Monday, August 13, 2007


I am OFF hiatus now and GASP, I bring things.

Well, I will once I'm done writing it that is. It's a rewrite of The Sacrificing Brother, Cain's story for Suite 21 (or otherwise known as 22/7 Blackwell Society of Fiction). I decided that I just did not like my submissions the first time around. Why? Cain and Abele did not quite turn out the way I wanted. This time I've had a lot, lot, more time to reflect on their characters (as I love them greatly) and will be able to write a better version of them. Along with that, I am hoping to have something along the lines of some Norse stories. I may EVEN rewrite They Met on Wednesday, which the title irks me a little. I reread it, loved the characters but decided that the story was missing a little. I keep thinking back to some of the stuff I've tried to write and failed to put to type. There are these two characters, Spade and... well, I never CAN remember his name, haha. Two supernatural detectives taking on supernatural cases, to put it bluntly. I did, at some point, promise them their own book. Along with Al and Frankie, the two lovable mobster vampires. However that IS another story (well, I think it is at least). Then there is heading back the last piece I had written when I went on hiatus (in short, the reason WHY I went on hiatus). I don't even remember what the story was about. I barely remember having the character in a prison of sorts. Hmmm. There is also an idea about a bastard son overthrowing and taking over a kingdom that I've been meddling about. Finally there is a piece of artwork I have more recently decided would set a very nice ghost story. It was a scrap, the artist had framed it but felt that, if she needed a canvas, would promptly use. I spotted it, commented that I really liked it, and she gave it to me. If I DO write a story on it, I'll post a photo of it. (And to be truthful, as much as I love it, it's not one of her better pieces, hahaha. Nonetheless I'm glad to have stolen away with it.)

Monday, May 07, 2007

I hate to say this, I really do.

Sorry, but I am going to have to say that this Blog is now officially on haitus.

I figured that everything would blow over, be quick, nice and easy. But it won't. I will not be able to post for a while. It makes me terribly sad that this shiny and new and happy Blog will not be updated. I had an entry in motion, but I cannot finish it. I am incapable.

Not that anyone reads this.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Woman and a Rather Annoyed Death

This takes a little backstory, and that is: In Latin class, we had to translate a little story about a woman who laments and groans and weeps over her poor dying husband. She begs for Death to kill her instead of him. Of course, he answers that call. Why not? A death is a death and hey, he's not really losing here. So he comes knocking and she freaks out and doesn't want to go. I thought this sounded very much like Terry Pratchett's Death, who I love. So, bored and nothing to do, I decided to write something. And, voila, here it is.


The woman sniffled and walked through the door. She set down the tray and walked over to the bed, where a relatively ill-looking man was laying. A tear went down her cheek as she kneeled by the bed and grasped his hand. She held for a while looking fairly forlorn and lost. She was always so fond of him and it would just break her heart to lose him. She sniffled loudly.
The man had noticed his wife but didn't quite feel like answering her. She sniffled a little more loudly and he rolled his eyes. She was fairly nice and not too bad at cooking as long as you stayed away from her soups and sauces[1]. He looked over at her and said, “It's ok dear, I'm just a little sick.” She looked up with pouty lips.

“Dear, you must get better. I just couldn't stand it, my love. With you gone, oh what shall I do? Oh, you must get better.” She said pleadingly. Her husband couldn't really stand her. He thought to himself on how much better off he would be once he as dead. He wouldn't really be alive anymore, but then he wouldn't have to deal with her.

She opened her mouth and he secretly wished to smack her. She raised her arms up and moaned, “Oh great gods, oh cruel Death, how could you do this to us? We are husband and wife. We are the land and ocean. We are the rose and aphids![2] Please, please, please, Death, do not take my innocent husband away! If you must, oh nasty Death, take me instead. Take me and leave him whole and healthy.” She inwardly smiled to herself as she flopped onto the bed and cried dramatically. She thought this would be such a nice little act for her dying husband and gossiping slaves. What she didn’t count on was that Death, who was relatively bored at the moment, listened in to her dreadful moaning. There was a cold draft coming from the corner of the room, the one with the scroll-shelf and a light flapping of heavy cloth. A tall ominous figure stood there. The husband stared at it, hoping for sure that this tall ominous figure was not who he thought it was and had not come for what he thought he came for. The wife remained oblivious.


The wife looked up and screamed at the tall ominous figure. “I-it... erm... Well, I take it back! I don't want to die anymore!”

The tall ominous figure stared at her for a moment. The husband thought it looked as though it was thinking. The figure then shrugged and said:


“Then, can I not die?”

The figure looked over at the husband.

The husband looked back.

And shivered.

[1] She had problems with the stirring. She always kept it on the burner for a little too long or a little too short. Well, that and she did not have the knack for choosing out the best of veggies. They were almost always a little old and rotten and she was not the gentlest of veggie-holders, causing them to bruise rapidly. Or, for the matter, the best of meats. On the whole, it was wise to stay away from her cooking. For his own sake, he tried to make her happy and secretly munched on their head of house slave's dishes instead. Understanding his predicament, the head of house slave always made two helpings worth of food and got paid rather well for it, too.

[2] When she had first thought this up in her mind, she thought it sounded poetic, romantic even. After all, it had the word rose in it. As she said it, she realised just how stupid it sounded. Her husband would have agreed with her.


“So... I'm going to die? For... INSULTING YOU?”


The husband figured that this wouldn't be a good time to mention that he felt a little light-headed and his feet were getting cold. He was pretty sure that this was something to do with him dying.

“Well, then how do I die?”


“If I'm to die, I need a reason. People just don’t go around dying for no good reason. I don’t have a reason to die. I’m healthy.”


“Such as?”


“By who?”


The husband thought that this would be pretty obvious.

“I don't want to be stabbed.”


“Pick another one.”


“Too messy.”



The husband felt his abdomen was feeling a little chilly.


“What cliff?”

