Monthly Archives: January 2016

Excerpt from “Being There” by Jerzy Kosinski ~~Seasons~~

picture-BeingThere-KosinskiThe men began a long conversation. Chance understood almost nothing of what they were saying, even though they often looked in his direction, as if to invite his participation. Chance thought that they purposely spoke in another language for reasons of secrecy, when suddenly the President addressed him: “And you, Mr. Gardiner? What do you think about the bad season on The Street?”
Chance shrank. He felt that the roots of his thoughts had been suddenly yanked out of their wet earth and thrust, tangled, into the unfriendly air. He stared at the carpet. Finally, he spoke: “In a garden,” he said, “growth has its season. There are spring and summer, but there are also fall and winter. And then spring and summer again. As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well.” He raised his eyes. Rand was looking at him, nodding. The President seemed quite pleased.
“I must admit, Mr. Gardiner,” the President said, “that what you’ve just said is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I’ve heard in a very, very long time.” He rose and stood erect, with his back to the fireplace. “Many of us forget that nature and society are one! Yes, though we have tried to cut ourselves off from nature, we are still part of it. Like nature, our economic system remains, in the long run, stable and rational, and that’s why we must not fear to be at its mercy.” The President hesitated for a moment, then turned to Rand. “We welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, yet we are upset by the seasons of our economy! How foolish of us!” He smiled at Chance. “I envy Mr. Gardiner his good solid sense. This is just what we lack on Capitol Hill.”

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Excerpt from “For the Term of His Natural Life” by Marcus Clarke ~~Lashes~~

picture-ForTheTermOfHisNaturalLife-ClarkeAs he entered the yard, Troke called “Ten!” Kirkland had just got his fiftieth lash.
“Stop!” cried North. “Captain Burgess, I call upon you to stop.”
“You’re rather late, Mr. North,” retorted Burgess. “The punishment is nearly over.” “Wonn!” cried Troke again; and North stood by, biting his nails and grinding his teeth, during six more lashes.
Kirkland ceased to yell now, and merely moaned. His back was like a bloody sponge, while in the interval between lashes the swollen flesh twitched like that of a new-killed bullock. Suddenly, Macklewain saw his head droop on his shoulder. “Throw him off! Throw him off!” he cried, and Troke hurried to loosen the thongs.
“Fling some water over him!” said Burgess; “he’s shamming.”
A bucket of water made Kirkland open his eyes. “I thought so,” said Burgess. “Tie him up again.”
“No. Not if you are Christians!” cried North.
He met with an ally where he least expected one. Rufus Dawes flung down the dripping cat. “I’ll flog no more,” said he.
“What?” roared Burgess, furious at this gross insolence.
“I’ll flog no more. Get someone else to do your blood work for you. I won’t.”
“Tie him up!” cried Burgess, foaming. “Tie him up. Here, constable, fetch a man here with a fresh cat. I’ll give you that beggar’s fifty, and fifty more on the top of ’em; and he shall look on while his back cools.”
Rufus Dawes, with a glance at North, pulled off his shirt without a word, and stretched himself at the triangles. His back was not white and smooth, like Kirkland’s had been, but hard and seamed. He had been flogged before. Troke appeared with Gabbett—grinning. Gabbett liked flogging. It was his boast that he could flog a man to death on a place no bigger than the palm of his hand. He could use his left hand equally with his right, and if he got hold of a “favourite”, would “cross the cuts”.
Rufus Dawes planted his feet firmly on the ground, took fierce grasp on the staves, and drew in his breath. Macklewain spread the garments of the two men upon the ground, and, placing Kirkland upon them, turned to watch this new phase in the morning’s amusement. He grumbled a little below his breath, for he wanted his breakfast, and when the Commandant once began to flog there was no telling where he would stop. Rufus Dawes took five-and-twenty lashes without a murmur, and then Gabbett “crossed the cuts”. This went on up to fifty lashes, and North felt himself stricken with admiration at the courage of the man. “If it had not been for that cursed brandy,” thought he, with bitterness of self-reproach, “I might have saved all this.” At the hundredth lash, the giant paused, expecting the order to throw off, but Burgess was determined to “break the man’s spirit”.
“I’ll make you speak, you dog, if I cut your heart out!” he cried. “Go on, prisoner.”
For twenty lashes more Dawes was mute, and then the agony forced from his labouring breast a hideous cry. But it was not a cry for mercy, as that of Kirkland’s had been. Having found his tongue, the wretched man gave vent to his boiling passion in a torrent of curses. He shrieked imprecation upon Burgess, Troke, and North. He cursed all soldiers for tyrants, all parsons for hypocrites. He blasphemed his God and his Saviour. With a frightful outpouring of obscenity and blasphemy, he called on the earth to gape and swallow his persecutors, for Heaven to open and rain fire upon them, for hell to yawn and engulf them quick. It was as though each blow of the cat forced out of him a fresh burst of beast-like rage. He seemed to have abandoned his humanity. He foamed, he raved, he tugged at his bonds until the strong staves shook again; he writhed himself round upon the triangles and spat impotently at Burgess, who jeered at his torments. North, with his hands to his ears, crouched against the corner of the wall, palsied with horror. It seemed to him that the passions of hell raged around him. He would fain have fled, but a horrible fascination held him back.
In the midst of this—when the cat was hissing its loudest—Burgess laughing his hardest, and the wretch on the triangles filling the air with his cries, North saw Kirkland look at him with what he thought a smile. Was it a smile? He leapt forward, and uttered a cry of dismay so loud that all turned.
“Hullo!” says Troke, running to the heap of clothes, “the young ‘un’s slipped his wind!”
Kirkland was dead.

