Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Short story I wrote for uni...

I wrote this about 6 weeks ago for a uni assignment - task was a 1000 word short story on a topic of your choosing. I had no idea what to wrote about, so I turned my writer's block into a distinction. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't do this from the start...

 Anyway, here it is - 

There it was again. A short burst of inspiration, immediately consumed into the vacuum of the blank page. With every passing minute, the emptiness staring back seemed to grow, almost infinitely.

That's it. There's no hope anymore. What on earth could possibly satisfy the thousand word hunger of the beast? Knowing that it had to be fed by Monday made the pressure even worse. Opening the floodgates to the dam of words wasn't an option - over feeding this beast was just as bad as not feeding it at all.
This monster required perfection.


Michael knew the responsibility was his. It was he after all that adopted the demon, accepting its care as part of his quest to become a Word Smith. it was a task that had to be done.

At first, he thought it would be simple. One thousand words is a barrier crossed very early for a Word Smith, aspiring or otherwise. Why should this be any different?

Michael soon learned that the appetite of the beast would not be quelled with random drivel - the script had to be of outstanding quality, anything less and the demon would regurgitate the work and force him to start from scratch.

First, he had tried a diet of simple poetry; then a fond memory, enhanced with fiction - all to no avail. The beast would not accept these half-hearted meals.

Several days ensued where pen did not meet paper. Michael reasoned that his best work usually came at the last moment, spurred by the do-or-die reality of the situation.

The problem was, this has been do-or-die from the beginning. Deep in his mind, Michael knew this, but refused to openly acknowledge it. It would take him too far from his comfort zone. He didn't like it, so he pretended to not know it.


Again, a flash of inspiration teased him. That was it, he'd had enough. Michael resolved to carry his writing pad everywhere he went, ready to record the thoughts that had previously escaped.

It wouldn't be that simple, of course. The ideas had a tendency to hide whenever pen and paper were nearby. Still, Michael reasoned that his mind couldn't lie dormant the whole time. Ideas were bound to come along... eventually.


The deadline drew nearer, and Michael still had blank pages before him. Rather than see another day wasted with no writing, Michael decided to spend the day seeking the counsel of his Word Smith peers and superiors. He had once read, "many minds are greater than one" and sought to apply that wisdom to his task.

Michael met with Seth, a senior Word Smith assigned to the Great Web. His advice was simple, saying to Michael "Don't try to outsmart yourself. Write within your limits; do it well and you will appear genuine, believable. Try to deceive your readers at your own peril."

Taking Seth's advice, Michael returned to his dormitory to give it a test run.

Consciously avoiding bombastic paragraphs, Michael soon wrote a short passage that for once, actually satisfied his standards. By shedding his lexiphanic nature he discovered his writing had become easier to read and subsequently appealing to a larger audience.

With three days until the monster's deadline, the feeling of relief at such a revelation was almost overwhelming. Michael's training had taught him caution, though, and he knew not to get ahead of himself. The task was not yet done. The celebrations will have to wait until the words are comfortably digesting in the beast's stomach.


The next day, Michael awoke with eagerness hoping to finally complete his task. The morning passed in a blur as pen scratched paper, the noise had a rhythmic quality to it that helped spur on Michael's progress. Further and further he was drawn into the 'zone', hypnotised by the repetitiveness of left to right. Michael had become so oblivious to the world around him that he failed to notice the sky darkening above, violent storms threatening to unleash themselves at any moment.

With a tremendous crash of thunder, the skies opened. The noise startled Michael, its sheer volume causing his ears to ring and the force of the sound making the floors around him shudder. Michael looked up to inspect the clouds that had apparently snuck up on him. Examining the strange detail in the contours of the water vapour led Michael to conclude something was... different.

Then with another violent clap, the dorm shook and the rain fell harder. Except, there was no flash accompanying the thunder. Michael pondered this for a moment, considering how this was possible. Then, with horror, he recalled the long-ago history lesson he'd sat for his entry exam. This was no storm of nature. It was the signal for the mysterious and evil Illiterati's imminent arrival.

Many years ago, a war took place between two warring factions - the Word Smiths and the Illiterati. The Word Smiths fought for the integrity of written language, while the Illiterati made it their agenda to butcher writing to irrelevance, preferring a world with only spoken language. Their motive seemed to be pure evil, and they were regarded as such. Still, they'd been in hiding so long that most except the oldest of war veterans and most attentive of students recalled their existence.

Even the beast feared their approach, almost succumbing to the inevitable doom that was looming above.
Michael panicked. What could he do? The last war ended with the greatest Word Smiths sacrificing themselves to drive off the Illiterati and banish them to the wilderness. Today, no great Word Smiths remained, at least none mighty enough to overcome the might of the Illiterati. Gone was JuVer, Tolk and Hemway. Contemporaries Meyer, Brown and Pattin are the most successful of their era, but stand no chance facing up to the likes of Illiterati goonies Sandykyle and Bushmaster, much less their leader, Shackle O’Kneel.

The clouds parted and the entire Illiterati force descended to wreak havoc. Almost without a fight, the Word Smiths were slaughtered and the Illiterati established their supremacy.

Michael threw his work into the fire in order to hide his identity, and then trudged outside to accept his cruel fate. Enslaved by the Illiterati to demolish the Grand Library, the last shreds of literal history disappeared before his eyes.

All hope for Michael's dreams were gone. Reluctantly, he whispered to himself, "Maybe I wasn't meant to be a Word Smith after all."