Now you know I’m a writer, and every now and then I post things I’m working on or shorts (even rarer) but this piece was more about writing as therapy. Working through feelings and thoughts and moulding them into something that could be a story. Well, a beginning at least. Writing as therapy can be like meditating, drawing you in and holding you in a soft embrace until you emerge wondering what day it is, what year, who’s running things, if there’s any more coffee in the pot, did someone say chocolate?
If you give in to the flow of words, to the thoughts in your head, eventually something comes out that could be a story worth writing. But most of the time you throw away the early pages that got you there or hide them somewhere because they’re a little too raw, a little to close to the truth, a little to easily judged or misunderstood. So I share this lightly edited beginning with a nervousness born of a requirement to adjust to fit in. There’s no need to plot, it is simply the birth of ideas floating in your head. There’s an element of finding your own voice in writing this way, writing without thought to the way you’re expected to write, think, express, exist. And that’s what we’re all trying to do isn’t it, in the end, unearth our own true voice and use it?
2040 | Writing as Therapy to Create the Beginning of a Story
Look at us, we’re sheep. I thought we could be wolves, change things, make a difference, save ourselves but I don’t think we can. The internet is meant to be the new frontier but it is little different to the society we created without it. Solutions that look like they have everyone’s interests at heart but in the end are controlled by others who are free to change the rules as they please and then blame us for not knowing it was going to happen. We should have known, we should have seen it coming. Every system, everything we rely on came about because someone convinced us of how it would be and what the benefit to us would be.
We stand no chance of saving the planet because we can’t even save ourselves.
We are comfortably numb.
And if someone is brave enough to stand up and say something, do something, they are persecuted right from the very top. Talked down to. Belittled. What do they know, they’re a conspiracist, a child, a woman, uneducated, not from here.
They take our ideas, our beliefs, our ordinary lives and twist them up to rile us up but not for any good purpose. Only so they can hide between the lines and do as they like. Everyone is watching them but no one sees. Our governments are the ultimate fake influencer -all talk, no substance.
And who can even summon up the energy to care for long enough to do something, to change something. It has to be a passion, a mission, a calling. Because let’s face it, we have our own problems to deal with. Our own lives to contend with. These prisons we have built ourselves need careful maintenance to ensure they are exactly how they’re supposed to be, exactly how society expects them to be.
Who wasn’t taught growing up that banks are where you keep your money, you go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, have a car or two, work until you’re aching and old then let your kids look after you? Who wasn’t told that governments make decisions based on our best interests and if we don’t agree we can vote?
We have dug ourselves a hole, each generation handing the spade to the next so we can continue digging. Repeating the same nonsense over and over with little tweaks to make it better for some people.
And okay, yes, we live in an age where it’s possible for anyone to rise to the top, there are endless possibilities on the internet for anyone with the right skills, the right ability to determine their customer’s true desires to sell anything. But they are but few in comparison to all those other confused souls trying to figure out how to be themselves in a world that never wakes up.
We are addicted to comfort. We are addicted to easy food, power when we need it, suppliers of whatever we need, healthcare unlike anything in our history.
We have a tool at our disposal that we rely on, that we have learnt solves all problems if you have enough of it, that we seek out, that can change lives and end them. This thing we are all so invested in kills people with greater efficiency than all of the weapons on the planet.
It is killing you now. It is killing your friends and family. It is killing your neighbours and colleagues. But worst of all it is killing our independence and civilisation. The planet doesn’t need us, we need her. And if we don’t wake up we won’t be in time to save ourselves.
And if we can’t save ourselves she’ll evict us.
She has already begun.
The pages flapped in the wind as I held them, the dust storm in the distance growing with efficiency and grace, they had been torn from someone’s journal. I could already hear the howling around the old building, some sort of ancient red brick with basements vaults. It would be as good a place as any to hide out from the storm but they creeped me out. The echoing emotions of those who had existed within gnawing at my soul. The governments were so stupid back then, they thought they could ignore the problem and not tell anyone. Then someone cottoned on, a scientist in the outer reaches of the Hebrides had made a discovery in the sea life and posted his findings. Another picked it up and understood the meaning. The real meaning. And this is where documents like the one I held in my hand had first arisen.
Oh, there had been riots and protests, there always were back then, or so I’ve been taught. It wasn’t even that long ago and yet somehow it always felt like millennia rather than decades. almost two to be precise.
