Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chapter 2. A theatre of illusions

My eyes widened. What kind of an answer was that? A thousand dark thoughts crossed my mind at once. I studied the man carefully. He was rather old, but did not seem weak at all, quite the opposite. Was he in his right mind? His attitude and speech were clear, but his words made no sense.
Before I could ask any more questions, he called out to me from the other end of the room "Come with me. I will tell you what you need to know."

Eager to have some answers, I hurried down the length of the room after him, glancing around me. The walls were covered in a rich purple wallpaper, with paintings from place to place. The people portrayed looked surprisingly real and I felt chills down my spine, thinking that, if I were to turn around, I would catch them staring at me.
My host was waiting for me by a massive wooden door. He gave me a short, piercing look, and opened it. "After you, Miss Olivia."
I hesitated, but gathered my courage and entered. The view was unexpected. I entered a small bar, with little round tables and round chairs and a stage to one side. There were many people inside sitting at the tables, drinking wine and chatting amiably with one another. On the stage, there was a small band, practicing and warming up.
The atmosphere was a big contrast to the room I had just been in. It was more animated, less tense and the conversations created a comforting background noise. However, I was still tense.
My companion showed me to an unoccupied table in a corner. "Please, have a seat."
I sat down with my back to the rest of the people and the stage, trying to gather my thoughts. The old man sat opposite me.
I considered my options. Should I be demanding and angry, or polite and patient? After one look at the other person, I realised that brash actions would have no positive effect.
"Please, tell me about this place." I asked, trying to disguise my anxiety. "Also, if you don't mind my asking, who are you?"
"I am the gatekeeper of this place. I also guide and teach young people, such as yourself." His voice was calm. The band started playing in the background, accompanied by a singer. I digested this bit of information for a while, then asked my next question.
"How can I get back?"
He paused for a while. "You will have to take a journey. At the end of it, when you see the new sunrise, you will be able to return home."
The words 'the new sunrise' echoed in my head. They were the very same ones on the little note that had been the cause of all this. Somehow, everything was getting more and more suspicious.
"How will I know when I find this 'new sunshine'?" I tried. Maybe the old man was really nuts.
"You will know when you see it." Another cryptic answer. I felt that I'd had enough of riddles for one day.
I got up quickly and glared at 'the gatekeeper'. He remained annoyingly calm, staring at me quietly.
"I don't believe you!" I yelled. "You have done nothing but told me a lot of gibberish. I want a clear answer from you." I was trembling with rage and took hold of the edge of the table for reassurance.
Despite my fit, he simply pointed behind me. "Look around yourself." he said simply.
I turned, expecting to see the same people sitting and laughing at the nearby tables and the band playing in the back.
Instead, to my horror, the room was eerily quiet and everything was still. More than that, the people had all turned into mannequins. Sitting in the same positions, with the same expressions, yet lifeless. I stared in awe for a few seconds, then turned back towards the old man.
"What is the meaning of this?" I couldn't disguise the tremour in my voice, but this time, it was from shock.
The gatekeeper gave me a half smile and replied "Look again."
Already expecting some other horror behind me, I glanced back. Surprise! Everything was back to the way it was before. The people talking, drinking wine, no longer cold lifeless mannequins. The band were gathering their instruments, chatting and making jokes.
I sat back down, defeated.
Before I could voice any of the questions swarming in my mind, the old man asked casually. "What did you think of the singer?"
I gave in, thinking it would be best to play his little games. "Quite good, actually. Why?"
"He kept looking at you while he was singing. Quite a handsome young man." I had a feeling of deja vu. "You should go after him."
I looked behind me. The stage was empty. "No, I want to go home. Please show me the way, Mr guide."
He nodded his head, then stood up. "Come then. You have to leave right away, while the sun is still up."
I also got up and followed him, taking one last glance towards the stage.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A journey without a proper destination

"The first of many." he said. I looked almost incredulous. Could one of my craziest dreams be allowed to roam free?

That was my first book. A collection of poems. Publishing it was like flinging a piece of my heart out to the universe.

And after that, a new step into the unknown, guided only by my fingers on the keyboard. It used to be a pencil on an old notebook page, eraser close by, just in case. There are no mistakes in poetry though. Just a flow of words.

Now, I must think cautiously before unveiling this new world to you. My yet unnamed story. Of "great adventures, unforgettable". A world of dreams, a search that will eventually lead back to the one most important place in the world.

I am still struggling with my ideas, who run amock like they always do. I'm still afraid and very uneasy. Will the journey be as good as the guidebook says? Will my readers be honest? Will I be honest with myself?

