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Dark Pupils - Chapter 1 - Revised

by eanna 

Posted: 03 March 2006
Word Count: 2013
Summary: Used for political end, a group of students are driven to commit a terrible crime.

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


The terrible truth is that we do and are without exception.
The old use the young to prove what they have learned and the young, to fight against their future, do it often to the old. Use each other. Take, take and be taken. Society welcomes you.

I am responsible, not in part for this new state, built on manipulation. I thought because I was sure of the desired outcome, I could do as I wished to whomever I desired. All being for the greater good and all sacrifices being worth their standing as pieces of the ultimate and overwhelming plan.
I used those poor children, and even myself in that final rigid and corneous strategy. For them it began with their meeting of each other and the months of preparation they unknowingly endured for my ends. But for me it started at a different point. A point in the future where fruition lived and all else was mere background and rehearsal. In corpus congregatio, where success was a mathematical surety and Society, my Society, would be born into the world.

Corpus Congregatio…
For me it began with flashing lights. There was rain too and it made the lights take over and surround every one and everything. All around the cordoned off area, people were mumbling and making summations about what it was that had occurred inside the mansion, their numbers growing, drawn in by the obvious nature of police secrecy.
The lights that flashed were red and blue. It was because of them that the crowd had been drawn. The lights made a statement of their own: “Come and see,” they said, “Something has happened.” And so the people gathered round and hoped that something terrible had befallen someone, as is the nature of people in such situations. It wasn’t wrong of them. People are animals.
All of which were exterior and being such, superfluous to the greater reality. Inside the mansion lay the cold and unambiguous truth. There was no supposition required for the people on the inside of those thick wooden double doors.
In there they could see the blood, the witnesses, the weapon of choice, the PR men ranting ineffectually about the presence of blue and red flashing lights. They could see each other's pale faces as they skirted around the cold blue meat as it soaked into the expensive carpet.
Yes, to give credit, there were a few of them who could possibly have understood where this event could lead and how it could ever have been planned. Yet beyond the obvious fleshy evidence, no a one could have guessed who had really been wronged, or by whom.
I know now the flaws in my design. By letting this be the beginning for me, I was avoiding the real beginning and thus manufacturing a greater tragedy.
I should have begun with the students; Looked more carefully at the elements used to build my machine; Felt something more than piety. Yet I didn't. And this is not the voice of regret speaking, nor remorse in the face of what I have done. This is a cold analysis of events, starting at the correct point in time, with them.

This is the least of what I owe them.


Everything was dark and cold and the emotions ran loneliness and an expectant dread together in grey.
Peter stepped out onto the landing amongst the shadows and the lines of the open Venetian blinds. The gaps let in the divided light of a streetlamp by the road outside and shapes were visible in its glow. Yet there were no sounds.
Peter walked into his sister’s room to have a look, hoping to see the reassuring mound of her little body outlined there under the duvet. The duvet cover was white and it had a tiny picture upon it, repeated over and over again with stamped uniformity. Peter shied from it, didn’t want to recognise it.
"Oni?" he said to nothing. There was no response and he left the room.
He headed for his parents room. It was not a place that would usually have brought him comfort, but in this horrid silence with the fear creeping up behind him and his sense of uneasiness already overloaded, Peter was willing even to undergo his Father’s usual scorned disappointment, if it meant that he was not alone in the house. His parent’s bedroom was also empty, and on the bedside locker was the statue of a man, the same man that was printed into the duvet cover in his sister’s room. Peter ran from it.

Peter jumped down the stairs in two moves. One leap landed him on the half landing and the other brought him into the open wooden sitting room that took over much of the bottom floor of the house. His bounding would usually cause a resonant boom from the wooden boards of the stairs and sitting room, but not tonight. Tonight all was quilted and smothered by the overbearing silence of Peter’s soul.
"Hello," he tried, and again, "hello."
He ran to the phone and began to call. He rang his parent’s mobiles and he called the Police. He even tried the speaking clock, but he shouldn’t have bothered. There was now one there, nobody to listen to him, not another soul anywhere in the world. He knew it to be true. Nobody would ever witness him living, nor mark the time with him as he faded away. The world was empty and there could be nothing more horrible. He turned on the light to try and chase away the colossal monster of isolation. It only made things worse.
With the room alight Peter was able to see that a huge picture frame was hanging above the fireplace where the oversized mirror of his mothers choosing was supposed to be.
It was a painting of a man, the same man as before. The image he had been trying to avoid, but could avoid no more.

