- By S.T.Y.A

I once knew a girl who fashioned painting. She told me that she liked it more than she liked food, and I think she was right.

She would spend every moment with her paper and paint. Sometimes, when she painted nice pictures, she would whistle. Not every time, though. Sometimes they made her cry.

In the beginning, she drew pictures of explosions and fire. She said it reminded her of when she was a child. Fire seemed so simple. Like a mother of all things, it would always be there.

Then she started making pictures of water, and believe me when I say she was good at it! One might think of water as just being blue, but she truly managed to capture it on the paper. So many different shades of blue, so much beauty. It's a shame that she didn't keep any of her pictures, really.

And then came the fish! Oh, the wonderful little creatures! In the beginning, she didn't draw them so detailed. I could hardly tell if it was a fish or a hamburger, but I could still recognize the beauty in them. It shone out of them like light in the sun.

And she got better, and soon I wasn't able to tell a real fish from hers.

One day, when we were both drunk, she got up and painted four legs on one of the old fish-paintings. She laughed and told it to breathe.

Then I laughed. Although I can't remember why, it seemed to make perfect sense.

Later, she would begin drawing hair on the legged fish. In the end, it looked like a cat.

One day, when I asked her why she'd changed it, she merely shrugged. "It seemed the right time to do so," she said. "It needed to change.

I didn't understand what she was saying at the time.

One morning, when I went to visit her, I was surprised to see that the picture had grown. It seemed to cover both walls and furniture. Glorious dragons seemed everywhere in the room, and even though I knew it to be an illusion, I was still scarred.

She appeared in front of the jungle. "Like it?" she asked.

I narrowed my eyes. The beautiful perspective in the painting made it impossible to determine where the walls were. "Yeah," I mumbled.

"I made it all by myself."

I had no idea how to relocate the door, except by backtracking until I hit the invisible wall. "What happened to the cat?" I asked.

"There," she pointed. "It's asleep."

I discovered a small cat sitting under some ferns. For some reason, it seemed more alive than ever. Heck, I wouldn't have been surprised if it had started moving.

But it was just a painting.

I think.

She kept the picture for some time, constantly changing the dragons and the plants. The only thing she never changed was the cat, whom she'd named 'Mother'.

For a month or so, the picture greeted me when I visited her. I had no idea how her apartment looked anymore, but I didn't really care. The walls I could not see, and the now invisible furniture was more than a fair trade.

So, I'm sure you can imagine how scared I was, when I walked in and found the apartment to be on fire. For a small second, all I could think of what saving the painting, but when I turned around and found the door to be on fire too, I started worrying about myself.

That's when I noticed that the flames were cold, and that they didn't move.

"Oh, you're here," I heard the woman say. "Do you like my new painting?"

"What happened to the old one?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

"It was time to change it."

Although I was perfectly aware of the tremendous glory of the old one, this new one seemed better somehow. I couldn't quite put a finger on the feeling I woke inside of me, yet when I look back, I realise what it was. It was merely recognition.

"I like it," I said, more to myself than to her. Suddenly, a little panic reached me, and I couldn't help but asking; "Where's Mother?"

"Oh, she's there. You can't see her because she's sleeping."

I nodded.

"Under the ground. She's hidden. The fire can't hurt her."

The fire disappeared after a few months, and now she started drawing real animals. Elephants, horses and goats. I found myself in a zoo every time I visited. Only one thing seemed missing.

"Where's Mother?"

She slapped herself. "Oh, yes, I knew I'd forgotten something. I'll get right on it."

I went home after that. She didn't like it when people saw her paint.

However, when I returned the next day, I found that the picture had gone. Red paint was splattered out on what were now just regular walls. For the first time in almost half a year, I could see where the furniture was.

She was dead.

On top of her, stood a horrible creature, laughing and crying. It turned to look at me, and then it started growling. At first I didn't know what it was, yet the eyes revealed it.

"Mother?" I asked, my voice filled with disbelief.

It pierced off her arm and ate it in a single bite before attacking my petrified body. By some miracle I managed to jump out of its way and flee out the door.

I never went back.

Mainly because I now realize whom Mother was.

The place is gone, you know. The whole country exploded, as atoms were shattered inside of her apartment. Radioactive ghosts purged out of it, and quickly killed every living person. The oceans will be contaminated for generations to come, and I will never forgive myself for not realising what was happening.

First came the ocean. Then the fish got legs and hair. Then, after the fire, it became a monster.

The fire should have destroyed Mother, but it didn't. Just like the rest of us, it remained cold and unmoving, until the problems had gone too big.

Mother may still be out there. I'm not sure. I haven't really given it a lot of thought. Mainly because it doesn't matter. Mother isn't anything special, and there are plenty of creatures like her out there.

6,320,315,000 of them to be exact.