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Malaise [oneshot]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by katiekitten, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. katiekitten

    katiekitten The Compromise

    Malaise


    A forest: evergreens and bare larches, snow-laden and silent save for the faint groans of the trees overhead. Breath coils around your nostrils as you run, turned to the wind. The ground is frost-hard.

    Drink air into your lungs. Draw it deep, taste. In the embrace of the hunt, the scent of prey is a drug.

    No thought, no fear. You care nothing for these.

    Only hunger.

    So you run - run until dawn gilds the horizon, muscles trembling from the miles. Until stomach is stretched full and eyes are weighed with the morning, steps slowing as the birds begin their chorus.

    Turn, then, away from the stale trails. Slump into an empty glade, chest heaving, a satiated contentedness weighing down your limbs.

    Pain. It ferments in silence. But it’s different from the ache you expect- it’s old, a pain woven throughout the long ravel of years, and relentless in its subtle agony. You whimper as it slinks itself back into your shadow.

    Wordless murmurs. Betrayal. Regret.

    The Mightyena doesn’t understand. It is Hale, it is Sated, and it rolls back your lips in a snarl against the encroachment, recoils from the real-not-real wounds.

    But you, you recognise the bite. Don’t you?

    Surrender. Endure. Tripping on your own snares, traps crafted with such ardour in the witching years, and your mistakes sink familiar teeth into your flesh: unchecked, ascendant.

    A thought: you deserve this.

    Breathe - almost enough, chest burning tight. (The wolf keens)

    A second thought takes hold: You can offer them little else.

    So offer the pain as penance. To people long and newly dead, and far beyond care.

    Exhaustion.

    It is knotted around your limbs, seeping into stirring thoughts. It beckons to both sides of you: an offer of dreamless sleep, to be mercifully numb.

    Blink through the discord of wolf and man. The hunt and the dream. Struggle. Concede.

    At last: oblivion.

    (you've always been selfish)



    --

    WHAT CAN I SAY I love shape-shifters. See 'Ember Days' for proof. Actually don't - it's been three years since I last looked at it, and I'm sure it needs a hell of a lot of revision. Consider this an exploration in that 'verse, though. As to what our fellow above has done that he so heartily regrets... well. Many things. Escapism is perhaps not the best coping mechanism.

    There will be a follow up to this, because wow questions unanswered, but it will be a separate 'fic. I still felt it worked well alone, though - that there's enough detail to get an idea of what is happening in this scene. I could unpick it but I'd like to see how you guys interpret the hints.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  2. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    I really don't see many fics written with a style like this, and I also haven't read much non-fic fiction like it either. What this means is that I'm very unpracticed when it comes to unpacking and examining them, so sorry for the totally amateur level of this review, haha!

    Obviously the most immediately noticeable thing about this is the sparse writing style. I thought it was done really well, since I felt like I got the gist the first time through and continued to pick up details as I reread it a couple of times. That's impressive, since there's really very little detail compared to more traditional prose, and I certainly couldn't replicate this clarity if I tried to write something similar. You pick your words very carefully. Particularly, it seemed like you specifically picked some that aren't used much today ("hale" and "keen" as a verb were two that stood out to me, since I had to look them up, heh), and it gives the whole thing a sort of archaic feel akin to darker fantasy. It's probably intentional, although it did give the impression that this was in the distant past, and I didn't see anything specifically confirming that this was or wasn't the case. So basically I assumed this took place a long time ago, but I'm not 100% sure that's what you were going for.

    Another minor point of confusion was about whether or not this guy becomes a mightyena or just shares a body with one when he wants. It definitely seemed like the wolf half of him had some very wolf-like agency, but I couldn't tell if that was a side effect of the main character spending too much time in that body and adopting animal features or if there were literally two minds sharing the same body. I'm leaning toward the latter, but your author's note seems to imply that he's straight-up changing his body into a mightyena.

    However, taking the author's note out of the equation, I would probably assume he's sharing a body with a mightyena. This is partly because my again (again, amateur) interpretation is that he's trapped in the body, or at least safest in the body by a good degree, and I took the selfishness comment at the end to mean that he's dragging another creature down with him as he sinks into death. However, I could also see it being a "blending" of the two, in a way, where he gives up his human consciousness to fully succumb to the wolf half of him. In this case, the selfishness would imply he has unfinished business outside of the mightyena body. I'm really not sure!

