This circus of catatonic performers
little pieces floating away
is fine with me
watch the cirque
into one pretentious head spin.
These jesters chords
in your own kings court
your strings fall,
a puppeteer’s reward
contented and free but not free at all
your painted face
In this world and the next matter is made up of tiny blocks that connect and align perfectly, mechanically. Like all facts of this world, nothing was unprecedented but expected, planned and above all regimented by the mentors. All pupils would sit in their allotted space. A symmetry of lines, mirrored by those they penned down. Each word that left the mentors lips fell heavily in the room devoid of any emotion or dare it be said imagination. Presently Mortar did not know the meaning of this word. He sat in row two, space 06 waiting for the next line to be stated. The clock tolled, class was over. All pupils rose and left in an orderly queue, filing out of the room at monotonous speed. Mortar was amongst them. Taller than most boys of sixteen with dark brown eyes and neatly trimmed hair, the same as every other. The city was white, each house the same height and width as the last. Square impassive windows into empty rooms. Wide deserted roads that if one so followed incuriously all led to the same thing. Sky. Infinite sky in all directions. The city sat motionless above the clouds like the cold blocks of stone it was made of. Few people came and went through the streets. Women wearing grey work clothes, shawls heavily drawn up against the wind. Being idle was against the rules but as Mortar walked quickly to the end of the road this was his exact intent. Flanked by houses on either side of the gap the sky opened up, no barriers blocked the way as Mortar stood on the edge. Looking back to check no one was watching he began shimmying sideways along the edge of the house. Facing the sky’s endless plummet did not scare him. In the middle of the houses outer wall was an alcove. Ducking into this Mortar sat down in a heap. The clouds rose and fell in cascades of smoke, their tips already glowing from the setting sun. Mortar withdrew his workbook and looked at the days notes, ritually tearing out the page he let it go in the wind; it flew away spiralling in the air. Next to him was a pile of old white cotton sheets. Mortar yawned and resumed his work. ‘It wont be long now’ he thought. He would leave this place or at least die trying. The label 06 was sewn onto his jacket, his fingers traced the outlines of the numbers before picking up a long needle and thread.
The toll of the clock tower sounded and Mortars eyelids dragged open into morning. He rolled over and sat up as other boys around the dormitory were doing. A grey robed mentor passed by the opening to the corridor, for there was no door. The boys gathered their uniforms in unison, donning the straight navy tops and trousers. Each face blank of expression. One by one they left to seek breakfast. Mortar stayed until last feigning trouble with his trouser buttons. As soon as the last left he turned and grabbed the bed sheet, tugging it free he rolled it in a ball quickly and stuffed it in his pillow. As he turned around he faced a mentor standing in the opening. “06, breakfast is given” Mortar bobbed his head “your sheet, where is it?” Mortars heart quickened “I… have a problem, mentor. I have already seen the doctor.” The mentor stared for a moment and left. This was not the first time Mortar had used that excuse, he would have to be more careful. Leaving the dormitory Mortar returned to row two, seat 06. Only he knew the secret pleasure of creating long bounding letters that joined into elegant patterns. At the end of the morning the clock struck midday. Its toll travelled through every wall, stopping every man and woman at work. The clock tower was a vast pillar of white stone with only one facing of time. This was because most people didn’t even look at the tower but waited for its toll. It regulated all time spent by every individual, from shifts, work, class and sleep. Its deep ring was as monotonous as the city, striking no stirring chord but a hard note that commanded. Mortar headed to the lunch room, his stomach tying itself into knots after missing breakfast. No noise came from the communal area where all the pupils took their meals. The same repetitive queue was formed as each boy and girl waited to be handed a plain white cardboard box that contained the same chunk of tasteless bread, meat jerky and hard oatcake. They sat in long tables eating quietly, waiting for the clock to sound. Mortar collected his box and sat in the nearest space, for there was no reason to seek a better one. At last the afternoon was over and Mortar filed out of the school towards the dormitory. Everyone would be eating dinner, leaving the dorm empty. Slipping through the deserted corridors towards his room, the white walls blank of expression. He took the sheet out of the pillow and left the way he came, through heavy set doors.
Checking the street for a moment he made his way down the road to the sky. Once settled in the alcove Mortar got to work threading the last piece of cloth needed to complete the flyer. Mortar didn’t know whether it was going to work or what was even beyond the clouds that covered everything. He only knew that he could no longer look at them from the white walls. But there was something missing still. Lost in thought Mortar’s heart all but stopped at the sound of a mentors voice “these rules are here for truth and purity and yet you scorn them by running off in idleness. Let your body be here Mortar to accept the punishment of the rules you have broken”. Mortars heart raced ‘how did they know!?’ he thought. The plunging realisation that all his careful planning had amounted to this rendered him breathless. Slowly he stood up, the sudden edge of sky was enough to make him want to jump. Licking his lips he began shimming towards the road. Five mentors awaited him and without a word escorted him through the streets. They headed north towards the clock tower until they were right underneath it. There the rest of the city’s mentors waited in a semi- circle. Underneath the clock tower was a wooden pole, Mortar had never noticed it before. “you have committed crimes against purity and truth, do you say anything in your defence?”
“No” Mortar replied with no infliction.
“then the punishment is thus, ten lashings.”
Mortar did not know what a lashing was but instinct drove him to think it wasn’t good. Two mentors guided him to the pole, stripping him to the waist before binding his wrists together around it. There he waited. Under the solemn clock tower, in the setting sky as the first lash fell his cry rang out like times chords but with anguished sorrow stained within it.
Mortar felt a deep thrumming, as he awoke the thrum contorted into burning pain. He cried out as something large and wet was laid across his back. Face down he moaned into the pillow eyes still closed, tears at the corners before sinking back into the black depths. Unnumbered days passed this way while he drifted in and out of sleep. When he awoke there was always a mentor present. On this particular day he was made to sit up and eat, his back screamed silently at every movement. The same coarse meal seemed impossible to swallow.
“you will attend lessons again from tomorrow”
Mortar bobbed his head in compliance. The mentor left and Mortar was alone.
The next day he awoke jaggedly and dressed for lessons. No heads turned towards him, they moved like the clocks hands, every step toward order, every thought stimulated by the mentors commands. It was enough to make Mortar feel sick. His hand trembled for a moment, the parchment soaked up the ink eagerly “tonight” he thought and looked up. The mentor reading was looking at him, his eyes dark under his grey hood. As Mortar left the school that day he headed straight to the dorm, collected his food serving and sat in the nearest empty space. In the evening the mentors gave hot soup with the bread and oatcake. Nightfall came soon enough and it was time to return to bed. Mortar lay there breathing methodically as all the other boys did, listening to the pad of the mentors footsteps heading further into the dormitory. Slowly he slipped from his bed adjusting the pillows underneath the sheets. Crouching next to the open doorway he checked no one was awake before making a break down the corridor. Having left for his bed last he was able to avoid anyone seeing him sleep full clothed. Mortar had anticipated the heavy set doors blocking his way but tonight luck was on his side. One side stood ajar, he pulled it to and slipped out into the street. The road was empty. Moving quickly Mortar headed for his escape, pausing in the shadows he watched two mentors move toward their quarters. He carried on, a few more minutes and he rounded the corner to the clock tower. The same place he had been not a week earlier. Shuddering at the sight of the wooden pole Mortar moved around the tower to the metal rungs that laddered up the side. Looking around to check the coast was clear he began climbing. The time was between seven and half past exactly. Mortar stopped every few rungs to look around ,the buildings from up high up looked even more like empty blocks of white stone. The clock tower was high above any building and it took him longer than expected to reach the top. There was also no level there to climb up to. The only option was to lean around towards the clock face. The cold wind howled and blew through his clothes and as the first dim rays of sunshine loomed in the distance Mortar plucked the large hand from the face of the clock.
He ran as fast as the wind whistling through the streets making for the familiar piece of sky. Mortar crept along the edge to alcove, the long metal clock hand still grasped firmly in his hand. He grabbed the sheets and got to work, a few precious minutes passed as his warm breath clouded the air, he had little time but still had to make sure everything was put together correctly. Checking the knots he turned and looked at the sky. The brilliant haze of sunrise couldn’t be more appropriate. He lifted up the flyer and put his arms through the holds. The clock hand behind him, a barrier between his weight and the sheets. The first shouts from mentors could be heard in the distance. “this is it, now or never” he thought and smiled for the first time he could remember. Backing into the alcove he sprang forth leaping as far he could into the sky, immediately accelerating downwards.
