absurdity, dreams, fictional, story

The Farmer’s Dream – A Story

nature-3125912_1280

 

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d share a little something I wrote a while back. Remember, when opportunity knocks you have the option to hide behind the sofa and pretend no one’s home.

 

The Farmer’s Dream

William was sleeping when the angel came to him.

He had been dreaming of hard labour in the field, ploughing and sowing. It was a common dream of his, one he’d often pondered the meaning of. He thought it was probably something to do with rebirth, or renewal, or fertility. More likely it was just too much cheese before bed.

In this dream, as in every previous dream of its kind, his plough would strike something hard, twist and buck in his hand. The dream would usually end there, but not tonight. Tonight the plough wrested away from his grip and sped off, leaving a deep groove in the soil behind it, merrily ploughing the rest of the field on its own.

He looked down at the ground, searching for whatever it was his plough had struck. A sharp corner poked out of the dirt. He dug away at its edges with his fingers, freeing it from the earth. He pulled it out to examine it more closely.

It was a box, about the size of his head, made of granite and marble but lighter than it should be. He was suddenly overcome by a strange feeling he hadn’t had on previous nights – he knew that this was a dream. He could feel the soft earth beneath his feet, could feel the cold rough surface of the box, but something was off; he was certain that he was actually asleep and in his own bed in the farmhouse.

“How curious,” he said to himself.

He looked around. The field was just as he remembered it from his waking hours, as far as he could tell. He wondered what would happen if he attempted to take control of the dream, perhaps to take flight or to change his surroundings. He looked at the plough retreating into the distance and willed it to come back. It didn’t.

“Perhaps I need a bit more practice,” he thought. “Let’s start with something small. Like opening this box.”

He opened the box.

A burst of bright light spilled out, blinding him. A great booming voice rang out in such rumbling tones that he could feel the soles of his feet vibrating.

WILLIAM, said the voice. HARK, WILLIAM.

William dropped the box in shock.

OW.

He nudged it gently with one toe. What was it?

WILLIAM, the voice resumed. ARE YOU HARKING?

“Um, I think you mean harkening?” William suggested.

GOOD, YOU ARE HARKING. PICK THE BOX UP, AND GAZE INTO THE LIGHT.

William did as he was told, though his hands were shaking so much he thought he would drop the box again. The strange voice rattled his back teeth.

I AM THE ANGEL OF DIVINE INTERVENTION. I AM TASKED WITH INTERVENING, DIVINELY. DO YOU COMPREHEND?

“No,” William answered honestly. The voice sighed, blowing the farmer’s hair back.

THEN I SHALL ELABORATE. I AM TO SET YOU ON AN ADVENTURE TO SEEK A GREAT FORTUNE. THE JOURNEY WILL SEND YOU FAR FROM HENCE AT GREAT PERIL, BUT IT IS OF HUGE IMPORT.

“What will I be importing?”

WHAT? NO. NO, I MEAN IT WILL BE HUGELY IMPORTANT. BECAUSE YOU WILL BE RICH.

“Well why didn’t you say that, then?”

BECAUSE… BECAUSE… BECAUSE IT JUST SOUNDS BETTER.

“Seems to me that sounding good isn’t quite as important as making sure you’re understood, don’t you think? Especially if you’re meant to be sending people on important quests.”

LOOK, DO YOU WANT TO GO OR DON’T YOU? BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ALL NI-

“No, thank you.”

There was a moment of stunned silence.

I BEG YOUR PARDON?

“I said no, thank you. See, I’m asleep at the moment and I don’t really know how long I’m likely to be. I can’t go on a long quest and then have to oversleep in order to finish it. Who’ll feed the pigs?”

OH, AHAHAH, I CAN SEE THE CONFUSION. NO, SEE, THE QUEST IS FOR WHEN YOU ARE AWAKE.

“Eh? How’s that work, then?”

WELL, SEE, I TELL YOU ABOUT THE TREASURE AND WHERE IT IS, AND YOU WAKE UP THINKING IT’S A DREAM ONLY I’VE LEFT A SHEAF OF WHEAT OR SOMETHING UNDER YOUR PILLOW AS A SIGN AND SO YOU GO OFF AND SEEK YOUR FORTUNE, GROWING AND MATURING ALONG THE WAY UNTIL YOU RECEIVE YOUR FINAL REWARD OF A KINGDOM AND A BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND SO ON.

“Oh, so the quest is for after I wake up?”

YES.

“I see. Well, in that case… no, thank you.”

LOOK, WILLIAM, I DON’T THINK YOU’VE GRASPED THE BASIC CONCEPT OF-

“Oh, I have, it’s just that I don’t want to do it. I simply haven’t the time.”

