View Full Version : Delphinus's Bookshelf
07-17-2011, 04:05 PM
Someone asked me to post my writings in the Ubermensch thread, so here's the writing for today. Note that I probably won't post every day, since the 500 words I write aren't necessarily this cohesive all the time; sometimes they comprise of ten fifty-word sections.
"Welcome to Thursday.” said the weathered sign. There were two problems with this, from George's perspective: firstly, it was Monday today, and secondly, he was in the middle of the desert. That there was a sign there at all was extraordinary; that it was in English was, frankly, insulting. He struggled towards it. Effort conservation be damned, he had to know more about the cryptic message. As he neared the sign he noticed something; where there had formerly been an infinite, unbroken plain of sand, there was now an irregular dark crack running across it. He looked to his right; the crack seemed to go on forever. He turned and looked the other way; again, there seemed to be no end to it. Curious, he moved closer. The crack yawned ever wider as he approached it. From the tiny crack in the earth he had first noticed, it now gaped five or ten feet wide – the sign that had drawn him in that direction was on the opposite side of the crack to him. Timorously, George peered over the cusp, then jerked back in shock and vomited profusely on the sand. What George had seen was this: the crack, though at most only ten feet wide, led to a drop immeasurably deep. At the bottom of the crack he could see a series of lights extending far beyond the edges of his vision.
For George, who had been afflicted with vertigo since the age of seven, this was not a good scenario.
I am lost. Lost in darkness, in utter, total, all-consuming darkness. I cannot see; I'm blind. I don't know where this darkness came from or whether it will ever recede but oh god I'm blind. The night is closing in fast and I'm blind. The groans of wild beasts surround me and I'm blind. What do I do? My mind is a blank, as blind as my eyes, I am slipping, slipping into the void, and nobody can save me now.
Or can they?
The tendency, when a brutal murder occurs, is to immediately blame someone – the right-wing press pin all the blame on the assailant, and the left-wing press place all onus on the conditions surrounding the assailant: that is, on capitalism. Both approaches are equally flawed and equally a product of the journalist's political convictions. Sometimes the only thing to blame is chance. If he hadn't become drunk that night... if he hadn't had a knife to hand... if the victim hadn't been exhibiting their wealth, making him jealous... if he hadn't been sexually abused by his parents... there are, in most circumstances, far too many factors in play to pinpoint one or another as the cause of the crime.
Certain humans will always be born mentally ill. There is substantial proof that some forms of mental 'illness' are promoted by evolution. For example, the psychopath and the narcissist are more sexually promiscuous than the average human being; thus, the likelihood of them impregnating someone, or being themselves impregnated, is higher than the likelihood of a neurotypical person. Assuming psychopathy and narcissism have genetic factors behind them, some forms of mental 'illness' actually increase an individual's evolutionary fitness.
In Oedipus the King, the fated Jocasta declares “It's all chance! Chance rules our lives!” and is summarily punished. But in more modern modes of literature, such as absurdism, the influence of chance on our lives is increasingly being recognised as not only significant, but crucial. In the sciences, too, we observe seeming order emerging from chaos (in the case of evolution), and seeming chaos emerging from order (in chaos theory).
Why not apply this to the phenomenon of murder? The breeding of at least a few serial killers and many more who are predisposed to violence in each generation is inevitable: neither the right-wing calls for harsher policing nor the left-wing calls for greater opportunity in deprived areas will reduce the murder count to nothing, though they may efficacious to a certain extent.
From here, from the doctrine of the inevitability of murder, we can begin to see from the view of Thomas de Quincy and other aesthetes: “What's done is done, the only thing left is to appreciate it aesthetically.” I am neither sick nor insane; I merely reject your tediously simple causes.
These stories are actually quite compelling. You provide interesting hooks in all of them and at least my interest was held throughout. The first one was especially good, presenting an abnormality on top of an abnormality and then giving the protagonist a condition contrasting one of them. All in a short time, too.
Do you want critiques, or are these just literary doodles?
07-17-2011, 07:37 PM
Literary doodles. I'll only want criticism on more complete things, this is just my daily practice. Sort of the equivalent of life sketches for an artist.
And the third one is an essay, not a story. ;)
Yeah, I got that. Essays actually help me a bit more in technical writing (i.e. eliminating all useless words) than fiction does. I might start doing the same thing myself, as opposed to forcing out stories in a series every week.
07-18-2011, 02:26 PM
EDIT: Changed to spoiler tags to preserve the formatting.
The walls are stained with blood and madness and ha! Cassandra still thinks that it's all red paint. Red on white, red on white, I have repainted the walls with the evidence of my insanity. I have created new art: is it art? I believe it's art. They will never suspect me, they'll never imagine that I did what I did to her, they think I'm not broken, they'll never see past my eyes because they're mad, it's they who are mad, not me.
Did you see the sunrise, baby? And did you see the sunset, darling? Were you even paying attention? I don't know how many rises and falls you've seen in your time; talking to you is like talking to the hills or the rivers. You've seen the sun rise over the Roman Senate even as it sets on the Greek Assembly; tyrant and benevolent leader have felt your touch equally. And who are you, my darling, that you see nations rise and fall with indifference, and see the world become populated in the blink of an eye, the progress from slings to jet fighters in a split second? You are, my love, the only thing that is a certainty in life.
