Ending the year with a little experiment…

My New Year’s resolution for 2011 was one that I’ve made in the past, but this was the best I ever did — I swore I would write or edit every day. I didn’t specify quantity, just that it be some sort of fiction project, and I had to get it done prior to falling asleep. I only missed one day all year, a tragic event in the late summer, but I still think going 364-1 is a pretty damn good record.

For 2012, I’m going to expand my scope just a tad. I’m going to specify a quantity: 1,000 words a day (writing or editing — when I’m preparing a work for publication, the editing can be just as creative a process as the actual writing part). This may be harder to accomplish, but I’m going to give it a try. And I actually decided to kick it off a day early.

I usually have to have a plan when I sit down to write. I need to know what the story is, where I’m starting, where I’m going, and although I rarely know every signpost along the way I need to have a goal in mind. But today, I just opened up Microsoft Word to a new document and started typing. No plan, no idea, no preconceived goal of story. I just wanted to see what would come out and if it was something I could possibly do anything with.

I thought I’d share the result with you guys today. Obviously, it’s incomplete, it’s just a scene, really, but I’m surprisingly happy with it… and it’s generating a few ideas about who this guy is and where I could take him. It even brought back another character I met pretty recently that I didn’t necessarily expect to spend any more time with. As is often the case, I may have been wrong.

Maybe I should attempt this sort of experiment more often.

There was a light…

There was a light.

Phillip didn’t expect to see anything that morning – didn’t expect to see anything ever again, if he was going to be honest with himself, but from the dank, grungy bed of moss at the bottom of his cell, he looked up and saw an unmistakable, piercing blue light.

“Is that you?” he whispered. If you asked him later, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you who, exactly, he thought was looking for him, but for the six years of his imprisonment he had felt plainly certain that somebody, somewhere must have been at least curious as to what had become of him. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, there were still names – Diana, Chester, Clark (or was it Clarke?) and Eden. For some reason, those four names were clinging to his memory even now, even after virtually everything but this cold, wet hole was nothing but a faded remnant of a dream he was no longer certain was his own.

There was a light.

Not just light, he realized, but a warmth. The chill he’d grown so used to was fading from his skin, the ugly black sores on his arms were slowly irising away and fading, the long gashes in his chest… reaching up and touching his ears, he felt the holes in the lobes closing up, filling with flesh, becoming whole again.

He tried speaking again.

Who are you?” he whispered.

There was no answer, but the light continued and he began to bask in it. He stretched out his arms, allowing the healing blue glow to surround him. It seemed to flow down his body, warming his legs, turning the calluses on his feet back into skin, regrowing the missing and split toenails that oozed with pus and blood from years of clacking against the cobblestone floors. The aches in his joints faded, the elephant skin on his elbows and knees healed and smoothed. He would never be aware of it, but a series of tumors lining his colon at that moment dwindled away, the matter breaking off and joining the waste material awaiting simple evacuation.

As he felt warm again, whole again for the first time in years, he felt tears begin to prick the corners of his eyes. For several long moments, he didn’t know what he was feeling, didn’t understand what he was feeling. He hadn’t cried in a very long time, hadn’t felt anything but numb misery for a very long time, and when the moisture began to run down his cheek, he giggled. It tickled, somehow, and he didn’t know what the cause was. He thought it was the light.

If he was aware of the feeling of his feet leaving the stone floor, he didn’t react. The gnarled, yellowed extremities drifted upwards, leaving the stone two, six, twelve inches beneath him, as he rose higher and higher. He reached his hands out towards the light, and saw in the beam the shadow of his fingers. His nails were long, broken, splintered in some places. If he could see them in a normal light he would see long, black streaks on his fingers from the dried, gummed blood that flowed from the nails when he first attempted to claw his way from his prison. He didn’t remember how long ago that had been, nor how many times he had injured himself trying to escape to the freedom of a world he could no longer visualize. He couldn’t see the faces of his family in his mind, was only dimly aware of such things as “mothers” and “fathers,” “sons” and “daughters.” He knew Light, if only because of the marked absence of such a thing during his long confinement, but he could not imagine the sun in the sky baking a desert, or bringing clear warmth to a field, he could not conceive of a moon slicing through darkness and bringing a small piece of day into an endless night.

If he could, he may have compared this Light, his Light to a moon, although that would have been wholly inaccurate. It was much brighter, much clearer. It broke through the darkness into his face not like a distant orb shattering a ceiling of clouds, but more like a brilliant globe drifting towards him. He reached for it, grasped at it, didn’t know that it was still too far away to touch… but it was getting closer.

And it wasn’t moving.

He felt air moving past his face, a sensation he once would have thought of as “wind,” if he still had any conception of such things, and the light started to grow brighter, and closer. His cell fell away from beneath him, and a soft blue surrounded him. Another word he hadn’t thought of in some time came to his broken mind: “tunnel.” He felt like he was in a tunnel. No… like he was flying through a tunnel… flying towards his light.

The light grew closer, the blue grew brighter, and to his eyes so unaccustomed to light, it became too intense. He didn’t want to close them, didn’t want to shut himself off deliberately from the light that had been denied him for such a long time, but the pain became intense. He couldn’t look at the light any longer. He shut his eyes just as he was about to touch it.

The wind stopped.

Suddenly, the rushing sensation from all around his body was gone, the sensation of forward motion was gone, but he still drifted. He opened his eyes – forced them open, really – and found himself in a room. It was small, and rather dark, but with many more lights than his cell. There were sconces on the wall that shed a soft blue glow, similar in color to the Light that had rescued him, if much diluted in intensity. There were lights along the walls as well – lights of many colors, some of them round, some in the shapes of letters and diagrams.

And in the middle of the room was a woman, holding a tablet that gave off a light of its own, illuminating her face. She was tall, dark-skinned, and smiling with a sly grin that he liked immediately, even if he didn’t understand it.

“Hello, Phillip,” she said. “We’ve been looking for you for a very long time.”

To be continued?

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December 2011

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