I'm no stranger to writing a story but I am to recieving feedback. Seldom have I been presented with an opportunity to present my work, let alone felt like I have guts enough to present it. But if I'm going to get better, and I'd like nothing more than to, I ask that you be as harsh as my work deems.
This isn't my first story. I've actually written something else - a 219 A4 paged novel with around 144,035 words so far. I'm still not happy with it so until I'm satisfied with the Prologue and first chapter I hereby give you something I've been working on in the sidelines.
I call it Beyond the Canvas. There's around four and a half pages worth here and the first chapter is not finished yet. Enjoy
Often do I question as to whether my heart will ever harden after all the years Iíve spent on my little blue world. I am used to crying tears made of silver when I behold beauty, be it a landscape before my eyes, colourful and perpetual, or the countenance of a beautiful woman, killing me with her complexion.
I make a habit of committing these little things to memory before I make a transfer to paper. Because of this I learn that a heart is as open as the mind and will always remember.
I was born into a decent family from who my ancestry did hail from Italy; though never did I go there until I reached adulthood. I think I was nineteen when I finally walked the streets of Venice, deep into the early hours of the morning. Iíll never forget it; my sketchbook wonít let me.
But I digress.
My father was a world-renowned car designer working for one of those flashy and expensive companies and also took on commissions for the most expensive and rewarding jobs while my mother was a successful freelance artist who also worked on major movie blockbusters.
I can still smell the scent of paint sneaking up my nose and I can sometimes hear the juggle of a brush dipping into a bottle of water of which would remind me of her.
I led a typical childhood. It seemed to last forever, and before I knew it I was old enough to get a job Ė make my mark on the world, so my father would tell me.
It all passed me by as fleetingly as a flock of birds flying away to escape the winter.
But years before my dependence became a paramount affair I would always play in fields of golden corn with friends of mine. Always would we play hide and seek and each and every time I would not be found until I made myself known. I knew the fields and forests as fluently as I know the sky was blue.
You could say that these ventures were one of many of my inspirations.
When my friends would leave I would rest under the old apple tree near my parentís cottage. My eyes would wonder over the blue yet cloudy sky, and I would make shapes from those clouds; an elephant, a four armed man and perhaps maybe a face.
Mother would tell me God lives in those clouds and whenever I see a light divinely shining through the clouds it would be a sign that God was watching over that particular land. I never believed her.
My name is Phax Kingswood, and I am twenty-three now, or so I was last month. I canít remember the events of my birthday. Well, not all of it anyway. I knew I got as drunk as any other young lad would, and then some.
My friends told me that I was escorted back to an older womanís apartment for the night. They said that she was ancient but, if I can remember correctly, she had to have been in her thirties. I left the next morning. I canít remember her name.
I live in England, London to be precise. I moved here when I was contacted by a popular video games company. I was chuffed to hear that they were interested in my art and would pay to see that I would produce for them; conceptual designs for upcoming projects. How could I refuse?
Although I havenít played a game since the days where they used to slot cartridges into those consoles, I did marvel at the work produced during a gameís development. It pays well and it gives me one of those seldom lifestyles that allows me to take my work home with me. I canít complain.
So I spend my working hours in an office filled with those gamer geeks, each of them boasting about the next big title and what theyíd like to see in the future. Not my scene really, but theyíre decent people.
I guess that you could say that Iím one of the few people in the office who stick to the traditional methods. Every other artist fixates on those digital ways, painting with a mouse. Canít say that I find it a rewarding technique. Whatís the point if you canít even touch your own finished piece? It all belongs to the internet. Not you, the artist. Oh well. As long as the company appreciates the art I perform then itís all worth the penny I earn. I have my mother to thank for my expertise.
But thereís this one girl who works there; a pretty hot little brunette thing. Iíve been trying my luck for some time now, approaching her and asking her if she wants a coffee sometime. She says yes, but for whatever reason she cancels the date and cooks up some silly excuse to get out of it. Itís been three times now. I think I got the hint after that. Itís hard being single, alone in a grey city without someone to hold in your arms and share the machinations of the day.
