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Help please. CASH PRIZE!!!

673 Views 37 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Martinelv
Bare with me please. I know you?re all bored with my posts, but I need your help. All of your help. From every single one of you.

I?ve recently entered a literary competition, funded by our local arts council, and managed to squeeze my way into the last 200 with my silly Tangle Man story. Now I?ve got to submit a chapter of no more than 3000 words from a novel that I?ve written, and the best three get short-listed to win ?5000, and the winner to get ?20,000 and a foot in the door of the publishing world.

Problem is, I?ve got one completed novel (A Tranquil Breeze) and one unfinished (My House on the Fjord), and I don?t know from which I should submit a chapter, even though I?ve decided on the chapter from each! The first is my real baby, nurtured over many years, and the second is just something I?ve spewed out since I?ve been ill. The problem is that I don?t know which one (or chapter from one) to submit. My heart says ?A Tranquil Breeze?, but I think it might be a little too ?off the wall?, even though I regard it as my finest work. But the other, which was more spontaneous and less provocative, might go down better. My ?House on the Fjord? seems, well, just a little trite to me, but I can?t be sure, because I enjoyed writing it so much. ?A Tranquil Breeze? has been a real slog, They are looking for unpublished writers with ?potential?, and for years I?ve been told that I have this. But now it?s crunch time. I need you all to be honest. Brutally f*****g honest. Please, I need a consensus on which chapter to submit. I?m fed up of people around me telling me how talented I am, which I know is a lie, I?m an average writer at best with a little imagination, so I?m counting on you, my faceless friends, to nudge me in the right direction. You may also notice that the occasional phrase, or sentence, has been stolen from one novel into another?but I?ve been told all authors do this! Please read the whole chapter of both, even if you?ve read them already, as I?ve spent the last week editing them to hell. I'll post them on this thread, so as not to sludge up the rest of the forum. Forgive format, lack of indentations, etc. Bloody Forum. :wink:

Please? If I win, or ever get published, I promise I?ll either donate a portion (probably insignificant!) to DPSelfHelp.Com, or dedicate the book to you all. I mean that sincerely.

Deadline for submission is in exactly a seven days time. So if you could just read the chapters from each, below, and decide for me what I should do, I?ll be eternally grateful. I know it?s selfish of me to ask, what with all your own problems, but this really is make or break for me. If I fail, my only recourse will to become a priest, and you know what?ll happen then!!! If you don?t, check out Revelations in the bible! :twisted:

Sebastian, Terri, Janine, ShyTiger, of all people, tell me what to do!
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Chapter 3. A Tranquil Breeze.

Part 1

The twin?s mother skinned herself alive. Her elderly husband found her one bright and cheerful September afternoon, sitting in her favourite wicker chair with a celebrity magazine open on her lap and a perfectly circular pool of blood spreading out beneath her. Her arms were folded tightly across her chest and the skin below her naval was lying neatly folded on the glass-topped coffee table next to her. She looked up dreamily at the old man and smiled, then breathed her last as the paramedics skidded to halt in his tears. Apparently she had taken a knife and cut around her waist with method and patience and the skin came off like a pair of soggy trousers. Why she chose this method to check out was a matter of less than scholarly debate, although the nature of her twins was clearly implicated. Two young policemen ? excited at the prospect of being smeared with the notoriety, got nothing from her husband as shock and age was swiftly embraced by insanity.

I met him once, in the nursing home he was sent to die in, as I had to get him to sign some papers to legalise my guardianship of the twins. He said nothing during the three hours I spent with him, cajoling him, just those two rheumy eyes bulging out of his skull like polyps of bile ripe to burst. I remember watching his face twitch as if an invisible millipede was ambling across his skin and wondering which particular memory was tormenting him. He died shortly after my visit, on the day of his seventy-ninth birthday. A kindly Staff Nurse, straddling him in his wheelchair as she struggled to force some medication down his throat, noticed too late the sting of white spirit he was pouring over her head before he ignited them both with a forbidden cigarette. A resident with one eye and feet lost to gangrene discovered them and complained about the smell. The twins were still babies at the time of their parent?s death and only recent fading from the collective tabloid memory. If they know the truth of their past they have said nothing to me, they?ve never even asked.
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Part 2

My arms are starting to ache from the digging but I?ve got down deep enough to feel the twin?s sheet. I grasp it with both hands and pull. They slip out of the wet earth, reborn again for another evening of malice. I let go and fall onto my backside. ?Sorry if I?m early,? I gasp.

Red glares at me and gives me the bird. I guess I?m early. She rips open the plastic and hauls herself out, Blue dangling beneath her, asleep as usual. I hook my arm beneath Blue?s armpit and help them to their feet.

?This is getting ridiculous,? I say, immediately fussing over them, removing twigs and worms from their hair, moistening their skin with my spit, tugging and straightening their poncho. My beautiful girls.

Blue wheezes herself awake. She grins at me sheepishly and my more shameful qualities dither for a moment. ?Hi,? she says.

I cup her chin with the palm of my hand and kiss her cheek. ?Hello sweetness.? I pick some sleep out of her eye.

?Where to then Missy?? enquires Red, screwing a finger into her ear.



