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Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Seven

  • Posted on September 23, 2014 at 9:53 am

As it’s been a little more than three weeks since our last Part, I’ve decided to include a small recap. That way, we can start fresh with new memories as to what’s going on within Nemesis.

In Part one, we met Miss Jane Marple, an octogenarian who has a penchant for solving mysteries, and a recently deceased friend whom helped her solve a mystery on the isle of St. Honore. We discover that Miss Marple has a very organic thought process that really draws the reader in!

In Part Two, Miss Marple receives a letter from her deceased friend, Mr. Rafiel, letting her know that she’ll receive the British equivalent to $41,000 if she solves a mystery for him. What mystery, who’s to say? It also begins a recurring theme, which checks of a part of our Agatha Christie Theory.

In Part Three, we follow Miss Marple into finding out more information on this mystery she is supposed to be solving. We also find more of that organic thinking process.

In Part Four, our intrepid detective, Miss Marple, is rather sneaky in her dealings with an old friend, Mrs. Anderson. Who, it turns out, knows next to nothing about what Mr. Rafiel might have wanted her to do. This sneakiness is a good trait to have, when you’re trying to discover mysteries!

Part Five treats us to more thinking on Miss Marple’s behalf, while waiting for more instructions from Mr. Rafiel, and then, while meeting new people on a tour that the dead Mr. Rafiel set up for her. A rather boring chapter, it is, however, notable for it’s literary device of having the main character sort out her thoughts via notebook. Quite exciting!

Part Six left us with more questions than answers, which was, perhaps, the whole reasoning! Miss Marple explored a mansion, got to know people from the group, and found out more about Mr. Rafiel’s son, who, for lack of a name, we are calling Junior.

And now, on to Part Seven, entitled An Invitation. This should be exciting. Miss Marple has had so many invitations so far that it’s hard to keep track. The invitation to Mr. Broadribbe’s office, the invitation to the home and garden tour, and now, we find, she’s going to have another.

By skipping the afternoon wandering, she manages to stick close by to Miss Cooke (whom we had met in chapter one. She was passing by, and she and Miss Marple spoke about gardening.) and Miss Barrow.  While discussing how she knew her, Miss Cooke remembers the conversation in the garden. In fact, she forgets, however, whom she was staying with at the time. Miss Barrow, thankfully, recalls it as a Mrs. Hastings. She also took a slice of chocolate cake, although I don’t think that’s important.

She begins to wonder if Miss Cooke walking by her home in St. Mary Mead was a coincidence at all. In fact, Miss Marple determines that she’s right to be a bit skeptical, especially when one considers that Miss Cooke recently dyed her hair from a dark almost-black, to a striking blonde.

She planned to stay behind the next day in the hotel, so that she could view the gardens, as the rest of the tour was quite foot-heavy, which wouldn’t do. After all, Miss Marple really shouldn’t be moving too much, as Cherry often reminds her.

However, in the morning, she’s accosted by a Miss Lavinia Glynne, one of three sisters, who, by Mr. Rafiel’s design, invite her to stay with them in their old manor home. Mrs. Glynne is a plump, good-natured, friendly lady, Miss Marple determines, and so she agrees to stay there. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised, now that she’s starting to feel at home with the large group.

But, we have another portion of the Agatha Christie code to go along with. The introduction of new characters. Now, we have Cherry and her husband, Mr. Broadribbe and his associate, Mrs. Anderson, All of the people on the tour, and Mrs. Glynne and her sisters to worry about. So many plot threads, I can only wonder if we’ve dropped any yet!

What about you? How many characters do you tend to have in your stories? Are they all introduced right away? Or perhaps over time? Do you tend to insert them into the story, or do they introduce themselves naturally, as Miss glynne did?

Weekly Writing Update – 09-20-14

  • Posted on September 20, 2014 at 10:25 pm

So! Since last week was a horrid wash out, I’ve found that this week isn’t so horrid after all! Although, I didn’t get too much done. I have, however, overcome a huge mental block! Instead of trying to edit and produce a huge lord-of-the-rings-word-count book, I’m going to be, at Chris Votey‘s suggestion, breaking The Sorcerer and The Swordsman up into several minibooks! These books, once finished, will be published on Amazon, in hopes that their sales will be enough to fund the editing and publishing of the full book! YAY!!

