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A humble attempt to imitate the style of Thomas Ligotti
Published by LoonySpectre

In many ways, I was luckier than others in my life. I wasn't exactly willing to admit that, however, because I've always been in search for people luckier than myself. Perhaps it was a defensive mechanism that didn't allow my consciousness, which was maybe too lively and fluid, to become stale and swampy.
I had an opportunity that wouldn't have been available to me if I were born, say, a couple of decades ago – I regretted that birth fact when I wasn't regretting the fact that I didn't inherit a couple dozens of thousands of some valuable currency units. Thanks to computer networks, I could, upon finding a book, article or even song that put into clear, easy-to-understand words those vague images and shreds of thoughts that swirled at the far edges of my excessively lively and fluid consciousness, write the author through email or that newest advancement of civilization called social networks, to send them my regards and perhaps even start corresponding regularly. I perceived it as a given and, of course, never thought about feeling grateful for the fact that I didn't have, like I would were I born in my parents' generation, to spend a lot of time searching for the author's address, which was already quite a hopeless task, especially if they resided in some foreign country, and then send an even more hopeless letter in a paper envelope to get a bland reply with dry thanks from some official representatives, at best signed by the author's hand, a few months later.
So, instead of being grateful for a never-before existing opportunity to communicate quickly and directly with a like-minded person who stated my own thoughts better than I myself could, I was again and again feeling unhappy after receiving, several days or even hours later, bland replies with dry thanks, at least (as I wanted to hope) typed on the keyboard by authors themselves. However, I was even more devastated by a strange, almost mocking tendency: as soon as I felt admiration towards an author of some book, article or song and started harboring hopes for a fruitful collaboration, someone would appear, as though out of nowhere, and much less worthy, as my mind, distorted by bitterness and anger, would tell me, and without any visible effort, through a totally unrealistic chain of random events that were considered bad form in any storytelling genres long before any screen-related entertainment appeared, get what I was hoping for. It was impossible to prevent this deplorable, in my view, tendency: the scenario played out with annoying regularity, triggered in the very moment when, instead of a figure of admiration, I was starting to see the author as a like-minded person and potential working partner or even friend. Nothing helped – neither the complete (though, naturally, tainted by bitterness) resignation, nor wry humor – nothing. Soon I would see another person whose luck exceeded mine, and my already excessively lively and fluid consciousness would enter a bout of feverish activity – in part, this feverish activity was dedicated to searching for a new distraction (this, however, led to the unavoidable appearance of a new book, article or even song in my life, clearly and eloquently stating my own unformed thoughts, and the cycle would begin anew), but a certain cruelest part of my nature would engage my fantasy mechanism to the full and compile whole lists of excruciating and mostly deadly events, which I wished to happen to some new lucky upstart, even though I knew perfectly that I would never perform any actions that might lead to those events.
But there came a day when I've finally managed to disrupt this cycle's orderly work. The cruelest part of my nature, usually fully engaged with complicated mechanisms of my fantasy, suddenly came up with a truly revolutionary idea. I would never be able to bring suffering to those luckier than me by myself, but nothing prevents me from using others to achieve that goal. No, I'm not talking about trivial means like hired assassins – firstly, because of computer networks and other advancements of civilization, it's too easy to trace now, and, secondly, personally sending an assassin after someone is tantamount to personally pulling the trigger. I'm talking about much more cunning, ambitious and revolutionary plan offered by the cruelest part of my nature. I was going to deceive fate, the scenario that would always play out when I started its trigger by writing to a like-minded author.
I've changed my interests completely, forcing myself, at least for a time, to refrain from seeking out kindred spirits among the people whom, judging by their books, articles and songs, I considered similar to myself in personality and way of thinking, and plunged deep into the darkest and obscurest corners of Internet where stories about the most audacious and unparalleled criminals were perpetuated. I would sift each grain of information on them through my lively and fluid consciousness and give them to my fantasy mechanism to process, which (of course, only temporarily) was given into exclusive possession to the cruelest part of my nature. The lists of excruciating and mostly deadly events have gained concrete perpetrators: upstart A was suffering not abstractly now, but in the hands of psychopath X; for upstart B, the very threat of meeting murderer Y was enough to suffer a nervous breakdown and forever enclose themselves in their house in a remote part of the country, etc. Having completed this certainly unhealthy, but intensive preparatory work, I've started to put the plan itself into motion.
