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It lies in the drawer, untouched, unopened, a chocolate. So you think. It was delicious!
The Bumfuzzling Bibliophage is a curious looking creature somewhat resembling an old grey sock. It has a small mouth lined with thousands of tiny teeth that can nibble the written word right off the page. It lurks in the dark recesses and forgotten corners of libraries, book stores and any place where books lie untended and unread. It devours words off the pages, pages out the book and finally the book itself disappears down its hungry maw.
You know you have an infestation of Bumfuzzling Bibliophages if you go to find an obscure reference book right from the very farthest shelves where no-one has even dusted in a while and when you eventually find it, there are odd little places on the edges of pages where it appears as though something has nibbled at it and then when you open it to read it, there are curious little blank places where words have become illegible. Yes, you have been bumfuzzled. What was clear is now unclear. What was illuminating is now dark. And what was enlightening is now confusing.
This is a story of what happened to Mary Ellen Clarke, a quiet studious girl who rather liked books a little more than she liked life. Life, when compressed into a book, was exciting, interesting, exhilarating but controllable. If you didn't like the weather in one book, why you just picked up another set in a sunny tropical location, and there you were, no more grey drizzle. If you were needing an adventure why you had to venture no further than your armchair with a cracking good read. While on the other hand real life had rain that wouldn't stop when you wanted it to because you left your umbrella at home and adventures only ever happened to other people and in any case they were probably nasty things filled with horrors the authors never saw fit to mention. It might be dreadfully exciting to read about being captured by strangers while holidaying in foreign climes but Mary Ellen was quite sure that the authors entirely ignored the reality of digestive upsets from ingesting foreign food, the inconvenience of foreign toilets and the difficulty of attempting to communicate "Where is the toilet paper?" in a foreign language to a stranger through the door of the toilet while dealing with the aforementioned digestive complaint.
So Mary Ellen lived her life through books. Naturally she gravitated towards librarianship as her chosen career and in particular curating obscure works. Nothing filled Mary Ellen with more quiet understated joy than working quietly in the back of the library with her beloved books.
This story starts on a day much like any other. Mary Ellen arrived for work at the library, dressed in her usual humble dull clothes (working with dusty old books does not lend itself to colourful fashionable clothes, it was merely practical to wear dull greyish muddy colours when working with dust). She was also, as usual, there ahead of the other staff. She passed her key card through the reader and pushed open the staff door at the rear of the building that she usually used. She walked quietly down the corridor to her work area. She looked around sensing something was amiss, a book out of place? No, all was exactly as she had left it.
Puzzled but seeing nothing overtly wrong, she started work. A new collection, dusty, forgotten old collection, had just been presented to the library by the unappreciative heirs who had anticipated there being at least one genuinely rare and therefore valuable book in Uncle Herbert's beloved collection. But no, here were only a lifetime of books devoted to Uncle Herbert's twin passions - travel and rare moths. Once fascinating, now boring and outdated and decidedly dusty - the library (or rather Mary Ellen) would clean them up, advertise their 'New Wonderful Collection Donated by the Family of Herbert Dandruff III' and forget all about them all over again.
Mary Ellen picked up the first volume out of the packing case. It had the familiar mouldy smell of a neglected book, and yes indeed here were the specklings of mould on its leather cover. She sighed and set it aside for specialised cleaning later. She picked out another. This one sprinkled a shower of dust on her skirt (where it was entirely unnoticeable) as she opened it. "Guide to Collecting Moths In the Upper Phlagous Mountains" read the title page, with an illustration of a frighteningly fierce looking moth on the frontispiece. As Mary Ellen paged through the book she was annoyed to discover that this book had been attacked by the mysterious symptoms of decay she had been noticing in older books for many years, but never had an explanation for. Other experts she had consulted would, if pressed, admit, that yes they too had noticed this odd phenomenon but, like Mary Ellen, had no explanation for. "A curiousity of some chemical process with the ink" was one explanation.
"That does not explain why it is that the only words that disappear are the one's that manage to make the entire sentence nonsensical by their disappearance." Mary Ellen muttered to herself in annoyed tones as she examined the book.
