The Regret of Misunderstanding

📅 Published on June 25, 2021

“The Regret of Misunderstanding”

Written by Grant Hinton
Edited by

Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown

Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
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When the blood moon rises, the beasts of the forest will gather. They will scream when he breaks the barrier from his world to ours; all that is near will burn in his wake.

“That’s good, Tommy.” I squeezed my son’s shoulder gently. His picture was brightly coloured. A lake, a shoreline and a cabin sat nestled in the trees. I tidied around his table, mindful not to touch his pencils. Three days of no episodes was a record. The empty juice box quickly vanished into my hand, but as I tried to steal away the plate with Tommy’s forgotten lunch, I scattered his pencils. Tommy’s hand shot out and grabbed my wrist. I felt a stab of pain and pulled away. Tommy’s moans subsided as he collected up his pencils and placed them back in order.

“It’s mine!”

“No, it’s mine. Dad gave it to me!”

I watched my stepchildren squabble on the sofa. Jack, two years younger than Lacy at ten years old, was too strong for his sister and tore the contraption from her hands.

“Phil?” I called, not wanting to get involved in the usual argument. Besides, my hand was bleeding down my wrist. I unclenched it, horrified that one of Tommy’s pencils had punctured the skin. Pain throbbed. Suddenly, Tommy pulled down my hand. I let him do it, curious that he wanted to see it.

“It’s okay, hun. It’s just a little blood. You didn’t hurt mummy.”

I let him inspect my hand as blood continued to rise from the wound. Tommy hovered a finger above it. His eyes drifting from left to right and back again. Gently, he dipped his finger in the blood and examined it close to his face.

“It’s just blood,” I explained. “We all have it, remember?” I watched him place the bloodied finger on his picture and smear it across the trees. He reached up and did it again. I didn’t stop him, curiosity getting the better of me. He dipped his finger in my blood and smeared more trees. And then again.

“That’s enough now, Tommy,” I said, pulling my hand away. Tommy’s grip tightened, and he pulled my wrist to get more blood. I broke contact just as my husband’s burly six-foot frame squeezed out the office door in a tempest.

“What the hell is going on?” He looked at me, clutching my hand and his kids mangled on the sofa. I nodded to Jack and Lacy with a silent request to sort them out. “You guys need to learn to share, or I’ll just take it away,” he said, detangling Jack and Lacy.

I took the chance to disappear into the kitchen to wash my hand under cold water. The living room went quiet, and I nodded in relief. Phil was a good father to them. And to Tommy, who was a handful at times. He knew I had my work cut out with my son. And although Jack and Lacy were technically mine now, a statement they both venomously rejected, to handle three rebellious children was challenging.

Without the water, the cut ran freely as blood splashed the bottom of the sink in inkblot formations. The wound was deep. Ashamed at myself for causing Tommy’s outburst, I wrapped my hand in a towel and closed my eyes. But my peace was short-lived when a knock at the door startled me.

“I’ll get it!” I shouted, wrapping my hand tightly en route to the front door. Lacy’s head rolled from side to side, the VR goggles showing her a world of make-believe. Jack, arm crossed, sulked next to her. Tommy worked on his picture in peace.

I put on my best smile and pulled open the door. The weather was unusually warm for May in Australia. The burn-off caused a haze to hang over the houses like an ominous mist. The sun, piercing through in places, made it look like the smoke had layers.

“Oh! Hi, Mike.”

My ex-husband Mike stood on the porch with a rectangle box sporting a blue ribbon.

“Hey, Tyler. Sorry to call around like this, but I thought I’d bring Tommy his present today, you know. The eclipse and everything. Though he’d like to see it?”

“Umm – yeah, Mike. You’re like – uh – a week early.” I said, pointing to the gift. “Tommy’s birthday isn’t until next Saturday.”

“I know. I know.” Mike said, bobbing his head. The movement revealed a bald patch in his thinning brown hair. “I just thought about the eclipse tonight…”

“Hey, Mike? How’s it going? I didn’t think you were having Tommy this weekend.” Phil was at my side.

“I’m not… I mean,” Mike wiped a hand across his eyes. I could see the frustration on his face, a trait I admit I didn’t miss. He drew in a deep breath as he started again. “I’m here to give Tommy his present. I wanted to take him to the cabin this weekend, but Tyler wouldn’t let me.”

