Posts tagged story
Posts tagged story
The stars beckoned behind the cracked sky. The world seemed askew beneath my feet. As I looked ahead, trying to deduce where my life would lead me, The Fragment of the Universe seemed to pull me, possess me, taint me. It was a reminder of humanity’s failed gambit and a monument to the end of the world.
My current silence here can be attributed to a few things, chiefly of which is the fact that I have been working on an interactive webcomic, called Diaspora. The model of which I have borrowed from, mainly, MSPaint Adventures. This means that the action is largely controlled by the suggestions of the readership, which seemed like a good way to force me to produce material, since I can delude myself into thinking that I’m not entirely responsible for the narrative, if it ends up not as good as I envisioned. Which isn’t to say I won’t give all I have to make it work and be enjoyable. My problem is over-thinking things, only starting to write when I have every single detail down. This model forces me to improvise and try to become comfortable without being in perfect control, which may be just what I need.
I had promised myself I would start putting things up on the 21st of December, for a kind of obvious internet reference. However, a few things, not least of which my self-doubt (which only decided to give me some space with the help of some great friends’ support), got in the way. But now here it is. I have already delineated most of the main events of the story and the first page is already up. I hope you’ll at least give it a chance and, if you can espy a chance at potential, spread the word around.
For that reason, this site may have to double as a development blog, so be on the look out for tidbits and notices here. I already know how the story, if it gets enough wind to get there, will end, but it’s with the twists and turns that you readers will help me. That will possibly present an amazing journey for both you and me.
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.
An immaterial train eases into the station. Often times, you take it.
The train takes you to a safe place, but not always. Some times it takes you to an uncomfortable one, an introspective one or an overwhelming one. Through the journey, you see expansive vistas, surreal ones or embracing ones. But you can never really choose your destination, even if at times it seems like you can control the trajectory. But it is the uncertain journey that makes you keep taking the train.
Every so often, though, you miss it. You stand absentmindedly at the platform, the steam making it hard to see anything. And you wonder what it could have been. But sometimes, rarer times, you simply decide to let it go. You become content with seeing its silhouette disappearing in the distance.
And you know it won’t be long until the next one.
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’s a breaking point, when waiting for a bus. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s there. In my experience, that point of no return happens after 45 minutes of patience, but let me elaborate by painting the situation, as it were.
The scene happens in a bus stop. That much is a given. There is one bus that you can take that will get you home directly, and one that will take you to a station where you can get that former bus. Here is your conundrum, then: do you wait for your bus or do you take the other and pay two trips? It depends on your haste to get home and your financial availability, of course, but let’s say you take the obvious decision, and just like that, you grab firmly the metaphorical shovel and start digging. You wait.
The first minutes are a novel game of glancing into the horizon, the idiotic hope of seeing your transport in the distance, but never quite standing up from the bench, because deep down you know it is not the one you want. The first ones pass in a blur or, when signaled to stop by your fellow patients, stop in front of you, beckoning with a contemptuous look. And then comes your second option, the one that could take you to the station. You look at it doubtfully, trading the sight of it with an expectant glance at the horizon, unsure about what’s the smart move here. After a moment’s dilemma, you decide to hold tight to your precepts. You wait.
The next few minutes are a build up of frustration and stolen glances. After a while, the horizon becomes an unattainable beautiful girl. You glance at her from afar, and just as you realise she will return the look, you feel the impulse to look away. There’s no hope there, but as soon as your peripheral vision senses her change, you glance again, guilt washing over you because you know there’s nothing new to see, but you have to look anyway. After a few minutes, the idea of the bus you wait becomes ephemeral, abstract. You diminish it to a colour, a number, a shape. You scan the horizon for that characteristic. You wait.
Then it comes, a ray of hope clutches at your chest and it shines in the horizon. You can’t read the letters, nor see the numbers, but the colour is right. It has to be your bus. You take every victory you can take by now. There’s a bus in front of it, so you stand up and walk a little bit to account for the other bus’ area of parking. You are not new at this. You see, much to your dismay, a hand thrust upward in front of you, signaling the first bus to stop. It’s the reason you stood up in the first place, yes, but you are not new to this, you know what this means. Your heart starts racing, you are unsure if the driver of the other, potentially your, bus will see you if you give it a sign. And the bus that is now stopping obscures the other’s placard, you can’t see what bus it is and you know you’re only going to see it when it is too late. You panic, running further away from the bus stop to get a better look at it, but never getting out of the sidewalk because the first bus still hasn’t stopped. You can see the last few letters, and it can be half a dozen different buses. The first bus is now in front of you, and it infuriates you. But you’re not new to this. You try to look at your bus through the windows of the one in front of you to ascertain property. Half letters and meaningless lines. You can’t know if it really is your bus. The envy swells up inside of you when you see the people entering the first bus. What do they have that you don’t? Are they better than you? Why? Your bus, never proven as in fact yours, runs swiftly by the bus stop, never looking back, the behemoth of twisted metal plows through the traffic and your broken psyche. You wait.
By now, the fifth bus to the station has left the bus stop. It dawns on you that by this time, if you had took the first bus, you would already be home. It is a scary realization, more than a frustrating one. You catch yourself thinking about what would have happened had you taken the first bus, what different decisions you would have made, what different people you would have met, what new things you would have done. The horizon burns your eyes now, looking at it feels like looking at the sun. Nothing good can come from it and you can never get too close, but you look anyway, because without it, there’s no hope. The sixth bus to the station climbs the horizon and appears before you. You wait.
By then, the asphalt turns into quicksilver and the cars turn into a violent sea of molten metal. In the horizon, a new bus appears. The way the light strikes it and ricochets off of it makes it look like a great white whale, coming up for air for the first time in a day. You can scarcely believe it, but this could be it. You thrust your five fingered harpoon outwards to the violent sea. You rationalize that if it ends up not being your bus, you can always apologize to the driver. For a second, you are afraid that the light will blind you to the bus’ destination, or that the hours of patience could have made you forget how to interpret the almost hieroglyphic markings on the metal beast. But the way is clear and you can read clearly. It is indeed the bus you have been waiting. You begin to tell yourself that the wait was worth it, that you don’t mind having seen the people that shared the bus stop with you change at least three times. It was all worth it. You’re going home. Your smile comes unheeded. Your hand feels as numb as your legs and mind. But the wrath of the beast seems impossible to halt. Without believing it, you realize the bus is not stopping. The tears well up. Your arm feels leaden. You run backwards. Your legs begin to burn. Your eyes meet the driver’s. There’s nothing there. He speeds past you.
I live in Brasilia, capital city of Brazil. I imagine this story won’t resonate as well with people from places with good public transportation systems. Good for you. Really. I once got out of class at 10pm, on my first semester of university, and waited until 1am for a way home. So, have some sympathy.