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Mudpie

Short Story: The Guest

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J'ai récemment commencé à écrire. C'est pour moi une manière de tuer le temps et de me vider la tête quand les pensées noires prennent trop de place.

L'inspiration pour ma première nouvelle m'est venue en anglais. Parfois, je trouve plus facile de m'exprimer dans cette langue.

Je suis présentement en train d'écrire ma deuxième nouvelle, celle là sera en français.

Anyway, si vous prenez le temps de lire au complet, n'oubliez pas de laisser vos commentaires - positifs ou négatifs, j'accepte la critique et je répondrai aux questions si jamais il y a des passages qui ne sont pas trop clair.

P.S. Étrangement, en copiant le texte, certains espace ce sont effacés. Je les ai rajoutés, mais il se peut que j'en ai oublié quelques-uns

Shortstory: The guest (4401 words)

It was a shiny afternoon of an unknown day in a town not so far away. A young man was laying down on his bed. He was being stalked by random thoughts and seemed to suffer; definitely disturbed by what was going on inside his head. Exhausted, he was about to close his eyes and let it go for a while, but something caught his attention: the wall next to him just seemed to distort. Was he seeing things? Had he finally reached the thin line in between sanity and madness?

Although he didn’t move an inch at all, he was pretty curious and couldn’t stop gazing at what was happening before his very own eyes. The invocation started to spin faster and faster as the ambient light faded, like it was being subdued by a profound and thick darkness. The room, originally white, turned an unpleasant grey. The curtains dropped to prevent the sun from sneaking its way in and the door simply faded into the wall. There was no escape.

- “Why do you persist?” a voice, coming out of what was now looking like a dimension hole, whispered to the boy.

- “Do I really look that persistent to you, wretched?” he answered with an arrogant tone. To which he added, “Come out now, we have much to discuss.” And as the sound of his voice went into oblivion, a sharpened object, which looked like it was attached to the upper part of a rusted and gloomy staff, slowly breached its way through the portal. The man could distinctly see a skeleton hand holding what was now revealed to be a scythe. The rest of the body, headless and dressed-up in torn and blackened pieces of clothes, appeared a few moments later. Following behind, the visitor’s skull, flying, burning and cackling maniacally crashed down precisely where it needed to. Then, the fire extinguished, leaving a smoke trail behind as the clothes’ hood quickly covered the now-attached head. The creature’s eyes started to glow crimson red; it was the only thing the boy could now discern from the giant hood’s face-hole.

- “I really didn’t think I would have to pay you a visit, tormented spirit,” the Grim Reaper ushered as he got closer to the bed. “You seemed well on your way to shape your sorrow into a fatal wound, but, after all, it looks like I’ll be best served if I do the job myself,” he said while softly laughing. “Twenty-one years old and you are already done? I’m not sure whether I should call you smart or feeble…,” he pondered.

- “Both,” the young man calmly interrupted. “I would say that I am smart because, not only am I aware of the absurdity of life, I know death is its only cure. Why should I live if I’m not getting any joy out of it? On the other hand, this is also why I am weak: I cannot get through the many hardships life drops on my way. I can’t seem to walk the road while trying to admire all that’s beautiful in the distance or by my side. It came to the point where I simply don’t think the glowing sunset is worth living the day. In any case, the night comes after all, so does it really matter? I can’t say…,” he completed.

- “Silly human, that is not why you are feeble,” the reaper said, pitiless. “You are feeble because you cannot make the jump. Everything is so clear; you have the evidence in your hand. Though I am not sure you are so smart after all: Why not drink the cure when the poison is running rampant into your whole body? In death, all pain of life is gently swept away: your remorse when you think about what you’ve done; your regrets when you know about what you should’ve done; your fears when you believe you’ll never get what you want; your shame when you judge your own self; your hatred against the questionable fairness of this world, and last but not the least; your envy towards those who live either in ignorance or happiness under their lucky star. What are you exactly afraid of?” he asked.

- “Missing the point,” he simply answered as a shrieking sound was heard, coming out of the unholy portal. From it was emanating a web of intertwined vines growing, infesting the floor and making its way to the bed the boy was on. He watched nonchalantly, like he was paying attention more to what his visitor would say rather than his fate.

