Matt Lyons – Imaginative Piece (yr 10 Eng)

*click*

 

A locked door, a wooden frame separating myself from a horde of crazed people. They begin to thump their palms, pale as the moon, upon the door. As an extra precaution, I drag a wardrobe over to fortify the entrance, though I can’t say I’m brimming with confidence.

 

I lay my back against the wall, checking my handgun’s magazine. Twelve rounds left, and no remaining stock to reload. I curse quietly, for I’d already spent four several minutes before on two men. However, they can’t really be called men, nor any of the others that are after me. They’re more animals than humans now, but of course, my briefing a month ago said nothing of the sort…

 

Many children would leap at the chance to become a spy or a secret agent. The reality is a five-figure sum salary for either trying to keep a principle alive or going on a crazy mission like this. At least, that’s how I, Dante, U.S Secret Agent, thinks of it.

 

There’s a motto that the Secret Service follows. The less the agents know, the less they have to feel guilty about. I was ordered to fly to an island off the coast of Venice with Ryan, my fellow agent, and investigate any suspicious activity. I was also informed I could expect hostility from the ‘locals’. What the report lacked was letting me know that the term ‘locals’ no longer applied to these…monsters. Their eyes glow crimson, and they run at speeds which would shame an Olympian. Not exactly an ideal opposition.

 

I remember writing the story of one of my previous missions on my laptop in my New York apartment, when my phone rang to offer me this undertaking. Of course, I could’ve continued typing how I’d managed to raid a house used as a heroin mill without backup. But, as a secret service agent for the U.S government, I made a pledge like all the others to serve this country. And so, I picked up the phone. Not a good idea.

 

However, logic wouldn’t save me here. Several arms rotted with decay puncture the door, while their owners spit colorful curses at me. One of them is armed with a hunting knife, and I experience a moment of weakness. That knife had sat in a sheath owned by Ryan. He was a loyal friend, and we had shared over 10 campaigns together in our careers. Unfortunately, when we arrived here, we were ambushed by them, and Ryan was killed.

 

 

 

However, mourning would not bring him back, and so I run up the stairs of the house and into the building’s master bedroom. I swiftly pull a dresser over to block the door, and then creep to the room’s window. With care, I look over the sill.

 

The monsters are still attempting to break through the door, and I feel some relief that I might live a bit longer. However, the feeling is extinguished, when two others come running, both armed with medieval crossbows. I retreat from the sill, cursing the lack of detail in my briefing.

 

From my documents, I was told the ‘locals’ had been altered, that their physique had been improved at the cost of intelligent thought. What it should have also said was that they would attack on sight with the same fervor sharks employ to kill their prey. I clutch my handgun tighter. Another reason these abominations need to be sorted out.

 

CLUNK! A crossbow bolt embeds itself into the window sill. A rope is attached to it, and it bends with the weight of the same monster with Ryan’s knife. It climbs into the room, and the crossbow bolt falls from its perch. It sees me, and snarls, knife at the ready.

 

Not hesitating, I fire three shots, two to the chest and one to the head. The chest shots seem to do nothing, yet the head shot blows it clean off. The body crumples to the ground. Breathing deeply, I retrieve the knife. Then, the body decomposes into a foul liquid smelling of rotten flesh, before being absorbed into the tartan rug.

 

I judge my situation. From the groans outside, I am faced by many monsters, with a gun with only 9 rounds left, and a serrated hunting knife. At that point, if I were a betting man, my money would remain in my pockets. I walk to the window sill, and face the horde.

 

They’d killed Ryan, and looked and fought as though they were from a depraved nightmare in a horror movie. Now, this was no longer a mission. This was a time for fighting for a friend’s memory.

 

I leap through the window, landing onto the cobblestones. I turn and face what is most likely my end. Saliva drips from the maws of them as they stare hungrily at me. I look at them calmly, yet my heart is a motor, pumping adrenaline through my body.