The figure was on his knees in the darkness. His face pulled apart in a desperate howl. His eyes were drowned with tears of misery, as he screeched and pleaded out into the nothingness around him.

Abandoning all plans for the safety of desperate panic, Peter began to run around the house screaming and throwing open the doors.
"Hello! Where did everyone go?" he screamed, "Please come back." He burst out of the back door into the garden. Even Ralf was missing in the one moment when the hateful and vicious dog would have been a welcome sight. Peter barrelled through the side gate and ran out onto the street. There would usually be noises from the motorway, cars whizzing by, dogs howling at the moon or lack of it. There was nothing. Peter was alone.

As he ran up the road crying out for somebody, anybody, to show him that they at least existed, or had once, Peter’s steps became staggered and less determined.
It was pointless. Everything was useless now, so there was no point in running. He was merely moving from one point in the void to another. It was over.
"Where did you go!" he screamed, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…" and his screams mixed with sobs as he slumped to the ground. All around him the lights began to blink out. Good, he thought, at least I won’t need to see how alone I have become. The streetlights winked out and the stars ceased to shine, but Peter wasn’t left in complete darkness. There was one light left and it came from inside of him. And, while it still shone he would be always be able to see how alone he really was. The light of his soul exposed him. It was his last torture.

Peter began to scream and ball again. He was on his knees in the darkness. His face pulled apart in a desperate howl. His eyes were drowned with tears of misery, as he screeched and pleaded out into the nothingness around him.

"Well there you go Henry…"
"I stand corrected Johnny…"
"The sounds of the Velvet Underground played on the pan pipes…"
"It still amazes me Johnny."
"Well not me Henry, because nothing surprises Henry Hutchins when it comes to music. That’s why I’m always right here, invading your morning, showing you…"
"His trousers!"
"Very funny, why don’t you get us updated on the latest from the Administrators of our fair land Johnny?"
"Not a problem Henry, good morning everybody and welcome back to Dublin's only Radio station Top 101, hope the musical choices of Henry Hutchins didn’t wake you too abruptly this morning. I’m Johnny Deansworth and it’s eight o’clock. And, as always, it’s time for the News and weather. In a bold move the Progressive Party announced today its newest plans to reform the health system…"

Whack! Peter slammed on the snooze button and whimpered. Every night, he thought. Every fuckin night! Peter rolled out of bed and headed for the bathroom annoyed at being roused. As a matter of fact he was pretending. To whom, he didn’t know. He was glad that it was morning he knew that much. Every night since the summer began and his parents had gone to the Progressive caucus he’d been having that same dream. Night by night it became clearer and clearer until last nights most recent and vivid episode. Entering the bathroom Peter stopped in front of the mirror and took in his appearance. His eyes were puffed up, he’d been crying. The first time he could remember having the dream it had left him only with a vaguely uneasy feeling. Now he was crying in his sleep again. Things were getting out of hand. Could it be that he missed his parents so much, that his dream was some sort of longing for their return?
In the mirror Peter’s pale and red-eyed face grimaced a firm, no. That was definitely not it. He took his vitamin pills, picked up the comb and tried to untangle his hair, but it told him not to bother and stayed in its usual tangle mass of jet-black curls. Peter had the type of hair that you could only like if you didn’t have and would surely hate if you did. Why are people so sure that everyone else has it made, that the opposite of them, is better? Peter was one for asking himself these sorts of questions. He was one for deep thoughts and long-winded explanations.
He walked back into his bedroom and sat on the bare mattress of his bed, the sheet of which lay balled on the floor. His thought returned once more to his restless sleep, but only briefly this time, as he struck a shallow vein. He was going back to University today and he was going through the most childish of all emotional states; Fear of acceptance.
Today, Peter was going back to the bustle of the Dublin Technological University (DTU), where the normality of routine and student life could only help his current condition.
He was cracking up.
"You are not cracking up," he said aloud. He just couldn't allow it to happen. He was having dreams and that was all. They were all consuming and sometimes they overwhelmed him, but was that not the condition of the teenage mind? Such dreams were the manifestation of his fear of acceptance and the obvious logic of this statement made him feel especially normal.
"Congratulations," he told himself, "you are discerningly average."