By now, Death was getting annoyed. This woman asked to be killed, then refused to and now wants to choose the way in which she died. Most just died with fear and got over it.


“But I'm not afraid.”


“Not graceful enough.”

Death was, by this point, getting very annoyed. He just remembered that he was to meet Pestilence at a quaint little café in the 21st century. This woman was taking too long. Death looked at his watch. He was going to run late if this kept up any longer.

By now the husband felt rather dead, which was odd because he wasn't.


“And become all bloated and ugly? Ew, no.”


“My heart is fine and it just sounds so violent.”

There was a pause as he tried to think of something.


“What kind of wild animal?”


“We're in town.”


He was now five minutes late. Pestilence liked people who were on time. Death liked being on time, he was a very punctual person.


Deciding that he was late enough, he ended it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Breath is Life

This is the third essay. It is on Gudard's Breathless (French, 1959, I think). Good movie.

In Gudard’s film, Breathless, the characters mimic famous Hollywood stars, losing their identity and who they are. Michel, despite all he tries, is not Humphrey Bogart. Humphrey Bogart is only cool in movies. Once Michel tries to become the living characters that Humphrey Bogart plays, he cheapens his existence. He gets bored, hates it and wants to run away. Patricia, even though she does not imitate anyone, is also alike Michel in that way. She, too, is acting. From the beginning, she was not quite so Hollywood, but then as she and Michel are near each other, it grows on her. By the end of the film, she and Michel are akin.

Because Michel tries so hard to do what he wants, when he wants and not care about what happens because of what he does, he condemns himself. Whether to a miserable existence, jail or death, his fate is to end up unhappy. From the start of the film, the audience watches him hijack a car, kill a policeman and steal money. In life, killing a policeman would hardly be exciting or interesting. In Hollywood, it would be dramatic and exhilarating. In Breathless, it is quick, confusing and boring. Michel takes out the gun, shoots and runs. Despite how much Michel tries to live as though in the movies, he lives in the real world. If he shoots a man, the man gets shot. No dramatic gunfights or witty quips or intense pauses.

In life, people take a lot of time to move from one place to another. This is the same for Michel. He may act like Bogart, but life is life and he’s forced to take the time to walk, drive and live. Whenever the intense, dramatic music, usually reserved for the intense dramatic scenes, plays, Michel is walking or driving.

Patricia is not reckless, but she is not innocent. She plays the part of the femme fatale. Not a particularly sly and deviously cunning one, but for Michel’s case, she is one. She plays the part of the American student who wants to be a writer. She cannot run off, or she looses her money and is forced back home. Michel is given a hard decision: Patricia or Italy. Michel dearly wants to leave Paris, but if he does, he loses Patricia.

Patricia becomes affected by Michel’s reckless behaviour. She allows herself to be absorbed into Michel’s life. It is a subtle occurrence, but she does begin to pick up Michel’s habits, such as his three exaggerated emotions motion. She does not want to pick Michel. She does not want to love Michel. That is why she informs on him, even though she does not like informers. Because this is life and in life, people do things that are unexplainable, she does inform. She, like Michel, has two choices: Michel or not. She did not pick him, and that meant she needed to inform on him.
Michel’s death scene is not Hollywood. Even in death, Michel cannot achieve that blissful status he wanted so badly. His life was filled with Bogart’s lip move and thoughtless behaviour. He is not what he used to be. He is not quite so human anymore. He is sub-human because he poses Bogart. When he dies, he has no harsh and tender moments with Patricia. He gets shot, he runs and he dies. Patricia stands over him with her indescribable expression. The policeman even repeats his dying words incorrectly. His last words and they are wrong.

Patricia then repeats his Bogart move.

Imitation is cheap. Michel and Patricia are two people cheapened by Hollywood hype. Michel began to hate his life, thoughtless behaviour was getting him nowhere and tried to run. When he tried to run, his past problems caught up to him and killed him. Hollywood and Bogart cheapened his existence to the point where he died.

Dig a Deeper Grave

This is a (pretty good) essay on Harry Lyme from The Third Man, played by Orson Welles. I loved Harry (I like Welles) a lot. So, for film class, I wrote this two page essay on him (instead of a really long essay on the whole movie).

The Third Man was directed by Carroll Reed, is British and from 1949.

A British ‘noir’, The Third Man contains inventive film shots and intriguing set to explain the antagonist: Harry Lyme (Orson Welles). It takes place in Vienna, after the WWII. Due to the bombings, the city filled with rubble. Using the city’s rubble and maze-like sewage system, Carroll Reed enhances Harry’s mental disposition. Not only that, but the way in which he twists the camera so the shots themselves become askew, also enhances the movie. Besides rubble and rubbish, the music further perplexes the audience. A zither for a noir background is uncommonly pleasing. It is peppy and out of place among murders and threats.

Whenever something seems to be going wrong or Harry Lyme is mentioned, the screen tilts. We first see it tilt when Holly finds out that his best buddy, Harry Lyme, is dead. Not only is the shot tilted, but we are looking up at the man telling this horrid news. The next time we see this tilted-shot is when Holly and Anna talk to each other. The topic of choice is, of course, Harry. Whenever Holly is close to learning a clue about Holly, such as when they are talking to the porter, the screen goes back to that familiar tilt. This tilting would most likely be, because, the truth about Harry is what everyone thinks. It shows an inner turmoil in Holly. He does not believe that Harry is dead, so whenever a clue or the subject of him comes up, the truth bends.

The rubble, too, is akin to what Harry has become. According to Holly, we get the understanding that Harry would not sell bad medicine plainly for money. The rubble and Harry made each other. Because of the bad life in Vienna, Harry began a less honest way of work. Then again, Harry also ruined lives, turned them into rubble. Harry and the rubble are the same, brothers. By the time Holly arrives in Vienna, Harry’s life is in complete disarray, just like the city.

