Have The Cows Come Home Yet?

Stories about dinosaurs and parallel dimensions, the possibilities and complexities that surround colonising Mars, and maybe some more serious stuff too. My name is Duncan, and this is my blog. Happy travels and happy reading!!

I could’ve been…

I could’ve been a musician in another life. A guitarist tearing at the strings, tapping along to the rhythm. Letting loose the screams of what pulsed through me. Lyrically squeezing it from my fingertips. Emptied like a vial into the breeze. Whipping verses to and fro, tearing at the strings.

I could’ve been an artist in another life. Throwing his brushes at the canvas. Sweeping oils across the palate. Losing touch with reality with every stroke. Making a lasting work that found it’s way into the galleries. Finding meaning within nothing. Emptying everything onto something blank, and waiting for it make sense.

I could’ve been homeless in another life. Sipping from someone else’s cup. Without a care. Making my own way into the world and my own way out. Dying quietly in a street, with no one to care for. Losing everything to a hobo named Wilbur with a broken bottle neck and one lazy eye.

I could’ve been a lot of things. I could’ve been anyone of those people. I could be dead. I could be living through someone else’s eyes. Watching as they scream into the microphone, slash at the canvas, eat out of someone else’s garbage. But I never found my way into any of those lives. And sometimes I wonder why.

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes the world closes in around you and there’s nothing left to say, except sit there and take what it has to throw at you. There’s moments that get forgotten, pushed into the back. Moments that hide behind the curtains, under the bed, in the closet, sometimes with just a rug thrown over them to hide them from sight. Sometimes that’s all you need. Sometimes that’s all you need to make the voices stop. Sometimes that’s all you need to forget. Sometimes… well sometimes you just can’t.

Stephen King once said; “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

Things can seem overwhelming at times. Like a flood. Like an earthquake rattling the walls. Bringing the house down around you. Eating at the bonds between your feet and the floor. Between you and gravity. Eating at the ankles, trying to devour you whole. Sometimes things collapse. But, most of the time they don’t.

I could be dead. But I’m not. I’m here. In one piece. With a whole in my chest. And sometimes it hurts. But, for the most part it doesn’t, which is what I’m grateful for. And I’m grateful to be here. To be able to put thoughts to paper. To be able to go to work every morning, and return home every night. Because I could’ve been someone else. I could’ve been something else.

But I’m not. I’m me. And I’m thankful I’m still here in one piece – kind of anyway.

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Set the Scene 2

I’d walked the halls many times before, but this time they seemed different. They had an odd glow about them. Things seemed brighter, dingier. As if they had been enhanced. The resolution turned up to the highest setting. The visuals maxed out. My imagination wandered.

It wasn’t hard to see why many writers and storytellers had chosen hospital hallways as the setting for their script. The canvas for which to throw mud at. The wall for which to scribble on. The parchment for which to carve. The stone for which to paint. You could almost see the hallways dripping with blood. The odd characters meandering their way through the pages. The hospital itself almost coming to life.

I like seeing it in the early morning. As the sun rose above the valley, the building lit up in purple hues giving it an aura of magical healing. The nurses and staff winding their way back to its beck an call. Like a stream flowing backwards through a dry bed of pebbles. The building eating them alive as they got ever closer. Spitting out nothing but uniforms and bones, and the occasional hospital bed.

The people inside often became more sick than when they arrived. Some simply having left and returned. Others letting the doors close on their final hours.

The Unknowing staying true to their name, and helping wherever they could, sharing knowledge where they couldn’t and progressively making things increasingly worse whenever they got the chance. They showed up whenever you didn’t need them and stuck around up until the point where (no matter how absurd it may sound) you became in dire need of one.

Set the Scene

The seats in front of me could’ve been made of elephant skin. They were tough and plastic to the touch. One had a large gash in it, revealing the yellow foam beneath. Shreds of white cotton stuffing peeked out from the edges of where the knife had torn through. There were multiple stab marks around the same area. As if the owner had taken a keen liking to pushing it into the chair numerous times, in quick stabbing motions.

Dappled light fell through the open windows. The shadows of trees and their leaves falling in and out as they flew by. Not much made it through the thick, stained plastic windows. But what did, tried to be as beautiful as it possibly could be. Passing houses, power lines, townships and tunnels. The outside worlds added as much beauty as it could to the dingy setting. The sour smell of rubber, diesel and steel rolled in through the windows as the wheels bounced over the tracks. Coming to a slow, screeching halt every so often, indicating the passage of suburb, city and time.

