Category Archives: writing

Loopy friend

Helpless, I stared at him. He pointed his firearm at me and pulled the trigger. I had failed. Time to try again.

I went back in time 24 hours. This time, I’d have to try harder to survive. This wasn’t my first attempt. I’ve lost count on how many times I went through this very day.

Ever since I’m able to relive days as I see fit, I’ve become obsessive. Everything must carry out the way I deem appropriate. Otherwise, I trigger a loop, regardless of any consequences that may incur. I’ve swatted that butterfly a long time ago, its effects don’t matter to me.

The day went by as usual. I got up then turned the stove off. I opened the windows to avoid dying of poison. Afterwards, took a shower, making sure to avoid slipping and cracking my skull open. I took care in taking out my clothes from my wardrobe. I had to avoid gouging out my right eye from a coat hanger accident. Right after, I made myself breakfast, taking care not to eat crackers. Crumbs would get lodged into my throat and I’d die asphixiated.

Done with the daily ordeal, I set out to go my workplace. I walked, rather than driving. My car had a malfunction that’d cause it to explode, killing me on the spot. I made sure to wait an extra semaphore cycle, so that I didn’t get run over by a truck. Of course, I waited a bit for someone else to walk ahead of me, so they could get mugged. I ran away unscathed. “So far, so good”, I thought to myself.

For what it seemed an eternity, I reached my destination. I had to go to the bathroom, but decided against it. I didn’t want to get roped into a sexual harassment incident that’d occur in a few minutes. Instead, I went to the restroom on the second floor. I let someone else go in first, so that they could slip and suffer a lethal head trauma. The ambulance arrived, as expected. I was unable to go to the bathroom. I’ll have to hold it on for a while longer.

Resigned to my fate, I walked towards my cubicle. I took care to take the longer route towards it. Otherwise, a colleague would’ve stabbed me with a boxcutter by mistake. It would have caused a death by blood loss. My spot was in sight, but it was not over yet.

There he was. My unhinged workmate. His erratic gaze and nervous demeanor said it all. He’s armed and dangerous. Throughout my loops, I discovered he planned shooting us all for quite a while. Something about a savior complex or somesuch. Nutcases are always like that.

In my many attempts to survive this scenario, something always backfired. By the time I stopped dying on the way to the office, I fell into a false sense of security. Boy, was I wrong! Dealing with the mind of an assassin is different from avoiding unfortunate situations.

First, I tried to straight up kill him. Turns out, I’m not good at self-defense.

Then, I tried to reason with him. He took me in as an apprentice the moment I proved myself to him. I had to shoot one of my workmates. I did, but couldn’t live with the guilt, so I shot myself and started all over again.

I attempted to call the police in advance, but that only expedited his killing spree. Sure, I survived, but no one else in my office did. That wasn’t good enough, so I looped things back, once more.

Several other scenarios not worth mentioning transpired. None succeeded. Either too many deaths, or a grim future where I become the shooter instead. I started to think that it wasn’t worth trying to change fate.

So I didn’t. I let it play out to it’s bitter end. What was I hoping for? I thought for quite a while, as the same scene repeated itself in a monotonous manner. Every time I got shot and died, some new hypothesis came up in my mind. One that struck like light in pitch darkness kept me hopeful.

What if someone else in this world was also able to loop time? How could I communicate to them? It was my main concern.

But then, on this very loop, it happened. I found out another person capable of performing the same feat as myself. It was the office shooter. At length, he explained how he arranged this day to exact his revenge is the most reviled way possible. He also commented on how my many unfortunate deaths weren’t a coincidence. He knew I was also able to loop time, and tried to get rid of me.

His confession surprised me. I wasn’t upset, but rather glad. I wasn’t alone. I found someone else to play with.

As he pulled the trigger, we both smiled. We knew what was going to happen.

Until we meet again, friend.

Writer’s World…Cup?

Today marks the first day of this event. Hosted here, it goes from the 26th of October up to the 7th of November. A 3000 characters text every day, with one final, peer-reviewed, 4500 character text.

There’s an optional poetry week, but I’m not sure I’ll bother with it.

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon, starting the 1st of November, will I manage?