Peter prepared for his normal day in a manner that was both emotionless and determined. He ate his food without seeing it, packed his books automatically and studied his timetable with little interest. On purpose he avoided the truth of his dreams and the hollow nature of his explanation.
The simple fact was that this supposed reality was beginning to feel less substantial that the dream. So the real question was: Which one was real?

He didn't want to know, just in case it was the other.

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Comments by other Members

Ava at 19:41 on 10 March 2006  Report this post
Eanna...curiouser and curiouser...
Good start, I was intriugued by the beginning, that whole "I'm actually dead" scene - a good hook and despite the next paragraph throwing the reader (me) into what I felt was an entirely different story to the prologue, I couldnt help but read on. Nice title also. I get the sense that you're rushing the story a little, maybe relax more and let your hands guide themselves (I'm assuming you type) because the pressure and angst you've built up as Peter searched for signs of life was fantastic. Maybe expand on the explanations a bit more so we get the feel of where we are and what's going on - I had no idea of the setting until you mentioned DTU. But I genuinely liked this and it sounds like a very satisfying new project for you. Good luck with it.

I have a few pathetic suggestions and I know you can edit the thing yourself but here;

as he screeched and pleaded out into the nothingness around him.
- you said this already a few lines back, but if this is a quirk you've added to your style, then ignore me.

He picked up the comb and tried to untangle his hair, but it told him not to bother and stayed in its usual tangle mass of jet-black curls.
- his hair didnt tell him anything. He did in a train of thought.

He sat down on the toilet and began to think about the day ahead. Some of these thought were much shallower than he would have admitted.
- I started laughing when I read that first sentence and if you're trying to convey a serious moment, don't have Peter pondering on the toilet. lol. Also, there is no such word as shallower, maybe deeper?

The former making him sick and helpless and the later so paranoid that he’d contemplated wearing a long silk tie to ward off his nightmares.
- I think you mean the latter there.

She was a nun of sorts, or a priestess.
- no such thing as a priestess, only nuns. Unless that was a joke? I'm blonde so humour me.

Again and again Terry had attempted to draw here face correctly
- her.

Interesting read, look forward to more.


strangefish at 14:55 on 12 March 2006  Report this post
The start is intriguing, but perhaps it is a little overdoing it to introduce two characters, each of which are students, each of which are having curious dreams, each of which are disturbed by the dreams, each of whose parenst are away.

The firts impression I got was a murder/mystery narrated by the deceased.

Then Peter's dream, which I assumed probably wrongly was the murdered man. Then there's his missing (?) parents. This kind of detail is possibly left until later?

Now I'm wondering where this is going.

Then Terry's dream and his sudden jump into the fantastic.
so paranoid that he’d contemplated wearing a long silk tie to ward off his nightmares.
The details of how this was supposed to work now seemed sketchy to the sober Terry, although it was definitely something to do with the idea that witches and demons were afraid of salesmen. Again, he was unsure how his could possibly be the case.

Hmm witches and demons, is this going to a warlocks type books?

It was these people alone that could see a face, one without expression and belonging to a body.

Is body right? I though that maybe dead man was better, because body in the sentence just seems to mean anybody, living not necessarily dead.

I can't say that's it really looking like my kind of thing, but I hope I've given you a few pointers from a reader's perspective.


eanna at 11:48 on 13 March 2006  Report this post
Thanks Guys,

Trying to start off in the right focus - The above is a new and hopefully improved version.


smudger at 12:18 on 15 March 2006  Report this post
Hi eanna,

I like your stuff. It’s always packed full of good observations, jokes and playful use of language. The plot sounds intriguing, too.

A couple of things that I especially liked:
drawn in by the obvious nature of police secrecy

The inane banter of the radio DJs was very well-observed.

I agree with earlier comments about relaxing into the writing a bit and not trying to pile too much into the first 2K words.