The sewage system, too, is also like Harry. Harry’s life is neither straightforward nor clean. The Vienna sewage is a maze. There are so many entrances and turns and rooms. Harry has many faces. The one he shows Holly or Anna and many others. He was both a friend to Holly and his antagonist. He was Anna’s lover and her condemner. He is dead and alive. Holly knew him as a friend, but when they took the Ferris wheel ride together, it dawned on Holly that the old Harry he knew and befriended was not particularly alive anymore. Instead, there was a cold criminal. To Anna, Holly loved her. He was her benefactor. He gave her a passport, even if it was fake. But he also turned her in to the police. Harry took away his gift. Harry was supposed dead. He would have remained so if Holly did not come around. Once Holly arrived in Vienna, Harry was alive. Holly refused to believe either that Holly was dead or that Holly was not murdered. Holly resurrected Harry.

Despite the seriousness of the happenings in the movie, the zither music is light-hearted and happy. Instead of feeling intense, the audience feels as though nothing is important. Anna’s passport is found fraud, cheerful zither. Holly is being chased by an angry mob, peppy zither. It is as though we are hearing the world through Harry’s ears. Harry is sarcastic, dry and witty. While he may talk about something death-defying serious, he jokes. During the Ferris ride, he mocks Anna and love. He mocks peace and human compassion. Harry Lyme is bitter, cynical man and he sells flawed medicine with zither music in his head. He even dies to it.

The Third Man, for all its seriousness, it is oddly twisted. Even though Harry is the antagonist and only appears at about the last quarter, the movie reflects his feelings, thoughts and being.

The Mark of M

This is a (bad) essay on the movie, M. I am taking a film class, currently, so I thought I might as well (procrastinate and) post this. This one is not very good, seeing how I wrote it over the period of a month or two. It is six pages.

M is a wonderful movie by Fritz Lang. It is German and from 1931.

The German murder movie, M, directed by Fritz Lang, was a breach between German expressionism and film noir. It was made in 1931, after WWI and during the depression. The movie showed dark aspects from the times (i.e. – run-down building, a surplus of beggars and a lack of fathers) and the earlier expressionism. Unlike German expressionism, the set is not warped and twisted to fit the story, but closer to that of noir. Both noir and German expressionism uses shadows as a way to express certain feelings or amplify an idea. Unlike noir, the main character is not trying to find something, as is the norm of noir themes. Instead, it the movie is displayed like a documentary, points out how occurrences like murders is entertainment and brings attention to sound in moving pictures.

The opening of the movie sets the tone well, there are children, in a circle, playing in a yard. They’re playing a murder game, where a child spins around and around and around in the middle and point to another to leave it, becoming one of the murdered, all while singing a song that goes with the game. At the time of creation, sound was a new and wonderful thing. Unlike our movies today, M, rarely gives background music and hands out lots of silent bouts. Even before we see the children playing, we hear the children songs of murder. These children standing in a circle are a hint as to what the movie is about. At this point in plot, only children are being eliminated (by our Hans Beckert). In only the first minute of the movie, we get two themes: sound and elimination.

A mother tells the children to stop singing that horrific song (which the children ignores) and we skip over to see a girl playing in front of a warning pasted onto a pillar. She blithely ignores it; the warning tells of a child-murderer and to be careful. As the shot rests on the warning, we see a man’s shadow splay across the words. This shadow-play is reminiscent in noir cinematography. The shadow draws our eyes to the words mörder (German for murderer). Even though we cannot tell who the man is, the words tell us what he is. Such shadow-play creates a suspense (of who this murderer is) and gives us our first introduction to what will be the main character. It sets up the plot wonderfully for the audience, our first scene is of children playing a murder game, our second scene is of a child being murdered.

The movie now moves over to a mother wondering about her child, calling out to her down the stairs (as an audience, we can grimly guess and can only wait until our dark presumptions are confirmed). A man comes by her apartment and tries to sell her a shilling shocker of a new chapter in a murder novel, which she promptly buys. This is all done purposefully. Lang points out how murder is displayed as entertainment and propaganda (to buy papers). We, the audience, is plainly watching a movie about a murderer which is a reference to a murderer from a year or two before. When the mother calls for her child (Elsie, whom we know, by now, that she is truly deceased), we are given a handful of clips of stairs and clothes hanging to dry. This gives in to the ‘documentary look’ of the movie, making it reference, yet again, to murder as entertainment.

After the mother’s distressing calls disappear, the jarring call of young newspaper boys ring out. Someone in the crowd asks who is the murderer. Directly after that, we see a man writing by the window. Right away, we learn he is the murderer. Not only because of the note he was writing, but because of the more subtle clue from the last sentence spoken. Also, we can recognise it as the murderer because of the whistling. The audience now starts to associate the murderer to the whistling. The first time we legitimately saw him, he was taking Elsie with him. Now, as he writes the letter to the press, he whistles. This also brings up the recurring theme of sound.

Now the audience watches a crowd reading a notice on the news boards. It is a reward for informers. This goes back to Lang’s point that murders are sold off as entertainment by newspapers. The crowd is not so much as concerned citizens as horrified readers.

In mid-sentence, the scene cuts to the head policemen reading the newspaper notice out loud. They are sitting in a circle, which is yet another recurring theme. Just like the children, the full circle is broken.

Cutting a few scenes, we get back to the newspapers. A newspaper has printed the murderer’s, Beckert’s, letter. The newspaper was sure to print it. What more could boost their sales than a letter written by a murderer currently ‘popular’? Not only is their murder-is-entertainment as a point here, Lang also shows the detective process for seeing who wrote the letter. The documentary feel pops up again as the audience is sees the fingerprints, detective science and graphology. As the graphologist speaks of what the handwriting tells of the person who wrote it, we watch as Beckert makes faces in the mirror, bringing image to what the graphologist is saying. Then, while the police chief is talking of how taxing the manhunt is on his men, we are shown a series of examples on just how tired the policemen really are and what they are doing to find Becket. Leading again to a documentary feel. As he continues the talk about widening the search for the killer, a map of the area is shown and the town is circumscribed several times, giving us more circles.