There was a brief rustle from the box next to her. Mary Ellen jumped up, dropping the book she was holding and held her hand to her mouth in fright. 'Was it a rat?' she thought. Some years previously there had been a rat that had made its home, most annoyingly, from volumes G through S of a collection of ancient encyclopedias that had been packed up and then held up in a rail siding for several weeks. The rat had gnawed its way into the box and then built itself a nest from the nearest books. It had then stored an astonishing quantity of food in volume "F" (presumably for 'food' thought Mary Ellen) and urinated and defecated copiously on the rest (another book critic she sighed).
If it was another rat in the box, she would have to deal with it herself as she could not risk it escaping into the library. It would mean weeks of exterminators and traps and annoyed superiors who would sigh over the budget if that happened. 'No' she thought 'better to just whack it with the "Guide to Collecting Moths In the Upper Phlagous Mountains". The book was heavy enough and would perhaps, finally actually be useful. She weighed it experimentally in her hand seeking the optimal grip. Armed with the heavy book, she leaned over the crate carefully and very quietly hoping to find the rat trying to scrabble its way out which would facilitate its demise greatly. But there was nothing but silence in the crate. She watched carefully for a very long time and then there, quite suddenly, there was small movement of something grey and almost invisible at the bottom of the box.
Taken by surprise, but not lacking in quick reflexes, Mary Ellen dropped "Guide to Collecting Moths In the Upper Phlagous Mountains" right on top of it. And then lifted the book carefully to see if she had managed to kill the creature. There plastered on the bottom of the book was what appeared to be a small grey sock. 'Ugh nasty!' thought Mary Ellen 'but not the rat.'
Mary Ellen was about to peel the sock off the book and try to out wait the rat again when the sock quivered and dust fell in slow grey spiral from its mouth. Mary Ellen pulled her hand back from the suddenly visible teeth. Tiny, they may be, but they were certainly still vicious enough. Thinking quickly she clapped the glass she kept on her desk over the 'sock' as it recovered from having a book dropped on it and came to sudden, furious life.
Mary Ellen examined it closely as it hurled itself at the glass. She had never seen or read of a creature like this before. She noted that while it appeared to resemble an old grey sock, it in fact had skin covered with fine spines that rippled as it moved, giving it grip even on the slippery sides of the glass which enabled it to climb a few cm's before falling back down. It apparently had no eyes or ears or other sensory organs. It's small mouth, lined with thousands of tiny but ferociously sharp teeth even seemed to be leaving fine scratches on the glass as it tried gnaw its way to freedom. With every convulsion of its body it scattered the same fine grey dust the "Guide to Collecting Moths In the Upper Phlagous Mountains" had left on her skirt earlier. It was this that gave her the needed insight that perhaps it was this creature that was responsible for the mysterious damage to books she had been seeing.
It was at this moment that the desperate Bumfuzzling Bibliophage realised that it was in fact trapped on top of a book and it knew how to escape through a book. First it changed colour to match the cover of the book. If Mary Ellen had not been watching so closely she would have sworn that it had just disappeared before her very eyes. Words in pale grey floated briefly across its coat "Leave us alone" before it dived into the cover with a flurry of frenzied gnawing leaving a small hole in its wake that Mary Ellen would previously have assumed to have been the work of a fish-moth or bookworm.
"Oh damn!" She exclaimed. In her fascination she hadn't realised that the creature had made good its escape. She hurriedly upended the book over a glass fishtank she used to fumigate books and shook it out hard, but the creature had vanished. All that remained was the fine grey dust of its digestion and the clear sign of its passage from front cover to back by the small hole surrounded by badly faded words.
"Now what do you make of that Mary Ellen?" She said to herself. "I'm quite sure no-one would believe me if I told them of this."
Mary Ellen spent the rest of the day working in even more of a thoughtful haze than she usually did. Her mind was working over time, even as she noted in book after book evidence that she now recognised as being the work of the mysterious creature. What should she do? She had no physical evidence, no photos, no creature, and certainly no theory as to its phylogeny. She would never find any one to listen to what she had seen and take it or her seriously, and yet she had 'A Responsibility' to the books in her care. If something was damaging them she had to find out what it was, how it lived, reproduced and more importantly how to stop it from destroying books. Then there were the words that had appeared on its back. Clearly its colour changing abilities extended to more than just camouflage, but did it know what the words meant, or was it merely a pattern that it reproduced under stress by mistake? She didn't know.
