Decisions – an old story

Another one from four or five years ago. More of a thought experiment than anything, though it does have some themes in common with some of my other stories.

Decisions

The bus was trundling along as per usual; I thumbed through my magazine in search of an article that might pique my interest, eventually stumbling on a piece about Hugh Everett.  Over the top of my magazine I saw a figure lumbering about with incessant music blaring from his mobile phone, so I glanced up for a better look; in front of me stood a tall, thin figure with harsh facial features, tracksuit style clothing, and a beanie despite the blissful weather outside. He caught my wandering eyes and slurred “What the fuck do you think you’re looking at?” I panicked and mumbled, “Nothing, sorry, I wasn’t looking at you,” and looked away as he laughed, increasing his swagger as he headed for the back seat of the bus. My heart was pounding, my palms sweating and I could no longer concentrate on the article, as I feared he might come back for more confrontation.

The bus was trundling along as per usual; I thumbed through my magazine in search of an article that might pique my interest, eventually stumbling on a piece about Hugh Everett.  Over the top of my magazine I saw a figure lumbering about with incessant music blaring from his mobile phone, so I glanced up for a better look; in front of me stood a tall, thin figure with harsh facial features, tracksuit style clothing, and a beanie despite the blissful weather outside. He caught my wandering eyes and slurred “What the fuck do you think you’re looking at?”  He was glaring at me to force me to respond. He had picked the wrong day, I wasn’t about to just lie down and take abuse from this nobody. “Not you” I said with derisive laughter in my voice “You aren’t my type; too fucking ugly!” The whole bus went silent as he moved towards me, though I did not feel scared as the adrenaline coursed through my veins. “You fucking what?” He responded aggressively. He was obviously trying to re-establish his dominance but I was not in the mood and took my chance. “If you don’t want fucking up I suggest you stay away from me.” I realised this wasn’t the most well crafted of threats but it appeared to suffice. He merely glared at me briefly, looked around at the shocked bus passengers and took a seat behind me.

I alighted the bus at my usual stop, which is a very short walk from my house through an area which few frequent. I could tell that the aforementioned thug was getting off the bus at my stop and knew I had to face him. He slurred yet more obscenities at me and I realised I had to fight him; something I had little experience with. I could almost feel the testosterone charging me, my hands shaking as I clenched my fist and prepared myself for the fight. I hesitated. Big mistake! He saw me coming a mile away and knocked me to the floor with three well timed punches. I had never been so disoriented in my life as I crashed to the floor in a heap, my pride bringing me down even further. Vulgarity spewed from his mouth as I curled into a ball to protect myself from his repeated kicks. Eventually he stopped, though I have no idea where he went; I was lying curled up in a pathetic ball, eyes firmly shut as I prayed for him to leave. I eventually staggered home and sat in silence, drowning in regret, weighed down by my dented ego.

The bus was trundling along as per usual; I thumbed through my magazine in search of an article that might pique my interest, eventually stumbling on a piece about Hugh Everett.  Over the top of my magazine I saw a figure lumbering about with incessant music blaring from his mobile phone, so I glanced up for a better look; in front of me stood a tall, thin figure with harsh facial features, tracksuit style clothing and a beanie, despite the blissful weather outside. He caught my wandering eyes and slurred “What the fuck do you think you’re looking at?”  He was glaring at me to force me to respond. He had picked the wrong day, I wasn’t about to just lie down and take abuse from this nobody. “Not you” I said with derisive laughter in my voice “You aren’t my type; too fucking ugly!” The whole bus went silent as he moved towards me, though I did not feel scared as the adrenaline coursed through my veins. “You fucking what?” He responded aggressively. He was obviously trying to re-establish his dominance but I was not in the mood and took my chance “If you don’t want fucking up I suggest you stay away from me.” I realised this wasn’t the most well crafted of threats but it appeared to suffice. He merely glared at me briefly, looked around at the shocked bus passengers and took a seat behind me.

I alighted the bus at my usual stop, which is a very short walk from my house through an area which few frequent. I could tell that the aforementioned thug was getting off the bus at my stop and knew I had to face him. I took my chances as quickly as I could and threw punch after punch at his pathetic excuse for a face. I had never hit anyone before and knew that my punches were weak, but the surprising barrage had him unconscious on the floor. I could hear my heart pounding in my head, my hands were shaking, and I had never felt anger like this before. The events which happened next felt like a dream or some bad film where the protagonist’s actions go unexplained. I picked up his limp body and carried it to my house, dumping him in my kitchen as I prepared another room. I laid out a sheet of plastic and placed a chair in the middle, barely taking my eyes off of him in case he stirred. I tied him up in the chair and waited, I wanted him to be awake, wanted to hear screams. I got out a toolbox full of rarely used appliances, some still in their original packages.

