White as white jewels that come from upstairs sometime. I went in and stood quiet. I hear the laughing some more. I walk to the sound and look through to the people. More people than I thought was. I thought I should laugh with them.
Mother came out and pushed the door in. It hit me and hurt. I fell back on the smooth floor and the chain made noise. I cried. She made a hissing noise into her and put her hand on her mouth. Her eyes got big. She looked at me. I heard father call. What fell he called. She said a iron board. Come help pick it up she said. He came and said now is that so heavy you need. He saw me and grew big. The anger came in his eyes. He hit me. I spilled some of the drip on the floor from one arm. It was not nice. It made ugly green on the floor.
Father told me to go to the cellar. I had to go. The light it hurt some now in my eyes. It is not so like that in the cellar.
Father tied my legs and arms up. He put me on my bed. Upstairs I heard laughing while I was quiet there looking on a black spider that was swinging down to me. I thought what father said. Ohgod he said. And only eight.

XXX — This day father hit in the chain again before it had light. I have to try pull it out again. He said I was bad to come upstairs. He said never do that again or he would beat me hard. That hurts. I hurt. I slept the day and rested my head against the cold wall. I thought of the white place upstairs.

XXXX — I got the chain from the wall out. Mother was upstairs. I heard little laughs very high. I looked out the window. I saw all little people like the little mother and little fathers too. They are pretty.
They were making nice noise and jumping around the ground. Their legs was moving hard. They are like mother and father. Mother says all right people look like they do.
One of the little fathers saw me. He pointed at the window. I let go and slid down the wall in the dark. I curled up as they would not see. I heard their talks by the window and foots running. Upstairs there was a door hitting. I heard the little mother call upstairs. I heard heavy steps and I rushed in my bed place. I hit the chain in the wall and lay down on my front.
I heard my mother come down. Have you been at the window she said. I heard the anger. Stay away from the window. You have pulled the chain out again.
She took the stick and hit me with it. I didnt cry. I cant do that. But the drip ran all over the bed. She saw it and twisted away and made a noise. Oh mygodmygod she said why have you done this to me? I beard the stick go bounce on the stone floor. She ran upstairs. I slept the day.

XXXXX — This day it had water again. When mother was upstairs I heard the little one come slow down the steps. I hidded myself in the coal bin for mother would have anger if the little mother saw me.
She had a little live thing with her. It walked on the arms and had pointy ears. She said things to it. It was all right except the live thing smelled me. It ran up the coal and looked down at me. The hairs stood up. In the throat it made an angry noise. I hissed but it jumped on me.
I didnt want to hurt it. I got fear because it bit me harder than the rat does. I hurt and the little mother screamed. I grabbed the live thing tight. It made sounds I never heard. I pushed it all together. It was all lumpy and red on the black coal.
I hid there when mother called. I was afraid of the stick. She left. I crept over the coal with the thing. I hid it under my pillow and rested on it. I put the chain in the wall again.

X — This is another times. Father chained me tight. I hurt because he beat me. This time I hit the stick out of his hands and made noise. He went away and his lace was white. He ran out of my bed place and locked the door.
I am not so glad. All day it is cold in here. The chain comes slow out of the wall. And I have a bad anger with mother and father. I will show them. I will do what I did that once.
I will screech and laugh loud. I will run on the walls. Last I will hang head down by all my legs and laugh and drip green all over until they are sorry they didn’t be nice to me.
If they try to beat me again Ill hurt them. I will.

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2 Insightful Bits in response to “A Bit Of Literature – Born Of Man And Woman”

  1. This kind of things get me angry every time. I’ve seen it often, whether in movies or in real life: parents blaming children for something that is not their fault or is out of their control. I guess it’s the way weak characters behave: they pick on those that can’t retaliate or can’t defend themselves. I like the way it ends though. I can only imagine.

    The story sounds familiar although it’s the first time I’ve read it. Must have seen a movie. Thanks for sharing, although I now have a bad taste in my mouth.

    Stelian Andrei

  2. Sorry about the bad taste, Stelian. It is a horrific story, but more on a psychological level than anything else.
    That was the amazing thing about this story – the author didn’t really describe us this child, except for a few brief strokes about his age, the green liquid, and left it up to our imagination to visualize the rest.

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on