Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Week Eight: April 19th - April 25th

Limbo in Transit

I think I might be stuck. The years -- like the landscapes outside -- have quickly gone by, yet here I sit, still on this train. Over the years, memories have charmed their way into my head, and then have abruptly slipped right back out. However, I do somewhat know how I came to be here.

I had been fired from my place of employment, and the best solution I could find was to take a large quantity of drugs. Looking back, it was so curious, the way strangers surrounded my body hanging out of an alley; their inaudible lips smacked together slowly, but all I could hear was a dull humming before everything went black. When the light came back on, I was sitting here, on this train that never stops; this train completely devoid of life.

Looking out of the window, the speed of my vessel makes the scenery blend together until the landscape is nothing more than paint smeared haphazardly on a blank canvas. It gets lonely here, but you learn to deal with it; you have to learn to deal with it. I have also learned that I cannot die here, which leads me to believe that I have in fact passed on. Coincidentally, this would also mean that I cannot live, so as I said before, I am stuck. At the very least, I can find a sort of comfort in the fluid earth outside. It sort of reminds me of the messes Scarlet used to make with her paints sets.


Oh lord, Scarlet was my daughter once upon a time. My gorgeous, intelligent, artistic, perfect little angel. I remember how she loved to go outside. She would run out there to hide when I would come home drunk. She would raise her little hands to her ears while sitting inside of a small evergreen bush we had growing in the backyard. I remember we could always find her because she would sing to herself until I was done shouting at Ashley. Why did I think this was alright for a young child to deal with? All the pain I have caused her, why did I do that! My perfect little angel, how could I treat you so bad? How could I!


That must have been my wife’s name. Yes, that was her name; she was such a strong woman. She always stood behind me, even though I would never look back. The long nights arguing, and the physical abuse; she didn't deserve that out of a piece of shit like me. She didn't deserve it much the same way I didn't deserve her. No, they didn't deserve it. I'm glad there aren't any mirrors on this train. I don't think I could stand to look at myself right now.

Ashley, my dear, sweet Ashley; my wonderful, caring, supportive Ashley. I made a habit of only apologizing after you left the room, and for that I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry, and I know I deserve to be here. I won't complain anymore.

I won't complain.

The man's cries leaked from the train, and flooded out into the world, climbing hills, and tumbling down valleys. Latching to wind, the cries were tossed into the air, and plummeted like rain drops into the earth, but nobody heard them. They waded into rivers, and swam out into the ocean, but nobody was there. He was truly alone.

No one is ever listening, and nobody will.

You are alone.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Week Seven: April 12th - April 18th (Extended)

So... I had missed quite a few more entries than I had thought since I was on temporary hiatus. So to attempt to make up for it, I have decided to try something a little new. I had reported in the beginning that some weeks, I would just repost "remastered or revamped" versions of previous short stories (seeing as how I don't do much in the form of editing before posting). Well, to try and make up for those missed weeks, I have decided to not only post two short stories this week, but unveil a new reader interactive project, where you guys get to delve your creative hands into the story. "Echoes", although my first story, turned out to be my favorite of the first three. As such, I have decided to use it as a sort of bargaining chip to make up for the lost time previously. I have fixed up the short story a little bit, and here's the thing. YOU get to chose how I issue a final copy. Let me try to break it down for you.

(NOTE: Read the second story BEFORE reading the below text)
Echoes V Echoes 2.0
I have severely (I'd like to think the change warrants the use of that word to be honest) altered the ending of the story. What I want to know is which ending you prefer? The sublime ending of the first? Or the despaired ending of the second? Also, something else that was changed with the story was my formatting. Because the second installment of the story was dragged out much longer then it originally had been, I have chopped it up into several paragraphs. Now the question is, should I end each paragraph with a "[Blank], is the [Blank] that [Blank]'s" like both installments do? Or is the current set up still suitable? My favorite part of the short story are those transitions, and I would assume the viewers as well. Now looking back at that question, does the length of the first installment of the story (The wind) seem too short, in comparison to the second part (The artist)? Or does it still flow evenly? I leave it in your willing hands my friends.

Echoes 2.0

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 goes about its way, until it finally bursts out of the forest into a clearing. Standing in the middle of the field, a hill abruptly rises from the earth; a white cube rests on the top of the mound, 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. Solemn, is the wind that never looks back.

