Comfortably Numb.


Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Comfortably Numb.

  1. #1

    Comfortably Numb.

    Here is a new story that I've started. I'm following a very Stephen King school of thought right now which is 'making it up as I go along.' I don't mean to take away all faith in any readership that I have, but I can't tell you how this is going to pan out, I only hope that I'm able to finish it and entertain to some extent. If you read this chapter, I will of course be in your debt forever, and will probably love you for a long time. I would sell my soul, but I've already come across the wandering Jew and he insisted on having it, saying something about it being his only means of survival as he wanders so much that its impossible for him to maintain any normal sort of livelihood.

    Hope you like it and any constructive criticism would be appreciated. Nodding your head and saying you love it is fine too. So is rejecting it and calling it an absolute disgrace to the likes of Shakespeare and Milton, who will not only be turning in their graves, but probably clawing at the ground above them in an attempt to strangle such a mockery of language. On a serious note, I would really appreciate your views because at the end of the day, you're the audience and the most important thing.

    (For those interested in the length, this first chapter is about 2500 words long - approximately 5 pages on Word.)

    **************

    There was nothing quite like waking up to the 23rd of March. Somehow, it was different to all the rest. It was better than yesterday, Jonathan knew, because that had been a particularly mundane and disappointing day. The beginning of spring, however, could have stirred anyone of his disposition into jovial exuberance; which it did. He was after all alive, praise Jesus, and he had embraced this fact by leaping out of bed and opening his window to the sounds of birds singing earnestly. Cocking his head outside the window-frame, Jonathan yelled into the morning sky and celebrated the extravagance of the scene before him, which was less picturesque than his imagination suggested. Perhaps fortunate on his part, his moment of madness was overcome by the conifers that obscured his view, rendering him totally oblivious to anything that rested beyond its overarching branches.

    Whistling heartily, he wrestled through the numerous boxes scattered across his landing and gripped the railings of the stairs purposely. ‘Oh, what a glorious day! I don’t know why I’m so cheerful today, it must be the weather!’. It is unclear as to whether this was said with a touch of irony as, while it may have passed into the season of optimism and lighter skies, it was certainly not fulfilling any of its duties. If anything, it was more wintry and miserable than it had been in months, because today was not a good day to have awoken. Thursdays were never days to be championed, for nothing ever remarkable happened on a Thursday. It was not particularly a bad day either, it was simply very forgettable. Yet Jonathan, oblivious to this apparent truth or just unwilling to hear any different was determined to make this more memorable than the others. This, it should be noted, would not be difficult to achieve. Indeed, walking from one end of the street to the other would undoubtedly be more exhilarating than anything Jonathan had experienced and most probably every other day of the week too.

    Having dodged the minefield of the staircase, Jonathan climbed the last couple of stairs and descended its most spacious inches. Strange though this would have appeared to any observer, this manoeuvring of moving upwards then downwards was the easiest way to avoid the many obstacles and debris that challenged his path. Vowing to never allow his house to appear so unorganised ever again, Jonathan walked through his empty corridor and looked into the living-room. Ambitious in its title, it was difficult to find anything in the room that actually resembled something remotely liveable, as the room was devoid of any furniture that usually offered comfort to its owners and guests. By comparison, the household of Jonathan Barker accommodated none of the traditional expectations of luxury with the exception of a single coffee table in the furthest corner of the room, in which his very valuable laptop awaited unabatedly.

    There it stood, like a beacon in the night, and, much like a beacon, looked to be very out of place in relation to the other objects in the room. Compared to the dust that immersed itself into the room, flowing seamlessly down the rusted chair and across the rugged brickwork, the computer emanated an almost divine quality. By its appearance it looked to have been cleaned daily, as opposed to anywhere else in the house, with its metallic surface projecting a healthy gleam. Jonathan darted his eyes towards his possession and, fumbling awkwardly, moved dreamily to the object of his obsession, as if in an otherworldly trance. He was certain that this was his ticket to fame, the beginning of his inevitable stardom, encroached before him at his fingertips.

    He placed his hands on the back of the chair and stood in awe for a couple of moments, before finally determining that sitting down was the best way to start from here. ‘I have nothing to declare,’ Jonathan announced, ‘except my own genius.’ It seemed that this was an astute observation as he remained motionless before finally starting his computer. Once loaded, however, Jonathan could do nothing but stare helplessly at the screen, occasionally tapping the keyboard to comfort himself with the possibility that he might stumble upon some profound realisation. Regrettably, Oscar Wilde could not help him here. He had previously searched, studied and imitated his list of quotes and that had inspired him in the past, but today was just not happening. It looked like his supposed genius had well and truly hit a very unfriendly wall commonly referred to as ‘Writer’s Block’.