?Good money.?

?Bad men if I remember.?

Blue yawns. ?Aren?t they all??

?Is Hammond going to be there?? asks Red.

?Should be,? I say, giving them a final once-over and gesturing for them to follow.

Red chews her lip thoughtfully as we trudge out of the park. A freshening wind steals the few remaining leaves from the trees, which spiral down around us like petals before the feet of gods.

?You got anything for us?? asks Blue, peering over her sister?s shoulder. ?I?m going to need something tonight.?

Red grimaces. ?Well I don?t.?

?A few pills,? I say. ?That?s all.?

?That?ll do.?

We leave the park and hail a taxi. The twins scramble in and I give directions to the driver who declines to acknowledge our existence. Twenty minutes of silent brooding later and we arrive at the scene of our impending vandalism; a grubby post-war catastrophe of pebble-dashed concrete set back in a road of (nearly) smug opulence. Four zealously polished cars are squeezed on the driveway and a number of others less keenly kept have been parked hurriedly at the kerb. The house is dark except for a light that flickers weakly in a basement window. It?s quiet too, considering the festivities about to begin. All I can hear is a soft pounding from a stereo and an occasional laugh. Muffled cruelty. I can almost sense the foul anticipation seeping through the walls. I close my minds eye and tear away the curtains to see a throng of naked men thrusting their hips against the glass.

?Let?s go.?

The Ecstasy I?ve given the twins is beginning to skip through their veins. Two pairs of saucer sized eyes dare me to criticise. Blue twitches, grins, frowns, gurns, then smothers a cackle. Red draws deeply on a cigarette, looking like she is behind in a race for the worlds last. We walk up the steps to the house and I rap my knuckles against the door. A cheer erupts from inside. Bodies stumbling over bottles. Someone charges down the stairs. A voice tells others to be quiet. The door opens with a flourish.

?Hello ladies.?

Hammond bows and invites us in with a sweep of his arm.

?Hi,? I say.

A smell something like rotting potatoes welcomes us. Greedy eyes glint at us through a blue marijuana mist. Hammond grunts like a pregnant sow snorting cocaine and crashes the door shut behind us.

?Here we go my darlings,? he says.

Hammond throws his arms around the twins and guides them down the corridor in front of me. A crowd of men reverently press themselves against the wall to let us pass.

?Hammond,? I call, picking my way through the dark, smiling politely at the punters desperately trying to disappear up their backsides. He ignores me and whispers something into Blue?s ear that makes her trickle out a snigger.


I feel a hand scuttle like a crab over my backside. I brush it off with a playful stroke. ?Hammond.? Another paw gropes at my breasts. The natives are getting restless. They have the dangerous patience of a Tiger trapped in a cage.

Shrugging off further advances I follow them into a dimly lit room at the rear of the house, a kitchen stripped bare except for a heavy looking wooden table with a coloured man of gigantic proportions perched on the edge. He nods at Hammond and licks his lips at the twins.

?This them?? His voice trembles under the weight of mountainous spite.

?S**t for sure.?

The man nods again and scratches his chin, then swings his legs up and lies down on the table. A scrawny adolescent, a thrall of some kind no doubt, appears from nowhere and fumbles with the mans belt, drags his trousers down to his ankles and stands back to admire him like a sculptor scrutinising a badly worked lump of clay. Blue giggles and waves her arm around like a blind woman searching for a flame. Red lurches forward and grabs his hardening self.

"Careful." The man looks up at Red. "I want you to take your time."

I push past the rapt adolescent and leave them to it. Out in the corridor I?m surrounded by punters who jostle for my attention like a herd of cows at a feeding trough. A slimy tongue explores my neck and a hand impales itself between my legs. Others fumble with my clothes, gingerly at first but quickly eager. I leer professionally. Time passes. Someone grabs the back of my neck and forces me to my knees. I do what I?m paid to do. Small silver fish skitter across the surface of a stagnant canal, fleeing the ghost of a vaporous catfish that looms up from beneath them.

?Hey, you?ve got to see this.?

My suitors evaporate, stamping off towards the kitchen and a cacophony of competing voices.

?You?ve got to f*****g see this.?

I stand up and hastily rearrange myself and elbow my way through the crowd gathering at the door. I see the twins lying on the table with their poncho torn down the middle and their plunderer standing between their legs, glancing around at his audience with gleeful astonishment. He looks back at the twins with a mouth slobbering with wonder. After a moment of deliberate hesitation he reaches out and runs a finger down the flap of skin and muscle that joins the twins from sternum to hip. He leans closer and reads the tattoo that runs the length of it in large bold script.

?Cut here,? he snarls.

Hammond beams with triumph. ?Oh yeah.?

The man shakes his head. ?Cut here,? he repeats.

Someone laughs nervously and the carnage begins.
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Part 3

I?m leaning against a wall smoking a tightly rolled joint. The twins are huddled in a space beneath where the sink should be, ruined and bleeding. Hammond is crouched in a corner, his chin pressed against his dirty yellow T-shirt. The air is viscous with the stench of smoke, semen and sweat.

Hammond congratulates us with a slow clap. ?Great work ladies.?

