Nothing remains of that place now but a smouldering ruin, the hypoxic byproduct of good intention, festering cancer born of broken promises and shattered dreams.
He remembered briefly, with a sting in his chest, before moving on.
He did not look back.
All of these people
Writing all of this bullshit
And never reading
Been a while since I wrote anything, but I’m going to try and amend that this year with more regular updates. Not because I expect people to read them, but because the purpose of writing for me has always been a way to vent what’s inside, allow my creativity an outlet, and maybe if I’m lucky, make someone smile.
So what’s different this year? Well, I’ve decided not to buy anything. I have far too much stuff already, even after dropping several boxes of CDs and DVDs and books and assorted crap off at the charity shop. I have enough unread books, unplayed videogames and unwritten stories to keep me entertained for an entire year. I don’t need to buy those. I have clothes in pretty good nick. I don’t need to buy those. The only things I will be buying this year are those things essential to my survival.
Now, I’ve heard people say things like this a lot. Remember that scene from spaceballs?
I can survive without most of the stuff I have. I’ll still need to eat though. But I’m conscious of the amount of food that goes to waste. It’s difficult buying stuff for one person in this country. Everything seems to come in packs big enough for 2 people. I either end up eating way too much, or I eat half and the rest goes off. No more. I’m planning out the first 3 weeks of food, and when I make too much for one evening then that’s tomorrow’s lunch sorted. My plan is to reduce waste to bare minimum levels.
Of course there may be things I need to buy in order to do essential tasks (today I bought a mop and bucket because my floor is a right state), and I’ll make allowances for these, but these will be on an ad-hoc basis and will be carefully considered purchases. As an example, I could do with a spice rack for my myriad pots of herbs and spices, but they still sit fine just on the counter, so I don’t NEED a spice rack. Therefore I will not buy a spice rack. If I DO end up buying something non-consumable I will buy with the intention of not needing to replace it and I will write about it here so you can judge me.
So much for my non-consumerism pact. What else am I going to be doing? Running more. Exercising more. Yeah I do those things anyway, but I want to do them more. At the moment I look alright naked, but I want to look GOOD naked. Don’t worry, I won’t be posting pics. I also want to get back into martial arts. There’s a Wing Chun club in town, I will scope it out.
Standard goal of reading a book every two weeks as a minimum. I think more non-fiction this year, depending on what books are on my shelves, although I think the non-fiction stuff is mostly bizarre conspiracy stuff bought back when I was a weird 20 something. But my plan after reading each book is to give it away. Either to a specific person whom I know will enjoy it, or to a random stranger who I think might appreciate it. Stories like to be read, I think. If you read them and put them back on the shelf to gather dust, you’re discrediting the book. If you like it, pass it on so someone else can like it. If you hate it… well, I guess pass it on in the hope that someone else DOES like it. I will be making use of http://www.bookcrossing.com in this endeavour. You guys should check it out. Feel free to add me on goodreads.com too.
I also hope to play a few more computer games, possibly write about them (either here, or on a videogame specific blog site like Destructoid), and where possible, give them away when I’m done. I haven’t properly thoguht about that one yet though.
That’s pretty much it. I’m not going to set myself a bunch of lofty goals at the start of the year and then get miserable when I fail to meet them after a month. I’m going to evaluate my situation on a daily basis and see which of my goals need tweaking for the current state, or how I need tweaking in order to meet the goals.
Three hundred and sixty five days isn’t really that long, but a lot can change in that time. My goal now as ever, is to embrace that change and see what adventures lie ahead.
2017? Come at me, bro.
So over on my friend’s blog there is a novel activity called the Writealong. Every Saturday she’ll post up a writing prompt and you use that to write a small section of prose. At the end, you should have enough to edit it all together into a short story. I’ll be posting mine up here. Sounds good? Yes it does. So head on over to the first prompt and get cracking.
Here’s my first raw draft:
It was one of those god-awful days in late spring when Andy asked me to help him clean out his house. You know how it goes; there’s a week of glorious sunshine when you’re stuck in work, and then as soon as the weekend hits the colour is bleached from the sky and everything turns grey. It’s not warm. It’s not cold. It’s just… I don’t know, stagnant?