The police raid one of the underground clubs, and they do so in complete silence. There is no background music or talking or sounds of cars and people. It brings a greatly noticeable attention to the heavy silence and when a whistle and car horns pierce through the silence, they are more harsh and prominent than otherwise.

The policemen search the people in the underground bar (arresting many), display all the weapons, flasks, cutlery and other objects they confiscated. How they display the items mirrors documentaries and how they display items.

After the police raid, the movie cuts to the head criminals. They’re waiting for the Safekeeper. The four of them sit down at the table, creating an almost circle. This, yet again, brings back the circles. The Safekeeper finally comes, completing the circle. While Safekeeper talks, the scene continuously cuts to the policemen talking about the same thing. Every time a man talks, he stands up, breaking the circle. When he is done, he sits back down and someone else breaks the circle. Both parties want to stop Beckert and want to find him first, bring their own justice on the man. Even though the police and the criminals are on the opposite sides, they both agree that Beckert must be caught, no matter what.

The criminals decide to use beggars as a way to find Beckert. The audience is given a show of cigarettes and cigars, metals, food and cards. Yet again, reminiscent of a documentary.

The policemen have a list of people they suspect. Lang shows us the papers, slowly, making sure the audience can take a good, long look at it. This is another documentary-type shot.

Beckert walks up to a window and we see him through the shop. The glass reflects what is being displayed (murder weapons, knives, mostly). Some fo the knives form a box and it frames him. In a mirror in the display, he spies a girl. She also is framed by these knives. Not only is the murderer and victim is framed by weapons, but the display also has the hint of a documentary feel. As Beckert moves to stalk the girl, the whistling resumes.

After a beggar recognises his trademark whistling, Beckert finds a girl, buys her candy and ends up being followed. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a knife. That causes a moment of suspense. We put the three (Beckert, little girl and knife) together and momentarily believe he is going to hurt her. However, he begins to peel a fruit. The tracker pretends to trip, marking Beckert with the M. Lang ends the shot by zooming in to Beckert’s newfound trademark.

The audience already knows that Beckert is the murderer, but the police are far behind both the criminals and the viewers. We are given another documentary shot when the police find Beckert’s red pencil and where he wrote his letters to the newspapers.

The girl finally spots Beckert’s M and promptly tells him he has something on his shoulder. We are then given a spectacular shot of Beckert looking at his shoulder in the mirror. The people stalking Beckert realise their ruse is up and begin whistling to each other. The sounds are piercing and are audibly blatant. This, yet again, brings attention to sound.

The men continue to stalk Beckert and the shot widens up. We are given an aerial view of the streets as the men try and corner Beckert. This is a common shot used in noir. The characters look small and insignificant in the large city. A fire truck passes by, creating a clamour, bringing more attention to sound. We are given a look around the rooftops and one particular shot reminisces to The Casket of Dr Caligari. Bells toll and loud horns and many people are heard. The second attention brought to sound in the scene.

The next scene is of the criminals breaking and searching for Beckert. It is the most extensive documentary example. We are given a run-through of how the criminals break through the building (and into every office). A man trying to figure out how to bypass the alarm system hears a taping. This is Beckert, trying to get through the locked door. This is yet another sound example. By now, Beckert’s shots have gone from open streets to a storage room, to an even smaller storage space. In an attempt of trying to not to be found, he shrinks deeper into the stuff. As he gets closer to being caught, the space he occupies shrinks until there is nothing left to shrink into. That is when he is caught. After they finally apprehend Beckert and hurriedly run off, the building is empty and we see the damage done. Guards tied up, broken doors, a smashed storage space and a nice circle through a ceiling, which brings us to the police arriving at the scene a few hours late as usual (although it does tie the two scenes together cleanly).

Beckert is brought forth to the criminal underground for a hearing. We find a gigantic crowd staring at us, the audience. There is complete silence. The Safekeeper holds up pictures of the killed children, and as he brings the pictures down, we see the crowd staring at us.

From smoking to open streets, M has aspects to it that are noir. The way it is filmed is closer to noir, but it is not. It has still yet to abandon expressionism. The story and the way it is presented holds roots in expressionism. M is the branch between the two genres. It also holds importance to sound and how murder is entertainment. To hold up that murder is entertainment, scenes are played out as though it was a documentary.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Sacrificing Brother (A. Cain Arlini)

There was a chink, the sound of ice moving in a glass. The room was lit respectively, it was not too bright nor too dark. There were no windows in the dining room and if there were, the sight was not worth the look. The room was, like the rest of the house, decorated with reds, off-whites, creams and browns. It was finely dressed and not pompously rich. The room showed the owner to be rich, the kind that was not to be flaunted, but also not to be hidden. Every object in the dining room had a purpose and there was not much art.

A. Cain Arlini was not a man for the arts. He did not care for paintings or play, and certainly not musicals. He did dabble in a book or two, but they never struck a fancy or even a chord. Cain was just a man. Cain also had a very peculiar interest in pulps. While his brother, Abele, read books avidly, watched plays with awe and listened to concerts in rapture, Cain found solace in horror comics. He kept that fact hidden.

The inhabitants of the dining table was an older man, who sat at the head and had a pepper-and-salt mixed with chestnut clean-cut and short hair, an older woman, who was black-haired and devoid of wrinkles and also sat across from the older man, and two men, who were in-between their 20s and 30s. The man was the Father of Cain and Abele. He was highly respected, and also highly feared. His name was Adem and he ran mostly illegal businesses (and a very nice theatre for opera, which they had named The Globe). The woman was the Mother of Cain and Abele and her name was Ava. She ran the opera most of the time and was the reason why they owned the theatre. She had a relentless love for opera. The two last men were, to lightly put it, very special. The one on the right hand of Adem was Abele. He had darker brown hair and the same colour eyes. The one on the left side of Adem was Cain. He had the same colour hair as his father and his eyes were the same brown. Abele’s hair looked soft, the cut made him look kinder than his brother, who’s hair formed horn-like flips. This made Cain look imposing and devilish, which made Abele look like a victim when near him. They both were the same height and almost the same weight. Abele was skinnier by default and it gave him a look of incompleteness. Cain was more filled out, but he was not portly. None of them were, in any way, overweight or chubby. Despite what most people thought, they were not twins. Cain was a year older than Abele. Abele’s leg was bandaged and, if one looked closer, he had several small cuts. Cain tended to look at his brother menacingly from time to time. The reason was because Abele would not be silent.