I snatched a roll-up from my jacket pocket that Iíd fixed earlier and pressed it to my parched lips. Thereís a process involved in the morning, before I go to work, where I make twelve of the white sticks of the slow death Ė I wonít bore you. I finally breathe in the putrid fumes. They dull my mind and relax me, and I am okay for just a minute. I stare out into the street below from my apartment window and I think of home. Those never-ending fields of corn and that little apple tree I used to nuzzle under. I wish I was there again. But what my eyes see donít compliment. I see rain ploughing down upon the helpless denizens below who arenít even close to home yet. The streets hold a twilight hue from the electric lamps, paid for by my own wallet, the damned tax payer. Iím not even benefiting from it and Iím still paying for the damned lights.
Doesnít matter anyway. If one man was meant to make a difference, Guy Fawkes would have succeeded in his orchestration of the Houses of Parliamentís demise. But itís all designed to keep us contained, to keep us going on until weíre too weary to think for ourselves.
This is why I canít watch the fucking news. Donít get me started on politics and the stupid economy. Itís too depressing, and I hate hearing others talking about it.
So I just plod along, taking in the sights and smells of the generation. And, if Iím lucky, Iíll take in a smell that draws me back into my youth; some strange scent that brings forth a wave of nostalgia that stays with me for but one precious moment.
I am Phax Kingswood, and Iím, to put it bluntly, a nobody in a city of ghosts.
- ďRissotle ainít so bad when ya get used to it, hun.Ē
I wake up and my head feels heavier than usual, like Iíd just been suffering from a wave of motion sickness after one of those 24 hour flights. My throat seems to have acid burning on its side, reminding me of the cigarette Iíd long since smoked. I can tell, given the inability to effectively swallow.
Vile things. Better quit soon.
Probably wonít, though.
But an unusual smell fills my lungs that oddly reminds me of motherís cooking, and that quaint smell that should be coming from green pasture Ė just like back home. Thatís it, the smell of fresh bread, just taken out from the oven. I remember, just as mother would pull it out, her mitts as deep red as love, that Iíd rush from wherever I was in the house just to fill my nostrils with that precious smell.
Since I left home, however, I donít get that smell unless I walk passed the bakerís just gone eight in the morning, and even thatís like a cheap intimidation. And seeing as though itís the city, you most certainly donít get that fresh green smell that reminds my nose of the hay fever. Heck, I donít even bake, let alone cook anything for myself, so why complain?
My eyes adjust and I already know that Iím not in my apartment. You could say, and I quote, that Iím not even in Kansas anymore.
Already the unfamiliar sights of oil lamps fill a room built from wood and cement, like a gothic structure from some old fable. There are shelves and theyíre filled with jars of pasted fruit and probably honey. Donít take my word for it. Thereís a table with vegetables and a dead hogís head slumped on a plate. Ew much!
Wait, a hogís head? The freaking thing is still bleeding, filling the plate up like a tiny vampireís swimming pool.
I sit up. The light in the room, though faint, seeks to hinder my focus further.
My fingers pinch my arm. Itís no dream. I donít awaken.
I lie on a stone slab floor with a straw carpet tickling my feet, almost scratching them. I kick the table accidently and a knife rolls over and falls, almost finding its way through my left toe had it been inches closer.
I find my feet and my hands find a smooth wooden surface above me, though my eyes donít choose to browse whatever may lay on it. Probably more cutlery or storage cupboards. But filled with what, exactly? More Dark Age utensils and severed animal heads?
Iíll tell you.
Some song props up from the ether Ė or some old war-time radio that I later discovered propped up further along the work surface. Itís static, confusing and like small nails swimming in my ears, was enough to drive any man crazy. I cover my ears but the sound is only mildly tempered. Strange how its effect was almost supernatural, like invisible hands willing me back onto the hard cold ground.
An old door creaks open (I know it creaks because it seems like an alien sound when compared to the insufferable static still attacking me), and I see someone, a woman, standing in the open doorway. With her comes a light, ever so blinding, that forces my eyes almost shut in defence.
