Tuesday, October 16, 2007

B R Y A N ' S B L O O D P E O P L E

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B R Y A N ' S B L O O D P E O P L E
A Short Story of Delight and Intrigue

S i l a s T . C o m b e r b a c h e

Bryan was eleven. He lived in a suburb of Brazil with his mother and sister. They were vicious bitch-cats, and Bryan's life was filled with misery and constant antagonism. Bryan often bled due to a rare pituitary disorder that caused his body to produce more blood than his body needed, kind of like putting five quarts of oil in your car when it only holds four. Once a week, Bryan had to bleed off about a gallon or so of blood through a creaky wooden apparatus like a beer tap that was punched through his epidermis, all held together by big medical rubber bands that were cracked and sticky. Bryan would drip his salty black blood into a shallow ceramic bowl and carry it slick black and wet to his bedroom window. He would place the bowl on the concrete ledge outside his window and peer out in terror from behind thin fabric curtains as the cave bats used their echolocation to find the bowl and swarm in and crawl all over it and into it like so many starving ants.

Bats are, as the name may suggest, related to rats: they are quite capable of learning how to find the cheese at the end of the maze and they will return to a place over and over again with increasing numbers to find food. It wasn't long before Bryan had quite a following -- of blood-slick bats. They would darken the sky like thunderclouds just after dusk, their echolocation noise humming due to harmonic overlap like the low A of a darkly played viola, the bow scratching and dragging across the strings.

Too many bats, not enough blood. What to do? Bryan put his sister in the window. He tied her down screaming and knew he could keep her alive by feeding her his blood -- which he did. For a while. She lived for a few days. His mother was next, that fucking bitch.


Jp said...

Hm, apparently someone just left a nega-comment, taking the total on this post back to zero from it previous 1. I will therefore break it in anew.

I don't know whether to laugh, shiver, or recommend therapy. Where I come from, that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

There once was a man from Jefferson,
whose life apparently was a tough one.
He wrote about bats and vicious bitch-cats.
Me thinks someone's coming undone.
(or possibly due for some fun!)
(or dating Atilla the Hun.)
(or crazy, please pardon the pun.)
(or spending too much time in the sun.)
(or toting emotions weighing a ton.)
(or feeling it's time he won.)
(in dire need of a beer run.)

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story. It's an absolute inspiration. A delight! It's what would happen if the CEO of Hallmark was Aleister Crowley.

Seriously. WTF?

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that therapy has been ineffective.

The good news is that the story is not indicative of any present state of mind of the author.

It was written in a tax-law class about six years ago after a guy named Bryan who was sitting next to me cut one of his fingers and bizarrely started making blood imprints on his notebook that happened to be more or less in the shape of tiny people due to the unusual configuration of the cut.

I wrote "Bryan's Blood People" at the top of the page in his notebook that had become filled with the little bloody homunculi, and it occurred to me that that would be a good title for a short story. I wrote the short story in the next 15 minutes (ignoring a lecture on the tax consequences of generation-skipping transfers), and it languished in a box of used legal pads that survived about six moves and was finally unearthed in my most recent relocation.

Interestingly, Aleister Crowley makes an appearance in A Moveable Feast; Hemingway wrote that he (Hem) was sitting outside a café in Paris drinking wine and Crowley walked by twice, apparently looking dark and scary.

Anonymous said...

A rather different side of your creativity, Comberbache.

Delight? Intrigue? Perhaps. Perhaps on the fifth read or so. How about grotesque and twisted?

Had you too much time on your hands when you penned this piece? Kudos for the variety you offer your readers in the world of the Baby-Hawk.

Anonymous said...

Nice. Did you find this in the box labeled, "Things people write just before they drag them off for electric shock treatments"? Or perhaps in a file with the title, "Perverse and provocative thoughts on my relationships with assertive women"?

Jp said...

Tough crowd.

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Apparently in today's climate of political correctness it is not ok to express one's fantasies through fiction anymore.

(Just kidding.)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say it isn't correct to express yourself through fiction. Rather, I would wonder if the responses were a result not of your use of "fucking bitch" to describe a woman, (which has been described by minds much smaller than yours with such silly concepts as "paradigms of shame and indignity for all women", etc...), but rather a knee-jerk reaction to your hackneyed prose and general mis-information regaring bats.

I mean, first of all, bats are not related to rats-- unless you count the fact that they are mammals. Next, the echolocation of bats can't be heard by humans. And lastly, "humming due to harmonic overlap like the low A of a darkly played viola...", is a bit "a dark and stormy night", if you will.

I guess I just expected better, Silas; though I have never been subjected to the horrors of your tax class, (and I know WAY too much about bats since I was once a tour guide at the Olentangy Indian Caverns.)

Anonymous said...

Hackneyed prose? Misinformation about bats? That's what all of the hullabaloo is about? I don't think so.

It's dark. It's misogynistic. It features the word "fuck". Everyone secretly loved it.

Ganymede, I'd lay off smoking the peace pipe with the Wyandotte Indians.

And, by the way Traffic Cop, assertive women are sexy as hell and will make your knees go weak.

Anonymous said...

Ganymede: the story was intended to be a work of imaginative literature. The part about the boy draining off his blood through a creaky wooden tap should have given it away.

Anonymous said...

Well I thought the story was great. I love little boys who bleed uncontrollably. And I especially love grisly descriptions of blood.

It reminded me of whem my brother got his tonsils out. He and I were watching TV when our mom gave us milkshakes with straws, which promptly sucked the scabs and clots right out of my brother's throat. Next thing I know, my sweet older brother is spewing mouthfuls of horrible black blood all over everything. We rushed him to the hospital, with my brother holding a big mixing bowl in his lap into which he was gurgling and puking his own nasty, half-digested, half-congealed blood. I remember thinking two things: 1. Are we going to make it to the hospital before the bowl is full? and 2. If he dies, can I have his Led Zeppelin posters?

