Starting Stories: The Cyborg Who Looked

The streets were a mixture of fog and firmware. Anywhere he looked, he could just as easily have brought the sight to mind and stored the wasted energy for more pressing activities. With so much to do at the factory, any bit of inessential endeavor reminded him of his shortcomings. His attention wandered, where other’s simply did not exist. They did not see a tree, or a street at all. They saw purpose before them, and so they walked. They were strong, and he was weak. He would never hit ^2500, let alone ^1500. Mediocrity clung to him like the day’s birth dew to his cold-steel shoulder.

Morning rose further, and with it, the sun. Its light would power him for the day–he could tell by its brightness. He already knew what it looked like, and knew there was nothing to gain for looking again. If he could just keep his head down, perhaps today…

But, he so enjoyed to look.

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The Clouded Sun

(This is a piece about a character I have previously worked with. I believe there are other pieces with him on this blog, but it has been a while. Anyway, hope you enjoy!…Mark pieces are always strange.) 

Mark knew it was time to hang up his coat, but he just could not bring himself to release the fabric nestled firmly between his fingers. Both hands gripped at the shoulders of his medium length brown jacket with the aspiring-to-truly-be-wood buttons. It was unclear to him why he would feel such an attachment to this coat on this particular day, as the snow had finally ceased for the time being.

Mark decided to simply wear it. Then, halfway to donning the oaken fabric, he paused. Mark returned to his previous position–arms in front of him, fingers gripping the shoulders of the coat. The warm coat. The dustless, soft, burdenless cloth…

I am unable to release the one thing in this world capable of shielding me from the least bit of harm. You see them, hung across the mantle of everyone from tall and gray to portly and crumpled up on the sidewalk. What is the average being to do without a piece of fur to call their very own? The sun is the great betrayer, promising us all warmth and comfort, only to leave us without so much as dry land with which to bring about sustenance. The crippling anxiety of the End, creeping up all around us as the trees breath their final breaths and the animals hide away from the world, damning it for all it has taken from them. Why are we so cursed? Why must the crusted ice of the sill spell so much doom in our deepest of hearts? We do not grow from the seed that sprouted alongside the brightest day, nay. We are the forfeiture of a long forgotten failure, we are the final product of what lived through death and kept going despite all signs of the Apocalypse posted around our parking spot. We brush the snow away from our windshields to live our normal lives and forget that we are the seed that held out. We are the cave dwellers and the food hoarders. We are the fearful, the murderers, the intruders. We are the seed that survived by any means necessary. The world tried to tell us our time was up, and instead we devoured each other, we devoured our own kin, and for what but fear? We know not what lies beyond the gates of the dying woods, and so we quiver and tremble and viciously grasp at scraps and tangle with the desperate need to let go, and the urgent flow of blood and marrow telling us “NO”. Thus we lived and what have we to show for it? We tremble yet but subtely so, behind our coats and our cars and our lies of fine days. We do not care for the planet that tried everything in its power to get rid of us, as we are a parasite and always have been. Yet we lived, and now in spiteful greed we strike back, living as best we can even in the seasons of slow demise. We do everything to take from the planet what made it green and lively and great, and we cover it with gray, the staunch and silent gray it tried to silence us with. We are a mean, hateful entity. We do not live and forgive, but try to make this great round beast feel the pain we felt long ago. Some disagree and try to reason with those of wallets aburst, but they are truly the lucky ones. Those with the most look at all their surplus and all they can see is what their deepest heart truly fears–their stockpile freezing over, decaying, leaving them alone and cold and quiet. Thus they are louder, more greedy than ever, and they–we–will not stop until we have the impossible number, the very soul of Terra torn from the flesh of the Earth in our grasp, giving us the sun itself, bottled and tame. All we wanted was warmth and peace, and in taking that from us, with each passing orbit, we became evil. We are born with the knowledge, the silent hatred of powers outside our grasp. You made us this way, and now, though you are stronger, we will make sure you come down with us.