ďThe Beast, he do bring more dark hearts here!Ē says she, her voice a picture of some strange paranoia Iíve only caught wind of during the late hours waiting in the tube for my train home. All manor of homeless folk mutter about all that religious profanity; either that or beg for coin.
She tampers with the radio, which finally ceases that infernal noise, before rushing to my side, vaulting as she drew near. I saw then that she was dark of skin, and her voice previously suggested African origin if I remembered right. Her clothes were that of worn and dusty robes that were perhaps white, with a collar labelling her a vicar, or priest. But the colour; unlike vicars I saw in my life, they were inverted Ė where it should be black it is white and vice versa. Even the collar was black instead of white.
ďWhat year you hail from, child?Ē she spits in my face, her voice almost vicious and somewhat suggesting an interrogation. She shakes me aggressively as though that were enough to squeeze an answer from me.
I donít answer at first, but merely look at her vexingly. Already her presence annoyed me, as well as her sharp introduction. Usually women give me a name first, and donít usually demand the year I am from. They donít throw their beady eyes in my face either (not at first anyway).
I shoved her aside and got to my feet, though not without strain. She didnít fight me, though she probably eyed me from top to bottom with fire in her eyes. I guess the thought didnít even shy its way into my mind that she may even pull a dagger on me, given the strange style going on in what was The Kitchen.
But there was no dagger. Just that open door with that piercing light blinding me yet drawing me closer like a moth under the candles spell.
I stagger outside. My eyes donít adjust for some time but when they did I was face down in a puddle, mud dampening my jeans and shirt. My fingers played against blades of sad grass, each strand vexed by the oppressing wet earth. The rain was fierce and pressing, almost as though it were drowning me in the puddle I found myself in.
I soon find myself, the mud an aid to wake me slightly from my haze. My eyes adjust, finally, to the scene about me. Great that just as my dizziness fades that a feeling of sickness ebbs me. Already my mind couldnít handle what I thought then that my traitorous eyes did portray.
There were buildings, short ones perhaps no taller than two or three floors each. There were so very few, made from both wood and stone; wound around a tight cobble path I fancied may take me to Oz had I followed it. There were trees, again few, that yielded green, labelled about haphazardly, though not enough to be snuggled around a large woodland.
Unfortunately my intrigue couldnít expand beyond that for all else was haze, or perhaps the fog governed by the unrelenting rain.
I finally chuck my guts up, falling to my knees so that I my disgrace myself.
I hear a voice. ďBetty, wait!Ē Itís deep and demanding, yet belies friendliness and caring for who he cries for. I donít see him, my eyes yet again besieged by the same haze.
But I do see yet another figure approaching me. Another woman. I can tell because of the long yet rounded curls and slender figure that is she Ė this woman I already find beautiful amongst all this madness, even as I canít see her properly.
ďBetty, no!Ē says the burly voice again.
ďHim is from the fires, I tell you! I saw his fangs and I felt the hot breath of Hell as he did bare Ďem to me!Ē Says that damned preacher woman, her figure, I saw then, escaping from the door so as to warn my rescuer.
She doesnít relent, my rescuer, as she fights her way through rain and storm. Before she even reaches me I see her unfastening her shawl, ready to shield me from the rain that only seeks to further my aching body.
Despite my wonder, I wish now that she had listened to the strange preacher woman, for however little I may have felt for her then my entire mind was that of venom. Had I strength I may have lashed out at her, perhaps really hurting her given my confusion.
Thankfully I had neither the mind nor the ability to inflict harm on any, and yet I still feel regret, even now, of the notion of spite I felt then for the care she would later administer.
She and the shawl find their way to me, but by that time all I see then are stars.
I feel her delicate fingers pressing the shawl over me and I hear her cry for an aid that sounded hesitant, given the short time that elapsed.
But I was already unconscious, and when the time came to my awakening I still felt heavy and my mind over-encumbered.
I hope you got passed the prologue to read the first segment of the first chapter. I wanted the prologue to be somewhat short in contrast to the events that follow. I don't want you too comfortable on planet earth before I could rip you from it and send it to places unknown now did I.