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Hi, and welcome! (Scroll past this post if you’re looking for the updates :))

This is my new thought and fiction diary! Here I’m going to be posting whatever comes to mind, experimenting with whatever I feel like at the time. There will be a lot of first drafts coming through here, but the quality of stuff should reach at least a decent standard. The first post (‘#1: for the sake of flow’) is actually an example of experimentation gone very badly, but you know what? Next time it’ll be better, and that’s the point of this secondary blog!

My previous blog is at ChasjngDreams, a blog that’s taken more of the spin of personal thoughts and rants. If you like what you read here, maybe you’d like the writer behind all of this too!

Hope you enjoy!

- j. NG

100: Post 100. Onwards now, nothing but onwards.

The sudden revelation sinks in slowly like the horror of seeing a distant ghost ship drift out of the mist. The need to write has subsided from an ache to a mere throb in the bones, a sad reminder of youth passed by, a memory easily forgotten by the nightly passage into morning. Where the soul once whined insatiably, rattling its cage with its ghastly, maimed hands, instead of a phantom that shakes its chains into a rhapsody of unending melancholy, a little mouse sits on its backside, nibbling a piece of cheese held between two paws.

He is free to go, free to slip through the bars, but unlike his predecessors who yearned for freedom, he sits still. Those before him had howled and beat upon their cells until their cacophonies overcame the sounds of the rain, till their beating hands out-echoed the roaring thunder, till their outbursts out-shook the ceaseless, ferocious pitter-pattering of hail, but the mouse just listens to the rain subside, not interested in the dangers that lurk outside.

Let no blame fall upon the crown of the timid mouse. Having mounted the burden of responsibility to his shoulders, even Atlas has no time for croon of poetry, lest he weaken and in his orbital march stumble. The act of living for those who do so is trivial; the fight for life for those dying is survival, and their  grip is forever threatening to loosen.

Let no blame fall upon the spirit of the rodent. For while he is nothing more than content to nibble on his meal, he has peace where idiosyncrasy and wild talk once reigned. In a jagged circle where a teenager slathered and spit on the world, the hissing release of ignorance has shrunk a mad gargoyle into a wiser, albeit smaller creature.

Let no blame fall on the monster either. The mouse inside of a cell has a world to explore, for a cell is a planet while a cage is a place of hell. Bloated muscle, even if misguided has no room in a space capsule, needing to destroy its walls even if a never-ending cold sits on the other side. Mindless drivel, even if incorrect needs a mouth and a fast tongue to sustain it, even if there are no ears but his own to hear it. If the mouse is wise, then he will eat when he can, and escape when he needs to.

The mouse needs a way out, but though he can see it he sits, biding his time. The wiser soul knows now that in order to escape he had never needed the devilish, desperate strength of demons, but the patience and cunning of a fearful, small creature. He eats to gather strength.

He also knows now that life was never a cage. Outside of the cellblock is not freedom, but a maze. By finishing the write-up of this, the first step into the labyrinth’s been taken.

A congratulation to myself and a pat on the back.

- j .NG

 

Postscript

Very, very happy with this post. Mainly it’s important because it’s post 100, but I’m glad that I didn’t break the philosophy of this blog. 99 & 100 were going to be pre-written pieces, but this, and the poem just before this, were still written in one-sitting.

I’ve been writing less and less ever since I moved back home, which, I think is okay. It just feels damn good to be starting once again. Thank you everybody for reading this blog up until now, let’s hope that the triple digit posts will be get even better and better as time goes on.  

99: how the times have changed

sleeping time
waking time
to eat
wonder
then cry,
if i didn’t have
one of these things.

school-time
wintertime
gloves mittens boots time
summertime is bike time
but after school is reading time
reading time
everyday had reading time

waking time to homework time
homework time to schooltime
schooltime had longing times
crushing times
crushed times
but after schooltime
was basketball time
though lunchtime
had basketball too
video games till i slept
then began it all again

most of the time was daydream time
very rarely was life nightmarish
until the darkness hit
then it was sleep time
wake time
should i end life times
nothing to do
nothing to be done
university was thinking
thinking
thinking and boding times

once upon a time
i wrote about thinking times
but thinking time is reading time
reading on wasting time on time wasting websites about time
teaching time, transportation time
no transportation time
reading nonsense till arrival time
no transportation time
no dreaming time
no reading time.