And are you indifferent, too, to my sufferings and my pleas, as you have been to so many others? Are you determined to maintain an icy façade, and have men desperately try to send you away? No, you are merely deaf and blind, the natural justice of the universe, and cannot love or hate. Yet nonetheless I love you for the fire you place in men's hearts. Without you, there is only sheer decadence. Only the fear of you, beloved, motivates men to try and live forever through their achievements.
I declare my love of you, of your existence, and of your deeds, and of your form, oh Death.
She is breathing heavily, her breasts heaving with panic. She is helpless, a mouse before a cat or a wounded gazelle as a lion approaches. She is crying, tiny rivers flowing down onto her well-formed lips and dripping onto the concrete floor. The blood streaming from her split upper lip mingles with the tears to form a puddle of murky reddish liquid.
I met her for the first time two or three days ago, in a bar. The lights were low and the atmosphere, relaxed. I'd come to perform my usual Friday-night ritual of drinking to excess with a couple of co-workers (and accomplices) while surreptitiously hunting for appropriate women. There was me, that is to say Nicolas Hill, Jimbo, and Polo, and we sat at our table making up our minds what to do with the evening. And then – coincidentally – I came across her at the bar when we were on the fifth or sixth round of drinks. Feeling more daring than usual, for I'd drunk mostly straight spirits for the last hour, I invited her to our table. She brought a friend, an over-excitable and corpulent mound of flesh, too, but fortunately that Orca shortly had to swim to new waters. There must have been an offer on cakes at the supermarket.
Anyway, beached whale dismissed, we had the opportunity to talk to Clarise – for that's her name, Clarise, although we don't call her that any more. Bitch and whore suffice.
Reading your works is like lying in a canoe through a river of lava: Although dangerous truths and intrusive realities surround you, you can't help but enjoy the smooth flow of your path. Well done.
07-20-2011, 07:01 PM
And again. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to write tonight, but when I finally started I was really pleased with the end result. I might expand on it, even, although right now the pacing is a bit dodgy. Guess that's what I get for writing high on caffeine late at night.
Love the concept, though. And also, Fenn, it's a bit less grimdark than the other stuff, and closer to reflecting how I actually think about reality...
In the distance the faint sound of a piano can be heard, and the meticulously clean streets seem more organic and less clinical just by having the notes of that melancholy melody drift through them. A hunched figure scuttles through the streets, as though afraid of the light, and ducks away from the small dents in the wall, which to the untrained eye would mean nothing remarkable, but to the figure denote the locations of hidden cameras. Years ago, they called this heaven, and for a little while, it was. Not any more. Now the streets are only clean because blood is used as bleach. The selfsame streets are clear of crime because petty theft is punishable by firing squad.
The figure is clad in rags: enough to see it dragged before a court and punished for vagrancy. But the advantage of rags is that they make you invisible. Nobody notices a single vagabond in a city of thousands of them. Most are too scared to show their vagabondage, but it remains nonetheless; a hundred million people are clad in figurative rags for the benefit of a hundred others. The rags are a way of hiding yourself at the cost of your dignity. The figure moves onwards with caution, avoiding cameras, and narrowly avoiding a woman carrying a baby as it rounds the corner onto the main road. It's deserted; nobody uses the roads any more. Everything is contained within the home. The state knows how to keep you safe at home.
And the sound of the piano just grows louder and louder as the rag-clad figure approaches a door that's barely distinguishable from the flat, smooth, whitewashed concrete that surrounds it. The door slides open with a faint hiss, and the pile of rags steps into it. It's a lift.
In the apartment of the pianist, the tune is still more vibrant and lively, bouncing around almost in the spirit of big-band jazz. But it nonetheless retains a slight air of melancholy, as though the old world of vivacious expression, the old world of emotion, is crying at the injustice and perversion that's been wrecked on it by the desire for security. Nature has died and been replaced with still concrete slabs, and the piano is singing out, at once joyfully and mournfully, for the nostalgia of bygone days, when freedom still lived as an ideal and not just as a word, and when humanity was the beginning and the end of all the joy and all the pain in the world. All that has now died and been replaced with machinery; and not the machinery of bygone days, machinery that aids people, but machinery as king, and the system as a fact of life. Chaos is dead; order lives.
But the apartment is in stark defiance of this: where the world outside was minimalist, this is extravagant. There are furs adorning the floor, and plant pots everywhere, from the glass-and-mahogany coffee-table to the top of a cabinet. From behind many of these plant pots glint the steely lenses of cameras, but their vision is inhibited. Only by forty-five percent, of course – otherwise the police force would be down on the place like a shot.
And the piano-playing stops as the pianist approaches the door where the bundle of rags stands. He is a young man, not handsome but not ugly either, and he wears his dark hair tucked neatly behind his ears. His clothing matches the attire of the apartment; broadly decadent but nonetheless comprised of the same elements that minimalistic apparel would be. He leans over to the bundle of rags, and sensually takes the end of the face-covering mask in hand, twirls it around his hand, and kisses the pair of lips so revealed deeply. The kiss lasts a brief moment, then the ragged figure pulls away and takes off the rest of the rags.
Revealed stand a woman, of the same age as the man, but with more typically minimalist clothing, perhaps, than the male. The two kiss again, and as they pull away a brief conversation takes place:
“You should play more quietly.”
“They'll never catch me, not for disturbing the order.”
“Mmm, I heard them talking about banning the piano as decadent for your sake.”
