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Weaver, Seeker, and Spark

3-part short story fantasy

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#1 Offline Death of the Endless

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Posted Apr 09 2013 - 10:31 PM

[font="georgia, serif;"]WEAVER, SEEKER, AND SPARK[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]I.[/font]

[font="georgia, serif;"]There is a jungle which cannot be reached by any ordinary road, and at the center of that jungle, there is a spiderweb.  The spider is old and fat, and her carapace is black and shiny as polished obsidian.  She works ceaselessly, tirelessly, though she is nearly blind, and with each new thread added the world changes a little:  a flame springs up, or a child hugs his new toy close, or a fruit fly shudders and dies.  Sometimes, a wind will blow part of the web away, and as the spider’s work is sundered, universes are lost to darkness.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]II.[/font]

[font="georgia, serif;"]When the Serpent awoke in darkness, it made the Light.  The Light burned.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]III.[/font]

[font="georgia, serif;"]The first arrive at nightfall, riding over the mountains, along the river, and up the hill to the citadel.  The rain beats a steady rhythm on their backs.  It soaks through their clothes, and so saturated the clothes betray their function and let in the cold till their owners’ bones feel like ice.  The travelers can barely see in the storm, but they keep going.  They must.  They are surer of this than anything, though if you asked them why, they would not be able to answer.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]When they arrive at the gate, the bravest steps forth, grasps the brass knocker, and raps the door three times.  It opens slowly, and the travelers enter.  Drenched with rain and sorrow, they proceed timidly through the hall.  It is wide and brightly lit, lined with towering columns and intricately carved arches.  And it is here that they first begin to remember.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]The corridor leads to a banquet hall, a room more vast than any you have seen, and the tables are piled high with every delicacy imaginable.  There are dishes there from every place in the world, along with some from places that are not on any map.  The guests are still a little afraid, but there is no one else in the room, and their mouths water at the sight of so much food.  They eagerly begin to eat.  And the place seems yet more familiar to them, though they cannot locate it in any memory.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]It is not long before more guests arrive, leaving their horses, their bicycles, their rusted pickups and old, battered cars by the gate and taking seats in the dining hall.  Hundreds arrive, no, thousands, or perhaps even more.  It is now, with familiar faces before them, that the travelers remember the place.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]Friends sit together and partake of fruit, salads, pasta, spiced rolls, and piles of steaming meat.  Many guests eat with what could almost be described as ferocity, shoveling massive quantities of food into their mouths and barely noticing their companions’ words.  Others are far more hungry for conversation than they are for bread, and listen eagerly to everything said to them.  But all are happy, happy in a way that you or I can barely comprehend.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]The musicians among the crowd find their instruments waiting for them, and begin to play a tune for their fellows.  There are kisses exchanged, and dances danced, and smiles smiled.  Old friends sit before the roaring fire on the hearth and relate familiar tales.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]Yet, sooner than any of the guests would have liked, the first coral rays of the morning sun peek over the horizon.  Reluctantly, the travelers proceed through the hall and out of the gate.  They saddle up their horses, get into their cars and ride off over the mountains.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]And when they wake, it is to a world that is far less kind to them—a gray, uncaring world.  A place where there are no friends to greet them, where evil goes unpunished and good is seldom rewarded.  Columns of golden stone are replaced by corrugated metal.  Wooded hills are replaced by asphalt streets.  Trust and contentment are replaced by perpetual fear.[/font]

 

[font="georgia, serif;"]And they remember nothing of the night.[/font]

 

 

[font="georgia, serif;"][font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"]NOTE:  [/font][font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"]This is not part of a contest.[/font][/font]


Edited by Death of the Endless, Apr 10 2013 - 05:09 PM.

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Weaver, Seeker, and Spark

 

"When the first living thing existed, I was there, waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished.  I'll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave." 

