Friday, October 26, 2007

The Seven Chairs

This is from that prompt a long long time ago when we had that amazing creepy book with the pictures and one sentence. Mine was written after the one, if you remember, that was the picture of the nun sitting in a chair, levitated in the air above the altar in a cathedral while two clerics looked up at her. I'm posting this now because it's another piece of flash fiction, and it was written in 20 minutes, proof that flash fiction is excellent for WC activities.... :) However, it hasn't really been edited much, so anything that you can offer in the way of comments is greatly appreciated.

The fifth one ended up in France. The nuns thought it was a sign from God, a warning of the second coming, and they remembered Keats. Inside their walls, secluded and slowly being eaten from the inside by fear, they did not know about the others, and it was probably best.

The third caused not fear, but awe, placed as the central feature of the Greatest Show on Earth, and the audience applauded even as the actors became convinced they were going mad. The director, refusing to succumb to the disbelief of the others, was convinced he had stumbled upon a discarded item from another act, whose director was too stupid to know its real value. As his actors rose through the air, unhindered and unsupported, he smiled and went to look after the ticket sales.

The second and forth were gifts to the twin daughters of the Emperor of China from his trusted advisor and most powerful magician, who now had become deluded that he possessed real powers. He could command the Emperor’s daughters through the air at will; after the manipulation of natural laws, what was there left to conquer? It was when he failed to bring the smaller twin back from the dead after she fell from the chair that he was executed.

The sixth was never discovered, left as it was in the middle of the desert, and having lost patience with the earth, it began to rise unprompted, until only the vultures ever knew of its existence. But the first and the last of the seven chairs remained with their maker, for he could not yet decide where to leave them.

He though, perhaps, that to cause the most distress he should place the first in the Latin Quarter of Paris, so that the intellectuals from all over the world would sob and rip out their hair and drink themselves into oblivion as the remnants of their logical world collapsed around them, driven to demise by a chair that defied gravity and moved when spoken to. But was that what he wanted? Did he truly desire that the minds of the world suddenly find no alternative but to follow the philosophy held by many that human perception was all the reality consisted of, that the laws of physics were simply created to give reason and shape to the chaos around us? Then the chairs would no longer be a source of fear, but the basis of new theories, the theories of a new world order. And perhaps then people would understand how he spent nights twisting and bending the fabric of existence until he was all but sure he was going mad himself.

He thought he would keep the seventh.


Nami said...

Pretty neat. My only comment is that you spelt 'fourth' wrong.
I understand the deal with flash fiction, but do you think as a later project, you might expand on this?

Jeremy L said...

First off, I really like this piece and I'm really enjoying the whole flash fiction experience (I'll post the two pieces I wrote at the meeting soon). I think there are a few things that could be briefly elaborated on to strengthen the story that's packed in here, too.

I feel that there is a bit more to be said about the maker, not only what his attitude is to the rest of the world, but why it was he worked so hard in the first place- what drove him to bring these chairs into the world, what did he really hope to accomplish, if not chaos? Did he go through with placing the chair in the Latin Quarter of Paris?

Also, you say the fifth ended up in France, but also the first was going to be placed in Paris... I'm not sure if perhaps spreading the chairs out geographically would give more of a sense of this widespread distribution.

I like the choices you made on the types of people that were given the chairs- the variation speaks on the type of chaos that is being created- in faith, in politics, in entertainment, in nature, and in science, and he ends up keeping chaos in his personal realm as well.

also, thought in the first line of the last long paragraph is mis-spelled.

Jamal said...

This is a terrific story. What was that book called again? I want to buy mine own self a copy, if it's still in print. It's a treasure trove of short story ideas.

I'm not sure I agree with Jeremy about expanding on the chairsmith's character development. The inscrutability of his motivations encourages us to ponder them for ourself - any attempt at fleshing him out risks making the character less interesting, not more. I'd refrain from depthenizing the narrator unless you've got a really cool idea for where to take him.

"Inside their walls, secluded and slowly being eaten from the inside by fear, they did not know about the others, and it was probably best."

This sentence is a bit awkward. I'd change "inside their walls" to "sheltered within their walls" or some such - it took me a few reads to realize that the nuns weren't literally INSIDE the very walls of their convent.

I would also change "slowly being eaten from the inside by fear" to "slowly being devoured by their fear" or something of the like, though I can't really say why.

Ankit said...

I'd have to agree with almost everything Jeremy said and everything Jamal said. I especially want to know "Did he go through with placing the chair in the Latin Quarter of Paris?"

And I also agree strongly with Jeremy's comment about two chairs in France.