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Thread: Forest Fires

  1. #1
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    Jan 2010

    Post Forest Fires

    Hey all, so i'm new to this forum board and what not, but i've recently really started developing my writing and working on a novel idea i've had for years. It originally started as a poem, then became a short story, and is now becoming a novel.
    The story is hard for me to explain without giving too much away. But the story is about a seventeen year old named Ethan Malone, he's got problems like alot of teenagers do, except dealing with them -- for him -- becomes difficult when he feels he's beginning to go crazy, and begins to hear voices.
    The character, i feel, is one of the most cynical, and sarcastic characters for someone of his age. I love it. Alot of the novel revolves around really getting into Ethan's head, and exploring his sarcastic nature, and the way he analyzes every situation.
    Anyway, with the brief discription out of the way, i'd like to share the first chapter with you and hopefully get some constructive feedback, and maybe some interest in seeing more. The novel is called, "Forest Fires".


    1. Visions of Flame

    The curtains slither across the wood of the stage to reveal the backdrop for this evening’s performance. It’s opening night – and we’ve got a full house.

    The setting? Columbus, Ohio, city of lovers, ironically labeled as there is little love to be found. The city is populated with drug dealers, murderers, and cheaters, crooked business men, drunks, and a few honest politicians. The humble are endangered, and are hunted for their pelts.

    The air we breathe is poisoned; laced with pollution, tar, and an endless cloud of depressed – void of any ambition or moral judgment.

    This place is a gutter, decorated with corpses and cigarette butts. The streets are paved with the blood and teeth of honest, hard-working, men. It only ever rains tears in Columbus – enough to drown the abandoned infants of whores and teen-aged promiscuity. The bodies float away to join the ocean, and never see the front page. The frequency of bad news is enough to make it redundant when published.

    Me? I’m the conductor for this evenings show. I wave my hands and the band begins to play; I am in control. The music begins with a crescendo, and gives way to a soft and calm composure. The flow of the music conforms to muscles, working them carefully to sooth the body.

    The spotlight blinds the stage to show a woman. She smiles enormously as she cradles her newborn baby boy. The father stands at her side with his hand on her shoulder, his face hosting a smile equally as large.

    She gently kisses the child and calls him ‘Ethan’ as the stage fades to black. This is my birth.

    I change the direction of my hands and the music changes. The song is fast-paced, cheerful, and enunciates the feeling of a child’s joy. The eyes of the stage lights open to reveal a boy. Seven year old Ethan now plays catch with his father in a grassy field behind their new suburban home. Ethan plays a new game, he runs from his father while trying to keep possession of the ball. He is tackled by his and they roll in the grass, collecting stains, but having unimaginable amounts of fun. They are happy, and do not want this moment to ever end. This is my promising childhood.

    The stage goes dark and again the music changes. The song is slow, and slightly post-traumatic. Nine-year-old Ethan stands on the stage with a blackened eye, crying as his mother attempts to console him. He sheds a tear at the recollection of his first bully. His father, consequently, teaches him to fight. Keep your fists up, keep the pressure on. He teaches Ethan the importance of confidence, self-worth, and to always stand up for what you believe in. This is my discovery of my own moral fibers.

    Lights out. New scene; new song. The music is powerful, pounding with anger along with confused bridges. Ethan is in bed snuggled up tight, crying, as he overhears the argument his parents are having. His mother yells and screams about her discovery of another woman. She does on and on saying terrible things, and yet, his father says nothing. His mother continues to rant until finally his father tells her that he has needs she simply can’t satisfy. He apologizes but doesn’t really mean it. The front door slams shut and the man Ethan looked up to most is never to be seen again. This is my witnessing the murder of trust.

    The song changes to fit its final scene. The music is confused and chaotic, free from structure or organization. Seventeen-year-old Ethan, now a loner with little concern for the world or its workings, is introduced to Greg. He is an apparent substitute for Ethan’s lack of father figure. Greg reeks of the city. His breath radiates with tar, alcoholism, and adultery. Ethan is unhappy and confused. This is my decent into darkness.

