Joe PearsonPosted by Joe Pearson 18 Nov, 2009 11:59PM
So, for some reason, I can't get on the forum at the moment. So I'll spam up the blog with a bit of the old Nano.
Now its week three I'm suddenly beginning to like my story a bit more! So not so embarrassed about sharing it now. Remember folks! Theres only 12 days of HewNoWriMo left! So WRITE LIKE THE WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIND!
I shall be in on Monday if anyone needs help or advice, and to provide friendly encouragement etc. If no one does, I'm going to log on the forum and actually read some of your lovely stories.
Love and Kisses
IN TWO HALVES
“It is a force as inevitable as the passage of time, or the fact that the rain must eventually follow the sunlight, a power as unstoppable as the weather wearing down the mountain, or God’s Wrath. It affects us in our everyday lives, and haunts us like an oncoming storm. It is a blessing, a curse, both beautiful and crude. It is the single most important natural occurrence to act upon us, yet as a species, we know surprisingly little about it.
“I speak of course, of the process known as ‘Division’. The process that, even before birth, carves a human soul in two, tears it asunder and renders it divided. We split ourselves, for unknown reasons, into the Bona, (or ‘Good’ persona), and the Malfa, (the ‘Bad’ persona). One soul, split between its two, identical bodies, vessels for a divided consciousness. The Bona half of the consciousness will receive the elements of humanity known to us as peace, order, clarity and heart. The Malfa consciousness exudes conflict, chaos, confusion and rebellion. Though these consciousnesses may become muddled, as the Malfa is capable of good, as the Bona is of evil, inherently, their minds are divided as such.
“Yet, how, through such virulent separation, is the bond between the souls maintained. We know that the Bona and Malfa are separate parts of the whole, through the workings of another of life’s great mysteries, and greatest enemy, death. When we die, inexplicably, our counterpart suffers the same gristly fate. The connection between ourselves is still strong enough to cause fatal trauma to both elements simultaneously, making all of humanity individuals, with individual elements. We come in pairs.
“The Bona and the Malfa are in a delicate balance. Without one, the other cannot survive. The good cannot oust the evil, just as the evil relies on its own good to survive. We have evolved ourselves a Catch-22, a requirement in our own opposite. We are, as a species, a complete oxymoron. We are chaotic good, benevolent evil.
“This one fact, so integral to our society, is also the greatest mystery we as a species have. That is why it has become my life’s work to discover the answer to the question that has plagued us for countless generations. A question so simple, it is all the more frustrating that an answer is so unreachable. The question is this.
It was a night for dark happenings.
There was a storm, as their often seems to be on such occasions. The raging winds cause the seas of Mother’s Crossing to rise in great waves, crashing down in a torrent of restless, churning foam. The energy behind the great torrents would have crushed any ships to brave the storms. No one would be sailing tonight.
Sister Cassandra watched the storm with fire in her eyes. She loved the power behind such natural forces, the rage of the weather and the feeling of ire it brought to her, bubbling up from her gut and infecting her brain with desires. She watched the storm from a porthole, high above the oceans wrath. In a rig, atop high metal stilts, rising from the water like an obelisk. Up here, she was safe from the storm, and could watch its anger without having to experience it.
Cassandra was standing in a room of little furnishings, a desk, a chair, a tired looking desktop computer, and a small, uncomfortable looking bed. It was her room, her home. She was a girl of many wants, but little needs.
Tonight she watched the storm with many thoughts.
To understand these thoughts, one needed to know two things about Sister Cassandra, firstly, her alignment, and secondly, her vocation.
Cassandra was a Bona, which means, characteristically, she fell on the good side of the divide. She had grown up in the rolling hills of Bona country, where the good gathered, far away from where she now stood. She had not been born there however. She, like everyone else, had been born right here, on the rig she now stood on, the centre ground, neutral soil.
It happened like this. The mums-to-be from both lands were taken by steamer across the small expanse of ocean between the two nations, christened ‘Mother’s Crossing’, to one of the fifteen huge metal rigs that had been built in the middle of the ocean, here to give birth to their child.
The child, or children, depending on your viewpoint, was then immediately taken away, leaving the mother alone for the first three hours of her child’s life.
Three hours. That was how long they said it took to make a decision, as to which half was returned.
If the mother was a Bona, then the Bona half would be returned safely to her, and the pair would travel back to their country and start a new life, without ever seeing the counterpart.
If the mother was a Malfa, then the Malfa would be returned, and they would return across the sea to the city of Malis, to begin a life there.
The other half would be carted away, motherless and alone, to the great sanctuaries of the unwanted, the orphanages. Each land had them, and it was here that half of humanity would stay, until a family was found to take them in. The good and the bad never met, never spoke. They only knew that they existed due to the fact that they themselves were alive, and the name they shared. It was unceremonious, and disruptive, but viewed as a necessity.
Good and evil could not coexist, they said, or all hell would break loose.