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Excerpt from “Dracula” by Bram Stoker ~~Lucy~~

picture-Dracula-StokerWhen all was ready, Van Helsing said:—
“Before we do anything, let me tell you this; it is out of the lore and experience of the ancients and of all those who have studied the powers of the Un-Dead. When they become such, there comes with the change the curse of immortality; they cannot die, but must go on age after age adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world; for all that die from the preying of the Un-Dead becomes themselves Un-Dead, and prey on their kind. And so the circle goes on ever widening, like as the ripples from a stone thrown in the water. Friend Arthur, if you had met that kiss which you know of before poor Lucy die; or again, last night when you open your arms to her, you would in time, when you had died, have become nosferatu, as they call it in Eastern Europe, and would all time make more of those Un-Deads that so have fill us with horror. The career of this so unhappy dear lady is but just begun. Those children whose blood she suck are not as yet so much the worse; but if she live on, Un-Dead, more and more they lose their blood and by her power over them they come to her; and so she draw their blood with that so wicked mouth. But if she die in truth, then all cease; the tiny wounds of the throats disappear, and they go back to their plays unknowing ever of what has been. But of the most blessed of all, when this now Un-Dead be made to rest as true dead, then the soul of the poor lady whom we love shall again be free. Instead of working wickedness by night and growing more debased in the assimilating of it by day, she shall take her place with the other Angels. So that, my friend, it will be a blessed hand for her that shall strike the blow that sets her free. To this I am willing; but is there none amongst us who has a better right? Will it be no joy to think of hereafter in the silence of the night when sleep is not: ‘It was my hand that sent her to the stars; it was the hand of him that loved her best; the hand that of all she would herself have chosen, had it been to her to choose?’ Tell me if there be such a one amongst us?”
We all looked at Arthur. He saw, too, what we all did, the infinite kindness which suggested that his should be the hand which would restore Lucy to us as a holy, and not an unholy, memory; he stepped forward and said bravely, though his hand trembled, and his face was as pale as snow:—
“My true friend, from the bottom of my broken heart I thank you. Tell me what I am to do, and I shall not falter!” Van Helsing laid a hand on his shoulder, and said:—
“Brave lad! A moment’s courage, and it is done. This stake must be driven through her. It will be a fearful ordeal—be not deceived in that—but it will be only a short time, and you will then rejoice more than your pain was great; from this grim tomb you will emerge as though you tread on air. But you must not falter when once you have begun. Only think that we, your true friends, are round you, and that we pray for you all the time.”
“Go on,” said Arthur hoarsely. “Tell me what I am to do.”
“Take this stake in your left hand, ready to place the point over the heart, and the hammer in your right. Then when we begin our prayer for the dead—I shall read him, I have here the book, and the others shall follow—strike in God’s name, that so all may be well with the dead that we love and that the Un-Dead pass away.”
Arthur took the stake and the hammer, and when once his mind was set on action his hands never trembled nor even quivered. Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and I followed as well as we could. Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might.
The Thing in the coffin writhed; and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions; the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed to shine through it; the sight of it gave us courage so that our voices seemed to ring through the little vault.
And then the writhing and quivering of the body became less, and the teeth seemed to champ, and the face to quiver. Finally it lay still. The terrible task was over.