Also, for those who were worried, I got my bike back together, and I even managed to go to the local foodbank, in order to avoid starvation. The great thing about my local foodbank? I got a goddamn SHEET CAKE with STRAWBERRY FILLING. Yeah. Beat that. XD oh, and also a zucchini roughly the size of my torso. Don’t know what I’m going to do with that yet. Probably make zucchini bread for my friends.

Word Counts:

First book of the Kurylian saga: 4,325 words

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Unnamed Scifi short story – Idea stage – Minor research done

Blog Posts:

None this week, I’m afraid…

Books Read:

None this week either.

Goals:

Another 4000 words on the first book.

Finish Frugal Duchess

Post two Breaking Down Nemesis posts

Edit Mari Wells’ post.

 

Weekly Writing Update – 09-15-14

  • Posted on September 15, 2014 at 6:45 am

Since last week, I have had one hell of a bad week. My bike has been stolen. I found a replacement, but spent the last of my money on tires for it, only to find out those tires don’t fit. I have fought with two of my coworkers in a short amount of time, and I have discovered that rewriting The Sorcerer and The Swordsman is far harder than I thought it would be.

Word Counts

Kurylian Saga: The Sorcerer and The Swordsman – Edit one – WC: 150, 329

Kurylian Saga: The Prince and The Corpse – Rough Draft – WC: 1,348

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Unnamed Scifi short story – Idea stage – Minor research done

Blog Posts

(I am so ashamed to admit I haven’t posted at all this week.)

Books Read

Room by Emma Donaghue

Goals

Finish The Frugal Duchess by Sharon Harvey Rosenburg

Post two more chapters of Breaking Down Nemesis

Finish writing one of the posts for Mari Wells

Weekly Writing Update: 09/07/14

  • Posted on September 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm

This week has been hectic, but great! Not only have I gotten a lot of reading done, some really amazing things have been happening! My friend Chris Votey, just hit over 750 views on his blog in one day! CONGRATS CHRIS! Also, I’ve been invited to guestblog on a friend’s blog in October, writing about Witchery and my experiences as a kitchen witch! This is going to be exciting.

Word Counts

Kurylian Saga: The Sorcerer and The Swordsman – Edit one – 11 pages

Kurylian Saga: The Prince and The Corpse – Rough Draft – WC: 1,348

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Unnamed Scifi short story – Idea stage – Minor research done

Blog Posts

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Five

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Six

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: 09/03/14

Books Read

Tithe by Holly Black

Valiant by Holly Black

Perfect Selling by Linda Richardson

Goals

Finish The Frugal Duchess by Sharon Harvey Rosenburg

Post two more chapters of Breaking Down Nemesis

Finish outlining all three posts for Mari Wells

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Six

  • Posted on September 7, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Welcome to part six of Breaking Down Nemesis! Part Five ended at the end of Miss Marple’s first day of her tour, gifted by the dead Mr. Rafiel. She’d been vaguely introduced to fourteen people who would be sharing space with her, and confirmed another part of our Agatha Christie Code.  For those of you just joining us, Part One explains the Agatha Christie Code, and what we’re looking for to confirm it.

I’ve finally figured out what has been bothering me with the last few chapters. And to be honest, it’s what we’re looking for in the first place, so I’m not sure WHY I didn’t notice it before! You see, Homestuck had this same situation. The beginning was so boring, and lifeless, that I almost quit that too! In fact, I did, for several years! And then, I came back, reread it all, and got past the parts I thought were boring, and managed to delve into the meat of the story! I’m glad I did reread it too, because it had a lot of content that made future bits make more sense!

Now, often people compare Homestuck and Agatha Christie novels, because people believe that Homestuck follows the Agatha Christie Code. So, I stuck it out, and kept reading Nemesis. And it turns out that Nemesis is following the same key! The intro is long, descriptive, and can sometimes be considered boring, but is full of rich information that one needs in order to understand the later plot.

In fact, in this chapter, we begin to learn more about those around us, which is going to come in handy later, I’m sure. The chapter begins in a Queen Anne Manor House. For those who don’t know what those are, Queen Anne Manor Houses, are a type of architecture popular during Queen Anne’s reign in Britain (1702-1714). It’s a type of Baroque architecture,  noted for it’s grand, yet simple designs.

A Queen Anne Manor House

A Queen Anne Manor House

In fact, one of the guests on Miss Marple’s tour, Mr. Richard Jameson, is an architect who happens to be in love with the style. In fact, he’s hijacked the entire tour in order to go on and on about it, pointing out things like special moulding on fireplaces, and historical references similar to the ones I just gave you.