    I am the conductor and the band is my emotions. I am no lon
    ger in control. I watch each section fall apart and become a victim to their own dark desires.

    The violins cease to care. They lose interest in their work and in their lives and simply fall asleep – shutting out the world.

    The cellists fashion nooses from their strings and throw themselves from the theatres balcony after bidding the world farewell through cleverly constructed prose.

    The percussion section becomes fueled with a murderous rage as they bound into the wind instruments crushing the heads of the flutists between their cymbals and impale the oboes with sharpened drum sticks.

    The trombones extend their instruments and partake in a polygamist sex orgy with the clarinets and tenor saxophones, who are evidently sadomasochists – getting off on the carnage that is the wind instruments.

    The tubas ingeniously convert their instruments into over-sized bongs. They sit in a circle and laugh at what they did to the girl who had too much to drink the night before.

    I am the conductor, and this is my band. They have become the living embodiment of the root of human nature, driven on selfish pleasures. I am the last shred of control, the only living remains of my ego.

    One last time, the lights set the stage on fire. I, Ethan, the conductor, find myself alone with simply a mirror. In the mirror, I see a shadow of my reflection. It is dark and featureless. Behind my reflection is a large green forest, violently bursting into flames.

    The image takes a step forward and frees itself from its glass prison. I am frozen in my place, paralyzed by fear as my reflection puts its ice-cold hands around my throat.

    A lone trumpet blares from the pit of indecency, which blends, then transforms into the cry of an alarm clock.

    I am alone in my bed with the sun beckoning me to force myself through yet another day. I am Ethan Malone, the conductor. Columbus, Ohio is my stage, and this is my life.

    “Tick, tock. The clock is ticking, and I am waiting.”


    I’m awake, damp in a cold sweat. The speed of my breathing is matched with that of an over-worked prostitute. It’s nearly impossible to bring myself to a sitting position.

    My hands reach outward, grasping at the adjacent walls. My muscles stretch, a feeling which, to them, I’m sure must be orgasmic. I rub my face lifelessly, wiping the sweat for the hair that dangles in front of my eyes.

    I stumble onto my feet and recollect.

    These goddamned nightmares have haunted me for years. They torment the peace of my slumber almost nightly, with only occasional grace periods. In general, the body paragraph of these dreams is written differently every time, though the thesis which they support is always the same. Each night they are an overly-dramatic, and depressing, retelling of my childhood, accompanied by an allegorical representation of the deterioration of my emotions and mental stability.

    But the ending… the ending is always the same. Every time, in the end – I guess you could say – I commit suicide. Every time I watch myself kill me, whether it is by water, knife, poison, or fire. Every time… I die.

    I dig through the several piles of refuse to eventually throw together an outfit. More so a clean shirt (at least it smells clean) and a pair of jeans that only have one visible stain (pizza sauce from the night before), than an actual outfit. My tall, sleepless body stands hopelessly in the centre of the room before I yawn, stretch, and get to living.

    Outside of my room, the stairs leading down to the main level are comparable to Everest to my exhausted body – I’d need a mule, and a Sherpa to safely reach the bottom. I’m almost tempted to just throw myself down them to save myself from walking. I made friends with this sloth years ago; I feed him, provide housing and a place to party when he needs it, and exchange I get an excuse to be lazy.

    Each time I descend a step I feel my eyes become lighter. They lose enough weight for me to be able to lift them. I can finally see – miraculous. The faces in the foyer stare at me, and their oily eyes follow me as I move toward the sweet scent of the kitchen. I’ve told my mother time and time again that the eyes of the house, constantly watching, make me nervous; but she insists that the art adds a certain culture that the members of this house certainly lack.

    The soft scent of my mother’s cooking greets me warmly as I enter the kitchen, gently kissing each of my cheeks. I pour myself a glass of orange juice from the fridge.

