Writing project, September 2019

This month’s word is doll, meaning “a small figure representing a baby or other human being, especially for use as a child’s toy”.

————–

I’m a floppy kind of thing, sprawled across the bedroom floor. Wool hair, button eyes, skin made of different scraps of fabric: I’m a unique creation.

I lie on the carpet, looking helpless, immobile. You think I’m inanimate, just an object to be moved around at your pleasure. But every night I crawl into your dreams and save you from monsters.

I’ve been with you since you were a baby. That was almost ten years ago. You think you’re too old for me, but somehow you never get round to throwing me away. I’ve been relegated to the floor, however, but it’s fine. I know how this will end: one day you’ll finally throw me out or give me away or, best case scenario, I’ll end up in a box somewhere. And you’ll wonder why your nightmares have gotten worse, but you’ll never put it together.

Humans never do.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project, August 2019

This month’s word is pocket, meaning “a shaped piece of fabric attached inside or outside a garment and forming a pouch used especially for carrying small articles” or “any pouchlike receptacle, compartment, hollow, or cavity”.

————–

[start of file]

I put pockets in everything. Not just clothes, but in the sofa, in my mattress, in the curtains. I’m obsessed with them. It’s kind of like a magic trick: anything could be in there.

I like to fill them with random objects that I come across. Right now I have the following items in my right sofa pocket: a small pair of scissors, a penny, and two packs of chewing gum.

I spend a lot of time on my pockets: perfecting the size and shape, experimenting with different materials, trying out different types of closures. My favourite pocket at the moment is big enough to get my entire hand in up to the wrist, made of suede, and closes with a popper. It’s a curtain pocket, so I have to be careful what I put in it, otherwise it drags the curtain down on that side.

I spend a lot of time thinking about pockets, is what I’m saying. So it was inevitable that once I heard about the concept of pocket dimensions I would become obsessed with them. I kept wondering if it would be possible to put one into an actual pocket, so that you had infinite storage. Retrieval would be an issue, of course, but consider the possibilities!

I had many sleepless nights thinking about it. I repeatedly contacted cosmologists, astronomers and physicists with queries, to the extent that I’m banned from every university in the country. I tried, and failed, to create one on my own, but I did successfully cause a massive explosion, and that is why I’m now writing you from a secret government facility. It turns out that I somehow invented a new kind of explosive. Not as cool as a new pocket, or a workable pocket dimension, of course, but pretty good for someone who is entirely self-taught.

I will put this note in the portable waterproof, fireproof, unshreddable pocket and drop it in the bin so you can retrieve it from the incinerator, as arranged. This message will be the last; they’re moving me elsewhere tomorrow.

I hope all is well with you, and say hi to everyone for me. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. After all, they need me.

[end of file: text found on desk of [redacted] at [redacted] after sudden cardiac arrest. “pocket” referenced could not be found.]

© bardofupton 2019

Inkwarriors, part 5 (Fiction)

Meril moped around her home for a few days, mourning the loss of her wizard, but then had a sudden, inspiring thought. What if they were interested? After all, they hadn’t said no; they’d just pointed out the difficulty of a relationship between the two of them. Maybe she did stand a chance – if she could find a way to contact them again.

She began to keep a lookout for them, once again. She wondered if they were thinking about her. She hoped so, because she couldn’t stop thinking about them.

***********

In the wizard district, behind its high walls, a certain young wizard was thinking about Meril, but not in the way she hoped. They had thought, after their encounter and Meril’s confession of love, that she would forget them. And she had, briefly.

One of a wizard’s powers was to know when someone was thinking of them. Because a wizard’s true name was a secret even from themself, this feeling was usually a vague background mutter wherein someone was just thinking of wizards in general, but sometimes there would be a spike, usually when another wizard was thinking of them. Meril’s obsession had been annoying before she’d met them, causing large surges of attention. This had only intensified since.

The wizard was unsure what to do. The obvious solution would be to change their route, but the path they took through the city was part of the spell they were in the process of casting, and to change it would destroy the work of many months. Also, thought the irritated wizard, why should they have to change their habits for an inkwarrior, of all things?

The origin of the animosity between wizard and inkwarrior was lost in history, but the essential point was that their aims and methods were opposed. Everyone knew that wizards and inkwarriors did not mix, and indeed could be thought of as two opposing forces.

Both wizards and inkwarriors learned the same catechism as children:

What is an inkwarrior?

An inkwarrior writes the real to keep it safe from chaos.

What is a wizard?

A wizard uses words to bend the real to their will.

This chant was the only known point of commonality between the two groups. There were a few who claimed that this spoke to a shared ancestry, but that was fiercely denied by the elders of both groups.

The wizard decided to take the Meril problem to the wisest person they knew, their mentor. Perhaps they would be able to unravel this tangle. Even if they couldn’t, it would be a relief to talk to someone about it.

***********

Meril knew she should be studying, or practicing her glyphs, or doing anything but obsessing over her wizard. She was fully aware of this, but nevertheless she had not opened any of the books stacked in front of her, nor had she picked up her chalk. She had already taken, and almost certainly failed, nearly all of her exams. There was only the most important one left, the final test of an inkwarrior’s skill: mending the real.

She knew she’d fail it. Probably everyone in the house, down to the youngest child, knew she’d fail, but she had to take it nonetheless. After all, she couldn’t make the glyphs, and if you can’t write the symbols you can’t mend the real.

