The English side
The first attempts here will be the prompts I did for Inktober 2019. I know, it’s called INKtober because you draw. In ink. However, after this enormous desert also known as writer’s block, I’ll do what I can do. Hence, I used the prompts for the Inktober challenge and wrote short texts each and every day.
It’s been two dreadful years until the Ring found its way back to me. The memory resurfaces, every now and then, of how it was clawed away from me by an insatiable beast and chewed completely.
Naturally, after that whole nasty business, a dreary period came to be. Running low in all the main departments, from Alive and Well, External Comms, to Coping in Worst Circumstances and Sense of Humor; even below the line in a few particular areas, such as Trust in Self and High Spirit. Obviously, the alerts for Unidentified Ongoing Danger and Rock Bottom were prompted on a regular basis, becoming almost background noise.
All of a sudden, after placing the second One Ring, I saw a clear spike in stats: 15% increase in stubbornness, add+20 in nuisance and a very surprising 1.5% increase in energy and spontaneity. Without giving it a lot of thought, I was absorbed in a range of activities, like daily compulsive cleaning, baking goods, planning a birthday outing one month ahead, accepting a double date with just acquaintances one evening and hiking in the mountains on the very next day, all in a mere 2-weeks stretch.
It was almost like it was digging deep into the walls of dullness.
What else could befall me next? Embrace life?
Rightfully so, I would, but the only acceptable way is with my ring-adorned hand first.
In the new age of humanism, subjective experience is all we’re running after. It’s all about what we want, what we feel, what we long for, how we made others feel, what makes us grow, all of these at one, of blazing intensity and bringing instant gratification.
From very high above, it is what makes us look like mindless sheep, flocking around what we’re told, going in chaotic circles, unrelenting in our hopes and ambitions for our great Selfs.
How can you show restraint if the only referee is inside the game, inside the buzzing subjective mind that stretches to always surpass itself?
Dangling in front of him, there was the promise of the most fulfilling meal, a true delicacy to satiate his hunger until the next time, the absolute best so far.
He didn’t actually remember all the other meals, so it wasn’t really a fair comparison.
He also never remembered that food hurt. The pain gushed through his insides and out.
„This one looks like a great capture”, the fisherman said to himself on a low voice. You could hear a hint of hope that this one would make one hell of a dinner. The absolute best meal he had in a while.
On the slab of rock, in a white and freakishly clean laboratory, the weirdest creature was laying, spread-eagled, with what you’d think is a head, by normal android standards, wide open.
„I don’t think I saw this microencephalic structure in this kind before. I wonder if it’s connected… hmmm…”, she uttered before going in with a set of sharp metallic instruments. „No, this isn’t it… But maybe if we re-route the whole…”. She had a tendency to talk slowly, to herself, during all examinations. It made her feel less alone in the room.
YOU’RE MAKING ME ITCH, suddenly thrashed the creature. I’LL SHOW YOU HOW IT’S DONE, it beckoned to her, as it started to work with its incredibly long tentacles inside its own head.
She froze, still as the slab of rock, while everything else stopped.
How much further can we go with this? It was one of my main questions while studying work psychology, but I never expressed it out loud. It feels like we’re trying to rely on several sciences in order to engineer our whole society. The sound of it isn’t that bad at first, but when you look at the decisions humankind took as a whole, during its entire existence, doubt starts to rear its ugly head.
It starts off simply: the good ones with the good ones, the bad ones at the bottom, everybody sorted out in classes and strictly evaluated. Every mistake would be a setback in your social status. Good jobs and opportunities, generally, going to good people. As long as they were good, obviously.
Humanity will probably never learn from its terrible tendency to give structure to everything and sort in classes every little item. It may be wrapped as the intention to build a wonderful world for us all, except it’s not really for all, is it now?
Dogs must be the best thing that happened to mankind, the free lottery ticket to loyalty, unwavering commitment and protection that we don’t deserve.
It so happens that kids will grow up dreaming and wishing for a dog. The media sets up really high expectations with such heroic and amazing dogs doing marvelous acts. My personal dream was for a German Shepherd, which I got when I was 5. The joy didn’t last long, as it ran away when my parents weren’t looking and we never managed to find it again. After crying for days, my father decided I should never have a dog again, since I seem to be suffering too much if I lose one.