…Mark blinked a soft blink. Through his lashes, he could see sunlight through wetness. Dew, and daylight, with oaken warmth beyond.

With a nod, he put his coat on its respective rack. He made sure it was not touching any other jackets in the area, and made his way to his desk, giving a wave here, a smile there.

Clouded, the sun slept.

No Story For the Wicked

It wouldn’t be long now before I met the final bitter moments of my short, pathetic life. What an ending–such a tragedy. I never got to be rich and famous for the sake of my mother’s smile. I patted at my pockets weakly–Out of cigarettes, too. What a uselessly cliche picture. Cue the noir music already, would ya?

That’s better.

Blood dripped from my busted lip, down my neck as I chuckled. I tried to move my legs, but couldn’t. The old man had proven to be more of a challenge than anyone I had ever  killed before. Someone that had gotten real attached to my character would say I’d won. Thankfully, there’s no chance of that. You can see as plainly as I can that this–this is no victory. This is a sad, sober man, bleeding out on a beautiful artisan rug in the rain.

Did I mention the roof had been blown out? Well, it had. I’m not exactly known for being less than showy. Especially not with such a big target.

Sometimes, people want you dead. That’s normal. People are assholes. Not a one that passes me on the street can say they truly deserve to live. Ha. They’ve all said some shit or pulled some shit that solidifies their soul as pure, brown and black, lifeless and smelly shit.

Maybe it comes with the territory. I’m sure folks are nice somewhere out there.

Anyway. This guy, laying right over there? Yeah. People wanted him really dead. They wanted him so dead, his sorry excuse for a spirit couldn’t even take a step towards the pearly gates to ask forgiveness. He didn’t deserve that. No one who ever shook his hand did either, but that’s just me. I made sure none of them would ever get that chance. Especially him.

Now I’m no saint. You might think I’m a good guy for at least ridding the city of this asshole, but trust me when I say this rain-ridden evening is witnessing the departure of two villainous scumbags.

Probably why I don’t have a cigarette. God hates smokers, I can tell you that much about the big guy.

I cough and gag as the cough causes the blood in my mouth to choke me. I cough some more, half on blood, half on laughter.

“This…this right here…” I gurgle out a few useless last words.

“This…sucks.”

Sirens. Naturally. The last thing a criminal wants to hear before passing on. Such bullshit. The hell is this body doing, not bleeding out faster? I punch at my chest, but my arm doesn’t have the strength to expedite the process like I was hoping. With my last bit of energy, I grab my signature hat, and lay it at my side. For all the good times and the terrible, rain-ridden nights, this hat was there. You’d know that, if you knew my story.

I gave one last look to the lighter across the room. Etched with the runes of passing, I could still see the bastard’s soul in there, trying to escape. Trying to keep this tale alive, to be told another time.

Sadly, there’s no story to tell. Not anymore. It dies with me, rotten and alone. Shame, really. There were a couple funny parts, and you would’ve…you would’ve liked em…

 

 

Art is an edited piece from thelocksmith.me, and is not my original work.

The Broken Moonlight

A boy lived in the woods. It was alright there. Anywhere else was much worse, so the woods had to suffice. Though it was oft dark and cold, he learned to love shivering and lacking sight. No stray beast came to devour him as of yet, as they only seemed to look upon him with passing curiosity. It could be assumed his frail frame did not delight the eyes of nature, in that he could never make for more than a light snack. Even the moon’s all-loving eye strayed from his being. He tried to court it, building small homes where a gap in the tree tops allowed for light. The small warmth of the moon might allow him some respite from the shadows he so desperately clung to. When he tried this, the moon would call the clouds to mask her face from him, leaving him all but the faintest of glances from the eye of the night. Even those did naught to sate his need for heat, as he knew they were but miniscule mistakes, and it would only hurt him to take them as anything more.