“And then their fine dinners would be compromised.”
“Yeah, but all it takes is one person saying you're disturbing them with your playing and-”
“Nobody will ever say that.”
Very nice... :cat_whyyou:
07-21-2011, 04:57 PM
Fenn apparently likes bolstering my already-sizable ego.
This is incomplete. It's about 800 words; I'll be adding to it over the course of tomorrow and maybe the next day.
Inspired by an idea for an art/indie game I had a year or two ago. And I remembered it because of this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACG9wv69bKU), which is amazing. I like this one too.
It had been an interesting day for the proprietors of the Hotel Nouveau. Every day was an interesting day for them: maintaining a sixty-year-old guest house with numerous inaccuracies in its name caused certain eccentricities to be drawn to it. It was something in the spirit of the place; it drew people in, and they never wanted to leave, entranced as they were by the building, or the location, or the service, or something. The owner, Jonas “Jon” Coulsdon, often joked that it was “like the Hotel California”. Unfortunately, his poor sense of humour often led to him explaining that joke.
Jon and his wife slept and lived in the attic rooms, which gave them a spacious living area and, at the same time, kept their private quarters separate from the corridors below, where guests would tromp about in the early hours. The attic was made up like a small apartment; it contained a single master bedroom, a living room, a bathroom, and a kitchen. There was also a small, box-like study, where the guest house's vault, several important documents, and a single antique computer were kept.
At present, Jon was in bed with his wife, sound asleep. He floated through serene dreams of bliss and joy, imagining himself swimming across a vast ocean, and relaxing on warm, golden beaches. Jon hadn't had a holiday in a while. The waves washed about his pudgy frame, and swept over his head – and then he was drowning, gasping for breath as shadowy hands tried to drag him down, trying to resist, trying to break the surface even as the unbearable pain of his lungs grew more and more restrictive, falling, slipping into darkness and agony, until the blackness of shadows embraced him and he fell into a watery grave, a loud scream ringing in his ears.
The scream was still sounding in his ears as he sat up straight, sweating profusely and panting like a madman. There was something wrong here, too, back in reality; the bedside light was off, the darkness stifled everything. Normally that bedside light was on all night. He reached towards it clumsily, and with effort managed to find the switch. It didn't work. A power cut? But they never had power cuts.
Then it came to him, like a fresh nightmare. Creaking in the study. He checked beside him. Eliza – his wife – was still lying there, less disturbed in her sleep by afar than Jon had been. So why the creaking? He listened more. More creaking. It wasn't just in his head. Then what was it? Burglars? Guests in places they shouldn't be? Or perhaps he was being paranoid. Perhaps it was just the wind. No matter what, it necessitated a check.
He cautiously got out of bed, placing each foot in turn gently on the floor to avoid creaking of his own. Then he slid open one of the drawers beside the bed, rummaged around, and withdrew a revolver and a box of bullets. Better safe than sorry. He would've probably been more intimidating if he wasn't wearing blue pyjamas with sheep printed on them, though.
While he was loading the revolver, there was a fresh creak. It was louder this time: closer to him. Jon finished loading the revolver and snapped it shut, then aimed the barrel at the bedroom door. The sound grew closer and closer, louder and louder. Creak. CREAK. Jon was shaking with fear.
But there were no more creaks. Plucking up his courage, Jon moved towards the door. Nothing. He inched closer. Still nothing. He put one hand on the doorknob. Silence. He eased the door open, aiming the revolver into the blackness outside. And that was all there was – blackness. No thief. No murderer. Just – darkness. The only strange thing was that the lights were all dead. A power cut? That would make sense. Just to make sure, Jon moved into the study. There were thudding noises coming from that direction. Thud. Thud. Thud. Like the sound of footsteps, almost. The footsteps of a hoofed being. A monster. A demon. He rounded the corner between the bedroom and the study, pointing the revolver into the night and saw – the window of the study, bathing the room in faint moonlight. A strong breeze had picked up, and the branches of the large oak tree outside were whacking repeatedly against the window. All rational, all explainable. Nothing to be scared about.
07-22-2011, 08:31 AM
That sounded really interesting. Can't wait for more, but I probably won't be able to read it for a week DX
If you can't puncture it, inflate it? IDK.
And music is great for inspiration huh? Especially songs with a defined tone and vague lyrics.
07-28-2011, 04:44 PM
CONVERSATION PRACTICE, BABY. contains foul language and desexifying of vampires
“I heard your visit to the Duke's daughter didn't go so well. Come in, come in, take a seat.”
“W-where did you hear that?”
“On the grapevine. It's amazing how often fruit talks these days.”
“You must've heard wrong.”
“No, I had reliable sources. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
“I – I just...”
“Oh? You have a good reason?”
“I couldn't finish her off – she's barely an adult. She has her whole life ahead of her.”
“Oh, she has her whole life ahead of her?” Milhaven's voice was increasingly dark and mocking.
