View Full Version : In Search of Serenity (3.4k words, mild languange)

January 30th, 2014, 02:24 AM
Welp, here is the longest story I've written. I made a pledge to have something where I would take my sweet a** time and really work it out. It's not quite as long as I wanted it to be but I think the story kind of ran it's course and I'm still pretty proud of it. What do you guys think of it?

I awoke in my rundown dwellings, the sun’s rays poking through the spaces in the boards. One hitting me right in the face. Something you find unpleasant when you’ve been strung out as long as I have. I just stay here where it’s safe, behind my wall of apathy and heroin. It didn’t spare me though, it didn’t spare me from the nights. Every night I saw what used to be. I hear their voices in my head, one in particular rings in my ears. Like nails on a chalkboard. It’s the most haunting thing. I sat up in bed, I squeezed and widened my eyes. I realize I have no clue how long I’ve been gone. I had no point of reference. I walked out of my old cabin to the blinding light of the sun. I let out a groan and turned my head away until my eyes adjusted. I scanned the sand and lifted my view to the sea which reflected orange from the falling sun. Off to the west the sun was slipping behind the mountains. Something wasn’t right about it though. It was higher in the sky than when I last saw it. It must’ve been months! I looked out on the boundless body of water that lay before me. My sunken cheeks and baggy eyes felt heavy. I was tired even though I just spent god knows how long living in a dream. The voice haunts me every time I’m reminded of it. A pang of guilt runs up my spine and I give myself two choices. I could sit here and slowly kill myself in isolation, and it sounded awfully tempting. Or I could go out there. See what lays beyond. Resolution? Salvation? Damnation? What if it was nothing? I don’t think I could handle that. As I looked at the sunset reflecting off the water I decided it had to be better than dying here on my own, in exile. I owed it to the voices in my head. Even if they never forgave me, I would have that. I could let go of the guilt. I looked off to the east at a massive rock formation overlooking the water. I looked back at my ever decaying asylum. Back and forth, I tried to decide. The sun took one last peak over the mountains before sinking below and I made my decision.

As I sit on the rocks high above the ocean, I watched the waves crash onto the vertical wall on which I’ve perched myself. The sound is quite therapeutic. The starry night sky above me. The universe once again watches me and only me. The colors of it really pop with the lights of my dreams starting to fade. The moonlight reflects off the water onto the orange rock creating an eerie fluorescence. The smell of salt water0 wafts in the breeze. I took a deep breath of it and wished I could share the beauty of this place with the people I’ve met in my dreams. But that was the curse that accompanied the elegance. I was alone here, and all the love that lingered in my memory was just a mirage. A castle of Sand to be washed away by my return to this abysmal place. Every time I return it’s with renewed sadness. Death, abandonment, and regret is what I have to show for my emotional investment. I’ve tried to escape many times but I’m afraid that I am eternally in thrall to this ethereal prison. At least it seemed ethereal but I’ve been here so long it seemed like reality and reality seemed illusory. I stood up and took in one more large breath of warm air. The breeze caressing my skin. I curled my toes around the edge. I bent my knees and dove in head first. I floated there for a second or two and I immersed myself in the feeling of weightlessness. The splash of water smacking against my skin. I sink for a moment. The water was warm and inviting, begging me to stay. I want to, to stay here in the inky depths. But I’ll just end up back in the same place. I floated up to the surface where the waves began to carry me. As it carries me outward I fade away into… into what? Did I fade into sleep? Into a dream? Into reality? I don’t know, but when I awoke I had a lifetime of memories, more blurry faces and deeper despair. Oh and a mouthful of sand. …
It was hot, scorching hot. I looked up to take in the scenery but only found sunspots. I buried my face in the sand where it was cool. I lifted off my chest and onto my hands and knees. My eyes slowly began to take in what was around me. At first all I saw was the gold of sand. I figured I’d washed up on a beach somewhere. But as more came in to focus I realized I hadn’t washed up, it was as though it had dried up. Sand was all that lied in front of me. Behind me was something of a gulch. Rocks in the shape of mushrooms scattered around the hill. A sparse forest of Joshua trees inhabited the desolated landscape. They grew in numbers towards the bottom of the gulch. I thought maybe there would be water but it looked be dried up. I went and gathered myself under the shade of one of the odd rocks. My head pounded as though it would explode any moment. I felt my skin crawl. I realized I was coming down. My skin melting from the muscle. My muscle melting from the bone. I felt an odd pulse in my pocket. I ignored it and gave a melodramatic and exaggerated sob and stood on my feet. I looked out at the desolate expanse. Gold sand for days, more even. In the distance I see the silhouette of a jagged mountain range. I turn and find that it’s the best this place had to offer. Horizons and tumbleweeds are all that are to be found anywhere past this erstwhile oasis. I turned towards the mountains and began to make my way, making as little bones about it as possible in an attempt to make it seem like the journey wasn’t that big of a deal. However I betrayed myself as I was bad liar. Not to mention the pounding on my temple reminded me of the ticking time bomb in my head. I needed shelter soon.

