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Thread: Scorched Earth - 800 word brooding flash

  1. #1
    Kyriakos's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Scorched Earth - 800 word brooding flash

    There was this man who, in his early years, considered himself far superior to others. He was too polite to show it – but it was relatively easy for him, since he thought so little of everyone else. In this state of mind he’d have cruised through childhood in a kind of pleasant trance, had he not felt the need to improve himself. And as his impression was that he’d never gain anything by comparing his accomplishments to those of his peers, it didn’t take long to reach the conclusion that the only worthy adversary could be his own intellect.

    That is to say, he grew irritated by the fact – all too apparent to himself – that the mind always concealed more secrets than those it allowed him to discover, controlling vast resources which remained out of reach for the conscious self; and this he did loathe, for he wished to take all credit for his superior intellect instead of sharing it with the good brain external providence endowed him with.

    Not that he ever wanted to actually work hard for his accomplishments. Being able to solve a mathematical problem in little time, or come up with ingenious plots to trick his schoolmates (when he wasn’t too disgusted by their obvious and complete inferiority) or calculate in silence and with great speed highly intricate (though not always that close to reality) courses of action in whatever predicament he found himself in (and it’s true he had a knack for finding himself in serious predicaments) was another major source of his high self-esteem. So when he decided to antagonize his own mind, it only meant that he’d stand to benefit by being consciously aware of more of that wonderful substrata on top of which he danced his way through pedestrian life and complicated thought in leaps of equal elegance.

    Near the end of high-school, he had an accident which left him with a scar on his forehead. The scar wasn’t particularly large, but it could be noticed by others. What offended our man wasn’t as much the scar itself, but the evident ability of those around him to notice it, and – even worse – their audacity to use it or allude to it so as to declare they now are no longer inferior to him. Up to that point they were all too careful in signaling their wish to avoid confrontation; but now many became openly hostile and their attacks had much of the ruthlessness and newly-found callousness of the miraculously emancipated slave against a fallen former master. On the other hand we should be fair and note that, during the first days of having to walk around school with the scar, prior to those devastating and humiliating skirmishes, he almost felt relieved in thinking that his minor disfigurement might be enough to finally afford others the chance of being identified as closer to him – not full equals, but closer to parity – and this because he did, in fact, wish to be able to co-exist and form true friendships, but couldn’t allow himself to do it back when everyone seemed so terrible next to him. However he soon realized that those others had no intention of merely having his scar slightly diminishing his superiority, instead choosing to see it as proof of their newly gained superiority over him. This really came as a shock!

    And there was another thing: by now he couldn’t just allocate all of his time to his ingenious thinking and the unheard-of campaign against his own mind. Bit by bit he was being forced to focus on his immediate surroundings, attempting to save as much as he could while always on the retreat from the scorched earth tactics others run on him. His grades started to suffer and due to his nervous disposition he acquired the fear of being unable to graduate from school – at night he’d torment himself, imagining that years would pass and he still would be in the same classroom, passed-over by generations of new students, a curiosity, the most queer of failures. Nothing of the sort happened. He graduated along with the rest of his class, although with a deep-seated melancholy.

    The old, bizarre contest against his own mind would resurface in his first year of university – but you see, by that time he had forgotten most of his past, and couldn’t recognize the emissary of this enemy internal side was waving the white flag of reconciliation. He only saw a hideous monster rising abruptly from the abyss of his mental world, just as he was trying to salvage the tiny speck of the ground the external enemies had overlooked in their routine skirmishes, and considered this an entirely novel threat, one of the gravest kind yet.

    One night – the first semester of his studies hadn’t yet ended – the man of our story suffered so acute a mental breakdown that any return to even a semblance of normalcy would be out of reach for a great many years to come.
    Λέων μεν ὄνυξι κρατεῖ, κέρασι δε βούς, ἄνθρωπος δε νῷι
    "While the lion prevails with its claws, and the ox through its horns, man does by his thinking"
    Anaxagoras of Klazomenae, 5th century BC










  2. #2
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Baby Jester
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    Default Re: Scorched Earth - 800 word brooding flash

    An interesting piece with some lovely wordplays. I particularly like this one:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyriakos
    and couldn’t recognize the emissary of this enemy internal side was waving the white flag of reconciliation. He only saw a hideous monster rising abruptly from the abyss of his mental world, just as he was trying to salvage the tiny speck of the ground the external enemies had overlooked in their routine skirmishes, and considered this an entirely novel threat, one of the gravest kind yet.
    and this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyriakos
    but now many became openly hostile and their attacks had much of the ruthlessness and newly-found callousness of the miraculously emancipated slave against a fallen former master.
    The rapid descend of our character into internal strife because of the accident and the change of everyone's perception of him presents us with an interesting idea. The man who thought himself above everyone else soon finds out that can be changed by the actions of others, based on their perception. This, understandably, shatters his worldview. The man in the story is both detestable and pitiable which is an uncommon combination.

    Really enjoyed this one!

  3. #3
    Kyriakos's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: Scorched Earth - 800 word brooding flash

    Thanks ^_^
    Λέων μεν ὄνυξι κρατεῖ, κέρασι δε βούς, ἄνθρωπος δε νῷι
    "While the lion prevails with its claws, and the ox through its horns, man does by his thinking"
    Anaxagoras of Klazomenae, 5th century BC










  4. #4
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Scorched Earth - 800 word brooding flash

    Yes, the wordplay is well done and the idea of the main character deciding to "antagonize his own mind" is a thought-provoking one, I wonder if this is connected with the incident that left him with a scar.

  5. #5
    Kyriakos's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: Scorched Earth - 800 word brooding flash

    Thanks
    Those aren't connected, in the concept.
    Λέων μεν ὄνυξι κρατεῖ, κέρασι δε βούς, ἄνθρωπος δε νῷι
    "While the lion prevails with its claws, and the ox through its horns, man does by his thinking"
    Anaxagoras of Klazomenae, 5th century BC










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