Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Monday 20 March 2023

Short Story Competition: Living on the comet trail

10th December 2015

Share This Article:

The man - myself, should I say - rode light across the universe, piercing the dark past a peripheral of blinding, scattered lines that were once stars.

He – I, sorry - couldn’t remember the last time they’d been clear; an abyss of black engulfed around with the universe seeping by. For a moment I recalled leaving Planet Earth, replacing the darkness of space for that of the tucked slumber behind my eyelids to find alluded sadness – nostalgia of the small blue spec that was once home vanishing behind me, dangled like a Christmas decoration, amongst nothing, filled with so much pain, dreams, shattered messes;growing smaller… and smaller… and smaller… until it had sunk away into just a memory. It was gone.

My days on Earth started with beautiful sunlight burning golden in my first waking moments. It was there again, as usual, staring through my bedroom window: The cloud, hanging up in the heavens manipulated, swirling,and never decisive, hovering in bulges yet somehow so perfect and controlled. It was like watching something greater breathe. I had dreams of it being closer, larger, hanging in an ocean of Caribbean blue expands, always there. Always. Now all I have is a memory of what it once looked like, trying to puzzle it back into the sky and the darkest pits of myself.

Sometimes it followed; sometimes it was already there before I even knew where I was going. Sometimes I knew what my first sight upon awaking would be, others it would slip behind when I’m simply trying to walk the pavement, have a conversation with a cashier or just trying to keep moving. Sometimes it was never there at all and I thought the sky looked a little bit more empty and desperate.

The man – “Moi” - couldn’t burn his bridges to the cloud anymore, as much as I tried to stay sombre on the ground, the higher I’d find myself eventually thrown – shooting up there, terrified, soaked in its consuming fallout. How beautiful it once was, not a stalking figment but a collared deity of pure white. But after everything that happened with her, whenever I looked up all I could see was grey: The cloud, passed through the fires of my mind as nothing but grizzled and turbulent. However without it the sky would always look a little bit emptier and I can’t help but smile and miss the white vapour; even in the night.I had to leave and this super-rocket shone just bright enough.

I open my eyes, back in the present of space exploration, losing all feelings, allowing myself to slip away into the blur - stood loose on a slab of turbulent rock, a jagged comet older than time yet younger and purer than a newborn, riding its wave towards nothingness and just praying to catch something beautiful on the way.

I pass Saturn’s angelic halo rings made up of hovering sand so fair that my hand brushes through it like flour. Everything up here is a pristine marvel. Nothing argues its existence, ponders the vastness or debates the correct choice of attire. They simply hover, being, with nothing but themselves to show. The man - myself - rubs the sand between his fingers, smearing blue gold-dust between them… And yet I can’t help but think of her again.

Even up here, staring into the face of creation and somehow still, she always finds a way into my ticker, my colossal, cavernous lobe: her lips that burnt with the intense fury of being alive, doll-eyes so entrancing it didn’t take long for him - me, damn it - to be drawn to their power like an ignorant bug to the zapper. The first time he had seen her standing on that street corner, wind tattering her hair, leaned against vandalised shop shutters, I couldn’t help but see her as anything but a contrasted and engaging piece of abstract visage that had to be touched even if it meant being seared.

The Nothing appears again; Saturn passes and takes with it its glow. The erratic stars that once hid behind engulf again. Placid, endless emptiness. Around him - that twat - there was no certainty, no updates to make him feel safe. The man simply had to stand and watch through a weird and hapless landscape that neither cared nor knew what HE was. Neither did the man, to be fair, but his excuse for a life had been by passing through a visitor, as if some day he could pack his bags and shoot away from responsivity and simply meet nirvana.

She had joined him on it – her smile pops to mind again, a mountain range of yellowing teeth that cackled hysterically at my cruel, belittling humour on the train. We sat rocked inside a carriage, shooting like a bullet blood-cell to wherever we wanted while vacant-souled commuters shuffled on-board, nervously brushing eye-contact like children on their first day of school. But not us, we were hyena’s amongst sombre gazelle. They, we, were perfect and that was the problem. She was the girl with lice who wouldn’t tell anyone, she just kept smiling while trying not to itch as cracks creaked throughout her interior. Neither I nor she had a plan and yet they, we, still wandered strong through our own wonderful savannahs. Hurtling.Together.

Ah, there she was again. I - him, the man - shake her from my mind and focus on the darkness. I said I was a man but know nothing on the title, spending most time hoping, praying into a microphone that was clearly not turned on.

Back home, my name was Glum. Glum sat in his cold bedroom wasting away on Xbox, too good at the game and smoking weed while reminiscing of hash. He got mad at those that cared and spoke of women as expendable but whose entirety was based around their dependency. Because Glum was too good at the game, his aim precise and any challenges wasted away with a glassy-eyed shrug. It wasn’t addiction, rather the attempts at one, chasing the dragon and seeking that pin-prick of excitement, the original amazement. In the game, life was simple: Live till death, and those pixels programmed to spray blood upon getting shot a beautifully tedious distraction. Because Glum became the game, purposefully sinking himself into problems and spending the rest of his existence slithering out – trapped in the sky but born on the ground, displaced seeking something dirty but simple. The game got easier and the same shots echoed out until the click of a button distanced away into a simple click without ecstasy.

I had been an artist. Well… a chef with an art degree - Jamie Oliver on LSD, perhaps.I created canvases of art from food, plastering tomato’s, lettuce, cake; if you can buy it cheap then it was probably on my palette. I thought I was a genius creating these pieces: smiling portraits carved in mackerel; a Mona Lisa painted in ketchup. Once he – I, sorry – did a whole sculpture on Marilyn Monroe out of beef mince. Andy Warhol, eat your heart out – or, literally, my Mince Marilyn’s, if he wanted to buy it for £500.

But, unlike Warhol’s definitive pop-art, mine degraded. When people tell you to follow your dreams they don’t prepare you for the part where it doesn’t succeed. Turns out people don’t want art that lasts a week; Marilyn’s face drooped and rotted within three days and I had to stare into her green features and watch time eat away at something once so beautiful and appetising. Happens to everyone, I guess. Unlike Warhol, however, life actually gave me a quicker way to watch my work fade away into obscurity and still be alive to witness such an ego-shattering event. Things change a man, as much as the man tries to change things.

Poor Marilyn. Poor Warhol. Poor Da Vinci. Cry them a river, achieving goals but never their dreams. Da Vinci barely slept yet still died incomplete. Sometimes when people have nothing all they do is dwell deeper into it and whisper in hope of a response. Religion pops to mind.

Now all I know is bright light, blinding and static to the point of seizure. The universe is alive with it and yet somehow still dead. It doesn’t need us to exist.I had left her behind the same, shattered but still smiling – like he, I, myself - would somehow return and glue the pieces back together. But both of us knew that was never going to happen. Not when we both knew it was love.

Now, up here, all I could possibly meet was something new, which merely led to the options of chasing flight or returning bitter and old with nothing to think about but how tiny that small blue spec vanishing from view had been. As the darkness overtakes around him – I, the man, a sole inhabitant of life riding on this jagged comet - disappears into the blur of space on my super-rocket, defying the great without a prayer for anybody anymore.



This is an entry to The National Student's short story competition. The text has been edited for grammar and punctuation only. 

The National Student's short story competition is in association with the Home Entertainment release of Mistress America. Mistress America is available on Digital HD in the UK on 7th December, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Watch the trailer below: 

Articles: 29
Reads: 201313
© 2023 is a website of Studee Limited | 15 The Woolmarket, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2PR, UK | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974