How about another contest?
Posted 01 July 2009 - 10:39 PM
I'll post up the entries once I've decided which one I like the most.
Posted 02 July 2009 - 07:36 PM
I'd like to read them, too. Any time you're ready.
Posted 03 July 2009 - 10:04 AM
Posted 03 July 2009 - 03:10 PM
Enjoy yourself while you can, Vort... you only have 3 years of life left. Wait, so do I... [/cont2012ref]
Careful. This link is DANGEROUS. Do NOT click it. This one, however, is fine.
I had the meaning of life in my signature, but it exceeded the character limit.
Posted 04 July 2009 - 03:32 AM
Posted 06 July 2009 - 06:56 AM
Posted 06 July 2009 - 11:32 AM
Due to severe boredom on the internets I have decided to come back bros
Posted 06 July 2009 - 03:11 PM
I can't attest to the work, and all. Hooray for idle adolescence!
Posted 06 July 2009 - 07:26 PM
It would have been nice to have simply faded away, she thought. Retained what dignity she could as she aged and simply let beauty slowly ebb away until eventually she died. That was what would happen to her friends, unless such foul fortune befell them as had her. Of course, she was unable to be certain of how damaged her looks now were, as the swelling around her eyes had not yet gone down enough to permit vision.
On the other hand, her other senses had increased, though she was unsure of whether that was really a positive. She had been able to eavesdrop on the private, whispered conversations of the doctors as they looked on and muttered medical terms to one another, but from what little her addled brain could grasp, they were not hopeful. One of them seemed to think her skull had been bent permanently out of shape and she would have that ugly descended brow ridge for the rest of her days.
The worst part had been while she was still unconscious. Thoughts and flashes had crossed her mind every second of every day, and she had been unable to escape their wretched torment. Visions of her beauty torn away, fire, screaming, sirens, stars… The stars looked beautiful that night, she thought, though they had been a little obscured by the brightly flashing lights of the ambulance and the fire truck. She had watched helplessly, strapped down to the stretcher, as they tried to get her boyfriend out of the burning wreckage before the flames reached the fuel tank. She still had no idea what had happened to him, three weeks on, and she was unable to ask as she had bitten off the tip of her tongue and had a mouthful of bandages.
Her friends, the whole cheerleading team, had come to visit her in the hospital. She had been comatose at the time, unable to move and to all intents and purposes dead to the world, but she had heard their cruel words.
“She looks like a fucking Picasso.”
“More like Neanderthal. Look at her eyebrows.”
“I wonder what state her hair’s in underneath all the bandages.”
“She can’t be a cheerleader looking like this.”
“God, I think I’ve seen enough.”
“Come on, it’s not that bad. You sat through Saw IV.” Even at that, she had not been able to react. It had not really even registered that they were talking about her, but she had remembered every word they said, and now they stung worse a thousand hornets. So she wasn’t as bad as a slasher horror film… But she was too disfigured to be a cheerleader. They probably wouldn’t even want to talk to her any more. Bunch of shallow bitches.
She hadn’t been any better, though. She had laughed at the ugly kids, watched them go about their mundane little lives, depressingly unaware that being beautiful made everything easy. She wondered if they would forgive her now that she was one of them. Probably oughtn’t phrase it like that, she told herself. It seemed doubtful the ugly kids would appreciate hearing that she was only hanging out with them because her face had been ripped apart by a car accident. Though they’d probably figure it out. The ugly kids always seemed to be the smart ones for some reason. Maybe it was an evolutionary measure. They have nothing physical to go on so they develop other positive aspects. That just made her feel worse, because now she wouldn’t have beauty or brains. What did that leave her with? She wasn’t even a nice person, and now that she was disfigured her so-called friends wanted nothing more to do with her.
Maybe I am being punished, she thought. Maybe God has struck me down that I may atone for my sins. A latter day Job. Then again, Job was at least a good man before his faith was tested. I was a shallow, vapid whore. I judged people by looks alone, just as did everyone around me, and now those same small-minded thugs and bimbos are judging me like a piece of meat. It’s hardly flattering.
