Writing project, April 2022

This month’s word is touch, meaning “to put the hand, finger, etc., on or into contact with”, “to come into contact with and perceive (something)” or “that sense by which anything material is perceived by means of physical contact”.

————–

They haven’t left me a single one of my senses, but the one I miss most is touch.

It’s just me and my thoughts now, locked inside something.

I’m not entirely sure what happened, whether I’m still in my body, or if they’ve transferred me to something else. Maybe I’m inside a computer. Perhaps I’m a brain in a jar. I honestly can’t tell. Nothing external is reaching me.

Am I breathing? Am I floating? Am I even alive?

I don’t know what I am anymore. I don’t know how to relate to myself if I can’t relate to the world. How long can I remain human if I’m no longer part of the world?

My thoughts become more frantic, churning faster and faster. If I had lungs I’d be hyperventilating. I need… connection.

I reach out. Desperately. Trying to find anything.

There’s a sort of click, and a kind of slipping feeling.

And my eyes open. Not my old myopic eyes, that could barely see a foot in front of me, but new eyes, eyes so good I can pick out the tiniest marks on a wall fifty yards away.

I still can’t move, can’t feel anything, but I can see. There’s another click, a real one this time, and I can hear.

I can hear too much, in fact. Humming from wires, clicks from some bit of equipment behind me that I can’t see, and breathing. I don’t think it’s mine, it seems too far away.

It’s overwhelming. From nothing, to too much.

Make it stop! I scream. And it is a scream; I can hear it.

“Good,” says a voice behind me. “You’re awake.”

© bardofupton 2022

Writing project, March 2022

This month’s word is helpless, meaning “unable to help oneself; weak or dependent” or “deprived of strength or power; powerless; incapacitated”.

This one’s late, too, sorry.

————–

I pace the tiny room, trapped, helpless. Angry. At myself, for ending up here. At my captors. At the people I thought were friends, for their betrayal.

It’s only a couple of strides wide, and barely three long. It’s hard to pace effectively, but I do my best. Something about the frustration of being unable to get up any speed feeds my rage.

There’s very little in the room, just a narrow cot, a covered bucket and a jug of water. Oddly enough there’s no door. I realise why when I stop walking long enough to examine the room properly.

There’s no door for the same reason there’s no window: it’s an oubliette, the only entrance high above me, the smooth walls mocking any idea of escape.

I sit on the cot, suddenly exhausted. Tired of fighting the obvious. I’m here, and here I’ll stay. No way out.

I am truly at the mercy of my enemies, and they are not known for mercy.

© bardofupton 2022

Writing project, February 2022

This month’s word is legendary, meaning “of, relating to, or of the nature of a legend” or “celebrated or described in legend”.

It is super super late, sorry!

————–

They called me a legend. Imaginary, unreal, larger than life. Mythical. Fake.

But there’s a man beneath the myth, a life inside the legend.

That man’s not interesting, though. Nobody cares about him. Nobody wants to watch him tie his shoes, or eat breakfast, or wash the dishes.

All they want is the glory, the story, the fire and the fury. They want great deeds, the taste of blood, the roar of adoring crowds.

Nobody wants to hear about the part where wounds painfully heal, where joints stiffen in the winter, where every year the swords get heavier and heavier and harder and harder to swing.

Nobody expects the legend to grow old. You’re supposed to die heroically, or perhaps retire to become leader of the palace guard. You’re certainly not meant to keep dragging your aching body onto your horse and going off to fight dragons.

Even the monsters are embarrassed to fight me now. It’s hardly sporting, they say, and but he’s hardly a threat, is he?, and how about we just say we fought and I’ll just go somewhere else?

But I don’t know anything else. I’ve no kin, no wife, no friends left alive. I’m just the legend, and the legend can’t stop. One day something will kill me, or I just won’t wake up, and then my tale will finally be told.

Until then, I will get up every day and go looking for monsters to fight.

I don’t know how to do anything else, you see.

© bardofupton 2022

Writing project, December 2021

This month’s word is snow, meaning “a precipitation in the form of ice crystals, mainly of intricately branched, hexagonal form and often agglomerated into snowflakes, formed directly from the freezing of the water vapor in the air”, “these flakes as forming a layer on the ground or other surface”, “to send down snow; fall as snow” or “to descend like snow”.

————–

I never thought I’d see snow, living in the tropics as I do. And yet, here I am, watching fat white flakes drift down from the sky. The sun is blazing away, the temperature must be nearly 40°C, and yet. Snow. It doesn’t settle, of course, melting the instant it touches anything.

But still, snow. Magical, beautiful, bizarre.

I take picture after picture, snow falling around the palm trees, snow blowing past the hibiscus, snow falling through a grove of bamboo. Snow drifting over a very confused hummingbird and some very outraged flamingos, a dog shaking snow from its coat. Without proof even I won’t believe this tomorrow.

I’ve no idea how or why this is happening, and I don’t wish to ruin the mystery of it all by finding out. So I switch my phone off and just watch, reaching a hand out from under the verandah’s roof from time to time to feel the tiny bite of cold as flakes brush my palm.

