Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week Thirty: September 20th - September 26th

Hey guys. So I sent my favorite short story to some professional editors, and have worked out most of the bugs in my mechanics and story-lining. I am now in the process of trying to get this guy published :] Wish me luck.

Star Catcher: A Tale of Average Proportions (EDITED)

“I sometimes raise my hand to the night sky, and drag my fingers through the lights, hoping to catch one and bring it to me. But the stars never move, do they? Maybe they aren't so beautiful after all.”

     My name is James Morrison Murphy. And before you ask, yes, I was named after the late lead singer of The Doors. My parents grew up in an age where the popular burned away the necessary brain cells to remember all the good times they had. To try and be nice, you could say my parents lived a life larger than their brains could hold. I, however, call them burnouts who mentally peaked at twenty.
     My name is James Morrison Murphy, and unlike the lizard king, I don't have much sex appeal. I am an average man, of average build, with an average face, and an average personality. For that, I do so solemnly apologize for telling you my name. I know a person with a name like mine sounds like the adventurous sort, but the fact of the matter is that I'm not. Things always have a way of changing though. Here is my story.

     When I turned 24, I was a lighthearted fellow, fresh from college, and just beginning to taste the bitter flavor life has to offer. I had always wanted to write a novel, but the sad reality was that I was just too plain of a person. Taking the wrong way to work, or getting lost for a few minutes was an adventure to me, and gambling felt like a life or death decision. I decided to be a book publicist instead; working with books, but in a safe environment. It sometimes occurs to me that the only changes I've made in my life are the results of my mistakes. Does everyone experience this? Is this some sort of life lesson we were all supposed to learn in elementary school?
     Working for a book publishing company was my first mistake. When two people of explosive personalities collide, the result can be heard echoing for days they say. However, when an explosive personality turns on a candle flame, the result is only the absence of a small puddle of light. This is how I felt when I met my superiors at Castel Publishing; I felt like that quivering flame on top of a melting pillar of wax, thinking that either myself or an outside source would soon snuff me. I didn't have a backbone to show, so they would push me as far as they wanted. They knew I wouldn't break, and knew that I wouldn't push back. It's a terrible thing, being so average.
     My second mistake was meeting Sarah. Sarah was similar to me in many ways, much in the same way climbing a cliff is similar to falling off of one. Her father was the president of the company, and she took it upon herself to become my backbone. She loved me, for whatever reason, and I suppose I also loved her as well. Whatever it was, it helped me become better at my job and climb the corporate ladder. I was now in charge of the lower level of publishing—the make it or break it for hopeful authors. To paraphrase the brilliant physicist Robert Oppenheimer: I had become death, destroyer of worlds. At least in my own petty, watered down way.
     My biggest mistake though, was actually Sarah's. Why would you put someone lacking imagination in a position to turn down ideas? A novel I turned down was instantly picked up elsewhere, and became a best seller. They even made a movie about it, with that pretty brunette from those big mobster movies a few years back. It managed to grab a nomination at the Oscars. Because of this — and several other major errors — the company decided to let me go, but for whatever reason, Sarah told me she wanted to marry me anyway. The headache I got from trying to fathom this was the kind to keep me off my feet for days. You'd think ceilings were mirrors to some magical land of love and wonder, from how long I stared into one.
     When I finally got up, I spent the day with Sarah. Perhaps the things we did had been done a thousand times by a thousand people, but for once, something average felt like something more to me. I held Sarah close to me, sitting in a hammock outside, staring up at the moon, and asked her what she wanted. With her eyes closed, and her head on my chest, she playfully told me “The stars, James. Give me the stars.” She fell asleep on me there that night, but I didn't sleep for many hours yet. “The stars, huh?” I whispered to myself. Can I do that? Can someone like me do something like that?
     I spent the next month of my life sleeping outside under the stars; hands gliding through the dark clouds, jumping into infinite pits of complicated questions under that night sky. I told myself that I was done being average. I was going to grab something of the confusion out there, and make it solid. I was going to give Sarah a star, and for once, I was going to view my life from above, looking down at past troubles and laughing. My hands always seemed to fall short though.
     On our one year anniversary, we went out to eat at our favorite restaurant. I had never been a social person, and as such wasn't too great at hiding things. As a publisher herself, it was like being at work for her—from the way she read me like a book. Dinner rolled on uneventfully, and we made it back to my home, where we laid down in my hammock for a few silent minutes together. She asked me what was wrong, and I didn't know how to answer her.