The tour-guide gets a little tired of it, and declares that in the next room, the White Parlour, was where they found the body. However, before you think that this is the murder that Miss Marple is to put to rights, he is quick to inform you that it was in the 1700s, and begins to tell the tale.

A young man, with a dagger through the heart, right on the hearthrug. The Lady Moffat of the day, had a lover, and when he came through a small side door and down a steep staircase, Sir Richard Moffat, her husband, caught them together.

Mrs. Butler, the american woman, declares it absolutely romantic, and her husband begins to inform everyone that she’s ‘sensitive to atmospheres’. I take this to be old-timey speak for psychic. Miss Marple, along with a few others, quickly make their escape, before Mrs. Butler and her husband can swindle them all out of their pocket cash.

Miss Cooke and Miss Barrow have followed her, and Miss Marple manages to explain that an old friend of hers had a nerve-racking experience with a dead body on her library floor one morning. While discussing it, Miss Marple recounts that the dead body had been a young woman in an evening dress. In fact, she’d dyed her hair as well.

And this triggers the memory of having met Miss Cooke! I knew that name was familiar! See? It pays to keep attention on previous bits. Now Miss Cooke has in fact dyed her hair! It was dark, but now she’s blonde! Maybe she did it because blondes have more fun? However, Miss Marple doesn’t bring it up. She doesn’t have time.

Mrs. Riseley-Porter interrupts, declaring she can’t go up or down any more stairs, and decides that everyone is going to take a tour around the garden instead. Since she was an authoritative old lady, she got her way, and Miss Marple, Miss Cooke, Miss Barrow, and Colonel Walker all headed to the garden, where Miss Marple took a seat.

Miss Elizabeth Temple followed her, and the two old ladies bond over how boring the lecture in the house was. Which of course, leads into a discussion about the tragedy of when people die young. Miss Marple argues that it is a tragedy, and that they miss so much. Miss Temple argues instead, that they miss nothing, for they are dead.

“What did T. S. Eliot say: The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew tree are of equal duration.”

I greatly like this quote, and I feel it would be something that people were forced to learn in school. It makes a very good argument towards Miss Temple’s side of things, of course. Which is, perhaps, the reason Miss Agatha chose it!

An awkward conversation leads to Miss Temple asking Miss Marple to guess why she is here. We discover that Miss Temple is on a self-imposed pilgrimage Whatever that means to her, of course. Luckily, this leads to a conversation about Mr. Rafiel, and we find out another interesting tidbit!

Miss Temple was acquainted with a girl who DATED Mr. Rafiel’s son! Again, I’m relatively sure that Miss Marple needs to find out what happened to Mr. Rafiel’s son. Also, I wish I had another name to call him besides Mr. Rafiel’s son, because that gets very tiresome. Anyway, it turns out that the girl was engaged to Mr. Rafiel’s son, but didn’t marry him.

She died. Of course she died, and it turns out she died of… Get this. LOVE. That’s all Miss Temple will say on the matter, too! How mysterious? Who was the girl, and why did she die? And what did Mr. Rafiel Jr. have to do with it? Oh. That’s it. I’m calling him Junior from now on. Anyway, what did Junior have to do with her death? Was this the reason he was considered taboo? And what is Miss Cooke doing? Why did she dye her hair?

As you can see, Miss Agatha has clearly mastered the art of leaving us with more questions than she answered! Not only that, but we’re getting even more insight into the other characters, as well. We now know Mrs. Butler, who’s nickname is Mamie, by the way, is ‘sensitive’. Why is she ‘sensitive’? What point was there in knowing that, other than to make that character mildly interesting for a few moments?

The lesson here? Leave more questions than answers. Especially at this early stage in the book. We are, after all, only six chapters into a twenty two chapter book! So, ladies and gents, tell me: How do you intend to leave your readers guessing? Leave a comment with some explanations, or maybe an excerpt or two!

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Five

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Welcome to Part Five of Breaking Down Nemesis! In Part Four, we discovered that Miss Marple’s original idea, of meeting Mrs. Anderson and asking her about the deceased Mister Rafiel, turns out to be a bunk. In fact, we are no closer at all to finding out the mystery that Mister Rafiel wanted us to find, nor are we actually anywhere closer to the actual plot! It turns out that from what we’ve found out, Mrs. Anderson doesn’t have anything to do with it at all!

Luckily enough, this chapter is entitled Instructions From Beyond, so I don’t doubt we’ll finally get some directions! It starts out with a letter that arrives three or four days after the confrontation with Mrs. Anderson. I’ve copied it here, for your perusal as well!