    “Good morning Ethan,” my mother’s tone I joyous. Her love of the morning hours was clearly a trait that wasn’t genetic and, therefore, I had never inherited it. But regardless, it makes me smile.

    “What, can’t say good morning back?” Greg on the other hand hates every part of the day and is generally regarded as the largest of @$$holes. It’s true; there was an award, a ceremony and everything. It was quite prestigious. I don’t understand what my mother sees in him.

    “I did… sub textually.” I let my eyes dissolve his self-worth – or what little of it he’s got left. I sit at my usual spot at the kitchen’s island, without ever taking my eyes off of Greg. It isn’t even surprising that he doesn’t understand what I said. His dictionary ends three pages in, right after: @$$hole.

    Mother strikes my arm to inform me that I’m being disrespectful; it amuses me that she thinks I care, but I’ll amuse her. She places my breakfast in front of me – Spanish omelet – and my mother makes a mean one.

    “I have to go into work early this morning,” I could tell she looked rushed, and I can see where this is going, “So I won’t be able to drive you to school this morning,” and here it comes; the big finish, “Greg is going to take you, alright?” Nailed it. Spot on, brilliant show.

    This is surely Greg’s favorite perk of unemployment. The luxury of chaperoning the son he wishes he didn’t have but was, unfortunately for the both of us, stuck with. This is my least favorite part of having no one else around. “That’s perfect,” I say in his direction. My smile sends out an airplane with a trailing banner reading, ‘sarcasm’.

    My mother tosses her dishes into the sink, adding to the size of the chore I’ll have to complete later, and gathers her stuff for work. She gives Greg a kiss and then kisses my cheek. I can smell Greg’s disease on her breath. For once, I didn’t appreciate her affection – I felt nauseous. She says her farewells and disappears out the front door. She’s so adorable. She tries so desperately to pretend that any form of relationship exists between Greg and me. Perhaps it’s her way to attempt to justify her relationship with him – or maybe it’s simple denial. Who knows?

    Without saying a word, Greg takes to the sink, violently tossing his coffee cup into the sink – again adding to my later chores – before grabbing his jacket and jetting out the door. His truck roars loud enough for me to hear it through the front door. Apparently he’s in a hurry to be rid of me.

    “What a prick,” I say out loud. From the very beginning Greg and I established no solid foundation for a relationship. The house we built topples under the slightest wind. He is the paradigm of the roaches infesting this city; if he could fit under my size 11’s I would crush him in a heartbeat. I’m simply waiting for him to make just one wrong move, and maybe even provoking it. He is the waste of mankind, and needs to be excreted.

    I grab my bag, which nests safely by the front door, and join the roach in his truck. He shifts the car into reverse and gets it on the road. It amazes me that a member of his species is even intellectually capable of operating this machine.

    Neither of us say a word for the entirety of the trip, it’s hardly surprising, but the superfluous silence is unnerving. I keep my eyes fixed on the outside world, passing by quickly like a roll of film. I count the students hiking down the sidewalk, just as eager to get to school as me – not at all – and feel envious. Why didn’t I just offer to walk? Damn this sloth on my back!

    We arrive at the gates of Hindman high – our local high school, our make-shift prison for juvenile delinquents just waiting for their opportunity to commit their first crime. Greg speeds off while giving me the minimum amount of time needed to close the door. Nice talking to you, Greg.

    High school, an adventure in itself; I am the explorer, off to survey the Hindman jungle. I expect to find unusual segregated tribes, animals preying on the weak and consistent chaos. My hands feel the cold metal of the door handle. Machete in hand, here I go… Into the wild.

  2. #2
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    Join Date
    May 2009
    somewhere really small
    Wow. I would definitely want to see more!

  3. #3
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    Jan 2010
    I would love to let you in on more! And im glad to see interest, the only problem is that the only other parts i have arent sequential with the first chapter. Ive got the first chapter, the last, and a couple scattered around in the middle. I could always put up one of the later chapters if yorue that interested, or we could wait until ive got a second. But thanks for your interest!

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