Sister Cassandra was a midwife, brought in to oversee the separations, and to ensure that the balance was kept in order.
That was why she had so many thoughts that night, as she watched the storm.
She was dragged away from those thoughts, however, by a knock at the door. She turned, and saw, staring back at her, her own face.
“Sister,” the Malfa known as Cassie said, “There’s been a problem.”
Cassandra suddenly felt the feeling that she subtly did every time she looked upon her counterpart, the sickly, spreading spark of hate, an emotion so unbecoming of a Bona. She pushed it down to the bottom of her gut, as she had to, to complete her job.
Midwives were the only profession to be employed in pairs. The people in charge on both sides of the crossing had decided long ago that the Birthing Stations had to maintain neutrality, and balance. And the only way to do this was to bring together the two halves of the whole, whether they liked it or not. Sister Cassandra and Sister Cassie Bones were one and the same.
“I heard,” the Bona replied, “somebody mentioned... complications.”
“To say the least,” the Malfa scoffed, “I’ve never... in all my days...”
“You forget, sister, we share those days.”
Cassie looked sadly downwards, “What shall we do?”
Cassandra, after staring at the storm for so long, was done thinking.
“How many other births were there tonight?” she asked.
“Nine,” the Malfa replied, “on this station.”
“No more complications?”
“Not like this,” Cassie said, raising an eyebrow, “Eight healthy births, and sixteen healthy babies. One stillbirth, but...”
“Then you know what to do.” Cassandra interjected, flashing her counterpart her fiery eyes.
Cassie raised her gaze to meet the Bona’s, and smiled wryly.
“You make quick decisions these days, good sister. Even I could learn from you now.”
Cassandra didn’t reply, she just turned back to face the window, and watch the storm. It wasn’t until she heard the door behind her close with a click, that she relaxed her tension, and whispered softly to herself.
“It is a necessary evil.”
She sighed, heavily, as a huge fork of lightning illuminated the dark skies.
“Order must be restored.”
Joe PearsonPosted by Joe Pearson 09 Jul, 2009 11:09PM
The task: Write a character description of somebody in the creative writing club.
I chose Connor, who talks very fast.
I also cheated a bit, sorry guys. ;)
Captain Borealis had piloted his spaceship to the furthest corners of the universe, from the distant reaches of the Medusa Cascade to the mythical crystal fields of the Planet Crock Tor, yet all of those places were nothing compared to the landscape he now found himself traversing.
The forest was thick, dense and disturbing. The trees, or plants, or whatever they were, were black as night, and wavy, with smooth, barkless trunks. They grew from the spongy pink soil in a distinct pattern, becoming tangled and incomprehensible from one another the higher they grew. Borealis’ ship slipped soundlessly amongst the growths, over the crest of the hill that the forst had grown around. Just as he thought he would be lost in the blackness forever, Borealis saw the light of day and emerged onto an open plain. The pink ground extended as far as the eye could see, unblemished apart for a distant mountain, looming over the horizon. It was towards this mountain that Borealis began to head, hovering silently over the ground, the thick black forest disappearing behind him.
As the mountain loomed nearer, Borealis contemplated the bleakness of the landscape, the desolation and the emptiness which surrounded him.
Once the spacecraft reached the barren outcrop, Borealis saw two great caverns carved into the mountainside.
“Perhaps in these caves,” Borealis thought, “I will finally find life in this desolate place.”
The cavern was dark and dank. Borealis’ computers registered increased levels of moisture. As he peered into the blackness, he could see what looked like a different type of plant, some sort of moss or mould, green and sticky, that coated the cavern walls, as well as more of the strange black growths from the forest.
Suddenly, the daylight disappeared and the cavern was plunged into complete blackness. A sheer mass of the pink earth cascaded into the opening, pushing Borealis’ spaceship into the very back of the cave. To his horror his craft became stuck to the sticky green walls and one by one the instruments on his dashboard began to blink out.
As suddenly as the daylight disappeared it was back, and Borealis watched in awe as the entire world he has been traversing flashed past him in an instant.
Little did Borealis know, but Connor was not the pick-it-and-flick-it kind of guy. He was more of an eater.
Borealis’ greatest adventure was yet to come.
Joe PearsonPosted by Joe Pearson 01 Jul, 2009 01:05PM
So, I've been a bit A.W.O.L from the blog recently, and in that time I've seen things you wouldn't believe! Attack ships on fire off the shoulders of Orion... wait, no. I've just been busy is all.
But now I have the pleasure of reading three weeks worth of everybodies work! Which will be fun.
My writing, like my activity on the blog, has also suffered of late, so I'm afraid all I have to offer is this old story about onions...
The following is an extract from Arthur Hunter's Autobiography, entitled "(s)Layers of the Onion!"
Have you heard the rumours? About Haggis? You know, the Scottish delicacy? They live wild on the highlands of Scotland and have one leg shorter than the other so they can stand sideways on hillsides?