- j. NG

This wasn’t what I wanted to post for 99. Lots of conflicts for that post, but I’ll try to make 100 special.

98: Doors, Voices and Rooms

98:

Began writing this at around 11:40 – just finished swing dancing and was taking a train back home using a longer, more roundabout way. Continued writing this even as I walked through interchanges in the subway (Hong Kong subways extremely safe, don’t worry) and sat in my apartment building’s lobby to finish this at around 1:20 in the morning. One hour and forty minutes used to write this piece. I don’t think I should write a postscript for this, but if anybody asks (in the comments) or through an email or asks me on my Facebook page wall (most preferred), I’d be happy to answer any questions that anybody might have. 2641 words, I haven’t made any edits yet, written in one go. I haven’t written for a week, so this is extremely satisfying, even just by the act of finishing it.

Edit @11:53 the next morning – gonna clean up the beginning few paragraphs, a few phrases that I thought brought character to the piece was actually just bad writing.

Bored.

Inside of his small little room, his small little box containing one screen, one keyboard, one mouse, a slot for food to pass through and for empty plates to be returned, inside of this place he was bored.

He had been offered the chance to leave his room many times, but he was told that he would never be allowed to go back. What he had made inside of his room would stay inside, never to be seen again. Anything that he had uploaded onto the net would be deleted and his existence on the net would be removed. He had been inside for four years, three months and two days.

In his Quiet Time he would try out puzzles online, games that looked like chess but were played on different looking boards. They had the nicknames of things like Catan, Ticket to Ride and other variations. In his Louder Time he would listen to music on a site called YouTube but most of the time he looked at the videos that came with the music for appearances of beautiful men and women, so different from the reflection he saw of himself on the screen. At the end of his day, at End of the Day Time, signified only by sleep and not really running on any schedule he would find Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas where people, angry with one another fought wars in virtual fighting grounds instead of wasting life like in the wars that had previously happened. Some battles were civil. Some were furious, wishing cancer upon the opponents regardless of win or loss.

That was his usual schedule and it had been for quite a while, but something had been disrupting it. There was a voice in-between Times that came whenever it wanted and it kept on taking his attention from away from the innards of his room, and into the Outsides of it. Sure, his reverie was sometimes broken by the slipping of food into the room if the warden was not quiet when he did it, but he had gotten used to that. The warden never spoke.

This voice said hello. Won’t you come out. Won’t you come out?

It was time for MOBAs, the Arena time. The computer screen crackled and flickered blue and people greeted him as he appeared on his friend’s lists. He wasn’t an elite of the game but people were friendly enough. Then the voice came hissing in.

“Won’t you come out?”

The first time that the voice had come out he had ignored it. But when it didn’t stop and crooned “I know you can hear me, won’t you say anything?”, he began to smack his iron cup against the iron door until his Loud Time came during his Quiet Time. He didn’t like that.

“Go away.”

He said it loudly.

“Won’t you come out?”

The voice repeated itself. It was like a clock, but broken, the cuckoo-bird coming out whenever it wanted.

“There’s nothing out there. I have a life in here. Go away.”

As usual, the voice gave a little laugh.

“All you need to do is open this door. Sure, you’ll lose what you have inside, but you’ll gain so much more.”

He gave no heed to the temptress or tempter or whatever gender it was.

“I have a life here.”

Inserting his earphones into his wax-filled ears, he scraped some out before replacing the buds inside.

“I’m not listening to you. Go away.”

And he didn’t listen to him. If the voice continued to croon, he wouldn’t have known.

______

Year four, month three, day twelve.

“Won’t you come out? The world’s waiting for you, you know.”

The voice had developed a melodic tune, though it seemed very different from the one that he had heard before.

“Nobody’s waiting for me,” the inhabitant replied. He was in his newly accepted ‘going to be interrupted’ Time. He had accepted it, but there was something different about this voice. “There was never anyone who wanted to see me, and there’s nobody who I want to see now.”

“I want to see you. Do I count?” The voice giggled.

He removed the earphone from the canal on the right, the one closer to the door. He listened closely as the voice mimicked an echo.

“Hellooo? Hello, hello, hello.” Then there was another giggle. He ventured the irresistible question.

“You’re not the same person as two days ago, and last week, are you?”

Another giggle.

“I don’t know. Am I?”

A bright laugh. For a second the sun peered through the keyhole.

“Guess you’d have to open this door to find out.”