Frightening. That was the word she was looking for. Behind the wheel of her little car, chosen by her reasonably well-off parents because it didn’t look too bad and wasn’t too hefty on the insurance, she had been utterly terrified. Somebody had left something in the road. A bottle, maybe, or a brick. Something small, but solid enough to make the car bounce and ruin the back tyre. And it had been raining. Hard. Not hard enough to put out the flaming wreckage of her beloved little machine, but enough to make the road very slippery. The car had skidded and stuttered from side to side for a moment before crashing headlong through the little hedge at the roadside and into a tree. The tree had come crashing down under the unexpected weight of the car and the little vehicle had followed through, losing momentum so that it was no longer moving fast enough to break through the first big branch it encountered. The car had catapulted upright, standing high on the bonnet for a moment before overbalancing, eventually coming to rest upside down. She had been screaming, eyes screwed tight shut to ward off the worst of it.
She shot up in bed, screaming once more. Her left eye opened wide, pushing back a layer of dead weight and atrophied facial muscles en route. There was the hospital ward, white and sterile before her. And there were her legs, once so long and slender and perfectly toned, now mere sagging lumps of flesh loosely held to the bone within. There her arm, impaled by needles dripping their poison bit by bit into her veins. There her other arm, home to yet another tiny blade embedded deep within her body. There… Nothing. Her left hand was gone. She hadn’t even been able to tell.
The nurses came rushing in then, brought no doubt by the sudden bout of noise, ripping through the peace and quiet of their morning rounds. She tried to talk to them, to ask them what had happened to her, to her hand, to her boyfriend, but the best she could manage were slurred approximations. The nurses didn’t seem interested in what she had to say. One of them pressed a few buttons on the display beside her bed and she felt a surge pass through her right arm, then calm and happiness descended upon her. Was this morphine, then? The initial euphoria lasted only moments before her body realised what was being pumped through it. She writhed and twisted for a moment before the nurse raised the dose again. Unconscious claimed her once more, though this time she was entirely unable to hear a word anyone said about her.
When she awoke once more it was dark. The lights were on, but outside the window she could tell it was night. Ghosts whispered across the panes of glass, flitting back and forth to confuse her as yet unwieldy vision. Ghosts. Ghost limbs, she thought. The sensation of being able to feel body parts that were no longer there. She curled her imaginary fingers, and she would have sworn her hand was still there. The shock of the bizarre effect almost sent her back into the oblivion of unconsciousness, but she held on. Even through the haze the morphine had left inside her head, she could remember what was going on, and what she needed to do. The needles had to come out of her arms. She couldn’t have people thinking she was a junkie.
Removing the needles hurt far more than she had anticipated; it was lucky the pain was dulled by the lasting effects of the anaesthetic. She swung her legs out of the bed and stepped lightly down to the floor, remarking to herself that she was almost feline in her grace and agility.
The nurses found her crashed out on the floor, bleeding from tiny puncture wounds in her arms and from a large cut on her broken and battered forehead. It would likely have offered them small comfort to know that her last thoughts before slipping once again into a coma were that she was off to sit at God’s right hand. Maybe she felt she had suffered enough to atone for a life devoid of meaning, worth and happiness. Or maybe she was just hallucinating in the final moments before her spirit fled the weakened husk of skin and bone.
Though the hospital staff could tell she would almost certainly never awaken, the law had them keep her body alive for four more years before her parents agreed to let them pull the plug. It did not matter by that stage: the girl was long gone.
Dreams, Drugs, and Dread
Sarah Jennison glanced down at her swollen abdomen and let shine a hidden smile. Only a few more weeks would pass before she could call herself a mother. The discomfort, the difficulty—even the breakup and the hardship of self-reliance she could endure; the prize would bring meaning to her life. Leaning back in her seat at the table, Sarah paused her dinner for a few moments of pleasing daydream.
Her baby son Marcus at three weeks, content to lay and bask in the warmth of his mother’s protective rays. Several months and he would giggle wildly when Sarah tickled him, full of glee at the wonder of life. Marcus wouldn’t mind the lack of money, wouldn’t recoil at his father’s leaving. His first words, his first steps, his first writing and his first girlfriend: Sarah Jennison would support Marcus throughout his childhood. She loved him, though he had yet to leave her protected womb or breathe the harsh air. Oh, how she yearned for that miracle moment at the hospital!
