Category Archives: Creative

Creative writing. Fiction and stuff. Oh, and 50-word stories.

Urges

[fr] Un vieux texte ressorti des brouillons.

A draft dating back from March 2010. Probably inspired by a dream.

Loud rhythmic music started drifting in the air, and the crowd on the festival river boats slowly went quiet. People stood up and started dancing and cheering.

I looked at Paul. We could feel the urge, but knew that giving in would only make it harder to resist what would come next.

Everyone sat down as the music went silent.

People looked at each other grimly. They knew that however strong the urge, they should not jump overboard.

In a flash, I noticed the group of children a few seats away.

“You! Come here right away!” I ordered.

A little bewildered, they came withing reach. People around me had understood, caught the children as they arrived, and sat them firmly in the seats next to them.

As for me, I grabbed two under each arm — two girls and two boys.

The girls didn’t budge, but the little boys started struggling and hitting me. I didn’t let go.

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Posted in Creative | Tagged dream, fear, Music, water, Writing | Leave a comment

Greta 2

[fr] Exercice d'écriture: personnage Greta.

She left Greta on a Tuesday, and she needs to fill in her week before she meets up with Sam on Sunday evening. It doesn’t have to be tricky. The nice thing about writing stories is that you can choose to skip telling parts of it. You can compress or zoom in, whenever you feel like it.

The next day, the kiosk is still closed. And the day after. On Friday, Greta expects it to be closed, and files the fact away in the “let’s not worry about this” part of her brain. The Selecta machine at the station will have to do for her sugar fix, and she’ll remember to buy cigarettes at the other end of her train journey as she heads home. She misses the interaction with the kiosk lady, though.

Saturday is spent marking tests and preparing classes while Raphaël goes for a run and sees some of his friends. His friends are OK, but she doesn’t feel particularly close to them, and they realized early on in their relationship there was no sense in trying to force their respective social lives onto each other when things didn’t click.

So on Saturdays, Raph goes off and Greta gets some extra quiet working time. He shops for groceries on the way home, cooks dinner, and then they have an evening to themselves. Sometimes they go out for a movie, but most of the time they stay in. Greta used to hang out at Captain Cook’s a lot when she was still seeing Sam, but bars aren’t really Raph’s cup of tea, so she stopped going.

She’s having an evil thought right now. What if she made the Cook disappear for Sophie? Would she manage to reconcile that with the rest of the story? Could she have, in the same story, Sam with a missing Great Escape, Sophie with a missing Captain Cook, and Greta with a missing kiosk? The Great Escape seems to be missing for everybody — it would be hard to make the Captain Cook disappear for everybody as Sam and Sophie and Robert just spent the evening there but… Who knows? That would be really twisted.

Sunday is Raph and Greta’s day together. There’s not much to do on Sundays in Lausanne except hang out and spend some quality time together. It’s a quiet day. Greta likes quiet, now. Actually, that was one of the problems with Sam — he always had to be out and about.

She’s at the point now where she keeps going back and re-reading what she’s already written about Greta and Sam, to make sure she doesn’t say anything contradictory. For example, she’s decided Sam was always out and about, but what has she said about that earlier? Actually, she sees that she’s written that Sam ate out a lot. Compatible. She’s happy with how this is going.

She doesn’t think about Sam that often anymore. It was hard when they broke up, but time has passed and she’s really happy with Raphaël. It’s a much better relationship — at times she wonders why on earth she and Sam stuck together for so long when things were obviously so difficult. She knows Sam has had a harder time getting over their relationship. To her knowledge, he hasn’t moved on to anything else yet. She might be mistaken, though. They barely talk anymore.

So, she’s a little surprised when Sam calls her up on Sunday evening.

“Hi Greta, how are you doing?” “Hey, Sam! Haven’t heard from you in ages…” “Yeah, well…” “I’m good — busy with work, you know, but overall everything is fine. What about you?” “Well, listen… I know this may sound a bit odd, but would you mind coming over to Café de la Place for a coffee?” Greta is a bit taken aback. “Why, what’s up?” “I’d rather talk about in person. Could you be there in 30 minutes or so?” “Sure.” She’s a bit worried. “Are you OK?” “Yeah, pretty much. I’ll explain when I see you. Thanks.”

