Posts tagged Writing
Posts tagged Writing
Night closed up like a curtain above Tristan Perrault and the Place du Palais.
The laughter of young drunkards echoed through the streets below, the music of bars reverberating on the walls of the hotels that circled the plaza. The alleyways of Nice were the epitome of cleanness, when compared to its rooftops. Tristan’s eyes seemed to belong to another world while he, standing atop a hotel, calculated all movement necessary to reach the next roof at a vertiginous speed. The plan was simple: get enough velocity to jump from the roof and grab a ledge in the face of the clock tower not farther than four meters, but at a height of eight from the ground.
The world held its breath. Tristan’s feet seemed to keep an intricate dance with the rest of his body while he bolted and the adrenaline filled him, numbing the sounds that came from below. His body was propelled beyond a protection grid and his foot gave him the last push towards the tower. Tristan launched himself, stretching his arms to hold on to the parapet.
Incredulity silenced desperation, as the tip of his fingers brushed the tower’s paint off and his body dived into the darkness below. His eyes, wide with fear, focused involuntarily on a window in one of the nearby hotels, where the light was off and the pane closed. His body produced a cocktail of emotions and adrenaline that forced him to beg, even if that made him crazy, that he could once again dislocate from a place of absolute uselessness and desperation to one of security. Even if he has passed the last years denying it to himself, he knew what he had felt all those years ago, when his situation was as precarious as the current one. In the thousandth of a second that it took for all this thought process to take place, abandonment took over and drowned him, but his eyes were kept locked at the window. Fear became hatred and he allowed himself to scream, the violent wind invading his lungs.
He remembered the darkness of the alley. The glint of the knife. The blood. He was 12, and he never ran so much in his life. He couldn’t remember the dead girl’s name anymore, although he remembers the police speaking it many times, the following day. By then, he was more interested in understanding how fleeing from a murderer and ending up with a broken leg, from having jumped a flight of stairs too high for his weak self, could have made him appear inside his room, before blacking out. All he remembers is the desperation and exhaustion and the way the world seemed to tremble and go out of focus, as he looked intently to his room’s window in the second floor, dozens of meters away. And then his senses were overwhelmed by the different odors, sounds and lighting from his room. After that incident, he began therapy and trained parkour, now his only escape.
In the plaza below, more than a hundred frightened heads turned skywards, seeing nothing but the clock tower, framed by the veil of the french night.
The hotel room was empty, the smell of newly-laid linen and detergent invaded Tristan’s nostrils. Gravity’s acceleration threw him with great force against the bed, breaking one of its legs and leaving him in utter pain. Tears rolled down his face and were wiped by the bed sheets as he tried, with his eyelids firmly closed, to understand what had just happened. His brain seemed to be turned off, his body seemed full of anesthesia. The numbness went away gradually and he soon realized that, apart from a few bruises and an insistent discomfort, he was all right. Even better than what he had ever been.
Unsteadily, he exited the hotel, his eyes unable to extricate from the place where, a few minutes prior, he had almost died. His body shook uncontrollably as he walked towards the nearest street. And he laughed, enjoying the return of his normal breathing.
Getting home proved to be a greater effort than what he had foreseen. The taxi driver seemed to not know the city and Tristan’s euphoria deprived him of perfect dialogue. Better than any drug, he was sure. He could get off of that taxi and instantly be home, without even having to walk. But a part of him pushed back into rationalization. He would find an isolated place and there, yes, he would try to identify exactly what had made him teleport. But for today, he would sleep like never before.
Introduction for a character I used in a RPG campaign that never really took off, unfortunately. A sort of Battle Royale with super-powered people. I liked it enough to translate it into English and put it up here, as I wait for my block to vanish. Never really thought about a title for it, until now. It shows.
Night at the rim was a cold one. Sometimes, it was like a good drink. It started cold and thought-provoking until it filled you up inside, it warmed you, it made you aware of what was home. Other times, it went down clawing its way through, leaving a sour taste, deep remorse and dirtying the sidewalk. Life in the rim was as simple as it was dangerous, just like the best beverages.
The raggedy cloth was made to spread the filth, not clean it. I grab the nearest glass, the dim light of the bar can just about read the dirty inscription on its bottom. No self-respecting bar in the rim was actually clean. It would intimidate the good customers. And the best customers were the ones that no one else would welcome, the outcasts. Those like me.