    Jonathan had never been your traditional nine till five worker. He had never been a worker, in the literal or spiritual sense, having abstained from getting his hands dirty at a young age and settling for the idea surrounding freelance writing. It had never occurred to him that money was a necessity and that the real world was much more gruelling than treasure islands and detective stories. There was no reality for Jonathan; nor anything that could remotely bring him back to his senses, because he had never been in touch with the cynical impoverished world that he had been born into during the years under Thatcher. He knew very little about politics, less about presentation and the right standards, without having ever successfully published a word except for an article on gardening cheap and cheerfully. Which was remarkable, especially as he had never touched a lawnmower in his life, believing that if he did so, his hand would surely be swept away by the deadly mechanical voice of the wretched machine.

    Occasionally words would materialise and progress would be made, with pages vaguely resembling a credible narrative thread in which thoughts were written and engaging characters were formed. Half the time, they were plucked from Jonathan's own imagination and were running freely in his own mind's eye, but much of the time plagiarism was an issue. It wasn't as if passages had been directly copied from Lord of the Rings, as such, but when he found that rather short characters with an unhealthy amount of hair growing from their toenails were living in a pastoral world, before being led astray by goblins and wizards, Jonathan was encouraged to rethink his career ambitions. Yet, fuelled with the belief that he had been chosen to narrate the greatest of all novels, there was nothing that could sway him from his dreams. Not even being incapable of paying the electric bills could damper his spirits; the Universe had better plans.

    Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door, which led to Jonathan batting his eyelids momentarily and fumbling nervously. It looked like the Universe had found him already, but he was not dressed and hadn't even had breakfast. Were fatal decisions ever made on an empty stomach? Jonathan neither knew or cared. There was a good chance that his stomach would stop rumbling upon hearing that his work had been accepted, and, besides, much of the bread had been festering with mould for days. Wasting no more time, there was another knock followed by a subsequent wail from the interior of the house, which sounded awfully like a man possessing none of the faculties that were expected of the ordinary healthy, rational-minded citizen.

    Stumbling at the brink of the door, Jonathan almost did a double take as his hand appeared to fly away from his body, towards the brim of the knob, which, after much deliberation and necessary violence opened immediately, or as immediate as any reluctant piece of wood allows. The birds were still singing their hearty song, which Jonathan would have noticed, if it hadn't been for the disappointment of the empty sheet of air and the general lack of anything at all that stood waiting. There had been a noise, that much was true, but the noise seemed to belong to a mysterious being that had no bodily functions, not even a head. Not that Jonathan was in any way hoping to come across a floating head, but that would have been a start. At least it may have been able to explain why there was nothing waiting on his doorstep except a letter that read 'Mr Jonathan Harker' and nothing else. Upon reading that he was a fictional middle-class Englishman, Jonathan tittered accordingly and was just about to slam the door while belching his disgust when an unexpected voice paralysed all movement.

    'You sir!' Jonathan looked and pictured a very blurred shape. Nice and round, with a wisp of white hair and clothes that, well, had already been forgotten. He slipped into his pocket and fingered for his glasses, which, upon reflection, may have been better served in the depths of his fleece. 'How are you chap? I haven't seen you in weeks. How are tricks? I do hope you are doing well. Not that I need to hope, mind you, I know that won't make a blind difference. Hah! So how are we?'

    This was the man that had become infamously known as the man with all the questions. Never waiting long enough to listen for any answers, most conversations were often entirely conducted by himself, with the odd mutter of indifference from his unfortunate neighbour. It had been rumoured that local housing sales had been affected because of his presence, which, although mighty in its claim offered some credibility. He had become a symbol of dread in the community but like any typical suburban neighbourhood with a hint of the bourgeois; blatantly telling the annoying old git to disappear flouted the rules of civility. So, like any respectable, privileged middle-class citizen will tell you, forced politeness was an absolute necessity. Or avoiding eye-contact and bolting the door before the bastard can arrest you with his dreary monologues.

    'Everything is the same as it always was, my old acquaintance.' Jonathan uttered the last word with decisive hostility. 'I am just about to walk the dog and in a terrible rush. How is the old heart, still pumping and making itself known, I hope?'

    'I didn't realise you had a dog, Jonathan!' The old man levelled with his prey and approached with intent. He was not going to be pushed away so easily. 'What type of breed?'

    'Legs. Tail. Bad breath. You know..' Jonathan was becoming severely flustered. He knew he had walked into an elephant trap and his memory had played one of its most famous tricks, choosing to totally omit any useful information and render him clueless to anything remotely dog-related. With any luck there would be a bark coming from next door, until he remembered that there it had no occupants and certainly nothing resembling something that plays ball. 'Labrador. Terribly stressful. Molts more than I do and always on the move! I really need to find someone else to take him for walks, I am always much too busy!'