By the end of the day Mary Ellen had made up her mind. She was going to find out what these creatures were no matter what it cost her. Clearly they had a fondness for old books and old books was where she had to start her hunt. If she could surprise one once and capture it, she surely could again.
And so started the great creature hunt. Every moment of free time Mary Ellen had she would skulk around the hidden corners of the library and any old bookstore she could find. It was several months before she spotted the grey dust she knew signaled the presence of a creature filtering down from a high stack of old books in the basement of a bookstore where they had stored all the out-of-print books they could no longer sell. She held her breath and froze motionless in place, waiting for it to appear. After a time it did. The grey sock-like creature oozed from between the pages and Mary Ellen pounced. She had it scooped up and inside a glass specimen jar she had found in the Amateur Zoologist kit at the toy store. (She had not been able to resist the exciting picture on the front of a khaki clothed child scooping a bug into the jar on the front of the box while shopping for a gift for her nephew's tenth birthday).
At last she had her specimen! Now she would taken seriously. They could not ignore an actual specimen! And yet that is precisely what happened. Her boss, a serious man, who took the work of running a large library that relied on donations from the wealthy but publicly minded to keep its doors open very seriously, looked at the grey sock she presented to him as 'evidence' of a new type of book eating creature that, if his ears were not deceiving him, only ate the words that made sense, leaving nothing but gibberish in its wake. He prodded the sock with the tip of his pen. It still resembled a small grey sock. Dust even puffed up from it.
"I'm sorry Mary Ellen' he said, but that is an old sock. "Why don't you take next week off and get some rest. We have the new collection from the Alopecia Family coming in at the end of the month, and we need you to be at your best for dealing with those. I'm told the collection deals with the techniques of hair restoration from the last century. Old Alopecia IV had a bit of an obsession with hair I believe."
Mary Ellen stormed out of his office in a rage. She had spent hours of her free time hunting this creature instead of reading comfortably at home. She had ventured out in all kinds of inclement weather, braved the toilets in strange subway stations and eaten food from roadside vendors with very questionable hygiene. In short she had been on An Adventure with nothing but scorn (and a week off) to show for it.
Her mood was not at all enhanced by the words "I told you so" that danced briefly across the creature's back. She shook it, but not hard enough to hurt it.
"You wretched creature" she said "I finally capture one of you to prove your existence, and because you do an incredibly good imitation of a sock, I'm ridiculed for my trouble."
She continued to berate the animal "Why do you do that? Why do you look like a sock? Why do you eat the words that give sense to a sentence but leave the rest? It doesn't make sense!"
"No one believes" appeared on the creature and following in quick succession were :-
"that a small"
"but a sock"
It paused. And continued :-
"People leave books"
"they have neglected"
Mary Ellen's mouth hung open. She had not expected the created to understand or reply to her questions. All she managed to say was a garbled "What?"
"What what?" flashed the creature.
"What? How? How do you understand? You aren't big enough to have a brain." Mary Ellen said.
"I eat words"
"a part of me"
"What are you?" Mary Ellen finally managed to ask.
"We devour books"
Mary Ellen just stared at the creature, no, the Bumfuzzling Bibliophage, in amazement.
"Let me go" it flashed.
In shock, or was it just sympathy for the work of the Bumfuzzling Bibliophage, for had she not herself lamented on many occasions the amount of knowledge that was lying forgotten and neglected in the piles of old books, she tended so carefully, Mary Ellen bent down and let the creature go.
The ONLY social media (besides Prose) that I am active on is Twitter, because you know, 21st Century and that's how you do it and all that ess aitch one tee. Trying! And yeah I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about some things that occasionally have politics attached although I am by-and-large a-political, non-political, anti-political, anti- is probably the best way to describe me ..... anyhooo ... not relevant ... STICK TO THE POINT ... I get why I shed followers periodically, I go from pissing off the one lot and then I piss off the other lot so the followers that remain are clearly neutral (or disinterested) but what I don't get is why the only interaction I have is with people whose tweets I interacted with first.
