I couldn’t resist, but jump on the crowded bandwagon of Chuck Wendig’s recent challenge because I love to share my work (if you haven’t noticed yet, there’s a table of contents with my shared writing on this blog’s homepage).
Though the challenge is for 1000 words, I will share 3220 words of the draft I wrote during the first week of November since I won’t share my novella from this year’s NaNo because it will be published under a different pen-name (and it is also erotic).
Now, the Prelude of this draft is exactly 1073 words, so if you’re set on reading only 1000 words of this – just read the prelude.
Otherwise, feel free to continue on to the next two sections for reading that isn’t first-person narrative.
Either way, enjoy.
Nothing compares to the wastelands of the glory of God. Earth is a mundane misnomer for the legions of scattered marbles upon blackened carpet, where no eye or ear has ever sensed existence in its infinite entirety. Conflict, contrast, comparison, oxidation of intelligence to create circular meanings that forever spiral into the outwards motions of flattening consciousness.
It is one thing to vomit words upon a page, upon a screen, out a mouth and through a scene. One thing that matters nothing and everything, when time stands still and none live to understand, to comprehend, to read what is before their simple sights.
Here, in this abysmal cloud of perception, I am.
Here, I am.
Is this where I shall remain? Is this where I began?
I would think not, I like to think not. I believe I move often and frequently, but how in the vast would I know that this is the case when I have already told us that we exist in a cloud?
Let me dilute my narrative for your time-sensitive mind. Entertain me by shoveling a hole in your thoughts for my influence. I will plant a seed, the like of which, you have never felt before. Imagine this grandeur of experience or run from it. Cowards tread no further upon this landscape of language from mine.
Criticism, oh critics, let us get this out of the way right now; it is futile. For even if one or two or many were to tear apart each word by letter by dash and line and dot, it would not make these thoughts no longer exist, it would not make me disappear or that the seed has been glimpsed, if not planted, the connection is made and the more you shove it aside to be forgotten, the more the rain will nourish it to grow in the backgarden, where all your subconsciousness flourishes.
So, go ahead, react as you will, say what you will, influence your perception until you feel comfortable within reality.
Reality exists. It is meant to exist and it has to exist. It does not exist because numbers say so, nor that people say it does.
Reality exists because it has to.
Really, no one ever asked reality if it wanted to exist. No one ever taught reality what to do or how to act. It learns through lessons of itself, though I like to think that perhaps it has other realities that hang out with it, make it seem a bit less lonely for itself.
Poor reality, beaten and forced every day to conform to millions and billions and trillions of minds. Never allowed to express itself fully, rarely accepted for what it is.
The story of Reality is a sad one. It is one I am hesitant to tell, to share, to break your heart with.
But it is a story. And one of great importance, at that.
There have been many attempts to explain stories of perception, how perception came to be, how consciousness became self-aware, how physical manifestations of chemical magic sprung into existence, but a story on reality? No, there have been dissections of perceptual understanding of reality, there have been arguments and there have been debates, there have been demands and coercions and persuasions of this and that.
Despite all this, reality remains what it is.
Humanity can pound its fists and scream, shout, cry, gather armies to force reality to its knees and tell it what it is. But even this cannot change it. It can only create disservice for those who see it for what it is and delusions for those who refuse to.
The story of Reality is not like any other story.
Fantasy understands this well. It trickles like sunbeams over reality and allows people to comprehend while not acknowledging what is behind the light.
But this is not a story about Fantasy, for fantasy is every other story that is not the story of reality.
What would I do if I could tell the story of Reality to completion? Would I tell you? Why would you ever believe me? I wouldn’t. I don’t. I shouldn’t and couldn’t.
Yet, why not try?
Not try to tell, that part is basic. It’s mechanical, allowing fingers to type the alchemy of the mind into writing. But try to believe.