?B*****d,? I reply.

?No, really, you all performed magnificently.?

?And you are a magnificent b*****d,? I say. ?An a******e of truly glorious scale.?

Hammond opens his arms in mock innocence as if to say; ?What, me??

?There?s no need Hammond.?


?No need for,? I search for the words, ?I don?t know, the lack of humility.?

?You?re turning tricks, what do you expect??

?They?re savages Hammond, all of them.?


?And we don?t need it. Why do you still insist on getting us this kind of work? Why places like this? You know how much we can charge.?

Hammond sighs. I can?t ever remember hearing him sigh before. ?Because my dear, my precious creature, I choose the clients. I choose who has you. I choose who has the twins.?

?Hammond,? I protest.

?And because you need me,? he continues. ?The twins need me. Don?t forget it.?

I admit the truth of this by not contradicting him further. ?So where now??

Hammond hauls himself to his feet. ?Not far.?

I look at the twins. ?We?re going to have to clean them up first.?

?Doesn?t matter. They are going to be a lot messier by the end of the night.?

?What?s the plan??

?Off to see Maxwell.?

Red stirs. ?The psycho with the dogs??

?The very same.? Hammond reaches behind his head and shakes loose his hair, a thickly matted tangle of copper wire. ?You?re going to dance for him my sweethearts.?

?Dance?? I ask.

?Yep, that?s all. Although he?s been very particular with his requirements.?

Red burrows her face into her sister?s chest. ?What does he want??

?You?ll see.?

?Very dramatic.?

?Get the freaks moving. Time to go.?

Hammond tumbles out of the kitchen as I encourage the twins out of their surrogate womb. They are shivering from drugs and exhaustion. Their skin is rough like sandpaper and ridded with Goosebumps. Red curses. Blue whimpers and complains.

?Come on ladies,? shouts Hammond.

I manhandle the twins out of the house and dump them in the backseat of Hammond?s ridiculously suburban people-carrier. He drives steadily through the rain, stroking my knee in-between popping tranquilizers and washing them down with a can of beer he has balanced on the dashboard.

?You?re going to love this party,? he says. ?Love it.?

I shrug my shoulders. It shouldn?t be funny, our imminent humiliation, but I?m secretly amused. I sniff guiltily though cocaine numbed nostrils. Artificial happiness betrays me. Drug induced camaraderie sweeps over us. Temporary relief. Hammond crushes an Ecstasy tablet in his palm and offers it to me. I accept. It tastes like chalk and lime. Ten minutes on and the drugs have ushered us to the point of lunacy and beyond. I can?t describe the feeling, being among such connoisseurs of suffering and malevolence yet loving them all, loving it all, being as one. I am ground glass dipped in treacle and fed to a hungry baby on a drip of its mother?s milk.

Hammond finds his way through the seething traffic to our destination. He is sedated to the verge of extinction yet one of his eyes, led by frozen rage, has delivered us to Maxwell. We topple out of the car, a tittering, backslapping pile of everything we shouldn?t be but desperately need to be. In a moment we are in a shiny elevator stinking of p**s, then staggering into a maisonette stinking from months of stale incense, now trying, and failing, to pat the three enormous sandy coloured dogs that circle around us warily.

Ecstasy is a dreadful thing, I decide, not being an expert. I feel terrific, affectionate and smooth. Tender, psychologically attracted to the strangers seated on a sofa in front of us, ludicrously connected to them. I see candyfloss and kittens on my pillow, they see vengeance. I flutter my eyelashes for reasons I forget and mince extravagantly to the stereo where I sieve through their collection of CD?s. I select some hideous trance anthem entirely out of tune with the ambience outside my head, but the men here want to keep us happy so they cheer and whoop and the party starts again.

I?m squat on the floor and some odious brute starts to fondle my dreadlocks. He?s already quoting prices, demands, expectations, but it?s too late for him. I?m in the throes of something more pure and alarming ? a slave to the pounding at the border of my cynicism, to the very edge of the cliff of my doubt where a wave of shocking pleasure pours over me and nudges me in the small of my back. It staggers me to my root. I want to jump up and scream about how I feel. A moment of clarity, a brief moment, a portal into the real, chastises me. But how often do you get the chance to act on the detriment of the good you feel? And when you do, I ask myself, why shouldn?t you submit to it? Precious moments and silver gifts. Something to Cherish.

I lay back on the sticky carpet oozing like a beached squid, feeling the roughness of the carpet chafe my skin. My eyes are no longer under my control and they jitter to the far side of the room, guided down a glittering avenue of boogying Christmas lights to where the twins are standing on a hastily prepared stage of old crates and smooching out of rhythm. The men are clapping, having giving up any false pretence of civility, urging the twins to display more of the erotic conviction they think they deserve.

Maxwell, our host, has his mouth somewhere near my ear. He grabs my chin and pours expensive champagne into my mouth, soiled with drugs of such strength I dare not imagine. The room swells around me, the walls close in, but I accept it, I want it. A television flickers into life in front of me. Through the storm of bliss that continues to assault me I see a badly recorded video of a volcano erupting.

?Doesn?t it make you just so hungry,? Maxwell drools, lips to my lobes.