Dear Miss Marple,

By the time you read this I shall be dead and also buried. Not cremated, I am glad to think. It has always seemed to me unlikely that one would manage to rise up from one’s handsome bronze vase full of ashes and haunt anyone if one wanted so to do! Whereas the idea of rising from one’s grave and haunting anyone is quite possible. Shall I want to do that? Who knows. I might even want to communicate with you.

By now my solicitors will have communicated with you and will have put a certain proposition before you. I hope you will have accepted it. If you have not accepted it, don’t feel in the least remorseful. It will be your choice.

This should reach you, if my solicitors have done what they were told to do, and if the posts have done the duty they are expected to perform, on the 11th of the month. In communication from a travel bureau in London. I hope what it proposes will not be distasteful to you. I needn’t say more. I want you to have an open mind. Take care of yourself. I think you will manage to do that. You are a very shrewd person. The best of luck and may your gaurdian angel be at your side looking after you. You may need on.

Your affectionate friend,

J. B. Rafielmr.rafielgrave

My fangirl instincts are beginning to really enjoy the idea of these two in a romance.  However, putting that aside, Miss Marple is quickly contacted, again in two days time, by the Famous Houses and Gardens of Great Brittain. I won’t type up their whole letter, it basically states that she’s been given a free tour around London, and after checking with a few of her friends to make sure the company wasn’t a scam, she made arrangements.

Once again, we are treated to a scene with Cherry. She’s worried that Miss Marple might not be up to the long amounts of walking involved with the group tour. In the end, Cherry decides that so long as Miss Marple doesn’t “Fall down with a heart attack, even if you are looking at a particularly sumptuous fountain or something”, that she’s fine with it.

Another two days later, and Miss Marple carries her small overnight bag as well as her new suitcase onto a very nice new bus. Another bit of her genius shows through, as she studies the Passenger list, along with the daily itenerary. Apperantly, the itenerary was quite well arranged, with two seperate tours, one for those fleet of foot, and one for the elderly who can’t really move that well. Miss Marple then began guessing who each name on the passenger lists belonged to.

Now, during this particular strain of thought, Miss Marple uses that term again, that I took exception to in the second chapter. “Old Pussies” is a bit… Well, problematic nowadays. So, we’ll not be going over that too much. I’m attempting to take this book as the time period it was written in.

To be quite honest, this chapter really didn’t interest me all that much during my first read through. It was mostly descriptions of what people looked like, and how they struck Miss Marple, which while normally quite interesting, was, in this case, quite boring. Of the fifteen passengers, she determined quite a few things. Unfortunately, with the way it is written, and how tangled it all is, I honestly can’t begin to untangle it.

However, this does bring credit to our Agatha Christie Code theory. Miss Christie just added sixteen new characters to the story, and gave them all very in depth descriptions, and as noted, my brain basically just GAVE UP. Luckily, in the next chapter, we get slowly introduced to them a little easier, so I’m not really going to lay them out now. However, I am going to note a few bits of good writing.

Once again, we’re treated to a very organic thought process from Miss Marple. She goes from thinking about the four other old women, which is realistic mostly due to the fact that people generally note those similar to themselves. I know that I tend to look at young women on the bus before I look at old men, or older women. We see again, how she compares others to those that she knows. Specifically, she compares an old woman to someone called “Dame Emily Waldron”, a notable scientist, and a Principal of an Oxford College.

Perhaps we should learn from this. The next chance you get, take a moment and categorize your own thinking. Take notes on what you notice first, and follow along to your next thought. When you read books, note the thought processes of the characters that you’re reading.

The first day of the trip passes, without Miss Marple determining if anyone was involved in a murder, and she goes to bed, hoping that she might find something out the next day. Before bed, she spends a few moments, noting things down in her notebook. Which, honestly, is a wonderful way to bring us into re-thinking the things she’d discovered today as well. A wonderful narrative device, in fact.

So what have we learned today? Having an organic thought process for your character, as well as showing creative narrative devices to re-iterate information that may have been hard to understand in the first place, are keys to salvaging a rather horrid chapter.

For those of you following along, what did you think of this chapter? For those of you who aren’t, Share your experiences in the comments, with books that start slow and boring, and then pick up?

 

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group – 09/03/14

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 1:00 am

IWSG badgeI only recently found out about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, so forgive this post being a few minutes late.  Basically, from what I can understand of the website, it’s a group meant to bolster and support those going into writing as a career, by helping them see that others have similar insecurities, and by talking them through them.