When the sun would wake at the outset of each day, the boy would disappear. He would retreat into himself, to become one with his own inner lightless nature. He knew the inhabitants of the sun would poke fun at him. He knew they would ask at his pale skin and feeble stature. The boy became weakened by every trifling thought of negativity that crossed his path, until the path was gone and he remained, stranded.

Now, he sits. He breathes. Water is near and he thinks about drinking it. He wonders at the point of going on and, realizing there is none, continues to sit. The boy believes this darkness to, at least, be more comfortable than the endless void beyond the land of life-full beings.

Air is not so thin to one who is himself shaved down to but a pale and broken beam of mistaken moonlight.

The Era of the Iron Blade: Prologue(Fiction)

The world pretends to know nothing of war, but the conflict between man and creaturekin dates back to before the first sword.

Beasts occasionally drifted too far from their nests, and would terrorize settled lands with their mangled manes and magnificent maws. They came feathered and furred, small and sneaky, large and luminous. Some were peaceful, allowing peasant eyes to ingest the allure of their midnight wings, their flaming eyes. Others saw them as small, feeble snacks, and would scoop them up to feast upon.

Humans, weak as they were, used their minds to survive. They noticed that, of all the land surrounding their settlements, those filled with iron were quiet. No beasts took up residence in or around parts of the land ripe with the simple metal. The feeble ones, with their developing minds, sought to take the iron from its bed and surround their villages with it as best they could. It was not an easy task, as tools for this sort of work were yet to be perfected. Collecting iron was back breaking work, albeit profitable. Those that carried out the deed were rewarded with extra food, land, comfort from the cold–leading to competition, leading to growth.

This angered some of the beasts, for their hatred of iron burned like fire. Having the smell of iron closer to their hunting grounds caused them to associate that hatred with humans, who were then attacked when journeying out for supplies or contact with other settlements. Since lining strict pathways with the powerful metal proved too difficult, the feeble ones tried to wear it upon themselves. Charms, rings, belts–anything they could craft that held a bit of iron became essential. While it did not always keep the beasts at bay, it helped in some small way. Still, the blood of the feeble yet spilled because of claw and talon.

Eventually, the heat of anger flooded into the minds of mankind. No longer would they live in fear, lives dictated by the fright instilled by screeches and howls in the night. They took the heat of their hearts and created the hottest fire the heavens would allow, fusing their rage with the iron to create tools of protection. At first, only long rods were created. Thwacking large beasts with these surprised their furred countenance, sending some running in fear. Others took it as a challenge, fighting back. It was the first time man had truly fought back. The beasts now thought twice before challenging their once-feeble-game. Most, anyway.

One fiend, known as the Beast of Blackened Blood, tore life away from the wife of a once happy man. Her death lit within him the angriest fire of all, which he released into the world with dark intent. With it, he bent iron into the very shape of his soul, the simple pole becoming flattened, but carrying an edge as sharp as the cut of true loss. Holding it was impossible, as latching onto his pain made him all the more unable to continue living. He had loved his wife, and thought often of wrapping her up in her favorite blanket on nights with chill breezes and unrelenting darkness. Thus, he cut a length of the cloth from that blanket, wrapped it round a small rod, and meant to attach it to his blade, connecting his love to his pain, using the memory of her to help him cope with the stinging edge of the sharpest loss. To affix the handle, he needed a middle piece. While the beast had killed her, she was not felled without dealing out damage of her own–his wife had been strong. Stronger than he. With the iron she had at hand, a bone talon had she wrent from the beast’s lashing claw. The man took it and saw it behaved somewhat like iron when heated. Melting one side to the blade, and the other to the small, blanketed pole, he forged the hilt of the bone talon, to ever remind him what had caused his sweet swaddled flower to leave him with a wretched red scar in her place.

Such was the first blade to grace man’s hand.

The feeble man had used his mind and anger to grow the claw he had not been given as birthright. Many feared for him, as the Beast of Blackened Blood was known to be one of the fiercest of all beasts. The man did not fear. He merely wished to cut the beast from this world as it had cut his flower.