The dream didn’t stop, though, as imagination was my own little free place. The next dog I wished for was also wolf-like, and it so happened that I had to take care of our friend’s husky over one weekend. It was huge and beautiful, with hypnotic eyes and it laid by my bed, protecting me at night. I accidentally stepped on it in the morning, 3 seconds of terrible fright, when I thought it would turn into a beast and eat me for the sacrilege I just did. Nothing happened and the owner took it away, as planned.
The dreams carried on, but no other dog was going to come for the following years. That is until, one day, my mom brought one from her travels. It was like a fluffy marshmallow that ran into my arms from the moment she saw me. My heart melted and she has been a loyal and the most loving companion ever since, changing three homes in two cities with me so far. Her appearance didn’t change much, a cotton candy ball that looks like dinner for any wolf-like dog.
A couple of centuries have passed since all the rave with the magical behavior went down. We know them from stories and legends of mighty spells, treacherous potions and tongues of fire for the unworthy.
Melina learned from her early years in this life that her name carried a bit more than just a sweet taste to it. When the ancient magic flowing through her veins started to manifest, she’d make everything around her glow. Naturally, she was attracted to flowers and the sun, and she was like a breath of fresh air for everyone around her.
What nobody managed to notice was the reality of her magic unfolding. Melina decided long ago that she wouldn’t carry any of that old and dusty magick that set stuff on fire or turned people into frogs. No, she wanted SPARKLE.
In the current anxiety ridden world, the fact that her house was always spotless made her quite popular, but it never raised the suspicion of something more. If someone would ever see behind-the-scenes, the pots cleaning themselves, a lively broom handling the entire space, clothes jumping in and out of the washer, drying, then folding and sorting themselves into correct categories in shelves, they would definitely feel the way her space was enchanted.
That was no real danger, of course, as everyone would pay a hefty amount to have at least one of these magical services. Melina never thought of going into sales, though. It was for filthy people who’s sweat over any little detail. No, she’d keep this to herself, as to avoid the usual burning of the witch, in whatever form common people designed it nowadays. Most likely, in the form of overtime and managing disgusting but oh-so-demanding clients.
As he started yelling in the back, almost everyone in the crew was taken aback by the sheer force of rage displayed. A minor detail went wrong with the presentations, which was enough to send him into a fit of rage, throwing things around, like a tornado of frustration.
Of course, he used his own magnetic charm on stage, so the audience was mesmerized, they were all longing for connection, for the feeling of belonging, given by the illusion that they were understanding the content that was presented, enriching their knowledge.
The junior in the crew was the most affected. This was his first job, he was excited at the prospect of working for such a knowledgeable and charismatic leader. The junior felt like he was actively helping in bringing more knowledge into the world and thus contributing to bringing people on the right path. At this point, he felt like he made a terrible mistake that will set him back in all his dreams of hard work. His face and ears were reddening, he felt like he was boiling in his own incapability.
One of the seniors saw him as he was cowering in the back. He approached him gently, with the look of someone who has seen a lot in this „industry”. „Look, it’s not a big deal. It happens. Can’t do it perfectly on the first try… What am I talking about? You don’t have the guarantee of doing the job perfectly, not even after years and years! It’s all about being human, ain’t it, boy?”
The junior looked up, hopeless. „I think I disappointed him. There’s no going back from this. All the trust I had earned, down the drain. It’s what I deserve, really, after not being able to check that cable connection. Who can be so stupid to screw that up?! ME, that’s who!”.
The senior held out his arm, with the tiniest look of pity in his eyes: „Kid, this isn’t on you. I ain’t much of a wise man, but I’ll tell you what you’re going to learn the hard way, if you go in this line of work: for one to be so prone to attacking others and spewing such a black cloud of hate, they must surely have the most frail constitution, not being able to carry the frustration long enough to manage to put it out like a candle. So they throw it out and try to infect others with the unbearable weight of hurt and pain that brings them unbalance.”
The kid finally looked up, his shoulders straightening. This was the first lesson of many more to come, but at least he was determined to move forward.
The mornings were hard on her, but so was the rest of the day. Seeing only new faces, learning new habits, such as receiving thanks or accepting help, walking around on new streets, was as difficult as learning to walk for the first time. Unsure on her steps, she exuded a lack of confidence that, coupled with a defensive stance and also an eagerness to adapt, sometimes turned easily into aggressiveness.
Her heart was heavy with doubt. Was this actually the adventure she had hoped to embark on?