To top it off, I’m starting french lessons this November. Needless to say, my life took a turn for the…busy. I’m glad! Quarantine sucks the life out of everyone, turning them into couch potatoes. I swear, Genshin Impact has taken more lives from my social circle than coronavirus at this point. But I digress.

I’ll try to keep posting the daily story snippet. Do keep into consideration these new circumstances I’m going through.

That’s all for now. Have a great week, my fellow writers and readers!

Clash of classes

Life in the slums wasn’t so bad. At least, it’s not as grim as everyone else makes it out to be.

You need to know the right people, where to go, what and who to avoid, and you’re set. Simple enough.

The nicer parts of town? It’s a jungle out there, man. You want to be careful around the posh corners of this city. It’s a den of vipers, and you’re a succulent mice.

Every day, I had to deal with their bullshit. You see, the college I attended was in one of the nicer parts of town. Sure, I had to take the piss-scented subway to get to it, but still, it beat my turf by miles.

Trimmed garden. Scratch that, actual garden and courtyards. Not one run-down apartment block on sight. I may as well be in a different country.

The people were peculiar as well. Their dialect and mannerism were unique. I had to restrain my language. They were a cultured, well-informed yet fragile bunch. Truth that challenged their worldviews were painful. They were prone to denounce me as ignorant.

Of course, why wouldn’t they? I was a poor guy from a forgotten ghetto. The only reason I could study there were because of affirmative action. I’d be stuck selling crack otherwise.

In spite of my views towards my sheltered peers, I was thankful for this opportunity. It allowed me to see life in a different lense. Not one tinted with resignation and crime, but rather with hope and potential.

I was majoring in literature. Many of my classmates scoffed at this. Not in front of my face, of course. They were too well bred to shit talk. But of course, they all thought a poor guy who managed to study in their college due to pity had nothing to say.

It wasn’t worth getting mad about it. I considered it a matter of cultural difference. They didn’t see people but classes. More’s the pity.

Our varied courses were elucidating, at least for me. I felt as if the world unraveled before me. Others, however…

Vacant stares as the professor lectured us in the ways of the literary world. Some didn’t care one bit and were on their smartphones all morning. Were his teachings old news for the upper crust? Were they not taught to value education? Your guess is as good as mine.

The semester was about to end. As such, we were set in groups to hand in a final project. I got paired with the most privileged children in class. Yes, children. Not once I’ve noticed any semblance of maturity from them. The grass is quite different from the other side. I wouldn’t say it’s greener.

We had to come up with a short fiction story. Each one of us had to contribute, and then we’d all review and edit it before handing it in. Sounds easy enough. I wish it was.

First of all, asking these kids to take responsibility in anything is like pulling teeth. They were conversing over who slept with whom during our first meeting. Which party to go this weekend? So on and so forth. Riveting stuff for them, tiring diatribe for someone who wanted to get things done. In other words, me.

It had to happen. I had to speak up and talk about the project proper. From blank stares, to sneers, all the way to glares. Were they aware that we were in college and not in a social club? But I digress.

I tried to break them free from their frivolous chatting. I asked if anyone wanted to pitch ideas for our story. Radio silence.

Very well, they’re followers, not leaders. I let them know the idea I came up for our project and delegated responsibilities for every one of them. Further disapproval emanates from their faces. Raised eyebrows, smug smirks, you name it. Poor people seemed so amusing to them.

As I was about to jot down each one’s roles, one of them interrupted and said “Who made you the leader?”. Fair enough, I thought.

“Would you do us the honor of leading this project, then?”, I said. His face contorted, as if aghast for receiving a retort. I paid no mind. He had to learn that not everyone is going to lick his boots forever.

He fumbled some words but they amounted to nothing of note. Once more, an awkward silence permeated the room. To break it off, I took up the mantle of the leader once more. “If no one else has any other idea to propose, we’ll proceed with the idea I pitched”, I said.

I’ve babysat kids less bratty than this bunch. Some huffing and puffing aside, they accepted each other roles. I’d write most of the story, with contributions from one of them. The other guy would fill the role of editor, to make sure it’s in proper hand-in condition. So far, so good, wouldn’t you say? If only it was so easy to work with spoiled rich kids.

