Totally Normal Room of a Totally Normal Teenage Boy

Written Assignment #1

There is a page on Wikipedia, called Wikipedia:Random, where you can click the link and get brought to a random page on Wikipedia. For this assignment, go to the link and then click on the words Special:Random. Whatever page you get, somehow incorporate it into a short story involving whatever theme your class has…

Submitted by: Francesca Maisano

The room looked about how you’d expect the room of a teenage boy to look. Grubby carpet on the floor, walls painted a basic neutral tone hardly visible behind the scores of posters taped to it, a bed never made, piles of clothes littered everywhere, mixed in with books and bits of technology and wires, plates of half-eaten food on the desk, cups in places no cup should venture. The stacks of canvases leaned up against the desk might not be so stereotypical, but not strange for an art student. In any case, the room was almost normal, but the thing about this room was that it did not have a door. All the walls were solid, with windows on every side, but no door. 

A hatch in the floor opened inward, the hand pushing it up pulled with it the body of the teenage boy who resided in this room. He climbed the last stairs and sat on his floor, turning to lower the hatch back down, its carpeted top blending in almost imperceptibly. Standing, he put his backpack down on his desk, the old burlap of it bulging with the early morning findings. Mostly filled with cans to refurbish his dwindling stockpile, but also several tubes of paint, scavenged by grateful townies who knew he painted. Before he let himself investigate his newest colors, he crossed the room to stand in front of the record player, kicking a pile of clothes under his bed as he did so. He bent, the movement smoothed by routine, selecting the vinyl from the shelves below the player. The paper album cover of Schizophrenia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined was worn on the sides, the yellow paper showing through. He placed the disk on the turning point and gently placed the needle down. As the general dissonance began before the instruments kicked in, Hastur opened the curtains. 

The sky was gray like always, a hint of the lightest blue at the edges. In another time, the center of the sky might have been white, but here it was tainted with smoky wisps of gray, the remains of a polluted world. There was no sun to see, but light seeped into the landscape anyway. Hastur had come home just in time. Nothing stirred on the deserted landscape, the dusty brown ground harboring few plants but the odd tree or particularly hardy grass. He knew that the outpost-town was just behind his own room, but from this vantage point, nothing living could be seen. He wished it would stay like that, but he knew it would not be so. The vocalist began singing, and like so many of Hastur’s music, he did not know the language they spoke. But the message was clear, in tone and melody and lyric, it was clear. And it matched the desolation of the world very well indeed. 

Keeping the smaller details of the landscape in his mind, he turned his attention to his desk, unpacking the paint. He had been running out of a lot of his normal pallet, and the tones of today’s work would be heavily impacted by whatever colors the townspeople had found. He had long divorced realism, though he sometimes slipped back for certain pieces. Hastur had come to the conclusion that he could only work with what he had, and if he was given a tube of green, he might as well use it despite the pointed lack of it in the actual landscape. The tubes were covered in names he did not know, and he was about to begin swatching when the shadow on the horizon stole his attention. 

Though his heart began to beat a faster rhythm, outpacing the music, he willed it slower, knowing that it would only interfere. Moving quickly, he opened the case under the window, his hands assembling the machine from memory. It clicked into place on the window sill, the barrel pointing outward, a single, black finger, straighted into a warning. The approaching flock paid it no mind. Hastur fitted his eye into the sight, tucking the butt under his arm, taking stock of the Mephistos. 

The mess of leathery wings and scraggly hairs was still difficult to discern even with the added magnification. But as they neared, the individual creatures could be seen. Hastur wished they weren’t. He had seen enough to be familiar with the bulbous faces, bony limbs, and putrefied skin. 

He wanted to look away, but he kept his eye unblinking on the Mephistos, waiting for them to come in range, choosing which one he was gonna get first. It didn’t take long. 

He held his breath and fired in between his heartbeats. The head of the monster exploded and dropped out of sight before Hastur could see much of the gore. He could tell that the other Mephistos were crying out for their fallen companion, their tooth-filled mouths open, but the percussion-heavy music reverberating around in his room drowned them out. He fired again and again, taking aim at whichever beast was in front. Then as they got closer, picking out those about to run into his own abode. He counted in his head, every bullet found its mark. 

Hastur estimated he had killed nearly a third of the pack before they screeched retreat and fled. He did not fire at their retreating forms in the vain hope that one day they would realize that the quicker they turned around, the quicker he stopped shooting. He disassembled his gun, careful to position his fingers around the parts still scorching hot, and sealed the case back up. He turned back to his desk, ready to see exactly which shade was phthalo blue.

When I saw this assignment, I was like, “Yes! A short story assignment with a random prompt, sound like great weird potential, I’m in.” I didn’t have many expectations because, obviously, it was random, lack of expectations is the point, but this was quite out of left field in the best way possible. The page I got was Yoshie Fruchter – Wikipedia. I decided to listen to some of his music and see what kind of story it brought up. I really love creative writing, especially as I find that my inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, with a huge variety in results, themes, tones, subjects, and yes, quality. I am always down to try something new and see what happens. I suppose you just read the result, and I would encourage you to give it a listen to the album Schizophrenia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined as well, so you can understand the source material. (the whole album is on Spotify, but I left a short youtube video below) I think it’s very good music, even though it’s not what I would normally listen to. For incorporating the theme, that was a little harder. Our theme is The Joy of Painting by Bob Ross and it took me a little bit to figure out how to get it to fit in with the strange world that the album had summoned. But then I thought of Hastur. What better way than to make the main character a fellow creative mind, and a landscape painter no less! And of course, I had to add in a little easter egg in the form of name-dropping phthalo blue, one of Bob Ross’s own colors.

For help, when the words wouldn’t come, I employed butterscotch lollipops, donated by a person whose picky tongue would not have them.

May the road rise up to meet you,

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