Showing posts with label story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label story. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Story Time - Futility and Faith

Figured another go at this exercise was in order - it's a break from purely academic writing, at the very least ;]


Perhaps once they had struggled, screamed, fought back terror with sharpened swords. Perhaps they started out full of determination, a zeal that slowly transformed into frustration and, later still, simple exhaustion. Where did their armor go, their clothes? Abandoned, too heavy to carry; sold for a bite to eat, fuel to fight a bit more.

Now they no longer notice the hunger that gnaws at their bellies, the prickle of cold against their bare skin. The serpents they once struggled against fill the room, knot into each other as they slither round and round on the floor. Even the swords have defected, increasingly snake-like in form. The two of them do not care, do not look at each other, the snakes, anything else. Even disgust is gone from their senses - careless to the feel of snake against the soles of their feet. They sit motionless on top of me, watch time pass, breath, dream, disappear bit by bit into uselessness.

Even the stupid dog is better off, still scurrying on in search of half-remembered treats. He goes on, stopping at every tree for a sniff, a leap, a lick. Each time he finds only coins, dull and cold, where once perhaps a fruit had once grown. You think he would learn, stop trying, but of course dogs never do. On and on until he sees a single bloom, something sweet perhaps in a while, but how long will it take to ripen and mature, and longer still to fall - silly dogs cannot climb trees, after all. Why does he wait so long, so patiently, eyes never leaving the prize that may or may not come to be?

There are some in this world like that dog, with their faith, looking about and going on until hear the call, the trumpets blowing, the stork clutching a new opportunity, a chance to try again. They look up at the moon and the stars night after night, straining their eyes and their ears, ready and willing when it finally comes. They are willing, even after so much failure and loss, to deal with pain, the birth of a new aeon, so much necessary change. They find the fruit, finally: pain in the midst of so much sound and so many beautiful colors above them.

Others keep eyelids shut, see nothing, hear only the same endless hissing and slithering.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

some more story time

So I figured it was high time I did another of the story writing exercises. I can't quite remember, but I don't *think* that I've done one with a pips deck before...

There were once two kings whose nations bordered each other. Though close to one another, the nature of their lands varied greatly - the first king ruled a mountainous region. His was a harsh domain, bitterly cold in the winter. His people were tough - they raised goats and they mined and traded. His resources were scarce, demanding careful, prudent management. He worried and thought and worked. His neighbor, in contrast, ruled over a land of rich and fertile valleys, rich with rivers and springs and rain. His people grew more food then they could eat, hunted plentifully, were surrounded by beautiful flowers in spring. This king had time not just to rule but to dream, to paint and write poetry.

One would think that these differences might lead to war, sooner or later, between the two countries, but here that was not the case. The two kings had long been friends, and as time went on they found themselves growing closer yet, looking forward to each of their state visits, diplomatic missions, negotiations. There embraces are meeting and parting went on longer than one might expect. Over time the two men realized that their feelings for one another were deeper than that of allies or even friends. There was love between them, passion repressed - for they both knew that anything else was impossible. The mountain king was twenty years older than the king of the valleys, and looked even more the elder, drained my so many years of work and worry. It would be unheard of, inappropriate, impossible yes, always.

And so the years passed. The mountain king would find himself thinking of the other as he climbed through mountain passes with his men, inspecting and giving orders. The valley king would paint his colleague, again and again and again, write poetry that was never heard. Neither married.

Finally, after many years had passed in this way, a terrible storm swept through the land, strong enough to bring creatures from the sea into the valley and wash away many structures. The mountain king ordered his people to go down and help their neighbors. The two leaders felt, then, a wild shift in their thinking, perspective. So many years wasted, gone by in longing. And so they talked and planned, and in the end they announced something great: a union of their two lands into a new, greater nation. They would rule together, partners in all things, and upon their deaths the mountain king's niece and the valley king's nephew, who had taken already to one another, would be married and take their place. The two kings held hand, embraced, and so a new nation was formed. Problems continued, of course, obstacles, minor and less minor disasters - but for the rest of their lives, the two kings would face all of those together.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

cards-based writing exercise

So I hardly ever do any creative writing anymore - not enough time or energy, with all the other things I have going on, particularly the coursework. However, since that writing workshop on Saturday I've had a story idea stubbornly bouncing around in my head. Somewhat unusually, plot details keep coming to me - not in a short story/flash fiction kind of way, but actual longer work kind of plot. Kind of stressed about other things though, and didn't know how to begin doing something with all of that, so I decided to draw some cards and write around those.