To be completely honest, I have more insecurities than triumphs, right now, and that’s not something to shake a stick at. I’ve triumphed a lot in my life, to get where I am now, and so when I say the insecurities way me down, I mean it, truthfully.

The thing about it is, however, that you can’t let that sort of thing hold you back. Several of my fears are completely valid. Being the type of person I am, I compartmentalize, and then end up completely disorganized through out the entire process, which just leads to chaos. So, in an effort to help you through some of the things that I’m suffering through, I’m going to organize a little.

Worry one: I’m not going to make it. 

My mother is an author. My best friend is an author. My Mentor is an author. All of these people, I hold dear. But each in their own way, they struggle beyond what is possible for me to feel comfortable with. My mother has one book published, and is working on her second, and honestly, I’d give anything to be nothing like her. That’s a whole seperate story. My best friend has written five books, and none of them are published because he is waiting for one specific publishing house to recognise his works. And my mentor, possibly the most successful of all of us, has two books published, and still is not earning enough to support himself yet.

None of these are my idea of ‘making it’. Of Succeeding. My idea of succeeding is the type of fandom and fame that people like Neil Gaiman, Andrew Hussie, and J.K. Rowling have. And my fear is that I will never reach that level of success.

But that’s wrong. To worry about that so early in the game. The only way I will ever make it, is if I put my all into it now, if I give everything I have to succeeding. I can’t allow this worry to cripple me, the way I’ve allowed worries like this to do so in the past. I have done so much in my short life, and this will not be something that I don’t cross off my bucket list. So please, don’t let the high pole of your own idea of ‘making it’ hold you down.

Worry number two: The things I’m writing will perpetuate horrible things.

If there is one thing I want more than to be the next J.K., it’s to make sure that my writing MEANS something. That it gives someone who didn’t have representation before, that representation. That it allows people to feel more comfortable being themselves.

So I worry and fuss and drive myself nuts over my books and blogposts and writing, to make sure that they don’t hurt those I’m trying to help. It’s a lot harder than one might think to avoid internalised misogyny, or misandry. To fight off homophobia that I didn’t realise slipped into the way I write. To tear away anything that might make someone feel worse about themselves than they already do. And I’m scared that I might never be able to do what needs to be done to make the world a better place.

To combat this worry, I’m trying to learn as much about the world as possible, so that I might end up helping, instead of hurting. I’m attempting to make sure that nothing is left out. That I leave no stone unturned. Honestly, there are some who would tell me not to worry about this, but it seems to me that not enough people worry. So I try my hardest.

Worry number three: I’m afraid I’ll decide this is a waste of time someday, and quit.

I have picked up a habit over my years on earth, and it’s a bad one. I start something, put a lot of work into it. Hard, fun work, that leaves me breathless and wanting more. And then suddenly, as if nothing ever happened, I just… can’t do it anymore. I can’t pick up the pen. I can’t make myself write that next reply. I can’t tell myself that I need to continue it.

Knitting, Final Fantasy Eight, Gardening, Drawing, Painting, Manga-writing, BDSM, Domme-ing, Relationships, and numerous, numerous story ideas. All thrown to the wind, on a whim. I have come to accept that I am a fickle creature. And what worries me, is that after all this effort I’ve put into working so hard on this, I’ll just… give up.

I don’t know how to combat this worry. I don’t know how to get rid of it, or change it, or make it work for me. The best I can do, the best anyone can do, is take it one day at a time, and try their hardest. That’s why I write as many blogposts as I can, that’s why I read so many blogs on my Feedly. That’s why I twitter more now than I ever have before. That’s why I search for blogs and talk to other writers, and try desperately to tie what I’m doing here into my other areas of interest.

Worry number four: I’m worried that this will take over my life, and kill my other dreams.

I want to open a Manga Cafe. The first Manga Cafe in Colorado. I want to have children. I want to travel the world. I want to be financially stable and own my own home. All of these things… None of them are mutually exclusive. But I’m afraid that all the work, all the effort, all the energy I have to put into this whole author-business, will take away from the energy I’ll have for these other dreams.

How can I run a cafe, a business, when I have to spend so much time writing, just to be a mediocre author? What will my children think when I have to tell them I can’t take them to the park because Mommy has to write? Travelling the world costs money, and since it looks like I’m going to be an indie-author, I can’t afford that kind of expense. My money, my life, my energy has to go towards my career as an author.

