Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week Thirty Four: October 18th - October 24th

Amanda's Nocturne

     The year is 1789, and pools of light from finely worked iron lanterns reflect off the waters surface in the canals in Venice. The way the rivers glowed, it seemed as if they were alive; the city itself, excited. The wind carries the smells of October, and an army of masks marching in the streets speaks of Carnival. Loud music is drown out by even louder laughter barging out of every window and door in the town. The entire city seems to be drunk, and enjoying themselves.
     A large white building with big red doors in the rich district sounds awkwardly muffled as compared to the rest of the city. Windows and front doors both tightly shut and covered from the inside, this is a party for the upper class. The secretive nature of the party only appears to be under the guise of social elitism at first. Watching the mannerism of the people behind the female masks, we can tell not all of these are women of nobility. It's quite common for the wealthy and bored to invite pretty young peasant girls to parties in order to seduce them for a night.
     These poor girls were drunken sheep, never feeling the puppet strings being wrapped around their wrists by all of the wolves. They would dance about, and take the drinks offered to them, before one of the male masks would take them by the arm to a back room. The band inside played loud enough that none could hear, but through the haze of the wine and the elevation of the noses, no one would have worried anyway. This goes on for an hour or two, before the alcohol starts to fade, and the rich take up their positions for a group dance. The music turns to discord for a second as the large red doors fling open to allow a couple draped with black cloaks.
     An overweight man, who probably owns the estate, throws his hands up in the air a few times, and the music hesitantly starts back up. Walking with their heads to the ground, the onlookers can only see the gold and silver of their masks reflecting in the dim light from under their hoods. The portly man starts to throw his hands up in anger, and the band starts to play a song of faster pace. Still stuck between curiosity, the other people dance hesitantly, as they watch the couple proceed to the middle of the ballroom.
     Arriving at the middle, the couple cast of their cloaks, and the crowd explodes into a symphony of exclamation. The male wears an off-white mask with a long protruding nose, decorated with music notes. His eyes are completely black, much like the suit he wears. Black paint drips from his mouth down his chin, and his hair is messily slicked back to his scalp. The woman wears a smaller mask of silver an elegant vinework, with the same matching music notes. Her white dress is form fitting, and her dainty body distracts the men from her equally black eyes, and the black paint running out from them down her face. They gently touch hands, and the man flashes an inky grin.
     They start to dance around the room, and the crowds voices shrink as their eyes grow in size. Sometimes seeming suspended in air, the couple dances more beautifully than anything these people have ever seen. Spinning her lightly in his strong arms, and her circling him with a mysterious grin, the couple never miss a beat. Watching in ecstasy, the collective crowd starts to froth and bubble as they nervously giggle and twitch as if being hit with sensual pangs. A sea of arms reach out from the wall of masks, and reach towards the dancers, but they gracefully sidestep the tearing fingers and continue their dancing. Both smiling with black covered teeth, a hysterical laughter is heard from the woman as the man pulls her to his chest. Roaring his head back, the man joins her in laughing.
     The people are vibrating now, screaming and yelling, trying to reach the couple. The reverberating sound of an instrument string snapping is heard for a second before the crowd turns into a mob, and charges forward, foaming from the mouth. The woman claps her hands, and the lights blow out. As shadows rush to take their places in the lack of light, the couples rise up like waves and crash into the darkness, merging, and disappearing. When the lights come back on, the rich and the poor alike look around in confusion, returning to their senses, and flustered by the feelings in their stomachs. Not knowing what to do, half begin to cry and half begin to laugh. They sit in mass hysteria for a few minutes before coming to their senses, and getting up to leave. They walk to their homes defeated, and sleep off the shame from something they cannot remember for the night.
     They say on some nights, in the beautiful city, if you find yourself on the right bridge in the right kind of moonlight, you can see them dancing on the water, feet so graceful they don't even produce a ripple. For just a few fleeting seconds, you can witness both true beauty and horror, as the two are only different by a hair. I warn you dear reader, to look away and run if you can, for if not, you'll end up like me, walking the bridges every night for just one more taste of what I experienced at that masquerade ball.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week Thirty Three: October 11th - October 17th

Hey guys, I spent all week editing "Tales Told by Lost Shadows", so I don't have anything to post this week, I should have a new story, and the edited version of TTbLS up next week though :D

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week Thirty Two: October 4th - October 10th

Tales Told by Lost Shadows.