“That's nice. Did you stop to consider, for one second, what you were doing? You're a great fucking specimen of a man, alright, sparing the daughter of our biggest enemy because she's young. Did you forget something? Like your whole fucking reason for joining us? You used to serve her until she threw you out, like the piece of shit you are, onto the street. What would you have done if I hadn't picked you up, you worthless bastard? Starved to death because everyone you saw had their whole life ahead of them – oh, fucking brilliant! Yeah, your high morals and everything are lovely, but you want freedom? We're freedom-fucking-fighters, not freedom-let's-skip-around-like-worthless-pussy-bastards. You drained her and left her pale. And then you pussied out from cutting her throat. Let me tell you something, my friend, if you'd been out on the street, you'd have died to turn one cute little teeny like her pale. And yeah, I say fucking died, I mean it. You know what happens when the hunters come round to clear up and they see some ex-servant leech sitting around and craving blood? They shoot the son of a bitch because they know what he's gonna do. Animal cravings, my friend. Animal – fucking – cravings. You want us to look like little bitches in front of the other cells, huh, is that what you want? You want them to start laughing at us: 'Oh those guys, what a pair of fucking jokers, ha ha ha, they got to the Duke's daughter and didn't kill her'? You are a fuck-up and I want you out of this place and out of my life. Get the fuck out, I'm not kidding. You are nothing. You are shit. The whole damn city thinks of us as trash, and in your case they're right. Now, if you want to have any chance of surviving the next week, you find that bitch, wherever she is now she's one of us, and you stab her through the heart. Twenty, thirty times, fucking rip her to shreds, I don't care, just make sure she's not coming back. I want her dead, the sadistic bitch. She's stabbed you, beat you, and then thrown you onto the street: and you pussied out at the last minute. If she's not dead, dismembered, and on the Duke's doorstep by Sunday morning, then you are. Yeah. Chew that over. Now fuck off!”
07-31-2011, 08:17 PM
Moar writing. I wrote the day before today as well, though possibly not the day before that.
An interesting essay I just found related to this. (http://www.rense.com/general90/illus.htm)
You are caught in a loop. I mean, you're caught in the machine. When you were young you were eager to start working, because it earned you money, and that money gave you more leisure time. As you grew older, the money slowly stopped being spent on leisure and began to be spent, bit by bit, on essentials. This began in university, or when you first started renting a house: you paid your bills and paid for your food, then spent the rest on leisure. Perhaps you took out loans to allow yourself to have the leisure you were acquainted with, only to find that the thing about loans is that they have to be repaid. Later, you got married, and bought yourself a house for your family. Now you have to work to survive: slack off, even for a couple of months, and you can wave goodbye to your beautiful house and your beautiful wife. Now they hate you for becoming jaded with the whole damn process: debt has forced you into wage labour and chained you to companies. It's not chattel slavery, but it's close enough: “Labour for wages or we'll destroy your life.” You began life as a free man; now you have been ensnared by debt and forced to obey the lash of some cruel master. And this ensnarement is of your own design: you had the choice to avoid buying a house, you had the choice to opt out and live for free, or even buy your own land and become self-sufficient. Only social pressures made you choose the usual path. Your own poor decisions have made you into a servile wretch, happy to work and satisfy your beautiful wife and your beautiful children. Your life, as it is, seems ideal to you, but there are invisible chains everywhere. You have only the illusion of freedom, and if you try to obtain true freedom now, then men with sticks and men with court orders will ruin you.
And this is the middle-class dream.
08-15-2011, 08:46 PM
Have been reading too much Brett Easton Ellis. I think it's affecting me.
It's either Tuesday or Friday. I'm fairly certain about that, even if I don't know where I am or what – or who – I did last night. I can barely remember who I am at first, but I remember and tell myself that my name is June May, and that at the moment I'm pretending it's Emma Pearson. I am lying in a double bed, I have a killer headache, and my mouth tastes like a dog's arse. The bastardly sliver of light that manages to worm its way through the curtains is stinging my eyes, and I know now that I won't be able to get back to sleep without chemical assistance.
I manage to crawl out of bed and the bedroom, though I nearly trip and break my leg on a cheap acoustic guitar lying on the floor. Some guy who I slept with last night is sitting on the nicotine-stained sofa in the living room and smoking a cigarette. He's wearing a pair of jeans, his hairy-but-muscular torso exposed to the world. The cigarette smoke makes me choke, and my choking makes my headache worse, so right after I recover from my death rattle, I croak at him to put it out. He reluctantly complies. I can't even remember his name – oh Christ, what's his name?
“Yeah?” I feel a sudden surge of relief that I got his name right.
“Can you get me a drink?”
“Well, I can.” Why did I sleep with this guy?
Eventually the orangutan drags himself off the sofa and gets me a glass of water. Why did I sleep with this guy? Oh yeah; I needed a place to stay and the guy I wanted to go home with left with a bitchy blonde.
I sit there dizzily until I finish the glass of water. Then I use Brett's shower, change my clothes, and make an attempt to leave. Brett meets me at the door and asks me if I'll be at the bar again next weekend. I tell him I might be, even though that's a lie. Fuck you, Brett: you're not even as good-looking as the guy I wanted to spend the night with, let alone smart enough for us to have any sort of basis for a relationship beyond sex and cigarettes.
I hitch-hike ten miles north in a car containing a middle-aged, middle-class, middle-intelligence, middle-of-the-road couple with some annoying kids.
08-16-2011, 07:42 AM
Woah, really good stuff you got here. Only critic I have for the conversation piece is that the last reply is too long.
08-16-2011, 09:27 AM
It is a monologue, but I can see your point. If I broke up the speech with some more action in that last part, it might be more interesting.