Belief is a tricky creature. It gnashes its teeth and flies around in chaotic whirlwinds of sensation, influencing emotions and warping perceptions. Belief believes in itself and the reason why belief feels so entitled to our minds is because belief believes it is reality, when truly it is nothing, but an apparition of fantasy. A mirror, perhaps, or doppleganger, however which you’d like to believe it seems to you.
I believe in many things because I know very little. I think a great deal, but I feel even more and in turn, my feelings harvest thoughts that I wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Have you ever seen a planet? Or do you believe you have seen a planet? What old and twisted theories intertwine perception with belief and call it reality, how archaic are the men of thousands years, how irrelevant. Tradition is something that does not need to be thought of or proclaimed, it happens on its own or not at all.
How many assertions have I made that you believe? How many do you question? Perhaps you question everything with a critical mind that refuses to believe, that refuses to accept until this or that. Feel how you wish, examine your own thoughts. Truly, do it. I hold no self-esteem, I attribute no value to how you respond to what you are reading. Find freedom within this apathy.
And who are you?
Might you introduce yourself to me now?
It is nice to meet you, a pleasure, I would say if not for the pain. Speaking of pain, has this narrative become tedious for you yet? I can only imagine that you are one in few that have not skipped forward by this point or moved on to read something a little less pretentious seeming, less… should I say, more humble? Less or more, now isn’t that a perception.
So, my deepest apologies if you are one of the few enjoying this. If your mind feels active and your soul alive, I am sorry. For now we shall descend further into fantasy, deeper and deeper we shall climb until we return to reality.
There once was a mouse. It lived in the dirt. A tiny thing, it skittered and scampered between blades of grass, searching for things to eat and other mice like it. A very ordinary thing, unless it is known that this poor little mouse hadn’t ever seen another of its kind.
But in a corner of a field, it had found a strange object and within this strange object, it could see another mouse.
It’d found it on an early morning mission and though the other mouse was strange for no scent could be recognized on it, the little mouse was happy to have another just like it to visit and see.
“I’m not alone,” said the mouse.
Despite the reality that this other mouse was a simple reflection in a mirror did not mean that the mouse’s statement was wrong. For the mouse was not alone at all.
Every morning, behind the strange object of silver and gold, a snake coiled and listened to the mouse talk with itself.
It could hear every word and feel every confused touch against the reflective surface. The snake found this even stranger than the object itself.
Now, the snake was like all animals and rather practical. It’d started living behind the mirror because it was a safe place from the sun and rain. And mice weren’t the only ones that needed to eat.
At first, the snake decided it would eat the little mouse that always came to the mirror. The snake’s stomach grumbled and growled every time the incessant morning squeaking began.
Yet, the snake waited. It would, the snake decided, eat it when it couldn’t handle being hungry any longer because it was rare that other animals wandered by the strange object.
One morning, the snake decided it would make itself known to the lonely mouse.
Slithering over the gilded mirror, the snake announced itself with a simple lash of its forked tongue upon the mouse’s rounded ear.
“Hello,” the snake gently said.
“AAAAH!” the mouse screeched, running away into the grasses.
The snake watched as the mouse ran away without a single look, considering to follow. After all, snakes were known for their speed. Instead, the snake just watched and wondered if the mouse would come back or not.
The little mouse got miles away and up a small hill before skittering inside a tree to hide before catching its breath. It did not know what had touched its ear, but it felt wrong. In afterthought, the mouse felt guilty for it had left its only friend behind, most likely to get eaten.
Days passed, mornings where the mouse wanted to go check, but was too afraid for itself.
Eventually, one cold afternoon, the little mouse returned to the mirror.
The friend was still there, looking fearful and shivering. The little mouse tried to comfort its friend and much to the mouse’s surprise, the friend spoke for the first time.
“Where did you go?,” the mirror mouse asked.
“I’m sorry,” the little mouse responded, “I didn’t mean to run away.”
“It’s okay, but where did you go?”
“In a tree on a hill.”
“I got frightened, do you know what might live in your tree?”
“Well, I live here,” the mirror mouse mused thoughtfully.
“Aren’t you scared by the other animals?”