“If you insist, youngest son, then we might indeed see the opera. Zukerman, that would be the Arianna the papers have been gibbering about these days, will be our lead soprano. The Globe is showing Tosca.” Ava said. Abele was about to mention something happily when the cook came out, followed by four waiters, to announce that dinner has begun. They were treated to Cain’s favourite dish: softly roasted lamb, cooked spinach, whipped potatoes and a mushroom sauce. It was always divine. Disobedient or rotten cooks lost hands, if they were lucky, and cooking a dinner for the Mother and the Father of Cain and Abele was the worst time of the year for the cooks. Cain made sure to personally visit the kitchens to announce that his parents were coming and that the food was to be perfectly celestial. The cooks did not dare to try and quit then. They had heard the stories of bits and pieces of arms or legs found in waste bins. Cain did not like pressure and finding a magnificent cook on short notice entered his list of ‘pressure’. After the cook announced, fairly bluntly, on what the dish was, the waiters strode forward and placed their dished in front of each person.

“I shall now allow the masters and mistress to dine,” the cook said and left. If one looked closely, they could have noticed the small shaking in his legs.

Adem looked at his dish, teasingly amused, “I suspect that this is all you eat, oldest son? This is all you ever serve us.” Abele smiled and nodded in agreement. He received a small kick underneath the table; he made no movement, he did not dare to show to their parents any thing such as fighting.

Cain, pretending to be amused, answered, “It is a fine dish, father. It is both respectable, but not pretentious. I have found that a superb lamb is hard to find and this is a perfect dish to show off my cooks’ skills. Do not worry, though, we will certainly not be dining on the same dish every night.”

Abele, muttering under his breath, said, “Every day would be better… There is breakfast and lunch, of course.” Cain arched an eyebrow at his brother.

“Did you say something, brother? Is something not to your liking?” he said, there was an undertone warning.

“O-of course not, brother. The lamb is d-divine. I love it. I was c-complimenting on the dish.”

“I do hope so, brother.” Cain took a sip of his red wine. There was a small silence, except for the chinking of silverware on good china.

“I was saying, Abele, the Globe will be showing Tosca. Perhaps we ought to go this week?” she offered. Abele and Adem nodded. Cain was neutral.

“I have yet to see this Zukerman. I have heard that she is outstanding,” Adem said. “When is the best time to see it, dear wife?” Abele looked from his father to his mother as they discussed the times that were best to view the opera. He avoided his brother’s gaze; he knew that they were not benevolent and kind looks.

“I would like to do it this week, if that does not displease you, my oldest son. It would be a nice family outing,” said Adem. Cain politely bowed his head slightly.

“No, it would not displease me at all, father. When would be the best showing, mother?” he said. Ava gave a pause, thinking. Abele ate his potatoes and ate around the lamb. He always felt bad eating lamb. He did not really care about the animal itself, but he just had an inner, distinct feeling that when his brother served lamb, something was not right.

“The weekend is never the best, of course. That is when all the commoners come. Today is Wednesday, so they do not play tonight. There is no time, anyways. They do play tomorrow. Do you have anything for use planned, dear older son?” Ava replied and asked. Cain remained control of his face, but his hand was white-knuckled. He had planned on them to see a play. His family did not take well to plays, but adored operas and musicals. He never minded operas, only when they were obstructing something far more interesting. In this case, the play was on outside and natural rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was to be done without costume and only natural sets. There were the necessary masks, of course, and the natural lighting. He was quite looking forward to it. It was like his brother to ruin his brilliant plans.

“No, mother. I did not have anything special planned for tomorrow. If you wish, we shall go.” He responded. Silently and mentally he was hitting his brother over and over again.

“Good. Tomorrow, then.” Ava concluded. She gave a nod, and asked for a pardon. She was tired and full. Cain gave her pardon. Adem, Abele and Cain silently ate for a while. Adem then asked for a pardon and left to join his wife. Cain glared across the table at his brother. Abele looked down.

“S-sorry… b-b-brother.” He said.

Cain continued to glare at him. Awkwardly and ashamed, he began to eat his lamb. Cain picked up his knife and Abele automatically gave a small flinch. Cain slammed his fist down onto the table. Abele stared at his brother. Cain sat like that for a while, trying to control himself. He was forced to not harm his brother for the whole of the week. Abele looked down at his lap and stared at it intently. One of the lesser cooks came out to take the plates. He gingerly took Adem’s and Ava’s. He did not come back. The moment broke and Cain dropped the knife onto the table. He sighed with exhaustion. “Go, dear brother.” He leaned back in his chair while Abele scurried off. Cain stood up with effort and lumbered towards his quarters.

He changed into his favourite pyjamas (black and warm) and lay in bed for a long time. He finally closed his eyes and slept.

It was day. He was sitting, nay, kneeling on grassy land. His hands were wet with blood and his eyes were closed. He felt a presence. It was not the person beside him and it was no ordinary presence. It was, he supposed, The Presence. Then the person beside him spoke and he groaned internally. He opened his eyes slowly as the person beside him waved and said, “Wot’s… er… your name?”. It was Abele. Cain elbowed him, hard. The angel stared at Abele.

“Are you daft, brother? Who the hell do you think he is? He’s the Metatron,” Cain said. Abele looked at his brother, confused.

“Who’s that?” Abele asked. Cain glared at him. Even though they never read the Bible, on principle (for it gave them the shivers), they did learn Christian mythology.

