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Thread: Regrets

  1. #1
    Cynical Puppeteer Victory's Avatar
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    Default Regrets

    Spoiler for context:
    This is a short story that I wrote in a single sitting, taking place in the universe of Gifted, a long overdue project of mine. This is a very short, and not very detailed story of a single criminal, at the very start of the story, when people still braved criminal acts. It's sparse for a reason, and I'm mostly just playing with some narrative devices, so if you want to complain that it's too short, or whatever, believe me, I'm aware of it.



    Pockets full, bag hanging heavy, cutting deep into his shoulder with every step, with every jingle of tiny trinkets, clicking and clacking against each other in bags inside bags. The sound of sirens blared somewhere behind, and every window, every puddle, every chromed surface on countless idle cars, flashed with red and blue, even the very sky itself. He ran, putting block after block between him and his mistake, and building step after step on his guilt. He ran, lungs aching, on fire, ablaze with that futile desperation to escape it all, every moment leading up to this, every thought he braved, every caution he discarded, every ambition that he thought affordable - at what cost? - and even the length of his strides in the making. He ran, tossing the spoils in his trail, heaving bag after bag over his shoulder, but the weight never left, pushing down harder and harder, his body too frail, too weak, to carry that one thought, that one image, that last and final regret.

    He hadn’t been a stupid man in life, but never bright enough to be recognised for it. Just a normal man with thoughts, ideals and beliefs like any other but among his friends, he was nobody, an ant among giants, considered lucky to be allowed to stand on their shoulders, a helper, a step on that slippery ladder to greatness, but never the climber. Whether by intelligence or competence, accomplishment or ambition, he was dwarfed in every regard. So grossly outmatched, he was never even considered competition. People loved him still, all the same, and gladly traded hours of their life for his company. If only it had been enough for him, his life could've been a great many things. But it never had been, and never would be. He would not live his life as an ant, however cherished. That would not be his life.

    It was closing in. He had stood on the shoulders of giants, seen life from that dizzying height, but what pursued him now defied heights, defied size and greatness, in all its variants. From its shoulders, a man would not see life from above, but life entire. He had peered into those eyes, seen the abyss behind them, and witnessed his fate in those depths. There was no life for him. Not anymore.

    By a slam of his shoulder, a broken man tumbled into a shopping mall on October 7th. Behind him followed something like a maelstrom, something defying explanations entirely, malice incarnate perhaps, or vengeance; ripping cars from the street, tearing glass off the walls, shredding the ground below as it moved, towards the man. Glass scattered everywhere as the storm powered through the mall windows, shooting glass like shrapnel. No longer sprinting, no longer on his feet, the man crawled forward as reality continued to break behind him. He cried, covered his head as debris pelted his back, tears streaming down his cheeks and saliva down his chin, but he couldn’t make a sound over the storm.

    But she could. A woman, shrieking for dear life, hugging her babe close to her, overpowering the raging winds as easily as a shout would a whisper. He had never heard another human being so intensely and so clearly in his life, and like a spell, without incantation or ritual, the beast was silent, and all he could hear was the aftermath.

    And footsteps.

    Those eyes, gleaming white like stars, pinned him to the ground. It was tiny, but the ground shook with every step, and he could already feel the weight emanating from it, like the heat off of an inferno, pushing down on him, crushing him against the cracking tiled flooring from several yards away, growing heavier with every step. It raised an outstretched arm, fingers like teeth, ready to sink into his flesh, to drag him away, to drag him under, never to return alive again, never to be uncovered at all.

    He fumbled, tugged at the holster. The gun was cold as ice in his hands, and lighter than it had ever been. Click click. He had his fair share of firearm experience, spending many lonely days at the range, shooting at targets, sometimes shooting at nothing, but it didn't matter now. The gun would not fire, merely clicking away with every pull of the trigger.

    Something foul struck him, his mouth lined with ash, a noxious rot filling his nostrils, seeping back down his throat until he was gagging, retching with every breath of decay he filed his lungs with. A blackness was encroaching on him, filling his vision from the corners, eyes still fixed on the approaching beast. This was, he knew, without experience, and still as certain as you can be of anything, the taste, the presence, the face even, of death. Only a few more steps now, and that weight would drag him through the earth, into the void.

    Click.

    The safety was finally off. The bullet ripped out of the gun, and tore through the face of the beast. The rot, the darkness, the crushing weight, all turned off like the flick of a switch as it lurched back and fell limp on the ground. For a moment there was silence, but having finally climbed to his feet, the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, bearing witness to his crime, recoiled and screamed in horror. At his feet, in a pool of blood, with orange curly hair, a sickly frame, and eyes pinned wide open, or rather just the one eye, lay the corpse of something that appeared like a child. The bullet had buried itself into the eye socket, and ripped straight through.