Inspired by Charles Dickens Hard Times
They talk of psychological acts
the condensation on the glass
the sound of their voices
they think I dont know
what they mean when
they say schemus
I bite my tongue.
they use the term
but dont even understand
where in the manical mind
it would burn.
This bitter feeling
sits and waits
waits until you forget
and go back to the momontemy
to more pressing matters of deadlines and dates
unknown to you
that it still sits there
the long flowing lines that your pen lays down
with ticking clocks
and higher frowns
it waits for you
to finish the shopping, and make your dinner
despite your humming.
Until you take your leave, for a warm bed
it creeps up and out of your head
rearing in the darkness like nightmarish foes
reminding you not to begett your woes.
after burdened tears you finally slip
into a peaceful rest
despite the trip.
On my travels to Australia I found myself wandering through a massive warehouse of second hand books. This is just one of the books I discovered there.
Baro Harkless has devoted his life to the service of the Archonite Bureau of Security, the force tasked with keeping the peace among and within the city states of Old Earth. He comes to the city of Sherit seeking the criminal, Luff Imbry. Luff Imbry has devoted his young life to the enjoyment of wealth. A gourmet, a charmer, and an ever-so-stylish fop, he has come to Sherit to pursue a new fortune. Not his own, mind you, for Luff is also a mountebank, a swindler, and forger of the first water. Yoked together by circumstance, they form an uneasy truce and discover a common goal: capturing the grandest con-man of them all, Horselan Gebbing. Gebbing, who made off with Imbry’s previous fortune, is posing as Father Olwyn, Sacredotal Eminence of the Assembly of Tangible Unity, and now claims to cure the invariably fatal ailment known as the lassitude with Black Brillion. But the gemstone is a myth, as our heroes know.
A good entertaining read- it is not easy to create a sophisticated goverment in a fantasy world but I think Huges did a great job!
Hello All I dont know what happened when I was on holiday but it looks like my account was hacked?! So many people no longer follow me, which makes me very sad- please subscribe again! I assure you that my blog is for writing purposes only and I would never post anything regarding money or advertising. It pains me a lot that this has happened as I have worked very hard to make a name for myself in such a widespread community.
Adding to this I have fixed the followers part of the problem turns out its a widespread technical issue at the moment. Very happy at this hour in the morning! If anyone else has the same problem let me know!
My first real blog post as a blogger, this stemmed from reading many other blogs I have and haven’t subscribed too. Ultimately leading me to question, does the writer or the critic know best? I’ve read blogs on ‘the importance of paragraph breaks’ or ‘how to write a novel’ etc but the majority of these bloggers are not writers themselves as much as they don’t write short stories or novels. So why is it they know best?
Call me old fashioned but in my opinion the writer does know best. It is in our imagination and our guts that fuel every story, we put emotions into our stories that critics wouldn’t shed a tear for writing a review. As each person is an individual they have their own writing style. So how is it that a standard can be so easily set for such a diverse scope of media? Well it is according to what sells best and these days and it seems what is easy for people to digest. The problem this creates for writers – like myself, is that the aim of the game is get the reader to see what you see and in order to do that there must be a standard of imagination. To take this away would be like stripping paint off of a canvas. It saddens me that novels like ‘fifty shades of grey’ have been written to entertain popular demand and make good business, have cast a shadow over writing.
A novel that has caught my eye of late is ‘By Light Alone’ by Adam Roberts. The back reads:
‘In a world where we have been genetically engineered so that we can photosynthesise sunlight with our hair hunger is a thing of the past, food an indulgence. The poor grow their hair, the rich affect baldness and flaunt their wealth by still eating. But other hungers remain . . . The young daughter of an affluent New York family is kidnapped. The ransom demands are refused. A year later a young women arrives at the family home claiming to be their long lost daughter. She has changed so much, she has lived on light, can anyone be sure that she has come home? Adam Roberts’ new novel is yet another amazing melding of startling ideas and beautiful prose. Set in a New York of the future it nevertheless has echoes of a Fitzgeraldesque affluence and art-deco style.’