08-26-2011, 08:24 PM
I quite like the dialogue format. Here I built humanism out of nihilism. :D
So, if logic and science, etc. tell us that the universe is essentially blank and devoid of all meaning, what reason do we have to behave 'morally'. None. All decisions must be judged to be of equal value if we believe that they are all meaningless. That's what you believe, isn't it, my young nihilist friend?
Well then, if all things are believed to be of equal worth, and if it doesn't matter whether a creature lives or dies, would you condone murder?
I wouldn't condone murder, but I'd say it was indifferent.
Ah, then you are consistent in your reasoning at least. You believe that ethics serve no purpose at all aside from to inhibit our freedom of choice? That is well; ethics and such similar moral codes do indeed inhibit our free will. But I must ask you, if you believe that life and death and ethics are equally indifferent, whether you are totally consistent here?
Of course I am.
But is not your own life as meaningless as anyone else's? Since you ascribe no value to life and thus presumably no value to your own life, it only seems fair that, in choosing between life and death, we should just go ahead and flip a coin to determine if you live or die each day. After all, if both cases – you living, and you dying – are of equal meaning, then the only fair way to pick between them is with random chance, isn't it? Why do you not flip a coin to determine your own fate at a given interval, for example each morning? Or do you, in fact, do so and have simply turned up heads each time?
I do not flip a coin each morning.
Why not? You said yourself that whether a person lives or dies is indifferent in the eyes of the universe; why have you not yet committed suicide – or at least played Russian roulette?
Because I want to continue living.
Isn't that a value, one of the same you were decrying earlier, the value of life? Even if it's only your own life you approve of, that's enough to base a philosophy on – goodness knows Ayn Rand tried (and failed) to do so.
I suppose it is.
And do you often choose to murder people you come across in the street? Do you flip a coin to decide their fate, like a particular villain, or do you spare their lives in the same way you spare your own?
I've never killed a person! How absurd!
And why not?
I couldn't handle harming another person, of course! It would be horrifying for me and I would feel guilty for months, if not years, knowing the pain I caused them and their family.
Ah, so you agree with me that human life has value, then? Even if it's only sentimental value to oneself? And isn't that the basis of most secular humanist moral systems?
Aw you could have gone WAY farther with that last one. I felt dissatisfied when it was over.
08-26-2011, 08:49 PM
I didn't really want to go too in-depth in deconstructing nihilism and explaining why self-constructed ethical codes are to the mutual benefit of the individual and society, because really that sort of thing requires a proper essay structure to elucidate on properly, and mostly I just wanted to push that out because it's late and I just got back from Oxford.
But yeah, will probably follow up with more philosophistication.
EDIT: Also, lol, take that me of last year. Critical thinking on ethics is far too effective.
09-02-2011, 07:01 PM
Meh, I wrote this yesterday, and it's short as hell, but it's polished (rather than being somewhere between notes and a first draft) and it's something. Most of my current writing is in an A4 notepad I bought because I was bored.
On the train today, I saw two girls of about sixteen. They had bleached blonde hair and were wearing the latest fashion. Having very little else to do, and not wanting to continue reading my book on the brief journey, I decided to surreptitiously listen to their conversation. The first thing I noticed was the girls' love of the word 'like'. They used it, like, every other word, and it was, like, a little bit annoying. The second thing I noticed was the vacuous nature of their conversation: gossip about some other girl who one of them disliked. “Aha,” I thought, “I recognise these girls. They were the type that picked on me at school, leading to my quiet cynicism, quick temper, and superiority complex!” Not that I resented them, but observing them brought back some unpleasant memories.
Anyway, I was listening to them with some interest when I heard this immortal line issue forth from the makeup-laden lips of one of the girls: “I was next to a pair of annoying girls. They were, like, 'burburbur', then they were, like, really annoying.”
I found this more than a little ironic.
11-10-2011, 03:20 PM
BACK IN THE GAME WITH DETERMINATION TO WRITE 500 WORDS A DAY
There is a storm coming, and everyone knows it. Everyone always knows in this town. They have to, or they lose everything. The town is built on the back of a craggy beast, the size of a mountain, and predicting the beast's travel is imperative to the town's survival. Last time the high priest failed to predict its motions, the beast dove into a valley and almost half the town, including the temple to the beast, was crushed.
They call the beast Leviathan, because it is, at once, the benefactor and the tyrant of the town. The priesthood receives commands from the beast in a monstrous and ancient language, interprets them, and repeats those commands to the common people. There is an element of power in this for the priests; they can make themselves rich and greedy from the people's fear; nobody would dare challenge them for fear of their threats of doom being correct. Many of the people are unhappy with their lives, toiling away in servitude for a greedy, starving beast and for a greedy, megalomaniacal priesthood – but what are their other choices? They don't have any. The beast dominates their lives to such an extent, such a diabolical extent, that without the beast they would all die. They would be cast out into the vast infertile plains that the beast wanders through, and they would never be heard from again. Nobody would regret casting them out. The many are more important than the one.
The streets are filled with stalls and their shopkeepers, who are packing away in apprehension of the gathering storm. Most of the customers have fled to their homes; a few stragglers are scurrying through the street, but they are, themselves, heading back to the security of their respective habitations. A young boy sits alone in a shop above the town centre, wrapped in a duvet, shivering, staring down at the street below, and wondering where his parents are. As the sky grows darker and still darker and there's no trace of their return, he sinks below the sheets and weeps to himself. The storm hasn't even begun yet, he tells himself. There's no need to be scared. But he knows that mummy and daddy won't be coming home. Not tonight, not ever.