I dragged my feet through the sand. The soles of them became raw and calloused. All signs of life, even the Joshua trees, had gone. The sun glaring down unforgivingly. I went on for days. Days? Time was irrelevant. The sun never moved, only beat me. Whipping at my back as I dragged myself along. I fell to the ground in a sad heap. The heat waves coming off the sand disorientated me. The whole of the desert floor waved and dissipated away. I stood back up and wobbled to the side and tried to pull my momentum forward. No use, I ended up back in the sand. I looked off to my left and for a second I thought my eyes deceived me. I found a rolling hill, it was so hard to see as it blended with the sand beyond. I made another attempt at standing and descending down the hill. I fell back down at the top and looked out. What I saw sobered me up quick. Low lying foothills just a few hundred yards away. There was an opening that almost seemed to glow. I rolled myself down the hill and hit the bottom with a wave of sand coming up over me. I stood and walked as fast I could. As I approached the sun sunk in record time. A step seemed to equal an hour each. The last quarter of the sun peeked down below the horizon as I made it to the cave. The glow was obvious now. Black light emanated out of the crevice and my head suddenly gave a pound. As if someone was trying to break out. I gave a horrid scream and gasped in for air. I flew towards the cave hoping to save myself from this. I found no salvation.

I ran into the glowing cave and put my back to the wall. The glow burned into the very depths of my eyes. Right into my skull and I could feel them roll back. I began to drool incessantly when I felt a drip on my arm. I paid no attention until I heard a sizzle. I looked at my arm in startle and found the drip burning a hole straight through my forearm. I stood and my breathing became heavier, I began to hyperventilate. Another drip came down, black as ink, it began to bore its way through. A thousand little holes opened in my skin and I began scream again, the echo in the cave created a reverberation in my brain. The vibration cracked my skull and my brain expanded pushing the walls to their limit. I grabbed my head hoping to hold everything in. Out of the corner of my burning eye I saw something crawl by on the ceiling. I continued to scream. My throat became raw and I could taste the iron in my blood. Scattering around on the walls at a million miles an hour, swarming around me. I turned and followed them to the point of nauseam. I fell on the hard ground and one stopped above me. Glowing green eyes, it smiled its hideous grin. Teeth 9 inches long, sharp and shiny like knives. It whispered my name. I could it hear it in my head. Its eyes fixed on mine, like a magnet. I could feel the pulse in my pocket once more.

“No! No! No I screamed yet again and ran towards the back of the cave. As I ran my foot took a dive and fell into shallow water. I fell in entirely and began fighting to stay afloat. The water grabbed at me with deft hands. Clawing at my back, it dragged me under. The excitement slowly subsided as I stayed there. It dragged me deeper and the pounding in my head subsided. I looked at my wrist to watch it sew itself back together. No cracks, holes, or demons. I felt a rush send me back up to the surface. It gently rested me on the surface. The walls gently fluctuated hues and the water felt as though it weren’t there anymore. I fell asleep as the colors cycled and enveloped me. This dreadful place held salvation after all.