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“I Saw The Light” released by Todd Rundgren

It was late last night
I was feeling something wasn’t right
There was not another soul in sight
Only you, only you

So we walked along
Though I knew that there was something wrong
And a feeling hit me, oh so strong
About you

Then you gazed up at me
And the answer was plain to see
‘Cause I saw the light
In your eyes, in your eyes

Though we had our fling
I just never would suspect a thing
Till that little bell began to ring
In my head, in my head

But I tried to run
Though I knew it wouldn’t help me none
‘Cause I couldn’t ever love no one
Or so I said

‘Cause my feelings for you
Were just something I never knew
Till I saw the light
In your eyes, in your eyes

But I love you best
It’s not something that I say in jest
‘Cause you’re different, girl, from all the rest
In my eyes

And I ran out before
But I won’t do it anymore
Can’t you see the light in my eyes
In my eyes
In my eyes
In my eyes

picture-ISawTheLight-Rundgren

 

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Dialogue from Film – “Stalag 17” ~~Price~~

They move to the old trap door and start unscrewing it. Price goes to his bunk, Hoffy with him. Price starts putting on his jacket.

PRICE
What do you say, Hoffy. We’ll hit the air raid trenches and cut out in back of Barracks nine.

HOFFY
You’d better cut out in back of the south latrine.

PRICE
Why the south latrine?

HOFFY
Because that’s where he is. In the water tank.

Price takes it smoothly.

PRICE
Good spot. With any luck we’ll make Krems by morning, or maybe even catch a barge up to Linz.

Sefton, who has been watching closely, tosses two packs of cigarettes on the table.

SEFTON
Two packs of cigarettes say Dunbar never gets out of the compound.

HOFFY
Are you starting that again?

SEFTON
Anybody cover?

They all look at him.

ANIMAL
(From the trap door)
Somebody step on that crumb!

DUKE
We warned you, Sefton!

SEFTON
Sure you warned me. You were going to slit the throat of that stoolie.

He throws an open jack-knife onto the table. The blade sticks.
The knife quivers.

SEFTON
Here’s the knife to do it with. Only make sure you got the right throat.

DUKE
We’re looking at it.

HOFFY
(To Harry and Animal)
Hurry up on that trap door.
(To Sefton)
What are you trying to do, Sefton?
Gum up the works?

SEFTON
That’s right. Or would you rather see Dunbar lying out there in the mud tomorrow morning like Manfredi and Johnson?

HOFFY
Look, Sefton, I had my hands full so they wouldn’t tear you apart –

SEFTON
I called it the last time, didn’t I?

PRICE
Are we going to stand around here and listen to him until the Germans find out where Dunbar is?

SEFTON
The Germans know where Dunbar is.

HOFFY
How do they know?

SEFTON
You told them, Hoffy.

HOFFY
Who did?

SEFTON
You did!

HOFFY
Are you off your rocker?

SEFTON
Uh-huh. Fell right on my head.
(Confronting Price)
Sprechen sie Deutsch?

PRICE
No. I don’t sprechen sie Deutsch.

SEFTON
Maybe just one word? Kaput? Because you’re kaput, Price.

PRICE
Will you get this guy out of my hair so I can go?

SEFTON
Go where? To the Kommandant’s office and tell him where Dunbar is?

PRICE
(Starting for him)
I’ll kill you for that!

SEFTON
(Slaps Price’s face back and forth)
Shut up!
Security Officer, huh? Always screening everybody, only who screens you?
Great American hero. From Cleveland, Ohio! Enlisted right after Pearl Harbor! When was Pearl Harbor, Price? Or, don’t you know that?

PRICE
December seventh, forty-one.

SEFTON
What time?

PRICE
Six o’clock. I was having dinner.

SEFTON
Six o’clock in Berlin. They were having lunch in Cleveland.
(To the others)
Am I boring you, boys?

HOFFY
Go on.

SEFTON
He’s a Nazi, Price is. For all I know, his name is Preissinger or Preisshoffer.
Oh sure, he lived in Cleveland, but when the war broke out he came back to the Fatherland like a good little Bundist. He spoke our lingo so they sent him to spy school, and fixed him up with phony dogtags –

PRICE
He’s lying! He’s just trying to get himself off the hook!

HARRY
(Jabbing him)
He said, shut up.

ANIMAL
You heard what he said.