Shoveling the remainder of her now-cold dinner into her mouth and swallowing eagerly, Sarah Jennison finished her nightly duties and retired to her bedroom. She slept content, full of hope at the bright, happy world ahead of her. The day arrived with the yellow gleaming of dawn, and Sarah woke, hidden smile still gracing her face.
* * *
That same early sun alighted upon the eyes of Shawna Pearson as she lay prostate among the blackberry brambles outside the public library. The refuse of a half-eaten McDonald’s hamburger covered the dirt around her mouth with catsup and mustard, lending an artificial brightness to her grimy face. Pearson grimaced at the painful glow of the morning upon her dilated pupils, and ground the remains of the fast food around the base of the brambles, scarcely noting the thorns that lacerated her arms as she did so. Raising a hand to her gaunt and bony head, Pearson scratched off a shower of lice, then immediately regretted the act. The coarse nails only exacerbated her open sores, already infected and oozing with pus. Gripping a thick and spiky blackberry branch, she pulled herself to her feet and proceeded to press a filthy rag to her palms, bloody from the vicious scratching of thorns.
The headache arrived like the breaking of a dam. Pearson had dimly noticed the creaking and groaning of a fading high the last few hours, and now understood the immensity of the problem ahead. Collapsing and again groveling in her nest among the briars, Pearson dug for her purse, removing and scattering its contents. With the grin of a rabid dog, she found the knife and cut a long strip of cotton from her mud caked t-shirt. Deftly, Pearson cinched the band tightly around her left bicep and pulled it further with her pitted teeth. Stumbling up again, she snatched her purse and headed into the grey concrete building in front of her.
Shawna Pearson had no interest in the books on the shelves or the volunteer librarian who greeted her politely as she entered. Only one destination appealed to her. Pearson violently shoved the door to the restroom inward, tripping and only just catching her fall. She locked the door behind her.
The steady rush of water from the faucet pounded Pearson’s ears, and she furrowed her eyebrows to fight the pain. Pearson rolled paper towels from the dispenser, throwing them into the sink and clogging the drain. Minutes later, a small pool had formed and she gratefully silenced the stream of running water. Removing a packet of white crystals from her purse, Pearson emptied them onto the dry top of the sink and broke them apart, mashing them repeatedly with a copper penny. She swept the dust into the water and stirred eagerly with her finger.
Some criteria unknown to sane men reached, Pearson inserted the needle into the mixture and drew the water into the syringe. Gasping in anticipation, she flexed her muscles against the tight band around her arm, exposing her veins to the waiting needle. Shawna Pearson let sound a sigh of relief as the healing powers of methamphetamine coursed through her body.
* * *
The steady tithes of maternity leave do not allow for luxury. Sarah Jennison knew this well, and as such her collection of infant-related items lacked amenities. This unfortunate consequence of her breakup led the expectant mother through town in search of deals. Family members and friends had graciously provided funds and used goods, but Sarah still made frequent appearances at the rundown consignment shop and had even pawned a small piece of silver jewelry to buy diapers. Economic woes had hardened Sarah into a fervent bargain-hunter, and so she naturally conducted her research in a similar manner.
These circumstances brought Sarah Jennison to the bland façade of a grey concrete building. Bitter thoughts attempted to sneak into Sarah’s optimism and spoil the future, but she shook them away, focusing on the delight that Marcus’s awkward, squinting form would give her. For his first days, innate maternal instinct would undoubtedly guide Sarah well, but some regret deep inside her warned that a family was meant to include two parents.
With such sentiment, Sarah stepped forward, panting at the exertion of the third trimester, and waded through a set of glass doors to the interior of the public library. Upon her first glimpses of the high shelves, packed with volumes worn with the eager fingers of dozens of readers, Sarah Jennison doubted her ability to push through the literary clutter to the parenting information she sought. Sarah had never been an enthusiastic or successful scholar, and her own childhood had contained few visits to these consortiums of knowledge. But Marcus…he was what mattered. Donning her reading glasses, she wandered the isles, unable to decipher the organization of the place but determined to carve from the Earth a stronger, brighter future for her son.
