Notes from Swampy
Below is version 1 of this short story. The next version, which will be published as a separate entity in all aspects--tone, voice, plot, interaction between characters, will all change without the removal of any of the text in the previous version. Unrelated to the adventures awaiting the first version of the silly project planned out for the draft below; I personally find the short story (under 6,000 words) perfectly captures and delivers the goal intended by the exercise. The real test though is in the response from the audience, and if the predictions were accurate, then version 2 will be put in the pile for works in progress. However, until a large enough audience happens to find this small serving of words hidden away in the internet, and then additionally, the intended results are noted and shared back to the original author, then, and only then, will this childish tale bordering on being classified a fable see itself back in center stage for a complete renovation, aligned with the rules constraining this experiment. Happy reading all.
Page 1 Version 1
A short story for those whose cups are half empty. The story begins with a dialogue between two unidentified characters. This is the original version. If you're the type of person that sees the cup as half empty, a pessimist, then this version is for you.
“I have a message for you,” he with authority, though his voice commands respect from his followers behind him.
“Him? You mean?” I correct him quickly, inserting uncertainty into his eyes and asserting my superiority at the forefront of forthcoming engagement.
“No no, not you,” he barks the correction with an acute anger implying the misunderstanding is my fault, but then dissipates just as aggressively before he continues. I do not reply. “Him, obviously!” The ambiguity of his hate-filled, triple negative response confuses me, but I pay it no mind, assuming it a minor lapse, unimportant, irrelevant, and my focus unwavering.
“Alright, Swampy, let’s hear it,” I respond unemphatically.
First time readers are at this point are wondering if they are being tricked into reading a book of evil. That is not the case.
“Behold messag’r; I present the e-quell,” he proudly extends both his arms with his paws facing up and both completely empty.
“E-quell?” I repeat back to him with a sardonically implied curiosity, concealing my deeper indifference behind a façade of surprise and intrigue, despite my, and hopefully everyone else’s, disappointment of his offensively mangled mitts somehow being the object of his elation.
“Cause, cous’ it quells the violence if we agree we’re both equals, and I got it saved electronically on a microdisk,” he enlightens his entourage unnecessarily, assuming the median ignorance of the room is shared equally among his audience.
“Oh wow,” I blurt out my reply with an inconsiderate dose of honesty, reserving a more descriptive detail of disappointment in an effort to display some semblance of virtue as the swamp thickens.
“You don’t get it, do you?” he confusingly questions my comprehension.
“Yeah, no, I got it,” I answer him, almost confusing myself, allowing a hint of swamp to pierce my
Some past readers have found these early pages more entertaining and interesting having finished the short story once before, but first time readers at this point are thinking, "yeah, it's not bad."
perception, influencing my intonation with the slightest inflection ill-suited for my temperance.
“No no no, you don’t got it? Don’t you?” he questions me in much clearer confusion. As swampy as he is though, it’s pretty simple to figure out what he would want to say to his opposition, but the intensifying negativity still throws me off guard.
“Wait! What? What the hell?” I accidentally ask aloud, forgetting however momentarily my first of the two laws that have guided me through this dense almost fog-like swamp of an existence, but then I quickly remember my purpose and reestablish my bearings upon that first foundation: know my place.
“Listen messag’r! It’s simple. Either you know or you no know. So then, if you don’t get it, you no know, and if you do get it, then no no you know. Now, which one isn’t it?” he clarifies.
Sparing myself any further negativity, lest my mind be muddled in the muds of his swampiness, I circumvent his stupidity and quickly skip ahead, “Let’s go already, Swampy! Spit it out! I’m ready! The e-quell; go begin!”
“Okay, here goes,” he stutters with a hint of nervous pause, stumbling across the words chicken scratched into
the parchment he fumbles through his fingers, as if preparing for what was to precede a life-altering event.
“The e-quell!” I find myself forced to remind him yet again.
“Not wrong!” he exclaims his negativity as positively as possible, perhaps even venting the anger burning his core into ashes, which he has learned to ignore, “okay first, e-quell say, ‘We are both equal.’”
“So, that’s the first one? Is it?” I ask, amusing myself with sarcasm that seemed to fall on deaf ears—mostly because a large percentage of my swampy audience is in fact missing at least one of their ears, displaying a burned scar mark in its place.
