Second Life, a Flash Story

The musk of the subway was beyond the homeless who inhabit it, it was like death had been their for years and left to fester. Adam could only notice the smell but despite its strength, he seemed to be the only one who recognized it. The stench could not phase the bustle of the crowd and even if it could, the rush of their lives would neglect something so far away as another’s death.

Adam wanted to follow the smell but was bound by commitment to be timely. It was this small disarray that caused Adam to fall on out onto the train tracks. He tripped over nothing particular, as minor as his own feet, and tumbled onto the rails. The last Adam remembered was feeling the cool rail against his skin and being lulled into a deep sleep by its comfort.

There was a small clamor among the crowd; a few gasps and cries but none moved to action. The roar of the train filled the death-smelling subway as it approached the station. Adam awoke to see the headlights of the train, and he knew that death lay ahead of him. His body tingled and his skin poured sweat. The train started to slow but there was no accompanying sound of brakes. Adam tried to look around himself but he too was moving slower. The audience of the accident screeched until they looked like paused characters on a TV program. Adam froze too.

Adam knew it was a hallucination but he felt somebody grab him off the railroad seconds before the train would run him over. There was a brief cheer from the crowd but they persisted with the lives they had to lead. Adam had to do the same.

Adam’s life was not remarkable but he was a kind man. When his daughter was born he cried in bliss. He cried again when he she said her first word, started walking, started school, graduated high school, and again when she went to college. He’d seen his daughter grow up into an intelligent woman who was truly independent. He and his wife continued with their same routines and though they never argued, there was also no passion left in the marriage.

Adam was fifty-three years old when he died again. A heart attack took him in his sleep, paramedics weren’t able to respond fast enough. As he died in the prolonged dream, he returned to his body on the railroad tracks. He smelled death again and saw people staring from the edge of the platform out of his peripheral. The train was becoming unglued from its spot and along with it the spectators were moving to gestures of astonishment or pulling out their cellphones. The light overhead and the headlights of the subway blinded Adam so he covered his eyes. Then, like a sudden jerk in a rollercoaster time crunched back to its natural speed. And though time had returned to normal it seemed as though it slowed again as it rolled over poor Adam.

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Things Fall Apart, a Book Review 

Review

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe explores African tribal culture, religions native to those  tribes, and the influence, or ruination, from an invading religion. Through the lens of a tribal leader Okonkwo, the reader is able to understand and nearly come to believe as the tribes the books center. Also through him is a critique of Christianity and British colonization.

The reader would find it hard to sympathize with Okonkwo initially. He is a “man’s man,” a man of war and of restrained feelings. Violence to him comes easier than it does to most and he is fondly nostalgic of his time in war. It is only through his failure to bend to the whim of the British invaders that the reader starts to develop sympathy but by then fate of the surrounding tribes is all too apparent. There wasn’t much growth to Okonkwo, though. Things happened to him and he would retaliate. It was this exact characteristic which supports the unchanging character and is therefore legitimized within the context.

Achebe’s style is reminiscent of the culture of which he speaks, lending to a grand cohesiveness to the work. Even in metaphor and simile Achebe applies a reverence of nature and of the many gods. There was also an elegance within Achebe’s writing one would find difficult to explain definitely. In all the bad there was an exuberance and pleasure taken within the sentences. Even if this wasn’t Achebe’s intent the feeling certainly bleed into the work anyway.

Quotes

“The Crowd had surrounded and swallowed up the drummers, whose frantic rhythm was no longer a mere disembodied sound but the very heartbeat of the people.”

“The faint and distant wailing of women settled like a sediment of sorrow on the earth.”

“‘If you had been poor in your last life I would have asked you to be rich when you come again. But you were rich. If you had been a coward, I would have asked you to bring courage. But you were a fearless warrior. If you had died young, I would have asked you to get a life. But you lived long. So I shall ask you to come again the way you came before.'”

 

 

Roles of a Writer: The Advertiser

Advertisers are the image presenters of the company. They ensure the company’s brand has an overall cohesiveness, and more than that, actively try to draw customers to invest in the product. As such there are lessons for writers to learn from advertisers this article will limit those lessons to submitting work, advertising with social media, and seeking business opportunities.

Submitting Your Work

It shouldn’t be a surprise to more experienced writers but submitting your work to publishers is advertisement. When you send your work to a publisher they are evaluating your product (the submission) and determining whether they should invest in the product. Therefore submitting a work requires a keen self-awareness. Writers should learn how to put their best foot forward in correspondence with those publishers by writing concise and professional emails or being cordial in verbal conversation. Neither “concise” nor “professional” imply impersonal; it is important to keep the elements which make up your personality as a writer. For writers, personality can be a major selling point.

Social Media

Many writers would disagree but you should advertise your work on social media. A published writer doesn’t have to deal with this sort of thing, in fact most of this role is put in another’s hands upon publication, but an independent or unpublished writer needs to heed this carefully. Social media is a tool that can help you present the best image of yourself possible. Be intelligent with your use of social media.

Advertising via social media is a difficult task but it is necessary if you hope to garner any attention. The advertiser knows works will go unnoticed whether or not they’re advertised but they do it anyway knowing that something will catch the audience. The advertiser is persistent in their pursuit in elevating the brand of the independent writer.

 Writing Opportunities

Unfortunately finding an opportunity for writing is quite difficult and requires a bit of persistence. The purpose of the advertiser in finding writing opportunities is to market yourself out to the company(s) you wish to work with. Do you read a publishing company you’d like to work with? Or maybe magazine you enjoy reading has an opening for a writer? You’ve got to show them your interest and the traits you have that the company would need. No two writers have exactly the same skill set, so use that to your advantage.

The advertiser is an underestimated role because it takes place after the fact of writing your story/novel/etc. This doesn’t make it any less important than writing. Without a somewhat developed advertiser role no one will read what you write. Or else you’d be leaving it to the whims of the unpredictable world for something to land on your table.

Writing Prompt: Hitchhiker

Scene: Your two main characters are travelling cross county on vacation. It’s early morning and the sun has barely broken over the horizon. On the side of the road your protagonist notices a ragged old man on the side of the street. For an unknown reason you are compelled to pick up this stranger.

I’m setting this up for a thriller/horror type story but serious props will go to those who skirt away from that cliche and try to take it another way. As usual, the winners and participants will be listed this Saturday.

Happy writing.

Echo One, Flash Fiction

“Echo One to Houston, do you read?”

A man shouted into a receiver as his rescue pod tumbled into Earth’s orbit. The rescue pod was smoking and sparking, and inside the cramped pod where Astronaut Raphael Hernandez folded into, the lights were off.

“Echo One to Houston, do you read,” Raphael repeated into the dead silence. Houston didn’t respond.

“Goddammit Houston you better respond. I’m going to die in here.” More silence. The communications relay was fried but Raphael didn’t know that, he had no working system to check.

The pod heated up. The smell of frying electronics filled the pod and Raphael covered his nose with his shirt. Friction due to air density was increasing the heat. A factor of that heat and friction, Raphael both knew and immediately experienced was a slow degradation of the pod. Panels on the outside of the pod were tearing from the welding making loud metal screeches.

Somewhere on Earth a child was staring into the stars. She looked to the sky and painted pictures using the speckles of light as her guide. The smell of oak wafted up to hear window and she inhaled it deeply. Then she saw a shooting star shooting across the sky but leaving behind no brilliance. She closed her eyes to make a wish. All too soon the shooting star was gone. The girl never knew why but her parents called the falling star Echo One.