    Jonathan saw the eyes light up at this request and almost wanted to kick himself three times over. 'Walk you say? Well, I could be just the man you are looking for, m' young lad! I was a great walker of dogs back in the day, I've owned many in the past.' The wrinkled old man paused solemnly. “'Course there all dead now. Still got the same lead I used to own all those years ago, mind. Couldn't tell you the exact colour, but I know it has a bit of a burgundy flare to it, if you could imagine.' He neither needed to imagine nor wanted, at this very moment, to assess the resources of the mind that handled any specifics concerning the method employed to walk furry animals. All Jonathan wanted to do was to walk back into his house and waltz right back into bed, without a single thought. This was worse than being rejected by all the publishers in England. It was more crucifying than being punched squarely in the face by his favourite writer, or by being mocked metaphorically by his most admired poet.

    For a brief moment Jonathan was able to feel a slight amount of pity for the decaying, skinless hump that moulded into the pavement. He was after all just a lonely old thing, having no family that chose to accept his company and no inheritance that made him tolerable enough to give attention. He was, in essence, a very alive example of why growing old was best avoided. What confounded Jonathan was not that the man before him was obnoxious and less interesting than sandpaper; indeed he had forgotten the man's name and didn't believe he had ever known it in the first place. It was that he appeared to be oblivious to the general consensus that he was loud, repetitive and prowled the streets with little purpose other than to annoy. If anything, the ancient mass of wretchedness marched exuberantly through the neighbourhood, preying upon anyone foolish enough to be occupying the same pavement and were punished through unwanted discourse.

    'Well, I suppose I better be off.' The old man said suddenly. Jonathan couldn't hide his surprise. What had led to such an abrupt end to the conversation, when he was talking to a man that could talk endlessly about why lampposts were unnecessary and ought to be replaced with free flashlights, that ran on batteries which could only be recommended by the professionals. His questions were suddenly answered by a very expensive motor screeching onto the curb, appearing to have all the aesthetically pleasing qualities that come with a Lamborghini and an incredibly musical engine to boot. Jonathan stood there with a dumbfounded stare, not really registering the fact that something exciting had happened but deeply affected by the idea that he had been dismissed by the most undesirable man on Earth. Rejection was the natural disadvantage of being in the rat race of writing. He didn't realise that his very being and meaning would also come under scrutiny.

    Not knowing how to contain his frustration, Jonathan did the one thing he always did when under pressure. He bit his lip profusely and wallowed in deep despair, before realising that he had not imagined a Lamborghini had suddenly appeared. Without any concern for leaving his door ajar, Jonathan leaped forward and headed for the four-wheel beauty that had so spontaneously arrived.

    *****************

  2. #2
    Honoured/Sadly Missed The Backward OX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Up the Creek without a paddle, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    5,003
    Don't most people make it up as they go along?

    I enjoyed it. There were a few minor glitches which I'm sure an edit would find. And Carpentry 101 might teach better terms than brink of door and brim of knob.

    This one had me banjaxed - "He was certain that this was his ticket to fame, the beginning of his inevitable stardom, encroached before him at his fingertips". I dunno what you meant, but encroached isn't it.

    Oh, and I'll stand corrected here, but I don't think you load a computer. You boot it up or simply start it. Programs are what are loaded.
    Last edited by The Backward OX; May 6th, 2010 at 12:45 PM.

  3. #3
    Thanks for picking those up, I agree with you, there is some awkward wording in there that will need a good run over. Because I've always been someone that spends time editing more than writing, I made myself just write it this time without looking over it much, but I will come back to looking over it. Especially encroached..I don't know why I wrote that..! I guess I felt it sounded good at the time, but it's out of context haha!

    I had someone say that although they enjoyed it, they felt that my narrative voice was vague in the sense that as I haven't fully decided how the plot is going to go, it is noticeable in the writing. I'm not sure how far I agree with that, so I was wondering whether you felt it sounded like I was making it up as I went along or if it flowed naturally? Also, they said that there didn't seem to be a set genre in place, but I've already decided that it's going to be a comedy of sorts, so hopefully it was able to raise a few laughs through the eccentricities of the characters.
    Having always loved laughing and trying to make others laugh, I've dedicated my writing to pure entertainment. It is a genre that I feel is severely overlooked and something that I hope readers will appreciate. If you would like to have a look at my writing, please feel free to use the upcoming link. I would bribe you all with cookies if this wasn't digitalised. Well, I did say upcoming - here it is! Comfortably Numb - Hidden Content .

  4. #4
    Banned
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    VA, USA
    Posts
    133
    Your writing is unnecessarily long and profuse.