- “Everyday, people die. They leave their families and friends in sorrow, but eventually, it is all healed and the world goes on. Most won’t even notice your lifetime, so why should you bother? You are not missing the point; you are blatantly contemplating the idea of watching the end of the movie, because you know you’ll get there anyway, whether you understand the plot or not is ridiculously negligible,” the vulture related.

- “Well then, if sorrow can be healed, it would mean that I’d be far from done,” the man threw back, resistant.

- “Hope,” the undead creature said with a tone showing disgust, and he continued, “Hope is a mind disease. It allows us to accept life however tragic it may be, but you don’t want to be guided by avirus? It’ll only cause you an illusion of fighting for something that’s worth it when, in fact, you’ve been fooled all along. You’re being totally raped by a false dream and you just seem to ask for more. Allow me the pleasure of becoming your liberator now, would you?”

- “You don’t get it at all!” the boy said, clearly irritated by the visitor’s inability to understand his dilemma. “It has nothing to do with hope; it’s something of a greater extent. It’s like I could be living a much better life if I wasn’t stuck in a deep forsaken lair with a shovel as my only friend,” he angrily noticed, but, with a twinkle of relief, he added, “I can hear the voices of my siblings coming from outside, telling me to get out before its too late, but I’m not so sure they’re really aware of what kind of labyrinth this place is. They wouldn’t dare to set foot around; too afraid they might be caught in the aura of despair this place… MY place stinks of. It’s not like I can blame them either... I hate it myself.”

The vines seemed to react to what the boy was saying, retreating a little, but the Grim Reaper snapped his fingers, forcing the elemental creation to push forward with vigor.

- “What am I hearing? Is this faith?” gently noted the abomination. “Just what kind of believer are you, my child?” to which he hastily whispered to his ear, “I know it isn’t a religion and for that, you are wise. I have stolen too many ill, agonizing, evil, kind or simply wicked souls begging for mercy, praying for a second chance. God would be a wrong bet to place your faith in, but so are life and others; you have no savior!”

- “You are right…,” the living said as the vines climbed the bed and tied his feet, hands and neck tightly until he was barely able to move or breathe. With strength, he went on, his voice tone unstable, struggling, “…though, that’s not the faith I am talking about. Life alone is empty. Believing in it is like believing time itself will show you the path, but the concept of destiny makes me sick. With that being said, others are not the solution either. While a better deal in my opinion, trust, within a race consumed by greed, is a rare and priceless commodity. Few people have it and far less want to share it. It would also be ironic for me to place the burden of my life on someone else’s shoulders, relying constantly on this person just after I called out greed as a violent curse.”

Although eloquently said, the young adult seemed to break up deep inside. Tears were slowly streaming down his cheeks.

- “Well, well, it would be quite ironic indeed! It looks like we just made it to a core scene of this dramatic life of yours,” the reaper said, clearly mocking the man. And he went on, defying his argument, “You looked a tad convinced there, but what could’ve gone wrong for you to become so emotional? Oh yes… you just realised you couldn’t lie to me without lying to yourself first, right?” he said as he pulled his skull out of the hood for the man to see his evil grin, “You’re crying… and you’re drowning; what a great never-ending cycle. Were you even trying to fool me? I know everything… I have been inside of you for so long. I am your breed; almost a legitimate son,” he yelled while laughing out loud.

Most of the room’s furnitures were shattering under the rising and almost unbearable tension between the lifestealer and the desperate soul. Objects were flying around, being sucked by a giant vortex hanging by the ceiling. The vines were now completely covering the man’s body, but he wasn’t struggling anymore. Instead, he remained motionless; much like he was prepared for his departure.