The next meeting arrived the next day. The same guy who questioned my leadership came up with a whole manuscript. Suspicious, I asked him how he managed to finish it overnight.

He attempted to hide his contempt, and answered: “Simple. I hired a ghostwriter for five bucks. Why put effort when you can pay some poor to do it for you?” The things I have to hear. I pity him, he knows no better.

I explained to him that what he did would get us a failing grade, as it’s not our original work, but rather plagiarism. Once more, looks of disbelief assaulted me. “Are you for real, dude? That’s how life works.”, he said. Further, he stated: “We’re only here because we’re rich and need the networking contacts. Assignments are a formality, you’d know if you belonged here.”

And so I trudged on, living life one step after the other, come what may.

The copycat

There was once a painter who could not come up with any original ideas. He was a master copycat. He yearned for a unique idea, yet his mind failed him. He could only reproduce what already existed.

Desperate to change his situation, he travelled all around the world. He seeked for someone to help him discover the meaning of originality. How to come up with his own ideas. How to stop being an echo.

Across several countries, he met countless people. Some sneered at him, considering him a fool. Others attempted to help, yet their advice was shallow as a puddle. It seemed to him that no one could help him in his torturous situation. He set sailed for a different continent. A change of culture may jog his brain, he thought.

He embarked in a perilous journey. A precarious dinghy sailed across the ocean. Many sleepless and terrifying storms accosted him throughout the way. His life was a plaything for the whims of nature. Time passed, and he reached his destination.

An exotic, distant land, devoid of his culture’s viewpoints awaited him. The architecture, the way people treated each other.

Everything was different. New. Unique. Could this be what he needed to grow as an artist?

He looked around, asked for directions and at last found the way to a renowned artist’s atelier. Certain that he’d provide the answers needed to become a real artist, he walked to his place.

Located in a remote part of town, away from the bustling market centre and living quarters. Hidden in an alley, as if forgotten by time itself, he found this artist’s studio. Incapable of detaching himself from his culture, he knocked the door as a sign of politeness. He heard angry stomps approaching the door. With one swift movement, the door opened.

He met face to face to who would be his master. A wrink-ridden, hunchback, decrepit shell of a man. His eyes were full of life and determination, in contrast with the rest of him.

He stared at his potential pupil up and down, to gouge his worth. He wasn’t convinced, yet invited him in.

The master’s atelier was humble, most of it falling apart and covered in artwork. It’s work was of overwhelming beauty to the pupil, for he saw nothing ever close to it before in his life. Could his master know what originality meant and how to achieve it?

His master handed him a dirty dish. It contained what it seemed to be tea. The pupil, somewhat apprehensive, took a sip. It wasn’t tea, but mud. The master roared laughing.

“You’ll never make it in this world if you don’t bother questioning what’s in front of you, at all times”, the master said. The pupil’s face reddened. Indeed, naiveté was a fool’s virtue.

The conversation continued. The pupil explained his plea to his master. How he couldn’t come up with any original work. He was able to copy with no flaws whatsoever, and that’s about it. Not one work of his seemed worth anything to him.

Hearing this, the master answered “Why are you obsessed with originality? What does originality mean to you?”. The pupil started thinking long and hard but couldn’t come up with a retort.

The pupil tried to break down the awkward silence. He struggled to keep the conversation going. And so he said “Art is all about being unique and original. No one wants more of the same. It’s all about innovating, reinventing yourself in a constant manner.”

The master scoffed at such comment, and answered: “Art is about refining one’s own talents. Some fall in the endless abyss of self-doubt, never figuring out who they are. What I see in front of me, is someone who knows who they are. They know what they can do.

That’s more than what more artists can say, friend”. The pupil stared and pondered if he was wrong all along. Was his quest in search for originality an excuse to escape reality? A way to avoid facing himself? Such questions began to haunt his brain.

The master continued: “You’re not a lesser artist for eschewing the avant-garde. In fact, I’d dare say you’re more of an artist than most. Copying, mimicking, whatever you call it. It takes time. Skill. Effort. Love. A lifetime of dedication. Isn’t that what art is all about?”. At this point, the pupil was at odds with his worldview. Has a flawed perception of reality tainted his thought to such degree?