* * *
Shawna Pearson’s mind, limited to begin with and decimated by the cumulative toll of drug abuse, whirled with power. She had become God! The raw energy, the sheer unlimited ease with which she could accomplish her most frivolous whims and most dire needs: Pearson skimmed the sharp peaks of mountains as she raced across the world, soaring with ecstasy. Nothing could stop her, interfere with this frenzy of elation. Inhaling forcefully, Pearson gulped great heaps of air and laughed thunderously, madly cackling at the shape of the toilet, the blood on her hands, the needle in the syringe haphazardly perched on the edge of the sink. Emitting a gleeful squeal, Shawna Pearson swept the syringe off the ledge and onto the floor, to a satisfying crash. Pearson splayed her fingers, staring at them curiously, and then abruptly leapt for the exit.
The handle would not turn. Pearson sneered in contempt at this first of enemies that opposed her. Within moments, she located the knife in her purse, and slammed the tip with inordinate strength into the wood of the door, yet it refused to open. Pearson repeated the motion, finally unsetting the lock and bursting out into the library lobby with rabid fury and a flashing blade.
Grinning wildly, Shawna Pearson raced through the isles of the library, hauling volumes out of their cases and throwing them onto the ground. She owned all the happiness that existed—no more could possibly be, anywhere, at any time! Pearson’s left hand trembled and her heart pounded incessantly with the knowledge that all the deities man had ever invented would kneel before her.
The high urged Shawna Pearson further into the depths of the building. A woman, bulging from her midsection, materialized behind a bookcase. Pearson stared, eyes wildly dilated. The woman seemed absorbed in her own business; so infinitely satisfied, face drawn into a loving smile. How dare she appear so self-confident! Did she not know the supremacy of the one who watched her, with such undiluted power that could bend the world to her will? Rage consumed Pearson; she would bring that woman crashing down, subvert her.
A knife plunged, retreated with red, plunged again; a tortured wail sounded and silenced abruptly. With a clearly audible thump, Sarah Jennison fell to the floor and oozed, her outfit steadily shifting to maroon. Pearson dropped upon her victim, hacking fiercely at the engorged abdomen.
Premature and doomed to perish, Marcus blinked, confused, at the sight above him, weakly raised his right hand, and stretched his fingers towards the ceiling.
I woke up. The Sun had risen, and I was lying naked on the green grass of Eden – surrounding me were all manner of flora and fauna. I grinned wryly – I, Adam, had named them. The trees and lions and lambs and horses and cattle and the very grass itself. I turned a still-drowsy eye to the sky. I’d named it, too. And the clouds and the Sun. All mine.
I pondered that. From up in the clouds, above the trees and the air, above the Sun and the Moon, was the Voice. I hadn’t thought of a name for it yet. It was older than me. Louder. It had told me – not in words, mind; I hadn’t made those yet – to take in everything in this vast Garden (such a lovely word, no? I’m rather proud of it. I took two and put the sounds together to make something totally unrelated to either) and name it as I saw fit. I don’t know why. But I liked it this way. I turned my attention back to the sky. It was blue. Like my eyes. Or so I thought. I’ve never seen them. I had Eve tell me what they were, but had to tell her the name of the sky’s color so that she could tell me. Heh.
Eve. My love and my life. She was like me, but not like me. The only thing in the whole Garden that looked like me – two legs and two arms and brown skin, and just hair at the top and the bottom. I laughed – not really that loud, booming laugh that I make when I get tickled, just a sort of low, contented laughter that I hadn’t thought of how to describe yet. It woke her up. Eve turned in her sleep, slowly beginning to wake up. She had brown eyes and brown hair. Like tree bark. Or something. I hadn’t really seen anything that was brown in the Garden. Not brown like her.
I’d found her in the Garden alone. Well, not alone. She’d been playing with a young fox when I’d first seen her. She hadn’t known I was watching, and was sitting there, knees bent, petting the little animal while smiling without showing her teeth. I liked that smile. She’d seen me, then, standing in the ferns bordering the clearing she was in. Her eyes had looked puzzled, but she hadn’t turned and ran. I was pretty sure I could have caught her if she had. Especially now. But she hadn’t. She’d walked slowly over to me, stepping gracefully over the long green grass, eyes locked on mine that I’d never seen.