He looked at the door for a moment. The warden would be coming soon to insert his food through the flap. He re-inserted his earphones and after he ate, finding food very cold very much later, he decided to play one more game as he usually did before his End of the Day Sleep Time.

Then he heard her voice again.

“Good night.”

For some reason, even though it was Sleep Time, he could not.

______

Four years, three months and nineteen days.

“Good morning. Won’t you come out?”

He started with some surprise.

“You’re not the same person as yesterday.”

A louder laugh. Rougher. Was it? Did the voice lose its melody? He didn’t know.

“Won’t you come out?”

On his screen it was his turn to play. Would he accuse anyone of being the werewolf? The people needed his vote. The virtual hourglass dripped sand like blood and a timer showed just 68 seconds left of thinking time, the green text in the white box a passing by in a flurry of activity, red words like accuse and phrases like ‘know it is’ jumping down the screen as if they were fireflies rushing off to be vaporized in a blinding white incinerator.

Fifty-two seconds left. He looked back at the slot. There was no begging this time, no attempt at prodding an answer out of him. Fourteen seconds. Ten. Nine. Four.

He let his turn pass. The villagers groaned. He turned off his screen.

“What’s out there? What will I see if I come out?”

The voice answered.

“Not much. To be honest, you won’t see anything exciting. Not for a while anyway.”

“Then why should I come out?”

“Do you think that’s air you’re breathing?”

The inhabitant of the cell laughed. The voice laughed alongside with him. It was a famous line from a movie he rather liked, the name of the movie The Matrix. It was an interesting film. With a chuckle he replied.

“Yes. It is air I’m breathing.”

The voice smiled.

“Do you like it?”

What a strange question, he thought.

“It’s air. There’s nothing to like or dislike.”

“Do you like the smell of gas?”

“What, like a fart? No, but the air is cleaner than that. Doesn’t smell at all.” A sudden worrisome idea leapt into his head. “Are you going to fart into my room?”

The voice broke into a raucous laugh, heavy and thunderous in the small room.

“Smoke you out with a fart! That’s a good one. Maybe I should, but no, that’s not going to happen. Just saying though, the air must be boring in there. ”

“The air is air. It’s the same all round.”

The voice smiled again. Nowadays he spent his time with his chair rotated and facing the slot and sometimes, just for a little bit he could see the slot’s sides turn upwards, but that was a rare occurrence, and he knew it was just in the playgrounds of his mind.

“The air smells better out here.”

“That’s silly. The air is the air. There’s nothing to smell in it.”

“Au contraire, my friend, there’s pollen and trees to smell in the air.” The voice put on a dreamy dress, waving and lifting in the echo of the room. “There’s more than just green paint and the exhaust fan of a regularly updated computer. Smells very different.”

The person in the room was quiet. The screen hummed itself and the after burn of the computer screen glowed with a ghostlike aura. The computer itself hummed as the fan rotated and he reached down to shut it off. He was not worried that he would ruin the computer; if it ever had problems it would be fixed when he woke. The room fell into quiet. He hadn’t had a real Silent Time for a while. Then he realized with a start that he hadn’t had a Time for a while. He looked at the slot. Then he looked around his room, scanning it.

He had a bed here. He had a chair, earphones and a speaker. He had a computer set-up and he always had access to the Internet, access to other people.

“Is it nice?” he ventured.

“What?”

“The air. Is it nice?”

The voice paused, thoughtfully.

“Not always. I tell it as it is. Sometimes the air isn’t great.”

“Then why should I come out? I have a life here.”

“Because… wait.” There was a movement that came as a scuffle. “Give me a second.”

He gave the voice a second. In fact, by his count, he gave the voice twelve minutes and eighteen seconds. By the time it came back, he was looking at the screen again, but he was idly clicking at the picture of a rabbit on his desktop background.

“Sorry about that. You there?”

“Yeah. Where’d you go?”

“I’ll show you. Put your face to the slot.”

“No.”

His reaction was immediate, but he regretted it instantly.

“I’m sorry. But trust me. I got you something.”

“What are you going to do?”

“You’ll understand once it happens. I won’t hurt you. I can’t hurt you.”

The warden was probably watching, he realized. He was safe. The warden would protect him. His seat creaked for a second as his derriere left the cushion. Then he sat back down. What was he doing? His legs were unsteady and thin. He didn’t have to go. He waited. He didn’t want to stand.

“Come on.”

