Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bloody Parchment 2012: The troll apocalypse

Forget the Zombie Apocalypse. The Troll Apocalypse has come and gone and guess what - no one noticed...

They were all too busy on facebook or twitter...

The first wave of the invasion hit me when I opened a link to some story on blabbermouth dot net.

It sounded like this:

My temperature shot up and my breathing became faster. I began to type 'attention whore'...

Then I looked down. Warts were forming on my hands. They leaked green puss onto the keyboard. It was too late. I was infected. My inner troll had taken over.

(This was my 4th year of participating in Bloody Parchment, the literary segment of the S.A Horrorfest - I better call it by that name, as this year for the first time, the event took place in two cities.

The horrorfest is the brainchild of Paul Andre Blom (formerly the drummer of Cape Town's legendary death metal band, Voice of Destruction and currently bass player for the industrial metal band Terminatrix) and his wife Sonja Ruppersberg (also of Terminatrix). It began purely as a film festival, but in 2009, Nerine Dorman, at Paul and Sonja's request, took charge of organizing a litarary component which has seen participation by a number of outstanding South African genre authors including Sarah Lotz, Lauren Beukes, Joan de la Haye, Cat Hellison and Nerine herself. Um, and also me... but as I said when I had to wrack my brainz over some introductory bio with barely a 25 minute warning, I tend to engage in guerrilla writing, rather than anything marketable.

For this year, we did drabbles. Definition of a drabble: a flash fiction that is exactly 100 words long. My story does have a serious side. It is scary how easily a normal rational person can turn into a troll. All it takes is the Internet and a little anonymity to separate you from the consequences of your words and your actions.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Parallel Worlds: The double life of Sugarman

Reality. What a strange strange plaything of the gods. Allow me to tell you a tale of two worlds.

South Africa, 1986 - Sixto Rodriguez is dead and famous thanks to songs like the one below...
USA, 1986 - Sixto Rodriguez is alive but mostly forgotten

Parallel worlds, unaware of its other's existence... You can read the whole fascinating story here or, just go out and watch the music documentary 'Searching for Sugarman'.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Not Quite #Fridayflash Fiction: The Hours of Chronopolis

No one knows the hour... but if you have lived within the city of Chronopolis for a some time, there is a good chance that the hour knows you or at least has brushed past you in a busy street or waited behind you at the ice cream parlor or bought the last half dozen of freshly baked rolls just before you entered Maria's bakery.

This is your first lesson when arriving in Chronopolis. Each hour will surprise you.

There are hours that will fill you with unexpected melancholy for the boy who sat next to you in the ninth grade, you know, the one you last saw five years ago unpacking sacks of fertilizer in his dad's hardware store. Other hours will bring sudden inspiration about what to wear for the Halloween party in two weeks time. You get hours that will see you stripping off your coat to hand it to the woman begging outside the Fried Chicken joint and hours that will make you grasp your shoulder bag a little tighter for fear that it may be snatched away. Each hour is different.

No one is born in Chronopolis. That is your second lesson and it will take a while for this to sink in.

At first you will not notice this peculiarity, but when you do, it becomes a quest to find the one person that disproves what you suspect. You will search relentlessly, interrogating friends, acquaintances and even strangers, and they will smile tolerantly, as they too went through this stage. After a while it consumes you, wears you out and eats you up inside. The quest always remains bigger than you are. It is never met.

Nothing will prepare you for lesson number three and this is that everyone has their hour. No one knows this beforehand, but one day, a knock will come, or a nudge or a wink or a hand beckoning to you.

Whatever you were about to do, you will feel compelled to answer the summons and it will lead you towards the Tower of Chronopolis.

This building is perhaps the greatest of the city's mysteries. It dominates the skyline of Chronopolis from each wind direction and is impossible to miss. Everyone you know will have planned to visit it at some time, but to your knowledge no one has ever done this.

You will climb the tower, light-headed with wonder. You will admire the strange, gothic reliefwork carved into the walls, and secretly plan to return at some later date to make a detailed study of it. You realize instinctively that this is not possible now. Later, the need to return will fade like from your memory. No one comes to the tower of Chronopolis a second time.

You will arrive just before the hour at the summit and be welcomed. This is the last memory most people have before coming to their senses in the street below, roughly sixty five minutes later. One or two may recall being strapped into a pod-like column, but they are the crazy ones, who harbour other memories even more suspect.

No one remembers their hour.

This is the secret magic at the heart of Chronopolis. Each hour has a different soul. It may be a soul that delights in feeding ducks and swans in the pond at noon, or an hour that lights the next cigarette with the butt end of the previous one and then gulps down scalding black coffee to get rid of that dry, dry taste. You never can tell beforehand.

The final lesson of Chronopolis is that everyone goes home after their hour has come.

This is not the home you left behind when you settled in Chronopolis, or the home of your childhood. A key turns, something shifts and you are standing within the home that has always been there, at the very edge of your consciousness, the home you carry deep inside of you, always.

No one knows the hour...