“Shut up,” he retorted. The angel looked from one to the other. He looked fairly bored and extremely annoyed. Cain felt he understood.

The angel rolled his eyes and began to speak: I AM THE VOICE OF GOD. (“Oh, said Abele quietly and received a glare from his brother). GOD THANKS YOU, ABEL, FOR YOUR GIFT. HE ACCEPTS IT GLADLY.

The angel bowed and looked as though he was going to take off. “Hey now! Wait a minute. What about mine?” Cain asked. He was not just going to allow his present, whatever it was, to be ignored.

The Metatron looked at him momentarily, as though thinking of what to say. This made Cain a little uncomfortable. That, then made him a little scared. He hardly felt uncomfortable or scared. Finally, He (despite that the he in question was, in fact, genderless) spoke again: GOD DOES NOT ACCEPT YOUR GIFT, CAYN. PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

Cain stared as the angel flew off. His gift was not accepted? What was better about Abele’s gift? He looked over at the stone slab which held their gifts. Cain was a slab of cut meat, from what it looked like. Abele’s was plainly a lamb that was slaughtered. Did God prefer whole lamb? Cain felt his anger rise like never before. The more he thought upon it, the more it rose. He could not temper and cool it. In the background, off miles away, he heard a stammering apology. Cain spied the knife he used in front of him. Without thought, he grabbed it. He rose and faced his brother, who was beginning to back away. Cain took a step closer. His brother fell. Cain screamed and lunged forward with the knife. He was blind and deaf in anger.

Cain was confused. In front of him stood his brother. His brother stared at him, surprised. Cain noticed that he was sitting up. He also noticed that his fist was a centimetre away from Abele’s head. Cain regained his composure. “What is it that you want, dear brother?” His brother wrung his hands.

“W-well, the servants were busy with our mother and father. I th-thought you might want to get up.” Abele looked down.

“Yes... well, thank you then. Leave, I need to change” Cain said slowly. Abele left quickly and thankful that his brother did not strike him. He was trying to remember a dream he had. He was fairly certain that he had heard it before. He shook his head. He found that the dream was slipping away into his subconscious and sneaking out the door into forgetfulness. By the time he was standing in front of his bureau and putting on his trousers, he could only faintly recall that he had a disturbing dream and nothing more.

Cain looked over at the clock on his bedside table and rolled his eyes. It was 6 a.m. Cain always awoke at 8 a.m. Sometimes he woke up later, but he would lay there, thinking, or read or listen to the servants talking. Cain loved laying there in the morning, basking in the pause of time before he would be forced to work and play politic games. Abele had taken that away from him today. Abele had taken away a lot of things today. First the outside and ‘natural’ theatre and now his lounging time. Cain knew this was not going to be a good day. He stood, staring, at his rack of ties, picking up one, placing it back and nodding his head. He wanted to, if anything, wear one of his favourite ties today. He finally found what he wanted and walked over to the mirror, tied it and left, smiling.

The tie was black with a red tear-shaped drop bordered with white.

A/N: This took a long time to do. I ran into homework (well, I was on vacation before; I miss it) and school and I kept watching movies instead of working (this week was Pirates of the Caribbean, both movies, and Nosferatu). So it got put on hold. I was in the middle of the dinner conversation and it probably seemed a little boring compared to the movies I was watching, so I kept saying 'after this movie'. Anyways, I finally sat down yesterday and today and finished it off.

I did the big 'author no-no' and copy-pasted, haha. I wanted to keep the dreams the same, just from different perspectives. I hope it wasn't too boring. I think it's because I love that dream way too much. I love the Metatron; he is based off of Alan Rickman's performance in Dogma. My dad (who is, basically, my editor) looked at me while he was reading and asked 'Have I seen this before?'. I told him it was from The Sacrificial Brother and he responded with 'Oh'. The fact that is seemed very familiar, but not so familiar as to directly correlate with my previous story is very amusing. I wanted that to happen. I wanted to make them seem as though they could have come from anywhere (or anytime).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Sacrificial Brother (Abele Arlini)