When he eventually awoke I sat in front of him, staring at the intense fear and confusion so evident in his eyes. I had stripped him completely naked and burnt his vile clothes for further humiliation. In my hands I caressed a pair of pliers as I decided which order to pull out his teeth. I forced his mouth open and he resisted, trying to scream for help, not realising that he was spurring me on. I gripped the first tooth in the pliers and began to pull, there was a sickening crack and I realised that I had failed to get it completely out. I felt the tooth resisting as I pulled harder and wrenched it free from its safe, gummy home. The scream of pain was like music to my madness, almost arousing. I continued with each of his teeth and every satisfying crack was accompanied by an even more satisfying blood-curdling scream. My skill at removing his teeth increased with each fresh pull and I discovered a variety of ways to cause him unimaginable pain in that vulgar orifice of his. Teeth were scattered around the room and my foresight to put down plastic proved fruitful as the blood spilt all over of it, staining all in this precious, life giving liquid.

With his teeth out of the way I was free to move on to the next target, known as ‘lingua’ in Latin. I crudely hacked at it, yanking it out of its natural home and waved it in his face. He was groaning in agony almost constantly, stopping only when he was struggling to breathe. For the finishing touches I took out a pair of secateurs, maniacally chopping off each off his fingers and throwing them casually over my shoulders. I took a hot poker from near the fire and cauterised the wounds, causing possibly the most satisfying of all his screams, as I contemplated giving abacination a try.

I cleaned up the whole mess as one would whilst doing normal mundane housework, even dancing away to music as I went. I left him strapped to the chair over night, returning the next morning to find him on his side, shaking. I kicked his head remorselessly, until he fell unconscious yet again, I dragged his body to some nearby woods and dumped it, wrapped in a blanket. I wanted him to survive; I wanted him to live the rest of his life in agony, unable to tell anybody who his attacker was. I would leave the country; an obvious choice, but now seemed like as good a time as any and Egypt had always appealed to me, perhaps it was the mummification process which intrigued me.

The bus was trundling along as per usual; I thumbed through my magazine in search of an article that might pique my interest, eventually stumbling on a piece about Hugh Everett.  As an unsavoury character entered the bus I reflected on the possibility that all the decisions we do not choose are manifested in some alternative universe, branching out from our own. It really made me think.

Advertisements

Photographs of Dogs

As I have decided to share photographs as well as stories, here are some pictures of my dogs. The one which I consider to be my dog is the bottom one, though she doesn’t seem to be as much of a poser.

Pea in the sea

Peanut eyes 3

Peanut scared CU 2

Puddy white

Taizé – not a story

I used to regularly visit the Taizé community and once took the opportunity to write about it for a local church newsletter (I forget which one). It is not a story, but it felt worth sharing. I wrote it in 2oo9. Accompanying it is a picture I took whilst there several years ago, it is one of my personal favourites, taken at the grave of Brother Roger, the founder of the community, who was brutally murdered during a church service. It is one of those pictures which, for me at least, tells a story of its own.

Taizé

Going on a ‘pilgrimage of trust’ to an ecumenical community of dedicated brothers can sound very daunting to a young Christian and trying to explain how amazing it is to visit is often fraught with difficulty. It truly is a place you need to visit to understand as it is often quite paradoxical. When people ask questions they tend to somehow instinctively hit on the negatives, which for someone who has been are bizarrely not negative at all. “What is the food like?” “Very basic” “Can you drink?” “One weak beer per day” “Are there showers?” “Yes, but very unpredictable” “Where do you sleep?” “In a tent, often on rough ground” (I got a beautifully placed stone this year, right in the middle of my back and pointing upwards).  One friend quipped that it sounded like a concentration camp, which is surprisingly similar to Brother Paolo’s remarks that it is like an upper class refugee camp. These seem like insurmountable obstacles to fun and enjoyment, yet every year thousands upon thousands of young people of all walks of life make this pilgrimage and find it worthwhile, often wanting to come again. I’ve now been six times and fully recommend it, so what is there to it?