Greta is not very enthusiastic about dragging herself out of her cozy flat to have coffee with her ex when she starts school early the next day. But she still does care for Sam, and knows he wouldn’t ask this of her if it weren’t important for him. He didn’t sound that good on the phone, either.

She promises Raphaël she’ll be back as soon as she can, and catches the bus to Sam’s and Café de la Place.

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Sam 2

[en] Writing exercise: character Sam.

Sam émerge bien trop tôt pour un lendemain d’hier. Il faut dire que c’est toujours trop tôt, les lendemains d’hier. Mais bon, il faut bien.

Il met la tête sous le duvet en espérant sombrer à nouveau, mais un léger malaise l’en empêche. Un rêve étrange… mais non, ce n’était pas un rêve! Ou bien? Dans son demi-sommeil, Sam n’est pas sûr, et ça le dérange profondément.

Il rampe hors du lit et se met sous la douche, le temps de se réveiller complètement (aussi complètement que le permet un lendemain d’hier).

Elle est un peu embêtée parce que clairement, Sam va très bientôt être en relativement pleine possession de ses moyens, aller vérifier que toute trace du Great Escape a bien disparu… et là, comment il va réagir? Et quand il comprendra que ses amis n’ont jamais entendu parler de l’endroit, qu’est-ce qu’il fera? Est-ce qu’il va paniquer? Se faire interner à Cery? Penser que ses amis lui font un coup tordu? Remettre en question sa conception du monde pour admettre qu’un lieu puisse disparaître du centre de Lausanne et de tous les cerveaux avoisinants, sauf le sien?

Elle qui craint parfois l’absence d’inspiration, la voilà bien évidemment face à l’embarras du choix. Eh oui, il suffisait de se concentrer sur les personnages, et l’histoire déboule. Enfin, les histoires possibles. Quelque chose.

Cette histoire de Great Escape le préoccupe.

Elle se rend compte qu’elle n’a pas vraiment décidé quel jour on était. Dans la première partie, elle a dit “week-end” — vendredi ou samedi soir, on est donc samedi ou dimanche matin. Lequel des deux? Est-ce important? C’est clair que si on est samedi, il va traverser le marché à la Riponne, et il y aura du monde en ville. Dimanche ce sera désert. Donc ça change la donne. Elle le voit bien traverser la ville relativement déserte du dimanche matin pour aller vérifier si son bar a bien disparu.

Mais s’il n’est sorti que le samedi, qu’a-t-il fait vendredi? S’il était au Great la veille de la disparition, il aurait sûrement réagi plus fortement le soir même. Elle décide que c’est donc dimanche matin, et il n’est pas sorti vendredi. Il y a quantité d’explications à ça, et l’histoire n’a pas besoin de les donner, mais vu que ce qui l’intéresse ici c’est Sam, il y aurait là l’occasion d’en apprendre un peu plus sur lui.

Habillé en vitesse, il traverse la ville déserte et se rend sur la terrasse surplombant la Riponne. Il n’a pas rêvé, en effet: toute indication de l’existence du Great a disparu, et les grandes portes semblent fermées sur une absence. Un air abandonné.

Si elle n’était pas au lit avec la crève, elle traverserait elle aussi la ville déserte de ce jeudi de l’Ascension pour aller sur la terrasse surplombant la Riponne et observer l’entrée du Great, afin d’en avoir une vision claire et nette pour en parler.

C’est un peu tôt pour appeler Roger ou ses autres camarades de sortie, mais vive le SMS! Il envoie un mot sur Twitter, aussi. Histoire de savoir si quelqu’un sait quand/pourquoi le Great a fermé.

Bon, elle ne va pas faire suivre à son pauvre lecteur le dimanche de Sam, minute par minute. Il est temps pour une petite ellipse.

Le soir arrivé, Sam est assez déstabilisé par les réponses reçues à ses divers messages pour être carrément inquiet. “Quel Great? Tu parles de quoi? C’est quoi le Great? Je ne sais pas, je connais pas!” Il se demande quand même un peu si c’est son cerveau qui lui joue des tours (c’est quand même plus plausible que l’amnésie généralisée qui semble toucher les habitués du Great) mais il ne se sent pas particulièrement instable ou déconnecté de la réalité. Bon, ça ne veut rien dire, au fond: une des caractéristiques de la folie est quand même qu’on croit à sa folie.