- Death, The Sandman

(Previously Toa Alaka)

#2 Offline Velox

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Posted Jun 13 2013 - 02:33 PM

Official SSCC Charity Review. Basically, a few months back the Short Stories Critics Club decided to go through OTC and provide reviews to all the stories there, as a way to "keep up our skills," if you will. And your story is up! 
 
Before I say anything else, I just have to say how much I enjoyed this story--it's beautifully written, crafted, and executed. Really, to me, it's exactly how a fantasy story should be. It has a sense of mystery to it--no, we don't know everything, but the ending leaves room for interpretation on relating back to the beginning, or any number of things, really--but not to the point where the reader is left unsatisfied because not enough information is given. Enough is given--we don't need to know how everything works. In some stories we do, and in some stories it simply isn't executed well, but here it is. 
 
The writing style is particularly impressive. It's somewhat like a fairy tale, and that works notably well here because of this world that you give us glimpses of. Actually, it almost reminds me of The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, because what she accomplishes is remarkable as she reveals the circus and what it's like to be part of the circus. Here, similarly, the writing very well fits this way of slowly revealing more and more, yet leaving some of it up to the imagination. 
 
But let me go back and explain in more depth the first sentence of my review. The idea behind this story is fascinating, and definitely quite fantastical. Perhaps I'm biased because I love fantasy, but I think the crafting of the idea was great--it's imaginative, fun, etc. There's so much you could do with it, yet the story doesn't feel lacking at all. It's fine if this is all you do with it, because the story progresses very well--like I said, the reader is at no time needing more, though often may want more, sure, but in a case like this that's only a good thing. The story and idea are so good that you just don't want it to end, yet the story by itself is satisfying, and brilliantly executed--the writing style playing a large part in that execution. 
 
As for any criticism story-wise, I honestly can't really think of anything. I want to say that the second section is short, and you should add more, but not really. I want more, but I'm completely satisfied with how it is at the same time, and adding more to that second section would take away from the mystery. I really enjoyed the title, too. Part of me thinks that you should name the sections, and have the title be something else, but the more I think about it the less I'm sure. The title really sums up the story--those three words are interesting together, and make you want to know more. Yet they're great little hints, and just add to the overall feel of the story. 
 
I do have a few small mechanical things I wanted to point out, but most of them are completely subjective, so take for them what you will.
 

The spider is old and fat, and her carapace is black and shiny as polished obsidian.  

 

I'd change "as" to "like", personally. I'm not sure if it needs to be, but I feel like it should be either "as black...as polished" or "black...like polished", and I much prefer the "like" to the double "as."

 

When they arrive at the gate, the bravest steps forth, grasps the brass knocker, and raps the door three times.  

 

Perhaps add "on" between raps and the.

 

leaving their horses, their bicycles, their rusted pickups and old, battered cars by the gate and taking seats in the dining hall.  

 

This was one part that took me out of the story a little bit. I don't know, I just imagined everything to be...old-fashioned, if you will--medieval-esque with some possible modern qualities. But the mention of pickups and cars made me think it's now, or at least some time within the past 50-100 years or so. Not that it's a huge problem, but my only problem with that is that it then dates the story--it's not longer necessarily some fantastical world, but it's our world, and our modern world to be even more exact. 

 

Hundreds arrive, no, thousands, or perhaps even more.  

 

Completely subjective, but I felt like an em-dash would be better than the first comma. Because it is kind of an interruption in the narrative, and a dash does that more effectively than a comma, in my opinion. Hundreds arrive--no, thousands...

 

Friends sit together and partake of fruit, salads, pasta, spiced rolls, and piles of steaming meat.  

 

Wasn't sure about the inconsistency with the plural/singular words. I'd change fruit/pasta to fruits/pastas. 
 
---
 
And that's it. Like I said, it was really hard to find anything that I didn't love about this story. Those few minor things I pointed out are almost all small, subjective things that could go either way, and the story itself is simply great. Very well-done here, I really look forward to hopefully reading more from you in the future. 

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"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender





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