The Six Euphictions from MCast V3 Episode 3

SEE THE CHRISTIAN DUMAIS AND N.PENDLETON DISCUSSION HERE

DOWNLOAD MCAST V3 EPISODE 3 HERE

Euphiction 1 is set to the song “Lodge.”  This started with the image of a human shape drifting underneath the ice of a frozen lake.  It was a dream image, therefore the physics of the entire fiction are in question.  I don’t personally believe many of the things done are possible.  Maybe it’s a fitful night’s sleep for a people experience a winter that has been too long and too deep.

WINTER DEEP

Two days with a shovel took us down through five feet of ice and pack snow to frozen ground.

A day of hacking with a pickaxe produced not a depression, but only scarred earth.  Any further attempt this deep into winter would be fruitless.  The men had grown too weak, and this heaped onto their demoralized state.

In that time, the bodies of the widow Innes and her two small children had frozen fast to the ice outside their darkened cabin.

Jonathan Willis said they could not stay there another day.  Martin Manchess and I chipped the three bodies free and carried each in turn down to the lake, where Brian Fauston had widened the fishing hole.

We men lowered first Patricia Innes and then Thomas, age four, and William, age two, down through the break feet-first.  The rest of ours watched as their shadows passed under our feet deep beneath the ice.

Prayers were intoned as much—if not more—for those of us remaining than for those who had passed on.  A funeral is for the living, not the dead.

Euphiction 2 is set to “Kyoto.”  This is meant as a surreal “word-painting” inspired by accounts I’d read of the firebombing of Japan during the last days of World War II.  When my mind’s eye followed the droplets of blood to the dead pond, I knew to stop writing.  The floating mass of dead koi strikes me as both beautiful and profoundly sad.

LAND ON FIRE

From black bare trees he approached her then, on the foot bridge now covered with gray ash under an amber sky.  She stood naked, covered in sores, face painted white, black silk strands of hair done up in twisted copper wire and wilted flowers while the cities of paper and wood continued to burn not far away.  And almost as if the world itself were freezing, she slashed slowly his face with the lean blade in her hand, her porcelain arm extending past the ashen footbridge rail—out into hazy space with a frigid burst of breath—spilling crimson droplets into a pond skimmed with floating koi below.

Euphiction 3 is set to “Marefjellet.”  This is a few “what ifs” crammed together.  Based on characters and situations I created for a children’s book I wrote and illustrated for my daughter when she was five years old, I then drew the idea further out by adding elements from Dr. Seuss, Through the Looking Glass, and the Chronicles of Narnia.  What could happen if a parallel world really existed?

LOST PRINCESS

Merilee was a woman now, dressed in the tattered remnants of a child’s play dress.  As the suns in the sky switched places, the passage of a new year was marked, and she knew she was sixteen.  Five years prior, she’d discovered the gaping split in the trunk of the great oak tree behind the professor’s house.  And ever since that day, Merilee had been a captive of the giant blue-haired beast with no name.  Five years a slave to a creature with the face of a Chesire Cat, the body of some extinct prehistoric megafauna, and possessing the mood swings of her own nerve-shattered mother.

As time passed and she began to mature, she attempted escape less often now, having exhausted most ideas on just where she might escape to.  This World Beyond the Great Oak was vast but uncomplicated:  Stretching east was the forest of Kalkao Trees, with their barnacle leaves and barber pole trunks—extending out for endless miles.  To the south was the Ice Desert and Meechy Peak, that dwarfed Everest and whose pinnacle exceeded the atmosphere into space.  West was the Great Inland Sea, salty and riddled with man-sized stinging Jally Phlish.  The North was a lifeless glacial wasteland of bottomless gorges and precarious trenches.

She’d run to all, and every time narrowly escaped disaster until the enraged Blue Beast once again caught her scent, hunted her down, and scooped her up in his immense paws and carried her back to his lair.

Merilee found that she no longer remembered the face of her mother, or the voice of her father.  Her fairytale home had become defined only by the piercing yellow eyes and broad savage maw of her brutish master.

And here she was, on her sixteenth birthday, her woman’s body extending out from the tattered little girl’s play dress, performing her birthday dance for the wild creature who had claimed her half a decade ago.  He reclined like a Buddha carved from a cliff, palm extended, where Merilee twirled like a ballerina in a little girl’s jewelry box to the music of the wind through the Kalkao Trees.

This always made the stupid Blue Beast laugh.

Euphiction 4 is set to “Charlotte.”  As an artist, I try to get inside the experiences of a whole menagerie of different characters, which is why I like first person narratives so much.  Sometimes I make myself go to dark, hopeless places as a result.  I very much love this song, but the fiction I wrote for it had to be difficult.  As an atheist, I take solace in the fact that eventually, all pain and awareness eventually end.  This may actually be the cosmic justice many of us long for.

EMMA RISES

She wondered why the man had torn her yellow gingham dress, the one she loved so much, here amidst the new pain and a lifting she could not name here on a cold wet bed of hemic leaves.

