Short Stories

The Physical Intangible

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A tuba sat next to the wall – neglected by all appearances. The dust was thick on most surfaces, and anybody could tell what was used regularly by the lack of dust. A fairly-clean pair of glasses sat next to an extremely dusty old television set, and a barely-visible stack of envelopes sat next to a somewhat polished typewriter.

The furniture was that of a bachelor. A single armchair sat in the corner, next to a small round side-table. A few books, mostly classics, were piled on the table. The wood floor was spotted here and there with throw rugs of various shapes and smells. An ancient phonograph hummed from its stand, some vaguely familiar tune. A man sat in the chair, talking to an uninterested cat.  

“…and to be honest, I was treated with… um… utter… uh… hold on…”

The man stood up and half-walked, half-stumbled over to the opposite wall, which, other than the man himself, was the most interesting aspect of the room. Dressed in some form of loose-fitting night clothes, he looked rather ridiculous as he shuffled across the living room floor. His hair was disheveled and his beard fluffed out like an upside-down afro. The cat twitched his tail and turned his head to follow his human. The cat glanced briefly at the wall as his human reached it, but cats really aren’t interested in most inanimate things that can’t be made to roll across the floor.

The wall was one of those impressive bookshelves that one might find in an old library or mansion. A ladder on rollers was fitted to the wall, and the man could reach any part of any shelf by merely rolling the ladder back and forth, which he often did just to amuse himself. The shelves, ladder, and contents of the shelves, I might add, were the cleanest things in the room. Not a trace of dust was to be found on any of them.

“Umm…. Let’s see here,” the man muttered and mumbled under his breath as he slid expertly on the ladder along the wall.

“con… con.. continent, California, caliphate, concentrate, congenial, oh.. wait… gee…” he slid back along the wall in the other direction.

He rummaged through the objects on the shelves as he went.

“Ah ha! Geniality! It was right on the tip of my tongue; I could picture it and hear it, but I couldn’t say it, Tabs.” The cat watched a fly buzz around the room. “Yes, it was a welcoming atmosphere, to be sure, but I….” his voice droned on as the fly came just a bit too close to Tabs.

The man placed the little carving of “geniality” back on the shelf. The words all quivered as he climbed back down the ladder. Tens of thousands of combinations of letters. They all sat proudly in their spots in his physical vocabulary.

“Anyway… huh… you don’t care, do you, Tabs?” He picked up his book and began to read. “Ooh… there’s a new one.” Setting his book back on the little table, he set to work whittling a few letters out a block of wood, and Tabs batted the wood shavings as they fell.

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An Aimless Obsession

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I wrote this quite a while back and had it published on Broowaha.com. Since I’ve been rather busy lately, this will be some stand-in content until I find the time to write something special for all my lovely readers. 😉 

There once was a sculptor who loved to create beautiful images. He studied all sorts of subjects, ideas, and wonderful theories. He loved sport and lived for the game. His game, however, was played with people. He poked their minds to examine the results. He prodded their emotions with verbal sticks and noted the reactions. He did not allow for personal attractions or petty feelings. He concentrated on his work and did little else. His grandest accomplishments were but experiments to him once they were finished. In his mind, he never failed or made a mistake; if there was an error, he would fix it. One day, he came across a wonderful subject. A beautiful specimen that was fraught with countless extraordinary ideas. The more he talked to her, the more he knew that this sculpture would be special.

He thought of her night after night and formulated plans and ideas. He worked on the piece day in and day out. Almost without paying attention, he had made a wonderful image. So real and lifelike, his masterpiece was his finest work by far. All of the other creations stood by and gathered dust. He neglected his regular interactions and studies of other examples. No other object in his gallery was even close to the level of detail and mastery that was displayed in his rendering of this subject. He talked with his subject, he got to know her, learned about her background, studied her interactions with others. His former lack of personal investment in his life was, in this case, ignored. He began to gauge everything else by one scale, and it all fell short. The obsession which had seized him was one that was neither healthy nor safe, yet he pressed on with his reckless passion.

The sculpture was almost complete; it was nearing perfection, at least, in the eyes of the sculptor. He concentrated even more heavily on it, he worked until he had imparted all of his knowledge of the subject upon the image he had created. A strange thing here began to happen. The subject began to fade in importance and the image began to rise in his mind. The image was now as complete as it could be, given the artist’s knowledge of the subject. The time came when the subject had to leave. The artist no longer had her to study and learn from. He was left with an aimless obsession. The inevitable happened; the image replaced the subject in the mind of the artist.

His obsession once again had a topic, but it was not nearly as fascinating as the original. It did not answer him in the same, unpredictable ways. He could examine it, but all new data formed was done so by extrapolation. He turned over conversations and information in his head, like a tape replaying the same song. It drove him to the brink of despair. He no longer knew what was real and what was fabricated in his own mind.  The answers did not come as he expected, and often his own suppositions were not what he wanted to hear. Like a flame his anger would explode, until he realized the source of his anger and at whom it was directed. As soon as the blaze would flare, a rushing wave of guilt would come crashing over his head and douse the fire.

Self deception had led him down a path to place that he created, yet with which he was not at all familiar. Everything was of his own doing, yet nothing made sense. The statue stood in the middle of his room and haunted him. It brought back memories of reality and his old perceptions. He would study it for hours on end to try and interpret what he was missing. He had created a trap for everything that he loved, and in the process, he had snared himself.

