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Topic: Poe-ian Tales (Read 4852 times)

  • Frenzie
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Poe-ian Tales
If we have poetry, where would we be without prose? Tales needn't be original, but they shouldn't exceed 20,000 characters.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #1
The last tale I wrote was back in April, so I really ought to write something again. I frequently write directly in English, but this particular narrative was originally composed in Dutch. It probably shows.
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Tunnel Anxiety

The GPS spoke and the driver obeyed. He had seen the sign GPS, but the dark gaping tunnel mouth looked rather scary, so he turned right as the unit ordered. Therefore he now rode on a friendly, welcoming country road. It snaked through a large green pasture, enclosed with slim ditches. While a small hare hastily hopped off, leaving behind his meal consisting of now-swaying grass stalks, the driver decided that this road was truly sublimely chosen. A Mirkwood would not be found in such an environment. No, the only trees that earned more than the epithet bush-like, grew in a manner strongly reminiscent of a battleship. The mighty bow pierced the pasture without any hassle. Captain Owl was busy talking to a virgin eagle owl, who ordered him to aim the heavy calibers for the Ilian bushes -- the same bushes that bordered the road. But the larks seemed not to be disturbed by these activities, so the driver felt reassured.

In the new Scooby Doo movies, the Mystery Machine was equipped with a wisecracking, sarcastically mocking GPS. The driver was only too happy that his navigation system did not come from a cartoon, when it suddenly came to life. "Dude, what what are you doing? I just told you that you had to drive straight forward, but now you're suddenly on a lousy back road. Turn around quickly, because that road has a dead end in about a kilometer." Well, why had he turned right, against the advice of the GPS? A quick glance at the dashboard proved that it was only half past eight. The sun was shining pretty bright already, but with the A/C on gently it couldn't be noticed. Hours a-plenty and why had he even wanted to go north? The current northeastern course was much more pleasant.

It was already half past nine when he looked at the clock again. Hadn't the GPS claimed that this road had a dead end? Sure didn't look like it. In the meantime, the landscape had started to change. The flat polder landscape gave way to gentle slopes, nicely fitted by the propulsive glaciers in the last glacial.

This road was really nice and quiet. The only sign of life were those three rams, who did not want to let him pass through the cattle guard -- no matter how much he honked. Eventually he had gently pushed them aside with the bumper. Although only a few tens of minutes had passed, the road started to climb and was increasingly surrounded by spruce. A dilapidated wooden sign welcomed him in Nifolland, which was quite appropriate given the emerging fog.

Gradually he began to find it a little odd that he hadn't seen anything for such a long time. The tank was almost half empty, so he would be forced to return if he didn't run into a gas station soon. Remembering that he had a (currently very quiet) GPS, he let his car come to a standstill to look for a pumping station on the device. But as soon as he had found the right menu, the GPS said: "There is no turning back. The only accessible gas station is located one hour onward on this route." With a shrug he let out the clutch and the sound of a lone car reached the ears of the dealer long before the driver became aware of the first signs of human civilization in hundreds of kilometers through the damp vapor.

"It is recommended to seek shelter from the upcoming snow storm," said the GPS suddenly. "The Nifollandic Meteorological Institute recommends that no one goes on the road for the next few hours."

The door put an old-fashioned bell in operation. The interior of the shop at the gas station was paltrily furnished. On crooked shelves stood foreign brands of unrecognizable engine oil and bags of junk food. He bent closer to read the gothic-style letters. Barbecue chips with sooty-sea-beast flavor. They probably also had those make up your own flavor competitions over here. Nevertheless curious, he picked up a bag and went to the counter, which was still vacated.

"Hello? Is anyone here?"

A noisy silence was the only answer.

"I want to refuel and buy a bag of chips!"

When still no one came, he decided to refuel, took the chips, and on the counter left what he owed. But how he was to find accommodation? Absent-minded he opened the chips and put some in his mouth, when suddenly a shouting dwarf came running. "Stop! Stop the thief!"

The driver hurriedly looked around, hoping to make the right impression on the local population with a good deed, when he was suddenly struck down by a punch on the jaw. Regaining consciousness an unknown amount of time and dazedly looking around, he saw three dwarfs menacingly standing around him. While he aimlessly blinked, the oldest dwarf -- the same who had beaten him down -- started to talk.

"This long john took off with the veteran's food. Arrest him!"

"He's obviously not from around here," said another dwarf, recognizable as a police officer by a blue cap.

"I don't care! In the cell with that worthless oat!"

"But wait..." the driver tried to say, but a simultaneous "QUIET!" by all three dwarfs locked the words in his mouth. How many days had gone by in the meantime while he was in jail, was not entirely clear to him. The dealer'd had the last word and now he was sitting here, while the snow blew through the open, barred window. The loneliness was becoming less pleasant, and when the lock of the cell door opened he looked forward to a brief conversation. In addition, he still did not know what was going on.

