Writing project, August 2021

This month’s word is light, meaning “something that makes things visible or affords illumination”, “to set burning, as a candle, lamp, fire, match, or cigarette; kindle; ignite”, “of little weight; not heavy”, “of little weight in proportion to bulk; of low specific gravity” or “of less than the usual or average weight”.

This one is late too, but at least I’m catching up a bit!

————–

It’s bright here. I like it. The light suffuses my soul, fills me up with heat and colour. It tastes… like love.

I’m happy here. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy before. Maybe I’ve never been happy at all.

I don’t remember the time before, the darkness that covered everything, that obscured my feelings. Now everything is light and free, and I feel like all the bad things have been wiped away, leaving me empty, and ready for something new.

Ready for what? I don’t know, but I’m sure it’ll be wonderful.

© bardofupton 2021

Inkwarriors, part 7 (Fiction)

People who weren’t wizards often wondered how they reproduced. After all, you nearly always saw wizards alone, and if you did see two together, they were always mentor and student. One teaching the other, or introducing them to important people, or recommending them for a particular task. You never saw a couple, and somehow it was both ludicrous and disturbing to think of them dating or even married.

People who were wizards didn’t think about it at all. At some point, a baby would appear, and a wizard, or two, or even three or four, would adopt it. (Very few wizards ever stopped to wonder where exactly the babies came from. Those who did were discouraged from pursuing that line of thought.* Babies arrived, new wizards were produced, and that was all anyone needed to know.)

This is one of the reasons that a wizard’s parentage is a complicated topic. Fortunately, no normal person would enquire about it.

Meril, of course, was no normal person, and wondered about it. A lot. Partly this was because she was still obsessed with her wizard, and partly this was to distract herself from the fact that she was still locked in her room. How, and whether, wizards dated or married was occupying a great deal of her thoughts at the present time.

***********

The wizard for their part had not gained any particularly useful advice from their mentor.

“Well, you can’t kill her, she’s an inkwarrior, and that could cause problems. You’ll just have to wait for her to forget you.”

“Don’t you mean them? Not her?”

“No, inkwarriors use he and she. And the way they dress tells you which. You said she was wearing green?”

The wizard nodded, confused once again as to why inkwarriors (and other people in general) wasted their time with different genders. Far more efficient to just have one.

“Green is for unmarried girls and women.”

The wizard sniffed.

“She, then. But they… she’s been thinking about me for years! It might never stop! I get woken up by it! I just want it to stop!” the wizard said wildly.

Their mentor shook their head.

“Perhaps an official complaint. To the head of the Inkwarriors Guild.”

The wizard sighed. How humiliating. They thanked their mentor, and plodded home, mentally composing the complaint as they went. They’d have to involve a priest, as they themself couldn’t write, and the complaint had to be in writing.

Is it really worth it? They… she’s bound to get bored with me eventually, isn’t she? I don’t want to embarrass myself. On the other hand, it’s been a long time and they… she’s still thinking about me, so maybe I should. Or… They said I couldn’t kill th… her, but what about magic? Could I make her forget me?

The wizard resolved to research that last point, because it did not escape them that one possible result of a complaint was that Meril would think about them even more, not to mention anyone else who was involved in the complaints procedure, and, probably, Meril’s family, and maybe the entire Inkwarriors Guild.

The wizard shuddered at the thought. No, magic would definitely be a better solution than the possibility of all those minds thinking about them.

*nothing nefarious. The wizards have an arrangement with distant kingdoms to take in orphans. People think it’s to train as servants, because it is an extremely closely guarded secret that anyone with the right training can become a wizard. It is not, in any way, hereditary. This would be dangerous in the kingdom of Azoudar, were it not for the fact that no living wizard is aware of the facts of human reproduction, and how babies actually come into the world. It’s simply not a concern for them, since something about doing magic seems to take the place of romantic and/or sexual interest – or perhaps they are somehow very skilled at choosing babies who will never be interested in that kind of thing. They therefore accept any child that comes into their life as their own, and so the child officially is. It helps, naturally, that all wizards are extremely secretive.
© bardofupton 2021

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