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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

AND A STAR TO STEER BY


I must go down to the sea again, to the
lonely sea and sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to
steer by.
- John Masefield.

What star do you steer by? When you live? When you interact with others? When you write?

Everybody knows something, but is what they know true? Can you hear Pilate ask his infamous question? I can.

I mean, flames look like objects but in truth are processes. In like manner, so are we humans. We judge others by appearance, by action. But how valid is that?

The human mind is a mysterious realm. A man can't always be judged by what he does. He may keep the law to the letter, and yet inwardly be worthless. The lights go out over the city, and his actions do a 180 degree turnaround. Another man may commit a sin against society and yet accomplish through that "sin" a true act of compassion and heroism.

Nor are words to be trusted -- if politicians haven't already taught you that. Universal peace is much talked about. I can't help but think that foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.

That last thought got me thinking along strange lines during my exile during Rita and Katrina, and I wrote a story for my amusement alone. What if the Earth were invaded, and Good was too busy hunting terrorist plots and pointing nuclear missiles at each other to notice? What if it were up to Evil to defend the planet? As in "Not in my sandbox you don't!" And so taking that premise, I had a fallen angel awaken in a British asylum with no memory of having gotten there -- an asylum run by alien invaders. I called it "THE LIES LOCUST TELL."

And to make it doubly interesting, I told it in first person through the eyes of the fallen angel. Ever try to express yourself realistically as an angel, whose perspective spans eternity? I found out how hard amusing myself could really be.

Here are the first four pages of my story to give you a chance to see if I did a credible job at looking at life through the eyes of a fallen angel :

THE LIES LOCUST TELL
The spark of an anguished soul flew past me in the night. I shivered as her light drew back the curtains of my mind. I would have cursed her had she lingered. But Death was impatient. Words breathed through the mists of my awareness.


"Darkness yet in light. To live half dead, a living death. And buried but yet more miserable. My self. My sepulcher."


My mind roughly brushed aside the dry leaves of Milton's broodings. No time for self-pity. Yet too much time for all eternity. Enough! I was here for a reason. And as always that reason was death. Always death. The why was unimportant. There was always a logical why for Abbadon.


The where, however, was another matter. And when might illuminate the present darkness of my mind as well. Keeping my eyes closed, though tempting, would but delay the inevitable. I opened them.


Only a peek through slit eyes. After all, my ears told me that I was not alone. I frowned. A hospital room?


I reached out with more than my ears. My spirit shuddered as the ragged claws of madness raked it from down the hall. An asylum. A Sidhe inprisoned within a madhouse. How utterly fitting.


I ran my long fingers along the rough sheet beneath me. A state asylum obviously. Even better. But what state? My awakening consciousness was stubborn in its ignorance.


I bunched up the sheet in my fist in hot frustration. A sharp intake of breath from the next bed. Her scent came to me. I smiled. Only a human.

And I?

What was I?

And with the question came a fragment of the answer. I was not the happier for it. More words whispered out of the darkness that was my soul.

"Come away, human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."

I frowned. I had no patience for whimsy. Not even that of Yeats.

From the corner of my eye I saw the human in the next bed begin to shiver. No matter. The human was not important. Time and place. They were.

I flicked my eyes to the barred window. The glass. Thick, dense. Like the humans who made it.

Under my fingertips a pebble. I nodded. A mere speck of stone. But it would do.
The pebble shot from between my thumb and forefinger like a bullet. An electric circuit died, wailing its death song in tones higher than humans could hear. I smiled like a wolf. We would have visitors soon.

More the pity for them.

I drew in a breath from the cold breeze bleeding from the wounded window. The sharp tang of Autumn. Oak. Ash. Thorn. Decay. Rotting leaves, mottled in bright hues of strangled life. The dark and bloody soil beneath them breathed out its lineage. An aching sadness hollowed out my chest. The Misty Isles. Albion. England.

I whispered, the words on my lips feeling like dewdrops of blood on a wounded doe, "The lonely season in lonely lands."

"Oh!," whispered the girl sitting on the next bed. "You like Robert Bridges, too? No one reads him anymore, you know."

Not rising, I turned my head and studied her. A tiny field mouse of a girl. Bright eyes, so clearly wanting to be liked, so clearly showing they often hadn't been.
Those quivering eyes were mute witness to the fact that Man had plowed through her world. And unlike the poet Robert Burns, it had not cared overmuch. How human.

I rose slowly to a sitting position. "Fragile beauty is like that. Easily destroyed. Even more quickly forgotten."

She cocked her head as if studying me. And it was then I noticed the corpse-yellow bruise covering the left side of her face. I felt mine harden. Her frightened eyes darted to my chest then flinched away. I felt the breasts under my dingy hospital gown burn.

And I knew. I knew. I had been touched, fondled without invitation or delight. My body remembered though my mind still lay half-shrouded in fog. A male human had dared to touch my bare breasts. And even more, this tiny field mouse of a girl had come to my defense. And had paid the price.

"You were my champion I see."

She looked miserable. "I wasn't able to stop him."

"Few humans in your position would have even made the attempt."

She kept studying me. I wondered what she saw. One human in a generation saw me as I was. The rest of the herd saw only what they were looking for. And I? What was I looking for?

I turned to the face reflected in the barred window. Certainly not that. Not that.

High cheekbones, seemingly intent on bursting up and out of flesh that shimmered as if coated with stardust. A living waterfall of honey-wheat hair, looking more like a lion's mane than any other earthly word I could use. My eyes. I shivered looking at them though they were my own. Large, slanted fae eyes chilling even me with their lack of warmth or mercy. Their color the burnt-out ends of ancient days.