I spent the next few days drinking my fill of water and picking berries that grew along the hills. It was a true oasis. However the warm glow has not appeared since that night. I look out at the mountains which have become clearer in my travels. They’re gloomy and dark clouds hang over them. Something was calling me to them. I knew had to go, I hated it but I had to. I looked back and the cave glowed warm again. I stood at the entrance and questioned my decision. A breeze came from the way of the mountains. I looked over and saw the clouds rolling my way. It was coming like it or not. I filled on water one last time, pocketed some berries and made my way back into the golden sea. I looked forward at the gray mountains with resolve, trying not to look back at the hills. My name blew in the breeze and kept me on my way.

The trip was easy this time, a day half walk. I could tell you this with confidence as the sun was forgiving this trip round. I made camp at night and ate decently. I woke up well rested and arrived at the base at late afternoon’s time. Gloom now hung over my head and it would plague me more and more as I climbed the trail. I did not know where it would lead but it called and called. The further I got the harder things became. The air got thin. I had no water and no food left. Cold began to prick at my skin. My eyes grew heavy with exhaustion and despair. The bleak mountains drained me of my resolve. I avoided falling rocks with what little remained. Night had descended and I had no means of fire. I had to continue on. The trail twisted and bent. Unforgiving walls of rock lent no shelter. Grey and cold, they watched like Romans as I carried this burden on my back. Through the thick snowfall I saw the trail that had traveled uphill for miles plateau. The walls angled and fanned out. I ran up the remaining hill to the edge not knowing what to find, not caring. I got to the top and the snow cleared. I almost fell back down the trail having found what I did. People, a couple dozen. Who were they though? Other poor souls come here to lay to waste? I didn’t come all this way for that. To sit here with the other junkies to rot upon this gloomy altar. I looked around to see the walls made a crescent around the flattened highland. It was like a stage with an opening looking out on the desert I just journeyed. As I looked out someone walked past me. Her face was a little blurry but I recognized it. My soul lit up. I couldn’t place a name but I knew the face! I ran up to her.

“Hey!” I shouted with glee. She walked past. How? I was right in her face.
“Wait up!” I went to grab her and my hand passed through. I was angry, she was just ignoring me. She continues down the path. I just wanted to make contact but she was so inaccessible. Before I knew it she was halfway across the plateau. I ran and ran but couldn’t catch up.

“Wait! Please.” I whimpered as she disappeared down the trail in the snow. She just left me here like I was nothing, just abandoned me. It felt so familiar, I knew her. I know I did. She left me at the first opportunity. I looked around at the others and there was middle aged woman. I recognized her and I wasn’t sure how I felt to see her. It was a familiar face though and I would take that. I ran over and she turned. Her face was old and weathered. It turned fire red and she grew twice my size and struck me across the rock. I felt powerless to fight back. I wanted to but I felt so conflicted. It was almost like I came down with a case of a Stockholm syndrome.

“Please!” She struck again. I crumpled up in a corner and waited for the next strike. She just stood over me, her shadow casting doubt on everything I’d achieved here. She was just showing her size over me now. I waited for the next strike but it never came. I glanced to find the plateau empty except for one girl in the middle. I glanced back to where the woman was to find her gone. I glanced back at the girl. At first I felt joy, but then I knew something was wrong. I was terrified. I was terrified because I knew who it was and I knew what was going to happen.
“Don’t! Please don’t!” I got up and ran after her. Her beautiful skin was pale green now and she stepped forward slowly.
“Please! Please not again!” I cried. I got in front of her but she kept walking. Her face wasn’t blurry. I could remember her name. I could remember everything we had done together. I could remember every life we had destroyed. I went to grab her but her skin was cold, so much so it burned my hand.
“Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Please stop.” I pleaded, I cried. I was sobbing at this point. Thunder clapped in the sky and it began to rain. It started drizzling, but drizzle quickly became torrential.