This has given me hope that if writers with novels like this can still make it to ‘new best-selling fiction’ then the fat lady hasn’t sung just yet. So I will try my best to post suggestions of fiction novels to read and update my blog with my own work more regularly. I am an affluent reader and I have been writing a novel for over ten years now (Tilt). Critic or not I feel like the blogging world is quite one sided at the moment with too many critics voicing opinions that aren’t backed from real experience and reading. I am no expert but if people care to read I will continue to write.
INT. NORTH WC21 BEDROOM- DAY
A HUMMING, CLICKING, BUZZING and WHISTLING fills the room. Dozens of little machines spin, whirl and move. A long bench covers two walls heaped with junk that spills across the floor. Light shines into the room from a dusty window. Below sprawled across the bed is NORTH WC21, 22 average looks and height. Medium build. Metal marbles start to fall through a long tube with a repetitive CLUNK. North’s hand moves to ruffle his hair. The last marble drops. North draws himself up to the side of the bed.
WOMAN’S VOICE (O.S)
North grabs various items from a pile of clothes on the floor, a loud buzzing device visible on his wrist.
INT. FRONT OF SHOP- DAY
BIRDIE a large robust woman, dressed in heavy gloves and goggles moves around behind a long counter in front of a furnace. Sparks fly as she welds two pieces of metal together.
North picks up some scrap metal and throws it into the furnace. A hologram of news coverage plays in the background.
Gov’s thinning out even more techs now before you know it we’ll be next.
Yeah. What will we make our wealth from then?
You take this for granted and granted you’ll end up with worse, you see any gov officials our way you stay clear ‘o them. Ive got to go to centre-point to pick up some new parts. Mind the shop while I’m gone.
Birdie leaves the shop, before she has even rounded the corner North aims a kick at a piece of junk that sends the metal flying.
INT. NORTH’S BEDROOM- DAY
Going back to his room North grabs a rucksack and starts stuffing it with buzzing cuffs and other little machines. He then grabs an ear piece and attachs a couple of things to his belt.
EXT. STREET OUTSIDE- DAY
The street is bare for a few homeless shuffling around at the edges, many shops are closed and littered with flyers. A wind whistles from a parched desert outlands, where the road ends to a view of nothingness.
INT. SHUTTLE ON THE STREAMLINE- DAY
North stands in the shuttle, a cacophony of noise blurring into the background. Through the window the city skyscrapers grow closer standing tall, clean and ominous. RAIN beings to fall heavily causing sighs and a stir of chatter amongst other people.
EXT. CITY TERMINAL- DAY
North leaves the shuttle and stands in line on the edge of city central. Large walls patrolled by guards. Several terminals where more people line up to be checked before entering surrounded the center. The man in front of North looks behind him.
You a tech boy?
Don’t see techs from out east anymore.
There are plenty of techs out east.
That’s just what I heard.
Shouts from the scene aside to them, a mob is trying to get through the next terminal.
There they go again.
Noise shortage is getting worse, techs going missing. It all sounds too convenient ya’know.
It’s always like this.
I’ve got to get some sound today, my family is weak.
North pulls his rucksack off and fishes out a couple of machines.
Sound…your giving me sound? Oh thank you. I have money.
Keep your coin, just spread the word that the techs aren’t all gone yet.
INT. SKYSCRAPER- NIGHT
A man stands in front of the glass walls of the building fifty stories up. He wears a grey suit with thick black lines along the limbs.
MAN NO.2 (O.S)
There have been reports of over twenty encounters today sir. The scopes are disappearing off the grid. Closer than ever to the city.
Good. Then it will work out perfectly. Are the streamlines ready?
Then get all the relevant people ready, we leave at midnight.
What about the techs sir?
Are they relevant?
MAN NO.2 leaves. EDEN enters. Tall slender, 21 wearing a similar outfit in white.
Eden what are you doing here?
Are we leaving soon?
The journey is too long we must leave at midnight to get there by morning.
INT. NORTH’S BEDROOM- NIGHT
North lies on his bed his eyes gradually closing.
Only for the morning. Sometimes I wonder why..
INT. NORTH’S BEDROOM- DAY
North wakes up, for a moment he is still then he jumps up in alarm as all the machines in his room are switched off.
