New Poem: “Character Study”

A life in pages.

As I lay in bed last night, I started writing something to help me deal with my frustration over the difficulty of creating fleshed-out characters for the various novels I’m outlining.  Somehow, within two lines, it became a poem!

Character Study

 

I am a character.

 

I exist in sentences, breathe between fragments of symbols

laid out upon polished parchment.

My ambitions are tentative, my past abstract,

until you take this next clause and consonants

to explain my who, what, when, where, why, and how.

 

This is not ideal.

 

I would prefer to be absolute, to be able to look

around every corner of life’s labyrinth

and know how the bends curve to end.

As it stands, I walk by a torch

waved at your whim, vim lent through a passive void

blessed with meaning and being on a case-by-case basis.

A closed cover could conclude me at any

moment.

A picture, once rendered, could cast me

as an iconic beauty

or deformed doodle.

 

This world is not kind to the fictional, see.

You abuse us, prop us up

to promote your ends and means.

We vague infinity, the people who could be, should be, may have been,

are the scarecrows in your field of dreams,

pocketing promises like rocks as ballast

for whatever sale you set.

 

But page-wise, perhaps I can transcend. Already,

you feel obligated to keep writing,

keep reading.

Already you have fixed some image of who I am,

face and intonation pasted

from some old encounter like papier-mâché over a withered balloon:

A brother, a lover, a stalker, an ex-professor.

 

It’s said that people are only ideas

incarcerated in calcium and calories.

Yet I roam free, by virtue

of ink and imagination.

You think yourself the powerful one, but

 

after every book you took your words from,

every film you filched your inflections from,

every game that trained your reflexes,

and every song from which you stole your emotions,

motivation woven into heartstrings, tell me:

 

Who created who?

Nightmare Force: DEMON Classes

As promised the other day, here’s a brief list of the “classes” of DEMONs that Aron and company may confront in the Nightmare Force series:

 

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1: Photographers

Denotes a DEMON which takes the form of or “inhabits” a computerized image file. Visual exposure to a Photographer has been known to cause paranoia, sleep disorders (i.e. night terrors), and insanity, sometimes culminating in death by remote means or a manifestation. The image may be of the DEMON’s eventual manifestation, but it may just as easily be of some other disturbing or innocuous subject. In the case of preexisting images uploaded to an electronic network, those of a psychologically disturbing nature are prime targets, as DEMONs across classes primarily feed on the electrochemical energy generated by the human emotions of fear and anxiety.

 

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2: Animators

Animators take the form of nonexistent episodes of animated television programs or films. Variations of preexisting animated footage are possible as well — and all the more dangerous, as the DEMON’s influence may not be readily apparent. The episodes will invariably be a disturbing or surreal deviation from the source material, portraying graphic and tonally perverse events, often via imagery that could not exist within the confines of the source program’s real-world creation. Although Animators are not as dangerous upon visual contact as Photographers, they have been known to change based on who views them — even among multiple simultaneous individuals — and produce unique effects capable of inducing despondency, violent behavior, or catatonia.

 

The Grifter

3: Directors

Essentially identical in characteristics and effects to Animators, with the exception that their footage consists of live-action people and places. However, the “works” of Directors can still take the form of either polished film or crude “found footage.” As with Photographers, some are legitimate recordings of a DEMON which facilitates its propagation by digital means, while others are created wholly by the Director. Differentiation between the two varieties — as well as what is merely legitimately disturbing footage unrelated to DEMONS — is an inherent challenge.

 

Pokemon Black

4: Programmers

Programmers target videogames, computer games, and other programs in general. Like Animators and Photographers, they may infect a preexisting game or create their own (albeit in purely digital form) through which to spread detrimental effects. However, this change can range from a slight modification of key features to — in the case of narrative-driven games — a total overhaul of the plot and characters. The challenge in tracking Programmers is that lesser interferences are often dismissed as “glitches” or “hacks,” while Programmers have been known to transcend their confines and infect other technology.

 

THE KING COME DOWN

5: Authors

Though relatively uncommon, Authors are perhaps the most dangerous of DEMONs. They manifest in the form of text, which can quite literally go viral when distributed over the internet or — if the Author threatens or somehow possesses its victim — surreptitiously left in public on a digital device or storage medium. The “writing” can range from a complex story to a short warning to a jumble of nonsensical characters. In any case, by tracking the ocular movements and brain waves of its victim, an Author is almost guaranteed to manifest or in some way further spread after its victim has completed reading. Authors may manifest immediately or after a set period of times, though performance of a particular ritual may delay the event or transfer it to another victim.

 

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6: Singers

The rarest of DEMONs, Singers choose to spread via digital audio files. These “Songs” are generally unnerving atonal pieces or cacophonous snippets of noise, though preexisting recordings of a disturbing nature are naturally a prime target for DEMONs if transferred to a computerized format. Listening to some or all of a Singer has been known to result in flu-like symptoms at the least, and psychotic breakdowns or manifestation (immediate or delayed) at the worst.

 

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7: Viruses

“Virus” refers to any DEMON which does not fit into the above categories. Because of their unpredictability, Viruses are assumed to be especially dangerous. Viruses may be reclassified at any time, and so the term can actually denote any unidentified DEMON.

[In “A Routine Tune-Up,” though Aron doesn’t explicitly mention it, Graytongue would be considered a Programmer, although its particular use of creepspace and “nesting” in  a separate real-world location was unique enough to consider it a “partial Virus”]

“Day of a New Dawn”

...But can you really have them all at once?

…But can you really have them all at once?

More from English 484, coming right up! In keeping with the course’s focus on the revision and reimagining of a piece, this story is a quasisequel to Bread and Buttons from two weeks ago. This time, the prompt offered several routes, from adding new scenes to approaching the same theme from a radically-revised angle. I chose the option which essentially worked out as a composite of both those examples: changing the POV (point of view) character. This time, it’s from the perspective of Dawn “Won” Brooke: Dan’s older sister, bittersweet inspirational figure, and Arch-Manager of RobotNews!

Despite being a companion to Dan’s narrative (taking place the same day as he’s moving out with his wife), it can (hopefully) be read on its own without confusion; I tried to keep the same style and themes, but explore them from the perspective of a slightly older woman. Needless to say, Dawn is not quite the carefree model of success Dan regards her as–but as her younger brother moves on, maybe she too will experience the…

Day of a New Dawn