IT WORKS BOTH WAYS PEOPLE BOTH WAYS! I RT your stuff and interact with it, and you RT and interact with mine. I give, you give, we all give and we all happy little tweeters/twitters? Just twits? Yeah twits!
Turns out I'm the twit thinking things should work they way they should ... again.
What I want is not to much to ask
I don't even require you to give a rat's arse
Just interact and RT now and then
It's a reciprocal arrangement you see
You give to me and I give to you
or vice versa I don't care
It's just how it works I'm told
give to get and all is gold!
Every day precisely at 3 p.m. Edna locked her front door, crossed the road and entered the cemetery. She walked briskly to the bench (which she had paid for) in front of Henry's grave. She took out her knitting and would sit, for one hour, talking quietly to Henry about the preceding 24 hours. She told him about the grandchildren, what Rob had done now, and the latest update in Penny's revolving boyfriend saga (don't ask).
Every day at precisely 4 p.m. Edna would pack away her knitting, stand, say goodbye to Henry, nod to the gentleman approaching (his wife's grave?) and go home.
Today Edna was late. Mrs. Hargreaves, from next door, had called round with a request for help with a knitting pattern. Edna, the self-appointed expert among her immediate neighbours, could not refuse the request. It was 3.45 before she could leave her house. She arrived at her bench, to find it already occupied by the gentleman she was accustomed to nodding a greeting to on her way home. She paused. She didn't know what the etiquette of this situation was. Should she sit? Or simply stand beside Henry's grave?
Harold, for that was the gentleman's name, saw Edna and graciously rose to his feet, he bowed a little, in a stiff old-fashioned way he half-stifled out of embarrassment for his antiquated manners, and offered her the bench. Edna sniffed, it was her bench after all so what gave him the right to offer it to her as if it was his? Perhaps she would stand, after all she could not conduct her usual conversation with Henry with an onlooker poised to overhear every word.
Harold, noting her discomfort and intuiting the source, said, "I shall not impose, I have communed with my dear Elizabeth; I bid you a good afternoon," and briskly walked away. Edna stared. Imagine the cheek of the man. Flustered, she gabbled a brief something in Henry's direction and returned home feeling flushed and disconcerted without knowing why.
The next day she was late again. And the next, and the next. In fact for the next month she was 'late'. Every time Edna arrived at her bench Harold would rise, nod, politely greet her and leave. Edna became infuriated. She had done everything but fling herself at him and he had not acknowledged her interest even once. Surely it was obvious she changed her entire routine for him? How could he miss it?
Truth was Harold had not missed Edna's interest.
Today Edna determined to speak. She put on her best skirt and cardigan, the one Henry always loved, and marched to her bench. Harold rose, opened his mouth and Edna interrupted him, "My dear man," she began. "We have been passing each other at this bench for some time now, and I wish to ..." her courage failed her at this crucial juncture.
Harold, noting the flush on her cheeks and the tight grip she had on her handbag, looked her up and down. He saw the shapeless grey cardigan, the wisps of hair making a halo around Edna's face, giving her the appearance of one of the old marble angels in the cemetery, faded to a muted grey. He saw her sturdy brown shoes and the thick stockings wrinkled around her ankles. He saw his Elizabeth. And in that moment of clarity he realized what he had to do, "Elizabeth!" he snapped, "I married Elizabeth when I was 20 years old; I knew no other but her." Harold stopped and took Edna's hand, "And you remind me of her. Your clothes, your shoes, your hair, your cardigan," Edna pulled her hand from his and clutched her cardigan close, "everything reminds me of Elizabeth." Harold's eyes grew cold, his lips thinned as they pressed together, "And I have no intention of being with her again. She gave me no freedom, no joy, no happiness. She was a miserable woman who hounded me day and night and I'm glad she is dead. Glad!" spittle accompanied Harold's words. It hit Edna in the face as his words hit her heart.