A bird fluttered down by the window on Abele Arlini’s New York-styled apartment. The apartment was on one of the upper floors, the eighth, to be precise. There were nine levels. There were only two other rooms that were in use on the eighth floor and no one questioned about the ninth. There was not a lot in Abele’s apartment. The living room was currently a mess, the reason was obvious. A table was overturned and the couch was sliced. Old bullet marks splattered the walls. A chair was broken and forgotten about, the leg was somewhere unknown. The sole lamp was in a corner, smashed, and looked as though it was thrown. There were no lights except for the sun from the window. There were two windows looking into the room, but one had been long-smashed (most likely by a bullet or five) and the occupant of the apartment had boarded it up. The room had a general look of unlived in, not because the occupant was busy and away, but because the occupant had long since learned that anything nice and decorative would be a waste of money.
The bird on the windowsill cawed, denoting it as to be a carrion bird of some sort. “Not dead yet,” said a sniffled voice behind the mangled couch. There was another sob when a hand reached up to the couch and the man stood up, with difficulty. The wall behind the man was covered in blood, with good reason. Abele stumbled from the couch to the wall and entered his room, where he kept the bandages. A wide streak of blood was painted at thigh-length on the wall. When Abele sat down on his bed, a pool formed. His left leg received the most attention from the knife. An arm, a bit of his chest and his face had also received some small gashes or two. His face had begun puffing up from being hit by the handle of a knife.
The gash had finally ruined the faded-to-nondescript-coloured pants. Abele dug underneath the bed and produced a first aid kit. He proceeded to take of the pants, with painful difficulty. His eyes watered a lot in the effort. Abele was not fond of pain, to his never-ending despair. He took out a pad and wiped as much excess blood as he could. He took out a leathered stick, a needle and a cat-gut thread. He put the leathered stick in his mouth and threaded the needle. He began to sew up his wound. The bird outside the window was given a chorus of whimpers and sobs, a period of silence (from Abele regaining his composure) and then another chorus. It finally ended and the bird cawed out and left for something tasty.
With his leg finally sewn and bandaged, Abele tended to some of the lesser wounds. He decided against putting on a different pair of pants, but put on boxers. He walked back into the living room and then to the kitchen. Abele dug into the refrigerator and at the back in some corner, he found a piece of meat. He held it to the right side of his face. He also found a glass in some cupboard and poured sink water into it. He sipped it with care as he sat at the mangled couch in the living room. For a while he sat there silently, but a knock finally sounded from the door. Abele looked fearfully at the door but the knocker called out that it was just Ana. Abele limped to the door and let her in.
Ana was, to put it bluntly, an old crone. She had assumed the role of babushka on the floor, but she wasn’t really Russian. Abele never questioned where she came from and the only time he had entered her apartment made him guilty when he asked where Mr Ana was. When he had peaked into her room, out of small curiosity, he found a shrine to a middle-aged man and a strapping young man. Abele did not question on her family, ever. He did not even know her last name. Everyone called her Ana or some form of Mother from different languages or homelands. She was shrunken and bent, like all old crones, and held a firm and caring face. She was not the grandmother who spoiled or the elderly who scorned the young. She would scold the foolish but bandage their wounds. She did have a head-scarf and shawl, which amplified the elderly lady feel. Abele was ever-grateful to her for all she has done for him.
Ana tsk-ed at his bandaging job. “I bet you didn’t even wash off your leg properly.” She went into his kitchen and grabbed the rag and a bowl of water. She placed the bowl on the floor and unwrapped his shoddy bandage. She washed off the wound which had slowed down to a small ooze here and there. She sighed sadly, “You always get the brunt of his anger, poor Abele. The Irish-folk will be having a dinner tonight. They asked me to extend the offer to you. Cabbage, potatoes and a nice hearty and heavy drink. Father Abbán’s son, Aidan, you never met him, but he had a bonus at his workplace. They’re celebrating while they can.”
Abele nodded, “I don’t have any more food. I would like to come, if they have enough.”
Ana stood up, “There, done. I see that your sewing has improved. It is much better than the last one. You better change and I will find my old crutch. I must get back to my cleaning.” She spied the smear on the wall. “You better clean that up. Ah, and do you have any more wash for me? You must have. You always do.”
“They ruined my pants, but the sheets need to be cleaned. I've got blood on them again.” He added a sorry after he saw the look on Ana’s face.
“Don’t give me this apology, Abele. You have no apology to give. You do not have another pair of sheets, I expect? The Irish-folk may be able to spare one.”
“Oh, no. I can sleep without sheets. I don’t want to bother the Irish-folk.” Abele looked down at his feet. He didn’t like getting help like sheets and clothes and food from others. The sheets and clothing tend to get ruined before he could give them back.
“I will get you the crutch. The Irish-folk can give you the sheets after dinner. Bring your dirty ones to me and you might as well bring the pants. No waste in cloth. We will make more rags or bandages from.” She left his flat.
Abele sighed and went into his bedroom, where he stripped the bed. He dug into the chipped dresser and found another pair of muddled pants. He gathered up the pants and limped out of the apartment. He entered the apartment two doors down to the right of his. He placed the sheets in the hamper by the door and placed the pants on a chair. He looked around, waiting for the crutch so he could leave the flat. Ana appeared carrying his crutch and accepted it nervously. He had an inkling that this belonged to the young man in the shrine. He bowed slightly and said ‘thanks’. He left quickly, hoping to not rub off more of his bad luck onto her.
Abele returned to his apartment. He dumped out the dirty, red water that was left in the bowl and filled it up with new water. He began to clean off the wall. He was forced to abandon the crutch for a while, in order to clean up the blood sprinkles on the floor that trailed off to the bedroom. He picked up the needle that he had used and plopped it into the bowl and carried it all to the sink. He washed the needle and bowl. After he was finished, he limped over to the couch and slept awkwardly.
Abele awoke to a knock. He began to sit up when the door burst open. A relatively tall and very thick man walked in. The door had flown off its hinges for not the first time. The man stood aside as a taller, thinner and much smarter looking man entered the room. There were a lot of similarities between this man and Abele. For one, they were about the same age. They both had the same eyes, were the same height (except that Abele hunched and this man stood straight) and had the same facial features. Abele had a softer look about him while this man looked harsh. The main reason was the clothing style. This man had a suit. Abele had what was once a suit, but was now merely indescribably clothing. This man had finely combed hair, which was brushed back and naturally formed a sort of horned look to him. Abele just had hair.
“Hullo, brother,” said Abele. He sat silently after that. The man stared at him harshly.
“I suppose it is too much to tell you not to call me that. No matter, you will dine with me, tonight.” The man said. Abele gulped.
“I-is it too much to a-ask why?” Abele said. The man smiled, almost darkly.
“Why should I not dine with my one and only brother on occasion? Do I need a reason to embrace my fellow kin and offer him a seat at my table?” The man looked as though he excepted an answer. He got none, except for a look down. Abele was sure that whatever he answered with would only irk his brother. “Perhaps my dear and only brother does not wish to dine with me?” the man said.
“O-oh, I would l-love to dine with you, brother,” Abele said. The man’s smile grew even darker.
“Lovely. You will come with me. My servants will dress and wash you properly.” Abele stood up, leaning on the crutch, and walked forward. “You will leave that here.” Abele obeyed and place it on the couch and hobbled forward. A different man from the one who forced through the door stepped forward and Abele leaned on him. They walked out into the hall and towards the stairs to the exclusive ninth floor. A young man across from Ana’s flat had looked out and watched Abele go up the stairs. He went back inside his apartment and told his father that Abele will not be able to join them tonight and to forget about the sheets for a while.
Abele was dumped into a bath and properly washed off. His cuts and bruises were given salves. His leg was given a finer dressing. His puffed cheek had gone down considerably. His hair was combed and he was given a new and shiny suit. He was also given a fine wooden crutch with comfortable padding. He almost looked presentable if it wasn’t for the rabbit-in-the-fox-den look. The servants shoved Abele out of the washroom and closed the door. He looked around to see if his brother wanted to give him anymore orders and found none. He limped off to his room. He stood in the doorway and looked behind him. He relaxed a little and entered the room.
Abele had not been back to his room for almost a month. He inspected his bookshelf, desk, dresser and bed, making sure nothing was touched. Nobody but the dust-maid had entered the room. No one wanted to. Abele sat on his bed and laid there. After a few minutes, his brother knocked on the door. Abele responded quickly with a ‘come in’. His brother entered the room and closed the door. Abele stiffened and stared at the closed door.
“Why such the look, brother? I will not harm you here,” Abele’s brother said. Abele sniffed, almost wanting to sob.
“B-but you always hurt me, brother.” Abele did not look at his brother as he said this.
“Oh, but I will never hurt you here, dear brother. This is your room.” Abele looked as though he was going to say something, but his brother stopped him. “I did not come here to bicker with you. Mother and father are coming here tonight. It would do you best if, as always, you did not mention our little… ah, squabbles.” Abele nodded sadly. “Good... You will stay here for a week and then you may return to your filthy flat.” Abele’s brother nodded and turned to leave the room but Abele stopped him.
“What will be tonight’s dinner?” he asked. His brother looked back at him but did not turn to face him.
“Lamb,” he said and left.
Abele continued to lay there, staring up at the ceiling. Normally he would read or write in his diary, but he did not have the energy. He dozed off and fell into the dream-world. The dream disturbed Abele. He and his brother were wearing tunics and they were shepherds. They were both happily friendly. One day, on the first of spring, they went to a hill each with offerings to a god (or, as Abele though, maybe the God). They stood at the stone and both killed their offerings of a lamb a piece. To Abele’s surprise, his brother took some of the better pieces of meat and placed them into a cloth. He then wrapped the grisly meat in the fat. Abele merely killed his lamb. They said their prayer to their god. There was a flurry of feathers and wings and Abele, no longer able to bear it, looked in front of him. There stood a man with white wings.
“Er... hullo?” Abele said. The angel looked down at him. Abele waved. The angel arched an eyebrow. “Wot’s... er... your name?” Abele asked. The angel stared at him dubiously. His brother elbowed Abele in the ribs.
“Are you daft, brother? Who the hell do you think he is? He’s the Metatron,” said Abele’s brother.
“Who’s that?” Abele asked his brother.
“Shut up,” said his brother.
The angel rolled his eyes and began to speak: I AM THE VOICE OF GOD. (“Oh, said Abele quietly and received a glare from his brother). GOD THANKS YOU, ABEL, FOR YOUR GIFT. HE ACCEPTS IT GLADLY.
The angel bowed and looked as though he was going to take off. “Hey now! Wait a minute. What about mine?” Abele’s brother asked.
The Metatron looked at him momentarily, as though thinking of what to say. He spoke again: GOD DOES NOT ACCEPT YOUR GIFT, CAYN. PLEASE TRY AGAIN.
The angel bowed and left quickly, so as not to answer another question. He had a lot of things to do, mainly sort out that nasty list of who had Fallen and who had stayed in Heaven. Abele and his brother watched the angel fly off. When he was out of sight, Abele’s brother stood up. Abele realised what had just happened.
“Er... I am s-sorry, brother. I-I just do not like gutting lambs. It m-makes me sick. I can give you s-something if you w-want...” Abele saw the look on his brother’s face and began to back up. His brother had the darkest and scariest look he could ever remember seeing. His brother reached down and picked up the knife he used to skin and gut the lamb. Abele was about to turn and run when he tripped over a rock. He fell and hit the ground.
Someone pounded on Abele’s door. He sat up and realised he was on the floor. He returned to his senses and said ‘come in’. He was still dazed and very disturbed. He could have sworn he had heard that story somewhere. He felt he would have recognised it, but the more he though on it, the more it faded to a wisp and then to nothing at all. His brother entered.
“Why, brother, are you on the floor? Have your days in the apartment turned you to an animal? Should we just put a dish on the floor for you to eat at dinner?” His brother said. Abele looked down.
“W-well, I was having a n-nightmare. I f-fell,” he explained. His brother looked unconcerned.
“Straighten yourself up and get out here. Mother and father have arrived.” His brother turned to leave.
“Cain?” Abele said and his brother turned around.
“What?” Cain, the brother of Abele, said.
“Oh... er... I suppose it’s nothing.” Abele said silently. Cain stared at his brother, then left to tend to his guests.