"Warden, could you tell me what crime I am accused of?"

"That is not my job. If you're here, you're guilty. You know what of."

"But no, I do not know that at all. Couldn't you ask? I want an appeal."

"Appeal? Who's here is guilty. That's how it is and no other way."

"But what if you were wrongly accused of something?"

"The law does not make mistakes. But I'm not here to keep you company: we have found your companion."

"My companion? I'm alone."

"Sure, sure. You can figure it out among yourselves."

It turned out that the people in this remote hamlet were not familiar with the concept of a GPS. But it is true, the device had recently shown some rather strange antics.

"Say lazybones, what are you doing? I have come to save you."

"...how do you mean? You're a GPS. You can only show the way."

"And now I will show you the way out of this cell. What an idiot you are. Who swipes a bag of chips?"

"But I left compensation."

"Dude, I have a currency-information function. They work with gold and silver coins."

"You could've told me."

"You're already too lazy to look on the map. Should I have to think for you as well?"

"No, of course not. That I can handle."

"I haven't noticed you thinking for shit. See you later, until you think again."

"Wait! Do not leave me alone!"

While the blizzard raged, the driver thought. For hours, days or years the driver thought. He meditated and fasted, but the GPS remained silent, until one day he dreamed of a big river. "Yes! You got it!" exulted the GPS.

"But I--" do not get it, he wanted to say, but the GPS interrupted him.

"Turn to the left and touch the door handle."

"A cell door has no handle on the inside."

"Turn to the left."

He opened the door and walked outside, where the blizzard had subsided. The snow was swirling gently down and gently he swirled toward his car. On the way back the once beautiful landscape seemed formless and empty, but at the end of the road waited the unknown tunnel mouth. "Turn left," said the GPS, but he turned right into the tunnel. It is said that the GPS slyly smiled. It is also said that the GPS smiled happily, maternally, paternally, neuterly, and so on. Yet everyone agreed that the GPS would still lead the way for many others. But where to no one knows.

http://fransdejonge.com/2013/04/tunnel-anxiety/

  • Belfrager
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Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #2
Subtle. Now you know what happens if you don't strictly follow your GPS - you'll end arrested, beaten and (probably, the author isn't clear about it) raped by three Dwarfs...

That's what one can call a Tale of Modernity. :)
Very good Frenzie, where does the Tunnel leads... does it matter? just follow the machine...
A matter of attitude.

Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #3
We have -as yet- no Whisper facility. So: I followed your earlier links (...at MyOpera? I don't remember...) and read some of your "stuff" on your site. Please keep writing! I've enjoyed what I've seen so far.
(I don't think you need a collaborator, another writer to share the work or credit; but a good editor [human reader whose job it is to make an author's work salable - palatable to a particular audience/market] could do you a world of good.) Have you tried to sell you fiction?
I think you should!

p.s.,
Dawg would surely take the machine's final advice... :)
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
No one listens to me as much as I do and even I have my limits...
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman

  • Frenzie
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Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #4
(I don't think you need a collaborator, another writer to share the work or credit; but a good editor [human reader whose job it is to make an author's work salable - palatable to a particular audience/market] could do you a world of good.)

I agree.
Have you tried to sell you fiction?
I think you should!

Thank you for your kind words. I never gave it much thought really. I saw a short story competition recently and I didn't care for their restrictive definition of a short story. I thought it wouldn't include classics by Poe or Joyce (nor a variety of famous Dutch authors). That is, how can I take seriously a competition that implicitly excludes such classics?

Also, short stories and poetry are pretty much unmarketable (at least in Dutch). That means to write a novel, and probably one that goes along with some current trend or other. In English it almost certainly means a literary agent. Then again, what isn't hard.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #5
Quote from: Frenzie

(I don't think you need a collaborator, another writer to share the work or credit; but a good editor [human reader whose job it is to make an author's work salable - palatable to a particular audience/market] could do you a world of good.)

I agree.


Hey, that's cheating... :)
Never do it. Of course you must be prepared for having your talent recognized only after your death... that's the way of the Great Writers. :)

Quote from: Frenzie
Also, short stories and poetry are pretty much unmarketable (at least in Dutch). That means to write a novel, and probably one that goes along with some current trend or other. In English it almost certainly means a literary agent. Then again, what isn't hard.


Sign of the times. Here, what sells are those abominable Dan Brown's thingies... as well as "books" written by... TV celebrities...
I suppose that the last ones don't even uses an Editor, they just hire some ghost writer to do the entire job...
A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #6

Quote from: Frenzie

(I don't think you need a collaborator, another writer to share the work or credit; but a good editor [human reader whose job it is to make an author's work salable - palatable to a particular audience/market] could do you a world of good.)