'Henry,' she thought. 'Henry spoke to me just like this. The same sharp tone, the same disparaging remarks', and in that moment Edna knew she had been oppressed by Henry their entire married life, and here she was, 70 years young, still trying to live up to his expectations. Edna took a deep breath, "Henry would speak to me as you just did. He would put me down and belittle me. And I've had enough. You may sit here, on my bench and commune with Elizabeth, I'm going home." Edna spun around and marched away.
They may have had more than the cemetery in common, Edna and Harold, but in the end, all they had in common was the cemetery.
Once upon a time, there was a frog that lived in a delightfully cool and deep well at the bottom of a garden. He was a very enlightened frog, being a student of philosophy and meditation, and this particular well suited him perfectly. It was cool and deep and reflected the moon's rays in a manner that was most helpful to his meditations. The fact that it was at the bottom of the King's garden was neither here nor there to him, having, as he had many years previously, renounced all interest in worldly matters preferring to meditate, practise Tai Qi Quan and contemplate his navel, the nature of flies, and life, love and other important matters that have puzzled mankind and certain enlightened frogs for centuries.
The King had an elder daughter - a beautiful Princess - who would often come to the well to sit and think and a younger daughter - a much younger daughter, the child of his second wife, (the story of his first wife is a tragedy we shall not consider here). His younger daughter was also beautiful, willful, romantic, raised on fairy tales, and dreams of Knights,chivalry and derring-do.
The frog soon struck up an acquaintance with the older princess, they would spend many happy hours discussing philosophy, and how one should live one's life. The frog, let's call him Fred (his real name was far too complicated for human tongues to twist around, a close approximation would be Gul'prrp'gul'gul'prrp'meep'gul'gul'urp) even taught her some Tai Qi. The sight of the princess and the frog going through the slow synchronized moves of the art was a thing to behold. The day came when the princess was to be married and move far, far away to live with her prince. She spent her last afternoon with Fred, who reassured the princess that he would not forget her.
"Promise me you will look after Princess Liala for me."
"An easy promise to make your Highness. I look forward to enjoying her company as I have enjoyed yours." Fred looked forward to the day when the young Princess Liala would grow up sufficiently to take an interest in conversing with him.
One day, bored with palace life and seeking something new to do, Princess Liala remembered conversations with her older sister about the frog in the well and armed with all the knowledge a combination of fairy tales and her nursemaid had given her, was ready not only for a diversion but for a prince. Yes a prince, the very thing, she thought to herself. He will be so grateful I broke the evil magicke holding him in the form of a frog that he will go off and, why perhaps, even slay a dragon to win my hand. (She truly had some very vile and unrealistic romantic notions - dragons were peace-loving, useful members of society!)
Princess Liala marched forthwith to the bottom of the garden, followed by a bevy of her maids, and leaned over the edge of the well. "Oh frog," she called melodiously down the well (having quite forgotten his name). "Tis I, Princess Liala who seeks your company."
Fred, who had by this time not only reached a ripe old age for a frog, but who was equally quite certain Liala was never going to come pay her respects, was woken from a sound sleep.
"Glurp, glurp," he said before he woke sufficiently to overcome his froggy instincts to croak. He made his way to the top of the well where Liala was becoming quite impatient.
"Oh there you are," she said. "I was quite beginning to think you were no longer here."
"Well here I am," Fred said testily.
"I am here to release you from the wicked spell that binds you!" she declared.
Fred looked confused, and a surprised 'glurp' escaped his lips.
"Don't just stand there," she ordered, "Come here and be kissed."
Now Fred was not only confused but annoyed as well. He had woken from a wonderful afternoon nap for this, this insanity? He was convinced that Princess Liala was unhinged.
"I shall do no such thing," Fred said, "and if you don't mind I'm going to resume my meditations."
"You shall come here and allow me to kiss you!" Liala said. "Hold him!" she ordered her maids who hastened to grab Fred, who despite his advancing years was still limber due his lifelong practice of Tai Qi. Fred leapt nimbly out of their grasp.
"You are mad," he said.
