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04 August 2014 @ 10:31 am
LJ Idol Season Nine: "If Mortal Breath Could But Awaken"  
If Mortal Breath Could But Awaken
lj idol season nine | week 16 |975 words
A Terrible beauty has been born

x-x-x-x-x

At first, everyone thought it was a blessing. We had all lost someone we loved, and then lost our own futures to the endless sorrow from which some do not escape. That the dead could be restored to life seemed like a miracle in a merciless age.

It wasn't until later that we realized those we reclaimed were somehow… wrong.

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Elеnakehlen on August 6th, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC)
Clever. And can be applied to the side-effects of so many drugs.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 7th, 2014 06:34 pm (UTC)
Yes-- and to science in general. So many seemingly amazing creations and ideas, where their flaws and what they cost us aren't apparent until later. :(
n3m3sis43n3m3sis43 on August 6th, 2014 10:42 pm (UTC)
Lazaryl - such a perfect name for this drug!

I loved this line:
It was a terrible lie, a lie that wore our Mama's smile, those rare times when it remembered.

The ending line was perfect, too. So heartbreaking.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 7th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
I had to search hard for an authentic-sounding drug name that was not already in use for some other reason. For awhile, I had no name, but that became a little convoluted to read. I came back to Lazaryl, because that IS what the drug essentially does.

I'm glad you liked that line-- I wanted to capture both how false that shell and that smile would seem, once the narrator knew there was nothing real behind them, and how 'not human' the thing behind them now was. It exercises social graces when it remembers, as if they're a known habit, but there is no sincere impulse toward them.

So glad you enjoyed this, sad though it was.
waltzmatildahwaltzmatildah on August 7th, 2014 02:08 am (UTC)
"Yes, Lissy, of course," she'd say. But my name was just a label in her mouth, like Minister or Monday.

Or Daughter.


Beautiful.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 7th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
Such an awful feeling, to know that your name now means nothing special to the person who gave it to you, because the actual person herself is now gone. :(
tatdatcmtatdatcm on August 7th, 2014 02:27 am (UTC)
This would be a worse zombie apocalypse than one with brain-eating undead.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 01:21 am (UTC)
So much more emotionally hard on those left behind, definitely.
penpusher: Comedy Centralpenpusher on August 7th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
Creepy and heartbreaking! I can almost hear the commercial: Ask your doctor if Lazaryl is right for your loved one! Don't use Lazaryl if you've ever been dead or in a deep coma that has lasted six months or more. Side effects may include swelling of the brain, permanently dilated pupils, dried arteries and veins, and an erection that lasts four years.

Or something far worse than any of that!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC)
I think you've just written fanfic for my story! And I like it!

Those doctor warnings could almost be summarized as, "This medication may have multiple side-effects resulting in death." So many of those listed are that horrific.

Don't use Lazaryl if you've ever been dead
:D Exactly!
blahblahblah, whateverkathrynrose on August 7th, 2014 03:39 pm (UTC)
This is how I feel about my mother's dementia.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC)
I thought about that while writing this-- there are several people who have had parents with dementia, and they know the heartache of this all too well. My oldest sister has it, as a result of Huntington's, and she has no idea who I even am. The label of my name belongs to the 3- or 4-year-old version of me.

Having your spouse or parent not know you would be one of the worst things ever. I'm sorry you're going through this. :(
(no subject) - kathrynrose on August 8th, 2014 07:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
whipchickwhipchick on August 7th, 2014 04:27 pm (UTC)
"In the house where Jax and I grew up, someone dressed in Mama's clothes and used her things, and looked for all the world like it felt right at home. It was a terrible lie, a lie that wore our Mama's smile, those rare times when it remembered."

Stunning line.

You are so good with voice, and this story is such a powerful concept, too.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!

The prompt drove the whole approach to this, in that zombies are never wonderful or beautiful. But the hope of reviving your loved ones, as you remember them, would be so utterly tempting. And so unlikely to turn out well. :(
John Louisgrail76 on August 7th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
Chilling.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
Thank you!
rayasorayaso on August 7th, 2014 05:34 pm (UTC)
Another great story! I especially liked its flow: from death and loss to resurrection and hope back to loss again. I was also interested in how you would handle the zombie/not really zombie issue, and you surprised me with your solution.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 06:22 am (UTC)
This was it-- the idea of zombies that aren't really zombies. They are definitely undead, but they're not endangering anyone. Just reminding people exactly how you can destroy the very thing you hope to create.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 06:22 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
ArmagedDanhosticle_fifer on August 7th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
"Lazaryl" -- awesome! :)

I love the miracle drug that works great, until people tried to take it too far (classic Man Plays God "Tower of Babel smackdown" sort of thing). I love the moodiness and hints of creepiness without making the jump into horror, but riding the line. This is what a zombie story that is psychological horror instead of cult shlock would look like. One of my favorite stories this round!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 06:25 am (UTC)
until people tried to take it too far
As is so often true, when you try to really thwart the natural progression of life, sometimes the results are worse than what you're trying to fix. But it's a lesson we have to keep relearning again and again.

I'm very big on psychological horror rather than grossness and gore. The grossness distances me from the story, but the emotions pull me right in and often doom me right alongside the narrator.

Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading!
Lizlabelleizzy on August 7th, 2014 11:59 pm (UTC)
*applause*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 06:25 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Teo Sayseternal_ot on August 8th, 2014 06:03 am (UTC)
Wow! Interesting take...I loved the fact that emotions run along while you read the piece..Good job!..:)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2014 06:26 am (UTC)
You can't help feeling sorry for the narrator and her brother, can you? They just desperately wanted their mother back, and now she is a constant reminder that their actual mother is truly gone.