 

Even if I fall to them, I’ll make sure it will only be so if they work damn hard for that outcome.

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Changed

I stood in the peaceful bliss of the forest edge. The moon, cold and bright hung in the pitch black sky. And on a perfect night like tonight, only a breeze could disturb the silence of the night. And as the low branches swayed in the darkness, I came to ponder why is it that I had arrived at this very spot in the wilderness.

I was born into wealth, being the only son of wealthy investors. I detested my life, which was one of being perpetually harboured from the social life I so desired. After my parents passed away I moved on to become an entrepreneur, which was only due to my parents’ will. Before I knew it, I was a mirror image of them; arrogant but fragile, I hated myself for it. Quickly rising to fame, I thought the world recognised me. However, that was when I became confused.

Society did not recognise me. Rather, they recognised the products I churned out for them in a never-ending cycle of innovation and production. I quickly grew cynical of society, knowing full well now why my parents didn’t dare let me fraternise with those below me. Steadily I grew richer, yet despite my elaborate spending, my reserves of money would not deplete. My occupation kept my funds growing to the point of incredibility.

In a final attempt to stop the flow of money become recognised, I donated large portions of my wealth to charity organisation I would have cared nothing for. Despite my ignorance, my premonition of going by unnoticed was proved to be irrelevant. I barely even had the mentality to realise if I had been recognised. These charities, with the help of my wealth, made headlines worldwide about being able to develop past any expected point. It was then that I realised I didn’t even need to be noticed to feel good about yourself. These people were leading better lives because of me, and I couldn’t have cared less about being noticed or not. The role you play in the world only goes as far as your desire it to be.

I soon became intent on making the world a better place rather than take advantage of its desires. Slowly, my revenue started to diminish, and I saw the world around me expand beyond imagination with the absence of my products. I had abandoned that ambition long ago. When I realised that I had lived well and truly long enough, I retreated into the wilderness that I now live.

It truly is peaceful here, away from the dramas of life. And this is where I will be resting, knowing full well that the world has turned me from a life of isolation and hate to a life of charity.

(Just something I decided to write for my English assignment)


Heart of Darkness and Cultural Decline

heart-of-darkness

 

Heart of Darkness and Cultural Decline

NB: This is something I wrote for the Signal Express; the original link can be found http://thesignalexpress.com.au/archives/2359. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

If you’ve ever listened to the voice of the dormant English professor in the back of your head telling you to read more and decided it was time to research lists of the ‘Greatest Books ever Written’, you’d find most list Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness somewhere near the top. Set in the heart of the African Congo during the era of European colonisation, it follows the story of the enigmatic protagonist Charlie Marlow as he works for a Belgian trading company, transporting ivory downriver.

Before I delve into the plot of Heart of Darkness, I would just like to note that the novella was written over one hundred years ago. Compared to many of the action-packed page-turners of today, Conrad’s ‘masterpiece’ may at first read as if it were written in Polish and put through Google Translate fifteen times. It lacks guns, magic, romance and even seems to lack a plot. So why is it considered one of the greatest books ever written, and part of the Western canon?

You’ll have to read on to find out.

The story begins with a number of men sitting on a yawl (a kind of boat) on the River Thames, Charlie Marlow among them. He is the only one of them still a sailor – the only one who “still followed the sea”, the anonymous narrator informs us. Marlow then begins to tell his friends a story about a job he had taken in the past, which brought him to the heart of Africa.

Working for a company known simply as ‘The Company’, Marlow’s official job was to transport ivory via steamboat. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Not quite. Heart of Darkness is set during the Imperial colonisation of Africa, a time during which White people were aiding in the ‘civilisation’ of the Africans. The distinction here is clear – the European imperialists considered themselves superior to the ‘uncivilised’ and ‘savage’ native African. As Marlow travels deeper and deeper into the Congo, he sees external signs of this distinction: agents of the European Company are seen commanding chain-gangs of overworked natives, with brutality and cruelty never too far away.