Part of what I have already described is part of the fun, as odd as that sounds, they are only ostensibly negative. Taizé takes us back to basics in many ways, whilst there we appreciate the beauty in life from the perspective of a simpler mode de vie. We spend so much time tied to our material lives: constantly texting; obsessively checking Facebook; watching too much television; yet in Taizé we find we have everything we need without these incessant distractions. It is refreshing not needing beer for a good time, something many often need to realise – myself included. Living for a week without a proper bed or shower helps us appreciate it more when we return to it; Taizé can help us discover that these things truly are luxuries we do not need. This is often an unnoticeable part of the Taizé experience which lasts for longer than the week there. Could you imagine eating every meal with just a spoon and considering it normal?

The biggest parts of the Taizé experience are, in my mind, relationship and discovery. In Taizé you can really discover yourself, whether through silent reflection or through communing with others. Taizé’s most beautiful paradox is that on the one hand it is a place where you can go and be at complete peace if you wish; if you want it you can find it, in church, down by the source or by going into silence (if you dare). On the other hand it is a place where you can socialise with thousands of young people from all over the planet, singing, dancing, chatting, laughing and much more. Taizé is one of the few places in the world where young people from warring countries have been known to get along and laugh together. The opportunities for making friends in Taizé are endless and from every continent too, though Antarctica may have to be missed out; I thought I saw a penguin once but it was just a visiting nun. The coach journey, discussion groups and visiting Oyak are all great places to make new friends and learn about diverse cultures.

In Taizé the days have structure and everything flows well. There are three church services per day (optional but recommended) and they allow for deep reflection. The chants are beautiful and simple, and I would be surprised if someone came away without a favourite (unless like me they have several favourites which they can’t choose between). There are no sermons to endure, just short Bible verses and psalms. Silence is at the heart of the service and is the perfect time to reflect or to simply open yourself up. Whilst there you can also opt to do a job, ranging from washing the pots to washing toilets; keeping people quiet in church to keeping people quiet late at night; there is something for everyone. Work is usually seen as something to grumble at, I know I’m guilty of a lot of grumbling, but in Taizé it just does not seem like a bad thing at all, quite the opposite in fact. Mundane jobs become fun and feeling part of something bigger needs to be felt by everyone from time to time. Taizé works so well because everyone contributes and gets into the community spirit.

Through forging new relationships and through self discovery Taizé can be an incredible experience. It also allows for us to discover more of God too. Church gives us the time to reflect and open ourselves to Him if we wish, but nobody is pushing. The Taizé community allows you to go along at your own pace, never pushing or dragging, but offering a guiding hand where it is wanted. Discussion groups can vary from dealing with tough questions about faith, to simply having fun and playing games with people of differing backgrounds. It is a place where you can feel safe even if the Bible intimidates you as you will not have it thrown at you or forced down your throat; if you do want to plumb its depths then Taizé can be the perfect place to do so.

I always come back from Taizé feeling refreshed both emotionally and spiritually, and want to share it with everyone I meet. This year I found myself in the odd position where so many amazing things had occurred whilst there that I struggled to say anything about it to my friends and family! It was beyond words and I get something new from it every year; burdens are lifted and my mind is often more clear and focussed. Taizé is a deeply personal experience which unusually can be shared with others; they will find it to be an amazing place too, even if their reasons are different. This has been a description of my own views on Taizé, something I like to try to put into words and often struggle to do. I can only recommend visiting, if you haven’t already, as I guarantee you will benefit. Hopefully my words can at the very least get people wondering.

Frére Roger

Here be monsters!

Sometimes I have a friend who inspires me to be creative. I have a friend for whom I used to draw lots of pictures of monsters, each of which had a background story. Here is a sample of the ones I can find on my computer, though I am sure I did many more.

Andy likes chocolate, porn confuses him and his favourite book is Spot the Dog. He subscribes to the Beano comic.

Andy likes chocolate, porn confuses him and his favourite book is Spot the Dog. He subscribes to the Beano comic.

 

Although Carl Bambleby does not wear clothes he once dreamt of being an underwear model. However he was considered too ugly. He now makes internet cartoons and enjoys playing chess in his spare time.

Although Carl Bambleby does not wear clothes he once dreamt of being an underwear model. However he was considered too ugly. He now makes internet cartoons and enjoys playing chess in his spare time.

 

Clive is studying theology. He is addicted to custard creams and dreams of a house in the French countryside where he can make animations in his spare time. He also likes to repair wrist watches.

Clive is studying theology. He is addicted to custard creams and dreams of a house in the French countryside where he can make animations in his spare time. He also likes to repair wrist watches.

 

Gordon is a slow, steady worker. He eats a lot of Weetabix, loves architecture and sunbathing. He once worked as a bus driver.