You hear a lot of stories when you are a barkeep, and you quickly learn to stay out of other’s businesses. It’s a survival thing. In the rim, you keep your head down and you spread the filth out of those glasses. But sometimes, hearing the tales of woe of clients is your only source of entertainment. You can barely understand the phrases, but the tale therein lives on. Life in the rim is diverse and all stories find their way sooner or later to my bar. Their stories help me forget just like the alcohol inebriates these fools. It’s a reciprocal relationship.
I know, though, as soon as the man enters the bar, that my introspection would be tested. He comes purposefully to the bar, making more eye contact than any other customer would care to make. His clothes were odd and you must understand the severity of that statement. My bar welcomes people from all over the rim, that means a bunch of different fashions, several of which I can’t even begin to understand. But this is a bar, no one cares what you wear as long as you wear something. News travels fast these days, even all the way out here, but in varying speeds. I see people wearing what I imagine is the latest trend sharing a drink with someone that dresses like my grandfather used to. But as soon as that man showed up, I realized a sudden change of atmosphere on the place. No one stopped talking and the music didn’t stop playing, but there was something different. The conversations were more hushed now, the music didn’t seem to have the same flair. The man wore spurs and a black hat, two silver bullets attached to it by a ribbon. I kept wondering how he could have found such old apparel. Bullets? Who even had those anymore? The trench coat was a bit much, I thought. But the noise of his spurs kept everyone on edge. Nothing like an obvious bounty hunter to bring a room down. I hate it when they are sober.
“What can I get you, sir?” My voice was certain. I returned the cold look with a warm one. Two can play this game.
“Information. I hear you have a regular by the name of Tryles.”
“No one here says their real name.”
“I know you know him and I need to talk to him. You’ll tell me where he is.”
I tried to suppress the chuckle, I did. But kids nowadays are too arrogant. The signal was for Zack, the muscle I keep around for rainy days and hustling barrels. We don’t need to make this into something it isn’t. Overeager bounty hunters are as easy to come by as they are to be dealt with.
“I keep the habit of only talking to customers, you see. Can’t have the pleasure of my company for free. Or you think people come down here for the liquor?” Arrogant, I know. But in my experience, most of these in-your-face outsiders can only be met with an arrogant counterattack.
“I’m done with your games, old man”
The cold metal of the pistol reflects the liquid in my glass.
“You’re an outer rim boy, aren’t you?” He can barely contain his widening eyes.
“What makes you say that?” Bad actor.
“Outer rim bars are outdated. You can’t shoot in here. Dampeners.” It works. The man ponders and visibly gives up. He’s making it too easy.
“Alright. Give me something.”
“Haha. I’ll not hold that responsibility. Choose something.”
“How about a Blue Wahl?”
“Sure thing.” The douche drink was already half-way done when he finally said it. Good. He couldn’t read the bottom of the glass. Would’ve been odd, out of context.
“Now tell me about Tryles.”
“You’re his brother, right?”
The silence is answer enough.
“You look like him, down to the same drink.”
“So you do know him. God damn it, old man! Is he gone?” The drink spills while his wide-eyes survey the bar.
“Don’t worry, he’s not been here today.”
“Tell me where he is!”
“None of my business really, but I have been where you are.”
“Old-timer, I don’t care about your story. Where’s my brother?”
“He’ll be here later. But are you really thinking about killing him?”
His poker face could use a little work.
“Don’t worry, I don’t know that. I can read it in you. Used to be a ‘hunter myself, lifetime ago.”
“Uh… really? Why did you quit?”
“Hah! Come back in a few years and ask me that again.”
“Whatever. You said you’ve been in my shoes…”
“Hired to hunt a relative that made too many wrong choices… It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s not simply pulling the trigger.”
He had become silent now, way too focused on his drink. He wasn’t going anywhere.
“The Galaxy was another place back then, you either smuggled or hunted. Otherwise, you’d starve. Law enforcement only really worked for the big guys. And sometimes not even for them, with the right kind of money. Everyone’s a bounty hunter, one way or the other. It is just a matter of price. My price didn’t have zeroes in it, though.
