Ray RedSpider and his Attempt at Wit

It's my life and I'll live it however stupid I want to

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Song of the Wanted - Part One
Celtic Bear Triad
This is a short story I started writing about this time last year. I crunched on it for a year and think I finally have figured out how to finish it, so I'm posting what I have so far in little increments. I really feel that I've laid my heart bare on the page in this one.

I'm not going to tell you the main thing about the main character, as I want it to come out as a surprise to you, but I will tell you that he was kidnapped as an infant and struggles to forgive his kidnapper, that he grows up to be a very talented pianist and violinist and that he is very intelligent, but very heartbroken and cold... it's called...


Part One


JUMP TO PART: One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Conclusion



Dear Selena:
I understand why you did what you did when you kidnapped me. ▌


            No, no, no, he thought. That’s too direct.

            But then, direct was Selena’s style. Always was. Always will be. The problem wasn’t whether it was her style, but whether it was his. Whether it was the style of Simon Carson. Or no, whether it was the style of Icarus. She knew him as Icarus Mendoza. She’d named him that. An odd name all around, for in all his life he’d never met another Icarus, nor another white child by the last name Mendoza.

            But Simon had taken the name back—the name she’d given him so long ago. Even if only for his career. Which is what the hundred and twenty phone messages, and the new ones ringing in even now, were more concerned about. His career. The concert is tomorrow. The night he’d waited for his whole life. Or the night they waited for.

            For now, the only thing in his mind is making this peace. He must make it his own way. He hit delete precisely twenty-two times, and then typed “now”, and then stared at the unfinished sentence, unsure how it must conclude.


Dear Selena:
I understand why you did what you did now. ▌


            The cursor blinked, as though to give him an annnddddd? in impatient anticipation, not surprisingly in Selena’s voice, or at least in Icarus’ mind. The phone rang as frantic agents wondered where their star had run to, and why he had vanished so near the time of his triumph.

            This letter would not be easy.


*          *          *


Icarus never found it easy to write. Moreover, he found it next to impossible to lie. Lying bothered his conscience. The fourth grade teacher had wanted his entire class to try writing a short story. While he was an advanced student, and this a rather advanced task for a child of fourth grade, he would not have found it so difficult, had it not bothered his conscience.

            Fiction is a lie. It’s always a lie. There is not really any curious monkey named George. There has never been a prince who lived on his own small planet and travels to different worlds by riding comets caught with a frying pan. No wizard can ever really cure you after you follow a yellow road made of bricks.

            With so many lies told, he felt no desire to take part. He would read the lies of others, of course. He would read and analyze the lies of authors, and so scathingly ridicule them. This was interpreted as advanced reading comprehension. Perhaps it was; perhaps not. Perhaps intelligence is sparked by hate, or maybe hate sparks intense thought which appears as advanced.

            He did not care. He would read through the lies and ridicule them with shrewd wit, and fancy words, and disapproving tone.

How dare Golding carry out his sick imagination by stranding several helpless boys on an island, and then assume they’d turn into savages, when savagery is more often the act of the adult.

What sick mind could possibly want to give something as disgusting as human intellect into the character of bunnies, and then put these poor creatures through so much ordeal?

And why would sick minds like this be heralded as classics, fit for children to be forced to read and report on, as though they don’t experience enough trauma having to change with other boys in physical education?

Icarus wanted no part in being the one making such dishonesty. Yet he would be forced to nonetheless, for school was not optional. As much as he did not want to go, he knew truancy would bring unnecessary attention. Attention his mother had warned him about. Attention to his secret that, up until now, nobody else knew. Only his mother, and himself.

It was bad enough he had to lie about that.

Nearly every book, every fiction, every contrived lie that his class forced him to absorb, had that one character that was different, be they the main character or a minor one. Every time a story had such a being, the other characters acted out a vicious tradition of torture and bullying for their difference. Icarus suffered enough of that for his name alone. Even more for his skin tone and how it doesn’t match his last name. Somehow he’d flown under the bully radar all this time.

But mother always told him if the truancy people came, he’d never be able to keep their secret again. She warned him they’d take him away from her. He was more worried about the kids at school torturing him. And so he hid his secret.

Along the wooded trail from their hidden home, down the path that led to where it would come out on the major road, that would take him half a mile until the school laid before him. As he walked it, he could imagine the school building tapping its toes in impatient anticipation.

Well, are you coming or not?

The same voice and the same toe-tapping that mother always used. But school buildings don’t have toes. That’s fiction. That’s a lie. They also don’t talk, and certainly not in his mother’s voice.

