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Short story - The Midge Revolt

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The late summer sun dominates the sky as Judge Cedric Beaujolais takes in the views of mountains and lakes. He captures every wholesome image, each one serving to push out others that are too incriminating to store. Occasionally a little lost cloud strays across the blue; untidy and ragged, polluting the scene.

 

A midge dots his view; treading air in front of his eyes. Cedric wafts his hand lazily. The insect darts away and then back again. Cedric slaps the air, causing his heavy rucksack to pull on his back. Above him are a dozen more midges. They constantly move and interchange places as though dancing a courante in mid-air. They drop behind him for a few seconds but then catch up again.

 

For Beaujolais, these lonely camping excursions are an escape from the prison of everyday life; an escape from the procession of uncouth ne’er-do-wells and obsequious leeches who sicken him like a cancer in his gut. More than this, they are an escape from his own crimes - against the innocent residents of the orphanage. Those vulnerable souls are victims of his guilty pleasure and compulsion. Lust; it’s a God-given sin. This dark hobby Beaujolais shares with politicians, police chiefs and priests, facilitated by minions of the establishment. Such servants destroy evidence, bribe victims and blackmail witnesses so that the status quo is maintained. Beaujolais, it seems, cannot resist probing the boundaries of power, to see how far he might indulge his mutated animal urges. But his memory cannot be shredded.

 

Cedric walks until the sun begins to fall. As he tires and slows, the cloud of midges grows larger and more frenzied. He drops down to an area of flat ground by a lake. He loosens the straps of his rucksack and allows it to flop to the ground. He unclips the tent bag and notices with relief that the midges have gone. He finds his empty water container and some sterilisation tabs and walks towards the lake. There is an unnatural mist above the water. As he draws nearer it dawns on him that this has not been created by atmospheric conditions, but comprises a great mass of midges. They emit a high-pitched hum, like a million schoolchildren in a playground far away. He stares, confused, but then the humming stops. Cedric instinctively turns and hurries back to his bags. After fumbling to erect his tent, he throws in his rucksack and falls through the entrance. As he closes the tent, he tugs awkwardly on the zip and it breaks. He frowns as he runs his finger along the tiny slit where the flaps do not join. He drops back onto his foam mat, exhausted and dehydrated. He locates his bottle of pills, swallows four of them, and soon his restless mind is forced to sleep.

 

As the sun starts to disappear, a midge enters the slit and hovers above the sleeping man. It settles on his neck, penetrates his skin with its mandibles and sucks his blood until full. Several more midges pass through the slit. They flit around the confined space and select a landing place on the man’s slowly-heaving body. Outside, a long queue of midges stretches to the lake. Each insignificant one of them joins its comrades; they crawl inside the man's clothes until every speck of flesh is covered, and every drop of blood withdrawn.

 

The sun finally disappears, transferring its surveillance to a different part of the earth, leaving the creatures of the countryside prone to the unpredictable energy of darkness

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Dark...

 

Have you intentionally confined yourself to 500 words (at a guess)? I'd like to know more. It's got some good images and ideas, such as the pushing out of negative memories with wholesome ones, and the notion of seeing how much he can get away with.

 

Also: good to see people posting stories on the forum as well as poetry. As they say in the History Boys, I don't always [ever, in my case] understand poetry, Sir!

 

Andy

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Hi De Batz,

 

Thank you for the feedback.

 

Yes, I find writing to a word limit and with a theme in mind helps. But I don't know why it should be that constraints actually help! :confused:

 

The theme in this case was 'Insects'.

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When you write this length of piece, are you editing a lot back out before 'publishing' or is it largely as you wrote it on the first pass? I have a slightly unhelpful (morbid!) fear of cutting stuff that I wrote, which makes really short pieces quite tough for me.

I did have a conversation with another writer (a family member) who was saying that he didn't always find that he could be productive even when time was available for writing - I have the exact opposite problem, which is not having enough time to write the things that I could!

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Yes, I generally cut 10% or more, and it usually seems to give a better end result. Lack of time has been an issue for me also, but I guess I just haven't made writing a sufficient priority. I could stay in to write instead of going down the pub! Re your fellow writer, I wonder if they just started writing something then the ideas and the words would start to flow?

 

Cheers

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Sorry, but I wouldn't recommend your story to children; it lacks joy of sharing and receiving love. There is no way out for you, Ron, other than to carry the action to an improbably happy end.

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