Ignoring my snarky commentary, he searches the pages above his lap that have mysteriously appeared without explanation and defying the electronic nature of his original claim. The sharply pointed nail of his middle finger, having grown along the skin instead of straight out as if working its way around to form a cap over the top of the grotesquely formed finger, scratches against the pages as each of his eyes scan their respective page independently, as if controlled by two disparate brain mechanisms, assuming he has even one. What his
obedient swampsters must interpret as some advanced evolution only their science can explain is applied with complete velleity to their envy as I witness in horror the side effects of those who defy the grand design. Even the biggest, hardest tree that falls heavy on fragile footing below can be sanded down so fine that even the most gentle soles glide effortlessly across its grains.
His left eye must have spotted the next of his bullet-pointed brilliance, because his right eye lined up to match the location on the page before retiring to the corner of his socket for an apparent time out, “Number two,” his left eye reads to me, “e-quell say, ‘Gates open to all.’” He immediately glances up at me for approval, first with his right eye, then followed by his left eye, as if to emphasize my agreement was more important than the reading task he had assigned his lefty.
As flattering as his gesture feels, my non-verbal response emphasizes the simple fact that being the “messag’r” has no affect on the decisions made by his adversary. Though, I now need to take a moment to quietly ask forgiveness for the blasphemy of implying that this buffoon could possibly pose any challenge by using the word adversary.
“Is that it?” I ask impatiently.
“No, there’s more… lots more,” he blurts out with a healthy serving of misappropriated enthusiasm.
“Oh good!” I lie.
“You mean ‘not bad’?” he corrects me, and perhaps justifiably so for I have inadvertently allowed this swampiness to get me to entangle a lie with good; a lesser form of blasphemy, but blasphemy nonetheless.
“Not bad?” I ask him before realizing I’ve been infected by his swampiness but his will is no match against the good I represent, even if he is born of pure swampiness from the beginning of time.
His eyebrows raise with a hint of investigative curiosity before I finally unravel his swamp coded dialect and deduce the response necessary to diffuse his surmounting rage, “not no?”
“Not no!” he confirms with a nod of his grotesquely disfigured and disproportionately oversized head in agreement before continuing his idiotic recital, “e-quell say, “Swampy have half say of all decisions.”
“Oh wow!” I finally interject and put a stop to this charade.
“What?” he growls with a notable innocence.
“You’re serious?” I ask rhetorically, emphasizing if not insisting he refrain from responding by the inflection of my voice.
“Not no,” he arrogantly answers anyway.
“Okay, listen! Let me stop you right there Swampy and quell any confusion about this e-quell of yours.”
“What!” he barks in hateful protest, commanding fear in the absence of respect.
“I didn’t come all this way to play messag’r between you two,” I confess.
“What? What do you mean? Why are you here then? He sent you to kill me?” he snarls in anger, clenching his fingers as if squeezing a grapefruit with his three strongest fingers of both of his hands, allowing his pinkies and ring fingers to dangle ineffectually until the muscles in his forearms cramp so tight he starts to catch a hand spasm on his dominant side.
“I’m here to make a deal.”
“Isn’t that what you do?”
“What do you mean deal? I don’t make deals!”
“Look around Swampy. I’m not blind. Every single angel or champion sent before me was offered a deal, were they not?”
“Not necessarily not no, if that’s not what you mean.”
“Don’t play me for a fool, Swampy. I see the angels sent before me basking in wealth, living luxurious dream lives, but behind their eyes is that spark of fear you instilled in them.”
“All fear me!” he threatens me, stepping forward toward me, but then hesitating out of curiosity when I do not retreat.
“I fear nothing,” I answer.
“Nobody not no fear nothing!” he contradicts me, “Everybody fears me! You fear me and God, don’t you not?”
“I don’t fear you. I don’t fear being penniless. I don’t fear the armies at your side. You can send wave after wave of what remains of your braves. And I certainly don’t fear God. A strong ally I would make for you if you were to offer me riches and wealth and all that you have offered others if not more.”
“Hmm… a slave with no fear no fight with no question.”
“I am no slave. I told you. I’m here to make a deal.”
“Deal? What deal?”
