Tales From The Town #34: The Boy With The Box (parts 1, 2, and 3)

The Boy With The Box (Part 1)

He smiles at you and opens it up. Just a crack. Enough for you to see… what? Something. There’s definitely something in there. But what? What is it? What does he have in there? You step forward to take a closer look, but he snaps the lid back into place and leaves you always wanting more.

The Boy With The Box (Part 2)

“But I didn’t get the chance to see it properly!” Ethel said. “Show me again!”

“No,” said Ted. “It’s Claire’s turn now.”

“I don’t want a turn,” said Claire. “It’s just a spider.”

“It didn’t look like a spider,” Ethel said. “It was so dark it could have been anything!”

“It’s always a spider,” Claire said.

“What if it’s not, though?” Tina said. “What if it’s something new and amazing?”

“Like a newt!” Daniel said. “Or a worm.”

“Spiders are amazing,” Ted blurted out. “Really amazing.”

“See! I told you it was a spider,” Claire said. “Come on, let’s go. I can’t believe it’s snowing and all you three want to do is look in a box!”

“Oh, well, okay, yeah,” said Ethel, her eyes still longingly fixed on the box. “I suppose I don’t need another look. Sorry, Ted, but I’ve seen your spider before.”

“It might not be a spider,” Ted said desperately. “It might be something entirely different.”

“Like a newt!” said Daniel. “Or a worm.”

Ted smiled at Ethel and opened up the lid. Just a crack. Enough for a glimpse of that strangely alluring darkness, all those hints of something secret inside.

Ethel couldn’t resist. She tried but she couldn’t. She stepped forward, bent down, peered in, gasped. It wasn’t a spider in there at all.

The Boy With The Box (Part 3)

(It was seven thousand seven hundred and sixty eight spiders.)

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Notes:

1. Written between the 14th and the 21st of May, 2021

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Retrieved Footage Of The Exploration Of A High Gravity Moon

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Notes:

1. Made on March 8th, 2021
2. Using the same shadow technology as yet (a sheet of tracing paper and an LED camping torch)
3. This one ended up basically recreating Limbo
4. But as a badly animated gif instead
5. (This live exploration footage is also available on youtube)

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Manipulations Of Perspective

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Notes:

1. Written in December 2020
2. And then made on February 28th, 2021
3. The Music is Luftrisker #2, by Vom Vorton
4. Which synced almost perfectly when I added it at the end
5. So then made no changes to the animation accommodate it at all
6. Due to laziness, happiness

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Tale #82: Ariadne’s Web

There is, of course, the story of Ariadne and her ball of string. It’s always told as if that was her way of keeping Theseus from getting lost. But really it was to tie him in place.

Just as her brother was half bull, she was, as her name alludes, half spider. And with every adventurer she lured in with her tricks, with every length of twine she gave them, she slowly remade her brother’s labyrinth into her web.

And, despite what the stories say, no-one ever escaped.

How many entered that labyrinth? How many in good faith took with them her wool? Unspooling it behind them, each loop they left behind a comfort to their terrified hearts, a protection against disorientation, despair.

In reality all it did was lead her brother to them. He left no trail, yet his victim’s always did. In his fury he tore those poor men limb from limb, ate the hearts from their chests, sucked the marrow from their bones, watched in the dark with demented glee as the last lights of life left their dying eyes.

Ariadne lay her eggs in the bodies he left. When they hatched, her children feasted on the rotting flesh in which they had been born, before, eventually, they scuttled down the delicate trails of her web that stretched out around them.

Out from the dark, towards the light of the town.

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Notes:

1. Written in January 2016
2. One final thing
3. For that maze
4. Of ours

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The Wedding

My older sister was to marry a minor dignitary, and so for months the entire focus of our family had been preparations for this momentous event, which was quite unlike anything we had known before (or since).

On the morning of the ceremony, my mother, having been excluded (either by design or by callous accident, I did not know) from my sister’s preparatory entourage, instead fussed excessively over my appearance, and dressed me in a suit so uncomfortable I found myself almost entirely unable to move.

Once we had arrived at the cathedral, my mother and I were ushered to our places at the front of the crowds, and while mother greeted, and was greeted by, an endless series of well-wishers both known and unknown, I sat by her side as silent and motionless as a porcelain doll.

I had not had a religious upbringing, so for me the architecture of the cathedral was both distractingly exotic and strangely mundane (for I had no basis of comparison, and as such assumed all churches – and, indeed, weddings – were of equal size and splendour), and I found myself leaning back in my pew and gazing at the wondrous complexity of the ceiling.

Beams of marble (or, at least, of what appeared to be marble – I suspect it was actually wood simply stained as white as bone) stretched across the expanse of the hall in complex interlocking patterns, which pleasingly resembled the fractals I so enjoyed drawing on graph paper at home, and my eyes could not help themselves but trace out lines and pathways through the dense maze above me.

Lost in these pleasing geometric reveries, I missed much of the ceremony, and it was only when my mother subtly elbowed me in the ribs did I return my attention to my sister, who was by now at the altar, dressed voluminously in white, and well on the way to what for me seemed to be the important part of the occasion – the receiving of the ring.

The groom had, in a rare moment of bonhomie, taken me into his confidence some days before, and shown me the ring he intended to bind my sister with. It was gold, and round, and as heavy and featureless as his personality. Yet I knew my sister would be greatly enamoured by it, for it was excessively expensive, and therefore proof, simultaneously, of his commitment and her worth.

And indeed, from her expression, she was certainly impressed, although my sister has always known how to use her face to convey whatever emotion she intends to individuals and crowds alike, sometimes managing to say one thing to one and another to the rest with a single complex expression, so what her true feelings were, usually, in any given moment, essentially unknowable. Although I suppose this is trivially true for all but the most unguarded, naive, and unworldly of children.

As my sister and her husband kissed at the bishop’s request, a great spider, several metres across, lowered itself deftly down from the ceiling. It grasped the bishop in its legs, sank its fangs into his shoulder, and then, as it began to roll him up in silk, as neat as a cigar, swiftly retreated back to its lair above the bone-white rafters with his body.

I could not help but feel that this was a highly portentous incident, although, as my mother pointed out afterwards, the lack of surprise from the groom, his family, and the assorted other attendees from the upper echelons of our society, suggested such an occurrence was in itself quite a commonplace affair, and of little interest or import for members of their social class.

My sister would not stop screaming, and was hospitalised some weeks later.

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Notes:

1. Written on July 29th, 2019
2. And inspired by (or perhaps based upon) The Wedding by Silvina Ocampo
3. Which also includes a wedding
4. And a spider
5. But which is, unsurprisingly, much better than this

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