- “Do you really think they would want of you now anyway?” asked the deathbringer, but he continued, knowing well what the boy thought about it, “You’re a kid, they ask for a man. You’re ugly, they crave handsome. You’re boring, they love funny. You’re stuck, they dig cheerful. You’re mediocre, they need the best. You’re nothing someone else cannot be; you… are… expandable,” he concluded. “That girl was no different from the rest. If only had she chosen a different way to approach you, you wouldn’t be heartbroken yet again today, but it doesn’t change any of the facts: your conception of ‘this’ ideal is not the same as hers,” the pestilent related. “Although it doesn’t really matter now, does it, deceived? You’re chocking your last breath, but why not leave with a grand final?” and he went on, almost nicely, assured of his victory over another lost spirit, “I’ll even let you choose: we can end it here in a lonely ritual for eternal rest; a memento to your life. Or, we could release you in front of all the ones you loved the most; a final testament to how you were never understood… they shall never understand either!”

For a moment, everything stopped. A great silence occurred. Most of what was levitating fell on the ground, but a shining object made its way to the boy’s hand. It was a small metallic box; something that one of his greatest acquaintance gave him about one year ago. Suddenly, memories of this previous event came rushing to his consciousness.

---

It was a sunny afternoon. The man was walking alone in the forest, following a sinuous and narrow path leading to someplace. It was where he and his friend used to go whenever they needed to talk. This tradition was not laid to waste that day neither. She was already waiting for him at the attended point: a small outlook onto a deep ravine descending straight to a river which was headed to town, successfully splitting it into two different sections. She was sitting on a log, with her head bowed down, clearly thoughtful. The sound of the leaves being crushed under his shoes made her notice he arrived, and so she raised her head to inspect him, as if she hadn’t seen him in years. Instead of greeting her old friend, she opened right away with her worries.

- “Only with a single look, I’m not sure I recognize the Jimmy I once knew. You have been too distant lately. Just like…something changed,” she said, with a trembling voice.

- “Everything is so silent around here. Emptiness…can you feel it?” he asked, with a tone denying any sort of happiness, but still he went on with a smile, “This is where we kissed, remember? You told me we were going to walk these woods together and always…,” and then, his voice darkened as his smile faded, “…but, you lied; you killed me. So you destroyed everything this place represents. Now I’m left with nothing but nostalgia. My life belongs in the past. My future ended here. I’m sorry; I can’t help it, Milly.”

- “Is that all you’re going to say?” she replied, with a sort of desperation.

- “Yes, because that’s all there is to say,” he simply said.

- “No, it’s not! What the hell is happening with you?” she almost yelled, trying to contain her emotions.

To which he noted, trying to alarm her,

- “It doesn’t matter, I think it’ll soon be over anyway”

The comment had its desired effect on the girl; she panicked a little inside and instinctively said,

- “Listen to me before you do something stupid, Jimmy. Don’t you dare say something dumb like that again or I swear…”

- “Or you swear what?” he smirked. And he said, with provocation, “Go on, try and break me. Break my position; break the vile walls. Give me a new sight if you can, I’m begging you!”

**Whispers: She is your enemy; do not listen to her nonsense. You will be abandoned!**

Though, she didn’t pick up this time and just answered,

- “I can’t, because whatever I’ll say, you’ll turn me down. There’s nothing more I can do, we went over this a thousand times already. You’re stuck.”

**Whispers: See, she’s blaming you…**

But, he didn’t pay much attention to the attribution she had made. He wouldn’t give up and instead persisted to get his point through,

- “I’m not. I’m just waiting for a coherent argument to destroy my way and force me elsewhere. Until that moment, I will consider it flawless: The world isn’t a dream; it consists of pure cold logic. Look at yourself Milly, you’re delightful and you have so much to offer. You can snap your fingers and end up with whatever you want. Now look at me, I am ugly and I have nothing to give that another couldn’t. Why do you think I’m alone?”

- “You focus way too much on this, believe me. You think that everything revolves around physical appearance and you’re wrong. Besides, I can’t have anything I want,” she argued.

**Whispers: Don’t let her words get to you…**

With assurance, but somewhat angrily, he defied her,

- “You’d focus on this as much if you had been waiting for as long as I have been. All those nice things you say about me, if they we’re enough… we wouldn’t be arguing at this very moment. And let me say you’ve got to be blind if you think you don’t have anything you want. You can’t understand me, none can after all. Why would anyone need to bother, why should you?”

