Destiny and Internal Monologue

buttonsThe man sits alone behind the rock, his camera jammed tight to his eye. He breathes quietly, ignoring the cramp in his left foot. The baby deer in his viewfinder stumbles a little closer and he steadies his already shaking hand. His pale blonde hair falls in his face, distracting him for a second. He shifts his camera and brushes his hair out of his face. He grins as he remembers the ridiculous amount of money he’s being payed to film this deer. “It’ll be the nature documentary of the century” his boss had said to him, back in their London office, “It’ll be bigger than David Attenbourough, more exciting than…than any other nature documentary.” And then he had sent George off to film deer in Wales.

Wales, George thought happily, had to be the easiest assignment he had ever gotten. He began to relax, reaching into his pocket for a granola bar. He settled into a more comfortable position and began eating, the deer didn’t seem to be going anytime soon. He kept the camera focused on the deer, it had settled down too and was watching a bush closely, as if it might be jumped any minute.

The deer itself was very content, it had no idea it was being filmed for the nature documentary of the year. It lay quietly in the grass, munching whatever it was he was supposed to munch and thinking about whatever it was deer were supposed to think about. It was eyeing the bush suspiciously but this not unusual for deer.

The bush itself sat quietly, wishing that George would leave so he could get up and start his day. He was a very important bush, known to his people as Grimbenthorne the Bush. He was leader of the Bush tribe and had meetings to attend and lesser bushes to boss around. Grimbenthorne rustled his leaves impatiently, he was rapidly becoming annoyed at the human who sat there filming a deer with a camera. He knew why George was here, he had heard him muttering to himself earlier. Nature documentary of the century, Grimbenthorne thought scathingly, more like the most boring thing in the history of infinity. He had no idea who would want to watch a deer sitting around, this one wasn’t even doing anything interesting. He wondered vaguely what would happen if he suddenly revealed himself to George, told him the truth about the Bush Tribe of Wales and the living bushes of England. That would be the nature documentary of the century, he thought.

George was getting bored, the deer wasn’t moving and he was still supposed to get another 2 hours of footage. He started to wish he’d gotten the African assignment, Paul was probably filming a wildebeest being eaten by a buffalo or an alligator fight, something more exciting that this. He was filming a deer watching a bush. He wished there was more tension in his life, some major event that would move him forward. He sighed and leaned back against the rock.

Grimbenthorne the Bush suddenly decided that he had had enough waiting around for this peasant to leave. He stood up, as much as a bush could stand up and walked away, deciding it would be best to not look back and to act as though this was a perfectly usual thing for a bush to do. The deer, who was becoming quite used to the bush doing this by now, gave a small start but continued eating grass.

George stared at the bush, which had started doing a weird shuffle away. He grabbed his camera and ran towards, yelling, for a lack of anything better to say, “Excuse me! Where are you going? You can’t just do that.” Grimbenthorne turned to George and said “I’ll have you know I can do whatever I want peasant!” George did not speak the language of the bushes and he merely stared at the bush as it spun around and rustled at him. He kept his camera on the bush, slowly realizing that this actually could be the nature documentary of the century. He had discovered some new life form, a bush that moved and rustled, not the most exciting creature to appear on film certainly but it was new and that was all people watching these films wanted to see. He wondered if he could persuade the bush to eat a penguin or something, people loved those kind of things.

George suddenly stopped, the camera that had been filming the bush slowly lowering to his side. Was this the right choice to make, he thought, was it wise to reveal a living bush to the world? Would it be like that film where the things were revealed and then bad things happened? George paused in his internal questioning to criticize his lack of knowledge about animal films. Perhaps it was Free Willy or Bambi, he wasn’t really sure. Moving back to his brain he continued to question himself, full of self doubts. Maybe, he reasoned, it was destiny, maybe he was in the right place at the right time and he was supposed to be filming this bush. Reaching an important internal decision he threw the camera down aggressively, destroying the footage of a living bush forever. With one last sweeping glance at the clearing he turned his back on the clearing and strode away. The deer opened one eye lazily and watched him go before falling back asleep.

If anyone had seen what he had done and the choice he had made they would have thought of George as a good human, but they hadn’t so in the eyes of the rest of the world he was merely a poor film-maker who had dropped a rather expensive camera.

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Everytime You Get to The Movie Late

Death

Death was ushered into the theatre, a sliver of light slipping through the open door and illuminating the crowd for a few seconds. He paused for a minute by the seat nearest the back, staring at the back of everyone’s heads. The movie kept going, the changing light and colours playing on the crowd’s faces and casting strange shadows all over the theatre. Death started forwards down the stairs, stepping as quietly as he could. A few heads turned his way but quickly turned back to the movie. Nobody heard his footsteps but more and more people started to look his way, quickly averting their eyes once he drew level with them.

