Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Project: Create - Day 02

Welcome to my contribution for the second day of Project: Create 2013. If you're not sure what's going on here, I'll direct you back to my introductory post from a few days ago explaining what's going on here. If you missed yesterday's submission, you can find it here. Got all that? Good.

Yesterday's submission being a drawing due to time constraints left me feeling a bit like I'd copped out on Day 01 of the challenge. To make amends, I wanted today's post to be a little more substantial, and to bear the hallmark of at least some semblance of effort. After a bit of deliberation, I decided to write a short story, and turned to my music library for inspiration. This is something I've done a few times before, and while the results aren't always great, they're usually interesting at the very least.

The song I chose as inspiration for this short story is none other than Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. A veritable masterpiece, Freddie Mercury's six-minute epic is often dismissed as having nonsensical lyrics, a viewpoint I've never really understood. Using some of the clearer aspects of Bohemian Rhapsody's narrative and supplementing them with my own interpretation of the more ambiguous parts, I've fashioned a short story from the perspective of the titular Bohemian. I'm actually really happy with how this one's turned out, but don't take it from me - read it for yourselves and be the judge!

La Bohème

Rain lashes relentlessly against the windowpane, countless individual cracks of the whip merging into a single, endless rushing. Even against the pitch-black backdrop of the stormy night sky, moonlight shimmers upon the water as it cascades down the window, illuminating it with an iridescent glow more befitting an oil slick than a downpour. Separated from it by that reinforced glass, the rain seems infinitely distant, and yet I know it's so close that I can almost feel it breaking against my skin, can almost smell it mingling with the scent of the freshly cut grass in the courtyard below and carrying it away on the southbound breeze. Or perhaps the wind is heading westward, seeking to escape this land and seek its fortune on fairer shores. Whichever way it blows, it doesn't really matter.

As I stare through the translucent rainbow running down my cell window, a brilliant bolt of lightning cuts through the black. It strikes with such sudden force that its light overcomes either the room or my eyes, or perhaps both. For a moment I'm blinded, unable to make out any of the few details in this prison cell. Almost instantaneously the flash is followed by a thunderclap. Not the traditional guttural rumbling associated with lightning, but a deafening crack like a sonic boom, a whip-crack that drowns out the upstart whip-crack raindrops and laughs at their impudence. A crack not unlike that emitted from the barrel of a gun as the trigger passes its biting point.

I could say I didn't mean to kill him, but I would be lying. You don't jam the barrel of a .45 against a guy's head without at least some intention of pulling the trigger, no matter how slight that intent might be. More than anything, I think it was curiosity that tensed my finger that night. An intense desire to find out what his head looked like from the inside. A perverse hunger to learn just how long it would take for his limbs to stop convulsing and finally come to rest. I wanted to know what the last thing to pass his lips would be; whether the bullet would leave enough life in him to utter one final word, and what that word might be.

'Mother'. That's what I thought it would probably be.

The mere thought of the word conjures up images of my own mother, superimposed upon the blinding white background I still can't seem to shake from my vision. Memories of her sobbing into her hands as I was cuffed, forced out of her house and into custody. From out of the light I see a woman's hand emerge, try to wrap itself around my wrist, but every time it tries to grip it misses, coming away holding only air. A chill sweeps from the nape of my neck down into the base of my back, filling my lungs with ice and turning my limbs to lead.

It takes a few seconds to shake these disturbing images of my mother back into my subconscious, and as they fade so too does the brilliant white seared onto the back of my eyes by the lightning flash. Whether the thunderclap deafened me I can't say for certain, but I'm suddenly aware of voices around me; other men in other cells in this same penitentiary. Probably murderers like myself. Almost certainly crazy, judging by the torrent of nonsense words gushing forth from their unstemmable mouths. I can't help but wonder how long it will be before I start to descend into madness like them. Whether I will notice the signs of my mind beginning to degrade or unwittingly succumb to insanity, a slave to inevitability.

After minutes that feel more like hours or days, the cacophonous choir of voices along the corridor eventually begins to slow. By the time it ceases altogether, the storm outside has started to move on. The rain no longer beats against my window, no longer carries every colour of the rainbow down its pane in waves of iridescent brilliance. Just as I am a slave to my own fate, so too is the storm a slave to the wind that carries it. Perhaps east, or maybe even northward, like a pilgrim being ushered to his point of origin by the unseen force of faith. Whichever way it blows, it doesn't really matter.

My fellow creators have also been busy today. Project lead Hayley Carr has started making a scrapbook, and while she doesn't have anything to show us today, she's expecting to be able to share it with us further through the project. Tom Mayhew has written an excellent blog post looking at the important issues of self-identity, discrimination, and Meowth backpacks. Alice Bowskill has stepped outside her creative comfort zone and produced a drawing of feminist rapper Brooke Candy. Finally, Pete Dillon-Trenchard has written a blog professing his enjoyment of Wolverine and the X-Men.

I hope you'll join me again tomorrow for Day 03 of Project: Create. I already have a good idea for what I'm going to do tomorrow. I just hope I have enough time to do it in! In the meantime, thanks for reading, and I'll see you around.

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