"I'm not!" Liala retorted, "You have been imprisoned by a spell put on you by an evil witch for how else could a mere frog know how to speak. My silly sister never took advantage of the situation, or was too squeamish to free you herself, but I am here now to do the honourable thing. When you have resumed your usual handsome form, I'm certain you shall want to do some great deed to show your gratitude and win my hand in marriage." She smiled at Fred with just a hint of the madness, he suspected her of having, in her eyes.
"I shall do no such thing," Fred said firmly, "And I am not bespelled. I am merely enlightened."
"Oh you poor thing," Liala cooed in syrupy tones, "The spell has affected your faculties as well."
Fred hurriedly leaped away from her grasp.
"Stay away from me," he said, and prepared to dive back down into the well, but a horrible rasping noise behind him precluded that easy escape as some of the more intelligent maids replaced the cover over the well. Fred shuddered, never in all his years of living in the well had the cover been placed over it. The residents of the castle respected his presence there. Now he knew Princess Liala was not very enlightened and certainly raving mad. She advanced on him with her hands outstretched, looking very much like the talons of an rapacious owl to Fred. Her eyes gleamed, again in a very owl-like fashion to Fred's poor, frightened, froggy mind. In moments of stress a certain atavism came over him, long suppressed instincts came to the fore, and all he wanted to do was flee.
Fleeing was indeed, what Fred did. He leaped, he hopped, and he jumped about the well. He croaked, he glurped, he, he, to his horror, he emitted an unmistakable 'ribbit'. That did it! He was not going to be reduced to mere 'ribbet' by a clearly insane princess hell-bent on kissing him. He drew himself up to his full height of three and a half inches and addressed her in his most commanding voice, "Cease this at once, your Highness, such behaviour is unbecoming of a princess."
Princess Liala took advantage of his stand; she swooped on him and kissed him full on his mouth, to his horror and to her delight, a sparkle spread over him, his form shimmered and with a silent 'crump' of vast magical energies he transformed into a handsome prince who had indeed been bespelled into a frog by an evil witch.
"Oh!" she said.
"Glurp," he said as he assumed his new shape, new height and with the sudden impact of his memories being restored. His right arm came up as if wielding a sword, "I shall run you through, foul hag."
"I have broken the spell," exclaimed Princess Liala joyfully. "Now how shall you show your appreciation?"
Prince Galad, for it was he, long lost Prince Galad heir to the Galathion throne who stood there before them, looked at her dispassionately, "You have my gratitude, my dear, but I have urgent matters to attend to." He brushed past her, walking in a strange fashion a little reminiscent of a frog hopping, and left the garden.
Princess Liala gaped as if she couldn't believe her ears and then let out a most unearthly screech, "You cad!" she screamed after him, "I kissed you when you were nothing but a slimy green frog and risked getting warts to free you and this is all the appreciation you show?" Her eyes narrowed in anger, 'I'll get you for this Prince Galad, even if I have to turn you back into a frog!"
That is exactly what she did. Princess Liala found a way to learn the magicke spell for turning princes into frogs and turned the arrogant prince back into a frog. A princess scorned can be even more vengeful than a foul hag.
If it was hoped that Prince Galad would learn humility and gratitude, I am sad to report that he did not. Last I heard, he was as indifferent to the next princess who kissed him, and who, in turn, also turned him back into a frog albeit a very enlightened frog.
Some people are better at being frogs than they are princes.
I've heard it said
the best expression
is raw and visceral
lying on the page
bleeding, fresh blood
from your wounds
from your pen
a finely honed knife
cuts into reader's heart
slices cleanly through
skin and bone,
laying bare all
that lies within.
This is the writer's art,
to craft a blade
to jugulate them!
I knew I was in trouble the moment I walked into the bar, because I was already standing at the counter chatting up my girl. I stopped and did a double take. Yes that was me, but I was here, and to make matters worse neither my girl or any of the other regulars had noticed any difference. How could this have happened? It was not normal.
I turned around quietly and left, until I could get to the bottom of this mystery, there was no point in making a scene. I arrived back in my dingy apartment on 215th floor of the apt block where I lived. The lock opened to my palm print. Good, at least my apartment knew who I was. "Research doppelgängers" I said the AI that ran my apartment. It was a low grade model - voice only - I couldn't afford better, but I had upgraded its search capabilities considerably.