Gordon is a slow, steady worker. He eats a lot of Weetabix, loves architecture and sunbathing. He once worked as a bus driver.

 

Liam likes fancy restaurants and expensive wine. He has never driven and has a chauffeur. All his money is inherited.

Liam likes fancy restaurants and expensive wine. He has never driven and has a chauffeur. All his money is inherited.

 

Sammy got too close to the fire and melted.

Sammy got too close to the fire and melted.

 

Squidge's voice is so high-pitched that  most cannot hear him. This means that nobody knows his real name: Archibald Wesley Haversham-Winstanley IV. Though this doesn't bother him as he was born deaf.

Squidge’s voice is so high-pitched that most cannot hear him. This means that nobody knows his real name: Archibald Wesley Haversham-Winstanley IV. Though this doesn’t bother him as he was born deaf.

 

Stacey is rather athletic. She is bisexual, has an obsession with the size of her derriere and is lactose intolerant.

Stacey is rather athletic. She is bisexual, has an obsession with the size of her derriere and is lactose intolerant.

Kingdoms – Old story

Another old one, written around five years ago (but with some minimal tweaks). I think this was more a cathartic exercise than an attempt to write a serious story, but I thought I would share anyway.

 

Kingdoms

I pace the balcony, sliding my fingers across the polished railing as I soak in the gentle warmth of the evening sun, looking out across my kingdom, seeing smoke rising from the chimneys as the people below live their lives. From up here I can see everything, from the mountains in the west to the sea in the east. It is a small kingdom, but it is a proud kingdom, known for its scholars and hardy working class. On the other side of the mountains, accessible by a winding mountain path and some abandoned tunnels lies another kingdom. The neighbouring kingdom is smaller and is known for its art and the stubborn but lovable nature of its people. Relations with this kingdom were always amiable, trade boomed and communication was near constant during the golden years. Messengers were sent constantly down the winding pass, often crossing paths and needing only to exchange messages midway. Calls for aid were sent by smoke over the mountains and were always answered with the utmost haste.

The earliest events between the two kingdoms involved aid in war, during the start of my reign my armies strayed into enemy territory and were outnumbered 5 to 1, a call for aid was sent out and our neighbours responded valiantly, fighting to the last man. The greatest turning point was when the neighbouring kingdom was devastated by a mighty armada. The damage far exceeded anything the kingdom had experienced; all the fires, earthquakes and sieges combined had not caused this much devastation and the citizens required aid desperately. The kingdom was unanimous in its democratic decision to aid those in dire need; we provided it swift and effectively, we sent aid constantly, food, materials for repairs, soldiers to protect the cities and allowed many to migrate to our strong kingdom, doing anything we possibly could. They were built up to full strength again, able to support our nation during brief times of famine and other such times of need. There were times when the two kingdoms appeared as one, merging together, uniting to fight common foes, disasters and times of strife.

The balance was sadly not to last; as populations increased so did tension, seemingly exponentially. The first signs were when we began trade with another country; although the trade was short-lived it had massive effects economically on the relationship between ourselves and our closest neighbours. They also began trade with others, setting in motion a political movement which sought to deny immigration from my kingdom, and sadly they succeeded. We sent envoys over to negotiate a change but acquiescence was not on the cards, instead they chose to deny there being an issue. Messengers were now struggling to get over the mountains as harsh winters blanketed the mountains in snow and ice. When the snows receded, communication did not return to its previous level as one would expect. Trade had been cut off almost completely; our export rate far exceeded our imports as they suddenly only required amenities they could not acquire elsewhere.

There were times when my people were able to enter through their gates, though they were often glared at and ignored by the people there. They had started letting waves of immigrants in from the countries they were now trading with, immigrants who had no respect for my citizens and were prone to excessive violence. This exacerbated things between us; we declared war on the countries of the immigrants and sought to wipe them out, further alienating our once loving neighbours. Our efforts at war were feeble as we were struggling from lack of support and sufficient information on our opponents, resulting in a few squandered skirmishes which did nothing effective. It was a useless waste of valuable life which only resulted in a divide within my own kingdom.

A shift in opinion occurred amongst my people and I hastened to listen. It was decided that a peace offering would be made, but before we could manage it a band of warriors set off across the path with a desire only for blood. A veritable pogrom ensued in the streets of our once beloved neighbours; with none spared as men I once called my own massacred many. The kingdom retaliated understandably and caused as much damage to us, if not more. They blocked up the winding pass and attempted to destroy the tunnels underneath the mountain. I sent many messengers out with a desperately deluded desire for reconciliation, both over and under the mountains. Communication slowly somehow started again and hope arose on the horizon once more, but it came at a cost.