?I?m not hungry,? I say for no reason.

?Just look at it.? He?s somewhere inside my head now, licking the salt off my grey mush.


?The volcano. Look at the lava creeping down that dusty brown hill. Would it surprise you if it tasted of hot and bitter oranges??

I shake my head. I nod my head.

?And the crust, oh my, so sweet. What you?ve got to do is bite into it slowly.?

This is all terrible madness, I know, but I follow his lead. Together we press our faces against the screen and crunch into the toasted black lava. Sinking my teeth through the burnt crust I bite down into the nuclear core. It feels like biting into ice cream on a summer day. But he?s right, it?s true, it tastes so good. Piping hot oranges gone rotten after a day in the sun, molten pips and coriander rocks seeping with murderous sloth through the gaps in my floss. I fall away from the TV feeling nauseous but sated ? starvation followed by gorging on too many chocolate doughnuts.

Maxwell is on top of me now, his face looming large and sickly. One of his dogs ambles over and licks my forehead and growls. From where I?m lying I can see the twins on their altar, twisting and cavorting, performing a bizarre gambol with a hint of pagan. The men are beside themselves with a furious lust. One of them reaches out and catches the zip of the boiler suit the twins have been given to wear. Someone else in the crowd pulls him back and in the tangle of bodies the suit slips off. I gurgle with surprise as offal burps out of the suit and gushes onto the floor. Intestines, a pig?s head, unidentified slabs of bruised meat, trotters with mud under the nails, skinless buttocks and yellow blobs of fat that shiver disgustingly. An enormous bladder flops to the floor next to my face and begins to empty, jerking bovine p**s into my mouth and deflating with a spasm and a sigh. The men are clapping, bellowing, baying with delight, picking up the litter and hurling it around the room. The twins flail around in a circle with the boiler suit around their ankles. Maxwell, his face spotted with blood, collapses and rolls off of me, finished and spent.

The catfish sinks away. A tranquil breeze runs its hand over the surface of the canal.
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Chapter 2. My House on the Fjord.

Part 2 (Part 1 has already been posted on this forum, it's changed quite a bit for submission but I can't be arsed to post it again - but you get the idea.)

We made love, of course, there on the jetty, as the cooling sun collected our sweat into pearls of sapphire and rolled them into to the fjord from where they came. The fjord sighed with thanks and appreciation. Sermons in stone, it whispered, and good in everything.

As we rested with our toes dipped into the lukewarm water, the poet Bream rose from the depths and smiled, looking at us each in turn before reciting his prose. We listened as the happy laughter of unseen children echoed around the hills that cocoon the fjord.

?Your house on the fjord is built of burnt oak,
Which steams in the sun and fills you with hope,
Above the door is a lop-sided grin -
On the dry husk of a lizard that once befriended me.

You wander around your house on the fjord,
With salt on your lips and sand in your ear,
Looking for places to conceal your harvest,
For the plentiful fjord is known to me.

The jetty that leads to your house on the fjord
Is carpeted with moss that feels warm on your feet,
And leads to the shore -
Where beach and sky meet.

You lie on the jetty with your toes in the fjord,
And let mermaids and manatees cleanse you of whim,
The lap of the waves lends you to me,
And you daydream of Ishmael?s Albatross laughing with glee.

At night the fjord bobs with Chinese lanterns,
Like the souls of anemones ascending to breath,
Carried along by a gentle wind from the east,
To melt into dusk when the fjord leaves them be.

Your house on the fjord is everything to you,
Mother, father, brother, friend, who listen to you,
As a child you would fear it?s sucking expanse,
But now, no fear, no more -
This fjord is now all that you need.?

The bream sank with a wink and a final smile and I found myself alone again. The air around me sang with the recollections of the girl, her lemongrass scent mixing with the orange flavour of dusk. Dragonflies buzzed me and urged me to bed. Time to sleep, for the house on the fjord is yours to keep.

With a weary contentment I stood up and waved goodbye to the dragonflies who rang their belly-bells in farewell retreat. I stepped into my house on the fjord and lay myself down on my simple bed. I drew my seal-fur duvet over me and slipped into an easy sleep, as feathery ghost of my beautiful dog, Suzie, sat guard at the door and eased me into dreams.

I?m floating on these dreams, on the pure water of the fjord, letting myself drift with the current as it sees fit. The wonders, and they are countless varieties, in the azure waters flirt with me. Extraordinary creatures with concord in their manner, fish with gold in their eyes and butter in their wake, long dead friends tenderly blowing bubbles of pleasant memories which enter my nose and fizz like slow burning phosphorus, filling my limbs with joyful thoughts of unending companionship. Romance so pure that it almost renders my heart. I let the waters claim me and I sink into the deep, urged on by friends and other consorts ? the Bream and Manatees, shimmering Starfish and effervescent Jellyfish that buzz like a butterfly swimming in wet sherbet.