From beyond the wounded window I heard a mournful singing. Nightingales. Far off and forlorn. To do a service for a Sidhe was a fearsome thing indeed, never to be done lightly nor without cost. But before the field mouse found that out I would do her a kindness. I smiled bitter. A breaking of tradition, true, but I broke every rule I could not bend.

I brought the faint, bittersweet song to the ears of the field mouse and murmured lines from the poet she so liked,

"Nay, barren are those mountains and spent the streams;
Our song is the voice of desire, that haunts our dreams,
A throe of the heart,
Whose pining visions dim, forbidden hopes profound,
No dying cadence nor long sigh can sound,
For all our art."

She clapped her hands like a little girl. "Oh that was so beautifully done. Your accent is the oddest thing I've ever heard. Even more haunting than those nightingales."

She stuck out her hand. "My name's Clover."

"Of course it is."

"No, really. My Mum was a bit spacey I'm afraid. The last of the Flower Children."

"We might have gotten along then. I am the last of my kind, too."

She paled, lowering her hand and her voice until even I had difficulty hearing her, "Y-You haven't told me your name."

"Names are dangerous things, Clover."
**********************************************
Louis L'Amour once wrote : the man or book who can give me a new idea or a new slant on an old one is my friend. Hopefully, this post has been a friend. I know that I think of all of you out there who have written me as friends.

And it is the midnight hour when that dread gate gapes open, and silent shades slip into the darkness to visit our dreams ...







12 comments:

  1. Some really deep stuff here and great images. It's interesting seeing life through someone (something) that's seen it all. You really are a beautiful writer ;o) Gotta love Poe!

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  2. I love the mishmash of information you seem to insert in every post. And I love the idea of contrary topics. Like, evil defending the earth. Something unexpected like that is so interesting. I'd like to see where you take it from that. Good luck in publishing this! How long is it?

    I should show you the first bit of my story--it's so completely different from this...

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  3. Ooh, great post! Lots of interesting things to think about here, and I love your writing style. The line "Names are dangerous things, Clover." is awesome!

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  4. That was absolutely incredible Roland. You have a very special gift. I LOVED those pages, lyrical, haunting, extremely well written. You should definately publish those for the rest of the world to see. You have a rare talent that turns the mundane into beauty.

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  5. OMG. More serendipatiousness. I JUST left a comment at someone's page about Poe.

    I love your writing. It's only a matter of time before you find representation. I'm positive of this.

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  6. That was fantastic! The writing is terrific, the premise of Evil defending the planet is fresh and unexpected and very interesting. Awesome!

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  7. "A dream within a dream"... I like it!

    Thanks for stopping my blog so that I could find yours!

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  8. I like the clip from your WIP, but I do have a suggesion... would you consider writing in third person? I absolutely love the concept and the pages you've put forth are intriguing, but I feel like you can tell us more about the setting (which seems pretty important to your story, being an asylum run by your major antagonists) if we see it through a third person narrator.

    I followed you over here from Nicole's blog... wanted to suggest duotrope.com to you for finding markets for your shorts. It's the single most useful tool I've found on the internet for searching writing markets. And it's free (oh yeah!).

    I'm a new follower of yours and look forward to reading your posts. Hope you can get a chance to check out my blog as well.

    Very nice post!!

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  9. I enjoyed this excerpt very much. You're deep, and I like that you're an intelligent writer. By that I mean, you pull your reader into your story and ask them to participate, to join the narrator, get inside her skin. Excellent!

    Thanks so much for the great advice you offered on my blog today. I feel fortunate to have amassed so much information in one day, all of which I'll draw on each time I make another submission. I made a lot of mistakes, but that's how you learn. Experience is life's best teacher. Thanks for sharing yours with me!

    Thanks too for following me. Looking forward to doing the same for you!

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  10. This powerful writing moves with the silence of a wandering breeze. Yet you can feel the screaming wretch within, the persona longing to be visible, but only to those who choose to see! Lyrically dramatic!

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  11. Thanks to everyone who commented :

    Gemma, you have a lyrical way with words, too.

    Nicole, your praise means a lot to me. I'm glad what meager pointers I gave you helped a bit.

    B. Miller, I wrote in 1st person to ease the identification with an angelic being with a cruel bent to her nature. Also it helped with the mystery and suspense later on in the tale. But thanks for thinking outside the box for me.

    Jackee, thanks for returning to my blog after my visiting your. I'm happy you enjoyed what you found. Don't be a stranger.

    Susan, I'm happy that you liked my twist of Evil defending the Earth from harm. It struck me as suitably ironic enough to be interesting to jaded readers of alien invasions.

    Southpaw, I'm glad you enjoyed my different posts on my blog. Come back again.

    Christi, It means a lot that you believe my writing is such that I will eventually find representation. Some days of being heavily rejected can make a person feel as if they're just spinning their wheels uselessly. Thanks for the encouragement. It was appreciated.

    Anne, I would gladly submit this story to someone, but I fear that my list of markets is short and all have rejected this one. Your praise and encouragement helps on dark days.

    Kat, your enjoyment of my story helps lift up my flagging, often-rejected spirits. I'm happy my last line got your attention.

    Sarah, my story is 5,000 words long. I thought you'd like the twist of Evil defending our plantet from invasion -- for its own purposes of course.

    Erica, it means a lot to know that I succeeded in portraying the perspective of a fallen angel. It was difficult. I'm happy you enjoyed what you read.

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