Bref, Sam est perturbé — et assez perturbé pour appeler Greta pour demander à la voir. Il évite d’appeler Greta, en général. Ça ne l’aide pas vraiment, de la revoir. Mais il faut avouer qu’elle est une des seules personnes avec qui il se voit parler de… ça. Ils se donnent rendez-vous au café en bas de chez lui.

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Greta 1

[en] Writing exercise. Character Greta.

Elle décide que sa deuxième aventure sera avec Greta. Sophie, ce sera pour après. Elle l’a tout juste effleurée, Greta, l’ex de Sam. Avec un nom pareil, elle doit être suisse-allemande, mais non, elle décide que ses parents l’auront nommée ainsi à cause de Greta Garbo.

Greta est enseignante. Elle est plus jeune que Sam de quelques années. Elle aime beaucoup son métier, même si elle travaille beaucoup. Les premières années ont été dures, comme souvent dans l’enseignement, mais maintenant ça roule, comme on dit. Elle enseigne dans le secondaire dans les environs de Lausanne. Assez près pour que ce ne soit pas trop loin, et assez loin pour que ce ne soit pas trop près. C’est important, quand on veut éviter de croiser des parents d’élèves à la Migros du coin.

Greta habite avec son ami tout en haut d’un immeuble du centre de Lausanne. Ils y ont emménagé il y a six mois environ. La vue y est magnifique, et les soirs d’été, elle aime préparer ses cours sur le balcon en regardant les voiles blanches se déplacer doucement sur le lac, avec un thé et une cigarette.

Raphaël finit le travail bien plus tard qu’elle — elle a donc quelques heures en solitaire avant qu’il arrive, qu’elle met à profit pour abattre le travail qui lui demande le plus de concentration. Parfois, quand elle a pu prendre de l’avance, elle voit une copine ou prend un bain avec un bon bouquin. Mais la plupart du temps, il y a à faire.

Là, elle trouve qu’on commence un peu à cerner Greta. Il faut qu’il lui arrive quelque chose. De l’action! Hier, elle s’était dit qu’elle confronterait chacun des personnages de cette aventure littéraire à la disparition (vécue par eux uniquement) d’un lieu qui leur est cher. Elle n’a aucune idée comment diable elle pourra expliquer ça, mais ça n’est pas grave. L’important, ici, c’est de faire vivre un ou des personnages.

Elle s’était dit, d’ailleurs, que ce serait marrant, pour Sophie, de faire disparaître le Cook plutôt que le Great. Après ça va faire un méli-mélo de fils narratifs… Elle y réfléchira demain.

Greta, elle n’a pas vraiment de lieu favori, jusqu’à maintenant. Il faudrait lui en donner un. Ah! Ça y est, elle a trouvé.

Chaque jour, en sortant de l’école, elle s’arrête à un petit kiosque sur la route. Elle s’y achète un Twix, et parfois un paquet de cigarettes. Le Twix, c’est sa petite douceur de sortie de classe. Les cigarettes, la dépendance qu’elle n’arrive pas à vaincre, même si elle a beaucoup diminué depuis qu’elle est avec Raphaël.

Tiens, là aussi, elle qui ne fume pas, elle se dit qu’il faut qu’elle demande à ses copines fumeuses comment ça marche, l’achat de cigarettes. Celles qui fument un paquet par jour, elles passent tous les jours en acheter un? Ou bien elles achètent des cartouches? Elle n’en a pas la moindre idée. C’est ça, quand on veut mettre en scène des personnages crédibles qui ne sont pas comme soi. Il faut se renseigner!

Bref, Greta achète ses paquets de clopes au compte-gouttes. Si c’est un comportement “anormal”, elle trouvera bien comment l’expliquer!

Aujourd’hui, c’est mardi. Greta finit à trois heures. Elle embarque ses affaires, passe en vitesse à la salle des maîtres faire des photocopies pour demain, puis se met en route.