Well it's all a load of rubbish, a bastardisation of a different, and well recorded fact.
It is actually Onions that have one leg shorter than the other, and they live in France, not Scotland.
They are members of the Mole family, which live in a specific mountainous Alpine region of Eastern France. These unfortunate souls suffer from a severe skin complaint that cause them to develop far more layers of skin than the average mole. They have tufty noses where the skin purses up into a pointy end, and spend a lot of time underground, (which, I believe, led to the preposterous rumour that they are in fact vegetables).
How do I know so much about Onions? Because I used to hunt the little buggers, that's why. Me and my friends were the premiere Onion Catchers in the Alpine regions. Me, Tom, Andy and Phyllis were a dream team, notorious for being the only Onion Catchers who had NEVER cried.
For you see, Onions are emotive empaths, meaning that they cause their own emotions to be imprinted on those around them. As onions are quite a persecuted species, they tend to cry quite a lot hence onion hunters also get the weepies.
We hunted as a unit, Tom, Andy, Physllis and I. Honouring all the old traditions surrounding Onion hunting. The use of a bow and arrow, for example, to avoid the buggers burrowing underground. We also hunted in the nude, which goes without saying.
The above was the result of an exercise, the rudiments of which I don't remember now, but needless to say it involved onions.
EXERCISESPosted by Joe Pearson 13 May, 2009 01:38PM
· Choose an opening sentence from a book (unknown when choosing).
· Choose an ending sentence from a book (unknown when choosing).
· Write a short story in thirty minutes using these two sentences as the beginning and ending.
Opening - "A screaming comes across the sky" - Gravity's Rainbow
Closing - "One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, 'Poo-tee-weet?'" - Slaughterhouse Five
(Corrections/changes in Bold)
A screaming comes across the sky
What goes will come around
A lonely man, doomed soon to die
As One Bird curse him down
And One Bird curse you down
It was a rhyme he had heard a thousand times. He had been told it by his mother since he was nothing more than a babe in the crib, taught it in school with his alphabet and sums, preached it in church with his Sunday Prayers.
It was a warning, but Billy Pilgrim had never been one to take heed of warnings.
The story was told a little something like this, long ago Pilgrim’s village had been visited upon by an old ‘injun medicine man. The townsfolk, being mainly men of the ranches, had been terrified of him, even though he was old and sick, and only asking for a little sustenance before his long walk home.
The folks of the town locked themselves inside their homes, and sent out the sheriff with his gun. Needless to say, the worst occurred, and the sheriff needed no encouragement to exercise his itchy trigger finger. As the old man fell to the ground, it was said that his scream echoed through the very skies themselves, and from his open wounds burst a single little bird, which followed the scream away beyond the horizon.
So the townsfolk buried the old man, and named him One Bird, and invented the rhyme to scare children. They warned that One Bird the madman would curse children who ran away from the village, with his nonsense babbling magic words, “Poo-tee-weet, Poo-tee-weet, Poo-tee-weet.”
Of course, this was just a story.
So as Billy rode his horse away from the little town he was born in for the first time, he had no fear in his heart, only the anticipation of the new life he could now lead, away from his Mama, his school and his church.
The horse and rider turned the bend in the road and could not continue. The path was blocked by a crooked old man.
“Aside!” cried Billy, making no attempt to slow his horse.
“Good Sir, can you spare a little of your provisions for an old man with a long journey ahead of him?” The old man pleaded. But still the horse thundered on.
“Old man, I spare nothing for the likes of you! If you do not move I shall strike you down! You are between me and my destiny!”
“You should’ve listened to the warnings,” the old man croaked, his voice changing from one of desperation to one of malice and hate.
But once again, the cocky young Pilgrim would not listen.
So One Bird said to Billy Pilgrim, “Poo-tee-weet?”
Joe PearsonPosted by Joe Pearson 29 Apr, 2009 11:51PM
I wrote this a couple of years back I think, as the start of a possible extended story. When I found it the other day, I edited it up a bit, then cut it off at the end of the first scene to make it a short story.
It's not great, but I think it's upload-worthy. And anyway, gives all of you up at this ungodly hour something to read. All critique welcome.
Interestingly enough, it was this short tale that started my obsession with the name Maxwell, in every story I have written since, (excluding short tales), I have included a Maxwell as a supporting character. I'm not really sure why. Maxwell has been a soldier, a barman, and more recently, a sheep.
“Nothing beats a really good cup of tea”, mused Maxwell quietly to himself as he sat down in his favourite armchair. It was red, and squishy, and sank about an inch when he lowered his considerable posterior into it. He always felt at home in that chair, to him, that chair was pleasure incarnate.
