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Thread: Delphinus's Bookshelf

  1. #21
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    BACK IN THE GAME WITH DETERMINATION TO WRITE 500 WORDS A DAY

    SPOILER! :
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  2. #22
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  3. #23
    Sir-Mass-a-Lot Sylux's Avatar
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    Is it for digitek dawwwwww

  4. #24
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    No
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  5. #25
    Sir-Mass-a-Lot Sylux's Avatar
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    Is it for me awwwww

  6. #26
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    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.

    SPOILER! :
    Petunias

    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.
    Last edited by Delphinus; 03-30-2012 at 12:35 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  7. #27
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    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.

    SPOILER! :
    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
    Last edited by Delphinus; 05-12-2012 at 11:43 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  8. #28
    Devilish Member T1B3R1U5's Avatar
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    The level of imagery in your works is almost phenomenal. Love it, and I am not sure what is missing.
    For every two minutes of glamour, there are eight hours of hard work."


  9. #29
    Sir-Mass-a-Lot Sylux's Avatar
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    Rippling pecs, eh. Izzat whatcher intah?

  10. #30
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    I guess Seph is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

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