His accusation hit me, and I balked. “Of course, I said no!” I fumed. “You want to take our autistic son to a cabin in the middle of nowhere to watch the stars! He’s six, Mike. Six. Bedtime for a normal child is hard enough. Taking Tommy out of his normal routine will ruin him for a week!”

Mike shrank a little, and I felt the guilt wash through me. It wasn’t like he wasn’t a good dad when he was around. He just wasn’t cut out to care for Tommy as I could. The first year of Tommy’s life was difficult for us both. At age two, Tommy’s challenging behavior was enough for Mike to leave. A part of me hated him for that, for walking away.

“Hey, hey. Let’s all calm down here.” Phil opened the door wide. Jack and Lacy suddenly at his side craned to see who was at the door.

“Hey, Uncle Mike.”

Mike raised a hand in greeting and then handed me Tommy’s gift.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that this eclipse doesn’t happen for another hundred years. I – I thought it would be a cool father-son thing. It’s okay, though. We can do it another time.”

I hefted the box in my hand and turned to Phil. He had a funny look on his face.

“Why don’t we go too?” He whispered.

I frowned, concern plastered across my face. “The kids would love it. Tommy would be able to get up when the show happens, and you can put him straight back to bed after.”

“I don’t know, Phil. You’ve got work, and the kids have school…”

“It doesn’t happen for another hundred years, Ty?” Phil raised an eyebrow. His lip-curling into the smile that had won me over.

* * * * * *

The wheel crunched to a stop on the loose dirt. The drive was long. Day slowly turned to dust as we arrived. The terrain changed from flat suburban houses to hilly forest roads. The log cabin in front of us had taken a ten-minute dirt drive to arrive at. The old and weathered thing looked more like a shack than a cabin as the sun hung over the horizon. A brown door that once could have been red stood ajar. Mike’s car sat off to the right. I glanced at Tommy on the back seat between Jack and Lacy and then back to Phil. I was still a little apprehensive about the sudden trip. Phil squeezed my hand and lifted my chin with a finger.

“It’s gonna be great. Fresh air, peace and quiet. Just what we need.”

The peace was short-lived as Jack and Lacy popped the doors and raced inside, fighting each other to select the best room. I heaved a sigh, looked back at Tommy and the new drawing on his lap. This one was of a woodland fox, its mouth wide open like it was yawning, in the safety of skeletal trees.

“It might be good for Tommy to see something other than our home and the center,” I mused.

Phil grinned like a kid. “That’s my girl.”

The cabin opened up once inside to a central sitting room. Four wide chairs swathed in pale green fabric sat around a soot-blackened fireplace, a roaring fire in the grate. Stuffed deer heads and hunting tools lined the walls. Off to the right, snuggled into the corner, was a kitchenette. The unruly activities of conquering bedrooms could be heard off to the left.

Phil came through behind me just as Mike came out from the bedroom passage.

“Where can I put these, Mike?”

Mike pointed down the corridor. “Any room but the second on the left. That’s my parent’s old one.”

Phil jolted the smaller man’s arm with a friendly pat as he passed. “Thanks, man. I really… we really appreciate this. Oh, and hey, I forgot milk. Do you have any, or I could go to the local shops?”

Mike sucked air past his teeth. “Nearest shop or anyone for that matter is half an hour drive. Do you need milk? I’ve got plenty of the dry stuff in the cupboard?”

Phil shook his head in disgust. “It’s good, man. I can go without.” He stuck his fingers in his mouth and pretended to puke. His laughter followed him down the passage. I caught Mike’s eye, and an awkward silence fell between us. Tommy, who I had momentarily forgotten about, dodged free of my arms to set up his drawing equipment on a side table and began to draw.

“He’ll be fine there. Can I watch him? You can get settled in.” Mike almost pleaded with me. Awash with guilt and uncertainty, I agreed and went in search of Phil. The passageway was long. Three doors on the right housed the bedrooms, while the first two on the left were also bedrooms, the last was a bathroom.

I found Phil unpacking in the first bedroom.

“I’ve told the kids the one across the hall is Tommy’s.”

“Did they fight you about it?”

“No. Actually, they didn’t.” Phil grabbed me around the waist and swept me up, kissing my neck. I squealed in delight and surprise.

Then, someone tapped at the door.

“Sorry to interrupt, but…” Mike knelt and pulled a long box out from under the bed. I caught sight of a long black tube and lens. Anger flared in my chest.

“You’re supposed to be watching Tommy, Mike.”