Shit. Oh shit what the-
North flips a few switches but the power is not on. Stumbling as he grows weaker he quickly winds up some machines that work manually.
North grabs the machines in his arms and runs to the shop front.
INT. SHOP FRONT- DAY
North runs through the empty shop front to Birdies room.
INT. BIRDIES ROOM- DAY
North finds Birdies room empty.
EXT. STREET OUTSIDE- DAY
The street is completely deserted. North sees deeply riveted tracks in the ground and his gaze follows them into the wastelands where huge glass balls are strewn across the ground as far as the eye can see. The orbs are all broken, pieces lying around them scattered. All the tracks lead into the city and criss-cross each other from above. Screaming can be heard from afar and North runs towards it.
EXT. ALLEY- DAY
North approaches a dark alley slowly, creeping behind a large dustbin at the end he peers out into the neighboring street where the scream came from. There stood a huge creature at least 6ft tall and as wide as two people across. With two wide ears like triangles at the side of its face and silvery blue fur that swayed in the breeze. Two others moved behind it, they moved on all fours but stood on two legs when still. Their black eyes bore into the man cowering in front of them. In a silent act the first creature released something invisible that sends the man flying. He lands heavily further down the street and lies motionless. North watches the creatures move away, looks up at the roof above him and climbs onto the dustbin, jumping up to the lip he heaves himself up.
EXT. ROOFTOP- DAY
North crosses the roof tops quickly climbing higher before taking in the view of the surrounding area and city. Plumes of smoke from buildings on fire fill the sky as others crash down, some orbs hang out of them, some having just left holes where they’d ripped straight through.
EXT. STREETS AND ALLEYS- DAY
North is running. He swiftly turns corners and runs through alleys. A steady beat of heavy steps can be heard behind him. From above North can be seen running through the maze of alleys being swiftly followed by a silent creature. As it closes in on North a homeless man in a dead end alley stumbles and knocks over rubbish as North runs past. The silent creature swerves away from North. All that can be seen is the flurry of newspaper and dust from the alley over North’s shoulder.
EXT. STREET- DAY
North runs down a main street into a café and up the stairs to the second level.
INT. CAFÉ- DAY
North bends over breathing heavily and sinks to sit on the floor.
North turns to see EDEN in the corner, she is still in the white suit but is clearly dirtied, her hair is messy and she is holding a chair leg up at North.
Have you seen out there?
Ofcourse I have. I dont know. You have to leave now.
Im not going to hurt you. It’s alright.
North pulls his rucksack round and gets out a wrist device.
Here. You look tired.
North throws her the wrist device.
What’s your name?
North moves to the window, the street outside is chaos. People are running and screaming as the silence leap onto them the air vibrating at the force of their voices. More silence run people down in another direction. Their invisable weapons travel through the air like torpedoes leaving gushes of wind in their wake that send objects flying. One man starts up a shrill box and a few of the creatures withdraw running away to a safe distance allowing the man to escape, leaving the box on the ground. The sound grows weaker until it turns off.
They don’t like the sound. We should use it to our advantage.
Are you mad. We should wait here for help.
They will start searching for people eventually. If we could turn on the rain system we could drive them out of the city.
But that’s on the other side of the city even if we could make it how will we know what to do.
I can do it. I’m a tech.
North still facing the window doesn’t see Eden’s expression.
Ok. I know a shortcut, under the skyline.
EXT. STREET OUTSIDE- DAY
North and Eden leave the café, grabbing the box in the road they start running quickly towards an underpass under a bridge. They see a few silence moving along the road slowly like a group of passive gorillas and wait behind a car before making a break for the bridge. There they are attacked by a lone creature. North starts up the shrill box. Its noise pierces the air making the silent creature writhe in pain on the ground until it collapses. North stops the machine allowing the creature to recover and run away.
EXT. OUTLANDS EAST OF THE CITY- NIGHT
The shadowed desert is lit by a few lights of a vast ship descending. The dust and dirt billow through the rays of light. It opens a few feet off the ground and a troop of black figures jump out holding weapons. They wait for the ship to move off. Standing together silently for a moment, before moving towards the city.
