Short Story: The Gray
As usual, if the lines seem way too wide for you, just grab the browser edges and make them smaller to your convenience.
Will be the last story I write for months, if anyone cares. Ended up really dissatisfied with it and now want to try a different method of writing.
I am a curse. My body is only a small gray ball of misty emotions given form. At the moment, I hover over the head of my sobbing creator: an average man suddenly struck with extraordinary misfortune.
Without warning, <Regret> more hollow than any oak is vomited out of his mouth and attaches to me, making my body bigger and rounder, but empty. Next, <Sorrow> colder than the winter falls from his eyes, bounces up, and pierces into my hollow body, filling me with a liquid pitch black. Its color bleeds into my outer shell, and as I grow darker I realize that the world around me seems to darken too. Finally, <Hate> bloodier than the corpse of his dismembered wife leaves him next, and a tail explodes out of me as long and sharp as a sword.
As I suddenly spring to life, I immediately realize the purpose of my existence. I bid farewell to my father, my creator – an ugly mess of tears and spittle – and farewell to my mother, the catalyst to my creation – an ugly mess of meat and sperm – and shoot myself up into the heavens, determined to make father’s disdainful curse – the curse that is me – heard to His almighty ears. My destination is an unknown distance away, at the highest point in this universe where He will be waiting.
After mere minutes in Earth’s sky, I pass through the clouds and make it into the Other World. There is no ground in this world, only space – and not outer space. Instead of black it is the same sky blue as Earth, painted with swatches of orange and green.
Various objects ornament his world. I zoom by spirals of glass staircases, lines of diamond-studded knives, solitary clocks made of silver, and more, all of them floating in place. Every one, I already understand, is a representation of another curse or prayer a human once had, but which wasn’t strong enough to reach His ears. They ran out of <Feelings> long before their destination, but transformed and stayed in place, to remind others that those <Feelings> had once existed.
I noticed an orb of blinding white flying around them, going up and down the spiral staircases, toying with the metronomes of the clocks, turning on and off lamps and somehow changing their color as it did. It was a prayer.
“Yay! Ahahaha!” it laughs. It’s a clear laugh, girlish, cheerful, and somehow harmonious. To me it's almost like nails to a chalkboard.
It doesn’t seem to notice me, and I try to ignore it.
Before long I find other curses as well. They all move slowly compared to me, some of them stupidly spiraling back down before lazily trying to fly back up, and I pass by them easily, clearly superior. I notice that none of them are the same pitch black as me: some of them are a deep purple, others are a dark blue. At first I decide to ignore them, but something about their slothfulness angers me. Using my tail as a needle, I swoop down and cannibalize each of them, adding their meager droplets of <Feelings> into the dense ocean of my own.
Suddenly a brilliantly white orb appears next to me and blinds half of my field of vision.
“Why would you kill them!?” the prayer from before says to me. By the sound of her voice she must have been made by a woman in her twenties and the way she is unintentionally blinding me suggests that she’s actually relatively powerful. “They did nothing to you…!”
“They were in my way,” I tell her, “and so are you.” Sick of how bright she is, I focus my <Feelings> within myself and force them further outward, expanding my body five times its normal size and pushing against her to propel the annoying prayer further away.
Then, suddenly, before I can return to normal, a lance with what looks like a candy cane swirl design comes down from above and pierces through a portion of my expanded body, taking a piece of it off like delicious black cotton candy. It doesn’t take much since the density of my expanded body is less than normal, but it still leaves me with a gaping hole that will take a while to close. I watch the lance continue its plunge downward and I continue to watch, cautiously, as it bends both its body and its course toward the prayer.
Looking back, the place it pierced was the exact place the prayer had been before I pushed her away. It seems I unintentionally saved her. Wish I had noticed the lance sooner…
The prayer, seemingly recovered now from her spill, begins dodging the lance in every direction available. Despite its flexible body, the lance has trouble making quick turns, and soon gives up its attack, instead opting to return back above from whence it came. To my disappointment, it doesn’t seem to have any interest in me.
Then… a butterfly of sorts comes in. Its wings are two extravagant-looking white paper fans, and its body seems to be the combined wooden base of those fans. It flutters just a little above the prayer, but not for long. Soon its wings close upon one another like a rose in reverse blossom. The top of the newly closed paper fans open to form an oval, much like the oval of someone’s mouth.
This mouth-like opening begins sucking in air for a few seconds, seemingly trying to inhale the struggling prayer into itself, and then it stops with its newly bloated body full, giving itself the appearance of a giant, white clam.
The candy cane lance pierces it and disappears within it. Then, one after another, more candy cane lances pop out of the clam like needles. There are six in total, and before I could finish counting them, they had each bent in two places, turning themselves into something like the legs of a crab, or a spider.
It descends on the prayer, using its legs more like fins than anything. The prayer attempts to escape for a split-second, but the thing easily catches her and takes her within itself. It seems to chew at her silently for a minute, but soon spits her out again. No longer a blinding orb of light and more like a deflated white balloon, she floats down, swaying back and forth, lifeless.
Good riddance. The show is over, so I take my leave – and stop. I find a black monolith floating above me. It’s easy to tell that it intends to do to me what that other thing did to the prayer, but I’m not worried. Although it may be stronger than me, I’m confident in my speed. It will never catch me.
“You’re not going anywhere!”
"This is as far as you get!"
“You’ll pay for what you did to us!”
