As the class dragged on, the reading order came around to Gene. He stood and began reciting the paragraph, for purposes known only to Mrs. Baum; it certainly did not seem to make any sense to Jeanne or Gene, and Tegan rolled her eyes more than once as he spoke. “Those who fight with monsters,” Gene said, “should be careful not to become monsters themselves. And, when looking into the abyss, know that the abyss also looks into you.”
The turn of phrase piqued Jeanne’s interest. Obviously its meaning was not the focus of the lesson; Mrs. Baum seemed uninterested in actually going too far into what the words meant. But Jeanne mulled the concepts over in her mind. Fighting monsters, she thought. Is Deacon a monster? There was no hesitation in her answer. But does that make us monsters, too? She glanced at Gene, surreptitiously checking him for tusks and scales; finding none, she considered the phrase again.
What made Deacon a monster? The answer was again obvious and quick. His methods, his manipulative nature. By using threats and force, as well as his not-undeserved reputation for ruthlessness, he was easily able to persuade his fellow students and to deceive the faculty and adults. Even so, this manipulation could only go so far, and it was there that he was able to show his true colors– his deplorable actions did more damage than his dark words could ever endeavor to accomplish.