The slot looked at him. It creaked a little, the person on the other side probably prodding it with his finger, even though the door was thick. Plates could easily push through, but fingers found it hard to reach the edge.

“Come on. It’ll be worth it. Trust me.”

He stared at the slot. His bones groaned. He took an unsteady step. Usually he rolled his chair over to collect his food but he knew he needed to stand for this.

“I’m coming.”

“You are?”

The voice sounded almost relieved.

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Tell me when you’ve got your face to the slot. You’ll need to open it a bit from your side though.”

He knelt down, his knees not used to the sensation of the cold, grainy cement. It had been a long time since he had felt the roughness of it, his feet had long grown used to the sensation. He put his nose to the crack.

“Ready.”

He opened the slot just wide enough to put his nose in the opening. A squeal from the other side screeched into the room. He shut it quickly, but not before he smelt it.

It was – … what was it?

“Don’t be scared.”

The squeal happened again.

“What is that?”

It was fresh. It was different. It was dangerous smelling but heavy. It tasted like, a bit of his sweat on a Dance Day and a bit of his, his love on his, what was it? The slot smiled again.

“It’s air. From outside. I’m out of it now, but isn’t that nice?”

He crept away from the door, his eyes closed, his nose turned upwards to try to catch what was left of the scent. It was gone. The scent was gone, but he remembered it.

“It’s gone now.”

“Yeah. It’s gone now.” The voice replied. “Don’t have anymore.”

He looked at the door.

“Won’t you come out?” the voice asked.

He looked at the door.

Then he looked at his computer and his bed and his green walls. Then he looked at the door.

He howled suddenly. “GO AWAY!” he screamed. Then he leapt into his bed and held the pillow over his head and leaned on his frail arm for cover. He was not cold, but he shivered twice, the taste of the air still lingering on his tongue.

____

It was the fourth day.

“I can’t do it.” He moaned in frustration.

It had been two weeks since he had last heard the voices, though not because they hadn’t come. There was no such thing as Sleep Time anymore; the earphones were always in, something always playing. The food had come but he made sure to turn the speakers to maximum volume before going to collect it.

Her voice resounded from the other side of the door.

“How’re you doing?”

When one day he turned off the music, the voices didn’t sound out. It had been two weeks and he waited in silence, but nothing was the same. The screen rarely switched on to show anything. The music was bland. Most of his time ever spent at the computer was to look at pictures of the Outside. The taste of the air had never left his world.

Finally he asked.

“Hello?”

The voice had never left. It responded.

Now he needed to open the door, and they had shown him by jiggling the doorknob from their side that it was locked.

“It’s not locked on your side,” they whispered, encouragingly.

All three of them were there. He was there, she was there, and he, the gruff one, was also there.

“I can’t do it,” he repeated. “Help me.”

He fell to his knees.

Their whispers overlapped one another.

“We’ve always been here.”

“There’s nothing to fear.”

“Just turn it, it’ll all be okay.”

Then the gruff one said:

“We can’t do it for you. It’s just a door.”

He looked back and suddenly the room was so enticing. He had a world of his own there. A personality. He would go once again from something, into nothing. The bed, would he even have a bed outside? From what they had said, he wouldn’t. Why did he need to go outside?

“Don’t have second thoughts now” she said.

“We know what you’re thinking” the first one added. “Won’t you come out?”

His hand shaking, he moved his left hand, bony and frail to the door’s handle. On his side it was a long pole even though they swore that it was a circle on their end.

“Won’t you come out? The air is warm, out here.”

The metal was cold. He took a look back at his computer, his bed and all of his comforts. Then he turned the handle.

____

He found himself one day, outside of a door. He crooned in through the slot, with his friends, who, like him were bald and clad entirely in white, her, him and him. They took one door in the endless white corridor while others worked on the others. He had asked at one point “What now?” and they had brought him to smell the world and when he saw it with his own eyes, smelled it with his own nose and thought about it himself, he had wept more tears than he thought his body could contain. They traveled across the plains from place to place for as far as their feet could take them, but eventually, just like his friends, he agreed that he needed to spread the gift to those who were just like him, not so long ago. They whispered in through the doorslots.

“The air is different out here.”

They pushed on large balloons, transparent boxes filled with the air of the outside. Down the corridor another million voices echoed the same phrase.

“Won’t you come out?”

—– END —–

- j. NG

I know that this piece didn’t hit as the pitch of language used (basically the degree of difficult vocabulary used) like in pieces before, but I didn’t find it appropriate to ‘up’ the register. Hope I did okay. If you liked this piece, please share and give it a like!