“I wish I could just quit,” Meril said to herself. But she knew it was impossible. There was nowhere she could go, and in any case she had no other skills. She would be an inkwarrior til she died, and she would never get to be with her wizard.

She buried her face in her hands and cried softly. She might as well resign herself to being the unwanted failure living in her family’s house.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project, July 2019

This month’s word is grinding, meaning “to perform the operation of reducing to fine particles” or “to rub harshly; grate”.

I’m not especially happy with this one, because I wrote myself into a corner and couldn’t really resolve it in the time I had, but then the point is quick work rather than polished.

————–

I can hear it all the time: the terrible, deep grinding of the earth. It rattles my bones, vibrates through my teeth. I feel it too, a slow motion back and forth, a constant queasiness inside.

Nobody believes me, of course.

It’s simply not possible! is the kindest response I’ve received when I’ve told someone.

Usually they resort to impugning my sanity, maligning my intelligence, or questioning my honesty. But I know it’s real. I know something terrible is going to happen. I just don’t know what. Or when, exactly. But the sound is getting louder, or closer. And I feel an awful urgency, as though I need to stop the coming catastrophe.

And I would, if I knew what it was, or how to prevent it.

I’ve been hearing this noise for a long time. Years. So I do understand why people dismiss me. After all, I’ve been going on about this for a while. It would help if I had any idea what was going to happen. I guess it’s probably an earthquake but I really have no idea.

I dream about giants grinding their teeth and wake up sweating, convinced I’m about to be devoured. I’ve lost all my friends, my family think I’m crazy, and I haven’t been able to leave the house for months now. The feeling’s even worse outdoors.

I just want it to stop. I want to sleep without dreams, to walk outside without fear. To live. I just don’t know how to get there, to the place where that’s possible.

So I’ll continue to dream, to hide, to hate my life, until whatever is going to happen, happens. Then they’ll know I was right.

Assuming there’s anyone left to know.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project, June 2019

This month’s word is energy, meaning “the capacity for vigorous activity; available power”. It’s going to be a short one.

————–

I’m fast-moving, high-octane; I never slow down. I barely sleep, just pace my room, mind racing, ready to spring into action at any moment.

Or that’s how I’d like to see myself. That’s how I imagine myself.

In actual fact, I’m slothful, lethargic. My imagination is active, but I am not. I drape myself over an armchair, and dream of action.

I desire heroism, and feats of derring-do; I crave the one perfect moment when I’ve saved the day, rescued the princess, and defeated the villain. I yearn to stand on a mountaintop, sword in hand, clutching a beautiful person to my chest.

But I will only ever have that in my dreams.

Because I am too damn lazy to put in the effort to get it. Just the thought of all the work required, the exercise and training and practice needed to become that hero, wearies me.

So I dram big dreams, and live a small life. It’s easier that way.

And easy is my middle name.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project, May 2019

This month’s word is truth, meaning “the true or actual state of a matter” or “conformity with fact or reality; verity”.

————–

I always speak the truth; they always lie.

The two of us guard two doors: one leads to death, the other to your heart’s greatest desire. You know this story: the hero comes up to us and tries to ask the one question that will tell them which door to take.

Of course, rumours got around quickly about the right question to ask*, so it got pretty boring for us. And our boss had to grant loads of wishes; she hated that. So she came up with a twist: the correct door changes randomly, and when it changes, only one of us is told. This lends a certain randomness to our answers, and an element of confusion, sometimes. For example, if door A is now death, and I know that, but they don’t, then my answer to the question should be whichever the death door was on the last occasion that they knew the answer. This is extremely hard for me to keep track of, because I actually have a terrible memory. I usually go with the correct answer for what the doors are at now, but sometimes that means I’m not telling the truth.

This is causing me a lot of stress. If I’ve told a lie, even inadvertently, then I am not who I always thought I was. I’m not the one who always tells the truth, but neither am I the one who lies. I’m just somewhere in the middle, like one of you. And if I’m not the one who tells the truth, then who am I? Why am I here?

I’ve tried asking the one who lies about this, but they don’t seem to care. I shouldn’t care; I never used to. But something about the new rules unsettles me. I keep thinking that it’s not right. I don’t even understand the point of it now. We’re just randomly killing people. The boss should just replace us with a random number generator. Or come up with a different test. Maybe this is just outdated.

In any case, it might all be over soon. I heard that someone is suing the boss. Apparently their betrothed asked the right question, but got the wrong answer. So we might have to shut down. I don’t know how I feel about that. What does an archetype do when they’ve lost their function? I asked the one who lies, but of course their answer only ever tells me what they don’t think. And I’m realising now that some questions have more than one right answer.

I don’t know what to hope for. I don’t want to do this any more, but I don’t know if there’s anything else I can do. I have to stop talking now; the boss is coming. If you don’t hear from me again, assume the worst.

*The right question is: “if I asked the other person which door to take, what would they say?” and then you take the other door.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project: index

This is a post to list the words I’ve used for this project. It will be updated monthly.

  • Inchoate – November 2018
  • Unicorn – December 2018
  • Improve – January 2019
  • Winged – February 2019
  • Scar – March 2019
  • Voice – April 2019
  • Truth – May 2019
  • Energy – June 2019
  • Grinding – July 2019
  • Pocket – August 2019
  • Doll – September 2019
  • Dark – October 2019
© bardofupton 2019