Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week Four: March 22nd - March 28th

Week 4: March 22nd - March 28th

Hey guys. Sorry about this week. I have a cold, and just don't feel like doing anything. I have spent hours scratching out ideas, but nothing stuck, and I was too miserable to care. Next week will be better though :]

Monday, March 22, 2010

Week Three: March 15th to March 21st

The Devil and Tommy Walden

I may not be a professor, but allow me to teach you a lesson. Some years ago, I had been in a malicious sort of mood, and decided to trick a young man --still considered just a boy my most accounts-- into giving up parts of his life, for vast riches. Little Thomas "Tommy" Walden was your textbook average boy. A middle child of middle class, who was so plain, he was a glowing beacon to anyone looking. As he dreamt at night, I filled his heads with frightful dreams of greatness, planting the seed of "what if?" into his head. I thought to myself it was only a matter of time before we struck a deal, but I have always been impatient, and decided to gamble instead.
"Why shouldn't I hope for greatness?" the boy thought to himself one night walking home. "Who says I have to be average?” To answer, a voice in the back of his head spoke up, "You'll always be a nobody, stop having these thoughts; life is not a fairy tale." "There is nothing wrong with obscurity. You can be just like your parents" a second voice drones. A third voice shrieks "You will never be of importance, grow up!” "Why can't I!" the boy shouts. "Because you haven't asked the right questions yet" a voice behind him says.
The man nearly frightened the boy out of his skin. "Wh-who are you?" the boy asked. The man steps forward from the shadows with a cigar in his mouth, and a black suit on; he seemed to cast shadows that switched sides to peer at the boy. "Oh, I go by many names, but most of them would give me away, so let's skip the formalities, and get down to business." Pulling a scroll from his sleeve, he unrolls it, and holds a quill out to Tommy. "What is this?" Tommy wondered. "It's a contract, saying you'll give up the lives of your family members, in exchange for greatness." My body shakes with anticipation as the boy looks over the paper.
This would have frightened off any rational person beforehand, but as I have said earlier, the seed has been planted. Looking up at me, the boy asks "how does it work?” "Well kid, humans see their lives and extensions of the present, memories of the past, and hopes of the future, but it's more complicated than that. With this, you can give up certain elements that will open new doors for you. For instance, if your mother died when you were young, to cope, you would take up playing the piano to cope, and with all the time you had, you would have become a wealthy man of power through your connection made. What I do, is show you these paths, and let you chose one, but this is not charity. I get the souls of the members you decide to leave behind." The boy understands who I am, but keeps his mouth shut. Smart lad, smart lad.
I did not hear his answer, but my ears burn with what he said; I had been caught off guard. "I'm sorry sir, your offer was very kind, and I will regret this for the rest of my life, but my family means more to me then fame and fortune ever could." Turning to go, his eyes widen as he realizes he cannot control his body anymore, and his eyes drop to my shadows hand around his leg. I lower my head as the hand starts to creep up his body, and rest around his throat; Tommy's eyes starting to bulge. "I'm sorry Thomas. I gave you a chance to cooperate, but you are a damned fool.” Rolling the scroll up, I return it to my sleeve, and walk away from him. A slight smile creeps onto my face as I hear him being torn apart in the distance; my shadow allowing him to scream. "I'm sorry Thomas, but life isn't a fairy tale." I walk off into the night, looking for the next one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week Two: March 8th to March 14th

