Friday, May 24, 2013

It's the Substrates That Matter

My posts have dwindled to essentially nothing in the past few weeks due to starting work on another novel. This new novel is set to satire my first few years of college (in all its glory).
Currently, the project itself is titled "Substrates and Killer Tones" (the title hasn't been set in stone), but I thought I might as well share the short story that sets up the entire book. As I finish more of the book, I'll be posting more details, either on here or on my Tumblr account.

If you really enjoy what you read, let me know. I'm still looking for some opinions on the first few chapters and am always open to new readers.

"Substrates and Killer Tones"

“They say it isn’t possible. Why is it impossible? How can it be impossible?” I snicker at the thought. The wheels on my chair squeak against the stained floor as I push back from my desk. “I just have to think hard enough. Yes, hard enough.” The smile upon my face would delight even the most cynical of beings. Only realizations of the highest degree could bring on such happiness. Realizations that are born from the ideas of the brilliant—yes, the brilliant. They may say I’m crazy—that my ideas are crazy—but they don’t know! So blind…Yes, so blind…
Eyes wide. Pupils focused. Saliva dripping from my mouth in waiting for an occurrence. All of my focus sits on the blank, dirty wall before me in the dim, dim light of this damn dorm room. A cube. Yes, a cube! That’s what I want! I’ll create a cube! I’ll show them what’s ‘impossible!’ My brain strains anxiously and water seeps from the corners of my eyes. A square pops into my visual field. Super-imposed upon the wall. Intangible and translucent, its figure hardly blocks any sight of the wall, but it’s progress. Delicious progress!
Almost there! My concentration hardens. My eyes grow wider. Small tremors kick my head in anticipation. Slowly but surely, the square pops out. I can see it! Its four edges emerge from the grimy wall, bringing eight more behind it. A cube! Yes, it’s a cube that I want! It’s not long before my brilliance has birthed an object from nothingness. But…something’s wrong…
Why can I still look through it?! Anger seeps into current thoughts as my eyes keep wide, straining to keep the object from dissipating. With a shaking hand, there’s a commitment to testing the cubes tangibility. It must be real this time… How can it not be? How could it be impossible? Tremors shove my hand in such a way that even entropy could not accurately describe. But, still, I reach for it.
I’m almost there. Just a few more inches. Surely it’ll be real this time.
Shaking horribly, my hand reaches were it should be, but nothing activates my mechanoreceptors. I feel nothing.
“Goddamnit!” I yell. My eyes snap shut, drawing the tense energy back into my body. The force of it all throws me back, throws my chair sideways. In a clatter, both of us crash to the floor hard. Now still, my hand grasps my unclothed, aching arm while I wince in pain.
The cube is gone. Watery eyes won’t quit. Now I have a headache. “Just, fucking wonderful…” A sigh escapes my exasperated lips long before I lie my head down upon the floor, upon the small streaks of blood that had helped to calm me before the attempt. “Regular focus doesn’t work. Stimulants don’t increase the tangibility. Pain-induced focus doesn’t have enough bite. Even sacrificing life energy doesn’t come close.” Another sigh. Soft thuds from the floor or my head hit the air as I bang my head against brown tile. “Idiot…And they call you a genius! Ha!” I snicker in self-hate. What good are the doubters?
I gradually come to pull myself up and place the chair up-right. “Just because they say something is impossible, doesn’t make it ‘impossible.’” I wipe a hand over my arm to remove some of the blood, but my skin seems to be stained. “Nothing is ‘impossible.’” I smirk at even the slight notion that I’ll never succeed. “I’ll try again.”
As I sit down upon the chair, there’s a simultaneous knock at my door and window. I glance right at the door, then left at the window. “Here we go again.” I sigh and stand up.
Opening the door, I find a young woman standing before me. Slightly shorter than I with medium-length, dark green hair—a dye job—light-brown eyes and a “cute” face. Maybe I’d find her average physique and fashion sense more attractive if her “concerned” personality wasn’t so goddamn annoying.
“What is it, Sarah?” I ask, letting my annoyance slip easily. Her eyes capture mine with the affective glare of an innocent young girl.