The two of them kept conversing. At one point, the master decided to stop fooling around and offered his pupil a palatable drink. It was an exquisite infusion, unlike the previous slop.

The master stated: “There are artists as there are people.”

Continuing this, he said “With this knowledge in hand, show the world that you’re an artist, not a copycat. Be confident in your skills and prove yourself worth the attention. The world will answer likewise.” Thankful for his final words, the pupil bid good bye to his master.

The journey to his country of origin felt tame and uneventful in comparison. Once this pupil understood the ways of the world, everything seemed to fall into place. He arrived at his atelier, ready to prove the world his worth, for the first time in his life.

Snowed in

A frigid morning welcomed me with open arms today. Tossing and turning, I mustered the energy to get out of bed. It was challenging, for certain, as the central heating malfunctioned throughout the night. It left my humble shack devoid of warmth.

As I pulled the blinds of my room, a white, frosted wall hindered my view. The inconsequential, yet familiar and reassuring outdoors were no more. A blank canvas replaced it.

It was going to be one of those days. Suit up for the harsh weather ahead, pick up my shovel and get to it, same old. Or so it seemed. My mind played its tricks on me, for the last time.

Turns out, I was still bedridden. The bitter cold had me in a synchronic shivering paralysis. Its icy, gentle caress crept in, merciless and unerring.

With a yielding approach, I resolved to reminisce as my presence in this world ran its course. The outset of my fleeting memoirs began with my decision to lead a life of isolation in this cabin. Time was of essence, everything before that turning point I deemed irrelevant.

A glimpse of a recollection crossed my mind: the need to disappear. Faint images of quarrels between loved ones brushed my psyche. A paroxysm of anguish struck my heart. An inordinate amount of time, squandered on petty grievances. Ah, the assault of pins and needles throughout my body began.

My final moments approached with unsparing mercy. A thought roused from the depths. Was this willing confinement freedom, or a self prescribed prison? Hesitation bombarded my brain. Coalescing a lapse in judgement with pride is a deadly concoction. I never gave forgiveness a chance. Numbness invades my imminent corpse.

The candle of my cognition was all but extinguished. A collage of disjointed dreams was all that remained. In my denouement all I could muster was to pray for oblivion to seize me. Heaven, hell, reincarnation, I renounced them all. My vision began to blur.

At last, I’m free of the yoke that is life. I welcomed the void with open arms.

Disillusion

I’ve been living alone, stranded in an island for many years. A hermit, in other words. I used to have a name, but I’ve long forgotten it. It doesn’t matter anymore. I’m myself, no matter which name I decide to use.

At night, the stars and their constellations were my silent, twilight poets. Long after my life concludes, their everlasting memoirs would comfort whoever succeeds me.

The sunrays pierced the windows drapes of my crude hut, waking me up at the crux of the morning. A brand-new dawn greeted me. An invariable ritual executed by companion, sol. Grateful for witnessing a new day, I dressed up and set out to begin a new day.

My life is quiet and peaceful. Nature’s bounty keeps me well fed and amused. A myriad of flora and fauna littered the islet. I’m blessed by these circumstances. Or so I thought.

With the passing of time and running out of hobbies to pass time, I came up with an idea. I decided to coordinate a way to map out this piece of land I was stuck in. I gathered enough food and supplies that I would hope they would last for a while. I would begin my expedition by dawn of the next day.

Feeling confident, I set out to the western half of the island, hoping to find something exciting. What I discovered left me dumbfound. As I kept roaming, curious structures cropped up in the horizon. Could they be remnants of a long bygone civilization? Regardless, I kept marching, puzzled of what I would find ahead.

By the time I drew near, it was indisputable that this was, in fact, a prosperous town. I could discern a municipality, stores, and whole neighborhoods. Was I hallucinating? This revelation freaked me out. A breakthrough of my own myopic delusions.

The locals were as astonished. “Where did this eccentric hermit come from? How come we never noticed him? Is he able to communicate with us?” – their whispers and murmurs of the gossiping were quiet yet deafening. The townsfolk were wearisome.
I felt disillusioned. I discovered a domesticated herd. A congregation of dull folks.

