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ForumsInteractive Story Board → As If Written By Itself
As If Written By Itself
2007-09-14, 10:45 PM #1
- by Grismath

If anyone asked Geoff why he typed so loud, he would respond that he had learned how to type on his grandmother's typewriter. But no one ever did ask; people only shot him annoyed looks in the library, like the girl sitting at the computer across from his. Geoff responded to the annoyed glance cast at him with an expression of innocence. I can't help it, his eyes said, this is how I learned to type, his face said. It became obvious that the object of the girl's look was not Geoff, but the clock behind him as the girl packed up her books and left in a rush. Before Geoff glowed a blank screen. The blank canvas, unlimited in possibilities, this was not; instead, if not for the miracle of digital erasure, this canvas would be gray with the smudged-out remains of contrivances and literary detritus. Geoff's attempts at a story had been dull because Geoff was dull. Geoff could not separate himself from his art; they were one and the same.

Instead, Geoff yearned to produce a work that stood alone, a work that, promptly after emerging from the womb, would kick its mother in the uterus and head for a bar. Or, better yet, a work that would appear newborn on the reader's doorstep on a dark and stormy night, not because an irresponsible parent abandoned it, but because it wanted to steal the reader's TV. Geoff valued ideas, not people. The story of his dreams was one in which he could escape entirely from himself. These thoughts and others clouded Geoff's mind as he wandered out of the library.

"Hey, stranger," Geoff turned to see who had addressed him, but it was just his friend Mina. "How are you?"

"Uninspired," Geoff responded and observed. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, how are - oh, why are you uninspired?"

"Long story."

"Speaking of which, how's that story you're working on?"

"It's coming along just fine," Geoff responded. There was a pause.

"Well, that's good. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that the Myrmidions of Melodrama are playing at the Paradise this Friday, we should go."

"I don't know, I'll have to ask Friday Geoff if he's free."

"Friday Geoff?" Mina echoed.

"Mina, I'm in a perpetual renaissance; I'm a different person every day. I'll check my schedule for Friday and give you a call. Later."

That night, Geoff scoured the web for a cheap typewriter in the Boston area. He didn't want to be picky, but nothing seemed right. Most of the typewriters Geoff found for sale were from the 80's and lacked the style of what Geoff considered the "vintage" archetype. Many were offered up for parts or had broken down in the march of time. Geoff wondered if maybe he was wasting his time in searching for a typewriter and his money in buying one. The few "vintage" writing machines in working condition were going for somewhere in the $70 to $150 price range, far too much for what might turn out to be a passing fancy. He decided to sleep on it.

When Geoff left his apartment the next morning, he almost tripped over a 1958 Corona Standard writing machine. The typewriter sat discarded on the sidewalk. Geoff wondered at how the machine came to rest on the curb -- when he noticed a note tucked in the paper table. It read, "FREE". Although unsure about the condition of the machine, Geoff figured he might as well try it out; this was a better-looking machine than any he had seen online, and it was free. In fact, it seemed perfect in every way.

The Corona was heavy and, without a carrying case, cumbersome. Geoff lifted it up and moved to the door of his brownstone, but only on the third try was he able to unlock the door, prop it open, and bring in his new literary companion. It was tempting to cut the morning's classes and try out the new typewriter. Geoff thought better of this; he hadn't missed any classes yet this semester, and didn't intend to start any time soon. He couldn't afford to repeat the mistakes he'd made freshman year this time around.

"Today we're going to go over last night's balance sheet assignment," Professor Mictlan announced. Geoff opened his accounting binder only to discover that in his rush to leave that morning, he had forgotten his homework. The only seats available when Geoff arrived were in the back, so Geoff opened his binder to a blank page and hoped he could avoid notice. Since he had nothing to follow along with, Geoff zoned out and his throughts returned to the Corona.

Geoff couldn't seem to concentrate for the rest of the day. He figured his erratic sleep schedule was to blame; he had stayed up way too late researching writing machines.

After his last class, Geoff returned to his apartment for some books before hitting the library. A typed document lay next to the Corona. Geoff didn't have any roommates. The document was a short story, at first glance a romance, but it hinted at a web of complex undertones. Geoff didn't have time to study it further. He stuffed the story in his backpack and gathered the rest of his books, or at least those that he could find. Although a generally tidy person, Geoff couldn't seem to find his statistics book anywhere. Geoff figured he could let the statistics reading slide for the night since his exam wasn't for another week.

For many, the school library was a place to escape distraction and study. For Geoff, the library was a distraction itself. Geoff found himself surrounded by books and virtually alone in a school where he could find almost no solitude. At a secluded desk, Geoff opened his accounting book and tried to start the next chapter. The words blurred. The flurorescent lights cast a dim, sickly glow on the pages. The clock seemed to be ticking more quickly than usual.