“I couldn't get you that star.”
“I didn't think you could.”
“I'm so tired of being average.”
“I'm okay with it.”
“I'm sorry, but I'm not.”

     Looking back, I realize that I lost much more than Sarah that night. I lost a little piece of myself that genuinely loved her, and I lost the future we could have made together. However, like I said earlier, for all of you out there like me who never had the ability to look into the black curtain of life, and pull out basic truths as children usually do, I had also gained something. I picked up a typewriter sometime between then and now, and I started to write a novel. It was published by a decent company, and actually made me some good money. I didn't get any movie deals, and I didn't win any awards. I never got the girl, and I never found a way to capture the stars—but you know what? When I wake up in the morning, and I look in the mirror, I can tell myself that I am not average. I'm of course no Alexander the Great. I'm certainly not Nicolah Tesla, Salvador Dali, or Robert Oppenheimer. I haven't picked the world up on my shoulders, and set it down a little differently.
     I am no ones messiah, but I did have an average looking person come up to me at a book signing, and you know what they told me? They told me that I gave them hope. She told me that I given her hope. I had given someone else hope.
     I, plain old James Morrison Murphy, the lying lizard king, the school yard Oppenheimer, the heart breaker, the failed starry night sky conqueror, and the man who never had a spine or a shadow, had taken someone up in my arms and told them everything would be alright, and they believed me. I won't soar through the stars in the sky, looking down at my legacy; nor will I again be that candle, so easily put out. I'm stuck somewhere between the two, looking back at my past mistakes, and looking forward to the future ones.

     My name is James Morrison Murphy. And before you ask, yes I was named after the late lead singer of The Doors, and no, I am nothing like him. My name is James Morrison Murphy, and I am just myself — not average, not unique.

Just James, and for once, I think I am truly okay with that. I truly hope you can look back at your life — mistakes included — and be proud of yourself as well. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week Twenty Nine: September 13th - September 19th

9 AM Collision

We could travel through the sky
We could travel, you and I
Oh, such beauty is found in the lack of light.
Curse the day, and love the night.

The wax of our candles now wanes with the moon.
Shh, my darling. Infinity is soon.

Put on your blindfold, and grab my hand.
Ignore the glass, and its grains of sand.
The rain starts to fall, but can't hold down the smile.
I stare with such care, I stare for awhile.

A hand on your face, and my lips touching yours
My mind starts it's racing, my heartbeat starts to soar
I wake from the alarm clock, I'm disappointed yet again.
My mind crashes on beaches, only dreams remain.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Week Twenty Eight: September 6th - September 12th

I am Imaginative

Gun powder like plaque, I am armed to the teeth. Inside me, the hammering sound of pistons firing up echo around in my metallic body. I am an engine of war. My cold black eyes stare ahead, never glancing down at my marching feet. My hands, strong and anxious, secure my gun in an upright position. Every step I take is calculated, and placed accordingly. I keep looking forward, and my hands start to shake with anticipation, but I still them. Do not show any weakness. I am a machine.

I glance to my sides, and see others fumbling around blindly, crying and giggling. The bad taste of their appearance is drawn out as I spit to the side. These fools cannot still their hearts or hands, and their minds are running faster than a horse. Like a natural predator, I crawl over the last bunker, and march towards that open stretch of land before I get to the Germans. My fellow “soldiers” clumsily flop over like drunken fish. I take one last spit, toss back my mane, and roar; my fellow cats follow with their meows. I am a carnivore.

The Germans - faith shaking harder than their hands - put up only minor challenges. My men behind me are weighed down by the lead they collect in their bodies, but I am not so sentimental. Bits of steel and copper fly into my body, and I let them quickly pass out the other side. The pieces of missing skin and clothes just help me to run faster. I hop into their trench minutes before the others, and the Germans try to rally against me. Their hands quit their quivering, and their guns draw towards me. I am a monster, pointlessly destroying their home, and they are to be the heroes. I am the villain.

