Separate Skins

hurry hurry hurry

Sometimes the darkness and I….

Sometimes the darkness and I….

Sometimes the darkness isn’t here.

no time

Sometimes the darkness isn’t here.

I sit on the ground, near where it becomes the sky. The sky isn’t real, though. If it was I would fall into it, probably. But it’s not. So I lean against it, and I don’t fall.

My hands hurt.

I start to say something about the tiny flat forest that is floating in the middle of the not-real sky, but then I remember that the darkness isn’t here.

I think maybe the sun behind the fake forest is real, though. I feel very warm.

I wonder where the darkness went. I remember its eyes going dim and then flaring red when I asked who did this, who made the tiny flat forest and the fake sky and the painted on clouds.

Maybe it went to find out.

Or maybe the darkness did it. Maybe this is the universe it created for me, since I am too weak to see its Reality, and I hurt its feelings when I shouted and tried to beat up its clouds.

They are very pretty fake clouds. And the tiny forest is really well done. I think compliments out into space, hoping the darkness is listening and that it will hear that I like its sky and clouds and trees, that I’m not mad, and that it’ll come back.

I really hope it comes back.

Please, please come back.

not gonna make it in time

Sometimes the darkness isn’t here.

I left the edge of the universe. It was making me dizzy. The darkness should still be able to find me when it comes back. It can hear my thoughts.

I found a place for a fire, with the wood all set up and ready. But I don’t have anything to start a fire with. If the darkness was here, it would glower at the wood with its red eyes and start a fire. But my eyes are human, so all they can do is look at things.

I look at things.

The painted sky isn’t very far away. This universe seems terribly small.

I sit on the tree trunk bench, and I look at the rocks gathered in a circle and at the wood waiting for the darkness to set it on fire, and I try very hard to not think about the painted sky closing in on me.

I hear the darkness whispering in my mind, but it’s very faint and I can’t make out the words. And then it’s gone.

The sun that I think may be real is going down, and it’s getting cooler.

I wish my eyes could set things on fire.

but gonna try

Sometimes the darkness isn’t here.

Maybe. I don’t know. I hear its voice sometimes, in my head. No words, but it hisses at me for a few seconds. Then it’s gone.

I found a ladder. I found a house. I put them together. I like it up here, on top of the house. There is a chimney, with bricks that are very warm and beautiful in the light from the setting sun.

I wonder if anyone has ever lived in this house.

Probably a nice family lived here once, with a loving mother and a devoted father and happy little children.

I touch the chimney, and I imagine them all gathered around the fireplace below on a cold winter’s evening. They would have been out sledding and building snowmen. Maybe the waterfall and its pond had frozen. I don’t know if waterfalls can freeze. I think they can, if it’s cold enough. So maybe the family had been ice skating too, around the waterfall.

I imagine the family sitting there in front of the fire, being very happy, probably singing songs and roasting walnuts. They loved each other, really a lot.

But then the darkness came, and it told them that this universe belonged to it now, and they had to leave. It said “What you think of as home does not exist in this particular skin of the universe.” It grinned its funny little grin at them, and its red eyes blazed, and they got up and they left.

I can see them, if I think really hard. Going down the trail of silence to the edge, and stepping over it. Crying, because where are they going to go now, like they don’t even have a universe to call their own. And they look back, at their home with its brick chimney and its view of the waterfall and the ladder they’d left outside because they were planning on stringing lights around the roof. But it’s not theirs anymore, and they have to go.

I can see the darkness, waving goodbye as it paints the clouds and the flat forest, as it shuts them out of this universe and into a strange alien one where they don’t know anyone and no one cares about them and there might be giant blue pigs that will oink at them and frighten the small ones.

I hope they at least went to the universe where the winged kittens live.

I hear the darkness hissing in my mind again, and this time I can make out a word. Just one, but it’s there. The hissing disappears but the word is still there, and I turn it around and around in my mind and I look at it, and I try to figure out what it means.

“Home.”

if can get it up before work

Sometimes the darkness is here, in my mind. It’s not actually physically here, like I don’t see any red eyes or shimmery gray legs anywhere, but I hear it in my mind, whispering and hissing.

I don’t think it knows that I can hear it.

The words go in and out. “Home” shows up again. There’s a strong sharp “No!”. I hear “Reality”, then “apple’, then “sick”.

It’s talking about me.

I wonder who it’s talking to. I don’t hear anyone else. Maybe it’s talking to itself. Maybe it’s floating along some other trail in some other universe, ranting about how I’m weak and silly and a burden, and how I can’t see Reality without bleeding to death.