    "He bit his lip profusely and wallowed in deep despair, before realising that he had not imagined a Lamborghini had suddenly appeared."

    "His questions were suddenly answered by a very expensive motor screeching onto the curb, appearing to have all the aesthetically pleasing qualities that come with a Lamborghini and an incredibly musical engine to boot."

    "He bit his lip profusely and wallowed in deep despair, before realising that he had not imagined a Lamborghini had suddenly appeared."

    Eh? As far as I can tell, your protagonist has a hard-on for the freedom that an overly expensive sport car may give him. Beyond that, I have no idea what you're trying to tell me.

  5. #5
    Honoured/Sadly Missed The Backward OX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Up the Creek without a paddle, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    5,003
    Quote Originally Posted by Reese View Post
    Your writing is unnecessarily long and profuse.

    "He bit his lip profusely and wallowed in deep despair, before realising that he had not imagined a Lamborghini had suddenly appeared."

    "His questions were suddenly answered by a very expensive motor screeching onto the curb, appearing to have all the aesthetically pleasing qualities that come with a Lamborghini and an incredibly musical engine to boot."

    "He bit his lip profusely and wallowed in deep despair, before realising that he had not imagined a Lamborghini had suddenly appeared."

    Eh? As far as I can tell, your protagonist has a hard-on for the freedom that an overly expensive sport car may give him. Beyond that, I have no idea what you're trying to tell me.
    Do you have echolalia?

  6. #6
    I think this could be good. The only critisism I have is that if I picked this up in a book shop and glanced at the first few lines they would not grab my attention. I believe the opening paragraph of a story should make the reader want to continue reading and I'm not sure that this does. But keep going.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Reese View Post
    Your writing is unnecessarily long and profuse.

    "He bit his lip profusely and wallowed in deep despair, before realising that he had not imagined a Lamborghini had suddenly appeared."

    "His questions were suddenly answered by a very expensive motor screeching onto the curb, appearing to have all the aesthetically pleasing qualities that come with a Lamborghini and an incredibly musical engine to boot."

    "He bit his lip profusely and wallowed in deep despair, before realising that he had not imagined a Lamborghini had suddenly appeared."

    Eh? As far as I can tell, your protagonist has a hard-on for the freedom that an overly expensive sport car may give him. Beyond that, I have no idea what you're trying to tell me.
    First of all thanks for reading! Secondly, I like the interpretation! You're right, of course, Jonathan does have a 'hard on' for that kind of lifestyle. He is quite a shallow character, and longs for those type of luxuries, so I'm glad you picked up on that.

    I agree with you that my sentences can sometimes be too long, and not always snappy enough, which is something I want to work on. On the other hand, I don't want to mess with my style so much that it doesn't sound like me, as I feel sometimes the long sentences are needed for comic effect and I enjoy writing in that way. But I see your point. I'd like to think you have learnt more about the character on a more balanced analysis, though. It's only just started, but already you can see that he's a very unorganised, messy and eccentric character. He doesn't have any management over his domestic life which is a keen insight into the other areas of it.

    I agree with Leofric about the opening not being very gripping. All I can say is thank you for reading through it, as I think it picks up as it goes along - if I go further with this I will definitely make some needed changes to the opening. Which parts did you enjoy? What would you like to see more of? I've been out of the writing scene for some time so I'm really interested in seeing what grips a reader, although I know that in itself is very subjective.

    There will be more of this coming soon, so please keep checking back - I appreciate any feedback!
    Having always loved laughing and trying to make others laugh, I've dedicated my writing to pure entertainment. It is a genre that I feel is severely overlooked and something that I hope readers will appreciate. If you would like to have a look at my writing, please feel free to use the upcoming link. I would bribe you all with cookies if this wasn't digitalised. Well, I did say upcoming - here it is! Comfortably Numb - Hidden Content .

  8. #8
    Banned
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    VA, USA
    Posts
    133
    Well, there is certainly a lot of detail into the thoughts of this character. Which can be both good and bad. Remember that one thought can lead to another, but not if it's the same thought. Battering your reader with the same thought bores them. When you're thinking about what to write start with the thought of the character first, then work backwards. What led up to the thought? Where did the thought take the character? What other thoughts were given birth from the first thought? What actions did the character take based on the premise of the first thought?

    The only way one could justify the myriad of thoughts this character could have had was if it is was a deeply profound thought. However, convincing the reader that a "hard-on" for this vehicle justified such an in-depth look at his own character requires an extension of the story to show what this "hard-on" ultimately served him in his own life. Though the old man did not share your protagonist's thoughts on the car, you have yet to tell us how this affected the character. That I look forward to.

    Good luck!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
This website uses cookies
We use cookies to store session information to facilitate remembering your login information, to allow you to save website preferences, to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.