I guess we'll just all have to start off on this path together and see where it takes us.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chapter 1. "Great adventures, unforgettable"

"I can't believe you managed to take me out to town."
"Correction, I dragged you out of your gloomy little den. You were covered in spider webs and a thick layer of dust." My friend laughed at her own joke. I managed a grunt, trying not to give in to her attempts at shaking me out of my melancholy.
"No, Melinda, I was working." I narrowed my eyes. Of course she wouldn't know, she lives with her parents, who always dote on her like she is a little princess. She didn't notice my quick glower and carried on.
"Work work work. Can't you have a little fun from time to time?" I was about to protest, to tell her my time was precious, but she cut me off. "Please, Liv, live a little." She chortled at her new joke. Her laughter was clear and spoke of carelessness and summer.

We couldn't have been more different, Melinda and I. She was always outgoing and popular, her clothes were always in fashion and the boys always noticed her. Her long blond hair and blue eyes surely helped.
I was her shadow, always trying to hide behind her glamour. It was as if I was afraid of being seen by anyone. I somehow always managed to make a right fool of myself in front of strangers. Especially good-looking strangers. I wasn't as lovely as Melinda. I was rather short, thin and pale. My hair and eyes were dark, but I always looked at the floor. I wasn't very attractive, nor quite fashionable. I barely talked to anyone, while Melinda was the soul of the party. And my best friend. Which is probably the only reason I let her try to "socialise" me.
The waiter came to bring our orders, which disturbed my train of thought.
"Thank you!" my friend beamed up at the waiter, while I just nodded, looking at the table the whole time. I did notice the waiter's hand though, white and delicate, with long elegant fingers. A young woman, perhaps?
The waiter left. "Liv, you should have seen him, such a sweetie!"
I raised an eyebrow in surprise. So, a young man? I glanced furtively in his direction, but he was just disappearing behind a door. From the back, he did indeed appear to be a tall, lean young man. I remembered that hand and regretted not looking at his face.
"This is exactly why you're still single." Melinda rolled her eyes. "A nice guy walks by and you don't even glance at him."
"He wasn't interested in me anyway." I waved my hand to dismiss the very idea of it and picked up my drink.
I couldn't even take a sip, when my friend pointed at something that had been covered by the glass. It was a slip of paper.
"Oh, but maybe he is!" She smiled teasingly and unfolded the note. She looked at it for a while, then handed it to me, looking puzzled. "I don't know, it makes no sense."
" 'Great adventures, unforgettable. Find your prince charming and the new sunrise... 24 White Street, basement.' " I read. Was this a joke? "Do you think maybe it's for you?" I tried, looking at Melinda.
"No, silly, it was under your glass. It sounds like fun though. You should go."
"No, I have work to do..." I protested.
" 'No, my work, my deadline!' " she mocked me. "This is officially your day off. Maybe it's a cruise, wouldn't that be exciting? I'll come with you, let's go!"
She grabbed my arm, left some money on the table to pay for our drinks and led me out of the coffee shop.
It was a lovely day and I almost felt like agreeing with her about taking the time off. Almost.
We reached our destination quickly and found a little door with the address written on it. I hesitated, so Melinda knocked for me. The door opened slightly, but it was too dark to see inside.
"Yes?" a deep raspy voice asked from behind the wooden door.
"My friend Olivia is here to meet her prince charming." Melinda chirped. I gave her a scolding look. The man might think we're crazy. I immediately felt sorry that we'd come and was about to turn around and leave.
The next few moments happened extremely quick. The door opened and a strong hand showed up from the darkness and pulled me inside and then the door closed after me. A thought crossed my mind. Melinda was still outside and I was probably trapped in there. The street sounds died out as soon as the door closed and I found myself in a dark and quiet place.
Alarmed, I tried to reach for the door, but, even if I fluttered my hands towards it, I couldn't touch anything. I took a step further. And another. Still, there was no door, not even a wall around me. I bitterly berated myself in my mind. I'd been too naive.
"Help! Get me out of here! Is anyone there?" I yelled, my heart racing.
"You don't have to shout, you know. I'm right here." the same voice that greeted us at the entrance said from somewhere to my right. I followed its sound.
"I want to get out, please." I tried.
The man flicked a match and lit a candle on a table, then several others. As the place lit up, I began to distinguish a large room, elegantly furnished, full of candles, on table tops and shelves. The man continued to light them, one by one.
"You can't get out. Not yet. And not through the same door that you came in." he replied, not turning to look at me.
"What is this place?" I asked, more and more frightened.
A short pause. "Some people usually call it purgatory. Others call it wonderland. But you can call it whatever you like."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reaching out to the abyss

A muse is... What is a muse?

Most of my love interests have been far away, unreachable in one way or another. Often, in distance. Other times (most of the times, in fact), the person was simply not interested in me.

Could there be some truth in the cliche saying that "art is created through suffering"?

This has certainly been the case with my poems. But not the usual kind of suffering, no. An emptiness in my heart, missing something or someone I could never have. And the accursed too vivid imagination to fill up the gaps with illusions.