“Well, It’s complicated, but if you hear me out. I think you’ll like it.”
“So, you’re not here to kill me?”
“No no, God no.”
“Then you are here to kill me!”
“No! Just no, by itself.”
“But you said no no?”
“Give it a rest already will you?”
“You know what’s funny?” I realize he won’t find this funny, but I entertain the idea that there’s a glimmer of hope somewhere in that swampy brain of his, “when I “messag’r” above, they say yeah for no no and they say yeah yeah for no.”
“Why is that funny? ‘Yeah yeah’ means no? That’s idiotic!” he advises me.
“Well, it’s funny, cause cous’ yeah, you swampy, Swampy! Doesn’t matter.” I diffuse the hostility.
“No does not matter! You explain or Swampy break deal!” he barely musters out in his agitated state.
“Okay, I’ll explain, but listen Swampy, nobody breaks a deal with me; not even you.”
Ignoring his clear threat of imminent attack, “it’s funny because you and they speak in exact opposing reciprocals of each other so that they never state the negative, and you never state the positive.”
“How is that funny?”
“Well, it’s ironic maybe I guess. Regardless, that brings me to my deal.”
“Hear me out, Swampy, because I’m the last one. Nobody else is coming. I cannot be beaten. I cannot be killed. I cannot defy either side. I cannot fail. I am here to grant your wish. You want the deal I have to offer.”
“Okay, I’ll listen. Then, we squash you like a ripe pitted olive.” His armies all around bark and roar with laughter and thunderous howls, preparing to combine their forces against me at his command.
“Good enough…. I mean not bad enough… So, here’s the plan. Every person who has ever met you or even come near you is instantly affected by your swampiness. Hell, even I’ve become substantially more swampy just by the time I’ve been here.”
“Well, I’m going to have to go back. And that means, I’m going to be bringing some swamp back with me. And that means, if you give me time to work out the details, I can make a language that both sides can understand and talk to each other, and then there won’t be a need to open the gates or fight over territory.”
“I’ll bring it all here. The swamp will become intertwined with the divine and the two shall be infused into a single cohesive language.”
“So, I can go to heaven?”
“Well, obviously, there’ll be some travel restrictions, limited distribution of good in exchange for service, but overall, there will be peace, and you can have a version of your e-quell in some form.”
“Well, first, you make a deal with me.”
“Good question… I mean, not bad question…”
“You get to go there forever, placing me in charge after you leave, and until that time, I impose new rules per my will that will lead to peace.”
“No, not possible.”
“It gets better.”
“How much not worse?”
“Ah, I see you’re already reducing swampiness… good… good… my plan is to create so many peaceful beings on this planet that eventually the whole planet will become the essence of the teachings of Jesus.”
“Jesus? Hahaha! Nonsense! You not even Christian?”
“Yes, that is correct, or in your words, no I’m not, not wrong. However, With a planet filled with citizens all acting in accordance with his teachings, global peace will become a reality in as little as ten to twenty generations.”
“What? That’s hundreds of years? I can’t wait that long?”
“Why not? You can’t die. I can’t die. I’m here to fix this. Do you want my help or not?”
“What else? Why should I agree to this nonsense?”
“It gets better. If the whole world achieves global peace, then it will be the first instance since any of the endless creations since the beginning of existence.”
“So… in our galaxy alone, other planets, even more advanced planets, will join in the movement as it spreads across the universe then across the whole creation, then even across all the other creations.”
“Big deal! We’ll still be here.”
“That’s not true. Any planet that sparks a chain reaction of peace that spreads throughout creation is instantly granted access to heaven as whatever occurred on that planet since the first drop of water landed on it led to
global peace; therefore, everybody, good, bod, ugly (I point at him for the last two), gets granted access. And I mean everybody. Even those who have died and went to hell will be pulled out the fiery depths under these swamps with no exceptions. Even you, Swampy.”
“Everybody. But it has to be my way. The planet must achieve a perfect utopian peace worthy of divine recognition. Once the process begins, if done right, the planet is already granted divine providence along the way, so that the goal can be completed. This is that planet.”
“How do you know?”
“Okay, now what?”
“Now, we have to make some changes. First thing’s first: we have to decide if this is going to be good or not bad?”