Category Archives: Hypertext Fiction

What The Hell is Hypertext Fiction or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Jump On The Bandwagon

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You think this is Ulysses? Pale Fire? You think this is hot shit? Well newsflash buddy. It isn’t. It won’t be, it won’t ever be. You’re sitting around, shirt off, arms extended in a slight curvature that is both subtle as it is unsettling. You ever sit and wonder how weird arms are? These weird, zig zaggy things that protrude out of the central meat piece? Central meat piece. Master of prose, weaver of narratives, conjurer of, I don’t know, synonyms? as you are, you sure do produce some real impressive stuff. Goddamn. What the hell is hypertext fiction? It sure as hell isn’t fiction using digital media, so what is it? That’s a rhetorical question William Lim, don’t answer that, I figured it out eventually, I think. I’m not sure if that’s a rhetorical question. Hypertext fiction, judging from the thing William Lim wrote, is something that starts as something and turns into something else, while being something else else at the same time. Master of prose. Fuck you spellcheck I meant that repeated word. Ha ha. This is far from brilliant. This is nowhere near as good as what William Lim wrote. I’m making William Lim captain next year, sorry guys who aren’t William Lim. I’ve written William Lim six times now. All those who want captaincy next year but aren’t William Lim, you can come to the newly formed William Lim fanclub I’m making and I’ll give you vice captaincy or something. it’s a consolation prize.

Suddenly, the weight of a thousand white whales descended upon the blabbering idiot on the pirated edition Microsoft Word, and he found himself drowning, drowning in his own sorrows and also water too, because I’m symbolic like that. He was a drowning pirate, who spells out his jokes immediately after he tells them in case people didn’t get it. I’m sure everyone got it. This unfunny guy thinks he’s pretty funny, but in fact he just hangs around people who laugh at everything. oh hey you see that tree ha ha ha. but I’m sure you get it. It’s surreal hanging around people who laugh at everything you say. Even when you’re serious, they’re still laughing. Eventually, you stop being serious at all. You stop telling the joke. You become the joke. Everyone around you is laughing. Stop laughing, you say, but that just makes them laugh louder. Those sons of bitches. You tell yourself: no I’m being serious, they don’t understand: but do you understand?: is what you understand what you understand?: do they understand that you understand, and is that why they’re laughing?: or have you stopped understanding altogether- maybe you never understood at all. Maybe they’re the only ones who understand. You’re standing under the bridge, and a group of homeless people are gathered around you. You’re a warm person, you emanate friendliness, and they huddle around you. You show them your palms, peacekeeper outwards. Stop. Don’t get too close to me, you say, it’s just a facade, You’ll get hurt. They imitate you, they understand. You smile and those protruding ligaments start snapping at the joints in dead spider angles weaving ghost webs and they snap so loud/you crackle and spark and shift and those toothless bums who aren’t your friends but laugh at your jokes rub their hands like hungry impatient fathers saying grace at the dinner table. You’re just there to keep them warm, that’s all.

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^would you look at those lines. Hey mom look at me I’m using lines to divide the words I mean to write and the words I write about the words I wrote. Weaving of narratives as we speak.

This is a goddamn mess. A pile of steaming excrement that’s steaming not only because it’s fresh, but also because it’s out in the sun. It has literally no literary merit, and not much anything else merit either. I really shouldn’t put this up. Here’s an excuse, I wrote this in half an hour the morning I got back from speech night. It’s 0:38. Zero o’clock. My favourite time of the day. Patrick O’clachlan works down at the wristwatch factory. He takes the midnight shift, and as soon as the clocklan chimes Patrick, Zero punches out and heads down to the old bar to take a load off his back. I swear to God I’m not intoxicated. I promise. Scout’s honour. This is nowhere near as coherent and good as William Lim’s thing, but I told him I’d do a thing for this thing and now I am. Whoopee. I listened to Danny Brown rapping about how many prostitutes he has engaged in sexual intercourse with when I wrote this.

I started this and I didn’t stop until I was finished. Super pretentious, super gross, super fun to write. Editing is for losers. Peace.

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Hypertext Fiction: The Rope, the Stars and the Night Sky

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Album art from Swans – My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky

Constricted breaths fill my lungs with water, starved of oxygen, a shrivelled inner body cavity burning with acid. Oxygen, oxygen – a gasp and a shrill cry emanate from my core. The noose, wrapped around my neck, renders me a weak child, scrabbling for life that has been lost.

The deep blue of the ocean water fades to a deep black before my eyes, the chroma fading into anachronism. My cannibalistic throat makes me weep in pain and cry out in despair. The mind of a lunatic tells me that the water that I am drowning in is an ocean of my tears, but I cannot admit my sorrow. Thrashing against the invisible forces, I cannot admit what I have done. Inhaling water with desperation, I cannot admit that I am here.

I cannot admit it.

I am dead.

The noose loosens and my leaden arms grasp it, for whatever remains within my soul tells me to hold onto the last scrap of my existence. It lifts me, propels above the sinking depths to the sky above. The sweeping waves below dissolve into spittle as the mouth of the ocean snaps shut below me. I narrowly escape its scathing white teeth, lifted into the sky above.

The rope above me is rising into a milky mass of bright stars with a cerulean tinge, surrounding by a black emptiness. Absurdly, I think of one of the stars as my life extinguished like a candle, the rope guiding me to a final farewell. The other stars are all alive, continuing in their ignorance, and despite not knowing how long, they too will one day fade to join the blackness.