It started with the virus. They thought it came from a land mammal in the beginning but that wasn’t the first creature infected. And not everyone caught it, it only knocked out half the world’s population. There were some that said if certain scientific organisations had had the right funding we might have been able to get ahead of it but the reality was much simpler than that. If governments hadn’t thought they could control everything people would have known sooner and measures could have been taken. It’s naive to think that only working scientists have the ability to find solutions. It’s stupid to think that only those who have managed to convince someone to employ them are capable of working on a problem.
I hear that was quite a problem too, before the virus, the lack of jobs and the number of people who couldn’t land a job no matter what they applied for and no matter how well educated. You could say that went all the way back to the great recession of 2008, as my teacher said, and that the reliance on technology to sort through the first wave of applicants was the first indicator that we’d taken it too far in the robots’ favour.
Work is not a problem now, everyone works. And money is just a thing we trade for stuff. Food, items, time. No one owns the land. If you’re living on it it’s yours. If you move on and someone else lives there it’s theirs.
We took a lot of the old buildings down, once we got the machinery and equipment for it working again. Used what we could to build the new places, the safer places. The rest, well, if someone didn’t choose to live in them or set up shop in them, mother earth reclaimed them. Wrapped herself around them and gave them new occupants. Some of them are so beautiful now that sometimes I wish I had a camera.
We still have the technology, it’s moved on quite considerably now it’s free to all. The internet, oh how our ancestors would laugh at the way that works now. And the electricity to power it all? Solar, wind, wave, and electrical storm.
When people work together for the same goal but without the insistence that everyone is a certain way so much more gets done. People’s creativity and innovation flow smoothly, wildly sometimes. The mind is capable of so much. I can’t believe that back then people wanted to keep it caged. Can you imagine not being entirely yourself?
My name is Crow by the way, and I’ve been out getting supplies in before the storm really hits. We have most of what we need back at the nest but there were some things, food things, that are essential when holing up against a storm. Because sometimes there’s nothing better than sitting by the big dome window, cushions piled into the window seat, a blanket around you, a hot drink and the biggest packet of marshmallows ever. I’d got the coated ones, they were the best. I was considering sharing them with Albright but it would depend on what he was bringing. Share and share alike and all that.
We’d all find little parcels of space, take some time to ourselves, down tools, and watch the storm. They were huge roaring fascinating things, twisting and whistling through the old places, curling around the new and ringing the chimes. Resupplying the energy as they went. Grandma Letti had told me that the winds brought stories, ancient tales and new secrets and that if you listened just right you’d get flashes of the pictures. It wasn’t long before she realised I had the knack and that I got whole stories, so much so that sometimes I knew what was going on across the world before they did. Before anyone did. She said it was the magic that ran in our bloodline, she’d had a touch but not like what I had. And she thought it might be because of all the civilised ways we’d shrugged off because we’d stepped out of our cages and greeted the world as family.
It was funny to think those that walked away from their old lives hardly ever got sick, they called them woke back then. They were in tune with earth’s natural energies, vibrations from other worlds that buffeted ours, balanced and with eyes wide open. Others have said it was natural selection. Whichever it was, those people had a lot of grief and a hard task ahead of them.
My place, our place, the nest, was ahead of me now. The silent storm warning lights already blinking on the roofs, to guide those who didn’t make it inside in time to safety. The storm was far out on the horizon, the lead feelers already kicking up dust nearby, but it was closing fast and I had only moments to get inside and get sorted. So I could listen to the stories and messages. The others would be interested after but they’d leave me be until the storm was done.
I smiled at Uncle Art, he had set up his storm project in his alcove, a small window to let him see out but not too much, he still had issues with the storms. He’d been caught in one once, with a group of people he had previously survived with. He wouldn’t talk about it, not with me anyway. He mostly just said ‘it hadn’t been pretty.’ and I had to respect that and not question it. His hard times were his hard times and he’d talk about them when he needed to or wanted to with whoever he chose to.
The inside of this place was built to work the air around, the roof was domed, and all the side rooms were like little bubble pods off the main pod. But it wasn’t high, or huge, and there were one or two observation pods at higher levels. Mine was in the tail end. Literally. When it was built they’d obviously thought to have it resemble some kind of animal, as a sort of offering to the earth I assumed, and they’d put this long tailpiece on that linked bubble pods along a long corridor. The end zone was where the energy from the storms was collected and we didn’t go down there. But my pod was in a curve and perfect for the window they’d put in. It felt like being in a fishbowl or some kind of underwater thing and when the rains came it was amazing.
I didn’t have much in my room, the huge window and window seat. A bed big enough for two and entirely mine. A closet for my clothes and a tiny adjoining bathroom. I think if someone from back then saw the bathroom they wouldn’t understand it. But like I said, technology had moved on and we were all about living in harmony with the earth now.