"Running search on 'doppelgängers'" it said. A few minutes later it said, "Search complete."
"Review Results. Headings Only," I commanded, "On Screen. Scroll Rate Slow." The AI obligingly scrolled the search results on screen slowly for me. One caught my eye. "Have you been seeing double lately?" I frowned. "What is that result doing in there?" I asked the AI.
"Please indicate to which result you are referring." it replied annoyingly. I keep forgetting it doesn't have the neurological circuits to follow input such as brainwave patterns and eye movements making such requests unnecessary.
"Have you been seeing double lately?" I said, "What is an advert for an optician doing in the results?"
"It isn't an advert for an optician," replied the AI, "it is an advert for a ... a ... cleaning service, I believe you would call it."
I had never heard an AI hesitate before. "Load File. Onscreen." I needed to find out what would make an AI hesitate.
Have You Been Seeing Double Lately?
Have you seen yourself in your usual haunts?
Have your friends asked you what you are doing here,
when they just saw you there?
Have you been asked what you did,
when you know you didn't?
Do you have a doppelgänger?
To Solve This Problem Painlessly
"Hmm," I said, "that certainly seems to have my problem covered. My doppelgänger is downstairs right now in the Happy Hippo, chatting to my girl." There was silence from my AI. "How come I'm the last to hear about this? You are supposed to inform me when there is business to be had." My AI said nothing.
"Respond!" I said sharply. "I want to know why you didn't inform me of this," I squinted at the date on the screen, "a year ago. A year ago! This has been going on for over a year and you didn't inform me?" I was furious. "You aren't just going for an upgrade! I am going to completely reformat you!" I screamed at the machine. It remained silent.
Behind me the door opened quietly, a hand holding a gun entered the room, followed by a silent man in black. The gun made a quiet pop. I felt nothing as my systems shut down.
The man in black stood over the body on the floor. "I think that is the last one. Normal life has been restored." I said to myself.
The very short and simple answer is 'because I can'. Which is perhaps not particularly modest, but it is nonetheless the truth. I am more aware than most of my failings and shortcomings, having spent a lifetime trying to come to terms with myself, and part of that process has been acknowledging what I can do (as well as what I can't). And one of those things is the ability to string words together into sentences and sentences into a story that people like often enough for me to say, with some small modesty, "I can write". So I do.
I have never had this burning 'HAVE TO' write, so many refer to. I won't die if I don't write. I won't burst from the internal pressure of an untold story. Many of my stories never make it to paper anyway; often it is enough to articulate them inside my head, or to whoever is willing to listen to my nonsense about a flower, a phrase, a moment, a car ... but there are those that make it to paper.
I love the process of writing, of finding the right word, the right flow, the right cadence, the right tone. I think of myself as a storyteller. I like telling stories, and I always write with an eye to the ear - yes I know, but - I write to be read. I write with the idea that someone somewhere is telling the story beside a fire, at bedtime, to a group of enrapt listeners hanging off every word. So every word is tested for how it sounds, I read my work aloud to myself while writing and edit if it sounds 'wrong'.
While I love English, the flexibility of it, the fun you can have with words, with construction, the nuances, the inflections, and I am madly, passionately in love with words, I also just simply love the sound of language. I am fairly useless at learning languages, but the sound, oh the sound, of a well-written piece in its original language ... You don't need to understand the meaning, it is the sound that transports you, the rise and fall, the patterns, the intonations, the prosody, the cadence, the tone - it's all there in the sound, all the emotion, in every vibration of the spoken words, lying beyond mere meaning, like music, it is pure emotion. And it is that I unconsciously attempt to capture in the way I write. I write to the rhythms of how I speak, or how a character speaks, I hear a voice, my voice, their voice, as I write, and I mimic that sound in the words that flow from my fingers.
So yes, I write because I can, but I also write because it is beautiful.
So I used to contribute to a podcast way back when, decided to share with you lovely Prosers.
I think the last one is actually part 3 but I'm not going to listen to it to find out.
I read my story The Hadedah Who Lost his De Dah which I posted on here.
Not my poems, but I read them for the authors:
Hope you enjoy.