To add to this, Marlow quickly hears about an idealistic man named Kurtz, who pulls in “more ivory than all the other agents combined”. A lone Russian Trader describes him as a man who has “enlarged his mind”, but generally Kurtz is shrouded in enigmatic mystery until Marlow arrives at his station to learn that Kurtz is, essentially, a man who has gone insane.

Having convinced the natives he was some kind of god, Kurtz reveals himself to us as someone who has immersed himself in an incredible darkness and savagery. He leads brutal raids on the surrounding territories, engages in “unspeakable rites” and sacrifices and there are drying heads on stakes around his house. Even the natives fear Kurtz, but Marlow and his crew decide to take him on board and depart back towards the mouth of the Congo. Once on board, though, Kurtz becomes progressively more ill, and Marlow is both fascinated and repulsed by him.

So what makes this book the masterpiece that it is? In short, its ideas. Many have considered Heart of Darkness an exploration into the nature and depths of the darkness and evil within each and every one of us. The natives of Heart of Darkness are considered savages, yet in many ways they are no more brutal nor cruel than the supposedly civilised imperialists. Kurtz is portrayed as a man who has embraced the darkness inherent in humanity instead of wearing the façade of civilisation that the rest of us wear, but at the same time he is described as a “remarkable” person who gathers many admirers.

But does a novella like Heart of Darkness have any other place in the world apart from gathering dust on an English professor’s bookshelf, or to torture literature students? A hundred years ago, it may have been considered popular reading, but culture, like fashion, changes quickly.  As a purely academic endeavour, reading Heart of Darkness is like eating a buffet of foreign delicacies – it can be overwhelming, and you may not initially know why the food you’re eating is considered a delicacy, but after you’ve digested it, you can begin to appreciate it. However, compared to many popular novels of today (read: page-turning bestsellers), Heart of Darkness can be described in one word: boring.

Is this sentiment a result of how our culture has progressed from intellectually heavy and rewarding material to the lower-brow obsessions of today? Perhaps. With the progressive introduction of newer technologies we have become increasingly able to access more and more content far more quickly than ever before. As a result, the content that now constitutes our culture needs to be able to grab our attentions and satisfy our entertainment urges more than ever before. Effectively, our entertainment has become instantly gratifying and insanely amusing, but relatively lacking in intellectuality.

Take the continuation of a show such as Jersey Shore, and the discontinuation of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Jersey Shore emphasises elements such as women getting punched by drunken men, a partying lifestyle and the size of particular male cast members’ abdominal muscles. These elements are amusing and attention-grabbing, and allow us to entertain a notion of superiority. But they do nothing for our minds.

On the other hand, Whedon used his space drama Firefly to explore ideas such as human fallacy and the fact that “nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today”. Consider the depth of a discontinued show such as this alongside the success of arguably less intellectual shows such as Jersey Shore.

Maybe, in the world of modern technology with its endless amount of ever-present stimulation at our fingertips, only the most interesting, attention-grabbing content survives. If a supermodel walked into your room right now, it’s likely your attention will shift towards him/her, and the conclusion of this article will remain unread. Although this article could provide some form of insight, the supermodel is surely a more attractive focus, and perhaps the same thing is happening in our culture today.

So instead of watching the next episode of Jersey Shore, perhaps it’s time to pull out dust off your copy of Heart of Darkness.

(No Title)

I wrote this poem for one of my english assignments last year, and i purposely left the titile blank. It was supposed to be about a calamity, so i wrote this.

 

I stare in silence,

At the ice cold raging fury.

Summoning all of its thirst and power,

Clinging on, using its talons, trying to grasp our very hearts,

Ripping them away, flushing them deep through,

Through the deep murkiness of the water.

 

I stare in silence,

As the great mass, body of water,

Sweeps through the future and forever bleak lands,

Engulfing all of the heavinly beauties.