Cigarette burn marks decorated the walls, showered the windows and added a sort of human feel to the very industrial look that the inside of the train carriage gave off.

The blues, yellows and greens shone onto the floor as the light shone through the graffiti stained windows.

One woman lead another, blind, to where I was sitting at the end of the carriage. Her eyes had the milky lenses that come with old age and cataracts, leaving her to sing for money between stations. A different life.

The policemen didn’t pay them much attention. A common sight.

Lyrical Jitters

I listen to the words finding their way into my ears. Trying to think of what I’ve ever done. Wondering how I could do the same. How I could create a sensational piece of musical theater. Something that gets the toes tapping, the fingers jittering, but instead I continue to sit, thinking of what could be, instead of what should be. Waiting for friends to call, so I can forget about the responsibilities I’ve been given. Anything to avoid the deadline. Pushing it further into the back of my mind, letting it be forgotten, pushing an excuse to the tip of my lips. ‘It wasn’t my fault, I forgot.’ Is it worth it? I tell myself a truth filled lie, letting myself be deceived. Like a pathological liar, creating a different world for myself. Making things easier. I wish I could put together lyrics like those who’ve done before. But it’s far easier to look back on something accomplished, than looking forward at what could be. Doubt crowding your vision like a beast encroaching on your ambitions. Waiting for the call that never comes. Letting it be forgotten.

But maybe it’s not so hard? Maybe it’s about putting words to paper, letting them stream through the murky waters of the sub-conscious, and letting them peek out from behind the curtain they’ve been hiding behind. Hiding from the light, afraid to show their faces, like timid creatures. But, once things start, it doesn’t seem too hard anymore… Just carry on. If all you try to do, is not stop, you’re set. Just start, and don’t stop. It doesn’t matter what gets put down, as long as it happens. Embrace the act. Maybe it’s not as hard as you’re making it out to be. Maybe it’s just a chore that needs to be done. If you don’t do it, who will? The dishes will pile up, impeding everything else. Crowding your mind, like, well, a kitchen full of dirty dishes. No room to work. No room to play. No room, until you decide to do something about it. Make it better. Clear your mind. Wipe the slate clean. And then start. Add ink to paper, chalk to the blackboard, paint to the canvas. You can’t create anything if you don’t start. Just fucking do it! Just write.

Next thing you know, you’ll be three paragraphs down and four hundred words later, you’ve found a rhythm. Stop caring what it is. Start and it’ll grow by itself. Peeking it’s head out, from behind the curtain, coaxing it out into the sun so you can play. Nurture it. Feed it. And take over the world. Because it’s there for the taking. If you don’t, someone else sure will.

But these are just words to get me going, before I stop. Because everything must come to an end, it’s just knowing when.

Twisted Metal Snake

The wheels cracked and clicked against the rickety rail system. The masses seemingly being squeezed out of the doors and windows like a tube of toothpaste having had a 12 year old poke holes in it with a pin. The grungey, grey mass of stinking people merged with the carriage, seamlessly becoming apart of it’s unending system of nerves and gunk filled flesh. They began to merge with the seats, their eyes crusted shut, their arms being eaten by mollusks and mold that made up the carriages entrails. Only ever creaking open to steal a glance of the outside world through the murky windows.

A baby screamed and wailed. With no one to hear it but it’s mother, having succumbed to the abyss. It shrieked, wailed and cried as the carriage continued to pulsate with life. Continually being crammed with fresh meat, slowly crushing its existence into the vertebrae of the winding, twisted metal snake.

Witch

The woman was gnarled and knobbly. Her hunched position didn’t steal away from her striking ability to resemble a stone waiting to be eroded away by time.

She held out her hand towards me, one milky eye staring back, while the other, sparkling blue, winked at me.

“What has you gots to lose, young one?” she croaked.

Her voice was hoarse, like sand scraping against ceramic shards. Her teeth, gnashing away in her mouth, chewing on some invisible tree root.

I hesitated, unsure of whether I should place trust in someone I had just stumbled across. It had been a long time since I put faith in anyone else but myself.

I shoved those memories away long ago. Things had changed. So had I.

I placed my palm in her upturned hand. She began to smile and cackle. Quickly regretting my decision, I pulled back, but her other hand, a wooden arm carved from dark walnut, intricately ornate, lept across the top of my hand as she pulled, hard, with the other.

She pulled and twisted and vanished into space. Still firmly holding onto my hand, I felt her body pull from mine like an elastic band being stretched beyond recognition, and into the ominous oblivion.