There was no reply; the voice seemed to be pondering this. William felt more was needed.

“Like I said, who’d feed the pigs? And the cows would need milking, and if I don’t get the field ploughed in time for sowing then I’ll be buggered. I can’t just up sticks and travel off to foreign lands seeking my fortune and battling monsters and outsmarting evil viziers. It wouldn’t be fair on the livestock, or the people who’re counting on my crops. So thank you, but if it’s all the same to you, I’ll have to decline.”

He laid the box gently on the ground.

NOW SEE HERE-

“No, I don’t think so,” William replied firmly, slapping the lid shut. The voice continued, muffled and confused.

wait, what are you doing? william?

William placed the box back into the hole and started to shovel dirt back over it.

are you serious? this is ridiculous … stop, william. william.

William didn’t stop. He filled the hole and smoothed the dirt over until the spot was indistinguishable from the rest of the field. He patted his hands clean on his trousers.

“Now then,” he thought. “Let’s give flying a try.”

And with that, William flew off into the clouds.

The next morning there was a long white feather under his pillow. He threw it away.

THE END

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absurdity, creativity, moaning, teeth

On the Horrors of Dentistry

“Is it safe?!” – gif from http://mindinfection.tumblr.com/

This will probably not come as a great shock to anyone who’s seen me smile, but I’m not entirely fond of trips to the dentist.

I’m really not sure where this anxiety stems from. I can’t say I’ve had any memorably bad dentist experiences that I can remember. I’ve had teeth pulled, but it wasn’t any more unpleasant than you’d expect it to be. I like anaesthetic. Anaesthetic is my friend.

Today I went to the dentist for a checkup for the first time in about 5 years or so. I’d been nagged into it for my own good, but I still felt resentment and anxiety. Resentment that I need to take myself off to be prodded and inspected and  poked. Anxiety that I don’t meet muster.

I think that’s the crux of it. I don’t like to be judged. I do plenty of that to myself, thank you very much, I don’t really need the extra help. I’m fairly certain that my mouth is a festering, sweltering cesspit of filth and rot (queue starts here, ladies and gents, kisses £1 a go). Do I really need a Certificate of Foulness?

And so the avoidance begins. “Oh, er, dentist appointment? Er, can’t afford it this month. Now? Er, far too busy. Tomorrow? Er, I have to accompany a group of Dwarves to their faraway mountain to find their long forgotten gold. Sorry, can’t get out of it, Ian McKellen’ll be disappointed in me otherwise.”

The excuses ran out when I started recycling film plots. So I booked today’s checkup and swallowed my pride (along with several thousand malign bacteria, probably). I trekked through the snow – not that big an exaggeration, actually, given the recent snowfall – and sat in the waiting room, disturbing visions building up in my mind.

I saw the dentist’s office as a filthy, squalid torture chamber. Cockroaches scuttled in dank corners, drinking from muddy bloody puddles. The chair was a horror freakshow contraption, all straps and buckles and razor sharp implements. The dentist cackled madly in between huffs of gas while their assistant gibbered and danced luridly, gleaming instruments slashing through the foetid air. Screams and howls echoed down the corridors, helpless victims enduring their own hellish torture. The screams, the howls and the drilling, the relentless drilling!

Yeeeah.

None of that happened, of course.

The dentist was lovely, if patronising. She told me off for the state of my gums and gave me strict instructions to brush more, start flossing (oh god I am NOT looking forward to that) and using some sort of specialist mouthwash.

My mouth is not a cesspit. It’s not even a gutter, or a puddle of sewage (roll up and pucker up). I just need to take care of myself more.

Which is good – it ties into my aims for this year. Rather than make resolutions (which are easily broken), I have gone with aims. I aim to unfuck my habitat. I aim to improve my health in small ways. I aim to resume climbing, sell some writing, and various other small, easily achievable goals. I have the whole year to do them, but there’s nothing wrong with starting early.

So here’s to 2013. A new year, a beginning to a new me. I’ve moaned about self-discipline and the lack thereof before, so here goes. I’ve taken a week off work to reset myself and, irritating cold and mild eye infection aside, I’m raring to go. I’m writing, I’m taking steps to ensure I start climbing again and, yes, I’ve been to a dentist and intend to do so regularly from here on out.

This is my world. It’s about time I stopped existing in it and started living in it.