The transition took up to one year. The faces became familiar, and some of the people grew on her naturally. Unknowingly, she eased into it and got into the swing of things. The growing pains had stopped and the new shoes she had to fill were starting to feel like her own from the beginning.
A troublesome past made her mind behave in certain ways, quite unpredictable to untrained ones, easy to guess by highly skilled one. Her attention moved immediately towards any perceived risks, forever on guard.
She analyzed others all the time, trying to catch any potential for problems before they happened. The way her mind looked at the world was through patterns that governed even chaos. She needed rules for chaos and potential hazards, so she took up the study of natural sciences, then social sciences.
Consequently, her mind became even more trained on seeing the puzzle pieces falling into place, the disruptions in systems, as she was rigorously ticking boxes.
It’s how she finally caught on the cruel reality of things, which can never be kept in place or ticked from boxed. Not really.
Her little footsteps made the slightest noise when she entered the forest. The trees were shining eerily in an emerald light, almost enough to guide her on a path. When she looked above, she could barely see the patches of clear dark skies, through the rich foliage. She moved quietly on her path, her mind blank of any thoughts or emotion.
The path opened into a large clearing, with a frozen lake in the middle. As her steps took her closer to the lake, she could see her breath as she was exhaling slowly. A dense patch of fog was covering the lake, not moving even in the slightest. As she came closer, she saw huge snowflakes, swirling in what looked like fog. The snowflakes weren’t falling on the mirror surface of the lake. If she had looked closely, they didn’t even fall from the skies, they were trapped, circling the patch of fog.
She set one foot gently on the frozen surface, then the other. Her legs started to become icy and by the time she reached the center of the lake, her whole body was ice itself. She lowered herself in the lake with easy, floating slowly until she got to the bottom.
Her eyes closed and she began her slumber. The fog broke in an instant, releasing mountains of snow that started to cover the lands.
She was to do her bidding for the centuries to come, but almost two thirds of the time she was wandering aimlessly in the world. Her walk always ended precisely in this place, the sacred ground where winter was trapped.
The world is full of life recipes now, ones trying to surpass others in levels of whimsy or fantasy. Call upon an emerald dragon to protect you during a break up. Imagine you’re flying on an enormous obsidian dragon into that meeting you’re afraid of. Let a red dragon help with a project that’s moving too slow.
As our world awareness grew, fears also grew and so did the totemic beliefs that would protect us of all harm. If a 1680’s lady relies on the spirit of a kelpie to remove some unwanted neighbours, present day folks are pleased with nothing less than a huge beast descending from the skies, spewing fire and destruction in their way, to help them overcome a bad day at work, a nasty conversation with a relative of even the perception of money loss.
As our resilience to bad stuff decreased considerably during an age when comfort is the new philosophy of life, we see no other way out of the vortex of (made up) issues than on the back of something much more powerful than us and our problems. something that has so much folklore built on it, without it manifesting physically ONCE.
It’s safe to say that us, humans, don’t need a lot of reality to 1. make stuff up. 2. give it a real life throughout history in our collective consciousness, at least until those darned scientists get off their arses and actually create that flesh and blood dragon we’ve all been waiting for.
The two of them left home and went on exploring the hills surrounding their home town. There was supposed to be a big ceremony, or so whispers from the old town said. They weren’t really allowed to be there, since they were not yet at an age when they would understand a lot about reality and how it can be changed or even mangled.
On the pretext of gathering some herbs, they left searching for any signs of the event. They didn’t have to search long, though. As they reached a larger valley, a huge blaze lighted the twilight sky, then smoke started twirling upwards. They were too far to actually see what was burning, so they went slowly in that direction, while trying to hide in the bushes.
There wasn’t even a crowd there, so they wondered how could this be a ceremony if there was no one attending. As they went closer, they saw a brittle white haired human figure, cowering right in the middle of the blaze, blackened from the fire. As the flames became smaller, the figure started to straighten, slowly, a white glow coming from its insides, shedding all the ash from the body.
The figure was now of a young and strong dark haired woman, with the fiercest look in her eyes, piercing any onlookers with her gaze. They were mesmerized, unable to move or talk or even stop looking in her direction.
Almost as if she could hear their trembling thoughts, she answered calmly. „The ceremony was mine. No one else can prepare for this transformation, let alone understand it, unless it’s their own, hence there is no need for spectators.”
„We’re sorry! We didn’t mean to! We only thought this was something like the harvest days, when everyone drinks and dances and we’re never allowed to take part in that…”
„You… You thought setting yourself ablaze is… THE HARVEST DAYS?!”
