A Darker Train of Thought

A Darker Train of Thought

I stand surrounded by the screams of my fellow man.
The sounds of their terror are not pure, though. No, they are mixed with the low rushing and rhythmic chanting of the monolithic machines that imprison them. It is a perfect, if haunting, match. It ebbs and flows as the monsters move closer or further away, and drowns out any lesser music they may try to distract with. It is mesmerizing, but also horrifying.

I say ‘imprison’ somewhat loosely, as it isn’t really prison. They all come here by choice, indeed this place was built by people much like ourselves, but in a way, it really is still prison. That comes when they finally strap themselves into the machines of their invention and they realize that there’s no going back. It’s too late. And they are prisoners to merciless steel and wheels and cogs and steam pumps, forever grinding on with no thought for the passengers of flesh they carry.

What is this masochistic need? Why do we purposely, for no practical reason, dedicate an entire day, a career, a lifetime, to the creation and use of a place designed to extract the loudest, most mortified screams it can?

Others walk around me as I stand in the midst of the fray, observing. I see the suffering; the sunburns, the tired, aching feet. The crying children and weary parents, people who are so desperate for relief that they’ll pay overpriced amounts for overprized products, a thing which benefits only the further creation of more of these unhidden dungeons. People even drag their best friends with them, insisting, despite their horror, that they join them.

If it weren’t for the smiles, and laughter, this could be easily mistaken for Hell.

Perhaps it is a desperate want for a change from the mundane operations of daily life, something to make them feel alive, to remind them how precious is their life and their time. To make them feel human.

I ponder these thoughts as I join the next flock of sheep headed for slaughter.

I wonder too; do we think it’s fun, truly? To make ourselves slave to an extension of our arms and legs and the world around us, bent to cage us within an isolated cove of horror? Do we conveniently ignore the fact that we will come out of this bruised, and sore, and exhausted? Is it worth the pain? The fear? The strained vocal cords?

And those too who run the machines, who maintain them and operate them… Do they know what they do? As they stare at us with cold eyes, long-dead incantations of empty well-wishing on their lips, do they know? Do they see the fear in our eyes? Do they notice the moment when the blood drains from our faces as reality hits?

Or have they done this too long to see anymore? Brainwashed beyond salvation, exhausted beyond caring, desensitized, perhaps? At any rate, they are ignorant to cries of changed minds, to fearful pleas for assurance.

And now, I find, I have joined the fate of those thousands who have gone before me, between the point of no return and the doom that lies ahead.

Why am I doing this?

There is too much time to think. But as the ground shrinks away from my feet I also observe that there is not nearly enough.     

There’s nothing I can do. I am powerless, helpless, trapped.

Horrible dread spreads painfully from my chest; my body’s desperate attempt to drive me to escape. But the other half of me whispers reassurances that my heart believes but my brain does not. 

Why do I do this to myself? What drives me to this insanity?

And just as I think I may be on the verge of an answer, as always before, my time is up and the existential war in my mind is utterly drowned out by my own scream, which now adds its banshee harmony to the thunder of the human condition.

This was a little writing exercise I decided to do in which I describe some everyday thing in a way that paints it as dark and almost evil. I’m fairly certain the subject I chose presented itself obviously enough.

Fun fact: unintentionally, the word count of this particular story turned out to be exactly 666.

Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious enough, the subject was amusement parks, roller coasters in particular.

Think about it; how strange is my description, really? How unbelievable?

Maybe you’ll think of this next time you yourself board one of those twisted trains.


Challenge Accepted

I saw a writing prompt on the internet recently that read something like this: “Every now and then, dreamcatchers must be emptied of the nightmares they’ve caught. Who does it, and what do they see?”

I thought this was very interesting and decided to write a scene based on the concept. Here it is. I call it “The Dremptier”, which is a bad pun of “Dream Emptier”. Anyway, enjoy!

“Every now and then, dreamcatchers must be emptied of the nightmares they’ve caught. Who does it, and what do they see?”
The child shivers in her sleep.

She is in her bed, in her room, covered with her favorite blanket and cuddling her favorite stuffed animal. She is safe and warm.

And yet she shivers.

An old dreamcatcher hangs above her head, slightly tattered, a little faded, and worn from years of catching the nightmares of those it’s guarded. It hangs heavy, dragged down by the horrors it contains. Despite this, it still shimmers faintly with the old magic that only those of my kind can see. 

The child whimpers, a sweet, heart wrenching sound filled with innocence and fear. I hurry to the side of her bed and begin my work. 

Gently I lift the dreamcatcher from the hook it hangs on, carefully moving it away so that fragmented nightmares don’t fall out into her already troubled mind. 

I examine it closely. Hidden underneath the glow of magic are creeping shadows and creatures of darkness, crawling and writhing in the net. One by one I pluck them off and crush them beneath my ghostly fingers, sending them back to the void they came from. It is not a permanent fix: the nightmares will inch back overtime, but it is still helpful. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to nature if the Dremptiers such as I were undestroyable but the shadows were. 

Out of curiosity, I observe the forms this child’s nightmares take as I remove them from the web, wondering what her fears are. I see the usual ones for such a young thing; spiders, heights, dogs, lightning… But I also see hunger, tall men with gruff voices, and images of her mother lying sick in bed. This one has had a troubled life already.

I myself was a child her age, years and years ago, before Typhoid Fever took my life. In death I chose the angel’s task of emptying mortals’ dreamcatchers when they became too full over the chance to be a guardian or a messenger. At first it was a dreadful task, but I soon learned to find joy in bringing restful sleep to those in need of it.

I make a mental note to ask her guardians what they can do to help her sick mother and soften the heart of her cold father.

She trembles, almost crying in her sleep. Fortunately, I’m almost done cleansing her dreamcatcher. I remove the last spider and rehook a broken part of the net, straightening a crooked feather, shaking the dust off, and hanging it back above her head. For comfort, I place a miniature daisy from my old childhood dreams into the net. It glimmers for a moment and then disappears. 

Instantly, the shadows that were tormenting her are sucked into the web and replaced by my daisy. The child calms, breathing deep, and then a smile crosses her sleeping face and she finally drifts more deeply into her rest. I observe her for a moment, temporarily nostalgic for the life that was taken from me, but then I lean over and plant a kiss on her head that she’ll never feel, reminding myself that recompense will come.

My soul finds rest in this.

Feel free to let me know what you think of it! I’ve really been working on my writing ability and I finally feel like I’m making some progress. I’m actually working on a Skyrim fanfic right now and hope to upload it soon. Or, whenever it’s finished.