I drew the 2 of Wands, 4 of Wands, and Ace of Cups from the Fantastical Tarot.
A door, an opportunity, a choice between security, the familiar, and emotional fulfillment, a new beginning.
---
Two cats: one black, the other a pale ginger-blond. That is what you would remember most of all about that moment, later on - the way those two cats slinked about, curling around the legs of the man you were speaking to, the man you had once known simply as an imposing librarian and who you now could not even look in the eye as you spoke. No, you stared at his cats, each one rubbing against one of his legs, perfectly ironed slacks forming a sort of door. A door, yes, and how very desperate was your need then to get out.

You spoke to his legs and to his cats because you knew that if you were to look up, to meet his pale grey eyes, you would lose your nerve. The words you needed to say would die as they reached your lips and instead he would find what he wanted, from you and from the rest: silence, submission, compliance. And you could not, would not, go back to that.

Even as you began to speak you were already aware of how much you would miss it once you left. The secret society had warmly accepted you into its fold, pried your darkest secrets away from you, saved you from the dreadful feeling of being alone always and in all things. You would miss the lectures about things you had not dared to dream since childhood were real, the glasses of wine shared afterwards with quiet discussion. Most of all you would miss the weekends, driving down, squeezed in the back of a van, to the little airfield outside the city, taking turns flying up in the plane, higher and higher, and of course the jump back down to earth again, the freezing thin air rushing at you from all directions, and the voices.

The voices, which had been so thin at first, pressed together, hurried and blurred so that you simply thought you were losing your mind again. Then later, as you returned week after week they stretched out into clarity, filled you with the most amazing kind of magic - the things you could do with that magic, those first few moments and hours after the parachute carried you back down to the ground. Euphoria  filled every inch of you once a week for months, until one of those voices became a name, a singularity you could distinguish from all the rest. It said: what do you think they are doing with all of the magic they take from us? Why do you think he collects it from you, in tithe? Look, snoop, discover.

You did. You discovered, and you retched, and a little later on you were standing in front of him, Elias, ostensible leader of all things. You stared at his cats and you made excuses, lied about feeling unwell again and needing time to yourself, away from all of these things. You were still too scared then, too tied to them, to say what you really meant: that you were done, that you were walking away.

No, not just walking away - you would find a way to fight against what they were doing; you would go on a mad search for the withered, bitter old man that a certain voice told you, as you were plunging down through the clouds, held the key to that fight: a magic from higher skies, the starry skies that once, for a short moment in time, men thought they could thrust themselves into.

You would go looking for space magic.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A VRR Story Time

Realized that I haven't done one of these in quite a bit so...why not. Here goes an attempt at the three card draw story exercise with the lovely Victorian Romantic Russian.


There was a woman once, no longer young but not yet into her older years. She had worked in many jobs over the years, from the odd to the quite rather mundane. Nothing held her attention for very long, however, and unlike most this woman preferred uncertainty and even a bit of danger to simply continuing on with something unsatisfying but familiar. Most recently the woman had found work acting as a fool in small troupe of performers. She wore a costume that obscured her gender, her face, all the details of her true identity. She acted and made people laugh, worked with a little dog that belonged to the leader of the group. It was altogether a different experience to be both on stage and utterly obscured, and at first, the woman plunged right into her new work.

The group soon came to the attention of a the local Lord, and then gained the favor of him and his family. Now they had steady work, scheduled, and larger audiences. They had to practice more, make up new routines, dress up in more complex outfits. The woman didn't like the pressure of this new arrangement, the commitment it seemed to necessitate from them all. She didn't like to be boxed in so. She began to take long sulky walks during the day before performances. She went in regular clothes, unrecognizable, through the gardens of her troupe's patron, sometimes straying into the the adjacent forests. On one such walk, lost in her thoughts, the woman met a man - if he could be called that - standing in a large field of many-colored flowers.

In truth this man was a fairy, a sort of forest spirit. Like the woman, this fairy man had grown tired of his own surroundings. Ennui drove him to approach her, and she, always curious rather than cautious about the unknown, soon opened her life to him and described her troubles. "It is that noble lord that keeps you stuck in that position. A creature like you shouldn't work - you should be admired!" he declared, after hearing her. "I will fix this!" he then declared, and sprinted off before the woman's mind even had time to make sense of his words, and realize that she didn't like them, or the ideas they were based on. It was too late to argue however, for the man, magical as she was not, had left her far behind. Alone, she walked back to the town and her troupe, a sense of dread filling her as she drew closer. Once she arrived, the woman discovered to her horror that the fairy had simply slaughtered the nobleman's entire family, and anyone else who had tried to protect him or who happened to get in the way of the fairy's sword. Paralyzed with horror and guilt, the woman again did not see until it was far too late that the fairy was now charging towards her. And so he carried her off, heedless of all cries and protests.

It was years before the fairy grew bored and the woman managed to escape his clutches.