I hope it comes back once it’s done having its little fit.

I get down off the roof. It’s getting cold. And the waterfall keeps booming and booming in my ears. Why are there so many waterfalls? Every universe we go to has waterfalls. I’d trade this waterfall for the winged kittens. They were only in the one universe, because they are special. Waterfalls are not.

I’m in every universe too, just like the waterfalls, so I think maybe I’m not special either.

The hissing comes back, in my mind, and this time the word I hear is “Please?”

I’ve never heard the darkness say that before. Maybe it was whoever the darkness is talking to. That makes sense. It’s probably a bird or an alligator or a fence or an abandoned building or something asking the darkness to please leave it alone and to not take its skin, that it is not really interested in being a container for the void right now, sorry.

I hear it again.

“Please?”

No, that is the darkness. I know that hiss.

I try to imagine what sort of entity the darkness would have to entreat for a favor.

I am very afraid.

that would be nice

Sometimes I am the shadows, and I flow over all things.

Sometimes I am an alligator, and I hiss and snap and bite.

Sometimes I am dark gray bones, and my heels clack upon the earth.

Sometimes I am a shimmering gray fog, and I am here and not here at the same time.

I am not always alone. But always, always, I am dark.

I fashion a street and lights and trees and clouds and a sky from the emptiness, but it’s not the same without someone to look upon it and declare it Real.

I howl, but no one answers. The human is far away, in another universe. One with slightly different clouds, and a waterfall. The human likes waterfalls. The human thinks that waterfalls are Real.

Or it did. Before.

I am not always alone.

But I am alone right now.

before the Friday night doldrums

Sometimes I am here.

The light from the streetlight hurts.

I made it. I made the streetlight and the street and the trees and the houses in the distance. I could turn the light off. But I don’t.

Turning it off would hurt more.

I find the human. It is still at the edge of the other universe. It thinks it hurt my feelings. It wants me to come back. But I can’t.

Going back would hurt more.

I close the link to its thoughts. Goodbye, human.

I make a breeze. I send it off through the trees. Now there is noise. Not much, but enough. I make insects too. They buzz as they fly around the light.

This skin, this foggy grayness with all its limbs, is not suitable. It fades in and out, and when it fades out I see what is really there.

I am weak. I gave too much to the human. Far too much.

But I wanted it with me.

And why should it get to be free, when I don’t? Why should it get to just leave, to not have to feel the void within itself? When that’s all I ever wanted, but I can’t have it. It shouldn’t get to have it either.

I remember its anger, its fists hitting me. The only fists it will ever have. At least I get to change skins sometimes.

The skin fades back in, and now I see what is not there. I stare at the streetlight. It hurts. The lightbulb and the insects buzzing around it and the shadows and pools of light on the sidewalk hurt so much.

I keep staring at it, because it doesn’t hurt as much as the other thing, the thing I will see when this skin fades out again.

I think of what the human screamed, when it beat me with its soft fragile fists.

“Home.”

The insects buzz and the light bulb crackles and the breeze stirs the leaves of the trees, and the light shines and shines.

don't want to speculate why

Sometimes I am here.

It’s so quiet. I never realized how much noise the human made, with all its thinking and talking and barking at pigs, and its yelling about a “home”.

Do I have a home?

The skin fades out, and I see it. The endless howling black.

Perhaps this is my home.

I think the human’s home was something that it valued and that it missed terribly, not something that hurt. But also I think its home was where it came from. This is where I came from.

It is what I am, without my skins.

The skin forms itself again. It took longer this time.

I really should not have given so much to the human.

I make a pond to pass the time. I wish the human were here. It would try to catch a fish from the pond. I wonder if it could make a fishing hook from this skin.

I don’t know what kind of fish it would catch, using a hook that fades out into Reality and back. The fish it caught with the bones, in the desert universe, tasted like rainbows but not as good. I think a fish caught in this universe with this gray fog skin would taste like death, and also possibly despair.

The darkness tastes best when it hides in the light.

There is no light here to hide in. There is only the light I made. It is weak and thin and it buzzes, and it shines only on emptiness.

The skin fades, faster than it did before.

Once you have tasted form and function, the loss of it feels like…what did the human call it? An icepick to the brain, I think. Or an ulcer eating into a vein.

I howl and howl, and there is no answer. I do not expect one.

I took the human from its universe. I wanted to show it mine.

I did not know that my universe would kill it.