He was looking out the window at his garden, his pride and joy. All fifteen acres of it spread out around his manor in a sprawling mass of untrimmed hedges, cracked stone paths and unchecked weeds. Maxwell never tended his garden. He was one of those people who felt that a good garden was a wild one, and told his despairing mother this whenever she came round. She was there now, perching awkwardly on a hard wooden stool, (she hated the red armchairs; they did nothing for her back). The garden was a thing of constant annoyance to her, and not the only thing either. She was persistently going on about the state of the place. The floors were in need of a good hoover, the drapes were dusty and faded, and the conservatory had a broken window pane, through which tendrils of vines had begun to creep.
“Maxwell dear”, she muttered, “I do wish you would let me dust that mantelpiece, it really is very dirty.”
Maxwell sighed. He wouldn’t let her, not now, not ever. He had a reputation to keep up.
For you see, Maxwell was crazy. Or at least that was what the village children called him. He was in fact, of completely sound mind, but he liked the thought of being ‘crazy old’ Mr Lambert in his ‘big spooky house’.
“No.” He said simply.
It was his mothers turn to sigh. She was an elderly lady, in her eighties, but still fit as a fiddle. She had recently begun taking Judo classes, and was fast becoming the best pupil in her class. She had been told on a very regular basis by her many children, (excluding Maxwell), that she was, ‘too old’ for that sort of nonsense. She was however, just as stubborn as Maxwell.
“But Sugarplum”, she minced, “we can’t have the neighbours round again. They’ll think we just don’t care.” She was referring to the incident last week, when a kid has kicked his football into Maxwell’s garden, climbed over the wall to fetch it, and ended up getting lost in a hawthorn thicket, up to his eyes in stinging nettles. His parents hadn’t been best pleased.
Maxwell of course, couldn’t care less, and was too busy drinking his tea to pay it any real thought.
“They’ll get over it Mother”, he sighed. Out of the corner of his eye, he’d noticed a small figure creeping across his lawn, (which came up to the lads armpits). It was Jimmy Layton, the little tyke. Maxwell smiled to himself. This was why he hadn’t cut his grass. When the kids started getting dared to trespass in his garden he knew he was doing something right. His crazy old rich guy reputation was still intact, despite his mother’s best efforts.
“Ever since you got this place, people have been complaining about the state of it.” She continued, “It used to be so nice.”
Maxwell had bought the house three months ago, after its past owner, (a very dull old philosophy professor who, in Maxwell’s opinion, had been no fun at all), and ever since he had let it turn wild. The former owner had been a perfectionist, keeping every blade of grass precisely two centre meters long. Maxwell had thought it a travesty to nature, and had told his mother so.
“It used to be a shambles.” He retorted, “So neat and tidy. What’s the point of having a charismatic old manor like this if you don’t give it a few cobwebs?”
Once more, his mother sighed, “but it’s dirty.”
“It’s cluttered and unordered and confusing!” his mother gasped, exasperated.
“It’s perfect for playing hide and seek!” Maxwell grinned.
“And just who is going to play hide and seek!”
“I will. I found a fantastic hiding place in the loft, behind a pile of old boxes that snooty professor left.”
“On your own?”
“It’s more fun that way! You don’t have to worry about anybody finding you.”
Mrs Lambert had reached the end of her tether.
“I do despair sometimes Maxey, you know that don’t you?”
“Yes,” he replied simply, finishing his tea.
Joe PearsonPosted by Joe Pearson 27 Apr, 2009 12:04AM
This is officially the cheesiest thing I have ever written, and my first attempt at a short story that didn't escalate into some epic, and doomed to fail, novella.
But hey, I quite liked the idea when I thought of it, see what you think. It pretty much sums up my experiences as a writer.
My Pet Plot
It was back when I first picked up a pen, when I was little more than a boy without the weight of the world on my shoulders, and with an imagination fit to bursting with stories as of yet unthought-of, that I first found my pet plot. It was lurking in a dusty corner of my mind, a fluffy, cuddly little creature, curled up behind a stack of memories. It seemed so timid, so fragile. Little did I know what it had the potential to become.
I tried to coax it out, for as soon as it had caught my eye I knew I had to have it. So I made a fishing line, out of a plot thread and a catchy title, and used a character outline as bait. The silly little pet-plot fell for it, scuffling out from under the memory bank, (playing clips from my fifth birthday), and out into the expanse of the big wide brain.
It took the bait, and as soon as I had it snagged on my line. I pulled. That line became two, then ten, then twenty. Soon that line was a whole page, and continued to grow.
My Pet Plot fed on imagination, and in that fertile young mind gorged itself and grew fat and rich. Its tendril like feelers extended into different rooms, meeting new exciting characters, and weaving a narrative that held together like rope.
But then, just as it had looked as though the Pet-Plot was unstoppable, it hit a wall. At the end of a long corridor around the back of my emotion centres. It collided head first with the huge concrete writers block, and squashed its face flat against it. For now, it could go no further.
So it went to sleep. Curled itself up neatly at the foot of that blockage, and stayed there in hibernation. It slept so long I had almost forgotten about it by the time it moved again.
