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InkwellMachine
December 3rd, 2013, 09:14 AM
The blades whirred overhead and a thin strip of paper curled out from between them.

Dragha opened an eye and looked at the dangling strip. Just one this time. Not enough to fill his belly. Not even enough to hold him over until something more substantial came. He shifted restlessly on the mound of slimy strips, rolling in the half-pulped paper. He could feel his stomach shrinking, shriveling up like a grape in the sun. It was a painful hunger. It was the kind of hunger that seized his belly with mad convulsions, and then spread through his torso and limbs, prodding and stabbing. A hunger that filled his head with low throbbing and distant, desperate murmurs. Food, they said, food, Dragha. You must eat, or surely you will die.

The pains conferred with the murmurs and told Dragha that they spoke the truth.

He closed his eyes for a moment. Winced. He could sleep through the hunger, the pain. He'd done it before. Would anything come, though? Would the blades sound and wake him, or would he die in his sleep, hollow and hungry? He supposed the latter and pushed himself, agonizingly, into an upright sitting position. The room was dark and tepid and smelt of ink and saliva. He blinked away the sleep, focusing on the pig-tailing strip of paper above.

He'd been dreaming of a place that was not dark, that did not smell of saliva. The place in his dreams was stacked high with shelf upon shelf of leather-bound words, all printed onto full sheets of brilliant white paper. The place was ripe with dreams and notions and knowledge--real knowledge. The words in that place told the things they knew, and then also knew the things they told. His mouth began to water.

He plucked the strip from the ceiling and pulled it taught between his blood sausage fingers. The bottom half of the strip might have said CHATTLR ONL: lAL KAIN, but the top half had fallen away and become lost in the paper slurry that Dragha called his bed. He searched frantically for a moment, found a slip slightly brighter than the rest stuck to his thigh, and joined the two.

CHAPTER ONE: THE RAIN

The meal was entirely insubstantial, but Dragha savored the taste as he scraped the words off the paper with his black-stained chisel teeth. He swallowed and felt all their implications, questions, hopes slide down his throat, settling into the pit of his stomach. They were heavy and grand, and they were not enough.

They were never enough.

Dragha dropped the dripping strips into the pile with the rest and sat, enjoying the fraction of fullness for as long as he could.


The moment passed too quickly, and left him writhing, waiting. He watched the ceiling-shredder intently through the night, willing something to come through. The night passed, and there was nothing. A day passed, and there was nothing. A week tore its way through his hungry body and left him gasping and dark-eyed, and finally twenty-three brilliant strips of paper fed into the room.


It was the abandoned start of some essay on the nature of success. Dragha swallowed the words as slowly as his hunger would allow, saving the deepest meanings for the fruitless weeks that he knew would come. They were dry, and full of simple truths. They did little to nourish him.


At the end of seven empty weeks, Dragha had finished the paragraph. He pulled his meatless carcass across the floor and rapped a knuckle against the stone door set into the north wall.


The door cracked and cool air blew in over his face. “Eater of notions,” said a soft, smug voice. “Will you abandon this crusade for broken thoughts?”


Dragha nodded weakly and collapsed onto the ground.


“Ah, good,” said the voice. “Then the archive awaits you.”


And the door opened.

Fredd
December 7th, 2013, 05:24 AM
Forgive me if anything I say is naive.

I'm interested to read more. I find myself wondering why he subsists on words, why he is imprisoned, what is he? It didn't generate much interest in the protagonist as a person, I wanted to know more about what he was, but not more about him. I could tell he was suffering but I didn't care. Was that what you had intended? I suppose with so few words making the reader care would be impossible if you are focusing on other more important things.

Will you or have you posted more of this story somewhere?

I may be off base, but the metaphor I took from this story was this: The newest, or I should say the most "current" literary creation is ordinarily banal. Some may try with an open mind to seek enjoyment of the current, but may find that such a venue provides too little too often to consistently turn too. But once you turn your back on it you'll turn your back on it indefinitely. From then on you'll only look at the old, the refined, the already well regarded literary works.

The implications of that are that you can sate yourself on the old quite easily, but forever be limited to what already is, with no ability to move forward. Which you might regard as a worse fate than not eating all, until you actually can't eat.

InkwellMachine
December 11th, 2013, 07:47 AM
I may be off base, but the metaphor I took from this story was this: The newest, or I should say the most "current" literary creation is ordinarily banal. Some may try with an open mind to seek enjoyment of the current, but may find that such a venue provides too little too often to consistently turn too. But once you turn your back on it you'll turn your back on it indefinitely. From then on you'll only look at the old, the refined, the already well regarded literary works. That's quite brilliant. I hadn't thought of that. In fact, I think I like that much more than my previous metaphor. Mind if I mosquito you here? I plan on expanding this into something lengthier soon.

The reason for the piece's length (and consequently, it's lack of exposition), is the maximum length restriction for the monthly LM competitions on these forums. I had intended to enter this, but it just didn't feel... done. I guess.

So I posted it here instead, as a sort of pilot piece. Glad to see someone is interested. That's always very encouraging.