The light of the world dries my skin as my lungs breathe a sigh of release. My pale mottled fingers adjust, still clenching the rope ascending above into the unknown. Ignorance is bliss; bliss is ignorance. A star never has to think, or reason, or feel alone, or be afraid. A star is just a light in the sky, just part of our universe. People want things. People make me feel sick.

Despite the unreality of the situation, a burning question sears through my mind: Am I here because I am different, or because I am the same?

The stars coalesce into a stream as coloured dots form before my eyes. Above me, there is a living galaxy of colour, childish smudges forming a central brightness that threatens to envelop my vision. The quiet rustling of the surging waves is overshadowed by the chaotic music of the planets. Deafening high-pitched ululations penetrate my ear drums and rattle my brain inside, forcing each of my fingers to slowly separate from the rope.

My senses overwhelmed, I can no longer hold on.

I fall down into the night sky.

***

Note: This is a hypertext fiction reply to Will’s post Wata/October 2014.

Reading Will’s post last week and its inspiration reminded me of My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky, and ‘Oxygen’ from To Be Kind by experimental rock group Swans, released this year. Similar in its minimalism and ambiance, but with a heavier and more progressive structure, music by Swans never fails to elicit some sort of personal response within me. Amid the disorienting dissonance of the instruments or the fevered yells of Michael Gira, there is some intrinsic beauty to be found.

Though perhaps not as much of a direct influence, drowning also reminded me of Patrick Ness’s More Than This, one of my favourite novels, where the protagonist drowns and wakes up to find himself in a new world. I really enjoy how Ness connects with lives through his writing, and is truly able to empathise what would drive someone to commit suicide and then to rediscover within oneself a capacity for enjoyment of life. I have attempted to emulate his style in understanding the human psychology through deep depression and supernatural occurrences.

Within the chaos of life, there is the peaceful emptiness of death – an alternative available to those who sink into the depths of depression, but ultimately acknowledges that you come to nothing. The conflicting, chaotic final moments of life are an accumulation of noise and life experiences, followed by silence. After life, you are everywhere at once, part of the universe, and simultaneously nowhere and no longer in existence. But really, we can never know.

I hope that wasn’t too depressing. Sometimes I wish I could write happier things.

Hypertext Fiction: “Wata” / “October 2014”

At home, I live in a cold, little, cream-white room, the walls thin enough to hear my father’s age wearing down upon him as he sleeps for five or six hours in the adjacent room and awakens to a job that he hates. Some nights, I sit in that room and my father snores and my computer whirrs and the wind howls like plague come to kill all those without walls or warmth to comfort them, and I cannot help but wonder what I would do if I was one of them. My things are spread out all over the floor because I have no other place to put them. My father tells me I need things like a shelf for my records, and I tell him we’ll get it sometime from IKEA, but really, I just don’t want to waste his money. I should get a job. I should get a life. I should finish all my homework and accomplish all my goals in life and make people happy and maybe then, I can die happy.

Some nights, I sit in my room and I feel my perpetual weight and perpetual loneliness and I see myself drowning at sea. In my dress shirt, business trousers and old black business shoes; the boat is going just too fast, chasing a white whale or something. It’s running through a storm that surrounds me in black and rain, flashing lightning to reveal grey shapes before it all goes dark again. I’m holding onto a rail but it’s too wet and the wind is furious. Like all hell has me by the ankles, I’m holding on only to realise that I’m holding on to nothing at all. It’s over, I know it is. I let go.

For the seconds that my body is swept through the air I feel a certain freedom, finally yielding to the force of the wind; the force of nature; the force of a power bigger than I. I’m smiling. Then the impact. Then I’m too far down to see anything but water; kilometres down and I just keep sinking. Dark blue; there’s nothing here—no fishes, no reefs—just me. My heart beats slower. The sound and the fury flee my head. It’s quiet. Peaceful, unchangingly so, as if hidden in this purgatory is the singular encapsulation of eternal peace. In my dress shirt, business trousers and old black business shoes, I lay back and close my eyes. Suspended, I lay there for what feels like seconds but could very well be years.

There’s millions of tonnes of water pressing down. I pay no mind to it. In the darkness, over time, it is the loneliness that swells around me; within me. It grows inside me and when it finally, inevitably screams like a newborn child I am suddenly unable to breathe. In my panic, I would scramble for air in this airless void and my body would contort and wrestle but pinned under millions of tonnes of water, I am motionless. It is now that I feel life leave me. It is now that—after the impossible weight and time and failure has crushed my bones— it is only now that my spirit finally concedes. I could tell you that it is at this moment that the great sun shines through the water and illuminates the loneliness; I could tell you that my leaving this world after all this strife is beautiful and perhaps meaningful. But, in truth, there is only blackness amidst the blue.


NOTE: Though initially unintended for this purpose, this piece has become part of the blog’s Hypertext Fiction series, in which our writers respond to pieces written by other writers in an effort to create a large, connective body of work spanning the entirety of the blog’s contributors. The piece continuing onward from this one is Zachary Sunter‘s “The Rope, the Stars and the Night Sky“.


I’ve had a few moments of breakdown while listening to the album Flood by Boris. At the start of part two, the only thing that’s happening is there’s these really quiet drums and lightly stroked guitar chords; its minimalism is really confronting. I reckon it evokes the cover art, which maybe looks like the perspective of a person drowning underwater. So, that’s where the idea came fron.

Oh yeah, the title “Wata” is a dual reference to water and the guitarist from Boris. Damn, she’s cool.

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