With fabulous teeth.

absurdity, gibberish, Pictonaut challenge, story

Story: Business as Usual

You may or may not be familiar with my friend John Steele the Rogue Verbomancer and his Pictonaut Challenge. Essentially, it’s a caption competition. He finds and posts an interesting/amazing/though-provoking picture. We take a month to write a caption for it. A roughly-1000-word caption. With characters and a plot and ok I can’t stretch it out any further, they’re stories, it’s a story-writing exercise.

It’s a story-writing exercise I’ve been consistently failing to rise up to the challenge of.

But not this month.

This month, I emerge triumphant and incredibly early. A whole month? Pshaw! I tossed this off in a single afternoon! (I do hope that phrase isn’t more accurate than I intended it to be).

Is it any good? I’unno. Does it have any merit? Er, probably not. But I don’t care. I’ve been a creative desert recently, and it was nice to just open the floodgates and let rip.

So without further ado (because I don’t really want to big this up), here is Business as Usual, a rambling stream-of-consciousness muddle of gibberish with a dark thread running through it, based on the accompanying photo. Enjoy.

If you know the origin of this photo, do please let me know.
Business as Usual
I snuggle down the neon lime pavement with a smile on my face and a tightly-coiled spring in my step. The thundercloud sun bobs in the gravy sky and the barking trees smell delicious as ever. All is as happy as a pig in candyfloss.
I stop, turn, look up, wave to the sun. It waves back, droplets of fire spilling in all directions to light up the night sky in a glorious gooey wave. I ooo appreciatively and nudge my wife the porcupine. It hurts. It hurts so much. Make it sto-
“Oh honey,” she grunts and snuffles, “you seem troubled. Take a deep breath, love.”
No, I don’t, I-
And now I’m away in the sky, an soggy astronaut bathing his way through the stratosphere. I can feel the drool in the corner of my mouth but I can’t see it as I whizz past the North Star’s mirrored shades. The star gives me thimble thumbs ups.
“Aaaayyyyyyy,” I say, backstroking past. It nods sagely and bids me farewell.
I feel my wife snuffling at the back of my neck, licking me with her rough tongue. “There now, ain’t that better?”
It is, it’s so much better, better to be free than to be oh look a crab with the head of John Lennon. That’s a bit odd.
“I am the Walrus,” he intones, multifaceted eyes jingling.
“Coo-coo-ca-choo?”
“Right on.”
And away he scuttles. What a pleasant distraction. My phone rings. The harsh tones are piercing. My head hurts. Stop. How does it stop? Oh yes. I answer it. Easy enough.
“Dave?”
No.
“Dave? Can you hear me?”
No, no, I don’t want to, I don’t, you can’t.
“Dave, if you can hear me, come back to me. Please. I need you, Dave, I need you.”
I hang up with a snarl and eat the phone for good measure. It tastes of tears and chocolate.  She always does this to me. She always brings me back. Not this time, though, I won’t do, I won’t go back. My hands are cheeseburgers. My eyes are diamonds. My feet … my feet … damnit … my feet are towtrucks!
Relax.
There.
Smile.
Rodent teeth nibble my ear and I smile widely. One of my teeth falls out. No worries. I grow another, this one is made of wood. It joins its brothers, one obsidian, one plasterboard. I only have three now. I don’t need any. I’ve named them. Steve, Bob and Bacon Sandwich.
I laugh and run my hands through my hair, a clump of which comes out and flies away in a cloud of vermicelli butterflies. I’m so happy. I bounce like a football. I am a football, a meatball football goofball ball ball ball ball ball. I am all the balls.
My stomach rings. I ignore it. Let it ring. Let everything ring. The pavement rings. My wife rings, spines bristling in waves. John Lennoncrab rings. Here comes the sun, and it rings too. The ringing is a whirlpool, a rising tide that lifts me from my feet and sends me spinning gently into the cosmos. Everything drops away, melts into the black. There is only me, me and the ringing.
A cold burning sensation springs up in my hand, my clenched fist of a hand.  I open it. Nothing there. The sensation grows until a green shoot bursts from my hand, skin and bone peeling away like putty. Stem. Leaves. A beautiful flower bud. The bud unfolds and inside is a hotdog. It rings, so I eat it.
The world returns in a blast of noiseful colour, fireworks, Hawaiian shirts. An immense blob of humanity oozes towards me, screaming faces and flailing limbs thrusting out of the straining flesh. With one voice the faces roar and growl and gnash their teeth as the blob moves faster and faster towards me. I scream, grow wings and launch myself up and away, leaving it far far behind. A close call, too close to a moment of truth. I don’t want truth. I want this. This and only this.