    It was the second bullet for the night.

    The pistol was the first to drop, chattering against the floor as it bounced one, two and finally three times. He wasn’t far behind, taking a last few steps back until his legs gave way beneath him. He hadn’t been a stupid man in life, but never a smart man either. If he couldn’t earn his fair share, he thought himself clever enough to take it. He never intended to fire, but caught in the act, and punishment impeding, intentions didn't matter. With a frightened twitch, a popping flash, and the clicking of a badge against concrete, his life was over. He could’ve lived on the shoulder of giants. Now he would die, under the fangs of a beast.

    It was already upright in front of him, with nary a sound, when he raised his head and met its gaze. Its eyes, stretched open wide, and casting a sickly light, had fully recovered, leaving only traces of blood, on its face, and dripping down its hair, of the bullet that had struck it. The rot was back, filling his mouth and nose yet again, seeping into his lungs, and stomach, and he retched, slapping his hands against the ground to catch himself, as his vision faded, and death once more lay itself upon him. He couldn’t move, with the world pressing down, slowly breaking bone after bone to keep him still, but it didn’t matter. He couldn't, wouldn't take another step ever again. He filled his lungs, and stared back into the abyss. It raised its arm, readying for the swipe, the final effort paid to him.

    By the time the police arrived at the mall, they found his pistol, where the earth was cracked, scared with thousands of tiny slits into darkness, the deep of some twisted creation, in which no stone dropped ever lands again. Tiny red beads still fell, falling with a trickling pitter-patter, gathering above their heads in crimson lakes. Over 20 people witnessed the man's final moment. None could ever forget it, and none could ever describe it.
    Last edited by Victory; September 30th, 2016 at 08:55 PM.

  2. #2
    i am 12 and wat is this? Diplomacy Domination Victory Aval's Avatar
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    Good shit. Great to see you writing again. Do you still imagine Gifted as a comic or is it gonna be literature now?

    My one criticism is more a subjective personal gripe than anything, but if I were you I'd err a little more on the side of grounded sensory details and literal cause and effect events for describing the action. Sometimes the stylization makes it hard to tell what's figurative and what's actually happening.

    I can see an argument that that's actually an appropriate texture to convey given the subject matter and tone but I dunno I guess personally I'd want the pace more if this were part of a longer work.

    Overall though it's pretty excellent; I like being introduced to this world from outside Sandy's perspective, specially how spooky he is when you don't know what's going on inside his head. It'd be cool to explore that further in the main work. I also dig the sympathetic characterization of the criminal - he's a pretty interesting character in his own right and I'd like to see more on his deal.

    Pretty pumped for more.

    Edit: it only just occurred to me; how much is Gifted like, on some level about a maladaptive response to how people think of prodigiousness ?
    Last edited by Aval; September 30th, 2016 at 08:38 PM.

  3. #3
    Administrator Oscar's Avatar
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    Good stuff Vic. I get vivid imagery when reading this, which is a proof of good language and descriptive details. Possibly it's myself, but I occasionally have trouble following what's actually happening. If it's intended for that effect then I suppose it's working.

  4. #4
    DQ 1337 Member codbarley's Avatar
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    I could probably get this read on Mr CreepyPasta's channel if you like. I think he will enjoy it, and he loves reading good unknown writing.

  5. #5
    Cynical Puppeteer Victory's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I wrote this purely as an exercise in creating an environment were readers are encouraged to read between the lines, describing the edges of a silhouette, as it were, the outlines of an image, rather than the subject itself. I'm not sure I succeeded, and I've had long conversations on its strengths and failings on Skype since, but I'm pleased people still enjoy it, for what it is.

    It's also encouraging how eager people are to see this universe expanded. I know Andrew's been yelling at me to continue for a long while now, but still, eventually I'd have to assume people forget. Doesn't seem to be the case, and I'm glad it's left an impression.

    Cody, I think the underlying context may be lost on a fresh audience, and also it's a tad short for an audio version, but if you don't think that matters too much, then you feel free to forward this piece to whomever you like. It won't bother me, just as long as you post the results here afterwards if anything comes of it.

  6. #6
    DQ 1337 Member codbarley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victory View Post
    Cody, I think the underlying context may be lost on a fresh audience, and also it's a tad short for an audio version, but if you don't think that matters too much, then you feel free to forward this piece to whomever you like. It won't bother me, just as long as you post the results here afterwards if anything comes of it.
    You could also pick something you've written that would be better suited then. it doesn't have to be this piece.

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