It moved because the wall was broken down, smashed into a million tiny little pieces by a new idea, a single moment of destructive inspiration, blew apart the obstruction and sent my Pet-Plot flying into the air in shock. It’s tendril like plot arcs flailing madly. It was the same effect you might get by popping a paper bag next to a sleeping cats face.
And it worked. The plot began its maniacal dance again, twisting deeper into my mind, growing, expanding, gorging itself on imagery and suspense, filling its fat, swelling belly with character after character.
Then came the point I call the end of my tether, when, like any pet, the plot sadly began to grow old. It became forgetful, and tired. Story arcs it had started years ago still clung loosely to its grizzly back, unable to tie themselves up. The characters it had devoured were now featureless masses. The pet-plots joints were now too creaky to be able to manage any sort of a satisfying climax. The poor thing was destined to go out with a fizzle, instead of a bang.
It stopped eating, got thinner; it’s fluffy brown hair and turned coarse and grey.
Then finally, it gave one last wheezing breath, and laid itself down on my page one last time. My Pet-Plot was dead, unsatisfied and unfinished. Unable to complete itself.
I buried my Pet-Plot underneath the same memory I found it under. It was a small service, just me and my imagination in attendance. Imagination cried a single lonely tear.
I thought all was lost, as the thoughts of my story slowly drained from the corridors of my mind, which filled instead with other notions, dreary and incomprehensible. The pub quiz portion of my brain swelled, my memory banks became drenched in ‘Friends’ quotations, and my imagination was out of a job. It was down the dole office on Monday, signing on for the first time.
Then, however, just when it seemed that there was no going back, I took one last wander around the recesses of the back of my mind, through my memory palace, round the back of the emotion centres, up the cerebral cortex to the pleasure receptors. My lonely journey lead me all the way back to the front of my writers rooms, where the big Iron door that had remained open for so many years caught my eye. I stepped through it, and reached for the big gold key on the hook next to it, prepared to lock it up for good.
And then I heard it, that scuffling sound that I had not heard for so long, yet that was oh so familiar, I spun around frantically.
And there it was, another Pet-Plot, a new creature for me to care and foster. This one was bright pink, with porcupine spines.
It wasn’t long before all the rooms were full again.
Sometimes, when the Pink-Pet-Plot is busying itself with a story arc, or sleeping softly for a while, I go back and visit my first one. I stand looking at its little fluffy tombstone, and sigh to myself, remembering what could’ve been.
But then PPP wakes up, and my Imagination calls me over to help calm it down, and I remember that, no matter if my first plot died, there are plenty of others, hiding in my mind. All they need is a bit of a kick-start.
Joe PearsonPosted by Joe Pearson 26 Apr, 2009 11:54PM
Sorry, this is a tad long!
I have a bit of a problem when it comes to uploading my work to this blog, in that I don't really have any short stories I have written. My main problem as a writer is that I tend to plan stories which are too over the to, or too ambitious, so I am sad to say that there is not a single finished story on my hard drive.
So it'll be a lot of beginnings of stories from me! Or in this case, a continuation of an old one.
I posted this the other day, the prologue to Servants in Thought. As it stands alone, it is a little confusing, pretentious and ambiguos, so I thought, hey, why not subject you poor people to the next section! Might shed some light on it a bit.
Three short passages coming up, the introduction of the other two arcs of my story, that of an old man and a young boy. My main characters are all Male, as I find it much easier to write as a person of My own Gender as I am sure a lot of people do.
The third passage is the next section of the Diary writer's arc.
All feedback welcome!
Warning! Nasty Rudey words in this passage from the off! Cover your ears children!
“Gosling you fat prick! Get me another shot of Jack’s finest Tennessee and on the double, I aint leavin’ here tonight until I hit the floor and you drag me out by my ankles!”
“Or in a body bag...” the old barman replied, begrudgingly reaching up to the top shelf for the whiskey bottle.
“Aye Gosling you bastard, or in a body bag.”
The barman poured another generous measure of the dark brown liquor and pushed it over the table to the hunched figure of the man opposite. He was leaning precariously over the bar top, surrounded by empty glasses, rocking gently from side to side, eyes closed blissfully, as though listening to some strange silent concerto that conducted his every movement. He was old, grey in both his face and hair, the latter of which he had a lot of. His beard was ragged and frayed, and was damp with the portion of tonight’s consumptions which had refused to pass his lips. He stank of the drink. His shirt was stained and torn in places. In all he had the look of a man who was trying to drown his sorrows, when his sorrows were an ocean wide.
“Your tab just hit triple figures Bart,” the barman said, a look of despair upon his crinkled face, “when exactly are you planning on paying that back?”
“When you stop asking for it,” Bart spat back, “and give me another drink.” He downed the latest offering with a quick flick of the wrist, adding a generously sized new stain to his beard and shirt.