This is a simple fix, though. This is all just a matter of perspective. If I can wire my writing into the rest of my life, as well, then maybe, just maybe, I can have it all. Why not write while travelling? It’ll make my books more realistic! My cafe can give rise to whole new book ideas, as well as a place to sell my books, and others! My children will see me working hard towards my dreams, and gain a work ethic themselves. I can do it. I can do this, and I WILL make my dreams come true!

Worry number five: I’m worried that I’ll succeed. 

Now, bear with me here, because I know one of my worries up there was that I WOULDN’T make it. But, making it, succeeding in becoming the type of author I want to be… Well, that’s just as terrifying. The kind of fanbases that J.K. and Hussie and Gaiman have are amazing, but also, dangerous. People have Andrew Hussies’ BABY pictures online. I would have no privacy. Not only that, but these people would be hanging on my every word. I would be responsible for a part of their world view. That’s a horrid responsibility.

And there would be my close friends. What of my best friend, who is still waiting for that publisher to call him back? The jealousy there might ruin our friendship. I would rather die than lose him as a friend. And what of my mother? I love her, but what if she thinks this is some kind of contest? We barely have a tenuous relationship as it is. I’d rather not turn into Rose Lalonde, thank you.

The only balm I can soothe this worry with is that I won’t let success change me. Not really. I will still be friends with those I love. I will still be me. And I know I’ve never intentionally hurt a person. And I’ve never withheld an apology when I knew it was really needed. So I can only hope that responsibility will sit with me easily.

Does anyone else have these worries? How do you soothe yours? Please tell me, because I’d love to hear.

Weely Writing Update: 09/02/14

  • Posted on September 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm

So I meant to do this update two days ago, to kind of wrap up August, but I ended up working and basically emotionally drained entirely. Luckily, I have more energy now! I even managed almost 2500 words the other day, on a cute little story! The link is below, under Nightmares Waking. Please take a look!

Word Counts

Kurylian Saga: The Sorcerer and The Swordsman – Edit one – 11 pages

Kurylian Saga: The Prince and The Corpse – Rough Draft – WC: 1,348

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Unnamed Scifi short story – Idea stage – Minor research done

Blog Posts

Build Your Own Challenge

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Four

Nightmares Waking

Books Read

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Goals

Seven chapters of Nemesis read/blogged

Finish Tithe by Holly Black

Finish Valiant by Holly Black

Write a 2500 word short story

At least four blogposts posted this week

Nightmares Waking

  • Posted on September 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

My world is full of monsters. Everyone I pass is monstrous in one way or another. Some with single eyes, some with mouths too large for their faces. Some are different all together, put together like china dolls strung out too large over bones that don’t fit right. Some aren’t even remotely close to human-shaped, but instead are massive creatures with scales and teeth that hiss when I come too close. My world is full of creatures that look like nightmares, except my nightmares are only ever filled with pink-and-brown-and-yellow-skinned people like me, who have two eyes, and one nose, and one mouth.

The monster people are nice, most of the time. One helps me pick up the worksheets I’ve dropped, the claws scratching some of the answers out for my students. Later, one opens the door to my apartment building for me, with writhing tentacles covered in vein-y thorns. However, I shudder when the principal walks by, smiling at me with his thin lips, those normal straight teeth, the brown glasses over his wrinkled eyes. Something about him sits wrong with me.

In the mirror, I see only myself, my plain dark hair twisted into a bun, my shirt and skirt over my too-thick-body. My face is set in a frown, as always, lips plump if glossed, too serious. My eyes have dark bags under them, but not the way the monster down the hall has, with heavy lids hanging down. No, my eyes are normal, and dull, and human. Perhaps that’s why I hate them so. When everyone else is monstrous and hard to look at, why are my eyes alone human?

The bunny rabbit on my bed, a childhood treasure, tells me that I’m beautiful, and that I would look very nice in a coffin. He reminds me that there are sixty two pills in my pill-bottle, and that I should use the refill my doctor gave me, so that I have even more, just in case. I sigh, heavily, because going to the market is like trekking through the jungle. If someone talks to me, I’ll get that tight, taught feeling in my chest again, like someone has reached in, and is squeezing my heart with their ragged claws.

I leave for the supermarket. Every step is a painful reminder of how much my body doesn’t want me to go. I’m desperate and hungry, so I continue to push myself toward the market. I wait, nervous, as the woman with no eyes, and a mouth too large for her cheeks, filled with needle-sharp teeth, fills my prescription There is a frond dangling from her head, blinking in the light, like some subterranean fish. Her nails are lacquered pink and white with flowers when she hands the bag to me.  I pay with a debit card that I can’t remember the code to, until I think about the rabbit sitting on my bed, and then I remember.