From there we’d become partners, I guess. Family. We went everywhere together. Did everything together. Walked in the Garden of Eden hand in hand. Swam in the wet water with all the fish and water-birds. Slept together in each other’s arms. I’d loved every second of it.
But yesterday she’d gone away for a while. I didn’t know where to. I was busy naming things. There are a lot of things in this Garden. Not just plants and animals. Things like rocks and clouds and the wind. The Voice hadn’t told me that part, and it upset me that It wouldn’t trust me with that kind of knowledge.
Anyway. Eve had come back to me, then, with this new thing that I’d never seen before. Well, I had. The Voice had told me and Eve not to touch it. It had said that it grew on a tree in a part of the Garden that we shouldn’t go to. Ever. This was when I’d made enough words so that it could talk to me – us – and actually Talk. The thing was red. A very deep, very dark, red. But the inside was a sort of pale yellow. Almost white, like clouds. But not white. The thing itself was wet and smelled almost sweet. Like some flowers did. I called it an apple.
Eve had not only touched the apple (would have to get used to saying that word), but she’d bitten it, too. Taken a piece out of it and eaten it. With her mouth. And then Eve had wanted me to eat it, too. To take a bite. It was difficult. The Voice had told me not to touch it. Not to go near it. But Eve had, and she hadn’t been hurt. She looked... different. It had changed her. Somehow. She seemed… fuller. More alive. More… something. But I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Initially, I’d said no. That The Voice would get upset with us for not doing as It had said. So I’d asked Eve to take me to where she had gotten the apple. To see if it was really something we shouldn’t have gotten involved with, or if The Voice was just tricking us. Playing games, like I’d seen animals do.
Right. Eve had taken me to the tree. Along the way she had told me that a very different kind of animal lived there. A very clever, wise, old animal. I didn’t think that there could be one that I hadn’t found yet, but I played along.
We’d reached the tree. It was standing all by itself in this big clearing. The grass around it was the brightest green I’d ever seen. The leaves of the tree were even more beautiful, and the bark was a smooth brown. The closest thing I’d found to Eve’s eyes yet.
And around the bottom of the tree was something… else. It was like a lizard. But it didn’t have legs. It was much, much longer, too. It had a leaf-shaped head, like some fish that I’d seen under water. And it was green, too, like the grass and the leaves. But it was a different green. Sickly. Pale. Ghastly. Oh, a new word. I like it but I don’t like it… odd. I felt similar about what I’d chosen for this new animal.
It had talked to us. Not like The Voice had. But like I talked to Eve. Or Eve talked to me. Except it didn’t open and close its mouth. It flicked its tongue in and out of a small little hole that I guessed was its mouth. But I heard the words easily enough. They were… silky. Not low and commanding like those of The Voice. Not soft and delicate like Eve’s. And definitely not rumbling and manly like mine. They were… just wrong.
The Beast had told us things. It had talked to us for a long time, urging me in strange tones of sound, swaying bitterly from low to high ranges of voice. Sometimes both. I shivered at the thought of it.
And soon I’d done it. I’d plucked an apple from the one tree in the garden The Voice had told me not to touch, and taken a bite. The fruit had been sweet. Juicy. Wholesome. A dozen other words I’d never had time to process and just like that it was gone. I’d wanted more. I’d made to reach for the tree and another apple, but the Beast said no. I said that it wasn’t my master. That I had named it, not the other way around.
It retaliated by simply staring me down in the eyes with that black, soulless, terrible reptilian gaze. Then it did something with its throat, and hissed through the small space. Then it had opened its mouth, wider than I’d known was possible, showing me these huge, sharp teeth and the inside of its mouth which was like the inside of an apple. But worse. So much worse. It had made to lunge forward and bite me, but I’d turned and run, grabbing Eve by the wrist and hauling her with me without looking back. We’d stumbled clumsily through the ferns and undergrowth, eventually coming to a thicket of leaves. Then she wouldn’t run anymore.
I turned to ask her why, but she grabbed me around the waist, and pulled me toward her. I hadn’t fought it. It turned out that mouths can be for so much more than just eating and breathing.