97: The Association [Part 2, and why I’m not writing any more of this story)

I posted part 1 of this around one or two days ago. I’m discontinuing this and I’ll explain why after this ‘part’, which is a 3rd of a chapter and what I envisioned.

A link to Part 1:

“I’m home.”

Nathan filed through his house doors, shrugging off his coat and the spray of rain that had collected on his outward coat. He could hear voices from upstairs in the dining room, on his first floor only the door to the garage and basement, the two upper floors reserved for dining, living and sleeping.

As he shook off his boots his feet ached, in the way that told him that he had spent too much of the day walking, and not in the office at rest upon his desk. It had been one of Nathan’s restless days and that short break after Sally’s case that he had taken had led him to the streets, where he mused upon Sally Jacobson’s latest ‘Not Applicable’ rating.

Admittedly, It was company policy for him, one of the higher-ups to avoid rating people. It came with a fear of causing jealousy and envy to those who he rated higher. They had sternly warned him that “power must be used wisely”, but it made him sick to the stomach. What, was he a God, creating miracles and life, with the power to take it away? He laughed mirthlessly at the idea, knowing that it was actually somewhat true – he could ruin a life with a review, and since his were used so sparingly, his 3s became 4s, and a 5 from him, a godsend.

Yet despite that power, Nathan wasn’t a celebrity. Outside of The Association’s headquarters, as he walked farther away from the building, the frequency of smiles coming from others grew less and less frequent, until they stopped entirely. It only took three minutes of walking. Nobody knew him. Without his badge, Nathan was a nobody. When he was a nobody, he could do anything he liked. He drew a cigarette from out of his trouser pockets. Lit it as he strolled down the speckled eggshell sidewalk with both sides of the walkway lined with an emerald sheen of grass, like the finely cut gem’s surface was magnified to a microscopic level. Would others still yearn for Nathan’s approval, seeing a cigarette pursed between his lips? If they saw him as he was, would they still smile at him from before their computer screens, plot to lift a 5 star rating from out of him?

What rating would he have really given Sally? The discrepancy he had mentioned earlier came from the fact that she, just two days ago had given Aunt Meredith a 5 star rating, ‘for her blueberry pies’. People weren’t considered good or bad people for singular events. People were good or bad because of who they were behind closed doors, not open ones. People were most beautiful when they were naked – not clothed. People were knowable over a series of continuous events, not a gathering of singular experiences. Sally may have proven herself to be an impulsive, angry woman in the conversation she had with Nathan Black just earlier, but that by no means proved that she was a two star person. She may have been upholding a code of discipline, or a social code upheld within her family circle, something that had reaped positivity throughout generations past. How was he, Nathan, to rate her interaction with anything other than a Not Applicable? And how was he supposed to read her rating, with anything other than a ‘Don’t let her appeal stand?’ The system was absurd and he, Nathan Black, stood at the top of it.

He brushed off the thought. Here in his house, work would not be following him around. He was not the man of the house because of his rating, visible or invisible, but because the woman the house had chosen to be his, and he to be hers. He took little care to disguise his footsteps as he made his way upstairs, but as his wife and daughter’s voices escalated in volume, he knew that his appearance would not have a sating effect on the two, but instead that he was soon to be conscripted ungratefully to either side of an argument.

“Dad! You’re home!”

He turned around the corner to see his wife with her face in her hands, her thumbs massaging the upper corners of her skull. His daughter, Renee, ran up to him eagerly and taking his hand, led him to the table.

“Now, before Mom says anything” Renee began, shooting her mother a dirty look, “I just want you to know that today, I got a boyfriend, and that I’m really happy about it and that there’s nothing that anybody can say that will make me feel any worse.”

Alicia, his wife continued to stare solidly straight ahead, continuing with her thumb’s circular motions. Nathan looked solemnly at the bare dinner table and forced a stomach’s growl down. He sat down with a sigh.

“A boyfriend, huh?”

The concept of ‘too young’ would only be met with the retort of examples, of other girls dating boys at a far younger age. Nathan would have to play this a different way.

“What’s his name?”

“Mike. He’s such a cool guy. Everybody thinks so. He’s on the choir, on the school committee. I mean, he’s no Darien, but Darien’s a 4.7, and Mike’s a solid 4.”

“What?”

