Sunday April 27th, 2014

The exercise:

Brought to you by my recent rediscovery of this album, pick a song title from Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance and use it as the inspiration for your writing today. I ended up choosing one of the covers they did, mostly because I found those the most appealing, so don't feel obligated to pick one of their original songs.

Kat and I slipped a bit of farm time into our day off, as we wanted to get the cabbage plants out in the garden. We did the savoy and purple, but didn't get to the regular green variety. It was tempting to keep going until we finished, but we managed to resist spending too much of the day working.


The Man Who Sold The World

You wouldn't have suspected a thing if you'd seen him walking down the street before it all went down. Not that you'd have been likely to see him there in the first place - he spent the vast majority of his time in his mother's basement, fixated on that fancy computer of his.

I guess that investment really paid off for him in the end, huh? I mean, that's why he was the first one to decode the messages. That's why he was the first one to figure out how to speak the language, send a reply back.

If it wasn't for that single minded determination of his, they never would have trusted him like they did. Otherwise, the offer might have been sent to someone else. Someone holed up in some secret government laboratory, I bet.

I wonder if his or her answer would have been any different?

Probably not. Perhaps the final number would have been slightly different, maybe a few billion dollars in either direction.

Heck, I know I would have sold the world for that kind of money. Though I'd like to think that I would have insisted on a few more people being spared when they arrived to take the reins...


Greg said...

Getting the cabbage in sounds like a good plan, even if it did take a little away from your day off. But it feels less like work when you're choosing to do it :)
I do like Bowie's "The man who sold the world", and your take on it is clever and appealing. I suspect that I'd have sold the world under those circumstances too! I particularly like the way you build up the details of the character even those we never actually meet him.

Pennyroyal tea
Candles burned smokily, thin black trails climbing in the air to the ceiling where patches of soot formed slowly. There was a smell of wet wool in the room, from the lanolin in the candles. Mavis knew she mustn't complain; ma made little Edgar sit up until near dawn making the candles so that she could have the light.
There was a clatter of a spoon in a cup and her arms tensed. She waited for them to relax, but the spasm intensified and became painful; the muscles stood out on her arms, and veins swelled up like fat, blue slugs after the rain. A faint hiss of air escaped her lips, but she clenched her teeth. She wouldn't scream, that would only wake Edgar and bring ma running and crying and spilling her tea all over her pinnafore.
Hands pulled the coverlet down from chin, and she realised that her vision had darkened and narrowed down to a thin tunnel; she'd not heard ma approach at all.
"Oh, your arms," said ma, her voice gentle and wondering. "You poor thing. Here, drink this."
Hot liquid was held to her lips, fragrant yet astringent, and she swallowed it just to avoid burning her mouth. As the hot liquid warmed her through, the muscle spasms relaxed and the release was almost as painful as the stress.
"Pennyroyal tea," said ma softly, patting her arm. "It's good for what ails you."
Mavis tried to agree, but fresh horror had filled her mind. Pennyroyal was used as an abortifacent and caused muscle spasms. She tried to sit up, but ma pushed her back down easily, and held the cup to her lips again.

morganna said...

I don't remember song titles or bands, so I usually skip these song title prompts. But your piece, Marc, inspired me to write the story of the young man who decoded the messages.

When I saw the first message, it seemed pure gibberish. Posted on an obscure message board deep in the dark web, I thought someone was having fun. But the second message made me think again. It still seemed pure gibberish, but I thought I detected a pattern. Intrigued, I compared it to the first message and the pattern began to appear to me. I worked night and day to decode them. Nothing else seemed as important as figuring these messages out.

By the time the third message appeared, I was very close to deciphering the first two. With the addition of the third, it was simple. Imagine my horror when I realized that it was aliens from far across the galaxy, asking to buy Earth, buy this planet, for an amount of money beyond my comprehension.

But through my shock, I perceived that the only way to ever see any of the money was to communicate with the aliens myself. Using my understanding of the messages, I wrote one of my own in the same gibberish and posted it to the same message board.

There was an answer, and so negotiations began. Very delicate they were, but I managed to secure an impossible amount of money for myself, and safe passage off the planet for myself, my mother, and another woman I met in a bar just before the deadline. I didn't have a girlfriend, but I couldn't let humanity go extinct.

Now I sit in this bar in an alien spaceport. For some reason my mother and the woman are not grateful to me, and spend all their time in our hotel room, wailing. They hit me if they see me, so I spend my time in the bar. Here comes a purple-tentacled woman, smiling at me. Perhaps things are looking up.

David said...

Let's just all ignore the following and not call the loony bin on me....

Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam

Easter Sunday. Where is the mofo? I sit in the third pew. Should I have sat in the fifth? The seventh? Is there a better vantage point for the second coming, or any coming really? Illuminated stain glass windows. Scenes of joy and cross bearing. Cross bearing is joyous, isn’t it? Almost as fun as self flagellation. Or self….why am I sitting here again? To wait for the coming Lord. In fulfilment, no wait, in accordance with the scriptures. This is the one path to salvation, correct. Over the pearly gates and the rainbow bridge to Asgard, or Valhalla. Or some other strange enchanted land where the truth could be found. Like Queens. Or Staten Island. Where Ave Marias are sung to actual Marias. I knew a girl down on second ave. She was more of a first ave kind of gal. But that is another story for another lifetime, after Jesus arrives. Or is that Yahweh, or the Michelin Man. The icons are the same. Just some are a tad less blasphemous. Which feelings would I let my mother know? None. Why? Because. She forced me here every week. Promises of quiet and a violence free morning. Would not last through an Our Father. A sign of the peace is a smack to the face. All in the name of the Lord. Or a Lord. The guys name was Tito and he lived in Gramercy. On a corner with some cardboard and a jar of piss. Long hair. But not the body of the crucified Christ. So that ain’t him. It has got to be today. The sun is shining. I am smiling and it is Easter Sunday.

Marc said...

Greg - love the way you set the scene in your opening paragraph. The remainder is fittingly horrifying as well :)

Morganna - I'm glad my take managed to inspire you. I especially liked the bit about the woman he met in the bar earning safe passage, as well as the two women's reaction after their escape :D

David - I shall hold off making any calls on your behalf, as that was highly enjoyable :)

The stream of consciousness was very well done, I could really hear his voice in my head. The overall progression was great too, so nice work!