Geoff shook his head. He had only read a page and needed a break. He decided to take a look at the document he had found earlier that evening. The title was "The Courting of Cassilda". The style was completely foreign to Geoff, but this meant little, as Geoff prided himself on a purposeful ignorance of many styles. He preferred to avoid learning the mechanisms of others in the hope that he might create something original, not a remix of influences. So far, he had failed. This piece, however, seemed to have succeeded.

It was nearing six o'clock and Geoff was hungry. Although he had accomplished nothing at the library, Geoff packed his books and left for the student union. He settled down at a table in a corner and opened the document again. He hoped no one he knew would see him, but, as always, he hoped in vain.

"Geoff!" Mina called.

"Hi, what's up."

"Nothing much, I'm going to a meeting for the writer's workshop."

"Oh, cool," Geoff responded between forks of rice.

"Hey, is that your story?" Mina asked, looking at the document Geoff had left out in the open.

"Huh? Oh. Yes. My next masterpiece."

"You should come with me to the meeting! They're always looking for submissions. Plus, I'd like to see what you've been writing about all this time."

Geoff scrambled for excuses, but Mina was persuasively persistent and Geoff soon found himself in a brightly-lit room surrounded by new faces.

After a round of introductions, Mina whispered to Geoff that he ought to go downstairs and photocopy his story for the rest of the group. He wouldn't be missing much, she explained, as the first story up for review was "Sleeper Cell", a piece about a secretive terrorist organization operating out of a west campus dormatory.

The accolades were unanimous, the cricism, contradictory. Geoff retired to his apartment to get his head around the recent mysteries. The workshop had praised the story as a work of excellence, and yet it seemed as if written by itself, as if the typewriter had written by itself.

Over the following days, the trypewriter did other things by itself. Geoff woke up one morning to find his toothbrush black with machine oil. Food was missing from the fridge. Geoff was hardly in the mood for this -- the sound of typing had kept him up all night.

Geoff couldn't concentrate in class on account of the sound of typing. Soon, he stopped going to class altogether.

"Geoff!" A girl was waiting outside Geoff's apartment.

"What do you want?"

"I'm Judy, from the writer's workshop. We all really appreciated your submission last week... in fact, I was kind of disappointed you didn't come to yesterday's meeting." Yesterday? Geoff didn't even know what day it was. "Anyway, we're preparing this semester's first edition of our literary magazine and we'd like 'The Courting of Cassilda' to be the first piece."

"Sure, whatever." Geoff said.

"Are you alright?" Judy asked. The door to Geoff's apartment swung shut behind him.

On the way back from dinner, Geoff passed by a familiar face.

"Mina!" Geoff called. But Mina just kept walking. Geoff caught up with her. "Hey! Sorry I didn't get back to you about that concert... I've been really out of it, lately."

"You've changed, Geoff."

"Of course I have. I'm constantly changing. I refuse to be pinned down and defined. Everyday it's a different-"

"You're disgusting," Mina said, and she stormed off.

"I haven't even talked to you for days!" Geoff called out, but Mina had already vanished in the crowd.

Geoff wandered back to his apartment and found Corona Standard sitting on the couch, a few empty bottles of Mexican beer strewn around.

"We don't need that bisch," typed the Corona. It backspaced and got out the correction tape. Geoff turned off the TV. "Hey, I was wasching that!" the Corona Standard typed. Geoff turned and yanked the Corona's sheet of paper out of the paper table. He crumpled the sheet and tossed it in the pile of papers the Corona had been typing steadily over the past week. Another sheet of paper fed back out of the paper spool. Geoff reached for this sheet, but letters started flying for his hand and cut him.

Geoff stumbled back. He picked up the typewriter, charged for the window, and tossed the machine into the evening. For the first time in a week, the typing had stopped. Moments later, Geoff's head hit the pavement, severely fracturing his skull and snapping his spinal cord. The fall was fatal. Authorities announced the death as a tragic mishap and obscured several details that might reflect poorly upon the university in which Geoff was enrolled but had ceased to attend. Geoff's blood alcohol content was about a quarter and etched in his hand was a single word:

Lord Tiberius Grismath
1473 for '1337' posts.
2007-09-16, 4:43 PM #2
awesome. i really enjoyed that.

the ending predictable, but pleasantly so. it could have gone in a few directions other than it had, and also could have expounded upon some of the ideas within. all in all, worth the 10 minutes it took me to read it.
My girlfriend paid a lot of money for that tv; I want to watch ALL OF IT. - JM
2007-09-17, 10:05 PM #3
I think Ford's reviewed it pretty well. There be a bit of nit-picky grammar and crap, but I figured you were looking for less technical feedback.
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