“I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I called you earlier, and you didn’t respond. Lately, you’ve been so caught up with your experiments…I’ve been…worried, especially when I heard what people’ve been saying.” The emotion in her voice feels thick, almost overwhelming. I could almost hug her. Any other person would have gotten the sarcastic: And…what have they been saying? But, for some reason, I can never truly bring myself to be so callous with Sarah. Just because they call me a “demon” doesn’t make me heartless. “What’s that?!” She reaches out a shaking hand to touch the blood on my arm. When her fingers come back died with crimson, the look of terror on her face says it all.
Freezing in place, I watch her reaction as she pushes the door open a little more. Such a gentle soul; what could she do? Her eyes waver a bit as her mind seems to hone in on the smears of blood my body had left upon the floor. I guess the bloody pocket knife on the desk doesn’t make the sight any better either…
“Are you okay?” she squeaks with all the worry written on her visage. Goddamn, that face…Why must she look like that?
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I answer easily with my best, beguiling smile. “I was just trying a new angle on one of my theories. It’s really not as bad as you think, I promise.” I laugh lightly, and her overall mood seems to shift for the better, making the moment slightly less awkward.
“Okay…” she mutters.
“Look, how about this?” I start to lead her away from the door, into the hallway. “Go back to your room. I’ll clean up, get dressed, and I’ll meet you for dinner. How’s that sound?” Her original innocence sparks into action as a sweet smile spawns upon her face.
“That sounds wonderful!”
“Give me an hour or so, and I’ll text you with the details?” She nods her head in agreement and starts to walk away. It doesn’t take her long to glance back at me.
“Just be careful, okay?” Once more, the sincerity in her voice could kill a man.
“Yeah yeah yeah…” I wave her comment off with another smile. She seems satisfied enough—that is, if her leaving is any indicator.
I sigh once more as I close the door behind me. Thinking passively at how many times I tend to sigh, I wonder if Sarah actually realizes what I’m trying to do. How could I possibly be careful at a time like this? Regardless…
“You’re late.” The words fly out of my mouth flat, emotionless.
“Who ever said a demon had to show up on time?”
“Samuel, when he first contacted me.”
“Pssh…Samuel’s too uptight.” I guess he would know. Before me stands Israel, Samuel’s right-hand man—well, one of them at least. When I first met the guy, his name brought back memories of Sunday school, but, obviously, he and Jacob aren’t exactly the same type of person.
Black suit. Red dress shirt. Crimson necktie. Black shades. Blond hair, white skin, and dark-red eyes—in the brief glimpses I’ve received in the past. All the demons seem to wear the same get-up (hair and skin color being the exception). Honestly, I find it all strange and unsettling.
“Are you going to actually tell me what you’re here for or stand in front of my window all night?” The open window behind him lets in a constant flow of cold air. It only makes me hate him more.
Israel smirks. “I hear you’ve been attempting energy creation again,” he remarks casually, hands in his black trouser pockets. “Didn’t Samuel tell you that that power is reserved for Gods?”
“He also said that tolls had to be paid for humans attempting it. I’ve been paying my tolls; he shouldn’t have any problems.” I guess the grimace on my face actively displays my discomfort, because his smile widens. Motherfucker….
“Yes, yes…I just wanted to warn you…” Now at my desk, he plays with my pocket knife. His hidden eyes seem to contemplate the blood on its edge. “It’s dangerous manipulating life energy like that. Also, one wrong move, and maybe what you create won’t be due to your toll. Ever think of that, smartass?”
I remain silent with clenched fists at my side. What else could a genius do?
Leaving my knife back to its resting position, he heads back for the window. Silence impedes the air as he puts a leg outside the window. My nerves can’t take it anymore. “Is that all?!” I blurt out. He snickers in the same, arrogant sort of way all demons seem to snicker. God, I hate them all.
“Just be careful, okay?” In an instant he’s gone, leaving only a scene Columbus at night; the window drops back down with a soft thud.
Beyond pissed off, I sit back down on my chair, my head rested in my hands. Who does he think he is? They don’t have anything on me. I smirk, knowing how awfully clever I am. But, when I look up, I realize a mistake.
Before my eyes, sitting on the floor in front of the wall, is a solid cube, almost translucent, but unmistakably there. “Shit…” I mutter, before shaking my head and heading to the bathroom to clean up for Sarah.


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