“Why, why did you do it?” I said not expecting a reply. To my shock, I was proven wrong. She came to stop as she began to pass me by. She turned her head and looked at me.

“Because I hated what we had become. It was my only escape.” She said despairingly.

“We could’ve done it, you know?” I yelled “We could’ve made it together.”

“You still can. You were always stronger than me.” She smiled at me but I wasn’t amused. “You were always better without me.”

“I nearly wasted away after you left. I lost track of whole months! I was set on killing myself in that fucking cabin! So how can say I was better off?”

“Look where you are! Look how far you’ve come!” She proclaimed.

“Despite you! Despite what you did to me! All the names and faces that I lost. I can’t remember anything. Except you.” She continued forward. “You’re all I have left!” It didn’t stop her. “Don’t leave me God damn it!” I said in a desperate plea to stop her. In vain. She stopped at the ledge and turned back at me.

“I’m so sorry.” She began to cry and turned towards the ledge.

“No!” She jumped. “Fuck! Oh god!” I went back into a corner of the plateau and curled up. I sobbed and sobbed until I became numb. I couldn’t do it. I slipped back into my apathetic haze. I put my hand on my thigh where my pocket is and felt the pulse yet again. Everything I had done to this point was in spite of her. I would do it one more time. I could see the holes from the cave coming back. I pulled out my pouch and set fire to everything I loved. It was like a fresh experience. Like doing it for the first time again. I dropped the needle and set my head back. I knew what was next. The crescent began to spin around. It felt good for a moment but it got out of control. My heart raced, pounded on my ribcage. My mouth was dry and I began to spasm. I was going under. Just before my eyes rolled back and everything faded to white I heard her voice.

“I’m coming.”

I awoke in a field of grass that went on to meet the sky. I was atop a hill under a beautiful Oak tree. Off to the side there was a sparkling river running gently. Blue skies and pure white clouds rolled along. How does someone who had ended in the fashion I had end up in a place like this. I looked at my arms, pale and soft. I stood and took in the fresh air. I looked along the horizon and found someone sitting at the river’s edge upstream. She wore a white flowing gown and stared off into the sky. I knew who it was. I walked up and sat down next to her in the sand. I smiled at her and but she didn’t smile back. I went to my hand on hers but it went through.

“I’m so disappointed in you.” She said quietly.

“You have no right, you brought me to this place. Besides, now we have each other for eternity.” I said trying to make everything ok. She just began to cry. I went wipe her tears away and it went through again. Why can’t I just fucking touch her! I just want to feel her!

“What’s happening?!” I yelled at her. She cried harder and reached to touch my face. I closed my eyes and only felt a breeze. I smelled salt in the air and I was terrified to open my eyes. I opened them to see my feet in the sand and the ocean water washing over them. I turned to the side and found my old cabin. I walked inside, in search of Serenity.

February 4th, 2014, 11:02 PM
You need to edit your story. There are some missing words that make things very confusing, and there are some really awkwardly phrased sentences in there. Read it out loud. If it doesn't make sense when you hear it, it doesn't make sense when we read it. You also need to pick a tense. There's a battle going on here between past and present. For example, "As I sit on the rocks...I watched the waves crash." It should be either "As I sat and watched the waves" or "As I sit an watch the waves." Because you switch tenses so often, it's hard to establish a timeline here.

I think you should take a step back and reexamine why certain parts of the plot happen. This feels haphazard at some points, like you're just throwing in elements that you think would be cool but maybe don't have a lot of meaning. This robs the more important parts of their meaning because they don't stand out. I do this all the time, and I find that when I revisit certain plot points, I realize that they're not altogether necessary. Also, you want to establish how things are happening. How does he end up in the desert after diving in the water? How does he end up in the field? Why does he end up there? What meaning does this have to his situation?