She was a good mother. He never understood why she was so afraid he’d be taken away. Not for the secret, since she cared for him well despite it. It couldn’t be because of anything wrong with her. Perhaps experiments from mad scientists, except they don’t exist. They’re lies. In stories, which are also lies. Icarus had seen scientists in a real lab, and it was extremely boring. Nobody laughed maniacally, or blew things up with smoking green liquid, or created perpetually bouncing rubbery compounds with infinite energy that if applied onto the soles of tennis shoes would make an entire basketball team able to win the game with impossible leaping.

He hated lies. He had to cling to his.

The trail was lined with trees that were barren of leaves, thus failing mostly to block the cold winter sun. As he walked, it flashed and blinked in a sadistic peak-a-boo, with every sad excuse of a tree shadow that shadowed him along the path.

His gait slowed. The thought of another day always made him slow. Yet the thought of truancy always made him finish the journey, and endure that dreaded day. He felt cramped within his clothing. He felt crowded in his desk. He felt trapped. Each morning his mind begged him to take just one day. The truancy officer won’t come after just one day. But one day would become two. And two would upset his mother, who feared losing him.

It simply was not fair, this lie he must live.

Unlike most mornings, this morning he came to a sudden stop. It was not for the overwhelming desire to escape his fate, since that was not an option. He did not stop for his own reason. He stopped because he heard a noise. A squawking sound. And before him, from where the sound came, several leaves appeared to move.

It was not a normal sound. It came from no animal he’d ever known.

And then it stopped moving.

Icarus was transfixed. Alien movies were lies too. So were movies with monsters. He suddenly regreted having not paid attention to them more, however, in case this one might be a reality.

Inching his way towards where it had come, he saw only leaves now. Leaves do not move by themselves. This is a calm and windless day. And they certainly do not scream.

After what seemed a minute, he realized his heart was just as frantically paced as the wind was absent. He also realized he’d stopped inching towards it. So he motivated himself to take another inch. And then another. He exhaled, having realized it’d also been a lengthy moment since he’d allowed himself to do that too. Another inch.

The screaming sound came again. This time it was faint, but certainly not animal. No animal he’d ever heard. It was mechanic. It was one short and very trace scream, like a quick screech on a chalkboard. It was enough. Icarus realized the distance would better be closed by something less vital. Beside him lay a lengthy and study stick. He hoisted it nervously.

Still, another foot and a half before the stick would reach.

The mound of leaves moved again.

A moment of silence.

Then it made a whimper.

How can a mound of leaves whimper? That sound was more baffling than the chalkboard screeching. Icarus was more terrified by this, though he couldn’t explain why. Perhaps it’s the same reason people had trouble with the theory of evolution, as they’d covered in his most recent biology class sessions. Predictably other students had issue with this and their dogmatic beliefs, and vocally said so. His teacher had hidden his annoyance, though Icarus could not. Religion was just another of those lies he could not stand.

The teacher had told them that day that the thing that always upset people the most about primates is their similarity to humans. All of the other creatures were alien enough, but primates bridge the gap that humans, wanting to feel special, did not like seeing bridged.

“That which is similar to us, upsets us the most, because it will reveal things about us we’d rather not have revealed.”

A whimper bridges the gap between this alien being and Icarus. Is that really it? Is it possible this being is animal? Is it possible it’s similar to him? Icarus was conflicted. Would he rather it be alien larvae dropped from the sky, to breed into large monsters that devoured his species whole, so long as it didn’t make a whimper?

His nine-and-a-half-year-old mind conjured visions he knew to be lies, but for the first time, he was engulfed in them, rather than despising and rejecting them. He had to know what the being was.

He grasped the stick tighter, with white knuckles, and sweating hands.

One quick thrust hoisted several of the largest leaves from off of the…

Screaming head that screeched hungrily upward!

Icarus took off running in the awkward way that he had always ran, pulse shooting so quickly that he felt he’d suddenly swallowed jet fuel. He stumbled over tree roots and ground swells and feared falling over onto the ground, laying helplessly as some mother alien monster devoured him whole.

After five minutes of intense panic-induced running, he’d come to the street. Surely the street must be safe? He looked back and saw nothing. He thought back at what he had seen, and found only a quick image his mind would chew on all day.

Class awaited; only five more minutes of walking away. This sudden sprint of fearful pace meant he would most likely make it just barely on time now.

On to school he went, so the truancy office would not get him.