A new age had begun within the other kingdom with a new king taking the throne. This new monarch was ruthless, waging wars against any who stood in his way, encouraging the raping and pillaging of many an innocent village. He was known for mercilessly entering towns post-battle and selecting from the people there. He chose women for his harem and men to be slaughtered for his entertainment. All hope was lost and communication stopped once again, coming as a unanimous decision from the people. The difference this time was that it was not blocked; instead we welcomed visitors from our neighbouring kingdom and trade picked up again naturally as the hostility subsided. We heard many stories from the kingdom with the appearance that another revolution was due, we hoped for deposition or abdication of the ruler, though we knew that our hope was in vain, for now. Instead, a new line of religious teaching had infiltrated their society, which came as a huge surprise to us as we had been embracing it this entire time. The king had new advisers who were devout yet naïve, so through them we set up new relations and can only look to the future in hope of success with new means of building broken ties.

I pace the balcony, sliding my fingers across the polished railing as I soak in the gentle warmth of the evening sun, looking out across my kingdom, seeing smoke rising from the chimneys as the people below live their lives. We are stronger again and the people below me are back to living their lives as they should, with hope. I look to the west at the winding pass as a horse-drawn carriage loaded with goods starts the arduous trip through the night, a sign of things looking up. I look to the east and see calm waters, stretching out into the unknown. There is less hope in the unknown so my gaze travels to the west again and I smile, strengthened by the vicissitudes permeating our relationship with our brethren over the mountains, embracing the experience of the traversal of devastation to find a new state of equilibrium. I smile again and return to my chambers, sleep will bring the future closer and I am eager to see what it holds.

 

[2012 edit: it held war with others, resulting in some aid from the west. Perhaps another tale to be told…]

Some old paintings

I am tempted to start sharing more than just stories on this blog, as scrolling through posts which are just text can be tedious. With some posts I have included music, which breaks up the monotony somewhat, and have already shared some images. Here are a few paintings I did around five or six years ago. I’m no painter by any means.

fear

My favourite.

My favourite. I call it Horse Egg.

mine!

summataboutwomen

Oooold story – What Dreams Are Made Of

I think this may have been the first time I wrote a story just for the fun of it. I don’t like reading it back and have tweaked it a little since I wrote it around five years ago.

 

What Dreams Are Made Of

 

The wind blew through the fields, creating wild patterns in the cereal, tossing them about with not a care in the world. The cereal had little knowledge of what moved them, simply that they did and that they should resist. They stuck firmly in the ground but started to give into temptation. They danced and they danced, embracing the powerful wind as though it had the same desires, blissfully ignorant to impending dangers as the dance took them over almost completely. They remained stationary at the roots, yet their dances became more vivid and complex. They would never be the same again and they knew it, but caring was not on the agenda any more.

In the next field was a simple cousin, most commonly known as grass. These were as unwitting as their relatives, but in a way which contrasted greatly. They had the desire to spread, to force themselves into the world, also not caring for consequences. They spread across the land as far as they could, but space here had been exhausted, there was only one direction to go now and that was up. They forced themselves up and up, ignoring the demise of their brethren. For in this field came a different danger, the wind was no real issue here, except for the highest climbers who often fell foul to the desire to dance free. This new danger thwarted their plans mercilessly. It devoured the high risers, yet the young did not care, they had their aspirations and certain failure would not stop them. They rose high and were picked off one by one, sent to one of seven dank pits to be transformed into something new.

In the first field the dance stopped abruptly. A mechanical menace came and reduced them to nothing more than their lowly cousins. Their remains were taken away, crushed and mixed relentlessly with others, then blasted in a furnace of unforgiving fire.

These were dark times for both, the cereal was crushed and burnt, whilst the grass took a more drawn out path. In the dank pit the grass was rapidly transformed by bacteria, until spewed out in a vat and left to rot over time.

The cereal and grass in their now unrecognisable forms ended up in a new location very close together. Both were being kept in cool, dark holding areas, preparing for a big event, hoping not to miss the small window of opportunity.

They were to be united; the chance was slim, yet they had faith. This faith held strong and they battled through extreme doubt until the moment finally came. The cereal came first, burning with what could seem like anger to the untrained eye, but then came the grass, and they burnt passionately together, becoming one.