I wriggled free of Phil’s arms and pushed past Mike. I couldn’t believe he had left him alone in a strange place. Tommy had meltdowns for far less. I crashed through the door to find my son peacefully drawing. Fear left me as I leaned against the threshold—my heart in my ears.

Mike came through, the telescope in his arms, and an apologetic frown on his face. “See? He’s fine!”

“That’s not the point. You should be there, just in case.”

“I’m sorry, Tyler. I’ll make sure I won’t leave him next time.”

He knew what my tight-lipped frown meant as he jolted the telescope and nodded toward the door.

“I’m going to set this up. It’s getting dark, and the event is happening in a few hours. I’ll light a fire when I get back.”

I let him slip off. My interests were with Tommy and his newest picture. For a six-year-old, his drawings were good. No, sorry. Not good. Excellent. The woodland fox had all the right proportions. Eyes, ears, even the teeth were to scale. The trees around him were withered. I could almost imagine feeling the grains under my fingers. I looked closer. The trees didn’t just look old. Within the lines of bark, Tommy had marked them with a strange symbol.

“What’s this mean, Tommy?”

Tommy followed my finger. His pencil stopped mid-swish as he removed it from paper laid it down in its place. Selected a grey one and followed the symbol he had drawn. “Monoc.”

“What’s Monoc?” I asked. I had never heard of such a thing.

“Monoc.” Tommy drew it again. The pencil was biting that bit harder.

“I don’t understand, Tommy. What is Monoc?”

Tommy drew the symbol again. “Monoc!” And again, biting that bit deeper on the paper. “Monoc!” And again. The grey nib snapped. “Monoc!” The paper ripped. I grabbed his hand and stopped him.

“Okay. Okay.” Tommy fought against me until I stroked his face. “It’s okay. I know what Monoc is. Silly mummy.”

Tommy sniffed. I let go of his hand. He pulled the pad up until the paper wasn’t ripped and started a new drawing. I turned away as I heard someone approach.

“He okay?” Phil asked from the doorway. I nodded and headed outside as he followed.

“I’m not sure we should have come, Phil.”

It was dark outside. The moon, fat and bloated like a drowned corpse, hung above the trees. Its light bathed the cabin and surrounding woods in an eerie blue glow.

“Tommy will be fine. Maybe put him down for bed until the eclipse. Let him have a rest?”

I nodded and pulled a strand of hair out of my eyes. My anxiety was through the roof. Tommy’s episodes were taxing. Sometimes I just needed help. But it was difficult. I just couldn’t…

A scream went up inside the cabin. My blood froze.


I burst through the door.

Tommy tore at his picture, hands flying as he smashed the page. Blood spattered everywhere as he screamed at the top of his lungs.

I raced forward, trying to get his hand under control. He was so strong, too strong for me. I grab a wrist. He pulled it out and smashed the picture again. Frantic, I pulled at his neck, trying to calm him with shushes in his ears. As suddenly as it began, it stopped. Tommy slumped forward, motionless.

Tears stung my eyes; my head and heart hurt. My boy laid still. I cradled his head, made sure he was breathing. It wasn’t the first time he had passed out from exertion, but this was different. More violent. As I pulled his body back, I saw the picture. The woodland fox was covered in blood, Tommy’s blood. Both his hands held deep wounds. Similar to the one on my hand. I could only imagine that he had done it to himself, but why?

“Is Tommy okay?” Phil asked, coming back into the house.

“Just an episode,” I lied. “Can you take him to bed? I’m too tired to carry him.”

Phil nodded, scooped up Tommy and shuffled down the passageway. A moment later and he came back, a frown coloring his face.

“Where are the kids?”

“I don’t know? Aren’t they in their room?”

Phil scratched his head. “No? I mean. I thought they were. But when I checked, they weren’t there.”

A piercing scream split the air. My blood ran cold again, thinking it was Tommy. But it came from outside. Phil took off in a single stride and was through the door. I was close behind.

The forest around the cabin was different. The moon was swallowed in a mottled red. I tugged Phil’s arms, directing him to the abandoned telescope. The scream went up again. It sounded like Lacy was hurt or worse, in danger. I turned around, looking down to the back of the cabin. Phil did the same and then was off again. I broke into a run, fear gripping my heart as only a parent knows. I stopped dead upon seeing the shrieking fox stumble forward. Its fur bloody and eyes wide. When it opened its mouth again, it screamed. But it wasn’t the sound of an animal in distress but a human crying for help. I clamped my hands over my ears.

Phil found a shovel lying against the back of the cabin and slammed it against the floor. “Shoo! Shoo!”