Projections

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There once lived a man who had many dreams. He dreamed so much, in fact, that he was seldom ever awake. Naturally, this did strange things to his metabolism, and he wasn’t the skinniest person to grace the presence of his village. Of course, he lived in a forest village. All people in cool fairy tales do.

This man was a very philosophical dreamer. He dreamt of cats that were both dead and alive, he had visions of caves in which people could see naught but shadows, and he even dreamed of bagels. Obviously, bagels are very philosophical. One day, when he was awake, he decided that he would go for a stroll into town. Town was a grand area. All of the rich, pompous, well-to-do, and educated lived in the town. This was a small town, with the small-town mentality. The ironic thing about the small-town mentality is that the small-towners believe they should treat their small town like a big town. The rich think they are very rich. The pompous are even more inflated than normal. The well-to-do act as if they have nothing to do, and the educated are exceedingly proud of their relative learnedness. Anyway, our man is taking a stroll.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a large person stroll, but it’s can be quite the humorous sight. Descriptively, it’s one of the most gratifying experiences for an author. There happened to be one there that day. In his words:

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. The man walked – nay – waddled off of his front porch. The stairs creaked and flexed under his massive boots. I’m sure the wood cursed the day it was born a tree. His jacket was made of a coarse green wool. The black buttons stood out well; he was missing the third from the top. His white undershirt showed through the gap. His pants were made of a black rough cloth. He wore his wide black belt over his jacket. His boots came to between his knee and his ankle, their brown leather was dusty but new-looking from years of non-use. He ambled down the path to the road. He wheezed quietly as he lifted the gate pin, the wrinkles on his forehead creasing slightly as he looked around. He then turned and sauntered into the sunrise, and I got distracted by my breakfast.

Our friend walked down the road towards the town, and he was soon passed by a taxi. The taxi driver, seeing the ample traveler, slowed his horses and waited for the fellow to catch up.
“Hello, my good sir!” he shouted from the box, “Would you like a ride into town?”
“I do believe I would,” replied the rather winded pedestrian.
“Well then, hop in.”
Of course, hopping was out of the question, but our friend managed to mount the carriage and settle into the seats. In the seat opposite him was a very interesting sight.
“Mrs. Amelia Hogg,” said the lady on the other side of the cab.
“James,” our wide-girthed dreamer said, “my name’s James Darke.”

As stated before, Mrs. Amelia was a very interesting looking lady. Tall, thin, and quite round, not at all unlike a pencil, she was clad in a burgundy dress with black frills and buttons. Perched on her head was the strangest scene of all. I say scene, and you shall soon see why. Upon her head sat a nest. Not just any nest, but a nest made of magical bluewood. In the nest were several kittens, an owl, a mouse, and an egg.The owl appeared to James to be very distinguished. He sat upon the nest and observed the kittens as they played a sort of catch with the mouse. The mouse itself was not being harmed; it would, from time to time, escape the kittens and lick itself. Then the game would begin again. The egg sat nearby and did nothing, as eggs often do.

James stared at the hat for a moment, “you have a very interesting headpiece.”
“Well, it helps to entertain fellow taxi riders.”
“I suppose it does.”
“Do you ever entertain, Mr Darke?”
“Oh yes, I entertain my own fancy all of the time.”
“Not quite what I meant. You see, I like to entertain through projection.”
“Projection?”
“Yes, projection of thoughts. It’s a method of viewing others which requires very little interaction and provides great mental entertainment.”
At this James perked up, as much as his rotund figure allowed.
“That sounds right up my alley,” he exclaimed. “I’m a dreamer, you see.”
“Oh, that’s grand! Everyone views certain others this way. Until the projection is replaced, you cannot even think otherwise!”

The conversation droned on for a while longer, but I’ll not bore you with the details. Soon, the taxi arrived in town. Saying farewell, the two parted and went about their respective businesses. James soon became tired and desired to sleep. A nice bench was sitting by a bakery, so he plopped his large frame onto the seat and provided the metalwork with a great deal of added stress. Soon he began dreaming of projections and theories that he had never thought of. “Everyone views someone in an artificial way,” Amelia had said. “Imagine for a moment that you don’t know anyone very well. You’d like to know them, or perhaps they come up in conversation with others. You will base your thoughts, opinions, and even appraisals of that person on your perceived image of them.” A pink kangaroo waltzed by the window. “As you think of these people that you don’t know well, you will begin to form an image of them in your head. You will fill in details where they are lacking. You will predict their actions based on how they respond. You may even insert them into your dreams as filler actors. These people are your projections. They’re quite real inside of your head, but that’s the only place that they exist.” The bench creaks slightly, giving James the illusion that he’s sinking. “It’s fun to provide people with as many skewed samples of yourself as possible. Hence the reason why I wear such a ridiculous hat.”

James awoke with a start. Evidentially, a horse had mistaken his hair as grass and had begun to pull on it. “Well that was odd,” he thought as he walked away, “I don’t think I’ll ever see people anymore.” For you see, we never truly know people, we can only know what we see in them. Someone else may see an entirely different set of attributes from what you see. The projection formed will be quite different from your own. And this is why James went home, ate a large roll of cheese, and didn’t wake up for a week. He met many people in his dreams; some of them were nice, some of them were not, and some of them were even real.