A Fallout 101 Valentine's Day Special! (Now with poetry!)

November 8, 2009 note: The following posts include a short story about a fish that I posted for Valentines day 2009, and a short poem I wrote (including the original body of the post... so scroll down a bit to read it.)

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I have been busy moving, leaving me with little time to write. However, rather than post a sub-par chapter, I am embracing the spirit of valentine's day and posting a short story I wrote a couple of years ago right around this same time. I hope you enjoy it!

So without further ado,
I Present to you The Scintillating and Creatively Named...

Story of a Fish

Which goes something like this...

Let me tell you the story of a certain fish.
As far back as this fish could remember, he had lived in a glass tank in the middle of a big living room, which he viewed through a shimmering veil of water and plastic sea weed. He hadn't been given a name but, being a relatively special fish, had always fancied himself a "Harold" and thought of himself as such when he could remember to do so.

Life for Harold was good. He spent all day playing and enjoying himself. Throughout his glassy home were littered shiny rocks and various trinkets, purchased at the local pet store. He also had a wicked pirate boat, laden with treasure and tiny plastic skeletons.

Harold couldn't imagine a better life, but one thing occasionally bothered him--for the whole 2 seconds that anything could occupy his rather stunted attention span, anyhow--which manifested itself in the form of his owners: there seemed to be something different about them. At first, it seemed to be their legs, and how they wandered about outside of the tank. But so did the dog, and the dog didn't seem that different. Then he thought it might have something to do with all the noise they made at each other... but still, that wasn't quite it.

Every now and then Harold wondered about this irksome thing, until one day, he discovered something in the pirate ship. While rummaging through the junk that he had stored in the rear of the battered vessel, Harold accidentally knocked over a small container that his owners had recently placed in his tank, and which he had quickly hoarded away with the rest of his things. Inside the container was a note, it read: "make a wish".

"What the hell" thought Harold, "I wish that... Hey, cool box!" Harold waved his tail and floated over to reacquaint himself with the treasure chest, the note floating listlessly in his wake, forgotten. A few days later, the recurring thought "I wish I knew why they seem so different from me" crossed his mind, but this time, his meanderings were not without consequence. As quickly as the query had been posed, he had the answer: the weight of the world then felt as if it had been placed upon the little fish. Suddenly, he was happily oblivious no more and instead found himself with a concept of... himself. Harold was sentient.

The thought lingered in his mind. Two seconds had passed. Then three. It kept building upon itself like a train gathering momentum, getting bigger and more dangerous by the second. The little fish was drowned in thought and began to realize that he hated everything he had surrounded himself with; it was all empty. Extreme desperation took hold as his train of thought reached colossal speeds, derailed, and exploded on an impassable mountainside, flaming debris littering the world of Harold's mind as it once was, a landscape forever altered. In a turmoil, Harold felt himself being offered up to the black abyss and was too weakened to resist...

Harold woke up some interminable amount of time later; hungry, exhausted, and consumed by his new reality, he realized he had to eat if he didn't want to die. He was soon grateful to have had his hunger sated by the rocky morsels littered about the tank, thus lengthening his brief stint on this planet, if only a little. Even so, the pebbles were bitter at the sight of his owners sitting down for dinner and enjoying dishes that presumably erupted with flavors he couldn't even fathom. Life wasn't fun to live anymore. The things he had once enjoyed were meaningless; he wanted something more, and he prayed every day for the answer, for someone to pull him from this dark place and tell him what the meaning of it all was.

Finally, after weeks of unending torment, the answer came. Watching from the mast of his pirate ship with only thoughts of ‘something more’ to keep him company and to help stave off the cold reality of his existence, Harold observed as his owner approached the tank. At first, he guessed it was feeding time, but no, it was too early. As the man grew closer, Harold could faintly see what looked like a floating... fish! It was difficult to tell exactly what was going on through the watery shroud, but his suspicions were confirmed as a companion was dropped into the tank.

Harold was overjoyed upon meeting this new friend and they did everything together, they played together, they ate together... but there was something about her that bothered Harold... “bah,” he decided, “it probably isn't important anyway.” Harold was finally happy again.

But as the days went by, the initial joy of meeting this fish slowly wore off, and all Harold could see was what was wrong with her. He wanted to talk about the meaning of life; she just wanted to play and eat. He wanted to think deep thoughts and be left alone; she just wanted to play with him and eat. He wanted to find a reason to live, and part of him thought she should know... but alas, she seemed to have found bliss in the most mundane things. Harold’s wish had turned into an inescapable curse.

The grim realization that had been trying to catch up with Harold since he had been imbued with the knowledge of things finally did: "Knowledge has shown me the truth of my existence. But I was better off not knowing. But then, I wouldn’t go back to the way I was, even if it were possible… To subject myself to ignorance would only leave this body awake in my passing, freed from the being that once called itself 'Harold'.”

Harold started to wish he had never been born when another thought struck him, "How many others are like me? Holding onto their personal hells just so they can try and catch a glimpse of something meaningful? And what if I'm wrong? What if death really is the answer..."