Going home, I sit at the table, counting the pills once more. My rabbit sits next to me, it’s stitched eyes black and beady. I do not place any of the pills on my tongue. I count them, slow. I put the lid on the bottle, and pull up a notepad on my computer. Typing comes second nature to me now. I’ve been a teacher far too long, not to know how to type without looking at the keyboard. Who knows what my little monsters are up to, if I don’t keep an eye on them. Notes, and the like.

I type out an agenda. Tomorrow night is the night I do it. The night I end this all, before I can ruin the world anymore with my rosey cheeks, and my two hands, and two eyes, and two ears. I have decided. After work, I shall go, and find a new dress, and get my hair done, as if I am going to a wonderful dinner. Then, when I get home, I shall cook myself something nice to eat, and have a glass of wine. I type these all down with little bullet points next to it, and then print it out.

In class the next day, the Dulsey twins refuse to use seperate desks. And why shouldn’t they? Bound together from the waist down, their bottom half a spiderly amalgamation of doll’s limbs, their upper halves naked of clothing and doll-jointed. The brother’s face is cracked, one eye hanging from it’s socket plaintively, by some kind of ribbon. The sister is the one whom looks at me, her face pale as ice, and her eyes dull as mine when I look in the mirrors. Her long hair is limp and tangled, reminding me of a doll I had seen in a window as a child.

For once, I let them sit however they wish. The bird child, the one with the razor sharp beak, and a head too large for his shoulders, caws out how unfair it is, but I pay no mind. He’s always chirping about one thing or another. One of the monsters is odd, a swirling whirlpool of water, with little ballons floating tethered to it. Her face is on the balloons, and when she’s upset, she makes an odd squeaking noise. Today, she makes that noise, and I have to stop class, and ask her to come outside with me. She refuses to tell me what is wrong, and why she is squeaking. Her balloon face looks at me oddly, as if I’ve said something strange. She asks if I am alright. I tell her to go sit back down. I shall have to call Mr. Snyder, her father, later, and ask if anything is going wrong at home.

Ah, no… No, I won’t. I smile when I remember that, and sit back at my desk. The jack-in-the-box boy punches the back of the seat of the teddybear wearing chains, and I have to tell him to move back. I wish I had the strength to deal with the boy’s father again. An overbearing monster with tusks and a pig’s snout, wearing a uniform like a military officer, and I hate speaking with him. Never again, I think to myself, and smile again.

The Heller girl, an odd thing made of rusty metal curled into beautiful shapes, like a peacock, who’s heart is a cage, fidgets. Inside, a little girl sobs and cries, and I can never reach that little girl and get her to speak, only ever does the peacock’s beak splutter and shout. I ask if she needs to use the bathroom. She does, and I let her go. When she comes back, she elbows the bird boy in the head,  and I have to send her out into the hall. I make her leave her cell phone, so that she isn’t texting. That way, it’s actually a punishment.

Having decided to end it all, I decide to skip my normal lesson. I feel light, for once, the ball of worry in my stomach gone, and I invite my little monsters to give me ideas for games we can play. Someone says Heads Up, Thumbs Down, which was a delight from my childhood. I agree, and allow the children to play, heads down, or what passes for them, anyway, and watch Nathan White, the mass of black flesh, tied up in chicken wire, with no head but a cloud of dark dreadlocks falling to the floor, go around, tapping the bird child’s thumb. Victoria Kingston taps the finger of Brie Snyder, which causes her balloon head to wobble oddly. At the end, when everyone has guessed, I call for the next round.

The school bell rings, and for once, the little monsters are sneering and laughing, sharp teeth on display for who knows what reason. I still feel light, and take out my to-do-list. I read off my first stop. A dress. Walking to the shopping mall in town takes twenty minutes. I find a beautiful dress there. Red, like I would never wear to work, with long sleeves made of lace, and a beautiful bow in back. The hips and skirt of the dress are tight, which does wonders for my figure, so I get it. I see Skip, the birdchild, with his grandmother. His grandmother seems determined to put him in a dress small and frilly. I’ve never understood why. I pass them by, without a word from either.

