PDA

View Full Version : Locust Child (language--content--approx. 600 words)



InkwellMachine
June 27th, 2013, 07:43 PM
The door bell rings. Makes me sick to leave my writing for that parasite and her damn squirming larva, but the state says I have to. I don't actually know what would happen if I didn't--if I just left them out there, wondering. Never took another call. Maybe I'll find out one of these days, granted my testicles ever drop and I become a man.

She's standing on the porch, smoking a cigarette. She chatters at me, but all I hear are clicking mandibles, and I nod my head like I care or even have the slightest idea what she's trying to tell me. When I say nothing back--and I never do--there's some concern or irritation or some semblance of something in her dark insect eyes. Looks unnatural for a parasite to have emotions, so I look away.

Anyway, she finally holds out the creature like it's some package for delivery. I grimace and take it up in my hands, and instantly it's squirming, gurgling, making me sick with proximity alone. The parasite turns and starts back down the driveway, and I'm struck with the desire to hurl this thing at the back of her head. I'd be doing the world two great favors at once. But I'm not the kind of man who will risk his safety to do things for others. So I take the child inside.

Cartoons. Mashed yams. A high-chair and a bib. I've set the creature up and here I am feeding it, like a real human baby. It's not though, not really. What baby goes through four fucking jars of mashed yams in one sitting? It's a locust. A fat undeveloped locust the size of a small dog that sucks the life and food out of every person and pantry nearby.

Since there's no apparent end to this thing's appetite, we stop when we run out of yams. The T.V. tries to sell me some pill like it's the panacea that'll fix all this bullshit, and the creature watches with glazed white eyes. Bugs are drawn to light, I guess. Or maybe it feels some kinship with the creatures on the other side of the television screen--in a way they're parasites too.

I spread a blanket and lay the creature in the center on its back. It kicks its legs like an overturned beetle, only slower, fat jiggling. I watch the thing and wonder how my body could have produced something so utterly repulsive. Does it know what it is? Probably not. None of this is intentional, I guess. Probably just in its nature to be hideous and insatiable.

We watch television together for a while until the cartoons end and a more grown-up program comes on, and then we watch that. The police are arresting some man for abusing his wife and the child is supposed to get taken off to foster care. Maybe I'd rather be him. I consider this and watch the thing on the blanket, squirming. It turns itself over and scoots along the floor. I say a silent prayer of thanks to god that the thing can't crawl yet.

I've had dreams about the thing crawling. Scuttling around my home, eating everything. I always try to lock it out in those dreams, but it finds another way in. Crawls down through the chimney, up through a drain, through a crack in the window frame. Truth is, the thing makes me sick now, but I'm terrified of when it finally starts growing up.

Yeah. Maybe I'd rather be the man on the T.V.

Folcro
June 27th, 2013, 09:03 PM
Either your writing has taken a leap, or there's something about shorter fiction (or evil men) that taps deeper into your talent. This was another brilliant piece. The writing is much more engaging now.

The changes I would make are small and direct, so I'll just do it this way. The red is what I would take away, and the blue is what I would add or change.



The door bell rings. Makes me sick to leave my writing for that parasite and her damn squirming larva, but the state says I have to. I don't actually know what would happen if I didn't--if I just left them out there, wondering. Never took another call. Maybe I'll find out one of these days, granted my testicles ever drop and I become a man.

She's standing on the porch, smoking a cigarette. She chatters at me. but All I hear are clicking mandibles. I nod my head like I care or even have the slightest idea what she's trying to tell me. When I say nothing back--and I never do--there's always this concern, or irritation or some semblance of something in her dark insectan eyes. Looks unnatural for a parasite to have emotions, so I look away.

Anyway, she finally holds out the creature like it's some a package for delivery. I grimace and take it up in my hands, and. Instantly it's squirming, gurgling, making me sick with proximity alone. The parasite turns and starts back down the driveway. and I'm struck with the desire to hurl this thing at the back of her head. I'd be doing the world two great favors at once. But I'm not the kind of man who will risks his safety to do things for others. So I take the child inside.

Cartoons. Mashed yams. A high-chair. and A bib. I've set the creature up and here I am feeding it, like a real human baby. It's not though, not really. A baby that goes through four fucking jars of mashed yams in one sitting? It's A locust. A fat undeveloped locust the size of a puppy that sucks the life and food out of every person and pantry nearby.