When we were done, we’d simply fallen down on the grass we’d trampled flat and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
That brought everything to the present, and The Voice was again in the Garden of Eden. I knew so because everything seemed so much more alive than when It wasn’t. The Sun was brighter, the wind calmer. The colors and animals seemed… happier, I guess. I don’t know. I already said brighter, and don’t like to repeat myself.
I was afraid. I jumped up and away from Eve. She stared at me with wide eyes, her body turned so that I couldn’t see her lower half. She had her arms crossed over her chest, eyes wide with sheer terror like I’ve never seen. Her gentle face was shaking, fingers turning white as she gripped herself in humility.
I felt my face grow hot, and backed away from her into some tall plants. My hands went down to my thighs without being told to do so, covering me up. I turned away from her, slightly, face flushing beat red. Or so I thought, if hers was anything to go by.
I tore a large leaf from one of the plants and held it over my lower half. After a moment’s thought, I tore a few more and tossed them gracelessly over to Eve, who picked them up awkwardly and held them in place over the more… private parts of her body.
Then The Voice found us.
It had never really taken on a sort of… real body, I guess you could say. But this time it was a huge shaft of light filtering through the foliage to come around myself and Eve. I had to close my eyes and turn my head away from the light, it hurt so bad to look it straight into the source.
The Light focused on us for a few heartbeats, in a sort of contemplative silence. Then it spoke in a gentle, fatherly tone, ‘My Son… Adam. What have you done to yourself and your kind?’
I shook with terror, then lifted my chin, eyes still squinted shut. I’d let the palm leaf drop long ago, and my hands were clenched into sweaty fists. I replied, ‘I.. I didn’t know. I didn’t know, Father. I did not know that this would happen. That I would know… that I would know it all.’ My body convulsed and I whispered, ‘Please forgive me.’
The Voice answered, ‘You? Forgive you? You were but a tool, were you not? Why should I forgive you and not Eve as well, Adam? I gave you one rule and one rule only. And you broke it. You have sinned against your creator.’
I opened my eyes, mouth dry. I felt lightheaded. ‘My creator? My creator? You are not my creator. I named myself. I named Eve and all of this… everything. I have named it all. Not you. Me.
My tongue felt too large and fuzzy. ‘And I named the Beast.’
A cloud seemed to pass over the light, but The Voice kept its tone even. ‘No. No you did not. And for your sins you and all before you must pay, my Son. Leave this Garden, and do not return. For the punishment of sin is death.’
I spun on Eve, mouth open and spittle flying. I roared, hoarsely, ‘Evil wretch! This is your doing! Uncouth dotard!’ She was crying, weeping, mouth in a deep-set frown. It wasn’t enough. I shouted more, ‘You… you horrible, backstabbing, betraying bitch! You…whore!’ Her small frame shuddered with each enunciation, her eyes bloodshot and nose running as she cried more. I continued heartlessly, reckless. ‘You knew this would happen! You terrible little, little…’ the image of Eve and the fox came to my mind. ‘You damned little vixen!’ I stepped towards her, my right hand clenched so hard that my fingernails cut into my palm. Red blood ran down my forearm and I didn’t care. I made to throw my first at her and do I know not what.
That simple word, said so complacently and yet unyieldingly, was enough to stop me. I froze – not moving at all except for ragged, haggard breaths and the crimson sheet sliding down my wrist and dripping to the ground. I did not move to stop it. Instead I turned around.
Before me stood a man. Like myself. But taller, more… perfect. His raven-black hair curled down in curling waves, just above shoulder-length. A look of pity mixed with grim commitment was on his tanned countenance, and his grey visage betrayed no emotion other than contempt. He was adorned in white and silver, and the Light made it appear that wings like those of a bird spread out from behind him. In his hands was a cross of flame, alike to a sword, and on his head a wreath of brilliantly-white thorns. I could not move from the beauty and glory before my eyes, and I heard Eve’s sobbing cut off in shock and awe behind me.
The leonine individual said nothing, but I heard The Voice one last time. It said, ‘Go forth from this place and multiply. Never turn back; or else you shall perish one and all. You have turned your back on Me for the first, but not last, time. Do not fear, Adam. Nor you, Eve. You may yet find redemption. But not in the Garden. Your time here is ended.’