I quickly erase the scene with only a few bullets; my arms and butt of my rifle do the rest. My knuckles are swollen and cracked, but I stay calm, and I stay focused. A pathetic horn is sounded, and the enemy starts to retreat; a frail noise behind me signals me to regroup as well. To see such petty actions puts a fire in my stomach that I cannot put out. Of the two displays of such blatant cowardice, I chose the lesser one; I chase after the Germans. I raise my head and follow their scent. I am the hunter.

Their backs grow bulls-eyes, and my rifle begins to drop them like the flies they are. Running past, my pistol flashes into my hand, and I find six right between the eye. The companies' leader begs in a foreign tongue for what I assume to be mercy, and I lower my gun to give him false hope. I allow myself a small smile, I allow myself to show a little weakness. My punishment, the man quickly pulls out a knife and rests it between by right shoulder. His lips curl back in a snarl, and he screams victoriously in that language. His eyes look around frantically for others to hear, but when his eyes meet mine again the color of his face - like his recent bravery - quickly run away. I pull the knife out, and inch closer to him. His screams alert local companies that something is afoot, but I keep on carving. I am the artist.

The Germans fall upon me like waves, but with my bear hands, I tear through them. My own blood is hidden deep under their own, and my sweat covered hair tries to stop me from seeing my handiwork, but I just move it out of the way an continue. My own men show up to stop me, but I tear through them until they sit back and watch me work. I am a god out here. I am the omnipotent.

Billy, sweetheart, climb off of that table and return to your desk please.” Miss Johnson said gingerly. “Don't you understand Miss Johnson? I was just about to single handedly win World War II, and you ruined it!” Billy shouted. “Ohh I'm sorry Billy, I wasn't aware, I'll make sure to call and leave a voice message next time recess is over ok?” Miss Johnson said with a grin, and turned around to walk away.

Pompous bitch” Billy whispers to himself in disgust.

Melodramatic asshole” Miss Johnson says with a sigh.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week Twenty Six: August 23rd - August 29th

Sorry for the delay guys. I've been using all of my writing time to work on an article I'm submitting to That will be up when the final draft is hammered out, but for now all I have is a new edition of my old emo poem "Plaguewood". I changed a couple of the versus, because I had grown tired of the word anchors (ex. I used to enjoy the word "grotesque" so I would focus a sentence around specifically using the word, but as I matured, I lost my love for the word, and actually grew sort of a dislike for it.).

Anyway, it's not a huge change, but here it is.

His ears hear a whisper, words full of dread
Horrible images fill his young head
A boy sits all by himself, alone on a porch
Staring at the forest.
Eyes, a flickering torch…

He tries to calm down, says it's all in his mind
but snaps back to reality when a noise is heard.
Eyes strain to see what the disturbance is
More than a sound
Less than a word…

Thinking upon the matter, the boy's mind jumps around
Out of the forest steps a women in a white satin gown

"Come to me" she whispers,
"Come lay down your head"
"Come sleep with me boy"
"Let us lie in my bed"

The trees throw on wicked smiles;
Their branches entwine.
A perfect picture, the beauty of nature
Wooden architecture, framed in vine.

Only an arm and a leg stick out of the wooden half circle
She slowly flutters her fingers, she flirtatiously raises her ankle
"Pay attention now child!" the trees start to bark
She crooks a lone finger, she disappears into the dark.

The boy becomes euphoric, the boy charges the arc…

Moonlight outlines his siren as he bursts into a clearing
Her body now pulses, her limbs disappearing
He rushes to catch her, but hands sink into decay
Her face shows a carved smile as it slowly melts away

The trees shriek with pleasure when a distant noise drones.
An icy night wind rips through the forest, chilling his bones.
The boy starts to run away, with hands turned into fists
Clenching up muscles, raised veins visiting wrists

Running blindly, the roar behind him growing loud
He loses his footing, body attacking the ground
Oh, what a wonderfully terrified facial expression
The boys slow depression
The winds swift aggression

The darkness engulfs his scream
A whisked laughter is heard in the distance
Shadows surrounds his fallen body
The look in his young eyes now glisten

The trees merry howling now starts to grow grim
A symphony of cackling laughter
A dirge of cracking limbs
It takes only seconds, and all light escapes
The shadows grow smaller, in convulsing, screaming shapes

And like a flame set to a picture beautifully drawn
when the shadows cleared up

He was gone....