There was no answer coming from them, their face and ears went red with shame and they were looking at the ground, still too numb to leave. The woman unraveled a set of perfect pearly whites and then started shaking with laughter.
„No matter how many Renewals I live through, these new generations never cease to amaze me. OFF YOU GO, younglings, time for supper now!”
As the kids left running for the town, the woman kept laughing and laughing, the sound of her laughter filling the whole valley. „Now that’s what I call a good comeback.”
At once, her eyes filled with sparkle, she was overjoyed by the thought that grandpa was settling in his favourite armchair and was about to tell her stories of the old. These stories passed from generation to generation, no one possibly knowing the origins and how much they were altered on the way.
„Tell me the one with the rooster and the coins, grandpa”, she urged him excitedly. She already knew the stories so well, that she even had a favourite order.
As her beloved grandpa started with the story, she went quiet, listening intently to catch every nuance and shift in the story line. She would, of course, interrupt poor grandpa to show him how well she anticipated certain moments in the story. He never seemed upset or annoyed, as he was secretly taking pride in how quick she grasped new things at her young age.
„And that’s how the legend has it”, he concluded, always making her think magic might not be completely gone from our world.
She hit the road again, all by herself, before the light of dawn touched the ground.
Her eyes were catlike, gold as honey, but with a hint of green, feral eyes that saw the world in an unique, untainted way. She liked long winding roads, and the ones she took usually ended up where the mountains started.
The preparations were usually made a couple of hours ahead, she didn’t need much to survive in the wild. Two or three days, all alone in the mountains, would clear her head and get her ready to return to the corporate hell that paid her bills.
Sometimes, she wasn’t necessarily alone. The presence she felt in the woods, small noises and something she thought she might see out of the corner of her eye, but never quite caught. Weirdly enough, it never felt like a threat, but rather like a guarding shadow, always on her steps.
Every now and then, she joined a group of like-minded people, if her path went in the same direction. This was starting to happen more and more, as if people were quickly picking up on the necessity to escape routine and the death of the spirit.
It was only mid-October, but commercials and general content already started promoting Christmas. Halloween wasn’t even there yet, but probably as it’s not the gift shopping fest as much as Christmas is, it’s starting to get overlooked.
The fad you could notice these few past years was hanging personalized items in your Christmas tree. The holiday didn’t belong to Christmas anymore, it was your own, personal Christmas, where you chose your own magnificent tree and hung your pictures in it, so that everyone could see from afar how you made this holiday season of giving, your own moment on stage.
I mean picture it, all the tiny lights in the tree, lighting up your favorite moments. It was your moment to shine, per say. If, by any chance, your greatest achievement so far was a huge fishing capture, you’d definitely see a big ass fish ornament dangling from the Christmas tree. You finished that huge end of year report without dying? Print screen, and there you have it, a globe with excel rows and columns, slowly spinning, perhaps even above the slice of cake you made and preserved on your only chance to try out a hobby apart from additional excel courses and lying on the couch, staring absentmindedly. Did you take up on the relaxation wave? We can only know about it if we see that struggling pose you almost managed to do without pulling a muscle, the shape perfectly cut out from cardboard. Changed diet options? I’d better see your favorite carrot or ham hanging out there.
It’s the end of the year, let’s give it our best shot at making ourselves feel accomplished, at least this one time. You never know when the trend changes and it becomes popular to reflect on your failures. Now that’s the holiday of misery we all deserve.
As we all turn our focus on humanism and our own importance, the criteria for a well integrated individual become more and more strict. Have a good white collar job OR a noble blue collar one. Be educated. Be considerate of other’s feelings. Be on time. Have a great hobby that you actually turn into performance. Relax. Buy stuff to make yourself feel good. Be efficient. Do something that scares you ever so often. Eat well. Drink plenty of water. Tell everyone important to you that you love and cherish them. Be performant. Don’t procrastinate. Sleep well. Have a healthy social life. Exercise. Don’t get cancer.
It’s enough to drive anyone crazy, having such high standards for how to live your own life. But we push ourselves more and more, creating new rules and standards, up to the point where we’re almost setting ourselves for failure. The disobedience of ruling your life after your own compass is going to throw you in the detestable pit of society misfits.
„Welcome to the pit, y’all! There’s no cookies here, only lack of rules and the pleasurable freedoms.”