I arrived at Andy’s house a little after midday, not that you could tell. time had felt static since the moment I woke up. For the past few months Andy had been clearing most of his possessions out of his house. “I just want to lighten my load,” he’d told me. I worried about him sometimes. It seemed as though every passing day he withdrew deeper into himself. I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to spend some time with him.
Seeing the barren wasteland which Andy’s house had become came as a mild shock to me. I mean, I knew he was downsizing, but this? Did he even have a sofa left?
“It’s great,” he told me, “I can almost fit everything I own into a single suitcase now!”
“uh huh… So are you planning on travelling then?”
He gave me a barely visible smile and then turned away.
“Come on, just the cupboard under the stairs to go now. I don’t think I’ve even opened this door in… well since I moved in. Probably still got some of my old Uni stuff in here for all I know!”
I didn’t even realise Andy HAD a cupboard under the stairs. That wall had always been covered up by a poster of some sort. First Babylon 5, then Buffy The Vampire Slayer, then Blade Runner… I think the last time I was here it was some obscure Japanese anime poster. You know the sort – teenage girls in jumpsuits piloting giant robots. The bare wooden door stared at me nonchalantly, as if it was proud of the fact that I had been unaware of its existence. Joke’s on you, door, I’m about to go right through you.
“Christ Andy, you weren’t kidding!” I said as we cracked the door open. Now I know how those Victorian archaeologists felt, opening up the tomb of Tutenkhamun for the first time. A layer of dust an inch thick coated everything in the dark cubby hole. A faintly dank smell assailed my nostrils as I tried to adapt my eyes to the light, gave up, and fumbled around for my phone.
“What the hell are you doing?” Andy asked
“Getting my phone, need a torch,” I replied, still fighting with my handset to stry and get the torch app open.
“Or, you could hit the light switch.” Andy reached out and flicked the switch and a 40 watt tiungsten bulb flared to life right in front of my face. I’d be seeing green filaments for the next ten minutes at least.
“What’s all these bags?” I asked, gesturing to the rotting hessian sacks which made up the bulk of the cupboard’s contents.
“Oh, they can all go in the skip,” Andy replied, “I think that was back when I was collecting those old local newspapers, remember?”
“Jesus, that was, what, fifteen years ago?” I remembered it vaguely. Andy had started reading about local history in some “newspaper flashback” series in a local rag. You know the kind, “in this day in 1856…”, that sort of thing. Anyway, Andy’s the kind of person who really gets into things. I mean REALLY. Like, obsessively. It’s like he has this fire inside which constantly drives him along. But, like a steam engine, once the fire runs out, he runs out of steam.
Andy had spent months collecting ancient newspapers from around the area. He’d buy massive job lots on ebay, he’d raid the local library and spend ages at the photocopier (although he always maintained that owning the original was best), he’d call up the local paper and ask to view their archives. I can’t remember what he was looking for, or even if he was looking for anything, but he would occasionally draw notes in the margins, or highlight certain stories. I never really asked about it because he tended to get defensive around his little projects.
Then one day he just stopped. Bagged all of them up. The project was done. I assumed he’d thrown them all out, but apparently not. We started hauling out the bags and loading them into the skip outside, the stink of mildew coating our lungs like the dust coated our clothes.
“If I catch tomb-rot or something from this…”
“Don’t worry, I’ve been growing some penicillin as a side project.”
“I feel safer already”
Once the papers were gone I noticed something else in the dank corner of the cupboard.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“That wooden box?”
“Beats me,” Andy said, wide eyed. “I have genuinely never seen it before. Probably something the previous tenants left here.”
I couldn’t get a decent look at it from where I was, even with the light on. I reached in to grab it so we could have a look at it in the daylight.
“Ow you bastard!” As I pulled the box out I managed to catch a splinter in my finger. I hate splinters. They sit there just out of reach, taunting you, daring you to try and tease them out, threatening you with paltry amounts of irritating pain every time you put pressure on your fingers.
“I’ll get some tweezers.” Andy turned to head into the kitchen, but I grabbed his arm to stop him.
