This one's somewhere between a flash and a short (about 1250 words), fantasy (part actual myth, part invented myth, part epic poem). I'm looking for readers, but comments on the opening are fine, too. Also, I'd like to hear from anyone who has subbed anything of this length before. I have a terrible feeling it's too long for flash and too short for a short story, but I have no experience to base that on.
The Prince of Shadows
The fat white moon was sad and perfect, and the sweet eastern breeze made Eling smile. It rustled through the palms like children at play, casting frond shadows in waves. It might've even stirred his hair in waves too, had the flesh he'd been cursed with not withered long centuries ago.
"Are you going to stand there weeping at the moon all night, Eling?" Dewi asked from the Soul Box. "Are you content to merely wait for dawn to claim us?"
Dewi had been an ill-tempered goddess during her reign, but centuries under the curse had only sharpened this.
"There seems to be more profit in weeping than...this," Eling said, mimicking the night's long journey with a sweep of his skeletal hand.
[This message has been edited by onepktjoe (edited July 25, 2005).]
The moon is sad and perfect. Sad -- what is it about the moon that's sad? Perfect -- isn't the moon always the same? Eling is weeping, which goes with the moon being sad, but the breeze is making him smile. I don't follow.
Flesh is a curse?
If the flesh is gone, how is he able to weep?
Dewi had been an ill-tempered goddess in life -- goddesses are usually immortal; how is it that she's dead now?
Eling no longer having flesh is definitely a hook!
That said, using "fat" rather than "gibbous" to describe the moon did start a mood problem that "sad and perfect" only exacerbated. A little more careful attention to word selection would definitely help. As it is, I needed to read this, then go back and think about what you were trying to say with each phrase.
Some notes on what you didn't say. Eling's smile is probably wistful. He misses things like seeing children at play and feeling the wind in his hair. Dewi has characteristics/motives beyond being ill-tempered.
Minor points, I didn't like the names. I didn't like "Soul Box" either. And I was merely puzzled by the used of "mimicking" rather than "indicating" or perhaps "sketching". Or maybe he was doing the thing with moving his fingers like a little pair of legs?
I think that the concept is intriguing, but the word-level execution really needs to be honed, particularly for a peice of this length.
Personally, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with "sad and perfect"; it's an intriuing phrase that allows the reader a lot of latitude in deciding what is meant, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
I will echo the point on names, but that may be because Eling is a place just outside Southampton (UK), famous for a tidal watermill, while Dewi is a not uncommon Welsh name (and a male one), so they didn't quite work for me.
But I found iot an intriguing opening and since I've finally caught up with my last outstanding critique, I'd be happy to read and comment on this one.
For the record, I accidentally posted this from the next-to-the-last revision. That line: "...ill-tempered goddess in life..." came up in a previous crit, and I've since changed it (I'll edit it above to reflect that).
I have to admit, I'm still not happy with the names either. I originally used names that had no cultural or mythological significance, but I felt like these names should be tied to Indonesian history, even if obscurely (this piece was from the flash trigger: Indonesian Shadow Puppetry); but I've yet to find anything that is both appropriate to the theme and sounds good, too. (Eling is one of those words with lots of meanings: spirit, well-being, courage, a return to consciousness after feinting... Dewi is just a generic name for a goddess.) I'll probably just end up going back to the original ones.
I loved that. In fact, I re-read it a couple times before I finished the sentence. Adding 'wistfully' after 'smile,' though, on the order of Survivor's suggestion, would tell us a little about what Eling is feeling, and help explain the discrepancy between the 'sad' and the 'smile.'
Unless this goes into great gore and horror, I'd be willing to read.
Hi, Sunadoru. In truth, there aren't too many cultural references at all, other than the shadow puppetry, and I've always felt that was a shortcoming with this one. I'd love to get your take on it, though. I'll send it over.
Edited to say: I couldn't find an email for you other than the one over at the Carrajena Project (fascinating alt. history premise, BTW); did you want me to use that? Another?
[This message has been edited by onepktjoe (edited July 31, 2005).]