Weary, is the hand scratching heavy lines into the paper. Sitting back, the man stares at his drawing for a moment before looking around his room. Walls, ceiling and floor are all white, 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, the man slowly moves closer and sketches tiny hearts onto the bodies of the people he has drawn.
Suddenly, the pictures begin to move with life. Flexing fingers incredulously, and then throwing out cheers, the figures joyfully start to march around their new world. 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 man stares at his work fondly, and smiles for awhile. Hours pass, but eventually his bold grin starts to melt from his face. Sighing, he flips his pencil around, and begins to erase them; his ears deaf to their tiny screams and pleads.
Wiping away the sullied flakes of eraser, 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 right arm wrapped around the most beautiful woman in the world, and his left placed firmly on a boys shoulder. Unlike the stagnant white of the room, the white of their smiles seemed to dull the rest in comparison. His wife, and his son stood in a painting with him; his smile announced to the world that he wasn't afraid to tell it that he was happy – to tell the world that things were perfect. Resting his eyes, the artist leans back in his chair, and starts to regain his smile.
The man starts to think about his family, until like the vehicle that night, his thought process goes off course. Throwing himself from his rocking chair, he can still see the bright headlights of the semi leaving blurry blue spheres in his vision. Tears jump down his face as he leaps forward towards the portrait, with his pencil in hand. Furiously, the man scribbles hearts onto the chests of the characters. Faded sections of the canvas tell us that this isn't the first time he has tried. He stands on his knees, begging the people in the portrait to return to him, but as always, they just stare right past him. Falling, is the man who can never forget.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Week Seven: April 12th - April 18th

Chilblained Fingers: The Diary of Admiral William "Iron Jaw" Finch

Captain's Log, Day 73

Two months have gone by, and still we sit here; stranded on this forsaken mass of ice. I have spent the majority of my life preparing for this mission -- to be the first man to reach the earth's southern pole -- but here I sit. The Antarctic coast is in sight, but I am not able to reach it. And every day I can hear its taunting laugh growing louder. Morale is running low with the men, and food supplies are even lower. I fear if I do not do something soon; the men may mutiny against me.

Captain's Log, Day 75

Still here I sit in my quarters, with my ears glued to the wall. Do they think I cannot hear them? Talking behind my back as if I have gone crazy! I am the captain of this ship, and I will restore order!

Captain's Log, Day 76

I have passed out my reserve rations, and it seems the crew has fallen quiet for now. All of the crew except Caruthers, whose whistle writhes inside my head, and violently twists my brain until I can no longer stand it. He will have to be taken care of.

Captain's Log, Day 81

I can no longer stand the noise! My bones are being torn from their sockets as his whistles tear through my body. I'm putting an end to this!

Captain's Log, Day 82

My hands are cold, and lifeless, but I can still see the blood on them. I never had a problem with Caruthers; truth be told, he was a great sailor, and a fine man. So why did he have to taunt me so! I was so good to him, to all of them, and this is how they repay me? Even with my fingers wrapped around his throat, hoping to stop the noise, his painful attempts to breathe scraped out of his throat like a whistle. I couldn't bear to be so insulted; I started a fire, and cooked the son of a bitch! Moisture in the wood whistled and popped from the fire. Beyond the grave and he still managed to insult me to my face! I ate his right arm, and the skin from his face. Just try to insult me now Caruthers! I offer the rest to my crew, and marched back to my quarters. Two birds with one stone, I am victorious.

Captain's Log, Day 84

The crew is banging on my door as we speak. How dare they demand me to leave; she is my ship! I gave them my rations didn't I? I offered them Caruthers when they were starving didn't I! Is this their idea of rewarding me? I'm going to go skin all of them; I'll remind them who their captain is!

Captain's Log, Day 86

We are all sick, and we lost a great deal of good men these past few months, but a rescue party has arrived! We are going home! The captain will not be able to join us though. We never in a million years wanted to kill the captain, but we didn't have much choice. I have considered Will to be like a father to me since he picked me off the streets when I was young, but when we came to tell him that rescue had arrived, he flew out of the room with a knife and started to swing at the crew, accusing them of trying to overthrow him. We had used up all of our spare cloth and rope and the like for fires, so tying him up was impossible, and Will isn't the sort of man to be held down. I may have escaped certain death here in this icy hell, but the ghosts of my actions will surely haunt me as long as I live. May our misguided captain's soul find its way to heaven to await us, and may the lord have mercy on us for what we have done. Rest in peace captain, we will never forget you. It's time to go home... it's really time to go home.

- Maxwell Locke,
Newly appointed captain of the S.S Artemis

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Week Six: April 5th - 11th

I've never felt the weight of such a world on my shoulders.

Ugh... because of ANNOYING friends PESTERING me, I have decided to renounce my REPEAL of the project, and will start it back up again. I'm not happy, and I hate you Carolyn and Michelle Maynard (and other family members :]), Katie Holmgren, and Heather Boyer.

Starting Monday, I will have a new short story up, and I will even go back and chose one of the previous to remaster. So that will be two new entries this week.

I'm not sure if it was the combination of the cold and a mild depression carried along with it, or what, but I suppose I did have too much fun to just call it quits yet :]

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Week Five: March 29th - April 4th

Hello all.

I will be discontinuing this blogs original mission of a short story a week. I had fun, but no one really seemed to care, and there is no point in posting stuff just for my benefit alone haha. The blog will stay up, and I will post things, but no longer in week increments. Wasn't worth sitting down and throwing together something presentable for the reward of cricket chirps. People like my friend Carolyn read them, and gave me opinions, but I can't ask much for the quality of work I'm submitting, and I can't stand the fact that some of my closest friends can't spare a few minutes to read my stories. So it goes, see you around kids.