Short Story Page: “Another Perspective”

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE: A TRILOGY

THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY

(2013)

 – Also appears in Intellectual Refuge – it can be read as part of the “trilogy” here or amongst the other great writing on the website I’ve linked to here 🙂 –

http://www.intellectualrefuge.com/category/vol6

Good morning. I hope you are well today. As for me, I’m better today than I’ve been in quite a while.

If I seem slightly perturbed today, it may be because I have just come from the very edge of being snuffed out of existence, so you’ll have to excuse me.

I will need to explain, I see – just give me a moment so that I may stretch the cramps out of each wing – undulate – if you have the patience to allow me. They are still quite sore after my oppressive experience, and it has of late rather impacted my capacity for flying (or fluttering, in this case); I never got round to developing an actual “technique”…

I have only just come back here, from the place from which I never thought I’d make my welcome return, and I still can’t quite believe I’m here. I have no right to expect to be alive, much less talking about being alive. It was entirely by chance – a glitch in the flow of events moving in their unchanging sequence – that I was able to make my sudden and legendary break-free and recite my tale.

I have a vague but comforting memory of my life BC: Before the Capture. Before then… that is quite a challenge.I have to stretch ever deeper into the realms of memory. By that time,I had already undergone a life-changing alteration in my physical being but only a short time previously; when I was in my infancy, crawling laboriously over the grass blade which was my mountain for my entire life, I did not fully understand what would happen to me, as decreed by Nature.

“Every caterpillar must undergo this Change, before they can become a butterfly.”

I was barely able to understand the feet beneath me, struggling to master the art of getting from A to B, let alone the notion that I would change into an entirely different creature. Reborn into a body (a corpse?) beyond recognition.

Anyway, I’m digressing-

We were all free at one time. En masse, we were inseparable.

In our state of tentative regeneration, we darted and fluttered around the world within our capability of seeing, with all the spirit of adventure we could collectively summon. This was our flying time. We could move on free…

–Until the day of capture–

There comes a moment – probably once, if unlucky, in the life of every “catterfly” – when the creature is made by force of circumstance to extend one’s mental capacity beyond the here and now, and project, just a little, into the abyss known colloquially as “the future”. The concept in itself is virtually impossible to explain to one who has no frame of reference.

There is only the glimpse in the faraway gaze – which cannot even be seen from a distance – which may deign to betray the experience of capture and isolation, of one who cannot articulate what it is they have seen in the first instance.

I suppose being a butterfly is a legitimate reason for my having to find some way to “narrate” what happened to me.To many others just like me, who were not so lucky in escape.

The world closed in – but I couldn’t see how or why. Everything looked more or less the same but… changed completely. The flowers, the blades of grass, the breeze, the rain, the sun – I could reach out and touch, graze, land upon, feel upon me… nothing. Everything around me had become inaccessible for the first time.

Furthermore- I was going somewhere. Completely against my own volition. I was entirely unable to cease motion despite not moving, except frantically here and there banging repeatedly against the transparent walls of my suddenly-materialising prison – until no motion would release me, and everything became blurry. I came to the dreadful realisation, having tried in vain to fend off the unbearable notion;  today, fate had chosen me – like many – to be *Taken Away*

Then I begin to feel sleepy…

Next thing I awaken – still in my glass prison.

Peering through the barely penetrable sheet of glass which winds all around me – in every direction – I can barely see faint moving shapes making similar darting patterns to the ones I was erstwhile making. Before too long, they give up, ceasing motion temporarily for a while, as if merely trying to summon the energy to keep protesting – questioning –

Then I hear a voice:

“He’s done this before. He will do it again and again. None of us ever gets to leave.”

And I begin to believe in that formidable possibility. My prison has no indication of a crack or flaw anywhere. I gather some self restraint and try to self-soothe just enough to flutter slowly up to the top of the prison, to see if there is a way out up there. I only come upon more hard surface, nothing yielding to the limited pressure I am capable of applying. Panic wells up within me once again, as my momentary hope of escape slips away.

I am a concubine. And it is not at all a good feeling.

I can make out another shape through my prison. Different to what I can see on either side of me; yet I’m sure I saw a similar shape at the time of my capture. This is the being who put me in here. What is its intention? Can we communicate in any way?

Yet it merely looks upon me… I cannot adequately describe this look which is mostly… a gaze. More passive than active, as if I am performing for this being, along with an invisible audience. As if something is expected of me, to say, to do, to move… but what could it possibly be?

What can I do when I cannot do the one thing which is instinctively driving me – to escape and fly as far away as I possibly can and never return – What possibilities then remain?