As I would do if I were born a couple of decades earlier, I took a pen and a sheet of paper and wrote a hopeless letter to psychopath X full of courteous flattery; after carefully sealing it in an envelope, I wrote the address and put the letter into one of my desk's drawers. Experience told me that the main thing that triggers my scenario is not even sending the letter, but merely writing it; there were times that I wouldn't even get a delivery notice in the social networks; nevertheless, another lucky rival would still appear, totally oblivious to my existence. After putting the letter away, I've tried not to think about it much, but waited with certain interest for any news concerning psychopath X, who, as news reported, was recently released on a probation.
A month later, while coming home by taxi, I heard a news program on a local radio, and they mentioned a murder, and psychopath X was the main suspect. The victim, however, wasn't upstart A, as the cruelest part of my nature described using my fantasy mechanism, but somebody unknown to me altogether; nevertheless, upon hearing those news, read by an apathetic news anchor who started to recite a litany of football scores in an equally apathetic tone immediately after that, my face seemed to betray some kind of emotions, because the taxi driver turned to me and asked, “Did you know him?”
I scrambled for an answer, finally mumbling something to the effect of “Not sure”. The taxi driver, thankfully, wasn't particularly meticulous; in fact, aside from “Where to?” and stating the needed sum, those were the only words he uttered during the entire ride. I was only happy with that: music, alternating occasionally with monotonous announcers' voices, was quiet and didn't distract me from thinking about the main question: was this murder in local news connected with my letter in any way? It was certainly possible that those two events were no more correlated than Pluto's phases in the night sky and probability of getting jackpot in a gambling machine in the cafe not far from my home, but, on the other hand, what was the probability of my scenario playing out as many times as it did?
The answer, much more detailed than I counted on, waited for me in the mailbox. An envelope without any sender name or return address usually contained some kind of leaflet advertising another useless “unique” service or commodity, and I was going to crumple it and throw it away without opening, but it felt too thick and heavy to contain just a leaflet. Inside, as I learned when I opened it in my apartment, there was a tangled and very illiterate, but thorough description of the murder; the victim's name was the same as told by an apathetic voice in the local news. At the end of this message, which by no means could be classified as a bland reply with dry thanks, there was a handwritten signature, slightly resembling the last name of psychopath X.
The experiment was deemed successful, since it delivered a comprehensive answer to many questions and speculations. On the other hand, I understood that there was no sense in continuing it. A thorough description of a murder, of course, gave a lot of new fuel for the fantasy mechanism, which was still exclusively operated by the cruelest part of my nature, but the number of people who were luckier than me did not decrease because of that, and the fact that I condemned, even though as indirectly as possible, through an ineffable trigger of an incomprehensible scenario, somebody totally unknown to me to death, didn't make me happy at all – however lively and fluid was my consciousness, it wasn't willing to kill people who never did anything wrong to it. So, I destroyed both the unsent hopeless letter and the unexpected reply without a return address, written by the addressee himself (at least I liked to think that he wrote me with his own hand, because it gave me another mystery that had no direct connection to the scenario), putting an end to the cunning, ambitions and revolutionary plan to deceive fate.
Sending the cruelest part of my nature back to the farthest fringes of my consciousness and limiting its access to fantasies, I decided to run another experiment that also had something to do with death, but in a completely different way. To learn how far-reaching was the trigger's power, I wrote another paper letter, absolute in its hopelessness, with even more numerous courteous and flattering remarks, addressed to the man whom I've been adoring for a couple of decades but whom I've never tried to contact by the most obvious possible reason: he died almost a quarter of century ago. After sealing and inscribing the letter, I put it into my desk drawer as before and started to wait for something to happen. Or not to happen.
I didn't have to wait too long this time. In the evening, I've received an email without any subject or signature, containing only a strange link. This, of course, could be just some spam or even a virus, but when I saw the name of the absolutely hopeless letter's addressee among the long lines of symbols senseless for human eyes, but very important for network signal-processing computers, I clicked on the link without thinking. It led me to even darker and more obscure corners of the Internet than I've been visiting while gathering information on the most audacious and unparalleled criminals for my previous experiment. The most prominent site in this segment was, strangely enough, a social network – with a little difference: dead people, rather than living, posted in there. After registering in this network, which I was instructed and reminded to do by all links I have previously visited in those dark corners of the Internet, I found a private message waiting for me.