Encore une fois, si elle était vraiment en train d’écrire une histoire, elle intervertirait certainement les deux derniers paragraphes sur Greta. Inutile de raconter son habitude journalière avant que l’histoire ait amené Greta devant le fameux kiosque — ou en tous cas, dans sa direction.

Comme chaque jour en sortant de l’école, Greta met le cap sur le petit kiosque où elle s’achète un Twix à grignoter sur le chemin. Un peu de sucre après une longue journée, ça passe bien. Seulement aujourd’hui, le kiosque semble fermé. Le store est baissé, pas de manchettes sur la devanture. Elle arrive devant, et cherche des yeux un message ou petit mot qui expliquerait cette étrange fermeture.

Rien. Elle demandera demain à la tenancière du kiosque. Elle espère que rien de grave n’est arrivé.

Un peu frustrée et hypoglycémique, elle continue son chemin pour prendre le train. Il y a un Selecta à la gare qui prendra soin de son hypoglycémie. Pour les clopes, elle évitera de forcer dessus ce soir. Il ne lui en reste plus beaucoup. Mais ça ira.

Voilà, Greta, elle s’est pas posé quarante-six mille questions. Bon, il faut dire qu’à la différence de Sam, elle ne s’attendait pas à trouver là des gens qu’elle côtoie régulièrement — hormis la dame du kiosque. Elle se dit que ça deviendra plus intéressant pour Greta quand ça fera plusieurs jours que le kiosque est fermé. Là, elle va franchement commencer à se poser des colles.

En attendant, elle fatigue, mais se dit que c’est déjà un bon début, cette histoire de Greta. Deux soirs, deux personnages, et presque un vague début d’histoire qui se dessine! Que demande le peuple :-)

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Sam 1

[fr] Exercice d'écriture: personnage Sam.

The adventure begins.

She doesn’t know Sam yet. She just knows his name. She’s not sure if she’ll like him or not. She’s afraid of making him too likable, too cliché, too unidimensional. She realizes that if she makes him too cliché or perfect, he will not be likeable. You see, she’s stuck already.

Sam is roughly her age, in his mid-thirties. The jeans and t-shirts he wears make him look like he still believes he is seventeen. He has a job, though — not a very exciting one, but a stable one. His life is outside of work, with his friends. They go out for drinks on week-ends, play video games, watch football matches.

He met a girl he liked at The Great Escape the other night. Said like that, it sounds like an exceptional event, but it isn’t. He meets plenty of girls he likes, and has plenty of fun with them, but it’s usually short-lived. He hasn’t had anyone stable in his life since he and Greta broke up. He figures he still needs time.

She thinks Sam sounds pretty normal and boring so far. She remembers that stories are about putting normal people in extraordinary situations, and seeing how they react. Like a scientific experiment. She wonders what she could do with Sam.

Shove him through one of Dan Simmons’ Brane holes, straight into another universe? She thinks that’s a little radical. Baby steps, baby steps.

Maybe to start off, she could have him arrive at The Great Escape, hoping to see that girl again, but the bar has disappeared. Disappeared, as in “never existed” for anybody but him. That’s not a new idea, she knows, but it would allow her to see how Sam reacts.

Let’s do it.

So, Sam heads out into town like every week-end, and parks his car somewhere behind the cathedral. He’s got a car, and he’s a confident driver. She gives him a car because she thinks it makes him a little more grown-up. And also, chances are a 30-something living in Lausanne with a stable job and no family to feed will have one. The car also tells us he’s probably not a green activist. The truth is he’s pragmatic, like most people: he’s got a nagging concern about the environment, but he also wants his freedom and his quality of life. He’d go for a solar car if they existed (provided it didn’t cost twice the price of a normal one).

She’s starting to feel curious about Sam now. She realizes that she’s actually looking forward to learning more about him. She’s aware it might not make for fascinating reading, but she can see herself typing through the night to satisfy her curiosity. She might even start liking him.

As she gets ready for much more typing, she notices that she actually knows more about Sam than what she initially thought. For example, he’s not that good with domestic stuff. She doesn’t know why yet, but his flat is a bit in a mess at all times (though still functional) and he’s pretty crap and shopping for groceries, so he eats out quite a lot. Another thing she knows now is that although most of his friends assume that Sam’s proper name is Samuel, it’s in fact Samson. He finds his name a bit ridiculous (the biblical references and all that) so he keeps the information under wraps as much as he can.