Anonymous said...

Well, well, well. Comberbache and his kin have similar sinister appreciations for blood. I almost threw up. And I wouldn't have had a mixing bowl to catch it!

Anonymous said...

"their echolocation noise humming due to harmonic overlap like the low A of a darkly played viola, the bow scratching and dragging across the strings."

bats make clicks and chirps at frequencies around 100kHz (1), much too high for the human ear to detect (human perception peaking around 20kHz) and significantly higher than the 440Hz peak of an A note on the viola (2).

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_echolocation#Bats

(2)Irvine, Daniel. Vibration Frequencies of Viola Strings
4th April 2007. http://www.vibrationdata.com/Daniel_Viola.pdf[/quote]

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of when I went to see E.T. with my elementary-school girlfriend. At the point in the movie when the kid and E.T. flew into the air on the kid's bicycle, she exclaimed "Yeah, right!" As if the whole movie had been entirely plausible to that point.

Seriously - is the bat thing all that is not scientifically plausible about the story? Is someone going to research whether there are rare pituitary disorders that cause one to need his blood drained periodically?

Anonymous, are you one of those people who watch Star Trek and mockingly object when they use the word parsec as a unit of time rather than distance? Tell the truth.

Parenthetically, those bats are imaginary bats that, having evolved on Uranus under markedly different conditions, have an echolocation noise that is audible to humans on Earth. Bryan's Blood People II: Out of Uranus will tell the story of how they got to Earth.

Jp said...

I'm going to come clean here and say that my comments were entirely due to your inaccurate information on bats.

Bad luck posting this during the Internet Literalist Festival.

Anonymous said...

If ET was a movie where they said "get on the bicycle!" and then the characters got on a machine with eight wheels, a lounge chair for a seat, and a diesel engine and then the characters were like "This is what a bicycle is, audience!" then maybe you'd have a point.

If you're going to write a horror story about bats, maybe you should learn what a bat is :D

Anonymous said...

I didn't want to have to do this:

(1) The story says that bats are related to rats, but it does not say that they are first cousins. The same sentence after the colon describes the nature of the relationship: that both rats and bats are "capable of learning how to find the cheese at the end of the maze and they will return to a place over and over again with increasing numbers to find food."

I do not think the author necessarily implied a close genetic relation between the animals. Should it matter whether bats and rats are in the same phylum or if maybe they merely belong to the same kingdom? I don't think that was the point of the passage.

(2) Technically, the story does not state that the echolocation noise was audible to humans. It merely states that the noise was humming. It does not say that "Bryan could hear the echolocation noise of the bats." It also does not say that the bat noise was humming at the same frequency or pitch as the low A of a viola. It says the noise was like the low A of a viola.

A fart might sound like the low A of a viola, but it would be absurd to suggest that such a comparison would require the fart to actually have a frequency of 440 hertz before the comparison could be valid.

The comparison might imply that the humming was audible to humans, but as long as we're being captious, hypertechnical douche bags, it is fair to argue that the passage, when read literally, does not indicate that the humming was necessarily audible to humans.

I look forward to Bryan's Blood People II.

Anonymous said...

So I was sitting in the hospital today, hooked up to a heart monitor for the better part of the afternoon, and being bored I decided to check out my friend Edward's blog. Intending to read past posts I patiently waited for the site to load on my Blackberry.

I quickly glanced at "Blood People" and admittedly didn't think too much about it until I got to the end and saw it had EIGHTEEN comments. I quickly read it again, thinking I had missed something. Then I read the comments.

Not to get in the middle of the whole "can humans hear the echolocation of bats-what animal family do bats belong in" debate, I felt compelled to offer the following to Ganymede:

1) My very first job was as a tour guide at the Olentangy Indian Caverns in Ohio. As a little, prim, bossy white girl I loved this job because I got to wear a red jacket, carry a flash light and be in charge. The entire summer I led family after family through the caverns, the Fathers wearing white tube socks pulled up over their ankles, the Mothers with their theme T-shirts tucked into mom jeans, the children with red sticky candy residue surrounding their mouths. The point of all of this? Not once did I ever see a bat. Ever. Nor were bats part of the "cavern lore" of the rehearsed speech the guides would give ten times a day; (and if we were forced to discuss the transparent fish that allegedly lived deep in one of the cavern's many natural pools, I am sure if there was even the slightest chance that bats ever visited the cavern, we would have worked the reference in, believe you me.) So I have to call bullshit on your bat-related knowledge having been gleaned from the Olentangy Indian Caverns. Quite frankly, you are making the rest of us former guides look bad. Which brings me to point two--

2) I completely agree with Silas--stop being so fussy about what laws of echolocation, biology or logic should apply to someone's creative expression. One of the best parts of being a kid was the first time Dorthy opened the door after landing in Munchkin Land and suddenly the entire world was in color. Did it matter that a torndao was unlikely to carry away an entire house in tact and deposit it, along with a girl and her dog, on top of an evil witch in a country made up entirely of little people and child actors? Hell no; it was a perfect moment and it blew my little mind.

Maybe the story is about the universal struggle with love and yearning. Maybe it is about the author's struggle with women, mothers or the consequences of not paying attention in tax class. Whatever the case may be, it is clearly a thought provoking short story and sometimes its best not to look behind the curtain.

H. Philip Aster said...

What is the likelihood that two of the six people who read this blog have been tour guides at the Olentangy Indian Caverns? I did not even know such a tribe or an occupation existed.