Harold, depressed, let himself float upwards and bob listlessly on the surface of the water. Soon, he had drifted into the deepest sleep he had ever experienced. He dreamed of far away things and strange beings. He dreamed that he wasn't alone in the universe, and that it really was all made of light, every rock, every bird, every person, every fish.

He dreamed that he was shooting down a giant tube, but it seemed too real... Harold was startled awake and opened his eyes to find himself rocketing down a metal pipe on a torrent of roaring water. Bits stuck to the pipe cut and bruised Harold on his journey down the tube. He was battered and thought that this must surely be the end of all things. The rusty tunnel seemed to be coming to an end, a bright light growing brighter and brighter until...

The bewildered fish took flight, launching into a canal of fresh squeezed sewage, and terror seized the little being. "Oh god, is this hell?" Harold couldn't think fast enough to figure out what he had done to deserve an eternity covered in shit before he slammed into a metal pole jutting from the foul stream, and the world went black, once again.

Hours passed in the dark before Harold finally came to. Still immersed in feces, his situation didn't seem to have improved. If anything it had taken a turn for the worse because now he could see no way to get home... if he wasn't, in fact, already dead. Harold swam aimlessly through the sewage, tormented by the sickening consistency of the liquid. After what seemed like an eternity of struggling about in the muck, the flow of the river started to increase, slowly at first, but after a moment, Harold was unable to resist the flow and was dragged out of the pipe and into a bigger, bluer fish tank than he had ever imagined possible, and it was absolutely filled with other fish. Harold basked in the glow of his new mind-expanding reality.

Harold quickly made new friends... friends who seemed to somehow know as much as he did. Months went by and Harold even fell in love. He thought this must be it, he had to have found it, and he felt fulfilled.

Eventually though, the same thing happened as had before. Harold felt that things really hadn't changed much, it was merely a new reality. "So... this is what happens when you die. Everything is… bigger... and more complicated." Harold had gotten used to existence and was no longer overwhelmed. "So this is it?" replaced his vigor for life.

It was a vicious cycle. "And if this isn't it, then what comes next?" always followed, and the thought was by no means a stranger to Harold. Eternity was going to be very, very long.

A Quick Post and a Quick Poem (from October 18th, 2009)

Dear readers,

Finally, a chance to update! Since my last post, I have found a home and something of an occupation. I am working on an organic farm in exchange for food and a room to stay in. At the same time, I am trying to get things in order so that I can provide computer repairs and tutorials in order to make enough money to buy a new laptop which, in turn, will allow me to post again! (Or once more find myself squandering my limited free time in the multifarious abscesses of the internet.)

(Actually, if any of you have a spare laptop sitting around and would like to donate it, or exchange it for a reasonably small amount of money, please let me know at andrew.macauley@live.com.)

If you remember an earlier post of mine wherein I professed that I felt myself almost a willing-slave to technology, I hope you, too, can see the humor in my situation! And as I have gained a new appreciation for computers in my time away from them, it would seem that I have come full circle in some strange and gentle way. Indeed, I look forward to being able to share my writing with you more often in the future.

Until that time, however, I have a quick poem-y bit I wrote this morning that I thought some of you might enjoy, so here that is:

A Poem-y Bit I Wrote This Morning That I Thought Some of you Might Enjoy


Andrew Macauley

Another dread home-bound morning encroaches upon the periphery of my dream, one colored canvas of extravagant creation laid over the other, one mine and one another's. And as the dull palette of worldly inevitability sweeps aside my oneiric oasis, I awake, my heart starved and weary with the lingering touch of a forgotten lover. "Oh," I cry, "were it not that I were of thisworld!"

But her embrace has not fully evanesced, and even when I cradle my guitar by its sweet rosy neck and strum gently down its body, trying to forget, the love still dances through my memory, I it's doleful dalliance.

Lying down the hollow, soulful chamber for musical comportment, I press my palms against my eyes and breathe deep... one... two... three... and rub away the crust of nocturnally gathered sands caked 'round 'low my lids. I know I ought to seek a higher way--being caught in a rotating wheel of causal circumstance and yearning might drive any man mad.

"So want not," I say, "Freedom resides in full release! The absence of worldly desires is the path that does not exist and goes nowhere, but which ultimately grants you the key to your sovereignty."

I take another deep breath and sigh in agreement with myself and, satisfied with having strong armed my existential quandary, I reach for my guitar.

But, horror! Oh horror, I recoil, my bones trembling with a sudden fright! For where once had lain upon my bed my sweet indulgence, many times cradled as the single solace in hour of lonesome reverie, now lie a transfigured maiden fair, blooming with love's golden light!

Back I say, back! Oh my eyes I cannot believe. What is this but true misery? Back creature! Stay your hands from my heart for it is locked in cage for which I have stowed away the key, far beneath emotional recesses impenetrable to thee!

But still must I be hazy with sleep. "Hmm," I sigh, gazing once more upon my guitar. Sometimes, my imagination runs wilder than my heart.

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