SEFTON
Okay, Herr Preisshoffer, let’s have the mail box.

PRICE
The what?

SEFTON
The one you took out of the corner of your bunk and put in this pocket.

He snatches a black queen out of Price’s coat pocket.

SEFTON
Now let me show you how they did it.
They did it by mail.

HARRY
Mail?

SEFTON
That’s right.
Little love notes between our Security Officer and von Scherbach with Schulz the mail man.
Here’s the flag.
(Ties up a loop in the light cord)
They used to put a loop in the cord. Did you ever notice?
And here’s the mail boxes.
(Opening the black queens)
Hollow black queens.
(Price nervously glances at the trap door)
Cute, huh? They delivered the mail or picked it up when we were out of the barracks, like for Appell.
And when there was a special delivery, they’d pull a phony air raid to get us out of here like last night, like for instance.
(To Price again)
There wasn’t a plane in the sky – or was there, Price?

Price dives for the open trap door. He is caught by Duke. He breaks away and flings himself at the window, tearing down the blanket.

PRICE
(Screaming)
Hilfe!

He never gets the whole word out. Animal and Harry jump him, Animal clamping his hand over his mouth. They throw him to the floor and all duck as the light from the goon tower swoops through the barracks.

picture-Stalag17-Sefton

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Excerpt from “Land of the Giants – The Hot Spot” ~~Trap door~~

Captain Steve Burton is exploring the surroundings of where the Spindrift has landed in a dense forest on a strange planet.

picture-LandOfTheGiants-HotSpot-LeinsterHe started back toward the ship. And, moving in this direction, he saw something he’d altogether missed on his way along the fallen tree trunk.
Examining the way about him, he now saw a gathering of debris he could have walked into without realizing it. The debris was arms and armor, broken and scattered practically at random. There were casques and greaves and breast plates; there were pauldrons and lances; there were saw-toothed weapons and wholly gruesome instruments of destruction. Spearpoints; monstrous daggers; there was no medieval kind of armor or hand weapon not represented in this collection. The only thing that was true but unbelievable was that none were made of metal, and none were made for men. Instead, they were brilliantly-colored arms and armor which were chitinous instead of steel. They were the weapons and defenses of giant insects. There were the carapaces of beetles and the deadly stabbing weapons of creatures the size of a rhinoceros. Yet the creatures which had worn and wielded such deadly items had every one been killed and devoured by something more terrible than all of them.
Then Steve saw a crack in the surface of the ground. It was a round crack. It was a circle. It was like an almost-closed trap door. In fact it was a trap door, held ever so slightly from closure by claws or paws or something belonging to a creature in hiding beneath it. It could see through the crack it maintained. Steve believed for an instant that he saw glittering eyes peering out of the crack, and by some instinct he froze to absolute stillness.
The round lid covered the mouth of a tunnel which was an underground ogre’s castle lined with silk. Its occupant was pure horror, peering, out at the world with insane eyes. When something came near enough –.
Something approached. It was a beetle, not overly-large for this planet. It sang a strident, happy song as it trudged on some unguessable errand through the forest. It was possibly five-feet long. It seemed comfortably plump; even chubby. It might have weighed two-hundred pounds. As it marched along, singing, something glittering and lovely flew past overhead and vanished behind tree trunks. Something absurd appeared, grasping the ground before it with multiple feet and arching its back extravagantly to draw a rear group of clutching feet up behind the front set, which lifted and groped ahead again. It proceeded steadily by this less-than-reasonable system of perambulation. On Earth it would have been an inchworm, at most two-inches long. Here, it was two yards.
But Steve’s eyes returned to the trap door in the middle of what was no less than a charnel house. He heard the strident, deeper-than-bass song of the marching beetle. It arrived where the ground was strewn with the proofs of a hundred murders. It marched on blandly, blatting out its deep-toned tune. It could see the dried-up corpses on every hand. They had no meaning to it. A thing has meaning when it reminds us of something not itself. The beetle was doubtless capable of recognizing things, it’s proper food, for example. But it was not capable of being reminded. Corpses of dead creatures did not remind it of danger. It ignored them. It trudged on blandly, uninformed despite the evidence all about it.
The trap door flew back and something colossal and black and eight-legged and horrifying leaped. It seemed to soar. It hurtled down upon the plump-seeming beetle. There was instantly a whirlwind confusion of furry legs and tumbling bodies. The beetle fought. It fought desperately. It even uttered again its low-pitched automatic cry.
But the tumult subsided. The beetle was dead. The black-bellied lycosid crouched over its latest victim, already feeding upon it.