She did not know this place, or this man who had taken her from her backyard swing.  Why was he breathing that way as he again lifted her and carried her into these woods she did not know?  Didn’t he realize that she was not to go away without her mother or father, because she was only six?  She did not think it fair that she should have to be frightened.  Frightened of the new man, because she did not know him.  Frightened of her father, for going away when she was not supposed to.  And afraid of her mother, for the anger she would certainly feel over the tear in gingham dress.

She prayed and prayed to god that it would all turn out okay as the pain faded to numbness and the lifting turned to golden clouds of light.  Perhaps the man would take her home after their trip through the woods, and father would only spank her with his hand and not the belt.  And perhaps her mother could sew the tear and make this dress again like new.

Euphiction 5 is set to “Cad Goddeu.”  An adventure story inspired by the Tunguska Event of 1908…with a twist.  It’s set in a world where people use organic machines in a mishmash of nationalities and time periods.  “BioPunk,” to coin a very bad term.

FIELD REPORT TO THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMEN OF THE ACADEMY

Our expedition to this barren waste to find the cause of the disturbance has finally borne fruit.  After a year of growing and honing our equipment, another six months of planning and mapping.  Three more months of recruitment and training.  And now we are here, at the site of the disturbance.  We can now begin to speculate at what had caused the blast heard ‘round the world, the cause of our year of red skies, our rains of rust and ash, our year without a summer.

Yuriev and I have surveyed the land.  There was a zero point, a ground zero where something very large and very hot exploded over the treeline.  Around this area for a mile, all trees are flattened out in a fan, the limbs stripped from trunks and the trunks themselves blackened to charcoal.  Animals will not approach the area; we’ve not seen a deer, rabbit or even scarlet winter bird for many miles.

We have established a base camp here at zero point.  The equipment has been warmed and awakened.  The units have been enmeshed and now talk to one another in those odd machine voices that I, even in my many years of fieldwork, have still not grown accustomed to.  Yuriev and Antislovik have coaxed the burrower to life.

I mention this now  because we have found something remarkable here at the zero point.  It is a hole blast-hewn in the native rock, giving way to a cavern of indeterminate size and depth into the earth below.  We have dropped dopplermakers and soundcatchers past the 100 meter mark and the sounds recovered are like nothing ever committed to scientific record.  Yuriev and myself are convinced they are the sounds of living things, though Antislovik and Geyurgyn argue their source is geological in nature.  We, our entire expedition force to a man, intend to find out whatever be the source.

The burrower expands the hole we believe was created by the explosion in the sky, opening the hole big enough to drop men and equipment into.

So we send back this final journal entry to you distinguished gentlemen of the Academy, with the captured mysterious subterranean recordings, in the even we do not return to our beloved surface world and our families, to our homes where once we knew safety in warm beds.

Euphiction 6 is set to “Trans Siberian.”  It wasn’t a difficult leap to make this about a trip by rail.  But the removal of inorganic objects from the human body?  That’s pretty much all me.

WHAT MATTERS NOW

I step off the train, and they are there to greet me.  A new snow falls on their felt hats and woolen worsted shoulders.  The men’s faces are like bleached leather, expressions a frozen moment of despair.  The woman was once handsome, but that time has passed for her.

“The only thing now that matters is what we can do for each other,” she says.

The men hobble forward, flank me, and the once-handsome woman holds out hands covered in worn brown driving gloves that have come unraveled in places at the seams.  I hand over the slim valise and a few sloppy manila folders bound in pink and mint green rubber bands.  “This is all I could get,” I say as her eyes dart greedily over the take.  “This is all there is.  I left nothing behind.”

“Did they follow you?” she asked.

“There’s no one to follow,” I said.  “They’ve all died as you said they would.”

She cracks open the valise, but I place my hand on hers.  The men flanking me jerk forward instinctively, but they’re only for show.  “Now, keep your end of the bargain,” I say to her.

She places the payload onto the snow dusted pavement, takes a silver tool from her pocket, inserts the hook end into my ear canal.  I feel a pinch, a crunch like an apple splitting at the core, and a blast of stars pepper my vision.  She twists the instrument, something deep within catches and she pulls free the length of pewter chain from inside my head.  An entire foot of chain emerges before the lead weight at the end hits the cold dusk air.  Legs give, I float to down to the pavement, where I jerk in the white cold dust.  And for the first time in much too long, warmth and lightness suffuse me.

I feel joy.

Final note:  Three of these were sent to print and online literary magazines specializing in flash fiction.  All were rejected.

These six euphictions are Copyright 2009 N.Pendleton.  No reprinting is allowed without author attribution accompanied with a link back to this webpage.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Pendleton, MuseionCast Podcast. MuseionCast Podcast said: The Six Euphictions from MCast V3 Episode 3: SEE THE CHRISTIAN DUMAIS AND N.PENDLETON DISCUSSION HERE DOWNLOAD MCA… http://bit.ly/96KQcZ […]



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