He is an orphan. Orphans always hold significance in stories like this – the lack of ties to their homeland and the lack of parental restraint allow them to play almost any role, in addition to the obvious mystery inherent in who their parents are. So you, dear reader, are already expecting this boy, now age eight, to become a hero. Let me tell you what happened to him.
The boy became an orphan at age eight; along with around thirty other citizens of the town who were unfortunate enough not to reach shelter before the storm (more a tempest) came and blew them away, his parents died. He was made to live with his only relatives, an aunt and uncle, who treated him well and with sympathy. Their kindness, however, did nothing to curb his anger and frustration at losing his parents so young, and he became drawn to violence and impotent acts of criminality. When the boy was eleven, his uncle passed away due to illness, and soon afterwards his aunt killed herself from grief. The boy ended up on the street, struggling to survive, until he was picked up by a small-time crime boss, who lodged him and taught him to pick pockets. The boy proved quite successful at this, and continued to do so until his benefactor was arrested when the boy was fifteen. The boy, out of mercy, was released by the city authorities and told to try to find respectable work. Given his criminal history, however, no shopkeeper or tradesman would take him on, and he was forced to become a petty thief, mugging people to survive and drowning his sorrows as often as he could afford. One night, after he had been drinking for hours at a tavern, one of his ex-victims spotted him. In his drunken stupor, the boy, more a young man now, went with him, whereupon the victim set about him with a knife and some friends. They left him for dead, covered in bruises, blood, and filth. He bled to death in a gutter.
He did not become a hero. This is not that sort of story.
Too much telling, not enough showing, a bit cheesy, but hey.
03-26-2012, 04:43 PM
This thread will have a short story on it soon (after I give it to the person it's dedicated to). I'm just bumping it.
03-26-2012, 05:59 PM
Is it for digitek dawwwwww
03-29-2012, 10:37 AM
03-29-2012, 06:43 PM
Is it for me awwwww
03-30-2012, 12:20 PM
No, but here it is. I didn't get the opportunity to give it to the person it's dedicated to, so I may as well post it here. Warning: contains deviations from reality and slight inconsistencies. Feel free to point those out if they're not the only thing you plan on critiquing; I'm more interested in critiques involving my use of language and the overall structure of the piece.
By now the house was almost empty. Only a few cardboard boxes remained in the living room and, in the interest of economy, the carpets had been packed into the removal truck too. Little trace remained of the Swifts or their home: only the imperfections in the wallpaper and the choice of wallpaper itself suggested the house had ever been lived in.
Oliver Swift sat on the stairs leading down into the living room. His eyes were fixed on a faint mark on the opposite wall. It looked like a grubby, muddy smudge, but he remembered with perfect clarity how it had been created, nearly two decades ago.
There was a little cry from the top stair, followed by a series of increasingly-loud thumps. Oliver turned away from the picture he'd been admiring to see Amber hurtling toward him, squealing. Before he had time to react, her little body had slammed into him, winding him. He clumsily caught her in a hug, but the force of the impact pushed him back a step or two. Amber's chubby little hands, outstretched to break her fall, rested against the wall. They were caked with dirt – she'd been playing outside and had gone upstairs to wash her hand.
His wife would be furious when she saw the muck on the cream wallpaper. For now, though, that didn't matter. All that mattered was comforting his daughter. The warmth of the toddler's body and the dampness of her tears as they soaked through his shirt seemed to meld them together for an endless minute. Oliver started laughing, and Amber giggled along. When he put her down, she was still laughing; she laughed until all her tears were gone, wiped her eyes, and toddled off into the kitchen to look for lunch.
He smiled as he remembered how she'd eaten at that age, cramming sandwiches greedily into her mouth and covering herself with soggy breadcrumbs, then realised he'd wandered into the kitchen. The counter-tops of smooth black plastic reminded him how Amber had reacted when the kitchen had just been installed. She'd been away at a musical summer camp and his wife, perhaps on purpose, had a new kitchen put in while she was gone.
“Oh my god. Mum, what did you do to the kitchen?”
“You don't like it? I am sorry, but it was time for a new one, after all.”
“It's not the newness of it I mind, it's the – gloss.”
“What on earth do you mean?”
“This modern stuff. The sliding drawers and automatic hinges. The smoothness. It's so robotic!” Amber pushed in a cupboard door and scowled as it opened.
“But Amber, this is so much nicer than that old wooden kitchen, don't you think so?”
“Maybe you think so, but some of us don't want everything to run like a factory line!” She stomped out, trying to hide her tears.
A little later he went up to talk to Amber at his wife's request. He sat on the edge of her bed and listened to her.
“Mum thinks she can make me into some perfect little robotic girl. She sends me to violin lessons and summer camps and youth meetings whether I want to go or not. She just wants me to make her look good.”
“Would you rather not learn the violin?” he said, “There are plenty of other things you could do instead.”
“You don't understand, Dad. It's not whether I want to learn that's the problem-”
“Then what is the problem?”
“I don't want to have to do everything Mum's way. I want to do it my way.”
“Your mother loves you very much. She just wants the best for you.”
“Yeah, the best by her standards,” Amber sneered, “Why can't I have my own standards?”