Taking away our friends, families and homes.

 

I stare in silence,

On top of the tattered building,

The foundations barely holding from the force of the water,

“Oh why, oh why dear God” i pray,

I wave my lethargic arms towards the approaching helicopter,

Looming colser and closer.

A tear envelopes my eye,

Falling down, down, down,

Into the demon,

That had started it all.

Gaia

A bit of an ambiguous sonnet i wrote for english, thought i would share

Gaia

She is trepid, vulnerable; fearful,

Men slowly bringing her to her demise,

She wielded great beauty and was cheerful,

But men have profoundly reduced her size.

Yet, she is everywhere and can’t be missed,

She is one with wood, fire, earth, metal; water,

She is the base, yet men can’t coexist,

She has one life, no offspring; no daughter.

The selfishness and ambitions of men

Through lust for power, wealth and luxury,

Harm her for wants not needs, for land; labour,

Through urbanising, deforesting, when

Men have always held bare necessity.

Hurting; ethereal Mother Nature

By Geoffrey Tan 10C

White: Chapter 2

White

WARNING: Contains drug use. You don’t want to read about people getting stoned and smoking, don’t read this then.

Chapter 2: Now and Again

Leon Obrenov

In a bleak world with little to show for itself, now and again, there was a little life, James thought. As he walked down the corridor and up the stairs towards his locker, little but disinterest picked at him. Disinterest, however, was not the word he would use to describe a collision with a tangled mess of brunette hair, nor the sound of his, or her, impact with the cold floor. In a glimpse of rarity, those were all interesting events.

He was the first to recover, standing up before she did. He offered a hand to the face that was nameless to him.

“Cheers,” she said coolly.

“Have we met?” James asked. She blinked at him, picking up her bag.

“Maybe. I’m Kate,” she said. Putting names to faces was what man was born for, James thought. Recognising people was something people did all the time, it was one of those little things that people did without noticing.

“James,” he said, offering his hand again. She looked down at it, looked back up at him, smirked.

“Shaking hands? Really? How… conformist,” she remarked, before brushing past him and walking off, leaving him standing there and looking at his hand in a deep stupor.

Only after she had completely disappeared did he realise that he might never meet somebody so individual again, at least, not for a very long time.

He continued down the corridor and up yet another flight of stairs, straight passed the huge windows that went almost from the floor to the ceiling. He arrived at his locker no less ceremoniously than he ever had before, and he entered his code (62-34-78) no differently than he ever had before.

Classes hadn’t become more interesting after the break. They never did. Breaks were there so people could take pauses from boring things, James thought. Uninteresting and depressing things, they were, classes. Oh, they said they would teach different subjects and different ideas and all these things. But that was all bullshit. They all taught knowledge, or tried to, at least. The problem with teaching knowledge is that it’s impossible to teach.

“Mr Michaels, perhaps you could enlighten us on what you thought Salinger’s book,” the teacher, some old lady, said. She was nice, mostly, but she was one of those old waspy characters that drove most people insane with their niceness and prying eyes.

“I think he has the right of it, truthfully. People are mostly two-faced and selfish, but we don’t like to talk about that. We like to talk about how nice we are, and how good we are, but Salinger realised that good things are useless if they’re based on lies,” James replied, setting his pen down, and looking up at the teacher.

“Is that so, James? You really believe society lies to itself?” she asked. James nodded. Society was like a petulant child. Practiced stupidity commonly, lied to everything and its mother twice a minute, and blamed the exposer when they were caught red-handed.

“I believe society is plagued by idiocy, and that idiots lie to themselves to make themselves feel better, instead of just accepting the fact that they’re idiots and moving on,” James said. “But I also believe that there are too many idiots for the people who can see through idiocy to deal with, so I don’t expect much to change. Not much of anything ever really changes, these days.”

And with those words, the flustered teacher abandoned asking James questions in favour of asking other their opinions on the text.