Next is my hair done. In the salon, while the girl is curling and tying my hair back, I see the mother of the bear-in-chains who sits in the third row of my class. Mrs. Tinderfoot is in uniform again, a police officer, sharp and steady. She’s chatting with the woman who owns the salon. I wonder if she knows how much her son shakes when he’s in my classroom? I think, for second, about asking her if she knows. And decide against it. I’d rather not have a black spot on my otherwise perfect day.

Once done, I smile into the mirror. The woman looking back at me is beautiful and dangerous. Not a monster at all, and for that, she is terrifying. I slide a five dollar bill into the maw of the creature who was just cutting my hair, and thank her. She chitters at me with a beak that doesn’t fit her face. Monsters everywhere, and I walk right past them on my very last day. I will no longer have to suffer this place. Never again, and it makes my heart sing. But as I walk back through the park, a sort of sadness sings through me as well.

I will never again get to see the sun set through the trees the way it is now. I stop, and enjoy it, and the fresh smell of sunshine fading away. I enjoy the soft touch of the wind, and revel in the slow crawl of the storm clouds headed my way. The wind is rising, now, and so, I pass through, heading instead for my room. Locking the door, I pull off my shoes. The bunny rabbit greets me, and I smile for it. It tells me my hair will look beautiful surrounded by funeral flowers. I agree.

I set the food to cooking, and when I have a moment, I change into the red dress. It fits just as it did in the store, and I wrap myself in it like armor. I feel invincible in this dress, and that guides my hand to take the bottle and set it next to my glass of red wine. Taking a second thought, I pick up the wine, and sip it. It tastes like something died in the bottle, or like it might have been fruit once. I put the wine glass down. The timer dings, and lets me know that food is ready. I serve myself, arranging the food as prettily as I can. I take a picture, and upload it. It’s the first post I’ve made in months, and within two minutes it has three likes.

It tastes like heaven, in my mouth. Warm and thoroughly cooked, and for once, I don’t feel the gnawing emptiness of hunger in my throat, and I don’t want to. I love this feeling, of being warm, and eating, and chewing. Something about the slow sensation of growing full… Ah, there’s nothing like it. I think about the last sunset I would ever see, and realize that this is the last meal I would ever eat. I have seconds. And then thirds. Without thinking, I put the food away in tupperware, so that some lucky officer  will get to finish it off when they find my body.

Then, I sit on my bed. The bunny rabbit is next to me, and I can see the rain pattering against the window in the dark now. I halt, as the streetlights make the water shimmer on the dark asphalt as it falls. This was the reason I moved into this apartment, years ago. I’d seen a view like this no where else, and I’d wanted to keep it. The beauty of rain in the dimness of night, made into cold sparkling stars falling to the earth all thanks to the lamplights the city keeps on for weary travellers. It makes the world into a whole different place, and I watch for a moment, before the bunny’s voice calls me back.

I count out pills. Five, for a breakup that happened two years ago, after he said that he couldn’t stand my negativity. The bunny pushes my glass closer, as I swallow them down. I count out three. Three for my mother who went on a trip to Cancun on my birthday. She’d been planning it for years, so I couldn’t be angry with her. She had quite the time. The pills go down like sorrow.

Four, for the day that my skirt ripped just before getting to work, and when I called in, my boss told me that I might as well not come in that day.

Two, for the weekend that I just couldn’t get out of bed. Not for food, not for drink. I’d slept all weekend. It had been the best vacation I’d had in years.

Seven for the cat I’d run over the last time I drove the car. I don’t own the car anymore. Driving makes my breath choke, and my heart clench painfully.

I’ve lost count now, and the world is slowly turning fuzzy. The clock ticks so loudly that I think it sounds like someone knocking. But I have no friends. And my mother lives two towns over. Who would bother visiting me? Ah, that’s another three. I can’t count anylonger, so the bunny counts for me.

It hurts. I’m dizzy and hot, and cold, all at the same time. My head aches, so I lay it down, my pillows not soft enough. The agony inside my body is nothing compared to the swirling nausea biting my throat. I press a hand tight to my chest, right where my heart is beating, and tell myself to sleep. I close my eyes, darkness thumping behind them,  and obey.

Nightmares2

 

– This particular story was written a long time ago, as the opening for a videogame I had planned on making. I still have the entirety of the videogame’s story in mind, and am thinking of making it a series of short stories.  Don’t worry, the next section has her revival, and her new purpose. Please, look forward to it!

In the meantime, do tell me what you think in the comments! If there’s a way I’ve misrepresented something, let me know. If you find this cathartic, or in any way something that you relate to, let me know that too!

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