I touch down on the roof of a shiny building. The building looks familiar somehow. A warning bell rings in my head, so I eat it. Can’t take any chances. I kneel, run my finger along the surface of the roof. They leave shallow grooves, the roof sticks to my fingers. I draw my name in the roof and lick my fingers. Cake. Butternut squash cake with a hint of anchovy. I grasp at the roof, pull great handfuls out, chew my way down into the building.
It isn’t until I stop chewing that I realise my mistake. I look around, panicked. I’m here. There. Here. The building. The lab. I can’t be here, I don’t want to be here, why can’t I go back somewhere else, anywhere else, anywhere but here.
Relax.
Deep breaths.
I look at my hand. It smiles and waves. Take heart. It’s not time yet. This isn’t really real real. It’s real but not as real as the really real realness. I giggle and gurn and cry and creep into my office (not my really real real office, no) on feet of lead and gum.
My office. I did it here, I created I poked I loosed I made I killed – no no no no no no. I slap myself, leaving shallow grooves, the cheek sticks to my fingers. I draw my name in my cheek and lick my fingers. Cake. Anchovy cake with a hint of butternut squash. Disgusting. I spit my cheek out and take a deep breath,
Deep breaths, but they aren’t working as good now. Damnit. It’s time soon. I hate time, this time, all time for all time.
My desk. My liquorice computer, my assistant and companion. I pour it a scotch from my medicine cabinet. It thanks me and drinks, sparks flying, smoke belching, face melting, blood running from its monitor eyes. I slap it off the desk and it melts into a laughing burbling puddle that sucks greedily at my shoes.
I leap over its reaching flesh-stripped cable arms, crash against a wall, bringing down my framed photographs from the wall. My co-workers at a lab party. My son, swinging a bat. My wife, my really real real wife.
And me.
There’s me, standing stock still in the desert, the vast spreading dust cloud rising behind me like Death’s sweet cinnamon breath. What a fool. What a stupid, stupid fool. I jab at the photograph, my fingers are pens. If I am a fool, I must look a fool. A stupid hat. Groucho Marx glasses. Hah! Take that, me! I stab at thee, me, foolish me, me the scientistfool, manfool, murdererfool. I obliterate me, photome, and my tears are wasps, stinging me relentlessly. I curl up on the floor, the buzzing of my tears fading away into nothing.
Light bursts, bright white light everywhere and the rumbling boom of the thrice-damned explosion. Time. Lunchtime. I crawl miserably towards the speck of darkness in the centre of the light. It grows, expands, fills my vision my eyes my being my life. Reality. Back to reality. I hate this time.
I open my eyes. I’m slumped on the floor of my lab, hunger pains stabbing me, atrophied muscles complaining with every move. I check the canisters. Empty. Empty. Empty. Empty. Empty. Empty. Empty. Full! Full! Full! And that’s it.
No.
Three?
Only three?
I cry, dragging myself across the floor to the packets of preserved food I had gathered weeks ago after it had begun. My tired jaws ache with the effort of chewing. Why is the self-preservation instinct so strong? Why can’t I just die?
I had hoped to run out of food before I run out of the gas. I don’t want to die lucid, I can’t, the pain of what I’ve done is too great to bear. But the need for food always brings me back, the weakness of the frail human body.  And my body is so very frail now.
For the hundredth time I consider eating all the food, or throwing it away, or spoiling it somehow. Hell, I consider dragging myself into the corridor, prising a gun from the cold dead hands of a security guard, blowing my brains out. But I can’t. I can’t.
The phone rings. I let it. I know it’s her. No one else rings me. There’s an answering machine. It’ll pick up. There it goes now.
“Dave? Dave? Please, if you’re still alive, please pick up. I love you.”
I sigh, drag myself back to the canisters. With weak trembling fingers I unscrew the top, the green gas spews out into the room.
Deep breaths. It’s slow.
“The virus, it’s gone now, Dave. There were …. Some people … but it’s gone, Dave, it’s gone and I need you. Please, please come back.”
Deep breaths. It’s slow but sure.

“You’re not what they say you are, I know it was an accident and it’s gone now so you can come back to me, Dave! I don’t … I don’t care how many people died! Come back to me! Please!
Deep breaths. It’s slow but sure and it’s what I deserve but I’m too cowardly to do it the hard way. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
The bottom of my stomach drops away. My eyes roll back, my limbs twitch and spasm. It begins again. Here I go.
Here I go.
I snuggle down the neon lime pavement with a smile on my face and a tightly-coiled spring in my step. The thundercloud sun bobs in the gravy sky and the barking trees smell delicious as ever. All is as happy as a pig in candyfloss.
Yes sir. It’s just business as usual around here.
For now.

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Business as Usual by Sam Kurd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.