“I think you’ve had enough,” the barman murmured at him through clenched teeth.
This made Bart angry. In a second the blissful concerto in his head became a roaring climactic symphony, and he swept the glasses from the bar and dived for the barman, his huge hands reaching for a neck hold.
“I’LL TELL YOU WHEN I’VE HAD ENOUGH!” he roared his fingers closing tightly in a strangle hold.
Before he could say another word, Bartholomew Carter was punched in the side of the head, and fell to the floor in a deafening crash. The two bulky patrons standing over him made sure he was knocked out, before picking him up by his ankles and dragging him towards the door.
“Wait!” the barman wheezed, gingerly feeling his neck, “Get his wallet first, we need to settle his tab.”
And so the men took Bart’s money, and threw him out of the bar, into the cold, bleak wetness of an American capital city that no longer saw the sun.
Washington DC was a city of two halves, the half of the haves, and the half of the have-nots. The centre of the city was a glistening expanse of white and silver towers, gleaming skyscrapers which stayed pristine and clean. The whole of this area was built of self cleaning materials, and it glimmered like the sun. Here, everything just worked, just liked in hundreds of other cities around the world, automation had taken over. Machines maintained machines which spent all their time making parts for other machines. Shopping was automated, done online or through mechanical vendors, the city had no workers, as every job needed no-one to fulfil it. The citizens of the Capital lived in style, with no work to do; the quality of life was very high. They spent their days in comfort, and leisure, and the luxury to which they had become accustomed.
However, even automation produces waste, and this waste was pumped to the outer city. Old, tumbled down, unmaintained. Full of pollution and rubbish, and covered in a smoke so thick, you could no longer see the moon at night.
It was in this half of the city that Bart awoke next morning, dirty, wet and cold, and with a headache he thought would cleave his skull in two. He felt his pockets, found his wallet, cursed that bastard Gosling, the trudged home through the downtrodden streets of the Capitals underground.
This section introduces my facvourite of the three story arcs. I enjoyed writing this one most at any rate, and had the story for it in my head much more concretely.
As the sun set on another day at sea, Captain Ontario was worried. He wasn’t worried for the weather, as the ocean was calm and conditions were good. He wasn’t worried about time, as it made no difference whether he docked in three days or thirty. He wasn’t worried about piracy, as these waters were the clearest of ships in all the seven seas.
No, Captain Ontario was worried because he most definitely shouldn’t be exactly where he was. The course of his ship had passed under the path of the Whispers. If the Whispers found him, that would be the end of him.
The seas were clear in the mid Atlantic, as it was illegal for ships to cross it. The Whispers handled all pan-Atlantic travel. Everything, Passengers, Cargo, Imports, Exports, were all taken soundlessly across the waves by the vessels of air. The sea was reserved for those who did not want their cargo to be unearthed.
Captain Ontario was a smuggler. Smuggling was illegal. The men on the Whispers had the power to; if they discovered him, make his life very uncomfortable indeed.
The Whispers had not been seen yet. If they had, he would already be on death row. The Police were less than merciless.
Carefully, he turned the Darling Amelia to starboard, away from the path of the Whispers. The display on the panel in front of him still displayed a blinking warning light, and would do for at least half an hour.
All he could do was sit tight and wait.
His cargo consisted of mainly Class A Narcotics. The finest Morocco had to offer. The rest of his cargo was human. Unwanted people who had no purpose in life on the Eastern side of the crossing, and who unwisely sought solace in the West. Captain Ontario gave them save passage, in exchange for considerable amounts of cash. In most cases everything they had.
Ontario’s mind began to wander. It wandered right back to the day this voyage had departed. To the sorry bunch of miscreants which had pleaded with him to let them join his crossing. Most could offer him no more than a handful of Euro’s and promise of work while aboard. He had begrudgingly accepted.
But there had been one passenger, the boy, he had been different. He looked very young to Ontario, about twelve he guessed, but still he had sidled up to the Captain with a fiery, determined look in his eyes. He only just came up to the Captains chest, and he was a small man himself. He wore a shirt that once must have looked smart, but now was caked in dirt. His trousers also looked as though they were only taken out on very special occasions, when they were not blackened with the journey this boy must have faced. He wore over one shoulder a black satchel, which he clutched to his side defiantly with one arm. The Captain had eyed it warily.
The boy had turned to Ontario and held out a shiny silver credit card which he removed from the satchel. “It’s unlocked”, he has said, in a voice the Captain thought was much too deep to be his, “and pre loaded with twenty thousand dollars. There’s another one just like it when we reach America.”
The Captain had thought the child foolish and a liar. Yet he took the card and checked it against a nearby vending machine. The balance flashed up quintuple figures. Ontario’s face blanched.
It didn’t take long for him to form a plan. On the first night at sea, Ontario waited until midnight, when he was sure his cargo was asleep, then snuck downstairs, a length of thick rope in his hand. If the kid had twenty thousand dollars to give him for passage, who knows how many more of the unlocked cards he had on him. Hell, how did a ten year old know how to unlock a damn credit card? I.D. checking software was notoriously unhackable.