She’s aware that if she was really trying to write a story, she wouldn’t be dumping those random facts about Sam like that for her readers, but she would be a little more subtle, letting them emerge from Sam’s interaction with the world and people around him. For now, though, she’s satisfied with the rather dry police-description of her nascent character.

So, back to the story. Sam finds a parking spot behind the cathedral — it’s a little walk away from his favorite hang-out, but he actually enjoys the fresh air on the way. He makes his way briskly down the steps to the little square next to Palais de Rumine, and heads for the bar. He absent-mindedly registers that the usual signs indicating tonight’s match and menu are not out as usual, but most of all, he’s disturbed by the absence of people clustering around the door.

At this point, she thinks she should probably go and check out The Great Escape on a Friday or Saturday evening, to make sure she’s not saying stupid things about the place, as it actually exists. She might do that sometime next week — one of her friends goes there quite regularly, it could be an opportunity.

Well, assuming she hasn’t got it all wrong, Sam arrives in front of what looks like a closed bar, when it should be open. (As she doesn’t have the bar handy, she checks online: it’s open every evening.) Sam has never seen it closed except a few times in the morning — like many similar places, it’s open all week, every day. (She’s looking up reviews on TripAdvisor, now. This almost feels like proper research. She decides to set aside the bar for the moment and concentrate on Sam again.)

So, Sam arrives in front of a closed door when he was expecting to find his usual favorite bar a-buzz with his friends and other strangers. He walks to the door, his legs chugging numbly beneath him, his mind floating uncomfortably somewhere between “bad joke” and “am I losing it”.

He tries the door. He can see it’s closed, but he tries it all the same. He looks around the little square: he doesn’t see anybody looking lost or confused because their usual bar isn’t open. He doesn’t see anybody, actually: the square is empty.

She’s starting to feel taken in by the story she’s writing. She feels a bit bad for Sam. She put him there, after all. But it was the only way she could think of to get to know him better. But she wants to know what’s going to happen next, and the only way to know is to let it write itself.

Sam is definitely confused. He checks the time, checks the date, tries the door again. As he’s trying the handle, a sinking feeling  as he glances at the building tells him more is wrong then he initially thought: the name of the bar has disappeared from the building — and from the door, too, now that he actually looks.

Something very wrong must have happened for it to close overnight (or rather, overday). And why wouldn’t anybody have told him?

He calls up Roger.

“What on earth happened to The Great?” “Hey, Sam! The great what?” “The Great. It’s closed. The signs are even gone from the building.” “What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense. Oh, and when are you getting here? Sophie asked if you’d be there tonight.” Sam can hear the “nudge nudge, wink wink” in Roger’s voice when he mentions the girl from the other night. “Oh, er…” Sam’s confusion has just gone up a notch. “I’m coming. Where are you?” “Captain Cook! Where else? Are you OK? Come on over!”

Roger hangs up. Sam looks around again, and heads up the stairs to the Captain Cook, wondering if he is losing his grip on reality.

She stops here, and wonders if this kind of little adventure really tells her something about Sam. Wouldn’t pretty much anybody react like that? She’ll have to put other characters through this kind of exercise: make them face the disappearance of their favorite hang-out. Maybe they won’t all react the same.

But first she has to take Sam a little further. She has second thoughts about the brief phone call with Roger. Shouldn’t Sam have insisted a bit more? That dialogue makes it look like Sam readily accepts that Roger has no idea what he’s talking about. Hell, if she called up one of her friends with such an odd disappearance and the friend reacted like Roger, she would be calling the friend back instead of stumbling towards the next bar.

Maybe Roger has a history of being slightly inebriated, busy with girls, and generally not very coherent on the phone when he’s out drinking bear in a full noisy pub. That must be what Sam thought. He’s still confused, but he hasn’t yet figured out that he’s the only one to have noticed The Great’s disappearance (or escape, haha). So, he’s on his way to the Cook, confident that he’ll get some explanation from Roger once he gets there. He’s in for a nasty surprise.