I bump gently onto the sandy fjord floor. As you know, I am not a religious man, but I have no shame in revealing to you the almost divine majesty of what I saw there. Fortresses of something more than stone, edifices of geometry that more than defied nature, slabs of magnificent construction that rose above me, swarming with life that I cannot begin to describe. And it was here, as I lay two thousand feet below the surface of my house of the fjord, gazing with eyes too simple to comprehend what I was seeing, that I settled down to sleep within my dreams. Comforted by the confident beat and swell of the water dwellers playing around me, I let the crabs and molluscs that rose from the sand pick and feed on my what little remained of my uncertainties. And there, within my dream of dreams, I looked up through the countless fathoms and saw the girl in red, washing her feet in water by my house on the fjord, smiling at me.

Part 3

It?s dusk again when I wake from my dreams, and it seems to be time for a Halloween masquerade. Have I been here that long? Or have I arrived only recently?

The jetty is lined with Jack o? Lanterns and festooned with webs of glittering spiders silk. The maroon sky is filled with spectres and pleasantly wailing banshees, witches with dangerously high foreheads and goblins riding slivers of coral, lighter than air. A throng of nations, fjord dwellers and people like me, children too, sea snakes bedecked with ornate masks and suitably enchanting dress, peacock feathers in their hair, are all dancing on the jetty. Dancing to sweetly trumpeted music that drifts up from the fjord, from clouds of mist that drift over the water and shudder into form, my friends perhaps ? I can?t be sure, when they pluck at their liquid harps.

A man with the mask of a pharaoh walks up to me. ?Care to dance??

?No thank you. I?m enjoying the music,? I say. ?Anyway I?m waiting for someone, if you don?t mind.?

Even beneath his mask I can sense him beam. He glances around. ?Of course.? He turns back and bows. ?Your girl in red. Forgive my intrusion. I think you?ll find her in your boat at the far end of the jetty.?

I open my mouth to reply, to apologise for my discourtesy ? because of course this is my party, arranged for me. But he?s off, seduced by a sudden swelling of barnacles that attach themselves to his skin and he disappears in the crowd like a swarm of bees. I make my way slowly though the partygoers, pausing to stop and greet my guests, to admire their attire and pass my hands through the stunningly insubstantial balls of light of some merry Willow the Wisps. Night is almost upon me by the time I reach the end of the jetty, drunk on emotions of contentment and bone-warming amity. The spirit of Suzie trots along beside me expectantly.

?Go home you,? I smile. ?I have an appointment with a lady.?

She cranes her head up at me and gives me that toothy canine grin and evaporates in the gust of my breath. The party goes on. My girl in red is sitting cross-legged in my boat ? made from the same burnt oak from my house on the fjord.

?Hello,? I say.

?Hello,? she replies, without turning her head.

I think for a moment. Does she want to be alone? ?Do you want to dance??

?Do you?? she asks.

I look up at stars then down to the fjord and the ghostly musicians. ?Not really to be honest.?

?What would you like to do?? I catch a hint of her familiar aroma. I am intoxicated by tranquillity. My eyelids droop but my pupils dilate.

?I would like,? I say without hesitation, despite my torpor, ?to take you out in the boat.?

My girl in red stands up and faces me. She reaches out her arms ready for an embrace. I wish I had two hearts. One isn?t enough for moments like this.

I jump into the boat and bury my neck in the girl?s neck. ?I missed you,? I say. Her skin feels like the dew covered moss, but the memory of the strange man I saw earlier licking it off the tree taints the moment, just a little. She kisses my forehead.

?Don?t be silly,? she says. ?You can?t possibly have missed me.?

?Why not?? I ask, and with my eyes closed watching the man vanish into the trees. I open my eyes to see the milky white silhouette of a vaporous catfish glide under my boat. Small silver fish skitter across the surface of the water. The sound of firecrackers erupts from behind my house on the fjord.

She kisses me again. ?Just because.?

?That?ll do.?

She lets go of me and I sit down and prepare to row. It occurs to me that I don?t know how to row a boat or where we should be going. There is part of me that cannot bare the thought of disappointing my girl, but as I search my self for these fears and uncertainties I remember the bottom feeders, consuming every morsel of my lesser qualities. I lean back and row confidently out onto the fjord. The jetty disappears behind us, obscured by the congealing forms of my old friends with their thumbs up and congratulatory nods of the head. The girl waves at them over my shoulder.

Almost complete darkness envelops us as we move steadily out into the fjord. I literally can?t see my hand in front of my face. ?You still there?? I ask stupidly.

?Of course I am silly man? she replies.


I hear her chortle. Even her amusement swings from elegant strings.

?Am I doing something wrong?? I say. Thanks to the crabs I know I?m not, but I ask anyway.

She laughs again. ?No.?

?Good.? I row for a little more but with less veracity. ?Are you happy??

Her answer surprises me. ?Have you ever heard of enjoying the moment?? Her face becomes illuminated by the lures of a shoal of Anglerfish that leap from the water into her lap. She tilts her head in expectation of an answer. ?Well, have you??

?Well, no, I guess not.? I chew my lip. ?I always feel like there should be something, well, more.?

A frown flickers across her face as she looks down to stroke the Anglerfish sucking at her red dress. Their glow fluctuates from yellow to green, from green to blue.

?Do you know what I mean? You know, like whatever you are experiencing, however wonderful, is never enough? Like there is always something more just around the corner. Something better??