A/N: I have always been fond of the Cain and Abel story. Something about two brothers fighting and fatricide that interests me. Abele is just the Italian version of Abel. I made the older version of Cain to be Cayn (somewhere I saw it spelled like that in a medieval painting/picture). There isn't another version of Cain, apparently (unless I want to do somehing like Kain, but I think that looks a little tacky and not very Italian). The two of them were based around Gaiman's Cain and Abel from The Sandman, which in turn is based off of the Cain and Abel from House of Secrets and House of Mystery (more comics). My Abel is skinnier than Gaiman's. He is about as good looking as Cain, he just gets beaten. They are younger, too. They are in their 20s-30s. You can tell I also got Abele's suttering from Gaiman.

This is a story for the 22/7 Blackwell Society of Fiction (a writing club). The first challenge was to write about your pen names (mine would be Abele Arlini and A. Cain Arlini). I don't like how I have to post on the forum, so I just make a link to here. ((I am hoping for the challenge at the end of next year will be something revolving around our pen names again and I can have this as a four-parter; I still need to write Cain's story)).

Oddly, I found that everyone's name started with A. It sets Cain's name out from the others, so I like it. Actually, Cain's first name is Andreau (Italian version for Andrew), so it's really A. Cain Arlini. Just plain 'Cain Arlini' did not settle well with me. It sounded awkward.