Death’s seat was at the front and the people in the first few rows shivered before they even saw him. He came to the bottom row and turned, his frame blocking the screen until he sat down. The girl on his right shrank away, placing her bucket of popcorn between them as a feeble barrier. The group of teenagers on his left were more aggressive, staring at the huge being who had taken the empty seat beside them, ending their whispered conversation with the popcorn girl and filling the seat they had been using to store their jackets. They muttered to each other, energetic from cheap soda and energy drinks, debating whether the three of them could win in a fight. Death said nothing but silently stared at the screen and the boys soon gave up their staring. The older people sitting behind Death shivered, wondering if he had come for them, if it was their time, here in this old movie theatre watching the latest summer blockbuster.

Gradually as the movie progressed people relaxed, deciding that Death was not here for them but they were still anxious, wondering who he was here for. Yet none of them needed to worry at all for Death was not here to end any lives. He was here to watch a movie.

If ‘The Book of Negroes’ Didn’t Suck

I was supposed to write an adaption of The Book of Negroes, retelling the story in a different genre. Instead I decided to ignore the plot of The Book of Negroes and the genres I could choose from. I kept the boat and the main character’s name from the original story, then turned it into a fantasy monster thing…

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The boat slowly wound its way down the river, poled along lazily by the rivermen. They casually avoided rocks and sticks, nodding to each other, confident in their ability to get the boat downstream safely. One of the rivermen gave his pole a nudge, dislodging the small bird that had momentarily landed on it. The bird flew down onto the boat deck, landing next to a small African girl who looked to be no older than 10. She looked up and gave it a small sad smile. The bird’s small black eyes moved rapidly, scanning the boat and it’s occupants. It flew away after it realized that there was no food to be had on this boat and the girl gazed after it wistfully, jealous of the way it flew, not tied down to anything or anyone. The chain on her leg shifted as the older woman on her right moved her cramped legs. She glanced over at the girl and asked her if she was okay. The rivermen glared at her, for they did not like the slaves to speak in their native language.

Many hours later, the rivermen were still standing at the sides of boat, their eyes as alert as ever. The long line of people chained together were all asleep, their skin blending into the night, contrasting starkly with the shining metal of the chains on their legs. A tall, pale white man stood at the back of his ship, having come out of his small cabin for the first time on their journey. He surveyed the slaves strewn in front of him with total indifference, uncaring of their suffering. The chains weighed heavily on the legs of the slaves as they slept, leaving an impression of the steel links in their ankles whenever they turned over in their sleep. The boat continued down the river, stopping for nothing.

If you were to be at the bottom of the river as the boat passed overhead you would not think it anything out of the ordinary. Boats passed this way often, casting their long shadow on the bottom of the riverbed, temporarily blocking out the stars and the moonlight that usually filtered weakly down through the river. On this night though, you would have noticed, a minute or two after the boat passed, a second shadow, this one larger and somehow more sinister looking. The boat was a solid shape, its shadow only broken when the poles of the rivermen came over the side to keep it on course. This second shadow however, moved more like a fish, long and sinuous, but it could not be a fish for no fish was this big. The shadow it cast lazily wound across the river, as if nothing could be easier than following this boat, staying just out of sight.

On the deck of the boat, the rivermen noticed nothing, for their job was only to notice what lay ahead of them, not behind. The captain noticed nothing, for he was asleep in his cabin, oblivious to the happenings around him. The slaves noticed nothing, they were all either asleep, or trying to sleep in an effort to escape the nightmarish reality of the ship and the chains. Even if any of the occupants of the boat were for some reason looking behind them the only thing they would see would be a small ripple in the water, just a little bit too far away to be caused by the boat and a little bit too big to be from wind or some small lake creature. But none of them did look behind the boat and so they didn’t notice that the dark shadow was slowly coming closer to the boat.

The young girl was one of the slaves who could not sleep, too frightened of what her dreams would be to close her eyes. She instead lay on the deck and repeated a phrase to herself, “My name is Aminita, and I will return to my village”. She said it over and over, barely whispering the words, hoping for it to come true if she said it enough.