In this private message, the man whom I've been adoring for a couple of decades despite his death a quarter of century ago, congratulated me with figuring out the way of extracting myself from the vicious circle of hopeless letters. “Very few people in our times understand that the dead wish, and deserve, to be respected and admired no less, or rather even more than the living. Not in the third person, as in dry and formal obituaries and frozen moments of the past, like monuments: they turn once fluid and lively rivers of life into stagnant, swampy creeks. And when somebody brings a bit of freshness into the stale air by addressing the dead as though they've never died, the dead value that”, he wrote. From the same message I learned that he knew about my story with triggers and could, out of gratitude, change the scenario that brought me so much anger, bitterness and fantasies of the cruelest part of my nature. From the victim of the trigger I would become, so to say, its beneficiary: somebody other would write a letter to the author of a book, article or song that put into clear, easy-to-understand words those vague images and shreds of thoughts that swirled at the far edges of their consciousness, and after some time, I, without much visible effort, through a totally unrealistic chain of random events would get an opportunity to collaborate fruitfully with that author. Of course, he warned, those changes would be accompanied by certain side effects, but they couldn't be compared with the feeling that it's no longer necessary to search for people luckier than you because you've gotten lucky yourself. Naturally, I agreed.
I've started to spend a lot of time in the dead corners of the Internet, again temporarily leaving the search for kindred spirits among the still-living authors. The dead weren't exactly rush to talk to me – to be fair, not everyone of them received long pen-and-paper letters with numerous courteous and flattering remarks; even the one who did receive such a letter and promised to change the strange, almost mocking tendency by turning it upside down out of gratitude, made it clear that he wasn't interested in further correspondence, and conversations between the living and the dead is a very rare exception, not a rule. Nevertheless, I was interested in the thoughts shared by the dead among themselves, but on the few pages that were open even to the living, I only saw the confirmation of what was said to me in that private message: those pages looked like stagnant, swampy creeks, as though the consciousness of those who wrote on the pages had indeed lost all its fluidity and liveliness. That's what should be feared in death, I understood. Not the decay of your physical body, but the eternal and final stagnation of thoughts. Perhaps on the pages hidden from me they did reach the heights of technology and philosophy that were unattainable for the living, whose time was so nonsensically limited, but even if so, they weren't exactly rushing to share.
A phone call from an unknown number startled me. Even before picking up the phone, I understood that a new trigger was set in motion, and this was a starting point for a totally unrealistic chain of random events that were considered bad form in any storytelling genres long before any screen-related entertainment appeared, and, without much visible effort, I would finally get the opportunity I've waited for so long. The voice at the other end of the phone told me that they learned about me from their Internet acquaintances, who in turn heard about me from other acquaintances, and it was a very happy occurrence. Despite knowing that something of the sort awaited me, I still felt a strong rush of emotions barely known to me – the all-consuming joy and understanding that it was finally me and not someone else who got lucky. Soon we met and made our collaboration official; I won't bore you with details because you probably already know everything – and refuse to believe that such a ridiculous story could be true.
And then, the promised side effects began to manifest. To begin, I received another letter in a blank envelope, similar to the one I received, as I wanted to think, from the psychopath X. That letter, in equally colorful details, but in a much more literate and, should I say, pleasant to the eye language, described the murder of another person, with appearance and name perfectly matching mine. I did have some ideas as to what that might mean, but decided to wait for a confirmation that would surely follow very soon.
I wasn't mistaken. In another private message, I got an explanation, more detailed than I counted on, of how exactly the trigger-caused scenario change worked. In exchange for a conscious, even though indirect manipulation of fate, determined by an impartial random number generator, the beneficiary would lose their defense from negative emotions expressed by victims of various strange, almost mocking tendencies when the cruelest part of their nature gets exclusive hold on the fantasy mechanism. Those fantasies about excruciating and mostly deadly events are relayed directly to the beneficiary by a special mail delivery system operated by the dead. If the letter is delivered, the addressee can't help but receive it: an overwhelming force would make him open it and read its entire contents. But, of course, these small things are nothing compared to the feelings that you've finally got luckier than others, aren't they?
And if the fantasies of those who now consider me an upstart get totally unbearable, I've got several options. The first is to write books, articles, songs and other text materials that put into into clear, easy-to-understand words those vague images and shreds of thoughts that swirled at the far edges of the excessively lively and fluid consciousness of the people who, for one reason or the other, would consider me a like-minded person. If I show enough talent, I would be sought after for fruitful collaborations, people would start sending me letters and messages of various degrees of hopelessness, and I would regain the defense that I lost because of manipulating fate. But this might take several years or even decades.
The second option was already tried by me earlier: write to audacious and unparalleled criminals letters full of courteous flattery, and keep them in the desk drawer until I get a reply in a blank envelope through the mail system of the dead. However, I would still be reading thorough descriptions of violent murders of people who'd done me nothing wrong at all, and my consciousness, with all its liveliness and fluidity, still considered this option unacceptable; the alternative, though, as I learned later, wasn't pretty.
I could pretend to be totally unfazed by those violent fantasies, but then the letters would gradually grow in frequency and thoroughness – don't I think that only one person considers me an upstart through a distorting prism of anger and bitterness? And eventually, one of the fantasies – in a totally random fashion, of course, without any active provocation from anyone – would be acted out by some psychopath or even a healthy, but audacious and unparalleled criminal, and after the death of my physical body, the most horrible thing awaited me: my lively and fluid consciousness would become stagnant and swampy, and I would be spending all my time in the dead social network, where my only entertainment would be waiting for someone to write me a hopeless letter, addressing me as though I wasn't dead at all, and maybe, I'd also get an opportunity to manipulate some strange and almost mocking scenario controlling the unlucky sender's life. No, this option was even more unacceptable than the last one.
The next day I got a carefully compiled selection of the worst wishes from various social networks and online forums, and I wondered how long would I be able to exist in such conditions. Each individual commentary could perhaps be just ignored, but together, they were causing at least as much, if not more damage to my mind, exhausted and having only recently experienced a stable surge of joy, than the news about yet another upstart who got luckier than me. If the physical death is preceded by such torture, something must be done. I still wasn't willing to kill innocent and totally unknown people, but if the choice ever boils down to kill or die, I must admit, I'd choose the former.
After another anonymous letter with colorful description of my violent death, I had a strange idea, though logical in its own way. In the time free from the fruitful collaboration, I've started to lend my fantasy mechanism to the cruelest part of my nature again to come up with excruciating and mostly deadly events, but for myself rather than for those who were luckier than me. Writing such things was much easier than reading them; sometimes I would even laugh after putting down an phrase especially disgusting for normal people. Furthermore, I registered a pseudonym in some social network and started to post those gruesome vignettes there, causing passionate discussions and a lot of reposts.
As a temporary measure, it worked. Perhaps those who were less lucky and considered me a talentless upstart who never deserved that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because of this, found something in my descriptions of violent tortures and killings of myself that put their secret desires into clear and easy to understand words, and they didn't have to use their own fantasy mechanisms. The respite allowed me to concentrate on the fruitful collaboration – I still put maximum priority on the first solution to the problem of side effects, not connected with any deaths, both real and imagined, in any way. For this, I was willing to work as hard as it was needed, giving everything I've got. But while managing that social network page dedicated to hatred towards myself, I've acquired some kind of immunity to others' hate messages as well, so when heavy letters in blank envelopes and carefully compiled selections of Internet messages started coming again, I regarded them with some kind of philosophical nonchalance. This continued until I suddenly got a letter with a handwritten signature slightly resembling the last name of psychopath X.
“I know where you live”. There was nothing more on the sheet of paper – no excruciating or deadly descriptions, no strong emotions. I stood, looking through the letter, and remembered what does such an outrageous inattention and disdain towards others' violent fantasies entail. It all boiled down to kill or die. Of course, I preferred the first option; I sat down at the table and wrote a letter to the first audacious and unparalleled criminal whose name I remembered, with as much courteous compliments and flattery as ever. I sealed the letter and put it into the desk drawer, registering with some far corner of my mind that I was out of envelopes.
In that very moment, I finally understood what was the true luck of lucky people. They don't know which processes and scenarios are randomly, or, if one should believe the rumors spreading among the visible part of the dead social network, pseudo-randomly launched after getting some small impulse from their luck. They don't know how many people wish them to experience excruciating and mostly deadly events, and which exactly events those are. They don't know how many murderers and psychopaths suddenly jump at their victims without any provocation. But since my luck is not random, I know all that.
No, I didn't start fearing to come out of my apartment. Actually, right after writing that letter, I went to a shop and bought some envelopes; my fruitful collaboration also involved regular meetings. And, getting, approximately two weeks later, a new letter with a tangled and very illiterate description of a murder of some person totally unknown to me, I reacted with a similar philosophical nonchalance – or, if you prefer, with outrageous inattention and disdain towards others' violent fantasies that were acted out because I gave them a small impulse. I didn't destroy the letter this time – just put it into a different desk drawer.
I have gathered quite a collection since then. Perhaps someday I will even publish this possibly most disgusting of epistolary novels that ever existed – most probably, right after I put into clear and easy to understand words those vague images and shreds of thoughts that swirled at the far edges of somebody's undoubtedly lively and fluid consciousness, and I would receive enough letters and messages of various degrees of hopelessness to finally make writing letters myself unnecessary.
But for now, I'm going to seal another envelope.
2 Thanks From:
Druidic (10-12-2015), miguel1984 (10-06-2015)



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