    This review's kind of a mess, but I'd say that's a sign of how enjoyable this was. I have a tendency to overthink things and miss the point entirely, so a fic like this gives me plenty of room to do that. However, I did really like it, even if my interpretations were completely off the mark. You managed to make the empty spaces interesting and alluring rather than frustrating, so great work!
     
  3. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    That is a nice way of putting it, holy heck. Especially given the kind of character we're dealing with here.

    I'm all for a follow-up, because I'm inclined to agree that hell yes werewolves, and shapeshifters in general. I wonder how this person became one. Or if. Maybe they were a baby the morning they were born and a cub once night fell. It is a mystery.
     
  4. Whoo that was a thrill to read, katiekitten! It's been a while since I've come across something that uses this kind of form, and how you do so is really engaging! It draws the reader in very well, and you have them hanging onto every word you say, seeing as there's so few given to put the pieces together. But that adds to its charm, making sure that you keep the reader interested, since this form pretty much means that you're delivering so much with so little space.

    Unfortunately, I am very, very bad in interpreting pieces like this, so I did have to cheat a little and look at the author's note. While I did get the idea of a werewolf undergoing a transformation (probably their first given how detailed it is? It feels like something unfamiliar to them yet familiar in the sense that they know about their capability of doing so), I had to confirm it since I might've been off going into that "discord of wolf and man" line XD There's also a sense of obligation or, well, inevitability with the transformation, and it feels like it's been looming for the character for some time now and it's only finally happened with the acceptance in this piece.

    Echoing Sike Saner's comment above in that I would love for an extension of this. We're already given quite a lot, and it just leaves us wanting more. The piece itself is already engaging, so I'd love to see more of it. Great job! :D
     
  5. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Hi there, katiekitten! I'm pretty much going to repeat what the above three posters put and say that wow, this piece was really enjoyable to read! I've got to admit, I'm really not good at interpreting these kinds of things, and I have a lot of the same questions [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] did, such as whether it's one person shifting between Mightyena and human or two minds inhabiting one body (your author's note leans towards the former, though, so I guess I'll go with that). I really loved the opening, with the brief description of the surroundings--we definitely know where the protagonist is, but it's not overly-elaborate flowery description that only a human would use. It's sparse, like what a Pokemon (animal?) might note if it notices these sort of things.

    Ditto on the archaic wording. It gives it a feel as if it was written in the 1800's (at least to me), and I really feel like I'm reading one of those old poems for English class that I'm going to have to dissect and analyze.

    So, nice job! I enjoyed this, and if you did do that follow-up like Sike Saner and Dramatic Melody requested, you might have another reader/reviewer on your hands *hint-hint-wink-wink-nudge-nudge*
     
  6. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Werewolf angst, huh? Definitely a fun genre to be in! XD

    You've obviously been working on your figurative language, and I think you did a nice job putting this piece together. It's sparse, but you choose your details well and keep the prose tense and alive without spending too many words. In particular I liked "eyes weighed with the morning" and "pain slinking back into your shadow."

    I think you might have erred a little too much on the side of poetic and lost a bit of clarity at the end, though. I was with you up to "Surrender. Endure," but after that things got a little murky. My initial impression was that "you" committed suicide, what with the talk of dreamless sleep, numbness, oblivion, etc. But I don't actually see how "you" could have committed suicide, or died at all. As far as I could tell, all your injuries were supposed to be psychological, and physically you were exhausted but okay. If there was something in there that caused you to die, I didn't pick up on it. So, I wondered if all the focus on exhaustion meant that the character had simply fallen asleep at the end... but that would make lines like "you've always been selfish," and "at last: oblivion" come across pretty melodramatic. In the end I have to conclude that they died somehow, but that whole ending part was very unclear to me.

    I'm also not entirely sure this works on its own. The kinds of things "you" regret are clear enough in general terms: you're a werewolf, you literally eat people. But while that's a horrifying thought in the abstract, I think for "your" dilemma to have real impact, you'd need to work in more specific details. Usually what makes the reader connect with the story are the specifics, and while I think this scene would be fine as part of a longer work where we already have a better idea of what the character's been through, without that sort of preexisting connection I don't think there's enough here to make it work.

    All in all, this one-shot shows some nice writing chops, but it fell a little flat for me. I'm definitely a huge fan of shapeshifters, though, and I hope we'll get the chance to see more of this character in a longer story! It looks like you've got quite the backstory worked out for them.
     

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