Then he was staring out the window into the garden. His wife loved tending the flowerbeds and the bushes – she was fantastic at keeping the weeds away, the flowers blooming in perfect coordination, and generally preventing any sort of disorder. But the neatly-arrayed petunias and the sculpted hedges weren't the focus of his attention. Instead he was gazing at the end of the garden, where a ragged, rotten oak tree stood.
The roar of a chainsaw disturbed Amber's reading. She ran out the back door to see her mother hacking gleefully at the oak tree Amber liked to sit under. She stared at her mother, not for the first time, with a mixture of confusion and disgust.
“What on earth are you doing?” she shouted.
Her mother didn't hear her – the sound of the chainsaw blocked out anything else. Amber raised her voice and shouted again. Still nothing. Her mother didn't notice until Amber jumped up and down, waved her arms and shouted at the same time, by which time the oak tree looked like a dismembered corpse. Its branches were either sawn clean through or ripped off by other branches that had fallen from above. Her mother took off her goggles and earphones, came down from the tree, put down the chainsaw, and walked over to Amber. She closed one eye and gazed blearily at her.
“Is there a problem, dear?”
Amber repeated her question.
“It just needed trimming. It's nothing to worry about. If you don't trim them now and then, they get out of control.”
“Mum, you're butchering it, not trimming it.”
“It might look that way to you, but it's just tough love. Trust me, it'll be fine.”
A few weeks later the oak tree's leaves dropped off and it died. Amber had cried for hours. Oliver, as an apology, bought her a bonsai tree. His wife was always nagging amber to trim it; Amber refused to do so, even when it outgrew the pot and tried to take root in her desk.
He was back where he had started, at the foot of the stairs. As he ascended them, his legs felt numb and his mind became leaden and unaware. If it had been a struggle to reach the second floor, forcing himself across the landing to reach Amber's bedroom was a monumental effort. He felt physically and mentally fatigued by the time he opened the door.
Amber sat huddled over her desk, with the lamp illuminating a sheet of paper coloured in bright and unearthly shades. There were no obvious objects in the picture, just a swirl of colours. Dozens of similar pictures hung all over the room: they were everywhere, the floor was half an inch deep in them. The walls were so thick with artwork that they seemed papered with it. Oliver squinted at one of the strange swirling patterns until it seemed almost coherent, then shook the strange visions that resulted out of his mind. It was easy to get sucked into Amber's world if you weren't careful.
“Amber...” he said quietly. There was no response.
“Amber, can you look at me, at least?”
She grunted something that might have been “Busy.”
“You haven't left your room all day. It's dinnertime, won't you come eat with us?”
She turned around and flared at him: “Not hungry, Dad.”
“Come on, Amber. We used to be able to talk.”
“Whassa point,” she giggled, “when neither of you really get it?”
He couldn't reply to this, so he went back down to the dining room instead of trying. His wife raised her eyebrows at him.
“She says she's not hungry.”
“How can she not be hungry? She hasn't eaten all day.”
“Don't ask me, I'm just the messenger.”
“It's that bloody art again, isn't it?”
“Apparently she's busy.”
“She's always busy, Oliver! She doesn't talk to us, she doesn't eat with us, she doesn't even practise violin any more!”
“It's just a phase.”
“Well, I'm going to end it.”
A minute later there was a scream from upstairs, followed by a shouting argument. Oliver tuned out and ate his dinner.
The next day they burned the torn-up pieces of paper that had caused so much conflict between Amber and her mother. Under her mother's supervision, Amber started attending violin lessons again, and began working in one of the local shops. She even went out with her friends at the weekends and obliterated herself with music and alcohol. “She's finally acting like a normal teenager.” her mother had said proudly to him. Oliver wasn't so sure if this was any better than before, but he kept quiet. After her victory with Amber, his wife had decided their lives would be run her way.
He stumbled, dazed, down the stairs and out the front door of the house. He got into the car and waved the truck driver to go, then kissed his wife on the cheek. The last thing he saw of the house that he'd raised his daughter in was a row of neatly-groomed petunias in the front garden.
Amber knew it was pointless arguing with her mother. Once she became determined things would go her way, it was impossible to stop her. Everything had to be done as she said, and nobody else mattered – all that she cared about was her own authority. Her father was better, less controlling, but he didn't grasp the importance of her art to her. Art was just another hobby in his view, another skill set for her to acquire. He couldn't fathom the connection between her violent tempers and the flame-like pieces of art she produced. Neither of them had realised that the same fires, the same elemental passions, rocked her soul even when she appeared most docile. All they'd done was take away her means of expressing them. And so the passions built up in her, like a thunderstorm, now without any form of release. The rolling black clouds of depression loomed overhead, then broke in a great shower of private tears and self-hatred, until finally a lightning bolt of inspiration had struck. A way to alleviate her suffering and be free of her mother's tyrannical rule.
She tightened the noose around her neck and kicked away the chair.
05-03-2012, 11:14 AM
This is a really short story. Mostly it was just written as an excuse for playing with structure. No violence in this one. As always, critiques plz.
gazing at him, because he was beautiful in every way. Jaw-length black hair, well cut but messy because he didn't care that much, framed a well-proprtioned face set with sparkling sapphire eyes. He was wearing a v-neck t-shirt, so she could see his well-defined pecs rippling every time he moved his arm. Through a gap in the books, Seph watched him talking to that blonde bimbo from her class. Did she even know he wrote poetry, or played guitar (but preferred keyboard), or liked opera in secret? They were laughing along together, but how could he find that facile bitch funny?