The girl raises her eyebrows but says nothing, so I continue. ?Everything is either too hot, too cold, too white, too grey, never enough tears or too many, serious or mediocre, gaudy or too ornate.? The fjord suddenly seems a long way away.

?Are you talking of heaven? Paradise??

I lift the oars and the boat slowly comes to a stop. ?No.? I feel something I haven?t felt in a long while. Anger. ?No, I don?t mean that.?

One by one she picks up the fish and drops them over the side. I watch them drop into the water and fade like coins thrown into a wishing well. Darkness again, except for the sparks of light that flicker across my sight when I?m angry. This isn?t right.

?Let?s go back,? she says, with something like sympathy in her tone.

Apart from the anger, I feel obstinate, pig-headed, yet I pick up the oars and turn back to the jetty. ?Fine.?

The party seems to have ended by the time the boat arrives at the jetty. No music, no revellers, no decoration, no feeling of celebration. ?Where?s everyone gone?? I ask, as I help my girl out of the boat.

?You know what you want?? she says, crossly, gazing down at me with her arms folded across her breasts.

I no longer feel angry. I feel empty. ?No, what do I want??

She snorts. ?Of course you don?t.? She starts to pick her way through the trees.

?When will I see you again?? I shout after her.

?When you?ve figured out what you want.?

?What you do mean? I want you. I want to live here, on my house on the fjord. Everything is perfect here with you.?

Silence. Brooding, watchful.

I clamber out of the boat, scuffing my knees, and walk back along the jetty to my house. Suzie sits at the door. I go to pat her head but she shies away. What have I done wrong? Something in me, older, wiser, tells me that I?ve become trapped in happiness. Is my house on the fjord a prison after all?
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Thanks for your kind words and advice everyone. I've decided - i'm submitting 'A Tranquil Breeze' today. I can't put it off any longer.

Terri - :D , no, unfortunately that phrase was all mine. The only thing I've ever stolen from other writers was: "Sermons in stone, and good in everything." - But I don't think he'll mind....Shakespeare being dead 400 years and all that! It comes from one of his sonnets which for some strange reason has always resonated with me, which, if memory serves, goeeeeeeees something like this:

Waters in the babbling brook,
Whispers in the rustling leaves,
Sermons in stone,
And good in everything.

Er, but it might have been Wordsworth, I can't be sure.

It's weird this writing business. As I said, it was a real struggle writing A Tranquil Breeze, but My House on the Fjord just kinda flowed out of me - I wrote the first two chapters in one night, with hardly any editing. Content perhaps ? I dunno.

But thanks anyway guys..and Seb, still welcome your comments.
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Hey Brainsilence, thanks for your really quite absorbing critique. And for gods sake, stop apologising for your English. It's better than mine, and I am the greatest living English speaker.

Anyway, to your questions and objections (thank god, objections)

Martinlev wrote:
"I wish I had two hearts. One isn't enough for moment like this."

I can?t "decode" that, does it mean that:

1. his emotions about her are too strong? (in love)
2. he feels like he doesn't deserve this?
3. he found something that he never hoped he would?
4. his romance empowered by relief?
First off, let me try and elucidate how I write. In the case of 'My House on the Fjord', I was (to use an unspeakable clich?) writing from the heart. My heart. There was no real 'intention' behind the story, except for an idea of my head of paradise - which, as you correctly state, in my case is the ideal of romantic tragedy. In the case in point, you really made me think about it. When I wrote that quote, it was simply to state that the power of the love he felt for the girl was overpowering, which I guess is 1. on your list. But thinking about it, I guess it could you could apply all four criteria to it. But there's the crunch - in stories like this, the latent intention is to let the reader decide on the metaphor. All I do is provide the setting, and a brief glimpse into the narrator?s emotions.

Whenever I am happy, I think of something like this. But with me, it's actually in a form of guilt. Like I am looser in the other things and don't deserve the moment
Yes, this applies to me as well. And, as again you correctly point out, towards the end of the section (where he returns to the jetty) the implication is that this is how he feels.

What is happening now, will go away. Thus it's painful living it, since you know it's going to end. I am, now- [present], and then- [past] sad
No, this hasn't occurred to him yet. In later parts of the story, maybe, I haven't finished it.

I was hungry for story-telling and the descriptions tired me
If you are referring to 'The House on the Fjord', then yes, I agree entirely. Absolutely. But this was my intention, it is not a 'story', rather it's more of an emotional ideal (to repeat myself) and in my opinion can only be loaded with over-descriptive text. This is my natural way of writing, and I have been criticised by editors and agents in the past for being far too self-absorbed with creating an air of mystery or whatever, which is why - in 'A Tranquil Breeze', I don't believe I have indulged myself in the manner you describe. 'A Tranquil Breeze' is a story, as best as I can relate it, with as little emotional waffle as possible, As Terri* said, it's raw, and it was difficult for me.

I like the character's honesty level, but I would like him more modest, direct, and "low-profile".
I'm a bit puzzled by this, as this was not my intention, but I think I understand what you are talking about. You must understand that this story is entirely about him, and the concentration on his self-absorption with his paradise is paramount to the tale. I don't think he portrays immodesty, but perhaps unthinking acceptance of his paradise is immodesty. Nice thought.