She twisted and sucked. I felt my arm stretch, my joints being pulled from their sockets.

Things seemed to be getting smaller as the gnarled woman fled into the speck of space in front of me.

Like being pulled into a vacuum, I shot forward and felt my entire being warp, twist and finally ‘pop’.

There was nothing but black, and the cold steel hum of a motor that droned in and out of earshot.

It was getting closer.

The Dwarf and the Beast

The dwarf stared down at his chest, where a large red smudge was slowly starting to creep across his shirt, staining it a dark, black, crimson, warm to the touch, and, what left him a little speechless, exciting.

His heart started to race as the realisation of what had happened dawned on him. The crimson smudge began to spread quicker, as he howled in agony sending birds fleeing from their nests amongst the tree tops.

He clenched his teeth, the intensity of his heart undetered, racing onwards into oblivion. He stiffened himself, clenching the top of his axe handle, below the blade.

Breathing heavily through those clenched teeth, he spat into the soft soil. He sat between the roots of a large tree with gnarled and curled branches that twisted and climbed to the very tops of the canopy. The birds cooed as they returned back to their nests. The leaves twisted and fell, dancing on the hints of air currents playing amongst the branches. The dwarf brought himself back to earth, and away from his dreams in the tree tops, to a little corner of the world, where he sat bleeding out.

He pressed his fists into the dirt, trying to push himself onto his feet. Knees bent and a cry of pain, and he found himself staring through blurred vision, knuckles white, at the beast that had put him in his place.

This wasn’t turning into a very eventful morning after all.

A Mother and Two Sons

The two brothers would spend endless days together, in the sun dappled garden, chasing after one another, climbing trees and finding joy in the outside world that they had come to know.

Without a father, the mother was left to care for the two boys by herself. A task that wasn’t easy, no mere feat, but was taken on with great love and care.

Of the two brothers, One found more joy and love in the world around him. Two found that the world he had come to know was a dangerous place, without remorse or care.

One day, one bright morning, One found himself climbing a tree of great proportions. A large trunk, strong spindling branches and burning ochre leaves. One would fall to his death from that strong, tall tree.

Two was the jealous type. He would spend his days laying on the grass, in the warm sun, soaking it up like a cat on a Sunday afternoon. He didn’t like climbing trees. He didn’t like heights and would find himself sitting on a branch without any way of getting down. He would sit a top the branch with his head in his hands, tears dripping between his fingers. Birds would coo and chirp in the branches above, seemingly mocking his unfortunate predicament. And still, he would sit, with his head in his hands, as the tears ran down his fingers, and dripped onto his knees.

One would often find him, the soft whimpers floating across the garden. He would stand at the bottom and offer helpful encouragement. Ebbing him onwards, in the hopes that it would help his brother to pick up the courage to climb down.

When One died, Mother would blame Two. She had never loved One more than another, but once he had passed it became apparent that she had favoured the more playful of the two.

Mother had started to drink, and she found herself taking her anger out on Two. He took the blame for his younger brothers death, yet it wasn’t his burden to carry. But still he did. He started to despise the memory of his brother, and what he had become after his death.

The Man and The Door

The light of the screen was starting to burn his retinas. The strawberries on his desk had grown eyes, and were starting to stare back at him.
“I need coffee,” he uttered to himself. Punching holes into a rectangular, black mass was a tiring chore. But it paid the bills. He stood from his desk, and felt the cold floor against his feet. It felt good.
“One, two,” and the door to the night opened. The chill of the evening air caught him in the back of the throat. Crisp. Clear. All the usual adjectives that described the night air, came to mind.
“One, two, three,” he counted again. He had moved from one door, to another. This one stood before him. It loomed over him. Staring back into his eyes. A moth, entranced by the light, bumped ever so gently against The Door. The reflected light, gave it a brighter than white aura about it. As if it were a door to a different dimension. A portal to another universe. A doorway, to a different land. He gripped the handle tightly. The steel against his fingers. His breath, visible in front of him. Waiting to enter through the portal… But… he stood still. And waited. Did he wait for his own permission? Or did he wait for the moth to allow him entrance? All The Door waited for, was a turn and a push.

For an eternity he stood. Holding the handle, between his fingers and palm. The moth had long ago died. And the paint had peeled off the walls. But still he stood. And waited. Till the end of time, they thought he’d stand. They could think what they wanted too, he didn’t care.
“He’ll stand there forever,” they said to each other.
He didn’t answer, but thought to himself, “When they’re long dead, I’ll still be here. For them it’s forever. For me it’s a lifetime.”