I shuddered and turned around. Eve was sitting cross-legged on the ground eyes wide and fearful still. I helped her to her feet and we walked blindly away from the Garden.
What seemed like a lifetime later, we stopped and looked around. The two of us alone stood in a vast expanse of brown. I felt my brow wrinkle, and stooped down to the ground. I pinched some of this thing that was new to me and let it drift from my fingers.
Dirt. I looked Eve. Earth. The same color as her eyes.
The black-haired man sighed, and looked at a tree near his head. Coiled around a branch was the Snake, the Beast.
The Voice said, from everywhere and nowhere, ‘And now, what do you with you, Beast not of mine divining?’
In answer the serpent hissed, and stared back unblinkingly.
My Life Which Is Not Mine To Take
The house of my mind is crashing down. Dreams of unspeakable horror roam before my waking eyes. I can no longer move, the sheer thought of it makes my body cringe. The pain is unbearable, and it will never leave me. I suffer during the day, I suffer during the night, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I haven’t left this goddamn bed in four years.
When I first contracted this horrible malady, the doctors were as clueless as they are now. I came home from work one day, and a sudden sting of pain gripped my head. Falling down on my knees, I screamed in agony and surprise, for I had never felt pain like this before. It burned with such an intensity, I thought the world was coming to an end.
Well, it wasn’t. All that came to an end was my life as I had known it. No medicine eased my pain, some even made it worse. My wife called an ambulance, but after a couple of weeks in that dreaded hospital they had to let me go. There was nothing physically wrong with me, they said. And yet the pain did not end. I was sent home, barely able to sit up straight because the pain kept beating me down.
Then the shrinks came. Because I was unable to get out of bed, they all made house calls. They asked me a ton of questions and conducted plenty of tests, of all which concluded nothing was wrong. I was an average Joe. Sure I had some issues, but nothing that would have led to this apparently fake pain that ravaged my body and mind.
After a couple of weeks, I began to get used to it. My body adjusted to the continuous shocks of pain, and I capable of walking for a while. For the first time since that dreadful day, I got out the house and sat on a bench in the park, hoping the pain would go away soon.
Well, it didn’t. In fact, after that day it got progressively worse. I know not what atrocity I have committed to have deserved something like this, but then again, I was never into karma anyway.
So now I’ve been in this bed for the last four years. Every single day has been excruciating torture, and the last couple of months have been the worse yet. My mind is beset by strange hallucinations, the walls are trying to devour me and Satan himself is trying to drive a pin into my brain. It’s like a bad trip on a mix of acid and DMT, combined with unrelenting torture of the Medieval kind.
Last week, I made my decision. I called my wife in to see me, and told her I wanted out. My life had been nothing but pain and agony for the past four years, and there no sign it was going to come to an end. She cried, and then I cried, and then she left the room. That night was the worst yet, there was no sleep, no pause, and no peace in the pain which I am forced to live with. My mind was thrown into the Styx, forced to fend for itself while hundreds of damned souls scratched at the very surface of my brain. It felt as if my head was about to explode.
Then came the priest.
At first, I wasn’t sure if he was real or not. I was in bed, as usual, when suddenly a man dressed in dark robes entered the room. I thought Death itself had finally come to take me, but I was sorely disappointed when the old man waved a strange object in my face. On this object I saw the image of Jesus Christ, suffering and wailing as blood streamed down his arms. Then it hit me. I was staring at a crucifix. The priest sat down on the end of the bed, and looked me straight in the eye. I tried to avoid his gaze, for in my delirium I believed snakes where crawling out of his hollow sockets.
“My son,” he said in a clear, loud voice.
I felt obliged to answer.
“Your wife has informed me of your, what shall I say, situation…”
“Has she, father? Has she informed you of my suffering? My pain? My delusions?”
“She has informed me that you wish to take your own life.”
“That is what I wish, father. My life is nothing now but a dark pit of utter despair, day after day. I am sick with the pain of it all, and I wish for it to end.”
“My son, your life is a gift from God. It is not yours to throw away. To accept that injection you so crave would be to condemn yourself to Hell.”
“I am sorry padre, but I have no use for your faith. Condemn me all you want, I have died four years ago and have been in Hell ever since.’’
“Pray, my son. Pray, and you too can receive salvation. My wife has informed me you have little faith of your own, so I will pray for you.”