Classes went by slowly, but surely, they went by. James almost fell asleep in Math, but that was because he found the subject more boring than any subject ever deserved to be.

Lunch rolled around as it usually did, sometime around one; James had lost track of time at some point during the endless, mind-numbingly boring maths topic that was commonly referred to as Functions.

When Lunch rolled around, James, as he usually did, was wondering what exactly he should do during lunch. He wandered around until he saw the shed. It happened to be a well-known shed, this shed. It was green and sat against a wall, right next to the corner, but was famous about this shed was the little area between the shed and the wall with only one entrance.

James had never been behind this famous shed, nor had he ever visited the people that occupied the infamous space between the shed and the wall. He supposed, today, that if he wanted something to be less than static and more than unchanging, he would actually have to do something himself. So he wandered around the area and behind the shed.

There were about five people there, all of them smoking something. Three were just smoking normal fags, but the other two looked like they were stoned. James suspected weed. What really surprised him was that Kate was there. She was one of the ones with the ordinary fags.

“James! Didn’t think I’d see you here,” she exclaimed. He glanced between the ciggie in her hand and the smile on her face.

“Same,” he replied. “Have a spare smoke?”

“Maybe,” she replied. “I’ve never seen you here before. Ever smoked before?”

“Never,” he replied simply. She handed him a fag, and he nearly coughed at the smoke that came at him from hers. “A light?”

She tossed him one from her coat pocket, and he lit the ciggie. It burnt for a moment before he took a puff. A second passed. He started coughing coarsely and Kate laughed at him.

He had gotten used to it by the end of lunch.

Two hours later, and with little input from James, the school day ended without much fanfare, much as it always did on these normal days during the week. He was walking down towards the main gate. He felt a grip on his arm, and swivelled around to find himself face to face with a girl who was fast becoming familiar.

“Hey,” she greeted, letting go of his arm. He rubbed softly.

“Hell of a grip,” he remarked, and she smirked. “Any reason why you grabbed me?”

She glanced left, right, down at her toes, before looking up at him.

“A bunch of us are coming to my place for a get-together kind of thing; I’m inviting you,” she said. This time he looked around.

“When?” he asked.

“Now,” she replied.

“Spontaneity; how not conformist,” James said.

And much like they arrived, they left. Without any fanfare at all. The only difference was they were together when they left.

The trip to her house was short; she was an inner city bug. They hopped on a tram, simple and easy, and they were there. It was a three storey building, modern, and pretty cool. It was clean inside, and most things were nicely organised. But, it was a house. James liked homes more.

“Parents not home?” he asked. She shrugged nonchalantly.

“Business trip. Won’t be home ‘til the weekend,” she replied. “Beer?”

He nodded. “Sure. Why not?”

“Exactly. That’s what I think, anyway. You can do peaceful, healthy shit when you’re dead, right?” she asked. He nodded again.

“I suppose. Some stuff is just too crap, though,” James replied. Kate laughed, and handed him his beer, the first of the day, he thought.

“Don’t knock what’ll kill ‘til you try it,” she replied, and quite suddenly, James got the feeling that he was a little out of his depth with this girl. Was that normal?

“Why?” he asked.

“There’s something about escaping, hiding from the world in happiness and ecstasy,” Kate replied. “Sometimes it’s what people need.”

Are you one of those people, Kate? James thought. Very out of his depth. This was going to be fun.                                     

Author’s Note:

If anybody has any responses, I would appreciate them. Comments on the post will be responded to, guys from MHS can facebook me, or my email is obrenov.leon@gmail.com

The Right ‘Right’

The Right ‘Right’

Leon Obrenov


The bitter cold of the invisible wind, unseeable in the cold night came as a mere draught through
printing room. Dimly lit, and about to be filled with the sound of presses creating tomorrow’s
papers, filled with the striking smell of ink, and with just one man in the whole room, the basement
of the International General was filled with volumes about to be spoken. The question at this point,
in the middle of the night, was which volumes they would be speaking. The one man in the room, he
hoped it would be the truth.