With utmost politeness, I refused their offer to be part of their community. I bid them good bye and hoped never to cross them again. I left this standardised confinement in the middle of the night.

I was at a loss on how they’d enjoy living. Nights devoid of stars. Paved, stony roads, designed to deny themselves of the gentle caress of nature in one’s feet soles. Worst of all, a willingness to design gilded cages. They gave up freedom for the sake of a comfortable, self-imposed incarceration.

At last, I retreated back to my haven. The irreplaceable joy of freedom aroused every one of my senses. I felt alive once again. The struggle of freedom eclipsed the anodyne of deliberate captivity.

Sometimes, the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

Dandelion

I spent about a week during my summer holiday camping with one of my male classmates. We decided to organize the trip on a whim. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I wished to get to know him more. We set off on a Saturday, early in the morning. We agreed to get back to our anodyne city dweller routine before our next college semester. In other words, we had until Monday to savor a brief respite. We were seniors, yet we didn’t act the part. “We have to grow up at some point”, I thought to myself.

The rural scenes left us in awe. Breathing fresh air was a welcome change from the city’s pollution. Surrounded by flora and fauna, rather than cars and deafening noises at every time of the day.

On the last day of our camping trip, we came across a dandelion field. While my classmate was too busy setting up the tent and a small campfire, I chose to pick one dandelion. It was full of seedheads. I blew on it and wished for these fond memories with him to last forever. The wind sweeping the seedheads mesmerized me. For a moment, I lost track of time.

My classmate brought me down to Earth and asked if I was alright. I told him about the wish I made moments ago. The mood got weird and he told me I’d regret said wish. His statement came out of nowhere and threw me off. Before I could ask what he meant by it, my vision started to blur. I passed out.

I regained consciousness to find myself in the middle of a celebration of sorts. With no time to get my bearings on what was going on, a friend of mine called me over. She seemed miffed of my cluelessness.

She brought me back to speed. Turns out I spaced out during my own wedding. The ceremony was about to start. She was the ever diligent yet neurotic maid of honor. Her mission was for this wedding to go with no hitches nor surprises.

Hoping that her insight would quell my worries, I told her what happened to me. I was on a camping trip with one of my college classmates then passed out. Afterwards, I regained consciousness while wearing a wedding gown. She gave me the weirdest look. She retorted that I’ve dated this “classmate” for years, and finally got engaged this year. She expressed relief that I decided to tie the knot. She joked that I’d turn into a crazy cat lady by how slow I was taking my relationship with him.

While I’m sure she meant well, what she told me disturbed me. What ever happened between these events? How could I not remember my relationship with him? My mind was teeming with questions, yet my presence at the altar took precedence over any answers.

The ceremony proceeded as expected. Or so I thought. As we were exchanging vows, my eyes glanced at the window. The breeze outside whisked away several dandelion seedheads. Once more, I began to lose focus on my surroundings. I tried to calm myself down by closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. It didn’t work. By the time I opened my eyes, I was somewhere else.

I was in a dining room, of what I assumed was our home. We were about to eat dinner, judging by the food served, how and where everyone else sat. My classmate turned husband was there, and two strangers. One was a child, a boy no older than eight, at most. The other was a teenager, a girl whose bored gaze spoiled her otherwise good looks. Were these our children?

Unsure on how to proceed, as I didn’t even know their names, or even the current date, I stood in silence. The oppressive stillness ended as my husband spoke up. He began with some small talk, in an attempt to dispel this stilted mood. I didn’t work. In mere minutes, our children drew out their smartphones. They took matters into their own hands. Our boy’s attention drifted away by some game he seemed to love, as he kept spouting factoids about it. Meanwhile, our daughter was tapping away at her screen, calm yet focused. I surmised that she was texting her friends as a way to get away from her father’s blathering. I pretended to pay attention to what he was saying, out of politeness. In short, we were a family. Not a perfect one, that’s for sure.