Roger thinks Sam is playing some kind of joke on him. He reacts as if he’d never even heard of The Great Escape, or any kind of bar on the little square halfway down the stairs. Roger’s on his third or fourth pint, which doesn’t help Sam try and get his point across. He asks a couple of other people about The Great and gets confused looks and lots of question marks.

In an attempt to refrain from questioning his sanity, he decides to wash away his growing discomfort with something slightly stronger than usual and chats up Sophie (who confirms they met in the very same bar earlier that week, and gives him a puzzled look when he tries to talk about The Great’s disappearance).

She’s really getting into the story now. She’s going to have to make up for her tea-totalling habits with some “academic” research on alcoholic beverage consumption on normal Lausanne Saturday nights.

Sam drinks a little more than usual and follows Sophie to her place not far from the bar — not that he needs more drinking than usual to go and have some Saturday night fun with a cute girl picked up in a bar. Before picking up his car to go home in the pre-dawn haze of too much smoke, alcohol, and meaningless sex, he drops by The Great again to make sure it really is closed (“escaped”, he says to himself).

His mind is working, at least that much. There is no open bar where he remembers The Great Escape.

He drives home, collapses into his half-made bed — he must remember to change the sheets one of these days — and dozes straight off, hoping that The Great’s escape will have straightened itself out by morning, one way or another.

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Posted in Creative | Tagged exercise, fiction, sam, Writing | 5 Comments

The fridge did its best

The fridge did its best to keep its humans happy. Fresh vegetables and snacks, juicy meat and sweet wine.

With the years it started failing, but did its best. Kicks of frustration denting its door and bruising its character.

Weary, broken, and frustrated, it poisoned them all one sunny morning.

This is a 50-word short story. Read more by me on CTTS or by others too on Facebook.

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From Essay to Fiction

[fr] Exercice d'écriture: une aventure à la recherche de personnages pour porter ses histoires.

It’s an adventure. The adventure of a mind bubbling with ideas and things to say and write. The adventure of a mind which would like to bubble with fiction that makes people dream big things, and read on in wonder at the worlds created.

But all she can come up with are disasters and worst-case scenarios. And she wonders: do people want to read about all that will go wrong? Should she give in to the dystopian fantasies her mind produces on a daily basis?

She’s not that sure about the dystopia bit, either. Because on the flip side, she has hope, hope so huge and solid that it smothers everything else. Beyond all reasonable hope, she hopes, and imagines things working out against all odds.

She has imagination.

What she lacks is characters. She needs characters to fall in love with and to pull her along through her stories.

Her adventure will be the adventure of conjuring up characters to carry her stories.

She will delve in herself and those around her, clumsily at first, cobbling together patchworks which will barely stand on their two feet. But with practice and patience she will grow nimble, and her characters will breathe life and love. They will dance through her worlds under sunlight and starlight, singing the stories their lives will weave.

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Posted in Creative, On Writing | Tagged characters, fiction, imagination, plot, story | 2 Comments

The crow yelled at the cat

The crow yelled at the cat and flapped its wings. The feline retreated.

The next day, two cats. The crow crowed louder and flapped her wings faster. Her mate swooped down and nipped a kitty tail.

Third day, three felines: not a chance for the outnumbered crows, their babies eaten.

This is a 50-word short story. Read more by me on CTTS or by others too on Facebook.

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Wrong Place, Wrong Time

[fr] Un autre récit de rêve -- double, celui-ci. Je suis navrée, mais ça sort toujours en anglais...

A dream.

I have a gift for ending up at the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, think of the day Obama broke our beautiful lake in half by blowing up a huge bomb under it. I was in Saint-Tryphon, the lovely town at the end of the lake, and watched as the water ran out of it through the crack, as swimmers tried to reach the shore, and as the first rows of buildings in Saint-Tryphon toppled over in slow motion under the afternoon sun to come and lie down in the receding water.

We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out our boats, which were moored in mid-air, lowering them so that they would be back in the water again.

At some point I fled. I ran through Saint-Tryphon, watching the wobbly buildings by the shore and praying that the people would get out before they fell. I climbed into the mountains, found an abandoned village, and spread the word. “The lake is draining itself!” Nobody really believed me.

Obama had smilingly assured me that the lake would stop bleeding out sometime in the evening, and that everything would be back to normal in a few days. He didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with what he had done. I was just horrified.

