Mark’s Scrapbook: There’s a Twist at the End, but You Will Probably Only Get it if You’re a Child of the 90s.
I’d like to announce the inaugural post of a new section here at The Page Nebula: Mark’s Scrapbook. The Scrapbook will consist of me putting up a little bit of writing that I wrote back in high school or middle school, or even elementary school if I can even find files that old. Then I’ll talk about it a little (or a lot, depending on the story). Most of these stories aren’t what I’d call “particularly good” or even “mediocre” but they are written by me, and they might give you a good barometer of how far (or how short) I have come.
This first Scrapbook actually has a little piece that I was quite proud of when I wrote it, though I only ever shared it with one person. So now you can all take a look at it. It doesn’t really have a name, and as the title indicates it does have a twist at the end. A twist that is only apparent if you were a particular kind of kid growing up in the 1990’s. A kid like me. I wrote this in High School, I’m not sure which year. It must have been after I discovered Terry Pratchett or I wouldn’t have used a word like “susurrus” in the second sentence. Originally it was going to be part of a longer work, but I never wrote any more because it stood well enough on it’s own and I had better things to do (i.e., play video games).
I hope you enjoy it.
The crunch of dry leaves beneath Derik’s feet was the only sound in the deep forest. It was a constant susurrus that seemed to be swallowed up by the undergrowth. Derik’s pace was steady, mechanical, the stride of a man used to walking all day. But if you looked close, under his grim and weathered face you would see that he was not a man at all but a boy, no more then sixteen. He wore a ragged red flannel shirt under a worn leather coat. His jeans were dirty and faded with threadbare pockets, held up by a cracked leather belt. His shoes, once red, were now muddy brown and black, stained with the memory of a dozen landscapes. The only other possessions he had was a faded red and white baseball cap and an old backpack stuffed almost to bursting. Other then the constant crunch of leaves and the steady thump of his footsteps he made no sound. He did not whistle or hum and his eyes never wandered from his path.
He’d been walking through this forest for three days now. It was his fifth time through, having fled here before when trouble came his way. And trouble came more every day. Derik wasn’t one to complain. A simple soul, he lived with only one motto: life is hard and death is worse. As long as he was alive there was reason to keep living.
Suddenly he stopped. He cocked his head, as if hearing a far off sound. He stood for a minute straight, frozen still.
Derik dropped to one knee. He had definitely heard it. A distant buzzing. He kneeled there, listening to the change in pitch as the sound’s source moved throughout the woods. Farther. Farther. Closer. Farther. Closer again. Sweat began to bead upon his forehead. His hand clutched a chipped metal sphere that hung from his belt. He kept vigil on his knee for fifteen minutes, tensing as the sound came near and relaxing when it grew soft until finally it faded away completely. He stood then, and listened for a while longer. When he was sure the sound was gone for good he hitched up his bag and continued at the same pace as before, as if nothing had happened. In these woods you couldn’t give in to fear or you’d be consumed by it.
Derik made his way up a gentle slope, aiming for the summit of a small hill. He’d been there before, and knew it would give him a good view of the surrounding territory. The path winded here in a series of switchbacks. It would be shorter to cut through the brush and the tall grass but Derik knew better. Things lurked in the tall grass. Some of them had venom that would kill you slowly. None were afraid of man. Derik stuck to the trail.
After a half hours climb he finally reached the top. There was a small clearing that rose above the thick underbrush. Derik stuck to the edge. He didn’t like the open, not around here. Anyone flying around above this forest wasn’t someone you wanted to meet. He walked carefully to the far end where the trees parted slightly and you could see above the forest ceiling. For a moment he paused. The view was stunning. Acres of forest stretched out for miles before thinning out among the foothills of a huge mountain range. The mountains themselves were tall and rocky, with little life on their slopes. The peaks were shards of granite reaching to cut the starry sky, peaks surrounded by sheer cliffs and barren slopes. But it wasn’t the mountains Derik was looking for. He let his eyes slide down the foothills until he found a cluster of light. A small town, his possible destination. He stood there and watched. Though no sound carried he could see that something was happening down there. Small pinpoints of light popped in and out of existence. There was a tiny burst of flame, and smoke trailed into the sky from some burning edifice. Derik recognized the signs clearly. The pinpricks of light was the muzzle flash of machine guns. As if to confirm his suspicions a small explosion plumed from the far away lights, followed by a dull boom a moment later. He sighed. He was hoping to resupply in town but it looked like they had trouble of their own. He considered his options and decided to swing around the long way and arrive there in a week or so. It would give him time to hunt and if there were any survivors then he’d get a good price for the meat. If there was only Rockets then he’d just have to make do. Life is hard and death is worse. He turned and began to descend the hill. No use thinking about it too hard, he thought. Facts are facts. I’m all alone, and there’s some trouble going down in Pewter City.
…so yeah. It’s Pokémon. A friend and I got the idea that it would be fun to write a story that was set in a post-apocalyptic Pokémon universe. Not cutesy like the series. I mean just imagine what a world with actual Pokémon would be like. They attack people constantly, with absolutely no natural fear of man! Most Pokémon have powers and abilities that would make our fiercest predators seem downright wussy. I mean just look at Beedrill. It’s a three foot tall bee with GIANT STINGER ARMS. I get freaked out over regular bees buzzing around me. If you lived in a world with Beedrills then you would start to panic too if you heard the buzzing drone of their wings headed your way.
The point is that if you really think about it Pokémon are scary.
From a writing standpoint, this piece has some major issues. Nobody had told me about comma splices at this point in my life, and it shows. And what’s up with “Derik”? Was “Derek” too mainstream a name for me? Did I really need to switch up that “e” with an “i”? Apparently. Overall this piece is unpolished, crude, and full of stylistic mistakes.
I hope you liked it! Tune in Friday for some more recent writing by yours truly. With any luck it will be a little bit better then what my high school self could dish out.