The hold of the ship was dark and dank. The Amelia was very old. Nobody made ships any more, only the Whispers.
He had gingerly stepped over the sleeping men and women, scanning the hold for the boy. He had found him, leaning against the back wall, head slanted to one side, arm held tightly to the bag round his shoulder.
Damn, the Captain thought, I was hoping I could just take it. Looks like this might end messily.
He took a few steps towards the boy, until he was close enough to reach out and touch him. Carefully he extended his arm to try and slide out the bag.
The movement was lightning fast. Before Ontario knew it, he was staring down the barrel of a gun. The boy had hardly moved, simply extended the arm not clutching the satchel, and opened his fierce blue eyes.
“I said,” he growled quietly at the Captain, “you’ll get the rest in America.”
Ontario backed away slowly. Guns were dangerous, and very rare. Not even he could get hold of a gun.
“Go back to bed,” the grim voice continued, “forget you ever tried to do that. The only reason you are not dead is that I need you to steer this ship.”
The Captain nodded, and slid away out of the hold. None of the other passengers had even stirred. As he left, he glanced carefully over his shoulder. The boy looked as though he had returned to sleep, although Ontario was sure that he saw one brilliant blue eye watching him through the blackness.
Georgie described the Diary Writer as similar to Watchmen's Rorsharch the other day, after reading this passage and his writing style, I don't really know if thats good or bad, but I do see what she means.
Dec 13th 2041
Awoke. Got dressed. Left abode. Caught the 0902 circle line train to Westminster. It arrived exactly as the digital panels adorning the station read two minutes past nine, and left the platform precisely two minutes later. Arrived at Westminster at exactly 0919. Platform shimmered in the artificial light. Every surface perfectly clean, sublimely dust free.
I took my Oyster Card and swiped it on the gate to complete the journey. A message flashed up on the screen telling me it needs topping up, I should probably do that later or I will have to walk tomorrow. I was hungry so I took my swipe card over to the vending machines and got myself a vacuum sealed sandwich and a coke which had gone flat. The crash it made as it hit the bottom of the machine echoed through the empty station like a siren. I ate as I walked.
I emerged from the tunnels into Parliament square, sunlight blinding my eyes momentarily. The square itself however, was overcast in shadow. The buildings of London may scrape the sky, but they leave the ground in darkness.
I walked over to Mr. Mandela and tipped my hat in greeting. In the old days he would smile back at me and ask me how I was. Today he just stared ahead, stony faced. I spat at him, unable to believe his rudeness. I did the same to Mr. Churchill.
After I had done this I felt very upset. The world seemed so unfair today.
I set about shopping. Firstly, a bank. I removed a device from my satchel and clipped it to the cash machine. It was a device I had looted from a Luddite’s flat about two years ago, which call fool the machines. Westminster wanted to believe the system foolproof, but it most definitely wasn’t. The device devised a random account number, accessed it via pin, and topped up whichever swipe card it contained with funds from somebody’s account. When I was two hundred pounds richer, I topped up my Oyster card at the kiosk down the street. Then I went to the bookshop.
This morning I finished Great Expectations. It was interesting and enjoyable, but utterly, utterly irrelevant in the modern setting. I bought two new books, one about the history of the London Underground, and another about a man with split personalities. One good. One bad. The bad consumed him and made him do terrible things. The good was powerless to resist.
I thought it apt. Today, I have called myself Jekyll. Tomorrow, I may well be Hyde.
Went down to the river. Stood on London Bridge and surveyed the skyline. Ahead of me, the tallest building in London stuck out on the horizon like a wart.
I call it the Monument of No Hope. It’s really name is the Skycleaver. I thought the name as ugly as the building itself, a solid black prismatic three-sided structure, devoid of any blemish of scar, the top as flat as an ice sheet.
The above thought got me thinking. I should have paid more attention to Geography at school. I wondered how ice sheets were formed.
Went back to the bookshop and bought, “Glacial formation: An exploration of ice and its power”.
Then I caught the tube back to Liverpool Street and went home. Ending a day as irrelevant as any other wondering if there were any ice sheets left in the world.
EXERCISESPosted by Joe Pearson 23 Apr, 2009 08:08PM
· Choose two random facts from the book ‘BLABLABLA - Something to talk about when you don’t have anything to talk about: 600 completely pointless facts’.
· Write a short story in twenty minutes incorporating both facts.
Smirnoff is the vodka brand used in all James Bonds martinis.
Pepper is the best selling spice in the world.
Okay, so the "Did you know" appraoch was a bit of a cop out, but hey! You try working with Geoff and Georgie bickering in the background =P
Draft - (I'm too lazy to do an edited version)
It has just been one of those days for Sebastian. One of those horrible days. One of those horrible days behind the counter in his horrible shop serving horrible customers.