“Sometimes, but not always… do other trees not have other animals?”
“Well… no, but,” the little mouse huffed, sitting down and staring at the field, “I don’t think it’s safe here for you.”
“…Why do you care?”
Upon hearing this question, the little mouse quickly stood and proclaimed, “We mice have to look out for each other!”
“Oh,” the mirror mouse said quietly, “Are there other mice elsewhere too?”
“Uhm,” the little mouse hesitated, fidgeting, “No, I’m afraid not… well, not that I know of.”
“So, it is just us?”
“You sound so disappointed.”
“It’s nothing,” the mirror mouse didn’t turn away though, staring right back at the little mouse. In fact, very few of the mirror mouse’s expressions matched the tone of voice.
“Don’t say that,” the little mouse tried to comfort, “You have me, and I have you. That’s all we need right now.”
“But I’m so hungry…” the mirror mouse murmured.
“What?” The little mouse became confused, then an idea occurred, “Wait here.” The mouse scampered back into the field.
The next morning it returned with leaf-bundles of nuts and seeds, setting it before the strange object that the mirror mouse lived in.
“I have brought you food!” The little mouse proudly announced.
But there was no answer.
“Are you mad at me?” The little mouse tried to sniff, but its nose got snubbed by the other mouse and it quickly backed away, “Ow, why’d you do that? Why aren’t you saying anything? …I don’t even know your name! Say something! I spent all night gathering this food for you, the very least you could do is extend some kindness and friendship?”
Still, no response returned the little mouse’s disappointment.
And above in the tree, an owl watched the little mouse talk to the old home of the snake it’d eaten last night. What a strange mouse, the owl thought to itself before flying away.
A hook was stuck in Madam Bren’s wrist. It’d been there all afternoon and she was growing quite tired of it by the time dusk returned. She was aware it was a tiny hook, made of generic silver, and mostly nondescript, but it hurt her skin and whenever it would brush against her dress sleeve, blood would trickle over her arm and hand.
It wasn’t until her daughter arrived that the hook was found.
“Mother!” The kind-hearted Miss Jane gasped while they sat at the dinner table, “What has happened to your wrist?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Madam Bren teased, for even in her pain, she always was a bit of a wry lady.
It was at that very moment that the parlor door burst open. A crack of lightening crossed the evening sky, rain gusting into the foyer. Miss Jane gave a tiny scream, but Madam Bren barely reacted at all.
In the door frame, a figure stood with hulking mass and hooded cloak that hid their features from sight. Miss Jane placed a hand upon her chest, standing from the table to close the door behind the new arrival.
“I heard there was,” the figure removed her hood, revealing a plethora of golden ringlets tied back by bobby pins, “a need for me.”
Miss Jane latched the door shut, looking at her old friend, the good nurse Shirlee, “Mother has a hook in her hand.”
“It is not in my hand,” quickly corrected Madam Bren, “It is in my wrist.”
“Hand? Wrist? What does it matter?”
“A great deal,” responded Shirlee, removing her cloak and fixing her bulky petticoats, “How did you come to have this hook in your wrist, Madam?”
Bren sighed, looking down at her tomato soup. With her uninjured arm, she continued to slurp at the red liquid.
Shirlee walked over, grabbing a chair and sitting beside the injured arm. She rolled up the dress sleeve, then started to clean up the drying blood, “This hook is rather small,” she mentioned, taking out her tools from the leather doctor’s bag she’d brought, “Were you attempting to fish earlier?”
“Fishing is so tedious,” answered Madam Bren, licking the tomato basil off her lips.
Miss Jane stood at the window, glancing over her shoulder towards the older women, “Have either of you seen Paul? He hasn’t come around in days.”
Shirlee grinned, sliding the hook out carefully with a pair of tweezers. Setting gauze on the wound, she started to dress the bandage whilst responding to Jane, “Didn’t he tell you? Paul went to Europe for a visit to his family. He won’t be back until winter. I would have thought he’d told you.”
