sweet dreams

Today wasn’t all that great of a day. I was incredibly depressed, and for some reason there was this short moment where I was incredibly, incredibly angry. I slammed my bedroom door twice, punched it a few times, threw my plastic chair at it and generally fumed for a bit. I was genuinely scared of myself, scared that I’d once again do something stupid.

I don’t know why I can never be happy by myself, man. It’s pathetic. Utterly, utterly pathetic. If I can’t support myself, if I can’t help myself, if I can’t somehow make sure that I’m at least ok then who will? I can’t rely on friends all the time, they’ve got their own lives to live, they’ve got their own problems, their own demons. They’re busy climbing their own ladders.

I do feel guilty for always kicking up shit, but oftentimes it just gets too much for me to handle. I can’t talk to myself and reason shit out when I hate myself and can’t stand hearing what I have to say, can I?

No, somehow that doesn’t work.

I’ve been reading Sufian Abas’ Kasut Biru Rubina tonight, and I think it’s quite awesome. Short, unrelated vignettes that are, by turns, beautiful, odd, funny (in, perhaps, a slightly dark/black way) and, sometimes, a combination of all of those. I particularly, so far, like “Nenek Oh Nenek” and “Asri Mula Panik”. I feel like I can somewhat relate to the latter, even.

It’s one of the few times I actually haven’t felt somewhat demoralized by reading someone else’s fiction. In fact, I actually feel like his style of writing is something I can actually do decently well, short vignettes that don’t really fit the traditional “short story” mold. After all, I was fond of 500-or-so-word “stories” during my early days, and, hell, I still consider my best “story” to be one of those (“A Warm Light on a Cold Night”, if anyone’s wondering). I’m not thinking of a book or anything, but just writing however I feel like writing and not worry about arbitrary definitions of how many words a short story should be, not worry about how long whatever I’m writing is. Looking back, I can’t help but feel that sometimes I wrote with word count in mind, for some odd reason. I still did, during the writing of this following piece, but not as much. Perhaps all the calls for short story submissions that also mention minimum word lengths had/has something to do with it.

If anything, though, length needs to come from having a plot and not from writing over-wrought prose.

I should cut down on the words, perhaps, to find myself. And I guess I need to reconcile my apparent ability of playing around with words and crafting “nice” sentences with a much more economical style of writing. Bruen can do it, why can’t I? (Haha, because I’m not half as talented as him?)

Partly as an experiment, I wrote this story tonight. I kinda like it, if only for the fact that I think it’s an interesting concept.

Enjoy, eh?