It had started when that man had asked him where the nutmeg was, which of course, Seb hadn’t known. The man had walked away muttering under his breath about incompetent teenagers and “things these days”. Seb had been particularly annoyed at him for the teenager comment as he was twenty-one! He didn’t pay his, (frankly extortionate), tax rates to be undermined by bitter and twisted old folks!
It hadn’t got any better when the old lady had split her grocery bag and splattered a dozen eggs in the aisle, which HE had had to clean up). The final straw had come when that stupid happy-clappy upstart twelve year old had tried to make conversation with him. As though Seb had wanted to TALK to the kid!
“Did you know”, the snotty pre-teen had said chirpily, in a voice like nails on a blackboard, “That pepper is the best selling spice in the whole world!”
What is it with people and seasonings today? Seb had thought bitterly, while muttering a suitably patronising, “really…” at the customer, who he just wished would go away.
He had left the supermarket where he worked with a face like a thunderstorm, and headed straight for the nearest bar.
“What can I get you?” the hideously upbeat barman had chimed.
As Sebastian had had such an infuriating day, he wanted to feel good about himself, so her decided to order a drink that suggested he could be an international man of mystery.
“Vodka Martini,” Seb had announced, “with an olive on a stick or something, the more pretentious the better.”
“Can’t,” the barman grunted, Seb was sure he couldn’t speak words of more than one syllable, “We’re out of Smirnoff.”
“But… theres a bottle of absolut right there!”
“Yes, but James Bond ALWAYS used Smirnoff in his martinis, you can’t make a good martini without Smirnoff.”
“Come on, that doesn’t matter!”
“Does to me…” the barman grunted again, “I could make you a G&T…”
Sebastian sighed, agreed, and skulked away into a corner with his not-really-that-pretentious gin and tonic. There was no way this day could get any worse…
AND THEN HE WENT LIKE, TOTALLY MENTAL AND KNIFED SOMEONE WITH A CUCUMBER OR SOMETHING! THERE WAS BLOOD EVERYWHERE! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!
(Happy now Geoff?)
Joe PearsonPosted by Joe Pearson 23 Apr, 2009 07:56PM
Servants in thought is a science fiction Novella I began writing as part of NaNoWriMo 2008. It is a story in three arcs, following three different characters.
I tend to use very short, chapter like passages, which often chop and change to different characters. What follows is the first section, the prologue, if you like, in which my first character, a nameless diary writer, introduces himself.
Bear in mind this was written to a really tight deadline. =P
(Also, is Futility a word?)
Servants in Thought
“We are becoming servants in thought, as in action,
of the machine we have created to serve us”
- John Kenneth Galbraith
Dec 12th 2041
There are many things that can drive a man mad, the loss of a loved one or the thought of the possible futility of existence, but I believe I have discovered the surest, most soul destroying way of doing so. To make that man totally alone, devoid of any loving attention, lost among his own thoughts, in a world that no longer needs him.
This has happened to me, as I sit here writing what’s left of my life down for nobody to ever read in this forgotten place. I have gone completely and utterly mad.
Now you may have heard people say that if you think you are crazy you probably aren’t, and that the true mad men are those who believe themselves completely sane. However, my madness came over me in such a brutal wave, that its unstoppable force sent me crashing down into insanity faster than you can possibly imagine, and this sort of descent into the darkest areas of one’s mind is hard to ignore.
Let me tell you how this came about. A year ago I was king of this city, I ruled with an iron fist and a fierce nature that commanded the respect of my subjects. I sat high upon my golden throne, crown upon my head, looked out over my kingdom and laughed, happy at the universal feeling of power that being king gave me.
The world around me absorbed my absolution, cried out to me for salvation, and implored me to give meaning to their worthless lives. I was merciful; I came forth and raised my arm upon high and said “Yes my subjects! This kingdom can be whole again!” and they cheered, and whooped and laughed and I was as a god to them.
I stood in the Earls court. I was the Friar in black, the Angel of Islington. I was the centre of the universe.
Months past and my power began to dwindle, the world around me worked, kept on working. The trains all ran on time, the clocks all ticked at the same moment, and read the same thing precisely and the glistening arrays of fairy lights adorning every street corner never once went out.
It was during this time that my subjects began to abandon me, one by one, until eventually I had none left. The Ghost-Men of Harrods had turned away their heads; the high stone visage with his guardian lions looked up to the sky from his pedestal, instead of down towards myself. Churchill, Lloyd George and Mandela all had eyes for each other but never for me. Even the beautiful Patricians daughter had forgotten I existed. That was what really broke my heart.
Today I sit alone in this hovel I call home, collecting dust and dirt, as forgotten and broken as the figure that dwells in it. A mad man.
How do I know for sure that I am mad? Because two years ago, every single living creature in the city of London vanished overnight, and it has taken me this long to notice that anything is wrong.