Muses are meant to be so enticing, they elicit tears. Untouchable, unreachable... perhaps even impossible. And, to the enjoyment of the audience and to the woe of the artist, imaginable.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Imaginary foes

A military leader talking about teaching his daughter that their enemies were lowly and deserved being hated and hurt. The reason for the war might have sounded righteous in the ears of some:  the people were poor and hungry and the war spoils gave them food. The prisoner of war commented "Her belly might be full, but her spirit will be empty," referring to the indoctrinated daughter.

This is a scene from Star Trek, but even if the series is science fiction, this fragment struck me as depicting a very real issue.
War is a matter of perspective. The side that you're on is in the right and the other one is wrong. Maybe from all points of view.

This is why the devil was created, so we could have an embodiment of evil to hate and fear. Likewise, many artful leaders have led their people to war against make-believe foes. See the crusades, Hitler's wars and possibly others.

It doesn't only happen in war either. We see it in everyday life. It's called discrimination. It's when we think one person or one group is bad just for a single trait we might not like or simply don't understand.

Sadly, these fallacies can cost lives and the happiness of many people. It only starts with one small misconception.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bitesize fiction. Normality

"Ok, why exactly are you here?"
"Because I thought my intelligence would get the better of me."
"My intelligence... You see" and he looked left and right, then leaned in to whisper secretly "I'm almost certain my mind is a lot smarter than I am."
"And you see that as a problem?"
"Well, yes. Especially when it's trying to take over my life." The look on his face was very serious.
"Go on."
"The situation is getting out of control. People are looking at me in strange ways. They are starting to ignore me. My girlfriend complains I'm trying to make her look stupid."
"And you would like to change all that."
"Yes, I want to be a normal regular guy all the time. No spark of genius, no sleeping on the couch."
"I understand what you mean. We have had several cases similar to yours. I will prescribe you a medicine that will suppress your neural paths. You will be an average Joe."
"Thank you." He smiled for the first time since the meeting.
Sometimes, too much of a good thing can have harmful consequences.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The winner

The contest is over and the winner has been found.

Congratulations to Desiree! To everyone, thank you for participating! I wish I had more coupons to give away.

But, if you still want to get my book, there is a 20% off discount you can use on Blurb, code BLURB20.

I'm sorry I had to choose the winner without a live audience, although I waited for a while. I can assure you I was 100% fair.

If you want, here is the recording. The sound isn't as good as it was live, so there are subtitles. Click on the "CC" button to enable them.

Again, congratulations to the winner and I hope everyone had a good time. Also, don't forget, your dreams and ambitions are waiting for you to fulfill them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Choosing a winner

The book giveaway contest entry period is over. Now it's time to find out who has won the $75 book coupon from Blurb.

First of all, here is a list of everyone who entered, in the order of their comments:
  1. Desiree
  2. Practical Parsimony
  3. Carol Wyer
  4. Odie Langley
  5. Felissa Hadas
  6. Vicky at PPCT
  7. Justlittlecajunme
  8. Juanita
  9. Storycollector
  10. Georgia Little Pea
Your ideas for your own books are varied and very interesting. I hope you do grab the chance and make your dreams come true.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

As mentioned before, I will choose the winner randomly. I will use a random number generator to generate a number between 1 and 10 and whose number comes out is the winner. That sounds simple and fair enough.

Also, to make it even more fair, I will run the program live. In this post there will be a live broadcast video and everyone is free to come and watch. There will even be a mini chat. This will happen at 7PM GMT.

I know not everyone will be able to see the live broadcast, but I'll wait for some people to gather, so we can have an audience. I will also post the recording afterwards, for who wants to see it.

Good luck everyone!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book coupon giveaway contest

As you might have heard, my poetry book, The relativity of a corroded mind, has been published! But don't rush to buy it just yet, since you might be able to get it for free.

The people at Blurb, who published my book, have given me the opportunity to give away a $75 coupon to be used on their site. That would allow you to get even several copies of my slim little book. Maybe you want to give some as gifts to your friends, who knows?

However, first I will be holding a little contest to find the lucky winner for the coupon.

Here are the rules:
  • To enter, please specify that you want to participate and answer this question: If you decide to make your own Blurb book, what would it be about? (let your imagination run wild, I know I did)
  • Just one entry per person, please, and no cheating.
  • All entries are accepted, provided Blurb can ship to you. Please check the regions here. Don't worry, though, they can get almost anywhere.
  • The contest ends on the 6th of July, at 0 AM GMT. I have included a counter to make the Maths easier.
  • To be fair, I will choose the winner randomly.
You can tell your friends about this, all entries will be considered. You don't have to follow the blog to participate, only if you like it.

If you have any questions, by all means, ask them. My e-mail is daftline @ gmail . com

Good luck everyone!
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