Monday, May 7, 2012

another story time

So since it's been a while since I last did it, decided to try the story exercise again with new week's deck, the Sheridan-Douglas...


There was a girl once, a girl with a strong mind and many ideas. They floated around her sometimes, twisted and curled, giggled and spoke. There were so many possibilities and dreams, too many for a girl of her youth to know what to do with. But the girl lived in a place, a land, a house surrounding by cups, and in those cups there were nectars, juices and wines. They tasted sweet, and they made her head spin. They made her body light, and they made her laugh at almost anything. It was easy to smile, to be satisfied with simply sitting there, drinking from those cups as one day melted into the next and nothing was changed and nothing was done, but what did it matter, when there was always another cup nearby to empty?

And so the days went by, and nights. Slowly the girl grew tired of the sickly sweet taste that always surrounded her. She grew tired of the meaningless laughter, of only-half feeling her body, of so much time passed with nothing to show, with ideas always ideas that merely floated, slowly, away from her. One night she realized she'd had enough, that she would never be able to stop so long as she stayed here, in the land of the cups; she realized that as long as she stayed she would never make anything more of herself. On that night she packed up her things, the few she couldn't do without, and she walked away. She walked over the bridge that separated this land from the outside world, walked without looking back, without pausing, without giving herself the chance to change her mind, to succumb to the temptation of one more sip.

The new lands she entered were strange, quite unlike the one she had grown to know so well. They were harsher and colder, more difficult to climb through. There were challenges that she could never have imagined. But now all her funny ideas, the ones that used to tickle and curl and float away as she drank and laughed...now she could reach out to them, grasp them, harness them to her will, to her plans: and these plans worked. Slowly she succeeded, grew more powerful, earned allies, earned friends, until finally the girl, now a woman, sat on her own throne, the ruler of her own domain. Now her ideas went forth like little flames, illuminating the land for her subjects, feeding the common good. Now, when she smiled, it was the smile of accomplishment, and smile of looking down at all the good she had achieved.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

story time, take three

Here's another go at the three card story-writing exercise, this time with the Harmonious tarot.


There was once an old man who was a fool – royal fool, to be exact. He would dance and contort in front of the King and the courtiers. He would joke, play with words, play with props exotic and mundane. The royal family adored the fool; the king was generous and gave him all manner of expensive trinkets over the years as gifts. The fool always wore the same plain clothes though, and lived in the same simple shack with his son. In this way, no one paid much notice to the old man; no one envied him, nor acted to make his life more difficult, as was not uncommon a pastime in that court, at that time. One night, Death came for the fool, ethereal, dressed in black robes. Death carried the hourglass whose grains of sand marked the Fool’s lifespan. As the last of them ran out, the Fool began to dance – the funniest dance he’d ever choreographed, in fact. In his last moments, the old man was spry again, free.

After his father’s burial, the fool’s son found the chest where his father had kept all the gold he had ever received from thing king. In this way, the old man had ensured that the son would not be forced to take up the Fool’s mantle in his father’s place, and instead could follow his own path, whatever path it was that his turned out to be. The young man, uncertain at first, opted to join the ranks of the king’s pages. But there was Fool’s blood in the boy, and he didn’t make a very good page at all: he spent too much time dreaming, sketching ideas for contraptions he might someday create in the dusty ground. He was a curious young man, one who wanted to learn more than there was to learn among the pages and knights of the court. One day, a member of the king’s Academy of Science saw one of the boy’s sketches; impressed, he offered the page admission and apprenticeship instead. Thanks to his father, the young man could pay the fee, and so joined the ranks of the king's inventors instead.

Freed of the military garb of the page, his mind allowed to run wild in the halls of the Academy, the Fool’s son began to dress not unlike his father once had, and as his training progressed he created ever more interesting gadgets. One day the King decided to hold a contest – he erected a large obstacle course and decreed that whoever could pass all of it would be granted a boon. The Fool’s son, using his inventions, won out against the knights on horseback and the noblemen who competed, and as he was crowned winner asked the King for the hand of one of his daughters. The king shrugged – if one of them will have you, fine, he said. The king had two daughters, and the women were intrigued by this strange young man who had beaten their father’s challenge. So together they went to meet the young man. They talked with him, asked to see his laboratory, examined his strange clothes. Afterwards, they conferred. The older sister decided first – I don’t see a husband for myself in him, she told the younger, and shrugged; in truth, she already had her eye on another, a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Then the younger pondered a bit, and after a while nodded. Yes, I like him, she stated. I’ll choose him for a husband. And so she did, and the two youths were married, and to the surprise of much of the court, turned out to be quite well-matched. At the wedding feast, the groom even danced for a few moments just as his father once had, all those years ago.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Story Time Again

Decided to see what I could do with the Tarot of the Master and the story exercise...