“What a beauty. You are different, I don’t know how or why this could be – but you are. Comrade – I am of the conviction; you are unique.”

This is no comfort to me, for some strange reason. I would renounce every modicum of evidence of being “unique” if I could once again hope of escape and see the sky. I would be a clone, merging with the indistinguishable into oblivion…

I cannot even ask this painstaking question swirling within me, fluttering from here to there to here with no sign of a resolution. There are some on either side of me – here and there – which are no longer moving. Who do not appear to have moved for quite some time. Have they died waiting for a freedom that never came..? Will it be the same for me..? Will I be – dying – in this glass prison..?

No-one – nothing – looks likely to tell me at any time. I can see the way out of here; so close yet so far away. No chance. It would all be futile. I cannot think in here; I can barely breathe enough to keep me from slipping away.

Perhaps I should have appreciated my brief existence while I was able; although maybe this is simply the “final stage” in my life. I did not go out of my way to reach out to my fellow butterfly when I was “alive”, so it is ironic how I am unable yet willing now that I am unable.

I hope that this is a stage that is over soon. My world is turned upside down; literally. When – I have know way of knowing – a crashing sound resonates all around me, along with shards of my glass prison, followed by a scream of surprise. Suddenly my prison is no more. It is all around me – yet I hesitate.

Somehow, inexplicably, a part of me tries to mentally put the broken pieces back together again. It had become – temporarily – a sort of home. A cocoon, if you like.

Yet something else awakens in me, without first consulting me. Propelling me above and away from the scene of glass carnage now some distance beneath me. The net – the one which caught me – appears out of nowhere, to reclaim me. But I am ready this time. My only instinct is to move away from this thing which is so eager to embrace me. To return me to the collection.

No time for fluttering now, instead I “fly”. Before I realise what is happening, I am instinctively fluttering – flying – into the blinding light, the only direction. I do not even think about anything other than flying for an unknown stretch of time. I am aware of virtually nothing until I come to rest upon a familiar-looking daisy, perching precariously in a position which makes me most comfortable.

Word spreads surprisingly quickly around here. Before long, I hear some calling me, “the one who got away”..

Already I can barely remember my experience; the main thing now is to “move on”. Continue being a butterfly. Alive within the briefest time.

 *****

THE CHOSEN ONE

(2013)

Today is the day; one day for which I have been waiting for what feels like – to me – infinite time.

Today; I’m going somewhere, to make an ultimate journey – but I cannot begin to imagine where this place may be. I have only been chosen from among many to serve humanity by being sent somewhere.

Space?

One that is unlike any other I have ever known. Space – cube – dimension – each being something which I have only heard for the first time, each meaning something, but nothing to me in my current state. The world I know and live in is too cold and dark and remote and unforgiving – in my experience – with nowhere to hide.

*****

In the cycle of confusion that has been growing ever more familiar to me, I have no choice but to start at the beginning. Much of my early life – before being brought here – is decidedly hazy.

Before The Capture

I could barely feel my body from the gnawing pressure of the atmosphere upon me. My vision has always been relatively poor most of the time, but in the darkness, unable to see my own breath, my only sign of life, other than my moving ever forward in any direction, my nose is my only guide. I was constantly hungry and I needed to find something anything to give me a bare chance of surviving into the morning.

Occasionally I would pass by another stray, only giving the most cursory sign of recognition, yet unable to help ourselves, let alone anyone, anything, else. So we would keep moving on, never slowing down, never stopping; surviving and nothing more.

Yet I had to remain in my territory, even though a lot of the time I was not entirely sure where the line was between my territory, and that of another stray. I would play it by ear – and by noise. I had no other choice.

One evening, I was taken. I did not resist simply because I could not have known whether where I was being taken was any better or any worse than here. How could I..?

My life would become drastically different, unrecognisable, the scents all so entirely alien – yet I had no choice but to follow that which was leading me…

Incubation

I had been wary from day one, for I had come to associate the presence of people with an angry voice, with pain, with being driven away. Here, I was given so much attention that I was certain that I must have done something very wrong, and tried to be extra-submissive, just in case. I made a point to stifle the urge to sniff around where I could reach, pulling on the rope restraining me only enough to try to gain a better idea of this new place. Yet I also tried to be non-threatening.

They had no reason to trust one like me.

On day one I was put into a space, never left there for very long before being taken fortraining – sometimes known as conditioning. Often, this would involve being placed into another space, having things attached to me, being told to STAY, repeatedly, while strange noises and sights played around me and an odd sensation would invade me every so often. Often, apparently nothing would happen at all, nothing that I could see or hear or smell anyway.

