Friday, November 28, 2008

Transmutation

Aydin Aghdashloo, Memories of Destruction, Sand Storm, 1980


I extend my left arm through the slimy bars, to what purpose I’m not sure anymore. I am certain I’ve tried it already. To strike him maybe, or to strangle him to death. The man hits me with a stick, again, and the wound partly reopens. A deep gash hidden among the hard itchy scales that are growing on my skin. He snaps a single word at me, a guttural rebuke, its meaning obvious despite the unknown language.

I howl and retreat in the furthest corner of my cage, pulling the dirty burnous around me, hiding my head. He’ll hit me if I show myself. I think he plans to exhibit me in a fair, and everyone who wants to see me will have to pay. Let him do it. Who cares about the few pitiful coins to be extorted from the curiosity of these deplorable beggars? The pain in my injured arm is searing, in unison with the weird malaise holding me in its grip. I must have many broken bones, or at least that’s how it feels. Even my eyes hurt. The light is too harsh. For that, the shroud is most welcome. It somehow subdues my agony, apart from hiding my shame of being such a captive. I can indulge in imagining these people aren’t here. Away from them, that’s all I want, to be away from them. I’m growing a tail, for Goodness sake.

The heat stifles me, heavy with the stench of all these bodies bustling around with antlike tenacity in this unrecognizable souk where I found myself taken as I painfully regained consciousness. It reeks of goat, undressed hides, and blood. Of incense, and spices.

Hear me! I’m here! I am Josh Buckley from Massachusetts. I only shout the words in my head, as burning tears swell uncontrollably at the corners of my eyes. I’m afraid to try again, still humiliated by the effect of my last attempt, by the memory of my mouth as it contorted horribly, with no sound leaving my chafed lips but a disgusting gurgle. Oh, how cruelly they laughed at me, these people, and threw stones at me, entertained by my comic efforts. Hit by this mysterious illness, a monster, a freak, that’s what I’m becoming.

Nightfall comes slowly. Muezzin cries call the faithful to the mosque. Gently, I rock myself to sleep, strangely soothed by the monotone chants. In the sleep, I can dream. I allow myself to remember.

excerpt from "Crossing the Lion's Lake", a short story

21 comments:

BernardL said...

Wow, engrossing excerpt, Vesper.

Charles Gramlich said...

"Becoming," is always such an interesting theme to me. This one certainly caught my interest.

Rick said...

Hello again. This piece intrigued me, and I'd like to knows if you have published or plan to publish the whole story so that I can read this reast of it.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Oh my goodness - how fascinating AND disturbing. The first person narrative is effective and really carries the story. I love what you have created here - so strangely wonderful, sad and exotic! Hoping to read more of this story. K.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Powerful and gripping writing, Vesper. I hope we'll get to read more of this story.

laughingwolf said...

very well honed, v... where's the rest? so intrigued by it all!

[word verification: alpomb, NOT aplomb... typo, obviously lol]

Catvibe said...

I like the dark agony and sensory descriptive writing. I also had a flashback while reading your last paragraph to when I was in India and would love to wake to those mosque chants, the amplified cantors singing from the many mosques throughout the city of Jodhpur, clashing together in a an odd kind of harmonious cacophony accompanied by the dissonant pedal tones of the seemingly endless chorus of train whistles. I'd love to read the rest of your story. Nice to find your blog!

the walking man said...

until the souk I couldn't help but think of Joseph Merrick.

The writing is tight and effective Vesper, what have you done with this piece?

Miladysa said...

You played me like a piano Vesper - a whole range of emotions.

I too would like to read more :D

ChrisEldin said...

This is engrossing! I love the setting you're developing!
:-)

Vesper said...

Thank you, Bernard!

Charles, thank you! Yes, "becoming", willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, fascinates me too...

Thank you, Rick. It's not published, unfortunately (for me)... I've sent it to two or three places, but it's probably not "modern" or "exciting" enough in today's world... Well, it sits snuggly on the hard drive of my PC...

K., wow, thank you so much! You know, I dreamt it all, and it was a colour dream...

Vanilla, I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you! I guess I should probably publish it all here, after all...

Hey, Laughingwolf, thank you! I'm glad it intrigued you...
Aplomb? - I wish I had more... :-)

Catvibe, welcome and thank you for your nice comment. What an interesting experience India must've been. You certainly describe it beautifully...

Thank you, Mark! Yes, poor Joseph Merrick... but it's not him.
I'm afraid I haven't done much with it, it just sits on my computer...

Oh, Miladysa, I'm happy of this, thank you!

Chris, thank you so much! The setting of this story... hmmm, I've always had a special interest for this particular setting...

laughingwolf said...

tried any epublishers?

Sarah Hina said...

Really wrenching story, Vesper. Trapped inside, bruised and battered, yet dying to be heard. I think we can all relate to the poor soul described.

Intriguing setting and perspective, too. The freak show from the inside out. They're the freaks, of course. The ones who stare and torture. The ones who believe themselves superior.

I hope his dreams are good...

the walking man said...

Vesper...blow the dust off of this and put it forth on the trail of publication.

Vesper said...

Laughingwolf, thanks for coming back. No, not yet. Although I don't have anything against e-publishing, I'm still holding (for a little while) to the paper dream... :-)

Sarah, thank you! Wow, your comment is so insightful... but, wait, maybe this is not as bad as it seems... :-)

Mark, thank you for coming back and saying such a nice thing. I guess I should give it another try...

L.A. Mitchell said...

As always, so emotional and poetic. You have such a gift! And I love running across words I've never heard :)

Aine said...

Just a short story? I'd read a novel length story about this character! I want to know more!

Vesper said...

L.A., you are so nice... Thank you for reading and for your kind words! :-)

Oh, Aine, I don't even know what to say... Thank you! :-)

Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

Incredibly dark but very powerful! Nicely written!!!

Vesper said...

Thank you, Minister! Much appreciated! :-)

jason evans said...

I'm thinking alien abduction. Close encounters of the get-me-out-of-here kind.