Thursday, 12 July 2007

Descartes' Skin - Part Deux

Whilst I started this blog primarily to explore notions of human spirituality without gods, I had another more selfish motive - to learn how to write more betterly. Because in November last year I pretentiously decided that I could write a novel. I had the story, characters and everything. What I lacked was the ability.

I discovered shortly into page one that I was probably suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect - a tendency of incompetent people to overestimate their skill. You see, apart from academic works, I'd never really written anything creative before. Well I say that, I'd written the odd letter of complaint and some shopping lists. I often forgot the bread. As Darwin once wrote "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge".

So rather than a book, I decided to have a go at blogging. Perhaps a year spent writing fun size posts might improve my narrative ability sufficiently to have another crack at my opus. I'm eight months in now, pretty much two thirds of the way, and the more I learn about writing, the more I discover the limits of my abilities. Maybe in two years then...

Anyway, last night's post about my Hypnogogia reminded me of this first page, as I used these experiences as a basis for it. So I re-read it and my, it certainly was pretentious. Perhaps I have got a little better then. I'm far from perfect I know, but at least I'm going in the right direction I think.

So for what it's worth, I present to you my first real flirtation with with creative writing. Be nice ;).


Suspended in thick dark oil, in the purple fastness, his crumbled dreams sink slowly around him. Their descent through his deepness is gentle and silent. They land with a velvet hum deep below.

Shadows lurk here, amongst his dreams. They hover at their edges, swooping through the muffled suspension like rays. They watch his sleep, waiting patiently like predators. Occasionally they dart into the foreground, bringing with them sounds, sharp and alien to the stillness.

Wrapped in warm bedclothes Thom lies peacefully. His shallow breath the only sound. A shaft of pale yellow light plays about his head as it shines through his curtains. He is unaware of it, as he sleeps with hungry relief. This is his first rest in many days.

His eyelids flicker momentarily.

The shadows have quickened. They start to coil and slip around each other. Their sharp calls cut through the oily sleep like glass shards. In response, the suspension begins to pulse with a tactile, rhythmic pressure.

A ray breaks from the seething group and swims to the edge of Thom's sleep. It tests the border with its snout, stretching it like flesh. It floats back away from the edge and pauses for a while. Again it swims up and pushes, this time with more force. The boundary stretches and at the point of pressure a yellow shape becomes visible before the elastic overcomes the ray and snaps back into place.
Thom begins to moan in his sleep.

More shadows join the first. They nip and jostle each other until until some order forms. Two of them push the boundary together, swimming strongly against the membrane. This time it stretches so thinly that the solid world can be seen clearly through it, yet still the meniscus holds. As if sensing a threat to its integrity the suspension starts to pulse with febrile rapidity.

The sharp calls become a frenzy when a ray makes a tear in the membrane and pokes its snout into the solid world. Twisting and writhing it forces the rest of its body through the hole and drops onto Thom's chest. Its form in the solid world is minute, limp and feeble. It flops helplessly like a fish gasping for breath.

Soon another ray pushes its way through and drops onto the first. They merge fluidly into one and other. As the tear stretches two more slip out into the real world. Joining the unison they begin to form a shining black pod within which a nascent being jerks and pokes, sensing its new world.

Suddenly and with a sharp tear, the rip between worlds gives. The shadows now tumble through in a torrent. As they coalesce the pod creaks and stretches into a black, shining arachnid. It begins to stand, pulsing with fresh life on Thom's chest. As it grows its angular legs reach down onto Thom anchoring themselves first to his feet, then to his hips and finally his shoulders.

Its front legs arch slowly down and spike into Thom's forehead. As soon as they make contact Thom's eyes snap open, wide with terror. Pinned down by the spider he cannot move at all. Thom can do nothing but stare up into the alien face. His mouth opens slowly in a silent scream but the pressure of his panic only builds in his throat.

Suddenly a burst of adrenalin sparkles out from his chest and breaks through his paralysis. He lets out a screech, base and primeval and shoots from the bed. The spider tumbles from his body but quickly rights itself. It poises to strike as Thom sprints for the doorway.

He reaches the light switch by the door and scrabbles at it in panic. Thom senses the arachnid move behind him. Finally he manages to flick on the switch and his bedroom is bleached in bright clean light. He spins round ready to face the insect but all that remains of it is a pile of tousled bed linen.

Thom slides down the wall onto his knees and begins to cry. No revenge can be had of his sleep animals if they just wink out of existence, and they have done each night he's slept for the past month.

Broken, desperate and tired Thom curls up on the floor and holds his head in his trembling hands.

He whimpers, "Please, no more"

No comments: