MayShortReads17: Artistic Temperament

After the success of ‘A Hard Night’s Work‘, here’s another Feardom tale. Read this before reading that and tell me if it works as a standalone.


17 Artistic Temperament

*Image via Salvatore Vuono on FreeDigitalPhotos

Koriko bobbed along with the stick-man in town. Its usually yellow face was lemony but the smile stayed fastened on.

“You’re a good friend, Koriko, to come along on my first day.”

“Don’t be like that, Stix. You’ve been locked away in that studio for too long. In the real world, we’re all nice people.”

“Still, are you sure? You look a little pale.”

“Naah, that’s just the residual emotion floating around this place. It gives me allergies. You’d think the Fog of Fear factory would be a little cleaner in disposing off their waste.”

“You mean Fear affects you this way? I thought that only happens to once-humans.”

Koriko bounced up and down in mirth. The very thought!

“Thank Ixtra, no! How would I survive in Feardom if I was allergic to fear? It’s the other emotions I can’t stand. Especially guilt and there’s usually some attached to most fear. The Factory’s biggest task is cleaning it off to produce raw fear, I’ve heard.”

Stix pondered this, in the aftermath of his own recent career. He clattered faintly, his stick joints twanking against each other. Koriko ignored him. Its allergies were really getting it down; even its round form was stretching slightly oval by now. It would be glad to drop Stix off and get back to its own Netherworld beat. The air was so much clearer there with the confused new-dead. Mercifully Koriko wasn’t allergic to confusion. It was a great job and Koriko was happy, unlike its miserable friend Stix. They drew close to the Factory.

“I’ll leave you here now, if that’s okay? I’ll probably go transparent if I come in.”

said Koriko perfectly still.

Stix nodded, his prickly head tracing the clock’s path from 9 to 3 and back. Now that they were here, he was quite excited. He jerkily bade Koriko goodbye and stepped into the Factory. He had a meeting with the forespirit GoombleGomp who he had been told was mighty fearsome. Stix squared its first layer sticks, jutted out its second layer and strode confidently to find Goomble. Accolades apart, he had his own achievements. He was sure it wasn’t everyday the Fear Factory saw a former Death Designer.

Goomble was waiting for him, blobbing next to a canister-filling machine, watching the pure liquid fear pour into the can. It oozed in his direction, showing the proper respect but its colour didn’t turn the green that it should have, had it been genuine. Stix chose to ignore that. He was new here after all and he wanted them to like him. They spent the early part of the night touring the factory as Goomble oozed out the various functions.

“We thought you could be part of the spray team. You know, given your background, it’s the closest to the action.”

Stix shuddered again.

“Can I be honest, Goomble? I want to be as far away from the action as possible. It’s why I quit my last job.”

Goomble blobbed, listening. Usually these designer types were so gung-ho about their craft. Stix sighed, his first layer drooping after a full two hours of bravado.

“I hated it. I mean it’s a real art, designing deaths. Real creative satisfaction.”

He said, looking around with less than satisfaction, at the line of fear dispensers queuing up to pick up their nightly supply. Goomble took umbrage, a faint brown streaking its outline.

“Why’d you leave it if it was so perfect then? Koriko told me you couldn’t wait to get away. Begged practically to take you on.”

Stix and the blob squared off for a few seconds, hostility rising above them. But Goomble broke off,

“You know, I don’t care. What do you want then, if the spray team affects your delicate sensibilities so much?”

Stix relaxed, realizing Goomble was being gracious. He wasn’t really in a position to dictate.

“Umm, you must have a mapping team, don’t you? Could I do something there? I mean, I can do drawings and visualizations pretty well.”

Goomble blobbed again.

“Mapping team?”

“Well, who charts where the fear is being dispensed and how much? I could create maps for it. I can chart out the nightly reports within the factory and the dispensions. I’m real good with visualizations. If you need imagery for fear inducement, I could program those too.”

“Sounds good. The ghoul that used to keep track of routes quit last week. Liked the action of the bone market too much, she said. The rest, you can check with the production supervisor. Maybe they can use a visualizer.”

Stix smiled, his toothpicky face turning up at the broad ends.

“Deaths carry too much grief around them, I think. It’s an unclean sentiment. Artists need to unburden to function well.”

But Goomble had blobbed away already. These designer types sure added to the flavour when they felt up to it but they never stuck around long. The colouring on Religious Fear was a delightful concoction thought up by the last designer who had gone back to her craft, immediately after that invention. This guy would be gone in a few months too, Goomble was sure. In the meantime, it had a factory to run.

Concrete (Fear Factory album)
Concrete (Fear Factory album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 thoughts on “MayShortReads17: Artistic Temperament

  1. This one is lovely. As the earlier comment mentions, I think the world is slowly developing in it’s entirety. This one is fine as a vignette, but only that; a sort of origin story.

    1. @febinmathew: I was intending it to be more like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, with a bunch of various characters who keep popping in and out of each other’s stories. Koriko, for example, appears in both. Goomblegomp may get a story of his own in the future. Or the stories may revolve around Feardom artefacts, rather than characters.

      1. Well, it does have a certain Discworld feel to it.
        You could take several of Pratchett’s own ideas into consideration then.
        Several intersecting story arcs with cross pollinated characters and the artefacts could be central to specific stories

        1. @febinmathew: That is the intention. Koriko for example, shows up in both stories so far. The Factory was one of the places on the tour in the first story. Religious Fear is referenced in both cases as well. There will be more stories, that elaborate ideas dropped in both these stories.

        1. @febinmathew: Will do that. Maybe repeat the story-a-day exercise or just finish the May one since I only did 20 in 31 days. And I will let you know when that happens.

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