“You know, rating-wise! You know, your job? It was such a surprise, I didn’t think that any boys had their eyes on me, especially since I’m just a 3.5, there are so many other girls, like Megan and Cassidy, and Felicity and Rachel who’re all scoring way higher than me.”

“You kids are giving each other ratings now? Plus, what happened to Clement? You two used to be so close.”

“Well, duh, we give each other ratings. It’s not like anything’s changed, anyway, you could always tell that there was something different with a 5 and a 4. Clement, I mean, he’s fun, but he’s not a Mike, right? Clement’s just a 2.8. I’m much better than him.”

Alicia turned her face slightly towards Nathan and made eye contact with him. Her eyes provided the smirk that he was beginning to let show on his face, but luckily, Renee was too involved with her new-found love to notice the skepticism showing on her parents’ faces. Nathan interrupted his daughter.

“Don’t you think that you’re being a bit unfair to Clement? You used to have such a crush on him. He’s in our neighborhood and, well, he’s been around. He’s a nice kid.”

Renee’s eyes glowed, a trait that she had picked up from her mother.

“Who’s in this relationship? You, mom, or me? Just because you don’t know Mike doesn’t mean that he’s worse. Plus, I could never see what I saw in Clement anyway. He’s just, so boring. Everybody says so.”

Renee groaned and then rushed off to her room upstairs.

“This was stupid. I shouldn’t have told you two anything!”

As her footsteps reverberated through the stair floors and the ceiling shook, Alicia looked into her husband’s eyes and shrugged.

“All afternoon. How was work?”

Nathan circled around and took her shoulders into his hands, massaging them.

“The usual.”

________END_________

Firstly, thank you for enjoying my writing. I feel bad about not continuing this but I would honestly feel worse if I did. Let me give a little bit of insight into the personal reasons why I did write Part 2, and why I am not going to finish this story.

I know that I have a problem with finishing stories. If anything, finishing this would be a step forward, but this was never a story that I particularly liked. I wrote Part 2 because I got two subscribers and a friend who commented on the post, hoping for a part 2. I didn’t want to let anybody down. I am aware that the end of Part 1 is a pseudo-chapter-end, so I began Part 2 likewise, but I did want to write them as one scene in one go. I am also aware that there is no real ending to Part 2. I just had to stop writing it, and here’s why.

I don’t like this story, because it’s got a generic plot that I don’t want to continue. The idea is interesting, but the concept was based off of a frustration I had with video gamers and video game developers — because of instant feedback, video gamers in the modern day are spoilt. They whine almost instantly about anything that they don’t like, filling up forums and websites with their complaints. My story latched onto that idea, comparing how people used to just ‘deal with it’ and ‘play the game’ or not play the game, which brought me to the idea of people; what if people didn’t have someone to immediately complain to about another person? What if people had time to think about resolving conflicts and apologizing after an agonizing wait over a weekend, instead of calling them up, messaging them to say ‘sorry’? What if people could rate each other?

As with a lot of stories that I try to spin, the story idea is often better than the actual content, but this isn’t the main reason for why I’m not going to finish it. I just don’t like the story. I think the way I imagine it is really cliche. This Nathan character is the man standing on the side, unlike the others. The rebel against the system. I talk about some typical concepts of segregation, except rather than race, people and places are segregated by ratings, essentially a quantifiable measure of ‘class’. ‘The Association’ begins to swallow up his life even with his children and he and his wife are sick of it. The last straw is when spectacles, effectively ‘Google Glass’ emerge onto the market and people begin to rate each other on the most absurd meetings, even in the lift, leaving feedback of ‘you could do this to your body odor’ etc etc… In my head the ending is simply that he leaves for the 1 star districts and finds that they’re actually really normal. Of course, there is a lot of danger in these places but people aren’t fake. He then lives there with his wife, his daughter runs away with Mike and never returns, but Clement’s family goes to join them.

It’s not an awful story. It’s not half-bad. I just don’t want to write it. Having to write it has actually made me awfully depressed for a few days. 

Thanks for reading this story’s part 1 and 2. I’m sorry I couldn’t finish it till the end.

-j. NG 

96: The Association [Part 1?]

I had an idea earlier in a McDonalds and started to write it out. It’s become a bit of a longer thing than I thought it would be and the quality of writing deteriorated near the end. I am clearly too tired to finish writing this in one go and I am moving all of my belongings from one apartment to another on the other side of Hong Kong Island in just 3 hours. Forgive me for not finishing this one go, I might never finish this. If I don’t decide to finish this I’ll follow up with a post for what I was intending to write about and what inspired me to write this. 