Is it better to give data for the characters (in a realistic way, and as it would happen in reality) during the whole story, and later base the ending of the story upon these data? Or is it better to leave a mystery around the characters by giving scarce data or even false one (real will be revealed at the end)?
It depends. My first impulse is always to create an air of mystery and leave it up to the reader to interpret the characters as they see fit, with a bit of a nudge by me of course. But as you say, if people want a 'story' that, as most people do, then it is very important to characterise the person - data, if you like. Most authors do this...right down to the colour of their eyes, that sort of thing. It's a matter of style I guess.

Cheers, thanks so much.

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Wow, thankyou very much Sebastian. Kind words indeed, and high praise indeed. Cheers muchly.

I sent in 'A Tranquil Breeze' a couple of days ago, so that's that. I think, on consensus, it was the right decision. As you'll probably know, the more you read what you've written, the more and more you fiddle with it and come to think of it as a pile of s**t. So it's done, and we'll see what happens.

Anyway, again, thanks for reading it.

Terri - you're not kidding anyone by putting yourself down. There is a difference between being 'intelligent' and having 'wit'. I don't mean 'wit' in the ha hah ha sense, I mean someone who has, well - the spark, or rather human abilities other than to collect PhD's and speak 14 different languages. I don't care for people like that - and I've known a few. For example - I went on a date with gorgeous italian woman (sigh, dislcaimer) who I had been admiring from a distance for a while. She was a philiosophy PhD, spoke fluent english, italian, french and bloody mandarin, was superb at her job, and had loads of interests - such as adventure sports, astrononmy etc. Yet - after a couple of dates I came to realise (and dislaimer#2, I don't regard myself as intelligent or witty in the extreme) that she was completely 'witless'. Totally. Fair enough, I did the dirty deed with her - which was my duty - my duty as a complete and utter bastard, but I was the one who had to make her laugh, make the effort with she thought she deserved it, or - as I think, was totally incapable. Bollocks to that. Give me someone with a face that looks like it's been pressed against a hot iron, and who 'thinks' they are thick as pigs shit but can make me laugh and talk about something other than their goddam hair.

Do you know what I'm talking about? I reckon if I went on a date with you and your sciatica ridden arse, it'd be love. On my part at least.

So shut it woman. :twisted:
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Did I give you permission to speak ? Did I ? :wink:

Incidently, I see you've changed your avatar. I can't make it out. It looks like a boil on someone's penis being lanced. Apparently that's what it looks like, I meant to say.
I can poof your ass to kingdome come!
Ah, please do. I could do with some ass action. In either ass. :twisted:

Janine - I reckon you should do it! It would probably win with ease. You know, some of the threads on this forum are fantastic, witty and intelligent (except for anything Terri* says of course, the dimwit :wink: ). Maybe we should compile it into a book. We could call it:

My psychologically repressed sexual fetish repertoire
Tee hee. Why do things like that make me laugh? Sigh.

Anyway, now that I've free to indulge myself, I wrote another chapter of 'My House on the Fjord' last night. Now, is it just me, or am I starting to indulge myself a little too much....without knowing it, I seem to be veering towards some kind of lovey-dovey psychoanalysis (disclaimer) stuff....what do you think ? Of course, I demand an immediate reply. But please bare in mind, sentimentality is only sentiment that rubs you up the wrong way.... :twisted: (I read that in a book)

Chapter 5

It was a few days before I saw my girl in red. Days where the waters of the fjord became grey and chilling to the touch, where the moss on the jetty yellowed and died, where the sky tumbled with irritated clouds and no miraculous sightings of any note. Was I to be Raoul and my girl a pensive Christine Daae?

It was one morning as I lay in misery, contemplating these thoughts of unrequited love, the seal-fur duvet itching my skin and a howling gale bending the hinges on my door, that I heard a shuffle of feet outside. I leapt out of my bed in thoughtless expectation; at last, at last I could redeem myself with the girl. I threw open the door, ignoring the shower of pebbles and shingle that stung my face, to find myself looking into a face from the gutter.

?It?s cold,? it said, for surely it couldn?t be my lady. Before me stood a wizened old woman, cloaked and hunched, eyes sunken in dried out hollows, cracked lips and flesh stretched so thin that her cheekbones almost pieced her skin. ?It?s cold,? she repeated.

The voice was still hers, but little else was. ?Yes, it is,? I agreed.

Tears of salt ran down her cheeks, which swept off her face in rivulets of milky fluid. A shrivelled hand emerged from her cloak and reached out to me. In that hand was held a dull pink balloon, bouncing madly in the wind. Instinctively, I took it.

?Can I come in??

I looked at the balloon then back at my girl. ?Sure.? I stepped aside and let her, this thing, hobble into my house. I closed the door and my girl sat down painfully on my bed. The balloon shrivelled and drooped in my hand, like a forgotten Christmas decoration hanging limply in the corner of a room. I was at a loss, a mute fool in his own home. I stood there as the balloon expelled the last of it?s rancid air; surely not the sweet breath of my girl, with a creeping feeling of certainty that it was me, here in what was once paradise, that had brought her to this state.