The man found the beast, and readied for battle. The fiend slashed madly, yet the man slashed madder yet. It’s claw tore at his cheek, but he then separated the claw from the creature’s arm entirely. Shrieking with pain and despair, the beast attempted to use its large, sharp beak to take the sword. However, it could not do as it had intended–the man drew back, then ducked forward to slice open the chest of the beast, it’s terribly dark blood oozing slowly from the gash, hissing from upon the blade’s edge.

The beast retreated some steps, gathering it’s bearings. Curiously, it did not retreat entirely. Behind it lay a smaller, scared version of the creature. A love.

The man, his eyes red with lust for vengeance, cut through the black blooded beast’s leg, leaving it on the ground, slow and nearly helpless. He ran beyond, closing in on the smaller beast, which appeared too scared to run.

“So stolen whence from me, I too purloin from you.”

With the beast watching, he cleaved free the head of the smaller beast, causing the large to roar in a fit of rage and panic. It tried to rise and fight, but could not. The man, his work finished, stabbed the blade into the head of the fallen lover of blackened blood, leaving it skewered into the ground for all beastkind to witness. It could not be moved by them, for the sword held the angriest iron, and as affected they were by the raw metal, this forged variety sent their senses sailing into oblivion.

The beast of blackened blood died with a hatred so foul in its heart, it was felt by all beastkind. Those once peaceful turned harsh, and those already harsh grew more ferocious still. The child of the beast ate his father’s heart for strength and purpose, promising to carry on a dying wish of delivering death upon the man who killed his progenitors. It was not known to the beasts why the man did as was done, only that it was.

The beasts swore distrust and hostility. The man began forging swords for all of his brethren, in hopes they not go without that which freed his soul from the fire that before caged it.

There is no war. Yet, this world cannot exist without conflict. The Era of the Iron Blade is the spark to the inferno we find ourselves in today. We must either quell it, or have it blaze through to satiation.

First and before all else, it must be believed that the iron burns brightly still.

Mis-purposed Ribcage (Fiction)

I sit there with an expression on my face that reads like a speechless thought bubble. I rock back and forth with the bumps and bruises encountered by the bus. My eyes will sometimes attempt to look into the lives of other by perusing their skin, their clothing. Sometimes, they would endeavor to see the person in a sexual light, even if underneath such illumination lay one quite unfitting to my tastes, even if such a fact was well observable without the help of a candle’s flicker.

My nostrils grow and fall, rustling the dust above my lip. I do not notice. I notice the trees, launching by me and the rest of the passengers at the speed of stillness. It amazes me how such a land-locked being could appear to move so much more than I, though I have feet with which to transport my tired vessel.

The rampant belongings of thought tumble in my skull, and the fingers of sentence structure can not grasp any ideas longer than a moment too small for measure. I realize this, and can do nothing for it. It leaves me feeling like I need a blanket, despite the lack of cold. It makes me want to undress all at once, lay myself down on the dirty floor, rest the breath in my chest, in my head. I feel too open and too closed, like an empty bar in a secluded lot, right off the side of a highway on holiday. Tabs are open, but they’re all in names I have just made up. Margery doesn’t exist anymore than Mike’s piss stains in the corner. Everything stands as a shadow against a wall, a shadow whose owner has long since left the embrace of the too-white glare blazing from beyond the barstools. .  

Too open. Too closed.

I am simply trying to ride the bus home, but my mind has decided instead to raid me of rational sensation, in favor of irreducible aches induced by clues – clues leading up to a mystery that no one can be satisfied with, once they unravel its delicate threads. Such is the way of our addiction to stimulation.

I will do it for you, leave the moral unbound, right here and now. Reach down to the floor, and pick it up for me. For you.

Here:

Nothing is ever so easy as allowing oneself to believe in the dull, dark captivation of their own cold, lonely core.  

The chest begs to break, but…

The ribcage is without cause anyway.