EXERCISE Picture Challenge #47: Creation

Discussion in 'REFINING WRITING' started by Arcadia, May 20, 2016.



  1. INFO: They say that a picture can tell a thousand words. How many can you find?

    Each week a new image will be posted, and your challenge will be to write whatever the image inspires you to write. It can be anything as long as it relates to the picture. A plot, a scene, a short story, a poem, a character, etc. You can write as much or as little as you wish. It's not the length that matters, it's what you put into it. There is no time limit to these challenges, so feel free to jump in at any time.


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  2. They say I'm crazy. Sure, there's always been conversation about the negative impact we humans have on the environment, and in turn, the way the environment fights back. But according to everyone else, only a loon would go so far as to declare humans impossibly toxic. Irredeemable. Irrevocable. Disgusting. They fight back against my ideals. They call me insane and dismiss me and everything I say. Cold white rooms. Endless pills. Judgmental lab coats. I've seen it all. I've hurt people. They fight back and impede progress. Just like they always have.

    My brush whips across the canvas, splattering paint on the concrete floor. This is the only place I'm allowed to go outside. Here, on the roof of the mental hospital, I create my masterpiece. A vision of a perfect world, a world with no humans, where Mother Nature has taken back what is rightfully hers. Clear skies. Plentiful foliage. It's beautiful. My painting covers the ugliness of the blocks of gray buildings, hiding them from view. All I see is my vision. I take a deep breath, and I can almost smell the cool, crisp air locked within. I'm not there yet. But I will be soon.
     
  3. I think we have all heard, read or watched that story archetype. One last guardian, old beyond counting, the last torch-bearer of his civilization. One, last futile dash through the maw of oblivion, in effort to pass the message of the whole of their people to someone else. Before their days are finally counted. Before all of it is forgotten, vanishing into oblivion, just another layer of random noise on the background of the Universe. Never would have guessed it would be my story.

    First and foremost, I am not a scientist. I never was good at math, or physics or chemistry or any other exact discipline. My heart is that of an artist, and as such, I can't offer an erudite accord of the disaster that took place, but I suppose it doesn't matter. Whomever will find this message will arrive at a time when everything is already dead, big or microscopic.

    Suffice to say, whatever got unearthed in the Central Square, it ate everything. The construction crew, the team of archaeologists sent from the local university to figure out what the working party dug up, and how long it will take before the work can continue. Our saving grace was its hunger. It ate too voraciously, and before it could reach for other humans, there were none too close to grab and it had to pull back into its pit. The government reacted with surprising speed, and the city was quarantined before anyone could get out. They saw the footage, and realized how badly outmatched we all were here.

    While we were locked in the prison that was our home city, along with the monstrosity, they tried what they could. Fire, explosives, chemicals. While all showed some effect, it was not enough, and it kept reaching further and further, eating us one by one. You could hear the screams at night, people just screaming at the silent, smooth, cold metal walls surrounding our city. "Just do it!" they shouted. We all knew what they meant. Nuclear weapons, the doomsday machines we made to be used against our own kind. We could see it in each other's eyes. None of us were getting out alive, so at least we could go out in a blazing, mercilessly quick and painless death, along with the creature in Central Square.

    "Just nuke us!" the people shouted at the walls, before running against them and being gunned down by the robotic sentry guns mounted atop them. We understood that too. What cruel commander would place his soldiers atop a wall, with orders to shoot anything getting too close. The machines could do that just as well, and the only soul that would burn for their actions was that of a man who turned them on.

    Be it by madness from frustration or by that, the city would slowly die out. Somehow, I was spared from either. We could hear voices from the outside. The communication to the outside was blocked, but our captors were not so cruel as to prevent us from receiving television and radio broadcasts. They tried to help, but just as us, understood they could just sit and hope that they would be able to hold the line.

    I was the last one in the city, at least I think I was. I knew it would come for me, it had to, but instead, the broadcasts fell silent. It was not in the city anymore. It escaped, somehow. I tried to scream at the metal walls, but as usual, no answer came. The guns atop were still active.

    I stand here now, atop the highest building in the city. I thought about jumping, finally being done with it, but...

    I looked. I looked and seen it all before this. I realized I had to record how it used to be, before it is too late. Record as much as I can, before my memory falters, before I die from starvation or disease, or before it returns for me, to kill me last. I need to prepare a warning for those who might arrive one day. It might be dead then, but the risk is not worth it.

    I have work to do.
     
  4. Perspective on the End of the World
    1,055 words


    Emi looked forward to the apocalypse.

    The sounds coming up from the street below distinctly did not herald said apocalypse.

    That was always the problem for Emi: no apocalypse. Too many noises, too many cars, too many people. And none of them had any interest or inclination to stop and be silent for even a minute, to examine the world as it was, or as it could be.