Bonne! I would hear that phrase often on a good day. I always did strive to hear that phrase – be as bonne as I possibly can, as the outcome – the look of satisfaction on the face of my “person” – was very rewarding for me. I was a special being who would bring a change of great importance to the knowledge of those who had taken me. Yet instinct was telling me not to accept that I would remain here for long.

People would come and go regularly, more than ever before in my previous life, where I was lucky – or unlucky, as the case may be – to even see one. Many avoided looking at me for very long – rather handling me for the briefest periods of time – but occasionally one would chance to look upon me with what I have come to know as pity. Perhaps it was a friendly gaze, but I could not be sure anymore, by this stage.

A Day In The Sun

A great quantity of slate grey and chilly surface is the sensation I most recall from the training phase of this new life, but on one occasion, I was brought home by a person I had come to recognise more and more, where upon arrival I began sprinting through a grassy patch of small but secure garden. There I met other people, some big, some small, all of whom greeted me with sounds of joy. Such a contrast between these, that it is hard to believe that it was all part of the same phase in my life.

There is a saying that those like me cannot raise our gaze to meet that of a person, and that one must crouch down to the level of those like me to meet their gaze. But we can see more than one could possibly imagine. Furthermore, even what they cannot see, they can see the reaction to what they cannot see, in their human companion.

Entirely by chance, during one of the many playful times I shared with my companion in the back garden, I did try to catch the sky out the corner of my eye. Even though I can never really see anything, I can see the reaction to what I cannot see, in my human companion.

But I would trust that whatever they can see, they would put their unique vision to the best use. I would content myself with trusting my companion, yet allowing my nose to tell me a tale of its own. What other choice do I possibly have?

Every change in the breeze, however subtle, entirely changes the narrative of my life, the story which I am eternally trying to acquire, piece by piece. As for me – I can never even take a guess as to what things like all the colours of the rainbow and the palate of Nature could possibly mean.

Countdown…

I could never really understand, really, for what it is that I have been preparing. But I sense that it is unlikely that I will be able to see the outcome. I cannot contemplate another life, so I must commit fully and with eyes and nose wide open to this one. A task, a pat on the head and body, a treat for my contribution. I’ve known quite worse so I will not bite the hand that feeds me – with surprising regularity. The voices around me have grown increasingly hushed in my presence, but this only enables me to listen all the more.

There was never any sign that I should have expected anything to change in the near future, except for the antenna within which forbids me from ignoring its warning. Myspace has been slowly but surely diminishing, the walls around me have been closing in, little by little.

There is still so little of their language that I can understand that all I can pick up on is that the space of which they have been speaking is not the same thing as the space in which I have been living now for some time- Which has brought my story up to date.To my present situation.

Waiting

It is so quiet tonight in the laboratory that even I can barely hear anything.

It is usually far quieter than during the day – I’ve gotten used to that quickly – but tonight it feels as if I ought to be… ready. For what, I cannot be certain. That brief glimpse of normality I had only a few days before, when I thought that I was preparing to embrace a lifestyle as a companion, now seems remote.

I sense that I am only going to leave this laboratory once, never to return. Where I will go next will most likely be the end of the line. I sense this because I have seen others like me come into the laboratory only to leave; never to return again. Then I notice something that tells me why tonight is an unusual night in the laboratory –

– the door to my cage is open.

*****

Why this should be; I cannot begin to contemplate. But it is unlocked, slightly open, all the same. It is usually locked so tightly and securely that I cannot imagine anything penetrating the lock even if it had bent its will on so doing.

But now I feel a conflict brewing within me. Do I seize this opportunity; run away, back into the life I once knew before? Or do I hold on, hesitate; have faith in the great mission for humanity for which I have been chosen..?

This cannot be a coincidence. I have to make a choice.

I see the flap in the door which allows the companion of the owner of the laboratory to come and go whenever s/he may please. It is right in front of me, if I should only take about twenty tentative steps in that direction.

My conflict results thusly:

A part of me – unthinkingly – begins to move through the door, onto the cold table, down onto the floor, trotting past the sterile cabinets/dishes/needles/electrodes/cages/staring eyes of mice – and out through the flap into the icy winter darkness of familiar desolation.

A part of me stays completely stationary – making no decision, yet in that way, making the decision to remain, to fulfill my duty, to participate and play a key role in the advancing knowledge of humanity.

*****

I am moving in an unknown direction, forging a course into an infinite space. As infinite as it has ever been.

It is cold and dark and remote, in any case. But from the inside of my temporary space, from where I’ve come, I’ve learned how to create my own place, in the middle of everything. I am alone, but I can go anywhere and make anywhere my home, and I am no longer answering to anyone, human or otherwise. I am awaiting instruction which I cannot be sure will ever come. But I am free.

