Writing project, June 2021

This month’s word is inside, meaning “on the inner side or part of; within”.

It’s a little late, sorry.

————–

I’ve never been inside it. I’ve been up close, wandered around the outside, close enough to peer in its windows, if it had windows, but I’ve never been inside.

Neither has anyone else, of course.

That’s the whole point of it, that you can’t get in. There’s no door, no windows, no skylight or air vent or even drainpipe; there’s just the smooth fluorescing metal of the walls and the peculiar stippled fabric (or what looks like fabric) of the roof.

It just appeared overnight. Nobody claimed responsibility for its appearance, so of course conspiracy theories abounded.

My personal favourite was that it was an intelligence test for humanity. Once we got inside, we’d gain access to the rest of the galaxy, or even the universe.

That would be nice, but I don’t believe it. I’m too cynical to believe in benevolent aliens carefully testing us for worthiness. I think if there were aliens they’d just destroy us to be on the safe side.

My belief is that some rich bastard is messing with us, using their high-tech top-secret inventions to create a buzz. In a year, or less, there’ll be some product on the market using those materials. Or possibly it’s a test of new equipment by the military, but it seems a little public for that.

Of course, it’s turned into a huge tourist attraction. Little stalls have popped up around it, selling food, drinks and a variety of merch of varying quality – everything from keyrings to clothing to plushies. Although I still maintain that a plushie of a building is just weird.

People have tried to force their way in, by drilling or cutting into the walls or roof, occasionally with explosives. Some even tried tunnelling under and then inside.

All of them failed, some spectacularly.

The House still stands, inviolate, taunting. Maybe one day we’ll learn its secrets, but not today, and not me.

I take a final photo, catching it silhouetted against the sunset, and walk away, leaving mystery behind.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, May 2021

This month’s word is tall, meaning “having a relatively great height; of more than average stature”, “large in amount or degree; considerable” or “extravagant; difficult to believe”.

This is late also, sorry. So it’s very short.

————–

I always wanted to be tall, to tower over my peers. I thought it would make me feel powerful.

Well I got my wish. It was the usual thing, find an old lamp, help an old woman, the usual nonsense where they turn out to be magical and you get a wish.

And my wish was to be taller than anyone else I knew. Taller than any human had ever been. So they turned me into a giraffe.

And that’s why you should never accept wishes.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, April 2021

This month’s word is home, meaning “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household” or “the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered”.

This is really really late, sorry, so it’s going to be short.

————–

This place was never my home. It’s where I sleep, where I eat, but I don’t live here. This is just the place I exist in.

I don’t think I’ve ever really had a home, a place where I belonged. Just a series of temporary abodes.

Home has always been a theoretical concept for me. Sometimes I think I’m missing out, other times I’m grateful for the freedom. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

And my perspective has always been odd.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, March 2021

This month’s word is circle, meaning “a closed plane curve consisting of all points at a given distance from a point within it called the center”, “to enclose in a circle; surround; encircle” or “to move in a circle or circuit around; rotate or revolve around”.

It’s a bit late, sorry.

————–

I whirl and dance, twist and slide. I move constantly. I must, shark-like, remain in motion. Spirals and circles, I cannot stop.

If I stop, I think. And if I think, I will break.

So I spin and spin, circling the room, dancing to forget, losing myself in motion, seeking mindlessness. I dance and dance, until I drop from exhaustion. Only then can I sleep.

And then I’ll rise tomorrow and dance again, to avoid that of which I cannot bear to think. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to stop, but for now, I must remain in constant motion. It’s the only thing keeping me together.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, February 2021

This month’s word is red, meaning “any of various colors resembling the color of blood; the primary color at one extreme end of the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 610 and 780 nanometers”.

CW: blood

It’s late again, sorry.

————–

Red’s always been my favourite colour. Not pink, not orange, not (please) violet. But there’s too much red here.

It won’t be red always, of course; it’ll dry soon enough to a dull brown. But right now it’s a beautiful bright red, splashed and pooled everywhere.

I didn’t mean to do it, really. I just wanted to scare him. But we argued, and then somehow I had a knife, and, well, here we are, with splashes of blood everywhere. It’s quite pretty, if you don’t think too hard about what it is.

But now I do need to think about it, I need to clean it up, clear it away. Hide everything, somehow, cover my tracks.

Or… I could not. I could leave everything alone, sit here and wait until someone comes looking, for me or for him. Just watch the vibrant red fade to brown, and take whatever consequences come with it.

I’m tired. I didn’t want him gone, not really, but it’s happened, so I should deal with it. I just… don’t want to. There’s a corner that’s clean enough, a chair that’s unbroken. I’ll sit there, and I’ll wait, and I’ll take whatever comes.

He always said I should accept the consequences of my actions. Well, now I am. I actually think he’d be proud.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, January 2021

This month’s word is risk, meaning “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance”, “to expose to the chance of injury or loss; hazard” or “to venture upon; take or run the chance of”.