It didn't generate much interest in the protagonist as a person, I wanted to know more about what he was, but not more about him. I could tell he was suffering but I didn't care.Good catch. I haven't worked much pathos into the piece, largely because it's so heavily steeped in metaphor. I'll have to fix that when I write the thing in its entirety.

Fredd
December 14th, 2013, 06:52 AM
Mind if I mosquito you here? I plan on expanding this into something lengthier soon.


I certainly do not mind. Would you mind telling me though, what do the shredded bits of paper and the archive represent if not the current and the old? Were the shredded bits instead a metaphor for discarded thoughts? Things which no one else but this "Dragha" would care for?

ThornhillD
December 14th, 2013, 06:52 PM
well written 8/10, we want more!

Gavrushka
January 7th, 2014, 01:04 PM
In a break between paragraphs, I thought I'd come and see if I could find one or two of your short stories to devour. :)

This isn't a critique, but an observation. - I read it once and don't want to spoil my enjoyment by pouring over the words and pulling them apart.

You do something that I've only seen one other author do, and that makes it a rare gift. - You whisper 'bear with me' to the reader. You give the reader confidence that you know what you're doing, even if they can't see it immediately. I can imagine very few people who read your work will stop until they've been spat out of the far side of your story.

It's an adventure to read through a story, and be entertained whilst you try to fathom out just what the hell is going on! The only other author I've known do that is Stephen King.

If you can manage the same kind of cohesion over a novel-length work, I'd be surprised if it wasn't well received by agents.

Darkhorse
January 9th, 2014, 09:52 AM
That's quite brilliant. I hadn't thought of that. In fact, I think I like that much more than my previous metaphor. Mind if I mosquito you here? I plan on expanding this into something lengthier soon.

The reason for the piece's length (and consequently, it's lack of exposition), is the maximum length restriction for the monthly LM competitions on these forums. I had intended to enter this, but it just didn't feel... done. I guess.

So I posted it here instead, as a sort of pilot piece. Glad to see someone is interested. That's always very encouraging.

Good catch. I haven't worked much pathos into the piece, largely because it's so heavily steeped in metaphor. I'll have to fix that when I write the thing in its entirety.

It is a brilliant metaphor. When I read Fredd's thoughts on the metaphor I was impressed that he got it because I hadn't and after he explained it made so much sense that I was certain that's what you meant. Postmodernists would be frothing over this - I think.

Anyway, it's really well written and gathers momentum toward the end. I didn't really have much to add - I was compelled to comment due to the curious confusion over the metaphor - other than to say I thought you might want to consider splitting the second paragraph. Perhaps you could start a new paragraph at 'It was a painful hunger...' However, this may ruin the rhythm of your writing.

Are you still going to enter it in the LM competition?

thepancreas11
January 10th, 2014, 07:07 PM
I think your work suffers from trying to make it a certain size. The end is so pared down in comparison with the beginning, and all that mystery you were building becomes confusion. One or two sentences should do the trick. There are just too many unanswered questions. I assume the voice is the writer, am I right? Why would you take the Eater of Notions to an Archive? What is the Archive? I'm actually very fond of this piece as a short story, and I think extending it into something more would rob it of its nuance and character. There's not enough plot behind the theme your after, from my point of view, but if you could beef up this piece a bit, round it off with a firm conclusion, I could see this being creative enough to get somewhere.

cob
January 14th, 2014, 02:04 AM
The writing is fantastic but the scene doesn't do anything to... pull the reader in. It doesn't have to be more active or anything but, as the previous poster mentioned, there are a lot of unanswered questions and I don't get any sense that they will be answered. An option would be to expand the dialogue between Dragha and the voice. I like the length of that dialogue personally so, what I would do is expand on the "eater of notions" thing. It seems there is some literal meaning behind that so, I would maybe address it a little more before the voice calls him that. What seems like this pure crazy kind of thing becomes significant when you call Dragha the Eater. Maybe talk a little bit about his internal side, the feeling of sustenance, some kind of cathartic response maybe. If this is the whole scene, then it needs to do something more than just describe what's happening, if that makes sense.

I love the style and flavor of this and would love to see more!

- - - Updated - - -

The writing is fantastic but the scene doesn't do anything to... pull the reader in. It doesn't have to be more active or anything but, as the previous poster mentioned, there are a lot of unanswered questions and I don't get any sense that they will be answered. An option would be to expand the dialogue between Dragha and the voice. I like the length of that dialogue personally so, what I would do is expand on the "eater of notions" thing. It seems there is some literal meaning behind that so, I would maybe address it a little more before the voice calls him that. What seems like this pure crazy kind of thing becomes significant when you call Dragha the Eater. Maybe talk a little bit about his internal side, the feeling of sustenance, some kind of cathartic response maybe. If this is the whole scene, then it needs to do something more than just describe what's happening, if that makes sense.

I love the style and flavor of this and would love to see more!

Clean0nion
January 15th, 2014, 12:16 AM
I'd have to remark that you should make it clearer what's going on. I assume that this thing lives in a shredder, that is connected to a facility Monsters Inc-style.

So far, I guess that he eats notions for example essays and such, and when he gives up on this he has to move onto broken thoughts. The lack of choice indicates that this is a prison.