        I woke up from my dream with a start, as if I had been jerked back into reality by someone pulling the plug on my dream. Just like that. As the ceiling drifted in an out of focus, I could feel the dampness and stickiness of sweat clinging to every part of my body like a second skin, and it wasn’t at all comfortable. My blanket lay in a messy heap on the ground beside my bed; I had no doubt kicked it off while I was asleep.
        I sat up, my feet hanging onto the ground and tried to gather my senses. My vision was blurred, my mouth and throat felt like they had been stuffed with tissues and there was a dull throbbing in my head that felt as if someone was operating some heavy machinery in there. And the room was still popping in and out of focus as if my eyes were a camera lens and someone was playing around with the focus. I felt dazed and confused and totally unable to focus on anything.
        I tried to get back to sleep but it was no use, and I spent what I presume had to be nearly half an hour tossing and turning on my bed, seemingly bothered by anything from the occasional chill wind blowing in through the window to the sound of my next-door neighbour coughing in his sleep. And the dull throb in my head kept growing stronger and stronger, louder and louder until I realized that, to my horror, it wasn’t just in my head.
        Someone was banging on my door, and it definitely wasn’t me imagining things in my daze. I could see the (unfortunately, quite thin) door giving slightly every time the person pounded on it. I could actually feel the impact of the person’s fist on the door, somehow, right in the middle of my chest, as if I had suddenly become hyper-aware and hyper-sensitive to every little thing going on around me.
        I panicked. I didn’t know who it was, I didn’t know what he/she wanted, but I had the feeling that it wasn’t a social visit. Possibilities and situations ran through my head every which way. Could I escape through the window? Could I perhaps hide somewhere (a cursory glance around told me I couldn’t)? Could I take the person on? What if he/she/it (for some reason I suddenly felt like I couldn’t ignore the possibility that it might actually be an “it” banging on my door) was armed? Or dangerous? Or, probably, both?
        In a moment of arguably ill-timed humour, I decided that, whoever it was, he/she/it wasn’t going to get me with my pants down, and thus I promptly decided to put on my favourite pair of jeans, jeans which were so worn that even a hobo might think twice before taking them, if I ever decided to dump all my old, worn articles of clothing into a box in the hobo-infested alleyway just behind my apartment.
        And, all the while, between my thinking and the act of putting on my jeans, the pounding grew louder and louder. And then a voice, recognizably human yet with more than a little something odd and inhuman about it called out from behind the door.
        “Open up!”
        “Don’t make me bust the door down!”
        But the voice didn’t come from behind the door. It came from inside my head. It was as if whoever it was behind that door was speaking straight into my head, telepathically.
        It occurred to me that it was perhaps slightly odd that he/she/it would choose such a loud and easily-noticable approach if the intention was to kill me, but it wasn’t as if I had the time to sit down over a mug of hot tea (or coffee) to think about that fact. I was in danger, that much I knew. I felt it in my gut, and I had to get away, somehow.
        After weighing up what little options I had, I decided that the window was my only choice.
        I opened the window and tentatively began climbing out of it. However, just as I was on the boundary between being inside and outside, between the stuffiness of my room and the openness of the fire escape, I could hear the door give way behind me.
        I had one foot nearly out onto the fire escape, but my other leg was stuck on something, and I could hear footsteps approaching slowly and deliberately, as if I was a sure kill and that there was no use rushing. I began to panic and tried desperately to get unstuck, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Whatever it was that my right leg was caught on wasn’t letting me get away that easily.
        I began swearing under my breath as I tried to extricate myself from the position I had found myself in, left foot nearly touching the fire escape and right leg stuck on something on the window sill. I gave one final pull, and I heard the ripping of jeans before I fell with a thud onto the cold steel of the fire escape. I was out.
        I wanted so desperately to lie down and catch my breath, but I knew that I didn’t have the luxury to. I grabbed hold of the fire escape guardrail to help pull myself up, and as I stood I heard the sound of a revolver being cocked behind me.
        I should’ve just ran as fast as I could, but during moments like that you really can’t help be like a deer in headlights. I froze, but my mind was racing, screaming at me to just run, get out of there, jump, break a couple of bones, as long as I didn’t get shot there.
        But then I did something quite silly.
        I turned around to look at whoever it was that wanted to kill me.
        It was definitely a “he”, or, at least, an “it” that looked very much like a “he”. I couldn’t see his face as it was in the shadows, but I did see a very shiny .357 Magnum pointed in my direction. I could even see the elaborate engravings all along the body, and I was almost in awe at its beauty, if that’s even possible.
        For a moment we were both static, like a scene from a movie. I could feel the wind blowing, ruffling my hair and sending newspapers flying down in the alleyway 6 stories below. Again, my brain told me to run, but my body wouldn’t obey. I was, indeed, a deer in headlights.
        And then he pulled the trigger.
        I felt a huge, painful impact in my chest which threw me against the guardrail with a violent impact, before I once again fell onto the cold steel of the fire escape. But by that time I no longer felt anything. I wasn’t even inside my body anymore.
        At the moment when the bullet hit me, it was as if a huge, silent, explosion went off in my head. My mind seemed to explode into millions and millions of pieces and everything became white, accopmanied by a loud ringing sound not unlike the tinnitus which I had lived with for 20 years of my life. I even felt a sort of orgasmic sensation, as if this, death, was the ultimate climax, the ultimate thrill.
        And then I suddenly found myself looking down at my body hit the guardrail before crumpling down onto the ground like a ragdoll. I turned to look at my killer as he climbed out the window to examine my dead body, and I noticed that he looked oddly familiar.
        He had the same hair.
        He had the same beard.
        He had the same nose.
        His eyes were blue.
        He was wearing the same coat that I had bought a week ago.
        He looked exactly like me.
       And as that revelation hit me, I felt myself being pulled up towards the sky at a frightening rate, past the clouds, past the stars, into a realm of total whiteness.
        And I remember asking out loud:
        “Is this Heaven?”
        Right as those words escaped my lips, all became white once again. And suddenly my eyes opened with a jerk and a short cry of anguish escaped my lips.
        It was only a dream.
        I sat up on my bed, breathing heavily, feeling the sweat all over my body like I had just taken a shower. A light, but cool, wind blew in through the half-open window and I could hear the sounds of a football match from the next-door apartment.
        I took a while to compose myself and calm myself down before deciding that the best course of action would be to try and get some more sleep. It was only 3am, I wasn’t due up in about 3 hours and I needed all the sleep I could get.
        I lay back down, turned onto my right side, facing the wall, and tried to get to sleep.
        And just as sleep was beginning to envelop me in its blissful embrace, I could hear the sound of someone pounding violently on my door.

I came up with this general idea (and a slightly different plotline) last night, but my attempt to actually write produced only drivel, which, coupled with it being 5am and me being sleepy, resulted in a huge bout of depression. Anyway, I decided tonight to give it another shot, but change it up a bit, and thus this story was born.

If there’s one conscious influence, it’s the ending of Neil Gaiman’s short story We Can Get Them for You Wholesale, or however it goes. It was actually somewhat replaying over and over in my head as I was writing this.

As I said, this is partly an experiment to see if I could stop being overly draggy and over-poetic (in a sense) while not crafting crappy prose. I’m not sure if I succeeded, to be honest. Some of my prose feels like it leaves a lot to be desired, but then it might just be my typically high standards.

Tell me what you think. Thanks.

  1. Ilyayaya
    May 8, 2008 at 14:04

    Love it.

    Really do.

    Something really different from your usual “oh-fuck-the-world-this-meal-taste-literally -like-shit” writings.

    Hahah but I happen to like those too.

    This one more, though ;)

  2. azzief
    May 8, 2008 at 15:10

    Well, technically, only my previous one was fit that “fuck-this-world-everything-is-shit” mold. My others, if you haven’t read them (see “short stories / poetry” link at the top of the page) are downright… sappy, perhaps. Over-poetic. About… love, perhaps, althoguh oftentimes more about the loss rather than the gain, if you know what I mean.

    Thanks for checking it out~

  3. peachdrug
    May 11, 2008 at 00:33

    I like the idea of it.
    I’m sorry I am still tired from MUET so I can’t comment coherently, therefore I can only give a short one haha. :x

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