But she replied with a determination not to let Jimmy throw the blame on her,

- “You’re the one who’s blind. The thing I want and cannot have is you being happy, Jimmy. I think about you all the time, but it seems pretty useless to you, doesn’t it? You’re as miserly as everyone you’re calling out.”

- “If wishing I could live the rest of my time with you is a sin, then, please judge me guilty, because I am a sinner everyday of my life,” he related, with a tone full of envy.

- “I know… it must hurt. I am clueless as to why things didn’t go differently. I wish I could make you the happiest man around, but I just can’t. It’s not possible. It’s not something I can do alone; you have to do it yourself first,” she said, with distraught.

**Whispers: She’s trying to get you emotional. Stay sharp, you’re piercing her!**

Jimmy felt like he had no control. Both his head and his heart were taking different ways, tearing him apart as he tried to contain himself,

- “Well, the mixture of my hatred and your powerlessness forges a sword that will slowly and painfully cut my neck. I feel inferior, like a lesser being. Something you can kick around for fun while you embrace the desired,” his heart bursting through his chest, he almost went berserk, but instead just held his head, kicked some dirt around with his foot, while screaming, “Why? Am I not enough? Why do you not love me as much as I love you? I know… how you seem to be the key to everyone else’s pleasure. But for me, you’ll always make the exception, right?”

**Whispers: Mwahahaha, that’s right, and we both know she doesn’t think about you ALL the time. Lies, liar,lying…**

Not sure how she had to deal with her old friend now, Milly tried to stay rational. Still, she couldn’t drop the idea that something really bad could occur. She was insecure and tried to appease his pain for his sake and possibly her too,

- “You’ll need to see our friendship as a step to go further and not a failure you can’t get back from, because that’s not how human resilience is meant to work. You’re strong, you try hard and whatever you think of it, I believe in you.”

**Whispers: What a pitiful attempt at cheering you up. She’s defenceless, now with the final nail in the coffin…**

Calming down a little inside, he decided to conclude, knowing well that if the show went on, he might eventually reach a line he wasn’t sure yet he wanted to cross,

- “You’re far from a source of inspiration to me at the moment. I don’t even remember why I wanted you so close to me. It must’ve been because I thought you’d see something priceless in my soul in due time, but I was never gold, right? It felt much more like copper. Go away now, I don’t need you anymore.”

And she grasped the opportunity to finish this before it would degenerate,

- “As… you… wish. I kind of guessed it would turn out to be like this. I will step back from your life,” she paused for a second, thinking about if she should just leave right away. Definitely stressed out, but, not wanting all of this to be in vain, she proceeded, “I have something for you before I disappear, since the words never seemed strong enough. Take it, and when you’ll feel deep in your heart that everything is over… it’ll be the moment to use it and try to remember. Farewell, Jimmy.”

As Milly walked her way back home, Jimmy sat on the same log she did and repeated the conversation to himself in his head. He watched her fading in the distance, but the sun and its light, now low in the sky as the day drew to an end, were preventing him from clearly contemplating the girl’s silhouette for a last time. He looked down to give his eyes a break and noticed, surprised, some white feathers were scattered on the ground. Though, he was pretty sure they were not there when he arrived. When he shifted his sight to the girl once more, the daystar had fully engulfed her image.

**Whispers: Very well done. Now we’re alone: I am your only friend, forever and always. Throw what she just gave you away, it’s useless. Kill the feelings once and for all…**

---

The vines were being repulsed by the object, allowing the man to move his arm freely for the time it took to access the content inside the box with his fingers.

And as he looked at the gift and figured it all out, he just said, without a feeling,

- “I felt so powerful back then: She left; I was right, she was wrong. I remained whole. There were no more questions to ask with you around to help me and set things out so easily: negativity and failure were the only solutions. Getting rid of the rest strengthened a shelter for my heart, but the core remained fragile, unable to pump, to live as the days went by. I’ve lost so many. They’ve set sail far away; tired to hit themselves against a brick wall every time and the wind will never blow them back. You’ve blinded me and put me apart from the whole world,” he took a deep breath and concluded with determination, “Now, you’ve become the undesired, a burden, an additional weight on my shoulders; one that I do not require. You are now exactly playing the role that was mistakenly attributed to her one year ago. I ask of you that you leave and let me retake control of myself”

- “Why you…!” the abomination cursed. “I knew you were still subject to being troublesome when you wouldn’t get rid of this stupid souvenir after I ordered, but believe me, I have not come here to return with empty hands. I will do so whether you want it or not. If my little garden cannot devour you until you turn to dust, my soul harvester will suck you of your life force dry!” he yelled as he swung his weapon, aiming the boy’s heart.