The walls had started to crumble. The roof had collapsed. The windows were gone, but the man and The Door still remained. The man had grown old. His beard touched the floor. No one knew, why he stood there still. His eyes had grown weary, and his mind was long gone. But the man still remained. His grip still firm. “They said I’d stand here forever. But oh, they were wrong. I’ll beat this door, if it’s the last thing I do.”

Alice

She was the kind of girl who danced in the moonlit streets at midnight. She wore pink dresses in winter and a scarf in spring. She danced with strangers, embracing them like friends once forgotten. She was beautiful like that. A radient flower that had blossomed on the worst day of my life. She was the best thing that ever happened to me, and here I sat, her head in my lap, as she slipped away into oblivion. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

***

I don’t think our paths crossed. No, they were intertwined like threads of coloured silk. Her’s; a magical assortment of purples, blues, greens and the faintest touch of yellow. Mine; a cold, steel gray. Maybe beige. Any colour that was the furthest thing from colourful. Depressing, I know. But that’s me. Plain old Jane – my name was John – until Alice waltzed into my life that is.

The first time I saw her, she was lying in the shade under an old oak tree, smoking a cigarette. One leg, bent over her knee, swaying gently back and forth. She lay there on the grass, staring up into the branches of that old oak, as if all of lifes answers hung from it’s leaves like ripe fruit, waiting to be picked. I didn’t pay her much attention, not that time, because I was too busy running for the steps leading up to the universities main lecture hall. I had my hands filled with text books, notepads, and various pens, pencils and other writing instruments. Mother always said to come prepared. And prepared I was. As well as late. My first varsity lecture of the term had begun 20 minutes ago, and this was also the perfect morning to find out that the new lock on my front door worked incredibly well. Especially if one had left his keys inside, with no spare in sight. But that was a problem I would have to deal with later. Introduction to Philosophy wasn’t going to wait.

***

The lecture was pointless, as I would later find out. There was nothing introductory about it, unless you included me introducing myself to a flood of students who waded past me. It had ended without me, and no one seemed to care for it. But I did. I cared. But, who would bother to listen?

“Don’t look so glum, old chap,” a voice piped up as I slowly made my way back to the flat I couldn’t get into. She was twirling on the grass as she spoke. Her hair flying in the wind, her dress swinging with the motion of her body. She glanced at me as she turned, and time seemed to slow. I caught her eye, as the streaks of her brunette hair slid past, until she collapsed in a heap in the mottled shade. She was a child, I could see that, and she didn’t care to hide it. She embraced it with every ounce of her being. And there I stood, in the middle of the cobbled path, textbooks under one arm, and notebooks in the other. Mesmerized by this dancing beauty. To this day I don’t know why she called out to me from that shaded spot under the tree. Maybe it was meant to be? Maybe it was because I was a little sodden around the edges. My bruised ego maybe? No I didn’t have any of that to begin with. Whatever it was, it stopped aching whenever she spoke. It lifted ones soul in a way that helped revitalise the senses and calibrate the mind.
“Are you going to come over and say hi, or are you going to continue standing there until a bird drops one on you?”
I couldn’t help but smile. And I did walk into the shade of that oak, and say hi. I don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t. Probably filing papers in a backroom of some office building somewhere. But instead, I sat in the shade and discovered a new friend. One who wasn’t afraid to be different. Who wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere, but instead, found solitude in every moment she embodied. Like a breath of wind on a hot summers day.

***

Alice opened my eyes to many new things in those early months of the year. She was spontaneous and quirky. Grabbing my hand and pulling me into little hidden bookshops I would never have looked at twice, or even once if I’m honest. She found ways of surprising me at every turn. Leaving hand scribbled notes in the margins of my books, and polaroid photos of the two of us in little nooks and crannies of my flat. Even after she had left, her perfume lingered on without her. Staining my clothes like ink. Leaving little memories behind for me to find. I had fallen head over heels for this magical girl. Falling down the rabbit hole after her, as she danced in fields of daisies.

As I’m sure you’ve already noticed, this is a love story. But to think that it ends happily, you may find yourself betrayed. Because it is true, that this is a story of love and friendship, but it is also true to say that this is a story of heartbreak and sorrow. It does not end well, and it does not end happily. Because this is my story, and nothing good ever comes to those who do not deserve it.

***

TO BE CONTINUED…