Or another time, shortly after that, I had taken a trip to some middle-eastern country just in time to witness the explosion of a nuclear device under the sea near the coast. I saw birds fall out of the sky as they feebly tried to fly away. Why I was alive, I just couldn’t understand. A car with two military stopped and picked me up. We went to the command centre where for some reason, most of my luggage was waiting for me. There were some nice people there, but it was out of question to let me go back home.

I swallowed an iodine pill, and wondered why on earth we all had to be exposed to so much radiation. My life doesn’t always make sense to me, as you can see.

I was relieved to meet Cecil in the command centre. He was a friend of mine, and we plotted our escape together. Julie, one of the assistants, would come with us — she was a nice girl and also felt that she had nothing to do there, that her life was supposed to take another path. The trouble was packing (we had many belongings) and finding a way out of the country (that was Cecil’s job, being in a position of authority).

Amongst my most precious belongings was some jewellery, and a set of teeth (I know this sounds funny, but they were ivory and polished, and worth quite a lot in those days), as well as some pearls. Trying to get everything to fit in bags and boxes was a nightmare, especially as we couldn’t afford to have the other people in the command centre figuring out that we were going to make a run for it. They must have, because we even got comments on the size of our boxes, but they pretended nothing was wrong. Maybe they hoped it would go away if they didn’t confront it.

So we packed, and repacked, and repacked, and as days went by I became more and more anxious about leaving. We almost managed, once. Robert took us out to his helicopter. There were four of us, but Cecil was nowhere to be found. I was a bit worried, because Robert was completely loyal to those in charge, and I really wondered what the deal was with him taking us away. Maybe he was actually going to take us to a reeducation camp or a prison, and all our precious belongings would be taken away from us.

We never knew, because as he was fuelling up, he never passed the DUI test — and the helicopter was not up to standards either. I heaved a sigh of relief as we returned to the base, but went to bed certain that we had been found out and absolutely had to leave the very next day.

It didn’t happen the next day, or the one after that. It was agonizing. Cecil disappeared, after a long phone call to his family where I heard him tell his son he loved him very much. The day after that, Simon came up to me and gruffly told me that I was leaving, that Cecil had left instructions, and that he was my driver. Simon was not happy about it, but followed orders. I initially expressed surprise but decided to go along with it.

He scowled at me while I put my big box and bag in the boot of his tiny car. I climbed in, and we drove off. I didn’t need a Geiger counter to tell me how radioactive we were, and I hoped that we would not set off any alarms at the airport. I already had too much luggage and getting on board without attracting attention was going to be a tight squeeze.

As you can see, I made it out in one piece. I had to leave some of my things behind, but the precious teeth and pearls travelled in my jeans pocket (you know how TSA are with precious items in checked-in luggage: they just tend to disappear). I went through long and painful anti-radiation treatment, and thankfully today’s medical technology is keeping at bay all the cancers I should have developed as a result of such important exposure.

What was going through the minds of those people at the time, it really beats me.

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Posted in Creative | Tagged Creative, dream, lake, middle-east, obama, teeth, tsa, Writing | 2 Comments

Political Nightmare

[fr] Récit de cauchemar.

A dream.

In a few hours from now, they are going to come and make our heads roll. The new government of New York City, with which we have worked for many months to ease the transition, is officially going to step into power — and we, as the old city government, have to disappear.

I don’t want to die! I knew nothing of this when I joined the task force. I’m not even an American citizen! When they say a career in politics is brief but glorious, how was I to know it would be so literal?

President Obama is here, fondly recounting his memories of making the heads of his previous local government roll. There is obviously something very important about the heads rolling well once they have been cut off.

I protest, my voice calls out in despair “I’m a Swiss citizen! I shouldn’t even be here!” but nobody seems to hear, nobody seems to perceive my anguish, and everything just goes on.

It does occur to me that Obama is still alive, but I’m not sure what to make of it.

They have paraded us through the city, half-drugged, half in a daze. I hope beyond hope that some miracle is going to save me, but everything seems perfectly orchestrated to lead me to my demise.

This is a nightmare. Literally.

I want to wake up.

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Posted in Creative | Tagged decapitation, dream, government, new york, nightmare, politics, Writing | Leave a comment