I’ve picked up on a few mainly editorial points:

I am responsible, not in part for this new state, built on manipulation.
Missing comma after ‘part’?

began with their meeting of each other
– drop ‘of’

corneous strategy
– had to look this one up. Nice word - ‘of or like horn’ - but as an adjective for a strategy might be stretching it a bit?

corpus congregatio
– obscure; is it a place or a state of being?

no a one could have guessed
- typo

Looked more carefully at the elements used to build my machine; Felt something more than piety.
–no need to capitalise after the semicolons.

Everything was dark and cold and the emotions ran loneliness and an expectant dread together in grey. – What does it mean? Whose emotions?

Abandoning all plans for the safety of desperate panic?? ‘…and lapsing into a desperate panic’?

until last nights most recent and vivid
– ‘…night’s…’

less substantial that the dream
- than

Hope this is helpful.

Keep it up!



Sorry, not all my quote boxes appeared; hope it's clear.

Cymro at 08:16 on 03 April 2006  Report this post
Hi Eanna,

What a great read - really kept me hooked through to the end. I didn't read the earlier version, so can't comment on if this is an improved version, but really did enjoy this and was intrigued by it.

It sometimes felt like a couple of sentences could be trimmed out. It seemed that a couple of sentences were there just to sound good. Particularly in the beginning, a lot of it is very abstract, so some of the phrases were just a little too oblique. This is particularly true of the second paragraph 'I am responsible...'.

Specific comments...

-The first sentence, it took me a moment that this refers to the word 'Used'. Perhaps re-phrase it a bit less cryptically as 'the terrible truth is that we use and are used without exception'. I think the first line should have more clarity than it currently does.

-Corneous strategy = didn't quite get this image. Great word, but perhaps not the right one here?

-I loved the paragraph with the flashing lights; the idea they call people 'Come and see' etc. is very interesting

-'All of which were exterior and being such, superfluous to the greater reality' - didn't understand what this line referred to. All of what?

-'...pale faces as they skirted around the cold blue meat...' - fantastic image!

-'no a one could have guessed' - no-one

-in quite a few places you use a capital letter after a semi-colon; you shouldn't. ;)

-'Peter was willing even to undergo his Father's usual scorned disappointment - should 'scorned' be 'scornful'? And should Father be capitalised? I think usually it isn't (later on you don't capitalise 'mother')

-'...mirror of his mothers choosing' - mother's

-'Abandoning all plans for the safety of desperate panic' - I'm sure the contradiction was deliberate, but this didn't quite work for me...perhaps it's the word 'plans' that bothers me...would 'Abandoning the safety of desperate panic' or 'Abandoning the comfort of mindless panic' or similar be better?

-'Peter was alone.' - great strong finish to this paragraph.

-I didn't like the 'Ahhhhh...' scream, I think it's enough to say he screamed, without spelling it out. 'Where did you go!' he cried, his screams mixing with sobs as he slumped to the ground - might be a tighter way of phrasing it.

-'scream and ball' - should be 'scream and bawl'

-I enjoyed the scene on the radio, some nice humour. I didn't get 'nothing surprises Henry Hutchins'; not sure who is saying this - is Johnny saying this, if so why? Henry has just said he is suprised. If Henry is saying this, then I don't like him referring to himself in the third person, and with his full name. I know they are cheesy DJs, so could get away with this, but it felt like the author trying to introduce information. You use the full name more naturally later, anyway.

-'He was glad that it was morning(,) he knew that much - missing comma

-until last nights most recent - last night's

-In the mirror Peter's pale... - In the mirror, Peter

-Why are people so sure that everyone else has it made - hmmm, not sure I liked this and the following sentences. I think we get that Peter is a deep thinker already (and from the penultimate paragraph), so not sure you need this.

-'Congratulations'...discerning average' - really liked this!

-'...beginning to feel less sustantial that the dream' - than the dream

Phew, I think that's it. As I said, I really like it and am looking foward to reading more. I think with an edit to tighten this up, this will be even more of a gripping read than it is already!



Meant to say: great title!

eanna at 12:34 on 03 April 2006  Report this post
Thanks a million guys for all your pointers. I've used them all-ish.

This book has gotten some interest so I need to make sure the opening is as tight as possible. So I really appreciate your help.


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