Jimmy’s words seemed to have reactivated the portal. It was now working against the Grim Reaper, slowly forcing everything that came out of it back inside. The deadly vines were trying to hold their master’s target as tightly as possible to give him a clear shot before it was too late, but the victim was now fully enraged and trying to get out of his fatal position.

- “I am not afraid of you, Death! Do you hear me? I am stronger than you!” he screamed, struggling, “I am alive. I will never run away. I AM JIM-MYAAAARRRGGGGHHHH…!”

Jimmy’s left hand was completely severed. He managed to stop the Reaper from impaling him with his very own flesh. Agonizing and breathing heavily, the man closed his eyes, concentrating. Was he dead already? No, that was impossible; he could still feel the flow of blood on his skin. Jimmy was trying to hold back the scythe by extending his arm as far as he could, barely able to bear the pain, but maybe just long enough for the dimension hole to kick out the unwanted from the room.

- “Bwahahahaha, such a fool you are,” the wretched laughed in madness. “Do you really think it matters? You are no where near safe from me, because in the end, you will be your own weapon… and when this time comes, we will meet again,” he said, as if he was throwing a malediction.

When he opened his eyes a few seconds later, all Jimmy could see was his right hand pulling a knife through his left hand. Acknowledging his sight, he yelled in pain again, but this time with a total consciousness of reality. “How the hell?” he hardly said, confused and hurt. Completely focused on his wound, he almost forgot he had to watch out for the Grim Reaper’s next move. Hastily, he looked around for the visitor; it was only then that he noticed the vines were gone. Actually, the whole room was back to normal. There was not a single scratch on a wall to be found. It was all like… he imagined everything.

Jimmy, feeling the pain piercing the limit of what’s tolerable, stood up from his bed and ran to the bathroom. After pulling the knife out and yelling in agony for a third time, he took out a first aid kit he had in a drawer and proceeded to bandage his damaged hand. Before walking back to his room, he turned around and looked at himself in the mirror. Disoriented, he thought he might just be going crazy any instant now. He tried to go through everything again in his head; could he have imagined the whole scene? It wasn’t possible, he was sure of it. Yet, everything seemed so peaceful now…

All of this mess caused the boy one hell of a headache. He closed his eyes for a few seconds in an attempt to calm down deep inside. He took the bloodstained knife and propped it up on his neck. Trembling and breathing heavily, he stared at himself in the mirror, waiting. Almost instantly, the Reaper’s head substituted his own through the reflection. Watching him carefully, almost confident, the man just opened his hand to let the blade find its way to the ground. As Jimmy smiled, the creature vanished, and so he thought:

“It was… all of this… only a warning. Most of the things he said were right, but still, I see now that even He didn’t have the answer. None actually possess such knowledge; I guess it is very particular to each one of us. Maybe it’s truly in my hands to find my own path, after all, instead of using them to destroy it. Some events might be out of my control, some might be unfair, depressing, painful or simply frustrating, but it’s not like I can do anything about it. In fact, all I can do is change the way I react and absorb them to keep the best out of it, as small as the benefits can be sometimes. Light blinds; it is not a fair way to see everything as positive. And while darkness keeps you running nowhere, we learn much from it; it is a necessary evil.”

Suddenly, he heard the phone ringing. Wondering who it could be, the man left his gift on a table as he went to pick up the call. The sunlight, coming from a nearby window, was shining the metallic box and its content: a picture of Jimmy from a while ago, when he used to smile. On the back of it was written: “You are your own gift.” Strangely, the handwriting was not Milly’s. In fact, these words, they were the ones that made Jimmy realise he had been speaking to himself the whole time. In the end, we’re all a little schizophrenic when it comes to reasoning…

-- Mudpie

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