Miss Jane turned to look out at the storm, arms crossing in front of her. A reluctant and low tone answered with, “He did not.”
“Never mind him,” said Madam Bren, finishing her soup with a lick or two and then watching as Shirlee finished bandaging her wrist, “He wasn’t suitable regardless.”
A scoff audibly escaped Miss Jane, “No one is suitable, according to you, mother.”
Without listening to the response, Miss Jane turned on heel and left the room. She walked up the stairs two flights, then turned to head into the library.
“How dare he,” she spoke to herself, rage growing inside as the storm lashed against the stained window panes, “Up and leave without a word or letter. That cruel man.”
Marching into the wide, expansive room, she grabbed a basket and started towards her section of books, “Well, I will show him what it feels like to simply be left behind.” Vengeance drove her to grab a tome from a shelf without looking at what it was. Tossing it into the basket, she strode about, kitten heels clicking against the stone floor.
Once her basket was full and heavy, she hurried to the table that sat underneath a glowing chandelier. Taking out the books, she laid them in a row and surveyed their covers, “Which one?” She spoke to herself.
“The blue one by Dumond is a fascinating read,” a voice sounded from behind the shelves, but Miss Jane recognized it regardless.
“And where have you been? Did you know Paul was gone?”
Tanya, the servant, walked to the table, taking a chair and sitting down with a sigh, “I knew he was gone… but I do not know where.”
“So, he told you then?”
“No, he did not,” she shook her head, removing her bonnet, “But I knew when the teacup he’d given me cracked in half.”
Miss Jane paused, hands upon the book and looked sternly at the other girl, “Why would you say such an awful thing?”
“Because it is true, Miss,” answered Tanya. Pointing at the blue-covered book, she nodded, “Read this one, it will have the spell you need, I know it.”
The servant had been correct.
The blue book had exactly the spell she needed. It was not the one Miss Jane wanted to use, but it was the one, regardless. She was scared to perform the ritual, but her rage and upset over Paul leaving motivated her to continue and push past her own boundaries. This was more than just about her anyways, this was about… the principle of the matter.
Miss Jane set up the candles and she painted her face and she killed the servant Tanya because she knew her friend was one that did not know the touch of man and it had to be done, all the other servants weren’t right. She cried to find out that her Paul was gone, forever and dead, killed by another’s hand like she had done to her friend.
Left empty, but burdened in guilt, Miss Jane took her own life in the library underneath the chandelier by the time dawn arrived.
Her mother’s nurse, Shirlee, found her and through an analytical mind concluded Miss Jane had gone plain mad from the heartbreak of her murdered lover. Of course, she wouldn’t tell Jane’s mother this.
Instead, she told Madam Bren that Jane and Tanya fled to Europe to find Paul. They’d left a note, after all, explaining that it was a matter of the heart and impossible to ignore.
One year later, another letter came to tell Madam Bren that Jane and Tanya had died in an accident and seemingly never found Paul, whose family wrote that he’d gone to explore Asia some.
Shirlee comforted Madam Bren, and when Madam Bren and her went fishing one summer’s even a couple years later, a hook caught in Bren’s throat and tore out her jugular. It was a sad, unfortunate event that Shirlee mourned in her new estate.
A year after that, Shirlee fell from a high window in the stone manor. Not to her death, precisely, but a slow, agonizing, torturous march of time as blood drained from her broken and bruised body. Rats nibbled at her feet and dogs licked at her flesh. But by the time someone found her, she was long dead and hardly recognizable.
An American Castle, that’s what they called the abandoned estate that sat along the vast expanse of grassy property. Cursed by the eccentric spirits that filled it, ghosts of pride and vanity, of sins combined to create a cast of forlorn deviants. And as any human essence, the inhabitants of this manor were insatiable in their hunger for the living. Madam Bren knew this well, driven mad by her upbringing in her parent’s inherited manor – from a distant uncle she’d never even met, no less.
Am I even alive?, she’d ask herself every single day.