I agree.


Hey, that's cheating... :)
Never do it. Of course you must be prepared for having your talent recognized only after your death... that's the way of the Great Writers. :)

I think most texts can only improve from having a second set of eyes take a look at them. :) They might point out a certain formulation is a bit coarse, or that something doesn't really make sense to them. Of course, the eyes of someone who normally reads Twilight would probably be of little help, and the eyes of a professional editor might be more helpful to create something marketable than to create something of higher artistic value.

Also note that in this case, the quality of the Dutch is definitely superior to that of the English. The story is the same, but the prose flows significantly better. This is partially a problem of translation in general, partially the fault of the method I used: machine-assisted translation. I used Google Translate to create a base translation with surprisingly good results, after which I fixed the worst mistakes and translated some cultural references into English. This allowed me to create a very serviceable translation in mere minutes, but it's not a good translation. In some instances simply because there's some Dutch sentence structure or word choices seeping through, but I believe primarily because a machine doesn't know anything about the rhythm of language.
Sign of the times. Here, what sells are those abominable Dan Brown's thingies... as well as "books" written by... TV celebrities...
I suppose that the last ones don't even uses an Editor, they just hire some ghost writer to do the entire job...

It's funny, isn't it. In school you're badly punished for plagiarism, but outside of academics most people have ghost writers.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #7
Quote from: Frenzie

It's funny, isn't it. In school you're badly punished for plagiarism, but outside of academics most people have ghost writers.


Shame on them. Another "conquest" of moral relativism.



Translation it's very problematic, very specially when translating between complete distinct group of languages, where grammatical rules are so different.
It's an activity that I admire those who does it, a dangerous thing that can short-circuit one's brains... :)

A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Poe-ian Tales
Reply #8
Here's a "children's story" I wrote last week. It's a bit rough around the edges, probably a bit odd, and too graphical. So it goes.



Torn Apart
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It was a perfectly nice day when Esprit stumbled and broke his front right leg. When the little boy did not find the horse at his trough a few hours later he thought nothing of it; sometimes Esprit would run off and play and forget about dinner. To make up for lost time, the boy promised himself he'd visit the horse the next morning as early as he could.

The next day he noticed with mild consternation that the horse did not appear to be in his stable. The boy went out to search the property, trying to remember what were Esprit's favorite spots. He remembered the open hill, where Esprit would often lie in the sun.

Time stood still when the little boy discovered what had happened. Whether running back to his house, alerting his parents, and calling the veterinarian helicopter emergency service took minutes or hours was not a question he'd be able to answer, but the sky was already turning red as a thunderous cavalcade of chopped air signaled the arrival of the helicopter. Esprit was harnessed in with great care so the broken leg wouldn't shift, was given a sedative, and was swiftly lifted up. The little boy waved at the horse, certain the veterinarian would be able to mend and properly set Esprit's leg.

Unbeknown to the helicopter pilot, distracted by the glint of the setting sun in her eye, the rescue pulley system malfunctioned and started lowering the horse just as the helicopter was starting to pick up speed. The little boy stared in wide-eyed horror as Esprit started bouncing left and right from tree to tree. Gapes and gashes appeared and started to bleed, and despite the sedative the poor horse woke up when its broken leg got stuck between the top branches of a particularly sturdy evergreen tree and was torn off like a cocktail pricker. The horse started to howl the most agonizing scream the little boy would ever hear, but that was not the end of Esprit's misery. A particularly sharp branch a few trees over impaled the horse, which consequently produced a guttural, almost stuttering, and above all angry sound. The pilot finally noticed that something was awry when the helicopter refused to go forward anymore, but it was already too late. The surprisingly elastic tree finally gave up under the barrage of the helicopter's brute force and snapped like a twig, propelling the helicopter on its now downward trajectory into the trees. Like in the Hollywood movies the little boy loved so much, the rotored machine made a squealing noise before exploding in a fiery ball of death.

The little boy was finally able to break out of his trance, and he collapsed into a sobbing mass. For months after he was bedridden, and each night he claimed Esprit came limping to his window while floating through the air, on three legs and a bloody stump, with mad, bloodshot eyes. The boy's parents were worried sick, and their little boy's German-accented psychiatrist was having the time of his life writing article after article about the little boy's disturbed unconscious. When they found the broken window and the little boy's dead body with the missing right arm, the autopsy report bluntly stated he had inflicted all these injuries on himself--that he had torn off his own arm. The hoofmarks all over his body were left out of the official report. The estate was up for sale the next day already, and no one's lived there in sixty years. The locals are still weary of the place where the little boy died, but a real-estate developer drove by the other day and is planning to turn it into a hotel. The organization he represented put up a sign already: "The Hillcrest Hotel. Opening in May 2016, just in time for the holidays!"