The fox screamed again, and I shuddered.

“Did – did it just…” He asked.

It screamed again. Help!

I stumbled back as something rustled through the trees. A hare, stick thin and red eyes, hopped out. Spittle foamed at its mouth. Its fur was clumped and matted, which hindered its movement. It jerked forward and screamed, just like the fox.

“What the… “ Phil began. I turned as an enormous beast crashed through the trees. The bear was big, more significant than anything I had ever seen. Its black fur looked sharp, like needles. A muzzle, dripping saliva jutted out beneath yellowed eyes that protruded far too much than what would be normal.

“Get behind me!” Phil pulled me back, hiding me from the gigantic beast. He hefted the shovel. “When I say run, run.”

“But Phil,” I tugged at his shoulder. “they sound like the kids. What is happening?”

“I don’t know. But…”

The bear reared up. Its massive paws were reaching higher than the trees. It opened its mouth. The sounds of screaming kids roared out from its mauls.


I didn’t wait. My heart pounded in my ears. I wanted to leave, to get far away from this place as possible. I tore around the cabin and yanked open the door. I heard Phil shout in agony as the bear attacked him. I knew at that moment he was dead.

The door slammed shut. I placed my back against it, breathing hard. Something felt wrong like my maternal instinct ran a finger up my spine.


I charged forward and stopped. Tommy walked out of the passageway, his hands dripping with blood. At his side were two wolves. Their fur was bristling, and its fangs bared. Rib cages vibrating with their growls.

I took steps back until the door pressed up against me. Tommy looked at me, his eyes focused and cleared. Not like his typical sliding stare. I knew this wasn’t my son anymore; it couldn’t be. The Wolves circled around him and screamed in a girl’s voice, Lacy’s voice. I broke down. Tears were spilling down my cheeks.

“Tommy! Please. It’s mummy. Come back to me, baby. We can get out of here.”

Tommy cocked his head. I pressed closer, the wolves continuing to scream with each step.  I shuddered while my knees fell weak.

“Please Tommy?!”

My knees wobbled, and I fell to the floor. The wolves were now inches from my face.

“He won’t help you, Tyler.” Mike came out of the passageway wiping his hands on a cloth. His face was slick with blood. “Tommy is gone. Monoc is here now. Can you believe it? Our son, a placeholder for a god!”

“What the hell are you?!” I stumbled back.

Mike stopped and cocked his head to one side. “I wondered all this time if you remembered. Now I know.”

“Remember what?” I shouted—fear squeezing my throat.

“The conception? Tommy’s concept. Here. Seven years ago. The last eclipse.”

My mind was numb. I tried to remember the conception, but there were so many times. It could have been any of them. We were young, in love.

“Where’s Phil? The kids?” The wolves edged closer, hackles raised and eyes bulging.

“Dead. All of them. And you will be too soon. As will I. Monoc will walk this earth again, and all that stand in his way will burn.”

“You’re crazy!” I scrambled to my feet. “Tommy. Come to mummy. It’s okay, baby. I’ve got you. You don’t have to do this.”

My son turned his head. And the wolves mimicked the action. With a flick of the wrist, the wolves dived forward.


The first wolf pinned me to the floor, its teeth snapping inches from my face. The second tore at my leg as I kicked at it frantically. My hands found purchase in the other’s fur, and I tried to push it off. It trashed and rolled. I don’t know how, but I kicked under the wolf and sent it flying into the fire. Tommy screamed then, a deep baritone of agony.

It was just what I needed to stumble upright. The wolf careened around the cabin. Everything it touched moldered to life. Fire billowed. I crashed to the door as Tommy, head in his hands, roared. The screams of people echoed around the cabin. Mike backed up; fear etched into his face. The other wolf turned on him and tore out his throat.

Thick and clogging smoke curled around the room. I pulled open the door and raced outside. I froze to the chorus of animals screaming. Bears, hogs, birds, foxes, hares, they all screamed—the fire spread. I stumbled back down the dirt track as the fire consumed the cabin and spread to the trees.

I was numb as the roof collapsed, knowing that they were all dead. Phil. Jack and Lacy. And my boy, my only son, Tommy. At some point, I fell to my knees. Distraught. The wind whipped around me as one of Tommy’s drawings landed on my knees. I picked it and turned it over. My jaw dropped as I looked at the scene pictured by his pen. The same inferno I witnessed before me.

Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Grant Hinton
Edited by

Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown

Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Grant Hinton

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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