————–

I knew it was dangerous, but I did it anyway.

That pretty much sums up my philosophy of life. If I want to do something, risk alone won’t put me off. After all, what’s life without a little danger to spice things up?

Of course, I’ve been lucky. Never had any serious injuries, never been in serious danger. But I naturally put that down to my own skill, rather than luck, and so I kept pushing things, going farther and farther away from the safe, sensible things I kept being encouraged to do.

And that is how I ended up here, dangling headfirst over a hole in the ground so deep the light from my head torch fails to illuminate the bottom.

It’ll be fine, I assure myself. I’ve been in worse predicaments. Not that I can think of any at the moment. But I’ll be fine. I’m always fine, right? Right?

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, December 2020

This month’s word is view, meaning “an instance of seeing or beholding; visual inspection”; “a particular manner of looking at something”;
“contemplation or consideration of a matter with reference to action”; “a general account or description of a subject” or “a conception of a thing; opinion; theory”.

————–

I always seem to be looking sideways to everyone else, tilted, off-kilter. Twisted, somehow.

It’s odd, or I suppose, I’m odd. Things are never quite right, never precisely what others see. There’s nothing wrong with that, I guess, but somehow people don’t like it.

I’m always problematic, always different, and different, of course, is bad. I mean, nobody says that, but I can tell. I can always tell.

Last to be chosen, first to be forgotten. And there’s always an excuse, always a reason, but really the reason is me. People just don’t like me.

That sounds self-pitying, but it’s simply a fact. I’m used to it now. I’ll admit it used to bother me, that I never fit in, but I’m strangely proud of it now.

Making a virtue of your vices, I think it’s called.

Or I’m just a pretentious weirdo. That could be it, too.

In any case, I’ve learned not to care. More, to take pride in it, in my strangeness. In my skewed view, the little twist to everything I perceive.

But sometimes, I wonder: what’s it like to be normal, to be one of them? What would it be like to see the world straight on?

But I’ll never know, I can never know. I can’t truly understand them any more than they do me. It’s just that I’m outnumbered. I know there are others like me, I’ve just yet to meet any.

But that’s my hope, one day to meet someone else like me. Someone who understands, who sees me. Someone who has a skewed view. Someone just like me.

Someday, somewhere, someone.

© bardofupton 2020

Writing project, November 2020

This month’s word is incomplete, meaning “not complete; lacking some part”.

————–

I stared at my project, the thing I’d dedicated literal years of my life to. It felt… incomplete. I wasn’t sure why – I’d covered every base I could think of, researched and cross-referenced every angle I or any of my colleagues had come up with. Every i was dotted, every t crossed. And yet, it still seemed unfinished.

I looked at it from every angle I could find, couldn’t find anything missing. And yet…

I sighed.

I would have to destroy everything and start again. It was the only way.

Wasn’t it?

© bardofupton 2020

Writing project, October 2020

This month’s word is water, meaning “a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid, a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, H2O, freezing at 32°F or 0°C and boiling at 212°F or 100°C, that in a more or less impure state constitutes rain, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.: it contains 11.188 percent hydrogen and 88.812 percent oxygen, by weight” or “a special form or variety of this liquid, as rain”.

————–

It was wet. That hard pounding kind of rain, that seems to come both vertically and horizontally. I was soaked, after only moments outdoors, and I was still wondering what had possessed me to leave my warm dry bedroom and come out in it.

Surely I didn’t crave chocolate that much.

I laughed hollowly. Of course I did. I’d crawl over hot coals for my favourite chocolate bar, and my stash had run out. It was my own fault for coming home drunk last night and scarfing the lot on a whim. I was normally very good at keeping myself stocked up, but, well, here we were, taking a long walk to the one and only local shop that stocked my fave.

I could, of course, get chocolate closer, but it was inferior, and I was unwilling to allow it to sully my taste buds.

So here I was, completely sodden, and miserable, but determined not to turn back. After all, I was wet already, right?

How much worse could it get? I thought, only to curse myself seconds later as a car sped past me, spraying me head to foot with dirty water – and most annoyingly, down into my shoes – as it drove through a gigantic puddle. I was pissed off at having my feet wet, but even more so that my knee jerk reaction was still to superstitiously blame myself for tempting fate by saying that.

But the shop wasn’t much further, and it would be a shame to turn back now. I trudged onwards, mentally berating my drunken self from last night.

“You just had to eat it all, didn’t you? And now I have to deal with the conseoquences.”

The rain starts to fall even harder, and a strong wind blows it directly into my face. I pull my hood tighter around my face and keep walking. I can feel water sloshing around inside my shoes. It’s an unpleasant feeling. But I’m so close now, I can see the block where the shop is up ahead.

I can almost taste the chocolate slowly melting in my mouth. I close my eyes to savour the experience and promptly fall over, twisting my ankle. I get back up and limp on towards the shop. Nearly there, nearly there, I remind myself.