The World's Last Smile

"It looks so ominous" I say to the slabs of stone in front of me. But I have since lost the ability to fear. I stare at the tower, and watch as it slowly stretches up. Constantly growing, the tower itself lives. I know the kind of people who live in here though, and for all the wonder of the building, my mouth holds a sour expression. Horrid creatures, which would burn their tongues if they tried to call themselves humans, exist here. Filled with rivers of wine, they are too intoxicated to feel their flesh melting off. Foul guttural creatures that will kill a family for their paper, and eat their bread on the way out too. That's their way, and they sicken me with it!
My arms bond together, and a hammer springs out from between them. I grip with both hands, and start to swing myself against the tower's base. Several swings later show no progress in hurting the tower, but the echoes of my failures scale the walls. Into balconies, the sound creeps, and comes back with bubbling laughter, quickly accompanied by the horrible little beasts pointing and laughing. My fingers worm their ways into the cracks, and my feet find footholds, so I climb. Their stench fills my nose and fuels me to continue climbing. Their fingers point out towards me at first, but the cowards quickly remember what fear feels like, and creep away. After a few windows, one of them throws a porcelain dish at me--missing me--and as soon as the sound of it breaking on the ground outside is heard, the rest devour him. I chuckle to myself knowing that even when I, death, am presented to them; they can still find the ability to be avaricious. I continue to climb.
After awhile, one of them decides to pour water on my head, but I am not like them; liquid does not control me. I tilt back my head and open my mouth, letting it fill. I climb past their window and spit it into their faces, roaring laughter as they shrink away. Higher up, their bodies trembling bodies start to ripple on the surface, and a particularly sickly looking one approaches me with what appears to be the intention to push me. However, direct eye contact was enough for the string to land in my hand to dance him away. My laughter no longer allows them such splinters of courage anymore. Window by window, they start to congregate in corners of the room, wailing when I approach, and not stopping until out of earshot. They may not be my targets, but they surely don't deserve my pity. I start to make game of their fear; reaching into rooms and grabbing items to toss out into the air.
Fear slowly starts to flush out to anger; the poor, poor fools. The further I climb, perfecting my game, the more angered they start to become. They start to approach me now to try and push me off, but their dirty tentacles are slow from years of lounging. With a single hand, I crush the remaining bones in their faces. My laughter starts to scale with me, louder the higher I rise. Passing through a cluster of clouds, I start to feel the tower writhing under my touch; I spitefully dig them in deeper.
Curiously, I come upon a window with no creatures to be seen inside. Through the clouds, I can still faintly see land, but cannot possibly see a top to this tower, so I crawl inside. There is a set of staircase in front of me, so again, I climb. I follow the stairs, inlaid with gems and covered with slime for what seems hours, before coming to a doorway at the end. Opening it up, I step in, and am suddenly standing on top of the doorway. It makes no sense how I could walk out of a door in front of me, and it end up under me; but it is what it is. Looking around, I see that I am on a flat surface, when it suddenly hits me. "I'm on the roof!"
To test this, I walk towards the edge and look down. The ground cannot be seen, only clouds circling the tower. "I've made it to the top, it's time to begin" I remind myself. Reaching into my mouth, I pull out a tank of gasoline, and set i on the ground in the middle of the tower. Walking around to gaze in wonder for a final moment, when a whistling above me interrupts my inspection. A white blur falls in front of me, slamming onto the stone roof, and knocking me to the ground.
Dusting myself off, I walk towards the object, and notice it to be the body of a girl; or the mangled body of a girl in a white dress. After a few seconds, I approach to check for a pulse, when an arm flicks into the air, bones noisily snapping back into place. Jumping back, she slowly rises to her feet, and her head snaps up to stare at me. Eyes rippling like water, I recognize who she is. "Peter, you cannot amend the mistakes you've made. Why are you here?" she coyly says. Her hand slowly reaches to grasp my chin, but I knock it to the side. The watery eyes roil for a second, but quickly level out once again. "Peter, you cannot possibly expect me to believe you think to accomplish anything here. You will always belong to me, and the ghost of your past will suffocate you". Despite frantically telling myself not to, I burst out into a fit of laughter. Skin dripping off like the creatures below, her body loses its definite shape, and muddy fingers grab my throat. I'm not sure if my laughter rose as the pressure in her fingers tightened, or vice versa, until it was difficult to breathe. With one arm, I pull her against my chest, and keep her from running away; her screams of protest dull noise in the background to me. And the other hand reaches for the tank of gasoline. Holding it above us, I use my thumb to flick open the tank, and start to pour it on us and the towers roof. The tower lashes out under my feet, and her hands claw into my chest to escape, but it's too late for us. I strike a match and the flames immediately swallow us.
"I've set this tower on fire. I have set us on fire. I have set myself on fire" I say to nobody in particular. The tower falls apart, and I fall off of the edge, plummeting towards the earth. The last thing I could remember was smiling for the first time in years as the wind rushed past my body. "You were wrong my love. I never thought I could amend the mistakes I have made, I just wanted to make things right again". Oh, if only the whole world could have witnessed my smile.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Week One: March 1st to March 7th.


Woeful, is the wind that first sounds the horns of fall’s arrival. The landscape is harsh: hilly and densely forested; so devoid of any sign of civilization, one might wonder if man had ever set foot in it. The terrain matters not to the wind, who changes its run to a crawl with a fluid ease that never skips a beat. Leaves cling to the wind--hitching a ride for a short while--before departing to the forest floor. The wind somberly went about its way, until it finally burst out of the forest near the top of the hill. A white cube rests on top, its shadow never reaching the tree line. The wind quickens its pace, racing now towards the box with no openings to be seen. Upon contact, the wind spirals up the cube, circling the structure twice before reaching the top. Slowly running its fingers along the flat roof, the wind says its farewell, and shoots back down the hill. Regretful, is the wind that never looks back.
Weary, is the hand drawing with heavy lines on the paper. Sitting back, the man stares at his drawing for a moment before looking around his room. The room has white walls, a white ceiling, and a white floor, with no sign of entry or exit to be seen. His protection from the outside world. A single wall is marked by a picture covered with a piece of cloth. A small desk, a rocking chair, and a stack of papers are the only other objects to be seen inside. Turning back to his picture, he slowly moves closer and draws tiny hearts onto the bodies of the people he has drawn. All of a sudden, the pictures begin to move with life. Flexing fingers incredulously, and throwing out cheers, the figures start to walk around. A father, drawn in the artists liking, a gorgeous wife, and a handsome son hug each other, and head into a house drawn for them to start their lives together. The smile slowly melts from his face as the artist sighs, and starts to erase the picture, his ears deaf to their tiny screams and pleads. Setting down the pencil, the man walks over to the hanging painting, and gingerly removes the sheet covering it. The painting shows him painted in perfect detail, with his arm around the most beautiful woman you could possibly imagine. Standing in front of a house, a son runs across the yard with a dog. Rocking back and forth on his chair, the man watches the painting with a smile. Tears run down his face, but he wants to watch for a little while longer before laying down for sleep. Regretful, is the man who hides from living.