The sliding door opened, metallic and creaky.

“What are you doing here, Tom?” an older man asked. A slight beard and greying hair, this man was
Jimmy, chief editor and manager.

“Changing their truth to the real truth, Jimmy,” Tom said. They both knew who he was talking about.

In the 22nd century, what was written was printed and swallowed as truth. And the writers, they
worked for people higher up with only one point of view: the one that benefitted them.

“Come up to the office, Tom. Let’s talk,” Jimmy said. Tom didn’t move, hand on a button.
This was the modern world. One button decided who saw the ‘truth’ and who saw the truth. People
had become controlled. The philosophers, just before they had been abolished, had said that
the death of truth would mean the destruction of morality. Now, truth was whatever suited the
powerful, whatever suited the so-called ‘stability of society.’

“Let’s talk, Tom,” Jimmy repeated. Tom nodded. Acquiesced.

“About what? Your cowardice?”

A blank stare.

“What’re you printing?” Jimmy asked. Tom nodded. Kept on nodding.

“What people need to see. Children with bullet holes put there under orders,” Tom replied
bluntly. “The truth that everyone needs to see and hear.”

Kept on nodding. It was a self-convincing argument, pitiful righteousness at its heart.

“The funny thing about the truth, Tom, is that people don’t believe it. You can put it in front of them,
evidence… undeniable even,” Jimmy said. Tom kept on nodding, a shrug at Jimmy’s words.

“You think so? Bullshit,” Tom said.

Jimmy blinked. Tom’s hand lingered nervously next to the button that he believed could change the
world.

“That’s the trick though. People don’t believe the truth, they believe what they’re told to believe.

“That’s what we do, isn’t it?” Tom asked.

There was a pause. Nobody spoke. Nobody needed to.

“What’s the hardest thing in this world to kill, Jimmy?” Tom asked. The non sequitur surprised Jimmy.

“I don’t know. A leader?”

Tom laughed. “Leaders are men. Men are easy to kill. An idea, Jimmy. Once it’s in your mind, it sits
and festers and grows until you can’t just keep it in, and like a virus, it spreads faster than wildfire.
The only way to kill thought is to kill people, but the funny thing about ideas, Jimmy, is that they
travel faster than bullets.”

“That’s what you want to do, isn’t it Tom? You want to spread doubt. Change the world. Make this a
better place,” Jimmy prompted. Tom looked at him, dead pan eyes, and laughed.

“You see doubt and chaos, Jimmy. You see revolts and revolutions, and you know what I see?” Tom
asked. Jimmy shrugged. “I see what needs to be done. I see people. I see spirits doing what they
were meant to do.”

Jimmy couldn’t help it. He laughed. At the idea, and Tom. Enraged, Tom moved his hand closer to
that all important button. Jimmy stopped, abruptly.

“You this place as well as I do, Tom. People don’t care about other people, they care about
themselves. When the going gets tough, the most selfish man survives,” Jimmy replied. “Do you
know what’ll happen if you push that button? People will get up off their couches and do something,
yeah. How long do you think the Authority will let them protest before somebody gets tired of
listening?”

Hundreds of people would die. Bullets would rip through crowds, like babies.

“What’s so great about your truth that means that thousands should have to die for it?” Jimmy
asked.

Thousands would. This wouldn’t be a peaceful revolution. The Authority only believed in one-sided
peaceful revolutions, and it was never their side that was peaceful.

“It’s who we are, Jimmy. We want the truth, and we deserve it. You’re just a coward. If I don’t do
this now, then somebody else will, and it’ll happen anyway!” Tom replied. “You’re just a coward who
can’t bear the thought of the world falling apart while you’re still around.”

Jimmy nodded. It was true, after all.

There was a soft thud, and then all the lights came on.

The Official blog for Melbourne High Writing Interest Group (WIG)

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