I understand why you did what you did now. I didn’t at first. I was a child. There was no way of knowing why. What I knew was that I had been lied to about some things. And back then, I hated lies more than anything. You had lied to me about why I had to lie about my deformity. That was a hard secret to keep. It was all I could see at the time. It’s been nearly 15 years since then, and I understand more than ▌


The cursor blinked in its place, though Simon was no longer sitting at the keyboard. There was no way to finish that sentence. Too many tears. Too much pain that to be expressed at the keyboard towards a woman he barely remembered, but remembered all too well.

            He sat, instead, at the grand piano, filling the house with impossibly beautiful music that nobody else in the world was capable of performing. They were his own songs. But mostly, the one he would never share. His masterpiece. There was but one part of himself left that was no longer shared with the world. Thanks to tabloids, everyone knew now about his time as a boy named Icarus. Thanks to his loose-lipped parents, everyone knew every detail.

            This song was all that was left. It was his only remaining secret. His last cherished lie. And it was the finest thing he’d ever written. And nobody could have it.

            The melody was so achingly sweet that even now, after performing it hundreds of times, he could not play it without tears. If he could dry himself with song, perhaps then he could find the words to send to Selena.

            So the cursor blinked, like a metronome. And his song played with no common beat to it. Like most things in this world, the two had beats of their own to attend to.

            I understand more than a freak of nature like me was obviously ever expected to.

            Face wettened, head laying on the keys in the last echoing hum of the final key of the secret song, the words he didn’t dare say on the computer screen finally had the courage to come out.


*          *          *

“Here comes icky Icarus,” a portly boy said as Icarus approached.

            Icarus was away from the monster. His mind was rattled so that he hadn’t processed what Cody had said to him. But there had to be a perfectly logical explanation for the thing he had seen. And this is the real world now. He couldn’t let the uncertain cloud him from dealing with what was sure.

            And Cody was one he had to be extra careful around.

            Cody singles out kids. Like every bully that ever walked the earth, he pushed them into a desperate response, and then pounced. If you give him the excuse, he’ll take it. He’ll justify his actions on how you acted, without realizing you merely reacted. This kind of thing could result in a scuffle. A scuffle could mean no more worrying about the truancy officer, because the secret would be out anyway.

            Icarus had never had a scuffle. He was pretty sure they weren’t any fun.

            “Hey Icky,” Cody said. “Can’t your mommy dress you in anything else?”

            Icarus always wore more clothing than the other children. Enough to hide the deformity, but not so much to look like anything other than extra-loose clothing. He appeared to be in hand-me-downs when in fact he’d had no older brothers from which to inherit any.

            The rules to handling Cody, from several observations where he’d escaped as a bystander rather than a participant, were simple. Never respond defensively. Any child saying, leave me alone, or stop it, seemed to beg for a beating. Never respond with an insult, for the same reason. Make it a joke at your own expense and all you’ll suffer are similar jokes, by Cody and his entourage, for the rest of your young life. That’s preferable to a scuffle though. Say nothing and he’ll follow and ask as though being entitled to an answer.

            Choose your words carefully so as not to be interpreted, no matter how loosely, into any of these categories. Because Cody wants a scuffle. He’ll make your comment into one if he can.

            “Could be worse,” Icarus said, finding a way to stay safe. “I could be naked.”

            Cody laughed. The entourage laughed. The statement was completely irrelevant, non-challenging, non-inviting, and non-confrontational. Icarus lucked out today.

            And Cody hadn’t even noticed how shaken he’d been. He counted himself lucky.


*          *          *


“I don’t see how this is a better way to say life was made,” said a small, frail boy two rows right from where Icarus sat.

            A couple of other students agreed. Some rolled their eyes.

            “What makes you say that?” Mr. Kismet asked him. He stood beside his class board, containing diagrams of the various methods of genetic inheritance and how it relates to natural selection. Every year he had to deal with the parents on this issue. Now that he’s transferred to teach advanced students of various younger ages, it’s usually easier, until a child spoke in protest.

            Icarus watched with frustration. He had been well trained to do whatever necessary to keep out of scrutiny. Lay low. Don’t act too smart. Don’t act too dumb. Don’t know the answers too much. And mostly, stay out of arguments.

            “I don’t see how a human comes from a monkey,” the child said.

            After the giggles died down, Kismet regained control. “Now Rick, we already covered that yesterday, and the day before that. Have you anything new to say on the matter?”

            He merely nodded.

            “We’re talking about mutations today.”

            Especially an argument about mutations.