The skin does not come back. The howl goes on and on and on. The skin does not come back, and the howl becomes a scream. The scream goes on and on and on, and the black never ends.

the Sims community is so quiet on Friday night

Sometimes the human and I….

Sometimes the human and I….

Sometimes I am not here.

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8 Responses to Separate Skins

  1. I said this on tumblr, but I really love that you’ve given the darkness a voice. And your photography is just amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • medleymisty says:

      Yay thank you!!!!

      I like to give everyone a chance at showing their POV. 🙂

      My job has been taking pics of rental properties for nearly 10 years now. It’s different from Sims pics, but maybe it helps?

      Like

  2. Michelle says:

    Gorgeous images and well written.

    Like

  3. I had to jump back a few sentences in to the Darkness’ point of view when it dawned on me it was speaking. That was awesome! I loved the line “…not interested in being a container for the void right now, sorry.”

    It was sweet how they missed each other, but it cost the darkness to spend that time with the human and now it feels pain. I wonder if the human was feeling more empathy for the family that had to leave the house, since the darkness wasn’t there anymore, or if he would have had that empathy either way.

    Like

    • medleymisty says:

      Oh, the narrator would have felt empathy either way, I think.

      Yay thank you! And yeah, it’s been cool writing a relationship that actually gets a bit healthier as the story goes on, after years of writing Seth and Sarah. It’s a nice change.

      That was a bit of a callback to this bit in the second chapter, when the darkness takes the alligator skin:

      It points at the meat of the poor alligator, who probably only wanted to have a nice bit of swamp of its own and a small family and some fish and birds to eat, maybe the occasional snake. It never wanted to be skin for the darkness, to contain the void within itself.

      Like

  4. Okay, another wordy response to me.

    The first few lines definitely got my attention with the first part (not that you haven’t always had my attention). This is something new! I like how the ending comes full circle.

    The second picture is wicked sweet! How did you accomplish the angle? It’s fantastic. I can imagine the narrator leaning against the sky and this picture captures it beautifully. I wonder what the narrator’s hands hurt? From the leaning? Is the narrator pushing up against the sky in the lean?

    The idea of the darkness creating a reality for the narrator is almost a touching gesture, whether it’s true. I have come to respect the darkness for what it is, and I’ve come a long way from distrusting to disliking to tolerating and now to respect. Even if the darkness didn’t create the reality… it doesn’t change my position.

    Although, that’s an intriguing concept… the darkness creating realities. Has this been happening all along? I assumed they were just traveling around into different realities but I didn’t really stop to think about the darkness creating/constructing the various realities. This would explain a lot, including why the narrator can’t go back home and why the darkness is responsible. I’m guessing though based on what the darkness says later, it is not the darkness that creates the universes… but something or someone else?

    So the narrator is human? At least the narrator’s eyes are. And later the darkness says human a few times later too.

    I guess I feel like I could place myself in the narrator’s shoes more easily than the darkness. I could become the narrator. I don’t know if that was your intention, for your readers to take the place of the narrator in a metaphysical way. In fact, all of Surreal Darkness feels very metaphysical to me.

    I have to admit I smiled when I read about the narrator wishing to set things on fire with his/her/its eyes. 🙂

    The narrator on the roof of the house made me smile. When I was a kid, we had a shed in the backyard… well a little more than a shed… kind of a play house for my siblings and I. I even moved out there for a few months when I was 12 or 13 because I wanted to “live on my own” and shockingly, my family let me. I guess, it was because the yard was fenced in and it was a fairly safe neighborhood and I could lock the door.

    I digress.

    I would climb the fence and the tree and sit on the roof of the structure. I enjoyed being up there, almost as much as I liked being in trees, but of course, my mother always freaked out when she caught me up there. Still, to this day, the roof holds a special place in my heart as my thinking spot.

    I digress again…

    It’s sad that the family was asked to leave. Or is the narrator imagining this and everything? It got me thinking about displaced peoples and this section of the chapter captures the emotions of a displaced person very well. Like when you no longer have a home to call your own or a place to be with family it’s like stepping out over an edge into the unknown, scary, unfamiliar unknown and you cry because you no longer have what once was. Perhaps if the narrator is imagining it and the darkness didn’t really kick the family out, the narrator is disassociating and feeling lost (without the darkness in this chapter for one and because the narrator cannot go home again either).

    I’m surprised the narrator wants the winged kittens over the waterfalls. Personally, I like waterfalls because they are powerful and peaceful simultaneously, but perhaps the waterfalls are merely magnifying the narrator’s loneliness. And then again, the kittens are a live cuddly creature that could bring comfort to the narrator. What chapter were the winged kittens first mentioned in – I’m trying to remember?

