Summary: After an alchemy experiment gone wrong, a boy and his pet-god end up in twenty-first century Europe. Length: ~2,600 words.
Thump. Morgue leans back in his grandmother’s rocking chair and watches the world spin. It has not stopped since Lugnor hit him with a spade. “A test of mortality,” Lugnor said, “if you can get hurt, perhaps, so can I.”
Thump-thump. Dust motes circle above Morgue’s head like millions of little diamonds which glitter at odd angles then disappear. When he makes a grab for them, his hand comes back with nothing. Thump-thump-thump. The sound of Lugnor stamping up and down the stairs is beginning to grate on Morgue’s nerves. Breathing in deep and closing his eyes, Morgue tries to remember a time when Lugnor did not irk him like this.
At the beginning of the last century, Lugnor’s visits to the mortuary were the highlight of Morgue’s second life. Living as a revenant had taken some getting used to: the voicelessness, the unbeating heart, the whispers in his head that used to keep him up at night, the not-being-alive yet somehow alive enough to disqualify him from claiming afterdeath benefits. Aside from the goodly mortician, who had signed the adoption papers, Lugnor was the only bright thing in Morgue’s deathless life. He can still remember, even though it makes him cringe now, how embarrassingly smitten with Lugnor he was.
He seeks a bayou witch
who can trade my soul
for three sunsets.
To her — he says: I cannot run but I can walk much faster Than raindrops can race down cathedral windows Than wishes can grow under the banyan tree Will you trade with me?
This year has so far been a blur of out-of-reach ambition, sucky time management and an onslaught of illnesses. I am racing against time to make a name for myself before I graduate — an extremely understated summary of the laundry list of requirements needed to be considered for a Tier 1 Visa. My goal is to be able to stay in the UK without having to forever juggle between academia and career — without having to be treated as a subnormality whose credibility must be accounted for by a Nine-to-Five tyranny. Gods know what morally depraved ‘unforgiveables’ a female mammal from a high risk country might get up to if she’s left to her own devices.
Getting a Tier 1 Visa right now seems like an impossibility. I am required to win awards like BAFTAs or the Man Booker Prize etc. And that’s on top of having to be famous and critically acclaimed in at least two countries. RIP. Continue reading…
i already feel like a fraud every other day, living in and breathing in and feeding on my insecurities and worries for the future. i feel like i will never make anything out of life, never reach my full potential, never become who i am supposed to be, who i want to become.
my ambitions are driven by fear. i want to make something for myself. i want to live like i am capable of living. but i don’t know how. there are moments where i sit in front of the screen or a notebook and all i can feel is the panic welling up inside me, the frustration over my own incompetence, because i can’t get the words to make sense, i can’t get myself to make sense and i want to cry. but, there are also moments where i laugh at my own words, where i think myself a genius because all the plot points are coming together, and in those moments, i can believe whole-heartedly that my ideas are beautiful. but it’s like striking a match in the dark. it flares and flickers out.
‘And so you read Pragmatism,’ he mused, ‘while the fate of the Empire stands in the balance.’
‘Yes,’ said I, ‘and the Paris Academy of Sciences were discussing the functions of θ and the Polymorphism of Antarctic diatoms last September when the Germans stood almost at the gates of Paris.’ (1948, p.199)
Armed with the flippancy and intellectual conceit which were second to none, W. N. P. Barbellion recorded a future ceaselessly spurned by sickness and circumstance. Born in 1889 in Barnstaple, he aspired to be a naturalist and began keeping a diary at the age of thirteen. His lust for life antagonised by his social class and ill health stationed him at a uniquely tragic standpoint from which he witnessed fin de siècle.
The Journal of a Disappointed Man vividly highlights the universality of human suffering during one of the greatest and most devastating turning points in history. By pitting his own ambition against an increasingly industrialised world, Barbellion’s diary poignantly portrays the economical, sociological and political climates of the years leading up to the First World War.
In The Signalman, Charles Dickens demonstrates the powerlessness of humanity in the face of technological advancement by interconnecting the supernatural to the mundanity of life during the industrial era. By attributing human qualities to the paranormal, Dickens effectively emphasises the unforgiving brutality of industrial machinery. The Signalman follows an unnamed narrator’s attempt to befriend a solitary rail worker who is plagued by a ghostly apparition whose continuous warnings lead to the rail worker’s death.
Ghosts in Dickens’ stories are almost like the light of morality which appear before those who have lost their way, such is the case for The Christmas Carol. By the same vein, the ghostly apparition in The Signalman demonstrates desperate concern for the well-being of the living. Published in 1866 in the Mugby Junction, five years after the Clayton Tunnel incident and a year after the Staplehurst rail crash, wherein Dickens was a passenger, The Signalman is perhaps Dickens’ statement on the industrial lifestyle, wherein people’s lives were no longer overshadowed by gods but machineries.
Recently I have realised that I do not write much about myself — myself as a physical, living being who is a part of this world. Instead, I talk about the abstract and the vague, ever-changing nature of a ‘self’. I dwell inside my own head to work out what it is that makes me who I am. While I do think about the physicality of life — the bodily pain and traumatically pivotal encounters from my childhood — they are only memories translated to me through hazy illusions of realism and distorted impressions of emotions and images. Sometimes these memories move, but only as glitches of corrupted film reels. More often, my memories are stagnant sun-faded polaroids.
Is it the weather, or is it life, that is beginning to get to me (again)? There are so many things to do and so little time. Where is the future? Why has it not arrived; I am worried.
What is this life that I do not understand. What is this smile which I cannot see. I do not know anything. I do not think I know any more. No matter how hard I try to move forward, there is always something in the way. Just as I’ve learned to accept that that’s okay (all I have to do is soldier through or find a way around the problem) my emotions catch up to remind me of what I am.
Writing things I do not necessarily mean for the sake of meeting deadlines and good grades. The return to studying is taking so much of my time that I have not been able to get my own writing done. I feel restless and anxious with this constant darkness at my back, this fear of time running out. I am constantly nagged by my own ambition that I am not living up to my full potential.
These past few months, there are times where I wonder if I made the right choice choosing Keele instead of UEA. Am I wasting my time in this foundation programme? Would UEA have been able to cultivate my skills more efficiently? For the former, I’m not sure. For the latter, probably.
These doubts which cloud over my life tend to linger in the back of my mind, very far back because that is where I have pushed them.
I cannot afford to regret. One step forward, twos steps back — I simply do not have the time for this unproductive behaviour. I must move forward because that is where the future is. That is where I must go.