Our daughter interrupted the dinner by leaving the table at once. My husband protested and asked what was going on. My daughter’s answer was short and to the point. She was going out with her friends, stating that she’d rather spend time with people she cared about. Right as she opened the door and was about to storm out of the house, it occured once more. In the distance, I saw it. A dandelion’s seedhead. I knew what was going to happen and resigned to my fate. I lamented the fact that I wasn’t able to utter a single word during my brief time with my family. As before, my cognition faded away as existence reshaped itself.

This time, reality was grim. I was bedridden. I was conscious, yet my body failed to respond. I could only gaze at the window, unmoving. My senses failed me altogether.

People surrounded me. I assumed I held them in great esteem throughout my life. Many came bearing gifts, such as flowers and cards. Others sat near me, sobbing. Any and all hints of happiness were absent. Take make matters worse, I failed to recognize anyone.

Detached as I felt, I let the charade go on for as long as needed. Dying felt like an eternity. Little by little, my sense of self began to dissipate. My grasp for the visual stimuli was the last one to go. In my last moments in this world, it happened. I was aghast. Was it fate? This known agent of chaos, disguised as an unassuming dandelion seedhead, showed itself. What was going to happen? The conclusion to my life was all but certain. Fear and anticipation interweaved in my heart.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The wilderness of that fateful camping trip engulfed me. I was once more in front of the dandelion field. My classmate was right next to me, with a worried expression. He told me that I seemed to be in a daze for a bit, and joked about if this was my first time seeing a dandelion field. What happened?

I dismissed his comment and suggested that we should get moving before it gets dark. He agreed, but before moving on, he picked a dandelion. He began blathering, as usual. He told me to make a wish before blowing a dandelion. After letting their seedheads spread away, it might come true. I tried my hardest not to roll my eyes at him. If only he knew what I went through. This time, I refused to partake in his silly superstition.

One question would haunt my mind forever: what did he wish for?

Hubris

Glistening drops permeated a potted rose sitting in my balcony. Its rouge petals announced the arrival of Spring. It was dazzling yet menacing. Roses represent the superlative capriciousness of beauty.

This perennial child was a present from a gypsy I met on a flea market. She was keen on the arts of divination. She told me that this particular breed of rose didn’t need water or any specific care. She was willing to give it to me for free, on one condition. She instructed me to tend to it as if it were of my kindred. Failing to do so would lead to terrible repercussions. At the time, I didn’t understand what she meant by this.

It took all my will to not laugh at her absurd augury. Unlike her, I paid no heed to idiotic occult rubbish. Still, I welcomed her gift, for it suit my sense of aesthetics, very much so.

As days have started passing, I began noticing subtle changes. My flowery companion seemed to be in perpetual bloom. An ethereal aura protected its very life. Indeed, this rose refused to wither, no matter what.

I thought nothing of it. They were some novelty roses, hardy of constitution, I thought. Nothing more, nothing less.

Years began to pass. And yet, my youth and energy remained intact. Could it be that this humble rose was the cause of such miracle?

Impossible, I insisted to myself. How can a plant harness such power over a person? My imagination was playing tricks on me.

Moreover, diseases and minor injuries were a thing of the past. Indeed, it seemed that I had attained immortality. Not by my own accord, but thanks to a fortuitous favor. I chalked it out to a healthy lifestyle, but was that it?

Decades started to slip by. At that moment, an alarming transformation occured: I started to sprout roses from my body. They were minuscule buds at first, yet they were quick to take over my limbs. Both my arms and legs, infested by lovely yet ruinous clusters of blossoming roses.

It didn’t take long before they spread towards my torso. At that point, moving was out of the question. I became bedridden overnight.

I lost track of the passage of time. Did decades pass? Centuries? It all became a blur. I lost my sense of self: I became the host of a splendid, yet murderous rose garden.

Then I saw her. The vagrant from before. She who handed me out the rose that started it all. Her sly smile was enough for me to realize what has been in the making.

Her gift wasn’t meant in good will. Indeed, I served my function to the letter. As my consciousness faded, I saw her harvest the roses covering my body. A bountiful yield, ready to serve its vile purpose once more. She finished picking every one of them. Afterwards, she departed without uttering a single word.

A dried-up, human-shaped rose bush sat in a room, devoid of life, once and for all.