I can barely see through the driving rain, I’m navigating purely on instinct as I reach the door of the shop. I reach out and grope for the handle, then turn it. It doesn’t budge. I shake it a few times to no effect, then wipe water from my face so I can see.

There’s a sign on the door.

“Closed indefinitely due to flooding”.

© bardofupton 2020

Writing project, September 2020

This month’s word is lunch, meaning “a light midday meal between breakfast and dinner“.

Sorry this is so late.

————–

It was an odd meal. Should’ve been straightforward, this lunch with my new partner (and by partner I mean business partner; I don’t do romance), but it was anything but. I hadn’t met them before; everything had been online or through an intermediary. I’d never even spoken to them. All I really knew about them was that they had money, they were interested in my business, and their initials: H.J.S. I thought the S might have been Smith, but I wasn’t sure.

First thing was, I could not find the place. I followed the instructions on my phone, but there was no restaurant there, no shops, just a warehouse. And it was locked. I knocked on the door, rattled the doorknob, double- and triple-checked the location on my phone. After five minutes of pointless knocking and looking up and down the street I was ready to leave.

“Can I help you, per?” It was an unexpected interruption. I had no idea where this individual had come from, but there they were, bowing and offering assistance.

“I’m looking for The Restaurant“, I told them, thinking once again what an unhelpful name that was for an eating establishment.

“Of course, per. This way.”

They gestured towards a door that had definitely not been visible a minute ago, and we entered the place. My first impression was that it was deserted. There were a few booths scattered around, but I couldn’t see anyone through the dim lighting.

“Is per meeting someone?”

“Yes, I’m meeting H.J.S.”

“Ah, of course. This way, per.”

They led me over to one of the booths.

“Has per attended one of our establishments before?”

I shook my head.

“No, first time.”

“Well, it’s very simple, per. You order your food via this tablet, and the person you’re meeting will dial in to that screen opposite you.”

I stared at them.

“Dial in?”

“Oh yes, per. This is a socially distant establishment. Only one person per booth.”

I blinked in disbelief. I’d heard of these kinds of places, of course, but I’d never expected to be in one.

“Uh, thanks.”

“If per needs any help from myself, please press the red button in the centre of the table.”

“Th… Thanks, thanks,” I stuttered, feeling extremely out of my depth.

They bowed again and drifted gracefully away. I stared after them for a moment, then began to explore the menu on the tablet. I didn’t really understand why my partner had picked this of all places, given that the point of this lunch – I thought – was for us to meet each other, but my confusion was no reason to go hungry.

I ordered something from the mid-price section, not wanting to appear either cheap or greedy. Just after my drink appeared on the table, delivered in some mysterious fashion (I swear nobody approached me), there was a ping! and an avatar appeared on the screen in front of me. I knew it was an avatar, because it was a pink-and-purple-striped cat-faced flying horse.

I must have been staring blankly because it cleared its throat and spoke to me.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

“Yes, yes,” I stammered. “I just thought… I thought I’d be meeting you in person, or at least seeing your face.”

“Oh, no no no,” it said. “I value my privacy.”

“Uh, okay.”

“Really I just want to see you eat.”

I stared at the avatar suspiciously.

“Is this a sex thing? Because I’m not up for that.”

“No, not at all,” it interjected smoothly. “I merely enjoy watching others eat good food.”

At some point during this conversation, my food had arrived. It smelled delicious, but I was now a little wary of eating.

“Please do eat,” it said. “It would be a shame for your food to get cold.”

I stared at it, then at the food – which looked as amazing as it smelled – and sighed.

“Fine, I’ll eat,” I said, taking my first forkful and closing my eyes to better savour the wonderful blend of taste and texture.

I swallowed.

“So are we going to discuss business?” I enquired.

“No, I’m just going to watch you eat. You can learn a lot about a person from that, you know.”

“If you say so.” I shrugged, unconvinced, and continued eating.

It was possibly the most awkward meal I’ve ever had, even more so than the time my sibling accidentally invited both the people they were dating to family dinner, and it turned out neither knew of the other’s existence. That at least had been fun to watch, on a trainwreck kind of way. This was just… weird.

It was slightly compensated by it also being the best meal I’d ever eaten.

When I was done, the avatar thanked me for my time, and then disappeared. A notification appeared on the tablet to say the meal had been paid for, and I got up to leave.

The person who’d shown me in reappeared to show me out.

“Did per enjoy per’s meal?”

“Yes, thank you. It was the most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten.”

They bowed.

“I shall pass your compliments to the chef.”

“Please do.”

I stepped outside and stopped dead as they shut the door behind me. I was now in a totally different part of town, one much closer to my home. I turned around to see that the door to The Restaurant was now the door to a chicken shop. Just to be certain, I opened the door and stepped in. Yes, definitely a chicken shop.

I stepped back outside and began walking back to my flat. I wondered if I’d get another lunch invitation from H.J.S. It might be worth the weirdness to eat that food again. Maybe. Probably.

Oh, who was I kidding? I’d undergo any amount of awkwardness to eat like that again.

© bardofupton 2020