After that, he got up and left. I snarled and fended off the dreadful image of snakes slithering through my sheets, and tried to get some sleep. It felt as if God was pounding down on my head with some kind of divine judgement before I had even killed myself. Eventually I drifted off into some malicious nightmare, of which I now do not dare speak.
The next day, my wife told me that she had failed to arrange my fatal injection. She said she was not able to accept the fact her beloved husband would be going to Hell, and I cursed the priest and all those before him who had wrought this evil into the brains of my wife, who in return only obeyed and slowly withered from fear and despair.
Now, my body remains much the same as it has been for the past four years. Every single day is another living hell, but I endure. Not for myself, not for salvation and most certainly not for any kind of Heaven. I endure because my wife needs me to, I endure because I know that if I leave her, her life will be over just the same.
I think back about days long gone, days where we walked the forests, days where we made love on the soft grass, days where this mysterious and terrible disease was not around to wrack my very existence.
Take it from me: priests would make the best gossips if we were allowed to talk. For example, did you know that the old man down the street is secretly looking into that attractive young widow’s windows at night? How about that the Johnsons’ missing cat was actually strangled by their oldest son? And, by the way, contrary to popular belief, Bobby Anderson’s collection of toy cars was stolen not by his younger brother, but by the voyeur. Ah yes, the things I could tell the people in this town… if I could speak.
Still, I’m worried now. There was a murder in the neighborhood not too long ago; poor old Ben Roberts was killed in his house; and nobody has come to me to confess yet. I’m still thinking over this moral dilemma. On the one hand, a priest’s silence is sacred. Anything that in the confessional must remain in the confessional. However, I could not live with myself if he were to kill again. I’ll need to think about this…
What’s that? The door? Confessional rush hour ended a long time ago, even if I’m obligated to sit in here for the full six-hour shift. I wish Father Aidan would hurry up…
“Father Robin, are you there?” I recognize the voice, but only barely: Elmer Roberts is not one of my regular customers. The last time he was in here was to admit that he had lied to his father about the number of potatoes he had used in their casserole. That’s definitely not a matter to bring to the confessional, but I was touched that he would feel guilty enough to go to me about it.
“Yes, my son, I am here. What do you wish to talk about?”
I hear him settle down on the bench on the other side of the curtain. “My father and I… we parted badly.”
I’m puzzled, and I voice this sentiment. “How so, my son?”
“We argued before he was… killed. I left the room, and returned with…” He stopped abruptly, sobbing.
“I returned with this,” he says, setting something down with a clanking sound. It sounds like a metal paperweight. His voice is steadier now.
“I entered the room again. My father’s back was to me, and I threw it at him. I never meant to hit him… never.”
I feel a wave of pity: this young man, whose previous offenses had been little more than white lies, had killed his own father by accident. “Son, your sins are forgiven,” I whisper to him. I hear him draw the curtain aside. He is holding the paperweight clenched in one hand, and his eyes gleam fanatically.
“Good,” he says mildly. “I feel so much better now.” He swings the weight at my head, and I feel a sharp pain at the side of my skull. As I sink to the floor, I hear his voice faintly. “Now I only need to wait for Father Aidan to come…”
Once the vote is in, I shall reveal which one I would have chosen. I would not like to bias a vote with my opinion.
Posted 06 July 2009 - 10:53 PM
Posted 11 July 2009 - 11:10 PM
No fuel left for the pilgrims
Posted 12 July 2009 - 10:53 AM
I will reveal now that my vote went to Ravnin, but having shown them to my dad, a former English student and serious literature buff and uninfluenceable third-party judge, we must declare Matias the winner. Congratulations!
Guess what! There's a surprise twist to this one! As a prize, would you be au fait with me sending your work in to a magazine of which I am a part at my university which publishes creative writing? It has links to various publishing organisations and stuff.
Posted 15 July 2009 - 01:18 AM
Yay I won!
No fuel left for the pilgrims
Posted 08 August 2009 - 04:15 AM
I think this would be a topic I could succeed in, because I think I have great skill in writing suspenses.
Edited by Azura's Servant, 08 August 2009 - 04:16 AM.
Hello everyone. I am back.
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