Since there's no apparent end to this thing's appetite, we stop when we run out of yams. The T.V. tries to sell me some pill like it's the panacea that'll fix all this bullshit, and the creature watches with glazed white eyes. Bugs are drawn to light, I guess. Or maybe it feels some kinship with the creatures on the other side of the television screen--in a way they're parasites too.

I spread a blanket and lay the creature in the center on its back. It kicks its legs like an overturned beetle, only slower, fat jiggling. I watch the thing and wonder how my body could have produced something so utterly repulsive. Does it know what it is? Probably not. None of this is intentional, I guess. Probably just in its nature to be hideous and insatiable.

We watch television together for a while until the cartoons end and a more grown-up program comes on, and then we watch that. The police are arresting some man for abusing his wife and the child is supposed to get taken off to foster care. Maybe I'd rather be him. I consider this and watch the thing squirm on the blanket, squirming. It turns itself over and scoots along the floor. I say a silent prayer of thanks to God that the thing can't crawl yet.

I've had dreams about the thing crawling. Scuttling around my home. Eating everything. I always try to lock it out in those dreams, but it finds another way in--- Crawls down through the chimney, up through a drain, through a crack in the window frame. True, the thing makes me sick now, but I'm terrified of when it finally starts growing up.

Yeah. Maybe I'd rather be the man on the T.V.

InkwellMachine
June 27th, 2013, 09:34 PM
Either your writing has taken a leap, or there's something about shorter fiction (or evil men) that taps deeper into your talent. This was another brilliant piece. The writing is much more engaging now.

The changes I would make are small and direct, so I'll just do it this way. The red is what I would take away, and the blue is what I would add or change.
You know, I think I've just been struggling with my style a bit. Shorter fiction is easier for me in the way that I feel justified in my terseness. Novel-length stuff is trickier, because I feel every word carries more weight, so I'm less sparing. I suppose that might make my novel feel a bit over-encumbering in some places.

Anyway, I'm glad you think my skills are improving, and as always, I appreciate your input. Very valuable. I'll make some changes after class, I think.

OurJud
June 27th, 2013, 11:13 PM
Good stuff, Inkwell. I could easily picture these creatures from just the few words you use. It reminded me of something. District 9, maybe.

Incidentally, what's a yam?

shinyford
June 28th, 2013, 12:23 PM
I love the way it's not clear whether the invertebrateness is fact or metaphor in this. Lovely use of language, and some really nice imagery. The disgust of a parent for his progeny, which I've always imagined (well, not always; it's not a subject I ponder on a lot, you understand) would be difficult to convey, is actually put over really easily and evocatively.

I'm sure there are edits you could make - but as an exercise in writing from a characters POV that is likely to be alien to the reader, I think this works in spades.

InkwellMachine
June 28th, 2013, 06:03 PM
Good stuff, Inkwell. I could easily picture these creatures from just the few words you use. It reminded me of something. District 9, maybe.

Incidentally, what's a yam?Hahaha, ahh. This question made me smile, because there are a lot of things I thought I might describe inaccurately, but I didn't think yams would be something that drew attention. Yams are basically the same thing as sweet potatoes, only with some minor differences. If you're unfamiliar with sweet potatoes, here's a visual aid:
4726

Jeko
July 1st, 2013, 11:54 AM
I found the confidence in this piece refreshing; there is a great balance between imagery, tension, conflict and the exposition of your ideas. I read it twice - once literally, the other metaphorically - and both interpretations were beautiful; I'm unsure what effect you were going for, and that's incredible. Ultimately, I think this is a presentation of the distorted view of a particular parent - the 'creature' is a real child, possibly different to the MC in some way (maybe the child is black? I caught a couple of racial undertones) - and a real insight into how the negative views of a parent can affect a growing child's life.


The T.V. tries to sell me some pill like it's the panacea that'll fix all this bullshit, and the creature watches with glazed white eyes

This is such a beautiful line.

I agree with some of Folcro's edits. This can be made even better with some ruthless editing.

I was really surprised by this - I don't expect to go around these threads reading stories and to come out of one feeling... enlightened.

Bradley
July 2nd, 2013, 12:42 AM
Heh. Your character really hates his child. Is this part of a larger piece, or a series of pieces. It sounds really angry, vitriolic. It works, but it also lacks any sort of closure or catharsis. I guess what I mean is, I knew he would almost rather be the man on the tv as soon as I read about the man on tv. The end needs to be more of a kicker.

