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Searching

by on February 20, 2011

Three years it has taken you. You hope it will be worth it. You hope they will be worth it.

You tweak the equations on your device and the sigil on the floor glows a little brighter. As you stride towards the bow of your boat, your foot catches on a scuba mask. You pick it up. It belonged to Nikos. He lasted the longest before deserting you. Jumped ship in Siciliy, cursing your name and your obsession.

At the bow, you close your eyes and take a few deep breaths of the crisp morning air, lick a few crystals of salt from your lips. The air around you crackles as the elements of the sigil start to twirl and spin like the cogs inside a watch: you’ve found them.

You toss the mask overboard as you bound down the deck to the mast and the coil of nylon rope you’ve had sitting there since you set out three years and seven shipmates ago. You throw yourself against the carbon fibre and start lashing yourself to it in a bluster; you can’t be sure how much warning the sigil gives. As you pull the last knot tight, burning your shin, your hear them. Hear their song.

Beautiful. The most beautiful thing you have ever heard. Tears form in your eyes. You have found them.

Wings and lithe limbs form out of spray and twinkling reflections. Their faces are radiant, smiling beatifically at you. The spray whips against your cheek, harder, then forms into claws and teeth; their smiles turn. You realise your mistake. You are glad to be alone as the claws start digging into your flesh. Your screams do not drown out their song.

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8 Comments
  1. parfles permalink

    This is awesome, dude! If I may say so, your new, slightly darker stories are working very well for me – you are getting more out of the language in these, and the language in this one is evocative and powerful and all those things.

    I loved the reference to Nikos by name – it makes it more powerful than an unnamed shipmate, and all the oblique references to the sigil (it’s not standing out but just fits right into a story that I would otherwise place pretty much in the here and now).

    I loved the description of faces that form out of foam and reflections – I can totally see that and see how they change too.

    The second person was very unobtrusive but fitting the story very well.

    I thought the sentence about the nylon rope and the mast was too long to read comfortably. Otherwise no nitpicks.

    Thank you! Great take on the myth.

    • Thanks!

      I did second person more as a challenge to myself than as a choice for that to be The Right Way to do it, but I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

      Re faces that form: thanks!

      Re long sentence: yeah, I concur. I think I’ll chop it into pieces for printing.

  2. Ooh, twisty, I like. Those the gods wish to destroy, they first give their heart’s desire. Heh. The atmosphere, and the second-person voice of the main character, work very well – I like the note of fatalism at the end. You’ve done some nifty things here with changing sentence length, really works.

    Nitpick: “in a bluster” really didn’t work for me, I’m not sure if it’s an idiom I’m not recognising or a random bit of poetic diction, but to my mind it doesn’t quite convey the right tone. My English teacher’s soul also wants to say “Interesting, but how do you consider the “Horizon” theme to be exemplified in this piece?”

    • > My English teacher’s soul also wants to say “Interesting, but how do you consider the “Horizon” theme to be exemplified in this piece?”

      It’s one of those “If you don’t get it it, I can’t tell you” deals. 😉

      [Also: ship, standing on, looking out at horizon. Not that much of a stretch…]

  3. nantalith permalink

    I like your darker stories as well. And they still have your signature twist but not so obvious – very cool.

    I’m not that fond of second-person but it was still enjoyable 🙂

  4. second person is very brave and I think it worked brilliantly in this case. It makes the hero’s siren obsession much easier to relate to.

    Loved the slowly building realisation about what he is doing and why, also the depths of his determination.

    The twisty end was excellent, I love how the story supports the tradition in that they do sing wonderously while contradicting it in that they can fly.

    Really liked the dark vibes that play off well with your style.

    • Thanks, man.
      Glad that 2nd P worked for you – was a bit worried about it.
      I seem to be enjoying being “a bit dark.”

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