    The "artist loft" she rented had a stunning view of the city. The vista was perfect for art and inspiration, the real estate agent had told her. It quickly turned out that the only artists who could work with that sort of vista were photographers. It was prime real estate for someone who could frame an existing image and capture it, but it turned out to be worthless to her, as Emi couldn't manage to focus or concentrate on an original creation with all the bloody cars feeding through the city's asphalt arteries.

    Still, the space had been too good to turn down. There was nothing that a few do-it-yourself modifications couldn't solve. Emi hung blackout curtains, and it worked for a while, as she was able to put brush to canvas a few times. But the effort to hide the view of the un-still life that crawled through the city, from delivery trucks to delivery boys, and from angry pedestrians to the angry drivers who almost hit them, was a failed one.

    Out of sight, Emi discovered, was only out of mind if you couldn't hear any of them, either. The curses, taxi hails, horns, and engines that were the city's heartbeat made it through the loft windows, morning and night. A heartbeat doesn't stop until the body dies, after all.

    There was no apartment tall enough in the city to escape that sort of noise. Not one she could afford, anyway.

    Artists tend to starve when they produce no work, and Emi had become hungry enough to begin eating her brushes, end first. She stalked back and forth through the loft, jaw clenching and unclenching, bouncing the brush in the irregular rhythm of a person lost in thought. Her whole body was tense, clenching and unclenching her entire being, top to bottom, in mental exercise to generate something on the blanks canvas in front of her. Emi's bare toes clenched and unclenched in syncopated counterpoint to her jaw, even though she didn't realize it, trying to ground herself in synthetic carpet that only drew her further out of sorts.

    Anyone who has lived in one knows, loft is ancient Greek for rentable closet or one-bedroom bedroom, and it left Emi feeling claustrophobic and irritable. The huge, white canvas, which held the wide-open possibility of infinite creations upon it only served to put deeper bite marks into one of her favorite brushes. Emi couldn't tell what time it was, but she could hear the traffic jam at street level, the city's blood clotting around a single intersection, as every part of the body seemed to scream, with that scream being the dissonant bleat of every car's horn at once; the sound of a heart monitor that warned the city was getting ready to die.

    The city wouldn't die. Traffic cops with whistles would be dispatched, and lights would turn green, and things would quiet down to their normal whooshing blood flow that is the sound of tires on pavement. The apocalypse wouldn't come, and the patient wouldn't die, and Emi could not breathe.

    Forcing herself bodily and mentally from her rentable closet, Emi rushed herself down the hallway, and into the building's stairwell. Up. Out. Air. Space. Open. Outside. The roof door slammed open, lighter than it looked, as she shoved past it into sudden blindness, as a wall of painful white light greeted her eyes.

    The roof's concrete was cool under the soles of her bare feet, and the air was enough to bring chills across her bare legs. The sunshine that had blinded her was now providing enough warmth to take off the edge of the chill without burning the skin. Blinking away the blindness and squinting to keep from being blinded again, Emi saw the city in a new way. She closed her eyes one more time to take in the sensation of the cool breeze over the top of the building, that pulled on the layers of her unbuttoned shirt flapping around the teal cotton one that was enough to keep her warm against the wind, and let her feel refreshed without being cold.

    It was in that deep breath of freedom under an open sky that Emi decided she didn't have to wait for the apocalypse anymore. She was going to make it.

    Emi's excitement didn't flag over the three trips it took to manhandle her stuff up to the roof of the building. Manhandling a canvas only slightly taller than she was up the stairwells was the biggest challenge, but she didn't even notice that, as her paints tray and easel collapsed enough to make the race to Armageddon easier than expected. No one could have been more eager for the end of world.

    Looking out over the city from her building's rooftop, Emi could no longer see the blood clots. She could no longer hear the dissonant heart monitor's horns. She looked out over the cityscape, and saw only the tops of the buildings, like tips of bones sticking up from a shallow grave. She saw the patient dead and buried, and she saw the world ended. Then, she saw the world begin again.

    Sunshine and altitude don't bring death, but inspire life, and Emi felt that as she finally was able to put brush to canvas. Whipping her strokes in a manic and liberated frenzy, she laid the foundation of a new world upon the old. The detail work came soon after, in vibrant, living colors, as she dissolved the clots and transfused old blood for new into the city: a living green replacing the red of steel and rust took hold of the streets and the skyscrapers, as Emi got to liberate herself from the claustrophobia of the city, and the city from its death.

    She had laid out the city with a new life, and realized she'd done the same for herself.

    Emi looked past the apocalypse.

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    #4 ASharedNarrative, Jun 7, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
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