Born of Man and Woman is short horror story by Richard Matheson. It is considered one of the best horror stories ever written. Teachers often use it in schools to show kids how effective it can be to write from the point of view of a character. To tell you what it’s about would just ruin the surprise, so just read it and enjoy.
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 SCREEN-STARS. 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 didn’t have the nice face. I touched his arm and said it is all right 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. That’s how I 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. I am big. It is a secret but I have pulled the chain out of the wall. 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 don’t walk on stairs. My feet stick to the wood. I went up and opened a door. It was a white place. White as jewels that come 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. Oh god 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 laugh 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 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 didn’t cry. I can’t do that. But the drip ran all over the bed. She saw it and twisted away and made a noise. Oh my god my god she said why have you done this to me? I heard 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 didn’t 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. This time I hit the stick out of his hands and made noise. He went away and his face 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 I’ll hurt them. I will.