            “You know, God’s mistakes,” another kid said, making several of them laugh at Rick, who quickly became agitated.

            “Well,” Kismet said, “they’re not exactly mistakes. Mutations happen quite regularly, and always for a reason. Some make the being unfit for survival, or unattractive to the mates, and therefore, become dead ends in the genetic pool. But some become useful. And if they circulate enough in the gene pool, the species could become a new being all together.”

            “That’s stupid.” Rick’s interruptions were beginning to anger Icarus. “What kind of mutation could become some new species? Like a whole new human being with wings?”

            “Well, that may be a bit extreme,” Kismet took off his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt sleeve. “But then, that has happened before, that a being develop wings. You knew them as dinosaurs, actually.” After a few gasps of disbelief or joy from dinosaur lovers, he was able to continue. “Seriously. Birds are the lasting legacy of the great reptiles that learned to take to the sky. Over time, scales grew out long and pointed, and then grew out into feathers. Bones hollowed out to make them light enough. Beaks weren’t too much of a stretch from an already strong snout.”

            “But that’s a lot of mutations,” another child asked. “If most mutations are useless, then how long before you get enough useful ones to make a dinosaur fly into a bird?”

            “Millions of years worth, in fact. That’s a lot of time for trial and error, and an awful lot of time for all of these species to—”

“But dinosaurs are extinct,” Rick cut in. “Why are birds still here?”

“It’s possible that the birds were able to fly away from what killed the bigger creatures. It’s possible that the tragedy only killed larger animals. There are no large birds left, are there? Besides ostriches and a few others. Certainly nothing large as a pterodactyl.”

Rick merely mumbled how stupid he felt the whole idea to be.

“Just as mutations, natural selection, and gradual changes, give us improvements and diversity in the animal kingdom, tragedies come that test this diversity. By chance, whatever is not able to survive dies off, either mostly, or all together. And their genes are not passed on as much as the genes of whatever survived.”

“So mutations can be good or bad,” a little girl asked.

“Some mutations are good in one circumstance, and lethal in another. A camel’s hump, for instance, is cumbersome. If there’s a bad drought, it could mean he’ll survive while other creatures die. But if a fast invader moved in, his hump would mean he couldn’t run fast enough to get away.”

In his seat, Icarus wondered about his own mutation, uneasily worried one day he would also be judged. And he wondered about the screaming creature in the woods. It also had the beak that would become a dinosaur again, were natural selection to choose it.

He felt foolish. He suddenly realized what he’d seen.


*          *          *

The mound of leaves was still beside the tree, but he could not see anything inside of it. Perhaps the creature had been picked by a predator. Perhaps it was not judged worthy to survive.

            Icarus realized he could’ve probably saved the creature if he hadn’t fled in fear. Was this the judgment Kismet meant? And is it possible for one creature to die if another fails its test, yet the failure survives? Or was it that the creature was a mutation, or a creature singled out for dying? If this is the case, was Icarus a creature meant to die, who struggled to survive anyway? And is it a bad thing for the others if one meant to die tried to live? Should it roll over and die for the sake of leaving more food to the creatures fit for surviving?  

Kismet had also told the class of how a lion hunted the weakest of the herd, because if it took a chance on the strongest, it might become injured, and an injured lion is attacked and killed by the rest of the lion herd. He had said the lions probably didn’t have a conscious reason for it, but that it probably served the purpose of leaving more food for those still fit to hunt.

            Icarus tried to believe in a god of fairness, but he could see no evidence of any. He now decided evolution brought him sadness as well. Perhaps fighting against both God and Nature would be necessary, since both seemed out to judge and kill him.

            He turned to leave for home, tripping over another stick he hadn’t seen. The stick rattled through leaves in another spot on the ground, where the mouth of the same baby bird rose up, screeching for food.

            What sort of bird it was, he did not know. Other than the spawn of one with really bad timing. Icarus didn’t know for sure, but he was pretty certain the first week of December was not a time for baby birds to be born. That may mean this baby will die so that its parents didn’t pass on the trait of bad timing. It might mean nothing conscious from any creator’s intentions at all.

            Icarus didn’t care to be bogged down in thoughts. Why argue with himself over what could possibly be two different sets of lies, when before him was the truth of a small creature in need of help. Would he want people to argue the doctrine of whether saving his life was righteous and proper if he were in need of saving, say from an accident scene?

            Icarus lifted the creature that had earlier frightened him, and carried it home, where he hid it from his mother, in a shoebox. 

JUMP TO PART: One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Conclusion


Log in

No account? Create an account