I am not entirely sure what this can mean but I am able to discover its meaning for the first time.

*****

LIZZIE

(2013)

My name is Lizzie and you have probably never seen me, or had any idea of my existence, before. That would come as no surprise to me – I am not known far and wide. But even so, I have no way of knowing how to know how much is known about me.

I live in Loch Lochy. It’s quite near Loch Ness, if you decide to go looking for it sometime, and I have no other frame of reference to guide you there, so I hope you find your way there without excessive trouble. I hope you are willing to hear a little from a lesser-known creature of The Blue than “Nessie” – for I have not spoken to anyone about my time in here. If you wish to hear a legend which is less accounted for in the books of history, then you may be interested in listening to my take on life in this place…

There was once more than one of me – that may possibly still be the case but I cannot say with any certainty. I haven’t seen Nessie, my old acquaintance, for some time, I believe. Once, when existence was rather more rocky and volatile, we even took a glide, side by side, talking about something I have long since forgotten. We had quite an eventful and fun day, I’m sure that we would even have attracted quite a lot of attention, if we weren’t quite so alone…

Recently, I’ve been getting a wee bit lonely, although I can’t really complain about my home. It could be quite worse. But there has to be so much more above…

Occasionally I glimpse above the waterline, unnoticed to the best of my knowledge, and and try to see The Green – a world which is so close yet unimaginably unlike – separate, from mine; which I can never quite reach from here.

I’m not even sure if I desire to stray from my place – The Blue is all I’ve ever really known – all that I can forsure survive in. But in my “home”, there is not much that is notable; it is – sparse. Little else like me can live here, for it can become so cold and dark and lonely, except close to the surface where some sunlight, some day, gets in – I do not really expect to pass by many, even unlike me, when I’m on the move…

I try not to move more than is strictly necessary. I fear a disturbance – I’m quite shy. But I may as well keep travelling while the weather lends me respite from its known unpredictability. I learn a bit more about the place where I live each time. I memorise every crevice and nuance which makes it recognisable to me, even when no light will deign to shine wherever I may be hiding. It is entirely up to me to do the exploring, lest I remain in the comfortable but cramp-inducing darkness of ignorance.

Someone is calling to me from above. Or are they? It could very well be my overactive imagination.

But then again, it could equally not be this time. Occasionally I’m spot-on, but most of the time my existence gets so devoid of contact with others that I cannot tell the difference between something living and inanimate, if it is but slightly moving. I keep holding out hope.

*****

Even though I say here that I’d like some company – I have to fill infinite stretches of solitude which go on for far too long – a few times before, I have been disturbed significantly, shaken from my safe stagnation of an existence.

I imagine most of what happens in my life, so I can’t really tell the difference between a flash in my mind’s eye, and something passing right before me in real life anymore.

*****

You again…

This is the usual greeting I face from my rare companion. This is a creature who is about small enough for this loch to appear like the whole world, while to me… Furthermore, others tend not to be as overwhelmed with emotion at the prospect of glimpsing me as they normally are with Nessie. Most people have never even heard of me.

Don’t you realise that you are never going to leave this place?

He can convey so intricate a message with just a stare. I hesitate, not wanting to acknowledge the truth, wanting to dream for as long as I can.

This is still a big place. There could be more to it just over the horizon…

*****

I tried to escape once, seriously, before. By this point in time, I felt that I could either glide here and there and here and there into eternity. Or I could see what else is out there – just over the ridge up there, out in The Green…

I told no-one – no-thing – of my plan, not that there was really anyone or anything to confide in. Ultimately, I got as far as what I’ve heard been referred to as the docking area, with the barge. And the people.

So that’s what they are, that’s what they look like… Like big fish, hopping here and there, on The Green, merely to show off to a potential mate, showing off for its own sake. I cannot relate to those fish, so what chance have I of relating in any way, even simply greeting, these people..?

After what only feels like the blink of an eye, my vision starts to grow blurry. My time here, in this privileged and rare position – already having been stolen from the proprietor of order within nature – is duly drawing to a close.

Something is calling me back from where I came. Back to where I belong. Because I have never left my home before, this is the first time I have ever paid any attention to that sound I hear all the time; the voice of The Blue.

It is already time to say goodbye, to the people who were never even aware, the whole time, that I was there. Trying to pay attention but not sure – apart from hopping here and there – exactly what I was meant to be seeing. Maybe I will return, maybe I will get even closer next time, but I cannot be sure at this time.

I embrace The Blue once again. Home. The only one I’ve known.

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