InkwellMachine
July 3rd, 2013, 02:39 AM
Heh. Your character really hates his child. Is this part of a larger piece, or a series of pieces. It sounds really angry, vitriolic. It works, but it also lacks any sort of closure or catharsis. I guess what I mean is, I knew he would almost rather be the man on the tv as soon as I read about the man on tv. The end needs to be more of a kicker.This was a warm-up piece. I spent probably half an hour on it, give or take.

I appreciate that you read, but my intention with this piece was to practice the use of active metaphor, not to write a complete story.

lightzonlycast
July 3rd, 2013, 12:03 PM
I would really like to know where the inspiration for this piece came from.

To me it seems like the narrator is projecting a deep rooted disgust for himself all over this locust thing.

Many of the suggestions Folcro suggested might help, but I too agree with Bradley that, whether you intended to or not, your entire use of active metaphor suffers at the finish line. The writing up until the end is so strong that to just throw in a shoddy ending only does yourself and the rest of the piece an injustice.

BreakingMyself
July 5th, 2013, 10:53 AM
This is why I love short stories.

You can fit the depth of a novel into 600 words, that is an amazing skill I wish to work at and hopefully earn myself someday.

mlcampbell
July 11th, 2013, 01:39 AM
You know, I think I've just been struggling with my style a bit. Shorter fiction is easier for me in the way that I feel justified in my terseness. Novel-length stuff is trickier, because I feel every word carries more weight, so I'm less sparing. I suppose that might make my novel feel a bit over-encumbering in some places.

It's good to start with short fiction and work your way up. I see potential for this to become a longer story (>1000 words). You sketched a picture of the characters, of the setting, but you could bust out the paint brushed and add some color, really bring it out sensually. An atrophic gray mold spreads across the kitchen ceiling like the dying skin of a leper. Shit-brown shag carpet that reeks of piss from the locusts of previous tenants. That not only brings out the setting, but could add emotion to the character - if he hated the apartment. (I don't know why I visualized an apartment in this).

WechtleinUns
July 13th, 2013, 03:46 PM
This short story is really well written, Inkwell. The image of a little locust thing squirming around and eating everything is just awesome. And the character, the main character, just kind of sticks with you as someone memorable.

If I might make a suggestion, I wonder what would happen if you wrote another piece from the child's perspective, 15 years later?

Ian Scott McCormick
July 14th, 2013, 02:56 AM
It seems to get a little more poetic toward the end. A bit of alliteration. "Up through a drain, through a crack in the window frame." Sounds nice when spoken. Though some people don't like alliteration. I liked it though.

Eiji Tunsinagi
July 30th, 2013, 04:10 AM
Really cool piece. I like your use of imagery. The terseness drives the piece, and with the images it, there is a power behind this short piece. Also, just because you struggle a bit with longer pieces, don't quit challenging yourself to go a little longer every time. I've always had trouble with longer pieces and have decided to return to what I know I need to master before moving forward: just beginning, middle, and end, in very short pieces. Then try larger, longer works.

escorial
July 30th, 2013, 11:07 AM
disturbing in many ways but the theme had a comical side for me...enjoyed.

agraymatter
July 30th, 2013, 09:26 PM
This passage gave me an immediate, short-lived jolt into another world. That's great! You started without any warning or precaution and just kept going. There was no easing the reader into this passage - you just unapologetically went for it. :-)

A few times I was like, "Alright already... I get the analogy! The baby is this gross insect thing." But then I wondered about that... I still am wondering if this crazy character is fathering some insect or if he is just crazy. Either way, I'm certain he hates the thing and is considering abuse. I hate everyone in this story, I think, BUT I LOVE THAT YOU MANAGED TO DO THAT! :encouragement:

Overall, it's a bit insane, which is definitely my cup of tea.

Indui
August 3rd, 2013, 02:33 AM
I like how this piece unfolded... your voice is confident even though it is dark, and it kept me reading even though I'm usually not a fan of these sorts of stories.

I particularly enjoyed the imagery of that second-to-last paragraph.

WolfsTooth
August 3rd, 2013, 04:40 AM
I really enjoyed how this piece just sort of threw me into another world. With no warning what so ever to boot. The use of imagery you have really fleshes out a disgustingly beautiful picture that I deeply appreciate. I'm not quite sure what I would tell you to change or fix. Considering this work isn't exactly my style of writing. But it is more than certainly a solid piece. Please keep writing more.