He turned away from the conversation and looked straight at her. She buried her head back in the textbook, which said: "Some schools of Hinduism teach that time is a wheel, and all people experience their lives an infinite number of times." Who even cared what Hindus thought, anyway? Right now she was blushing and avoiding facing conversation with him for about the millionth or billionth time. She wanted Stephen so badly, but spluttered or blushed or ran away every time they met. It was pathetic. It made her sick with her own stupid shyness.
She looked back up after reading a page or two of the book, but they were gone. Panicking, she looked around, and saw Stephen leaving the library, one arm draped over the blonde whore's shoulder. It didn't matter; even if her went out with her, she'd never understand him like Seph would, and it'd never last.
The next day, Seph was back in the library, at the same desk as always, watching through that perfect little gap. Stephen and the slut - Seph thought she'd heard someone calling her Lucy - were sitting beside each other, reading a book and giggling. But more than that. One of the filthy slag's hand brushed his shoulder. Seph wanted to cry out, scream, "Don't touch him, you're making him dirty!" but stared instead, her mouth dry, unable to move or do anything but gape. The book was was forgotten little by little: Stephen's hand brushed away the witch's fringe; she gave him a playful shove; they laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed; she stroked his leg and upper arms; he clasped her thigh; she held his chin; they kissed. They kissed and Seph's vision exploded into the violent yellow lighting above, sunk into the bleak smooth plastic monotony of the table, shattered into the titles of the books lining rhe shelves.
She stood up, marched around the bookcare which had screened her, and pushed the two apart.
"I," she said, her voice hoarse, "am trying to work."
The torrent of abuse fell on deaf ears, even when Stephen started to gesture at her. She was biting her lip, far away from their words and the horror of rejection. She was in a different world, one where she could just keep
05-11-2012, 07:12 PM
The level of imagery in your works is almost phenomenal. Love it, and I am not sure what is missing.
05-11-2012, 09:53 PM
Rippling pecs, eh. Izzat whatcher intah?
05-12-2012, 07:28 AM
I guess Seph is.
05-12-2012, 09:24 AM
The part that bugs me is 'did she even knew.' I would let it slide on other dudes but I expect greatest things from Delphinus.
05-12-2012, 11:47 AM
This typo is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker (me). It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! Its metabolic processes are now history! It's off the webpage! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off it's mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the codex invisible! THIS IS AN EX-TYPO!
05-12-2012, 12:14 PM
This is excellent! Superb at the least. Exemplary of your great character as a magnificent writer. You are an artisan of literature. The splendor of such a momentous occasion is palpable to say little. I could use it to sweeten my tea even. Perhaps I could pour it on some grapefruit and enjoy a delicious snack in your honor. I digress! You utterance of beauty! WE HAVE AN ARTIST!
...however, you wrote "it's mortal coil."
05-12-2012, 03:22 PM
I like the idea a lot, and you did it well. The only critique I have is that I do think that the following sentence:
"I," she said, her voice hoarse, "am trying to work."
should be rephrased:
"I," she said hoarsely, "am trying to work."
Or at least something in that manner. Because right now that sentence is a bit of a pronoun attack (I, she, her).
05-12-2012, 04:26 PM
Personally I think it was a partial success. The prose was fine, but the structure, which was the whole point of the piece, didn't quite work out. The whole point of a cyclic structure is to re-contextualise earlier events in light of the end of the piece. Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses this structure to great effect in One Hundred Years of Solitude, and won a Nobel Prize for doing it in a suitably hip, postmodern way. The recontextualisation in this piece was a little bit weak, and the events themselves didn't quite reflect the theme (eternal recurrence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return) - I am a pretentious twat) effectively enough for their whole nature to be altered.
New short story up tonight, tomorrow, or Monday night, depending on when I finish it. This one is inspired by my people-watching.
EDIT: Oh, or you can be James Joyce and make a cyclical structure with no real beginning or end. But you'd need to be a super genius to do that proficiently. As far as I'm aware only Joyce and Pynchon have had any success like this.
05-12-2012, 04:31 PM
Well, counting on your viewpoint of humans as interesting unshifted, this should prove interesting to my own personal self as a reader. (If it has changed it should be sincerely droll, most likely reflecting closely to how I feel about the human race.)
05-12-2012, 04:45 PM
It's based on a girl I saw handing out leaflets for a phone company. I watched her from the floor above, and it was pretty heartbreaking to see. There were only a few responses from people nearby.
1) Ignore her completely and walk on.
2) Say "no thanks" and walk on.
3) Take a leaflet, talk to her, and carry on after about ten seconds. A few people did this.
4) Talk to her (about the product) for a few minutes. I think a couple of old guys did this.
It struck me just how uninterested people were in her, and how dehumanised she was. She was pretty hot, which is probably why she got the job (solid business tactic: people are more likely to accept offers from sexy women). So she's objectified as a vendor, and objectified as a sex object. The only worth she was given was her economic worth.
EDIT: I don't think this is really a reflection on human nature, just the materialism of (post)modern society.
05-12-2012, 05:28 PM
Materialism is good. Compassion can hurt. I'm glad to see it promises intrigue.
05-12-2012, 07:36 PM
Completed the first draft of that short story. It's just over a thousand words, but there are about three sections I want to expand, so it'll probably end up more like two thousand.
05-12-2012, 10:44 PM
Get it on bebe.
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