?It?s ok?, she said. ?Come sit next to me.?

I dropped the balloon, which farted like a collapsed lung, and sat down gingerly beside her. ?Are you OK?? I said.

From beneath that hood came the same savage laugh I had come to know. ?Do I look ok??

?No, to be honest, you don?t.?

Another laugh. ?You were always honest, I?ll give you that.?

I thought about removing her hood but by the way she kept her head titled away from me, in shadow, scolded me otherwise.

?Have you decided what you want yet?? she said, as I looked down at the pencil thin legs that poked out from beneath her cloak.

?Of course,? I replied. ?I want you.?

She shifted a little on the bed. ?That?s not enough.?

?Yes it is, I told you so, out on the boat.?

The thing, my lady, turned her haunted face towards me. ?No, you said it?s never enough.? She coughed nastily into her hand. ?Correct me if I?m wrong.? Something spiteful and malicious danced in the vacuum of her eyes.

I sat in silence, unable to legitimise a reply.

?Don?t you think,? said my girl, breaking the uneasy hush, ?that it?s rather bizarre that people associate balloons with fun and merriment??

Again, I sat mute. My eyes flicked to the flabby balloon crawling across the floor in its death throes.

She continued. ?Because really, people are terrified of balloons. Almost everyone, except children and the innocent.?

?What?? I said, ?Everyone likes balloons. Don?t they??

?Ah they think they do, but secretly, they are terrified. Shall I tell you why??

?Go on.?

Unlike the balloon, my lady seemed to swell a little under her cloak. ?Think about it, silly man.?

She called me ?Silly man?. It echoed around my head like the memory of something briefly forgotten.

?No, you tell me. I?m intrigued.? In truth I felt troubled, agitated, like this was leading somewhere I didn?t want to go.

?Think about it,? she repeated. ?You go into a room full of balloons, slowing bouncing around the floor ? like they almost have a life of their own. Yes??

?Ok,? I said.

?And you will, without really realising it, start to tread very carefully in case you step on one and make it go bang. Before you?ve inflated a balloon, it?s nothing, but once it?s inflated it?s a thing of horror. A skulking bag of,? she clapped her hands, ?noise.?

I nodded.

?It?s the expectation of the noise, the sudden blast that scares people.?

?If you say so.?

She continued as if in rapture. ?We secretly fear balloons like we might fear, well, I don?t know, hearing the click as we step on an unexploded mine. And the way they always seem to end up under your chair, or lurking in a corner, or rolling towards a cactus with murderous stealth. One minute it?s sitting harmlessly in the middle of the room, then you look back at it?s inches from?BOOM!?

I nodded again. ?Fair enough. Your point being??



?Yes, dread. The dread of these horrid little bouncing things, full of potential fright. Things of our own creation.?

?That?s slightly over the top isn?t it??

?Is it?? she replied. ?Haven?t you noticed how we, as adults, cheer when watching a balloon float off into the sky, and only children cry??

I stood up and walked to the middle of my room, brooding. ?Is this some kind of metaphor?? The trapdoor creaked under my weight. I looked down at my feet and sighed, a little too extravagantly. ?Ok, I see. You want to know what?s down in the cellar??

?I already know.?

I laughed viciously. ?I very much doubt that.?

?Trust me,? she said. ?I know.?

I thought I was beginning to see her point. ?You?re saying that I dread whatever is in the cellar??

She said nothing.

?And this thing in the cellar is my creation? Correct me if I?m wrong,? I said, with deliberate sarcasm. ?My monster from my f*****g Id??

My girl stood up and made for the door. I put my hands to my temples, wanting to scream, to calm the rage boiling inside my skull. Everything was so wrong; everything was rotting, decaying, my paradise falling apart around me. And it was my fault. All my fault. I collapsed onto the floor. ?I?m sorry,? I wept. ?I?m so sorry. I just want things to go back to how they were before.?

A brief scent of lemongrass filled the room. ?It?s not that easy.?

I looked up with soggy eyes. It was my girl in red. My beautiful girl in red. She smiled and took my hand. ?Don?t worry, I?ll be with you.?


?Not forever. Always."
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Oh, by the way, Sebastian, why don't you post some of your writing? I know you have, er, issues with posting your work on a public forum, but I feel the need to be humiliated, so why not knock something up that you don't care about and post it.
ShyTiger - it's a few pages back on the forum, simply entitled 'My House on the Fjord'. It's quite old, and I've edited it quite a lot since, so if you want it 'straight off the press', then I can email to you if you like.

Terri - yeah, sorry. I don't really want to keep posting my stuff on here all time time, complete that is, as I'm sure it get's on peoples nerves. But anyway, thanks for your kind words. I appreciate it. I'm not happy with it seems to be heading in a direction of it's own...sort of without my control. Weird. Frankly, 'The House..' is how I normally write, my natural style and content, which is was 'A Tranquil..' was such a chore.

And yep - the old woman and the girl are one and the same person. She has 'mutated' into this horror because of what has happened to him...but she won't stay that way....dammit. She's too goddam sexy!
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