EXT. UNDERGROUND TUNNEL- DAY
North and Eden get to the underground tunnel via the sewers and emerge from a drainage hole. They walk through several terminals. All the terminals are guarded with large mounted guns and machines but are deserted. A stray dog starts barking at them from far off before running away down the tunnel. They reach the end where Eden opens the door using her key card.
Where did you get that?
Someone gave it to me, told me to come this way if I got lost in the city.
INT. LABROTORY- DAY
Through a corridor and into a large room that is dark, blue tubes illuminating everything. The room stretches high up into the skyline. Lined on every wall are chambers containing people. Levels of other containers line the walls above them. All of the people are wearing masks, their bodies wired into machines going behind them. Various tables have machines and instruments on them with tubes and wires running from them to various chambers and containers of liquid.
Who are they? North?
What are they doing here?
They walk around moving under the thick cables.
North runs to a container and desperately tries to open it.
Wait North! Stop, there’s gas in those chambers!
North pry’s open the door COUGHING and removes the mask from Birdies face.
Birdie! Birdie! Wake up Birdie!
Eden and North disconnect the wires and lay her down on the floor. North sits beside her. Birdie’s eyes slowly open.
What happened here?
Gov scum. Must leave.
No. I’m not leaving you.
Don’t be a..
Who gave you the key card.
Who gave it to you?
My father..he works in the skyline but I swear North I didnt know. We were going to leave the city last night but the streamline I was on never left because the power cut out. Do you think he knew they were coming?
Either way its not your fault.
INT. TESTING ROOM- DAY
Through another corridor they enter a room, Eden screams. The room contains a few hospital beds, walled by clear plastic sheets. On the beds are people contorted in pain, dead. The plastic is smeared with blood, metal tables next to them have more instruments and machines covered in blood.
Don’t look. Come on.
North leads Eden out to the staircase.
INT. GROUND FLOOR- DAY
North and Eden make it to the ground floor of the skyscraper. The building is made of glass. Outside they see the government’s new sound proof soldiers fighting the silence. They kill the silent creatures and move further up the street to the west of the skyscraper.
The soldiers outside are approached by civilians that are hiding and are shot down by the soldiers.
INT. GROUND FLOOR CONTINUOUS- DAY
North and Eden hide unseen by the men outside. The soldiers set up a line of sound traps in the narrow street and start amplifying a low muffled buzzing sound. Soon the silence approach climbing over the building tops in the distance.
Its a trap. Wait here.
North runs out of the front doors.
EXT. STREET BATLLE- DAY
North runs through the street, bullets flying. The echo and click as an explosion is let loose in the silence’s direction. North dodges left and right grabbing the amplifier before running into an alley.
EXT. ALLEY AND STREETS- DAY
Running for a few moments North turns off the amplifier and throws it away. He circles to go back to the building where Eden waits, when he reaches the street again the soldiers are dead and the silence have moved on.
EXT. STREETS- DAY
North and Eden run towards the rain system which is now in view. Gunshots nearby, shouts and explosions can be heard. A building collapses in the distance thundering to the ground. Silence appear, chasing them into a dead end street. As the creatures close in, another jumps down in front of them, but faces the other silence. The others back off and move away. The huge creatures turns, its black eyes staring at North and Eden the only sounds are North and Edens buzzing and clicking cuffs, the creatures deep breathing and the drain pipe dripping onto it’s side.
What should we do?
The creatures head snaps to focus on her.
I think it’s alright.
North reaches out to touch the creature and it offers its acceptance.
How do you know we can trust them.
I don’t…He should have a name.
What, like Echo.
I wasnt being seri-
North leaves to scout up the street. North returns. Echo seems fond of Eden and sniffs around her persons as she squirms away. North, Eden and Echo approach the rain system, a huge structure that branches out in a massive glass disc that covers the center of the city.
INT. RAIN SYSTEM- DAY
North figures out the system and goes to turn it on.
Here we go.
Wait. What about Echo. What will happen to him?
I don’t think natural sound harms them. The drainpipe in the alley didn’t bother him.
Are you sure?
EXT. HEAVY RAIN- DAY
North walks with Eden, Echo and the rest of the silence and an army of civilians carrying weapons through the rain. They vastly outnumber the government soldiers that retreat from the city. The real war begins.
Fiction writer and poet, Dreamer. Muser. Favourite quote of all time: 'faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens'.