     Our tale starts off on a green stretch of softly rolling hills, running in every direction as far as the eye can see. The wind - delicate today – picks up blades of grass the size of a hand, and gently sets them back down. The wind breaks into many different directions, forming gorgeous patterns of intertwining shapes, pressed into the blankets of grass. The designs serpentine together as they run across the field joyously, until being momentarily separated by a little girl standing in the middle of this never ending expanse.
     The girl – a child in fact – appears to only be five or six, and is wearing a long sleeved blue jacket, with a brown skirt. A typical school uniform, in an untypical setting. Walking through the grassy field, she looks over her shoulder irritably, and stares behind her. “Go away” she whispers, as she starts to trudge ahead. After a few feet, she looks behind her again, and says “Go away”, this time a little louder than before. She picks up the pace, and starts to quickly walk away. Slowly, her head looks back behind her, and hey eyes widen in anger for only a second before she falls to the ground. Turning around, nothing can be seen in the field except for her shadow, dancing on the waving grass. Surprisingly, she starts to hammer her tiny fists into the ground where the shadow is, and starts screaming “Go away! Go away!”. Aggressive shouts quickly melt into weeping pleads, as she tries to crawl away, crying out “Please... please just go away. Please leave me alone”.
     The dancing shadow just stares as the little girl grips tufts of grass with her hands, and sobs into the dirt. Unbeknownst to her, the shadow starts to stretch out, breaking away from her. Tiny hands break from the shadow's side - their fingers trying to lace themselves with hers, but coming up short. The sound of a hammer striking an anvil loudly echoes inside her head, sending her on her back, kicking and screaming for it to stop. Only a few moments pass before she feints, laying there in that field with the wind – delicate today- as it picks up strands of her hair, and gently sets them back down.

     For those of you unaware, the human spirit is a fragile house of cards, made up of astronomical coincidences; each part playing its own respective role. If you remove the smallest, most insignificant piece of a puzzle, is it still whole? It still stands, and it may still look good at first, but deep down, we know the puzzle is incomplete. When Amissa removed her shadow, she in turn removed a small part of herself. She now roamed the countryside, searching for something she was never quite sure of; walking ahead, growing increasingly weary with life. Her shadow was cursed to follow her, but never quite able to catch her. He knew if he could say just one word to her, they could be together again, but she would never look back. One foot in front of the other, she stared straight ahead and never saw him.

For years, she walked from town to town, always searching for that something, long since forgetting why she was looking in the first place. Her shadow had given up trying to reach her, and instead finally came to terms that he would never have her back. After all this time, even he was just content with staring at his feet, and marching in line – nothing else mattered anymore. Our tale concludes three months later, on Amissa's 21st birthday.
     Mirroring their appearance, the sky above was gray, and the rain was coming down quite liberally. Eyes on the ground, the shadow started to speak to himself for the first time in over a year. “That's right” he says with a small laugh, barely recognizable as such. "Today is Amissa's birthday isn't it. Happy birthday dear” he spoke softly. He somehow found the courage to lift his frail neck, and tried to yet again reach her. The trtuh though, was that he had no hope, and this was just merely just tradition by this point. The soft patter of the rain is broken by a dry scream, as the shadow runs ahead like he never had before.
     “It's my 21st birthday today” Amissa said to herself sadly. “16 years of searching for nothing, when is it time to rest?” “I'm so tired” she whimpers to herself. “I'm so damn tired.” She stared only as her feet as usual, until her next step sent her plummeting down the edge of a cliff. If you don't look up every now and then, you have to deal with the consequences of your actions. She didn't recall screaming herself, but she heard someone else in that moment.
     Her arms are suddenly lifted as a black figure wraps his own under hers. “Umbra, you're back” Amissa sleepily says. “I am, my love, I am” the shadow responds. Wrapped in his arms, she places her chin on his chest, and peers into his dark face and starts to softly weep. “I'm tired Umbra, I'm so tired” she manages to get out. Turning her head sideways, he presses her cheek against his heart, and begins to drag his fingers through her hair. “Shh, we can go to sleep now my love.” he whispers into her ear. Through a yawn, she manages to get out a “I've missed you so” before falling asleep. Like a long lost friend, Umbra's smile appeared on his face for a moment, as tears streamed from his cheek and onto her sleeping face. He held her close, and closed his eyes, and for a brief second, felt as if flying before slipping off to sleep as she did.
     Smiles plastered to their faces, and their minds soundly asleep, they never felt the rocks at the bottom as they crashed upon them. Death came instantly, and although quick, in it, held more meaning than a lifetime of searching. If you ever feel that you are wasting your entire life searching for something you can't explain, just look over your shoulder my friend. Chances are it's the only place you haven't yet looked.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week Thirty One: September 27th - October 3rd

No show guys. Working 30 hour weeks, and spending my only 2 days off over at some ladies house doing side work. I'm trying to free up some time, but I have an idea for a short story in my mind for next week, AND, I am going to be trying to work on an actual fantasy novel soon :]