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Excerpt from “Vanity Fair” by William Makepeace Thackeray ~~Waterloo~~

picture-VanityFair-ThackerayThey did not hear the noise which disturbed our little congregation at Brussels. Much louder than that which had interrupted them two days previously, as Mrs. O’Dowd was reading the service in her best voice, the cannon of Waterloo began to roar.
When Jos heard that dreadful sound, he made up his mind that he would bear this perpetual recurrence of terrors no longer, and would fly at once. He rushed into the sick man’s room, where our three friends had paused in their prayers, and further interrupted them by a passionate appeal to Amelia.
“I can’t stand it any more, Emmy,” he said; “I won’t stand it; and you must come with me. I have bought a horse for you–never mind at what price–and you must dress and come with me, and ride behind Isidor.”
“God forgive me, Mr. Sedley, but you are no better than a coward,” Mrs. O’Dowd said, laying down the book.
“I say come, Amelia,” the civilian went on; “never mind what she says; why are we to stop here and be butchered by the Frenchmen?”
“You forget the –th, my boy,” said the little Stubble, the wounded hero, from his bed–“and and you won’t leave me, will you, Mrs. O’Dowd?”
“No, my dear fellow,” said she, going up and kissing the boy. “No harm shall come to you while I stand by. I don’t budge till I get the word from Mick. A pretty figure I’d be, wouldn’t I, stuck behind that chap on a pillion?”
This image caused the young patient to burst out laughing in his bed, and even made Amelia smile. “I don’t ask her,” Jos shouted out–“I don’t ask that–that Irishwoman, but you Amelia; once for all, will you come?”
“Without my husband, Joseph?” Amelia said, with a look of wonder, and gave her hand to the Major’s wife. Jos’s patience was exhausted.
“Good-bye, then,” he said, shaking his fist in a rage, and slamming the door by which he retreated. And this time he really gave his order for march: and mounted in the court-yard. Mrs. O’Dowd heard the clattering hoofs of the horses as they issued from the gate; and looking on, made many scornful remarks on poor Joseph as he rode down the street with Isidor after him in the laced cap. The horses, which had not been exercised for some days, were lively, and sprang about the street. Jos, a clumsy and timid horseman, did not look to advantage in the saddle. “Look at him, Amelia dear, driving into the parlour window. Such a bull in a china-shop I never saw.” And presently the pair of riders disappeared at a canter down the street leading in the direction of the Ghent road, Mrs. O’Dowd pursuing them with a fire of sarcasm so long as they were in sight.
All that day from morning until past sunset, the cannon never ceased to roar. It was dark when the cannonading stopped all of a sudden.
All of us have read of what occurred during that interval. The tale is in every Englishman’s mouth; and you and I, who were children when the great battle was won and lost, are never tired of hearing and recounting the history of that famous action. Its remembrance rankles still in the bosoms of millions of the countrymen of those brave men who lost the day. They pant for an opportunity of revenging that humiliation; and if a contest, ending in a victory on their part, should ensue, elating them in their turn, and leaving its cursed legacy of hatred and rage behind to us, there is no end to the so-called glory and shame, and to the alternations of successful and unsuccessful murder, in which two high-spirited nations might engage. Centuries hence, we Frenchmen and Englishmen might be boasting and killing each other still, carrying out bravely the Devil’s code of honour.
All our friends took their share and fought like men in the great field. All day long, whilst the women were praying ten miles away, the lines of the dauntless English infantry were receiving and repelling the furious charges of the French horsemen. Guns which were heard at Brussels were ploughing up their ranks, and comrades falling, and the resolute survivors closing in. Towards evening, the attack of the French, repeated and resisted so bravely, slackened in its fury. They had other foes besides the British to engage, or were preparing for a final onset. It came at last: the columns of the Imperial Guard marched up the hill of Saint Jean, at length and at once to sweep the English from the height which they had maintained all day, and spite of all: unscared by the thunder of the artillery, which hurled death from the English line–the dark rolling column pressed on and up the hill. It seemed almost to crest the eminence, when it began to wave and falter. Then it stopped, still facing the shot. Then at last the English troops rushed from the post from which no enemy had been able to dislodge them, and the Guard turned and fled.
No more firing was heard at Brussels–the pursuit rolled miles away. Darkness came down on the field and city: and Amelia was praying for George, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart.

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