There was once a demon. He was not a particularly large demon, nor a very clever one. He could not compete for any of the choicer territories, the rich little corners where a right-thinking demon could make himself merry and rich on the mischief he caused. No, this demon was shoved aside by his superiors. So he moved elsewhere, traveled far into the countryside until he found a little village where no other demons lurked, or other creatures which could cause him much trouble. The demon set himself up in a cave over-looking the settlement, used small magics to shape his new home to the image of his liking. There he sat, amused himself, argued with his own tail. He prowled and spoke in tongues. He rained any number of curses down upon the village: crops withered, dinners burned, valuables were lost; misfortune, once a rarity for the villagers, became an all too common occurrence. The villagers were not naive, not stupid: they figured out soon enough the cause of their trouble, the demon the lived in the caves, but none were bold enough to challenge the thing in any way.

Then the woman came. She was a village girl really, once an odd child that played with the boys and bothered the blacksmith rather than the baker or the village witch. When she grew old enough to be married, she chose to leave the village instead. She traveled further than any of the villagers could imagine, went on any number of quests and adventures. She learned to fight with swords and staves. She fought with men whose names the villagers would not have even been able to wrap their tongues around to say. She befriended a lion; utterly loyal to each other, the two hunted beats and creatures in forests and deserts. At night the woman carefully brushed the lion's mane. Finally she had decided to visit the village of her childhood, to make peace with her aged parents and see what had become of her childhood friends. The villagers eyes her lion nervously when she returned, told her grim tales of the demon, the troubles it brought. The woman listened, nodded.

At dawn the next day, woman and lion climbed the steep craggy hill up to the caves. The demon's cave, distinctive, was not hard to find. They strode into it. The woman called out the demon, who was shocked that mere humans dared to invade its cave. It opened its lips to utter a curse, but the lion pounced before it could speak. They fought - a short battle, for the demon cared much more of survival than of dignity or honor. It flew out of the cave, flew far away from the village. Satisfied, the woman scratched the lion between the ears. They set the demon-cave ablaze, watched its trinkets and magics burn. Then they returned to the village.

Seeing the demon cave burn. the the monster flying away, the villagers rejoiced. They threw a parade for woman and lion, wreathed them with laurels and colorful ribbons. The woman was given a beautiful sword made by the village blacksmith, and the lion the choicest meat from the village butcher. The woman went on to have more adventures, and the villagers settled back into a simple, contented existence.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick Card-Based Story

Another random tarot exercise for the stretching of the mind. Nothing too unique, story based on the cards. I've done this before, even gone to a tarot meeting with this as a presentation subject. Before though, I did it based on one card. Here, doing it on a three card draw. Though, because I'm a bit short on time (procrastination ftw) going to keep this succinct.


---
We arrived on the colony as planned. It was much as they said it would be and yet...it didn't feel like the land of new possibilities, not really. The geologists had told us that there were stones under the earth, so very many rich deposits of gems and minerals that we could mine and trade back to the home world. They told us the land was fertile and rich in the valleys, that we could grow much food, perhaps even enough to export, once we used the tools we'd brought and planted the seeds. They told us many things, and we came. And we came, and all we could see was rocks, treacherous mountain-tops on hard, cold earth. It was darker here than the home-world...the nights stretched on and on and there was only one single moon to illuminate the sky, meagerly. There were rodents that scrambled about and bits of old bones in gullies and we were overwhelmed. 

So we opened the shell. We opened the shell where she, our princess, had slept, had waited out the longer journey from our world to this one. She alone among the court had chosen to come with us, to this new world, this new adventure, this new place. She arose from the shell with fresh flowers still braided into her her and she grinned, looked around and grinned at all of us. She raised her arms in toast, in possibility. Her beaver-familiar, always presented, mimicked her, and we all felt lighter, somehow. She would see a way through this for us, we thought then.

And she did. Where we saw cold earth she saw the possibility of plants, of lions running about through verdant grass, of vines and blossoms curling over the rocks, of glittering gems fashioned into wreaths. We followed her vision. We followed her vision of zebra-stripped trees, of valleys of flowering grass, of fresh fruit and greens. We introduced wildlife, and we did not cage them or run from them. The lions and monkeys played with our children, learned from them, taught. We scrambled among the mine-caves, the branches of trees, swam in the long winding rivers that were the closest thing this world had to a sea. The short periods of light saw all of us outside, basking in the rays, and in the dark we built sea-shell shaped torches that glowed white and gold and here, here our children grew taller, climbed higher, knew more, this world of strange possibility where lions could sit on zebra-striped trees and through hard work we could grow rich.