The sun was just starting to rise over the mountains in the distance, not yet high enough to provide more than a pale pink glow when the shadow moved. It moved faster than anyone would have thought possible, shooting forward faster than an arrow from a bow. All the occupants of the boat awoke at the noise, for it made a tremendous sound as it reared out of the water suddenly displaying itself to all. It was some sort of sea creature, but it was infinitely more horrifying than anything seen before. This beast made the drawings that adorned unknown parts of the sea on maps look like minnows. It was incredibly long and a pale, almost ghostly white, as if this was the first time in eons that it had ventured from whatever underground sea cave it had come from. Barnacles and grime hung from its flesh, they had foolishly mistaken the beast for a rock, blessed as they were with no eyes for any who saw the creature soon wished themselves blind so awful it was. Its small eyes, that of a predator, were on the side of its head and there was no mercy or compassion on those eyes, just a hunger born of its long years of hibernation. And the rivermen knew, the moment that the beast jumped out of the water, that this was to be their last run down this river.

The great animal hung in the air for what seemed an impossibly long time, all eyes upon it, before coming back into the water with such force that the boat shook and broke. The beast raced forwards and it was unable to tell what was food and what was wood and steel so in it’s hunger it ate all it could, not caring whether it was a substance meant to be eaten. There was panic among everyone that had been on the ship as they were thrown into the water, everyone trying to go different ways. But the great beast had no remorse, no feelings at all and the small humans knew their fate before it came, which it did, inevitably.

As suddenly as the whole thing had happened it was over. The beast had satisfied his hunger and it turned back down the river, back to the sea it had come from where it would not return until the hunger came back.

You might wonder how I know this, if none who were on that boat that day lived, if there were no witnesses to this tragic event. But, in its fury and rage the beast had missed one girl, too small to be noticed and she had swam to the shore and clambered up onto it. She lay there in the mud at the side of the riverbank, birds flying around her in the mud and as she did she repeated one thing to herself, “My name is Aminita, and I will return to my village”. After a while she got up, turned, and began the long slow walk backwards along the river to her village. I know this because I am that girl. I am Aminita and that is my story.

Pink Shoes v.s The Monochromatic World

Grey

Lucille Horton stood on the edge of the building. The tips of her small pink shoes stuck over the edge, contrasting with the grey world below her. Grey cars rushed past, their drivers in grey suits, heading to their grey offices. Lucille looked up at the sky, another grey monotonous wash. The day felt like God had turned the saturation down on everything except her shoes. She wondered why she had put these shoes on today, they were so different from her normal grey flats. Her dark grey slacks and coat made the shoes look like a mistake, like she had forgotten what colour they were. They looked weird against the world and against Lucille. She shuffled a little closer to the edge, as far out as she dared to go. Another grey car rushed past far below and Lucille watched it go, her eyes following it but not really taking in what she was seeing. Did everyone else see the world like this, she wondered, as a monochromatic mess?

 

Something moved in the side of her eye, startling her so that she almost lost her balance. She took half a step back to steady herself automatically but regretted it immediately after. It would have been so much easier that way, to fall by mistake, without having to make a choice. The grey and white seagull that had startled her flapped past, disappointed that his usual spot was taken by by the woman with the bright shoes. Lucille unconsciously put her hands into her pockets, her clammy hand grasping her grey handkerchief. She pulled it and stared at it for a second before dropping it over the edge. It stuck in her palm for a second before fluttering down to her feet and sticking on the ledge beside her. The handkerchief seemed to mock her, laughing at how she wouldn’t jump, how she didn’t have the courage. Lucille swore and kicked at it, knocking it off the ledge. It spiralled down, caught in the dry wind, looking like a lonely sock in a dryer. Lucille could still hear it laughing at her. She wished she had something she could throw, something she could destroy, a way to get her anger out. She dragged the toe of her shoe on the concrete ledge, trailing it over the edge and pulling it back.

 

It wasn’t going to be today, she thought, and it probably wasn’t going to be tomorrow either. She sat down and pulled off her weird pink shoes, then threw them over the edge. She watched as they fell down into a puddle. The grey water seemed to swallow them up, taking the oddity out of the world forever. As soon as the ripples calmed it was as if they had never been, as if there was no colour in this world at all. Cars constantly swept past, always the same colour, always the same speed. Lucille sighed and turned back, heading across the roof to the stairwell. The seagull flew back to take its usual spot as she opened the door. She saw it land but didn’t care and kept walking down the stairs, her feet oddly quiet with no shoes.

 

The shoes meanwhile, sat at the bottom of the grey puddle, on the side of the grey road with all the grey cars. The shoes were angry, upset with this persistently repetitive world. They were disgusted by the grey and by the way they had been rejected just for being pink. They were maybe, just a bit, jealous of the grey shoes, even though they were boring and plain and the same as everyone else. Because the grey shoes were on everyone’s feet and the pink shoes were on the side of the road in a puddle.

 

But then again, they’re just a pair of shoes.