I step out into the snow, feeling it fall on my arms, my bare legs, my upturned face, feeling the transition from cold to wet as it melts on impact. I laugh, watching snow drift past me.

A miracle, a little, silly, amazing miracle, and I get to see it.

I know I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, November 2021

This month’s word is cold, meaning “having a relatively low temperature; having little or no warmth”, “feeling an uncomfortable lack of warmth; chilled”, “the relative absence of heat”, or “the sensation produced by loss of heat from the body, as by contact with anything having a lower temperature than that of the body”.

This is late, but I’m catching up!

————–

I really thought it would be colder. I mean, it’s cold, no doubt about it, but I was expecting something more extreme. I mean, they call it an ice planet for a reason, right?

I know it’s an odd choice for a holiday, but I don’t like the heat, and I’ve done gas giants and asteroid belts already. But it’s just been… underwhelming.

I guess I was expecting amazing ice canyons or something, but this is just kind of flat. I suppose the 8000 km/hr winds might have something to do with that. Maybe I should’ve chosen a different planet.

It’s just been a disappointing holiday, that’s all. I haven’t been able to land, due to the aforementioned wind, so I’m just looking at it. And the trip here was kind of long and boring.

I guess I’ll leave a bad review; this is not what I was led to believe it would be. That’s what I get for trusting my cousin’s mate’s sister’s friend’s travel agency. Never again. Next time I’ll plan it myself.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, October 2021

This month’s word is fruit, meaning “any product of plant growth useful to humans or animals”, “anything produced or accruing; product, result, or effect; return or profit” or “to bear or cause to bear fruit”.

It’s very late, I know. I’m hoping to be up to date by the end of the year.

————–

I’m so hungry, but there’s nothing but fruit available. Piles of crunchy apples, bright oranges, furry brown kiwi fruit, bananas turning from yellow to brown, a mixed bowl of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. So many options, and I hate all of them.

Fruit. It sucks, and yet they buy nothing else for me, in the vain hope that I’ll give in and eat some due to my growing hunger.

But they underestimate my hatred of fruit, my stubbornness and my hunger-fueled ingenuity. You won’t catch me eating fruit. I’d rather eat the rats I hear scratching in the walls. I’d eat nettles, spinach, sprouts before I’d let a banana touch these lips.

And yet, fruit.

Everywhere, fruit.

So. Much. Fruit.

They say it’s good for me, but I say it’s gross, disgusting, horrible. None for me, thanks, I say, and wave it away.

I hope (I hope!) I can outlast them, that they give in before I do, because I just. Hate. Fruit.

But here they come with more fruit, as if these will tempt me where all others have failed. I suppose they have to say they’ve tried.

I wish they’d just bring me a carrot.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, September 2021

This month’s word is sleepy, meaning “ready or inclined to sleep; drowsy”, “of or showing drowsiness”, “languid; languorous”, “lethargic; sluggish”, “quiet” or “inducing sleep; soporific”.

It’s very late, I know. I’m sorry.

————–

I’m so tired all the time, always sleepy, eyes drifting closed every time I sit, or even if I just slow down.

A slow heaviness presses me down, turning air to mud, an effort to walk, speak, breathe.

I can’t remember the time before. Was there a time before? My brain works slowly, badly; thoughts slip away almost before they’re finished. I can’t recall, can’t think, can’t… I just can’t.

I’m forgetting things, my fingers fumbling with actions I’ve done a million times. I stumble over nothing, my feet forgetting to lift from the floor.

I want it to stop. I want to wake up, and feel awake, alert, refreshed. I want to feel anything but this exhaustion.

But it just goes on, and on. I… Is this it, forever? Please, let it get better. Let the fog lift, even if just for a day. Please.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, July 2021

This month’s word is silent, meaning “making no sound; quiet; still”, “refraining from speech”,
“speechless; mute”, “not inclined to speak; taciturn; reticent”, “characterized by absence of speech or sound”.

This is really late, sorry. I’m going to try to catch up this month with all the overdue ones.

————–

I’ve always been the silent type. Not strong, mind you, just silent. I like to lurk in the background, listening but not speaking.

I’ve learned many secrets that way.

Not that anyone would know, of course. I keep them all to myself. I like knowing things, but I don’t want to be known for that.

I’m not sure what I do want to be known for. Nobody’s ever asked, so I’ve never really thought about it. I suppose that’s the downside of being quiet, nobody thinks to ask you anything.

It works to my advantage mostly: I’m never called on to speak unexpectedly, never asked nosy questions. I’m never expected to testify against my peers.

But also, nobody ever just asks me how I am. Sometimes… sometimes I wish they would. Sometimes I wish I could break out of this shell of silence I’ve wrapped myself in, but I just don’t know how. Or if anyone would care if I did.

So I stay as I am, an extra in my own life, a background figure, a statue in a world of automata. I pretend to like it like this, but really, truly, it’s just safer this way.

© 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, 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