I had a little kitchen area too. This wasn’t a home with lots of rooms off it, this was a nest for lots of residents. The pods came in different sizes, those with families lived in the bigger ones. There was a central kitchen and every evening a meal would be prepared, which you could join or miss as you chose. Simply a way of keeping everyone connected and the making use of food that would go off soon. We all chipped in, adding food to the pot so to speak. And Hilo would cook and bake all day with the help of her ever willing assistant and partner Maura.
But with Grandma Litta gone now, there was just me and so I got a pod to myself.
I’d only been a baby when Armageddon hit. It’s not an entirely accurate depiction of what happened but it was close enough and those that survived thought it fitting, considering how many times it had been predicted over the years.
Grandma Litta had been the one to carry me out of the city. Her son, my father, had been immune to the virus-like us but not immune to the soldiers who were ordered to keep us inside the city limits. I hadn’t seen what happened, or at least if I had I couldn’t remember. We lost a lot of those that were immune until the soldiers realised they were on the wrong side. That their real job was to protect the people. It was all over for the governments then. They had no one to govern any more. That’s not to say they didn’t try or that it was easy for us but they were few and we were many and we’d had enough.
‘Did you want the cheese ones or the tomato?’ Albright asked as he pushed open the door.
‘Tomato, obviously.’ I told him. I held up the marshmallows and got a thumbs up of approval. ‘I’ll make the drinks.’
‘Sure, I’ll prepare the watching zone.’ He grinned and I grinned back. There was a possibility we could have a thing one day but slow and steady was the way. I didn’t want to move out and build something with someone who might not have the same ideas as me. He was cute though, totally himself with his wild hair and black eyeliner.
‘Grab a notebook and pencil too would you?’ I asked as I poured the boiling water onto the thick dust.
‘Why do you insist on paper?’
‘Paper doesn’t lose power mid storm.’ I reminded him, again. ‘I found those today.’ I gestured to the pages I’d put on the shelf in the wall above the coat hooks.
‘What are they?’
‘From the old times, before Armageddon. When the people found out.’
‘Cool.’ He took them down and settled onto the window seat, shuffling his feet out of his boots as he began to read. I pottered about silently around him, bringing the drinks over and pulling the small tables from the walls on either side so we had somewhere to put them. Then I clambered into my spot, near the window with loads of cushions to make it comfy and opened to a fresh page before starting on the dried tomato crisps.
The storm lights were beginning, the sky filling with the strange colours in the stratosphere. Pink tinged blues and greens, the occasional yellow as the wind swirled and the clouds rushed in. This was going to be a bad one, I could tell. Everything was moving so fast and fiercely the chimes were already tinkling on the roof. The trees in the distance swaying. Stray things dashing past in a hurry as if seeking shelter they would never find.
A heard of camels across the desert, streamed out with family upon family of wanderers. My pencil started scratching on the cream paper, my eyes still watching the storm as my mind wandered.
Their clothes whipped and lashed about as they too felt the brutality of the approaching storm, but they were heading for what I could only call a castle, a sandcastle. Thick walls and cool insides. Empty of living things until they arrived. But somehow still furnished, still beautiful. As if it had stood still in time, simply waiting for their approach. And I knew they had been there before. Knew that they were not all immune to the virus the world had known. And understood that they had some relation to Albright. Something in their eyes reminded her of him and she turned to look at him as he concentrated on the papers I had found.
He glanced up and noticed my sudden stare, ‘What?’ he laughed.
‘The story is about you, or will be someday.’ I said, confused.
‘You got a future telling?’ He put the papers to one side and pulled himself further onto the window seat, eagerness glistening on every feature. ‘What else did you see?’
How about you?
I would love to know what you’ve written or created -published or not- in this kind of meditative deep dive into your own subconscious writing as therapy where it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Were you surprised by the results?
If you enjoyed this writing as therapy post (and the story) give it some love in the comments and share your own experiences of arting as therapy.
And if you’re following along with The Moribund’s progress, don’t fret, I wrote the above whilst The Moribund was out for critical assessment. It’s now in the editing stages -there’s some work to do on it still but getting there. Don’t forget to sign up to The Moribund mailing list to receive notifications nearer the time of its release.
Horror and Fantasy Author – Also writing as K.T. McQueen. Love Western Horror, cowboy boots, my cactus Collin, & my Demon Cat.
Moths – I hate moths, the way they flutter at your face!