Back then, life in the Core could get harder than in the farthest planets of the Outer Rim. Politics took precedence over everything, even people. Even my wife. And it is simple, too easy, to break a person, to make him resort to the worst, to realize the worst in him. And once he realizes vengeance won’t bring her back, won’t numb the pain, he’ll keep on hunting. Because by then, it’s all he knows how to do, isn’t it? And each job numbs you more, makes life bearable a little more. Until comes a contract for another relative of yours, and the relationship between you two feels so far away, stored beneath years of painkillers. And you tell yourself you have to do it, it’s a job, and he probably deserves it. But you know you’re no different than him. Your brother took to drinking and ended up from drug to drug, looking for something to fill the void left by your mother’s death, your father’s absence. Your drug was different, but just as addictive.
People today often think that Bounty Hunting is a glamorous profession. They force themselves to not think about the blood and the lies and the awful cleaning up. They see in movies and think that bounty hunting is about looking cool and spewing cliches. But after every job, when all the flair and imposingness of the profession wears thin and you realize there’s nothing really attractive about it… that’s when you realize that one day it will all catch up to you and whatever you did, you’ll have to live with it.”
At that point, leaving him to ponder with his drink seemed the best move. He was in his last drops, after all, and there’s nothing more thought-provoking than an empty glass. I’m sure it will help that he’ll read beneath the glass the words “You’ll have to live with it”.
Another old one while I make sense of some things. This was yet another story developed to try and flesh out a science fiction setting with my cousin. I don’t really like how this one came out, maybe someday I’ll revisit it.
There once was a Time Traveler
Who through time ran sensibler
For when in the future
Got back like a vulture
Making money as a fortuneteller
Just something I cooked up while thinking about how to progress on a particularly tricky part of my latest story. I can not vouch for the quality of these poems, it is my first time trying my hand at limerick, after all. But it is something to fill the void while I finish my latest story, I guess. Here’s a variant:
There’s a man who with time messes
Of the future never confesses
For when in the past
Shifts the facts so fast
It changes the whole of the verses.
Around me, the city lies in shambles. The blast knocked out a few buildings, cars are just piles of molten metal tossed around the street. There’s no sound but a high-pitched noise that pierces my brain. There’s movement on the edge of my vision, but all is blurred. The sky seems to be made of lava.
The academy taught us how to proceed in a situation like this, how to assess the situation. To look for the probable point of origin of the blast, to realize if anyone else was hit, to shake off the trauma and shock and worry about getting the civilians out of danger all the while trying to look for suspicious people and being prepared for a second hit.
But no amount of VR training could prepare anyone for the real deal. The high-pitch subsides slowly. Charred concrete and entire sections of buildings block the street. It takes a while for me to hear the screams and the crying, someone is sobbing near me as my vision starts to fade.
Looking into the ashen sky stretches my senses, I feel like I see all of creation. The stupidity of ants afraid of life itself, lashing out on whatever they think invades their turf. Inconsequential brats insensitive to the sacrifices made to keep what we now have. In times like these, while patrolling above the streets of New Fakhar, it feels so long ago, I used to wonder if trying to protect this decay was worth it, if things like these weren’t inevitable. I feel like I’m freezing, as much physically as emotionally. It seems ironic when I look at the red reflections in the towers of smoke. I feel the tears further blurring my vision, my eyes contemplating firmament. Somehow, the burning sky reminds me of the sunrises of old.
I’m trying to keep a weekly update and I had idealized an update plan of alternating random short stories I have lying around with the ones I’m working on for the 100-theme challenge. But this week I ended up not finishing the story I’m working on for the challenge, so I’ve decided to bin the whole notion. Enjoy another quick story.
The dim-lighted walls of my room reflect my disgust. Through the window, my city seems broken, as a long forgotten dream. I can no longer go out there; it’s become oppressive, more than I can take. The dead pile up the streets. The cars emit their foul vapors and run through the corpses like they were mere bumps in the road. Pulsing truth into my eyes. The dust from the wreckage mingles with the exhaust fans far above the ground, a swirling dance of filth above my dead city. The window shows me the shining upon the destruction I have wrought. Flashing regret through my heart. It was once a lively city, a reasonable city, before the genocide and the stupidity. The world died and my window doesn’t hold it back, it lets the apocalypse seethe through to my haven. Assaulting the grit and the gore of the last century in my head. The blood drenches the bed, crimson patterns crisscrossing my being. And as my world turns darker, as the streets of my city enshroud the dead in utter blindness, the window lets the world sleep one last time.
I promised shorter stuff. Here it is.