The screen glowed brightly in the confines of his room. Her face was luminous, like the moon and he sat facing her, his leg shaking as he nodded.

“So, Aunt Meredith just stood up and left after that?”

“Why yes, Nathan, she did! Just like that.”

“That sounds terrible. I’m sorry she was so rude to you – now, I hate to ask this but, you know, policy demands it — would your story coincide with Uncle… Jacob’s? Uncle Jacob’s and your son’s, Ryan’s?”

Sally Jacobson from Atlanta nodded vigorously.

“They would agree with me. I don’t see why she’s even bothering to appeal that one-star I gave her. You know, if I could have, I’d have given her a zero. I’m sorry she’s causing you so much trouble.”

Nathan laughed.

“It’s no trouble to me, ma’am. I’m just doing my job. We’re going to review the case and see if the one-star rating you gave her stands. Only discrepancy is… well. Never mind. You have a good day, miss.”

“And you as well.”

The screen flickered and then went blank. Nathan sighed and leaned back in his chair and was about to close his eyes when a familiar plink buzzed onto his screen. The message read:

Sally Jacobson gives Nathan Black: 5 Stars.

            Review for Sally Jacobson?

            He pondered for a moment, his hand on the mouse. Then he scrolled over and left his usual: Not Applicable. The message disappeared and his schedule forced its way to the front of his windows.

“In 34 minutes, meeting with Elly Makenzie, Review Appeal. In 64 minutes, meeting with Frank Ocean, Review Appeal. In 94 minutes, meeting with Rachel Bakerson, Review Sought.”

Nathan had some free time, though it wasn’t much. Stretching his limbs, Nathan strolled out of his office and into the stark white hallways, where he, upon opening his door, found himself facing twenty bright smiles of other Associates at work at their desks. They were organized like they would be in a cubicle except there were no such barriers – at The Association, such walls had long been removed to promote workplace cooperation. People had grumbled at the change at first but quickly people realized that if you were keeping people out, you weren’t letting people in, and to let people in, made people love you.

“It’s all about love, Nate”, Jerry piqued as he walked on by, his perfect set of teeth flashing into the fluorescent silver of the hall.

“Yeah, it’s all about love.” Nathan replied.

The Association’s motto and goal as a company was a rather straightforward one. It was derived from a flurry of long forgotten philosophies but gave most candor to one saying: “People are social beings”. With a flurry of other ideas thrown in, the founder of The Association, Wilfred Naily, a tech-genius turned spiritual leader, created a program that served one concept – people have to deal with each other, so they might as well deal with each other as nicely as they could. For those who failed, they would be ostracized. It was an absurd concept, but Wilfred swore that it would lead to a Utopia and that it would all be based on the technological advancements that everything was transparent, everything was instant.

“Gone are the days that people can hide behind rumors and lies.” Wilfred had shouted from the podium upon the day of The Association’s founding. “Now, people can instantly know what you thought of them, how you thought they acted, and what and what not you thought of them! EBay does something like that, but they facilitate the transfer of goods. Untrustworthy seller? Nobody’ll buy from you again. Faulty products? Leave a review. But we here don’t transfer goods…” Wilfred paused for effect here, adjusting his glasses with one finger. “We transfer love.”

As was expected, The Association was an instant internet hit with many mash-ups and autotuned versions of Wilfred’s speech hitting YouTube, but Wilfred had given the company the running start that it needed – cynics and skeptics, supporters and ant agonizers, those in tech and churches and all the ordinary people, they instantly knew about The Association. It took many years to weed out those who would use the system to give everybody a 5 star or a 1 star as a joke, but Wilfred designed a fool-proof algorithm, giving people ‘trust’ ratings in order to tell if people were trustworthy with their reviews. When the first private club hit the market that only allowed people of rating 4 and above, the industry exploded. People began to be hired on their ‘Association Rating’, fired on such grounds as well. Colleagues knew that they needed to be kind in order to keep their place in any company, and so down the cubicle walls came. Those like Nathan, considered extremely empathetic were given the reins of power, to judge whether or not people deserved the ratings they got. The Association gained its traction until finally, everyplace had an ‘Association Rating’.

- j. NG

95:

How easy it is
to live using the lives of others
judging them by their success
and by attributing your support
become successful too
though you just a gnat
a leech
a lich.