Next, you should start going through some of your emotional sentences. An emotion should have a cause, and it should have an effect. You say he knows he must go back to the mountains, but why? This comes out of nowhere. You say he is gleeful in seeing the person that walks by, but why? We don't know who she is. Be careful not to throw in curveballs like that. Say what it is that calls him back: a voice, a yearning, a familiarity. It doesn't matter as long as it holds to the theme and gives him purpose.

What you really lack here is purpose. Why are you writing this piece? Why should we read it? What is the message? What is the central emotion? You have a pretty killer first paragraph, but it doesn't lead anywhere. You want him to go on an epic drug journey to show how messed up doing this drug can be, then make sure that the parts of his dream play up the fact that he's lost his sense of reality. If you want to show how he's lost the one he's loved, then make sure she shows up much earlier in the plot, even if it's a shadow on the wind or something.

I think you would get more readers if you narrowed this down and split the larger paragraphs up. People on this site are afraid of seeing large pieces like that. It's very hard to keep the same thought going through something that size, so consider where one idea ends and the next begins.

February 5th, 2014, 11:41 PM
That's the whole story? If you wanted to be longer, do it longer, and check what thepancreas11 (http://www.writingforums.com/members/54795-thepancreas11) told you

February 7th, 2014, 03:22 AM
Brutal man 5220 I'll give it a rewrite. Things can get past you when things are self proofread.

Phoenix Raven
February 8th, 2014, 02:52 PM
Seems like a very personal story with alot of symbolism but not something I was able to identify with. It may just be me though, not being a fan of any story related to drug use especially heroin. I'm not skilled enough to offer any real advice except maybe type out numbers when needing a number in a story instead of the numeral. It just looks better in a story.
You may be using I to often.

M. Cull
February 8th, 2014, 08:23 PM
Things can get past you when things are self proofread.

Ooh, yes they do. I've been astounded at the things I sometimes let past, despite going through it literally dozens of times sometimes. It just takes a set of fresh eyes, no two ways about it.

M. Cull
February 8th, 2014, 11:09 PM
So in response to the writing, I would also agree that what you need is a driver. Some recognizable foreshadowing, a purpose for us to have hope for this person. You've got a lot of really interesting, intense images here, which no good story is without. You have to catch your readers' interest, and good imagery, whatever your methods, can help with that. But intense images, even really interesting ones, are like sheet-rock. Unless you have a frame to put it up on, nails to secure them, and a goal to shape the whole process, the best you'll manage is a precarious shack that no one will really want to snuggle up in.

Let's take a look at how you might fix that. Keep in mind, these are only suggestions, and you may decide to do something completely different. That's your prerogative as a writer.

1) What if you turned some of the intensely negative portions of the story into something more 'normal?' There has to be contrast for there to be definition. As it is, there's a lot of bizarre and intense, and not a lot of subtle, not a lot of beauty. That makes it a little harder to get into. I really like the little snippets of beauty you do put in, such as the hill with the oak tree at the very end. More of that, in my view, could make the bizarre and intense all the more powerful.

2) Whatever your personal opinions about heroin, good or bad, the question it brings up in this story is really, who do you want your audience to be? Heroin addiction is a very specific type of trial, and a very powerful one. If your intended audience is the general public (an assumption, I know, but a good one, I think) I feel like by including heroin in your story, by making it such a central feature in this character's existence, you are automatically alienating around 90% of your potential audience. Most people in that general public audience looking for a good book to curl up with just aren't hardcore heroin junkies. The solution? If the bizarre and the intense in your story needs to play a central role, then call it something else. Give it a different name, or point to a different cause.

All in all, I think I'd just say that you haven't quite given us as readers what we need to understand the character, the story, and the purpose behind the both of them. Again, you have plenty of powerful images, but a story is a progression. If you give it progression, purpose, and some contrast, it'll be a completely different reading experience.

Good luck!! And keep writing!