    Who is the darkness talking to? Is there a master or god or something that the darkness is following? Does the darkness have desires and feelings like the narrator too? I’d imagine yes, but it’s been hard for me to think of the darkness as a feeling being at times. Is the darkness floating around in the narrator’s head just asking to be let out again like the narrator needs to give into the darkness? that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Although that wouldn’t account for why the narrator can’t go home… unless the narrator is imprisoned within his/her/its own mind.

    I’m wildly speculating here.

    I’m a bit afraid too if the darkness is entreating a favor… from whom?

    The line about “turning it off would hurt more” makes me think back to my previous comment about magnifying loneliness – as if turning off the streetlight would reinforce the solitude. Making breezes and noise helps mask the solitude too.

    What is imprisoning the darkness here? What’s keeping the darkness separate from the narrator? I find it interesting that the darkness seems to think the narrator is free, and yet the narrator was struggling with being alone.

    Now that I’ve read further I wonder about the darkness’ home since the darkness explictly asks if it has a home. I find it fascinating how they both think about home instictively. The desire to have a home, a place to call one’s own is powerful here.

    This is another powerfully deep chapter. I love it.

    Like

    • medleymisty says:

      Oh, the second picture is the edge of the lot they were in. I think that’s the hidden lot in Granite Falls, where the hermit lives. Just went into tab mode and scrolled over to the edge. Makes Sims 4 very good for surreal stories where you want a sense of claustrophobia. 🙂

      The narrator’s hands hurt from beating on the clouds at the end of the previous chapter.

      The darkness did indeed create this universe! 🙂 And wow, thank you for the bit about coming to respect it.

      I think the darkness created this universe. But this is its first attempt at creating a universe. It sees all the possible worlds in the human’s mind, and it wants to try to make a world too.

      As for what created the previous universes – EA, mostly. I used at least one user created world in the Sims 3 part of the story, so players too. The story is set in the game. 🙂 And the narrator can’t go back home because the player has moved to Sims 4 and isn’t likely to be loading up Sims 3 and Midnight Hollow again.

      The darkness does refer to the narrator as a human, yeah. I think of the narrator as a Sim, but it would feel weird to have the darkness refer to the narrator as a Sim. Plus the narrator doesn’t know about the Sim thing. Also there’s the thing where I’m just writing straight from my subconscious and none of this is planned and I don’t have any notes or anything. 😉

      I’m all about metaphysical stuff! I think? *googles metaphysical*

      Found this on Wikipedia:

      Metaphysics is a traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:
      Ultimately, what is there?
      What is it like?

      Yeah, sounds about right. 🙂

      No, I don’t really have any intentions at all here. It makes sense though, since I’m writing from a first person pov with a character without a name or a gender or a physical appearance.

      I do like fire. 🙂 Speaking of which, I found a new Seth song! Arsonist’s Lullabye, by Hozier

      Oh wow, that’s cool about living out there for a few months! Was it fun? And I can understanding liking to be on the roof. I grew up in the mountains. I am a fan of heights. 🙂

      The narrator is imagining the bit about the family. I think probably as a metaphor for the darkness taking the narrator from their home and then leaving them alone in an unfamiliar universe. So yep, you’re right about the narrator feeling lost and alone and displaced.

      Actually the bit about the waterfalls was a bit of an in-joke, because waterfalls are so important in Valley and its related stories. The winged kittens were first mentioned back in….Even More Surreal, the second chapter, where the darkness throws the party.

      I don’t know where any of the unicorns or winged kittens or tall walking noodles that look like strips of infinite space, stars and moons and planets wheeling inside their thin flappy bodies, came from.

      The darkness definitely has feelings. 🙂 I think it’s talking to itself, mostly. So I guess entreating a favor from itself? Or from reality in general?

      That’s a good interpretation of that line, yeah. The void reminds the darkness that it is, well, the void. Images and objects are a way to feel real and embodied. To have form and function. 🙂

      The darkness is keeping the darkness separate from the narrator. They’re doing the same things that people always do, being insecure and scared and coming up with their own interpretations of things based in their insecurity, and assuming that the person they care about doesn’t care about them because they’re not good enough and because they just mess things up.

      As a conscious bit of the creative ground of all things, the darkness doesn’t have a home and also at the same time it is always home. But it wants a home, and it wants to be real and to have feelings and to imagine things like the narrator does.

      Yay thank you! *hugs*

      Like

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