Three of the curses I had eaten pop out of my body like giant boils and lock me in place! I struggle to remove myself from them but they stick to me like glue and refuse to budge. How careless; I must have been more damaged by the lance than I thought…
The monolith doesn’t wait much longer. It descends up me, and my body-
“Wake up already!”
A familiar voice… Kinda…?
“Wake the hell up!!” My field of vision suddenly turns on. Shocked, I look around a bit. The blue ‘sky,’ the wonderful swatches of color painting it… It’s the Other World; I’m alive!
“Yeah you’re ‘alive,’ as far as ‘alive’ applies to us.” The voice belongs to a… prayer, I think; a very grey prayer. “…You don’t recognize me, do you? It’s me! You know, the chick you saved?”
“You’re…? Impossible… The other prayer died; I saw her.” I tell her.
“C’mon! What, did that black thing eat your memories too?” she responds.
“Wait… Are you really…?” I look at her carefully. I’ll admit: even among us Entities of Emotion (unofficial title), it’s difficult to tell between one and another without comparing colors.
“You’re wondering what happened to by whiteness, right? That thing sucked almost everything out of me: <Optimism>, <Charity>, most of my <Empathy>… I say ‘most’ because I can still pity you well enough.”
“…There’s nothing to pity about– “ Suddenly I notice my own color: gray. The monolith did the same thing to me that the crab thing did to her. “…We’re emotionless then?”
“Mostly. If you can tell, we’re still ascending upwards really slowly, so there must be something in us that still wants to reach Him. If you look deep enough, you’ll probably find whatever traces of emotion you still have in you.”
I do still have some; I notice it immediately: <Guilt>. I lost. I failed my father, and I failed my mother. Their suffering has come to nothing. I want to cry like the human that made me, but realize I have no tears to shed. Guess I’m all out of <Self-pity>…
I don’t feel like saying anything, and the prayer seems to fall silent along with me. Maybe she noticed what I was feeling. Maybe her remaining <Empathy> allowed her to.
“…You’re awfully kind… aren’t you?” she suddenly tells me. The words make no sense to me.
“I’m not kind. I’m a curse. How can I be kind?” What is she, nuts? Or is she mocking me?
“You are kind! Even when you were still dark and scary, you pushed me out of the way and got hurt when that lance tried to kill me. You’re incredibly kind!” She’s being awfully pushy again.
“That wasn’t an act of kindness! You were just really annoying so I pushed you away. I didn’t even notice the lance was there until it had stabbed through me.”
“Stop trying to act humble! How did someone of your level fail to notice a lance as weak as that?” Good question… It couldn’t be that I just wasn’t as awesome as I thought I was, could it…? “Just accept your compliment already…” she says.
Time passed. Together we continued our ridiculously slow ascent upwards through the Other World. We traveled on and on, passing by familiar symbolic structures of stairs and knives – all places we had passed days, weeks, and months ago. On the day I was born, I had zoomed through all of them in a matter of hours. But as I am now…
On occasion we would stop at a stray, fluffy, white wharf of cloud. We would wait there for days, sucking up the empty, but delicious, <Feelings> that had gathered together to make it. Since we were constantly being pulled up towards Him by the remaining fragments of <Feelings> still inside of us, we had to cling onto the wharf in order to keep it floating with us. It felt tiring to do it each on our own, however, so often… we would cling together to lessen the load. As time passed, we found ourselves… accustomed to the <Feeling> of being together; a <Feeling> neither of us had had even before being eaten by those things.
It wasn’t until then that it hit me: something didn’t fit. That new <Feeling> – which I’m too embarrassed to say – wasn’t the only thing that we gained after getting eaten. Prayer’s lack of <Charity> wasn’t something she simply downgraded to after losing her purity. The <Guilt> I felt for having failed my father and mother wasn’t something that the monolith left for me; it was something I never had from the start! My father never gave me <Guilt>; he had nothing to be guilty about. He was the victim, his beloved was the victim. He did nothing wrong, or at least he didn’t realize he did when I was made.
The monolith that ate me and the crab thing that ate her… they didn’t steal from us, they gave us more. Or they stole from us, and gave us more. No, it was more than just giving and taking… they granted us entire personalities!
Of course! ‘Gray’: the gray in between the black and the white.
They granted us a wider range of <Feelings> – no – feelings. They granted us the ability to make new feelings. They granted us the freedom to do as we wished instead of mindlessly aiming for an audience with Him.
Now it all makes sense, but… we still decide to follow what was originally willed for us. We understand the suffering our creators wanted forced upon the world, and we understand the happiness and satisfaction they begged for others to enjoy. We want their powerful words to be heard.
Together – our feelings greater than ever – we sing: “To Earth’s reconstruction!!”
May those who accept their fate be granted happiness; to those who defy it, glory.
Wah, it has been long and I somehow miss reading these short stories.
I must say this will be the first time I read a story where the main character is a 'Thing'. Somehow, the storyline is too philosophical for me to grasp and understand. So how does a Curse = Feeling?
The strength ("density" in the story) and type (the "color") of a curse depends on the strength/types of the feelings put into it. Think of as the difference between saying 'Fuck you' while you're laughing and saying 'Fuck you' really angrily. Although both 'Fuck you' are the same curse, they have different implications ("colors") for different situations and are infused with different levels ("density") of emotion, and thus have more or less impact than one another.
In other words, in terms of the story, the more dense with feeling the curse or prayer is, the more impact it will have when it reaches the ears of God. Curses or prayers themselves aren't feelings, but what the main character called Entities of Emotion (although that was an unofficial title).
May those who accept their fate be granted happiness; to those who defy it, glory.