If thou dost well in thy exams
as an English Teacher and your tutor
I accept your praise
but if you do badly
‘We did our best’,
‘Your son worked very hard –
but those were his limits’.

I watched The Voice for too many days in a row.
I read the YouTube comments.
“I love her! I really, really hope she does well.”
Glazed eyes on bright screen
The chirping and chortling of
people revelling in the work of others.

We constantly propose that
every ordinary man is a special man
but day after day the superheroes appear
bigger than life, gigantic on the theatre screens
sexier than our husbands and wives
just as sexy on the plasma, 3D
LCD screens we keep at home
sound systems that sound
realer than life and then we turn to our children
and tell them that they’re special
but everyone makes mistakes.

Scumbags of the earth that jostle you on trains
Insult you under the anonymity of the internet
Everyone is ‘special’
But everyone makes mistakes.

As an outlandish reminder I propose that we all remember that
Earth is one of eight planets in this Solar System
that revolves around a star that maintains life
As improbable and irrelevant it is to our everyday lives
we are sitting on a big, big rock, much, much smaller than
other rocks out there.

We’re all special.
But we’re all the same.
We go through life never knowing
a single percent of truth
but not liking that we do not know
we invent
and survive
as undead beings with glistening eyes
living the lives of others
but only of those that we like.

As a man who was a boy and once a child
I rather awkwardly ask
to share a life with you
and for you to share one with me
because while living through others
is soulless and benign
clinging onto each other
as we hurtle through and round
a great gas ball in the vacuum of nothing
sharing one another
is all we can do
even though all of us are special
and still make mistakes.

-j. NG

94: doesn’t need a postscript

when I read a soulful poem
suddenly the words that are kept inside
flutter about, rustling like
a mistletoe shoot being bandied about.
the world is stirred into wakefulness
by the beat of a hummingbird’s wings

A One-Scene Act

THE PLAYWRIGHT stands on a train, a briefcase hanging from his left hand, a book held in his right. He rocks from side to side as the train arrives in his station before disembarking, closing the book and looking thoughtfully up into the air. The man gets into an elevator. He is joined by THE PLAY.

THE PLAYWRIGHT (murmuring)
Well, you weren’t wrong.

THE PLAY
I told you I would be.

THE PLAYWRIGHT
How is it that it’s possible? How can you conceal such malice, like with the serpent that tempted Eve, all the while saying – I’m dangerous – yet still be able to surprise me?

THE PLAY
Provocation. If it were Adam that had seen me he would have steered clear, but those who risk venom for the sake of seeing a snake strike; they’re the ones who see the world with a different eye. In this world, it’s the men who are dragged along with the folly of the women, but being stronger, blame them, while reaping the rewards as the virtue of their own misguided prowess.

THE PLAYWRIGHT
There you go again. Saying things in riddles, whispering the never obvious. You build up to revelations at that point, when you hear it with the right ears, you can never hear it as anything but truth.

THE PLAY
Much like a sermon for a churchgoer, no?

THE PLAYWRIGHT laughs, pauses, then smiles at THE PLAY.

THE PLAYWRIGHT
Whenever I finish reading something like you, it does follow like a holy ritual. I close you, look up to the heavens, then shake you as if amazed that your weight, just a few dozen pieces of paper was somehow enough to wear my spirit down in the way that it has. Usually I have only rather rudely measured you, probably inaccurately too. Today I will do the right thing.

THE PLAYWRIGHT extends his hand in the gesture of a handshake, putting down his briefcase and putting the play to the left hand, extending his right. THE PLAY accepts the gesture.

THE PLAYWRIGHT
I won’t see you again, will I?

There is no answer. THE PLAYWRIGHT picks up his briefcase and walks out of the elevator, whistling. As he walks away he shakes the book again, as if weighing it.

Nice, right?

Then we have the narratives or the fiction, the short or the long. We have the prose that flows musical if you wish it so. Or you can use short sentences. He wrote this. He sat there.

With so many choices of voice to use and with so much variety to read, he knew he couldn’t convey the magic of fiction without going on onerously, so he sat there pondering, aware that he had violated two axioms of ‘good writing’ in order to write the sentence he just did. Still, with all of the advice in mind, he couldn’t bring the right words to bear. All he could think was “Thank God”, for in the script that he had just finished writing, he didn’t jot the line: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

He was only thankful then.

—-END—-

- j. NG