“You’ll do no such thing,” I said sternly. “I want to know what the hell is in this box.”
The box was sort of a wooden crate, like those old packing crates you see in 1940s movies. There was some writing painted the side, but the wood was so blackened with mould it was impossible to work out what it said. Painted on the top there was what looked like an eagle logo.
We prised the lid off with a swiss army knife and looked inside. In amongst a tangle of straw packing was a small, ornate box. It was heavy, seemingly roo heavy for its small size. The metal of its construction appeared at first glance to be gold, but as we turned the box in the light it seemed to shift though a whole spectrum of colours, like a patch of oil on a wet road. All over the box was an intricate filigree of symbols.
“You recognise any of these symbols, Andy?” Andy had, for a time, worked at the university on a computer project designed to digitise ancient manuscripts. He’s seen literally hundreds of ancient documents – Egyptian, Sumerian, Norse, Japanese, Old English. If anyone was going to identify these symbols at the drop of a hat, it was him.
“They look like Hebrew,” he said, turning the box over in his hands. “There’s something not quite right about them though. Like they’re jumbled up, or like they were made by someone who knew what hebrew was, but didn’t understand it. You know what the weirdest thing is though?”
“What?” I asked, incredulous at the idea that this could possibly get more bizarre.
“There’s no hinges.”
“Yeah hinges. There’s something inside it, right? You can feel it sliding around in there. And this bit here loooks like it should open. But There’s no damn hinges. And there’s no way to get the damn thing open.”
So it’s been a long time since I actively updated this blog. There is a very good reason for this, but I won’t go into it right now. Suffice to say that my life has been rather tumultuous of late.
Some of you may have noticed that the entire blog was disabled for a long time. Again, there are reasons, but I’ve decided to put them behind me and carry on.
This blog has helped me voice things which I otherwise would not have been able to. Without the blog I found myself storing up more and more negativity without any real vent, save for the band. The band goes a LONG way towards helping, but there are limits as to which parts of me I reveal through live performance. The blog was the counterpart to the band, you see.
So where are we now? Well in the last month I have done a number of things I didn’t think I’d get the opportunity to do. I’ve entered an interpretive dance contest. I’ve read poems out to a live audience (and was greeted with cheers). I’ve taught new teachers how to program at university. I’ve changed my online dating profile to be a jaded, cynical, misanthropic rant (and actually had more interest than when I had my “genuine” profile (Mum, don’t read too much into that, none of them are people I have any interest in). And more.
But all of these great things have been offset by the dark cloud which envelops me. Usually I can cope, but right now my armour’s wearing thin. Last night was a particularly bad one.
So I should be posting more frequently now, in the hope that these inane ramblings will brighten up my mind.
There’s something welcoming about those hours just after midnight. The city sleeps, and yet here I am, awake and alone. I stand at my balcony, searching for some sign that there is anything living out there besides me.
Sometimes I look up at the stars and I wonder what they’d look like when viewed from a place far from here. Would they remain the same, an anchor to this life inescapable? Or would they be different enough to help me forget? How many other people are sat at their computers right now, alone, searching for some way to communicate with a kindred spirit?
I welcome the night because it’s the only companion I have in these hours just after midnight. Sensible people are in bed, minds switched off. Oh to have that luxury! I could try sleeping, I guess. It’s just so hard to stem the pitiless tide of images which relentlessly bombard my brain. a million images, a million sounds, crammed simultaneously into each instant. They’re as impossible to process as they are to ignore. And then every so often I see a face, a fleeting glimpse of a smile. Sometimes I recognise it. Sometimes it’s new. Are these people I’ve met? People I’ve yet to meet? Or are they merely just my brain trying to conjure up some sort of companionship to stave off the despair?
Even when I slip through the veil into the dream place, there’s no respite. My dreams are vivid and confusing. I wake up several times a night. After I finally separate the dream from reality I am left to ponder what it means. I’m usually no closer to a solution before I drift off again, a slave to the visions from beyond.
And so here I sit, talking to everyone who spares the time to read this. But nobody talks back.
Is there anybody out there?