Login   Sign Up 


Dark Pupils - Chapter 3

by eanna 

Posted: 14 April 2006
Word Count: 2344
Summary: Meetings

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

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


Peter Rice sat at the edge of the fountain in the centre of the university grounds and wrote in his diary. It was his favourite thing to do. Peter thought, incorrectly, that once he had a pen in his hand, and a scrap of paper to write on, he could take any confusing incident or emotion, break it down and explain what it meant to him and why he felt the way he did. But all Peter’s scribbling did, was allow him to fool and alienate himself, rather than let him see that confusion was a frame of mind and an emotion shared by everyone his age. Being adjusted to your surroundings and level-headedness are not abilities possessed by most normal university students. Although it can’t be said that the words most and normal could be used in the same sentence when describing Peter Rice, as most students didn’t have reoccurring dreams depicting their abandonment by the entire universe of the living. Nor was it normal for a young man of Peter’s position and background to consider himself the reincarnate spirit of a soul long dead. But Peter did and he was, or at least he thought he was.

September 28th - Thursday

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate these days. All I can see is the pain around me. Every cross word makes me wince, every argument on the news about the state of the country, leaves me feeling weak and tired.

Why is this happening to me? What can I do to help? Can I help?

The dreams are becoming realities of the night. I know that I have a purpose and I need to find it.
At least I’m back in University for the moment. I can sit here and write. The familiarity of the place is a help in itself. The same surroundings and the same people…

I can feel her watching me again…

Peter stopped writing but resisted the urge to look up. Rachel was watching him from the gate. He knew that she was there. One day last year she had actually walked up to him but her shyness got the better of her and she had retreated back to her loud-mouthed friend blushing and being taunted as she made her retreat. Peter wished that she would speak to him. He wasn’t able to talk to other people like that. He could probably write her a note, but he knew that would be useless. He knew that he just wasn’t a part of her world, and he would never be able to communicate with her at the correct colloquial level that would be required for such an encounter to succeed.

In other simpler words, he corrected, he was too chicken, too yellow, to awkward to talk to her. Not matter what way he liked to excuse it. Mr Spineless had come to town for the good weather, and was staying for the company.

Rachel Impey watched as the pale young man, the object of all her embarrassing flushes, resumed writing in his book. For most of last year she’d watched him, Peter, as he sat and scribbled and never seemed to speak to anyone or connect with anybody. Even the fountain's edge where he always seemed to find a place, no matter how busy the lunchtime crowd, they were always apart from him. He was so different and mysterious. And, to Rachel anyway, there was a romance in that. Also, he was hot and altogether a bit gorgeous, but she would always give the 'Mysterious' reason when pressed.
"Come on, will ya?" Rachel’s best friend Marie called from the steps of the Arts Building, "Either go over there and ask him to go out with ya, or come on the fuck inside!" Rachel turned red and sprinted after Marie letting her long black hair fall over her face as she did, trying to hide her shame
"Shut up, you bitch," she said to Marie who was, as always, enjoying the torment and embarrassment that her loudness caused Rachel. The two of them finished climbing the steps and entered the building with only Marie bold enough to look back and catch Peter’s eye. Peter, who had risked a glance when he thought it was safe, was treated to a wide smile form the brazen girl and he quickly looked back down to his diary. Marie laughed at him and gave him a little wave.
"Bye little Guinea pig," she said her smile disappearing as she turned away into the Arts building.

Peter's smile was half and sadly drawn. He found that this last comment of Marie's was difficult to tolerate, as lately he had begun to feel sub human. It was like he was having a hangover from life. How could that be? It had been a month since he'd had a pint, let alone gotten pissed, or taken drugs, or anything. Yet he was feeling queasy even now in the morning, when a sober body should be feeling fresher than at any other time. There were waves that gradually took him over, and spasms of blackness, like little tastes of his dream presenting in the daylight, confounding him with their continued existence.
Below him in the fountain, autumn leaves were spinning and Peter felt that his head too was rotating with sickening inconsistence, directionless and completely under the power of the waters current.
"You're asleep," he told the leaves. "I wish I couldn't see the flow of the water." And with that Peter Rice lost consciousness and slumped into the fountain pool. It happened slowly and without grace until his head became immersed in the water. Even as he began to drown Peter didn't move a muscle or even flinch. He dropped and proceeded to expire.


Terry was ten minutes late. How the hell had he managed to be late? Some people are just late all the time no matter how hard that would seem. There were six ways to the university from his house and picking the longest should have only added a few minutes to his journey time. Terry blamed his ability to Zonk-out and stare into space at nothing. Out beyond the faces he could gaze mindlessly, over their heads in to the pixels at the edges of the painting. He could gawk at nothing until the colours of light changed into evening reds too quickly. Until they became so dark they formed a hand on his shoulder, or a disembodied head shaking its disappointment to him, telling him that night was fast returning and the dreams of a moment ago were about to spread from memory to become the horrible present.
"Bhla!" There it was again, another… how long? Five minutes gone! Now Terry was fifteen minutes late. Aw, what was the point in going into that first lecture as it neared its halfway point? Boredom, that's what. A few minutes in his "reintroduction to modern engineering" lecture were sure to feel like forever. That was exactly what Terry wanted, an eternity between now and later, a stay of delusion before the inevitable struggle against sleep.
Another few minutes wasted.

As Terry fussed impotently on the steps and tried to decide whether he should go and learn something today, he felt a peculiar strain on his mind. Peculiar strains not often populating any part of Terry's person he certainly noticed the feeling and it caused him to turn around and face the source of it.
It wasn't an "Oven left on at home" feeling, but more like a "Hairdryer left in the bath" sort of thing. And, unlike shivers and creeping nags, the feeling moved around with him, until he felt it in the muscles of his face. It was like being drowned in icy water and having a radiant light shone in gloom accustomed eyes at the same time. The world around him was a sharp trail of blurred colour that tunnelled towards the fountain in front of the Arts building, where a form was slumped and drowning.

"Shit!" he shouted and ran down the main steps and sprinted to the aid of the black clad boy with his head in the shallow water. In Terry's mind the thoughts raced around and came to possible conclusions. Was he drinking? No. Was it some sort of prank? Nah.
Terry gained Peter's side and reached down to grab his shoulders. Was it on purpose? Maybe… Terry shook his head. Addled though he may be, crazy he certainly was becoming, but there was no way that he was gong to let some guy die in right front of him, suicide or no. Ooh, there was that word. The one he'd been avoiding.
"Ah fuck!" Terry shook himself out, grabbed a hold of Peter's collar, and pulled the drowning boy out and away from the water. "Yes!" Terry cried, "There you go, ok, ok…" Terry watched Peter lie unmoving for almost too long before he reacted again. "Come on." He urged the cold body at his feet, "Dude, I'm not kissing you."
Terry looked around then. Damn it, he thought, I could punch him the chest.
So he got down on his knees, strained hard and thumped heavily on Peter's chest.
"Come on," thump, "come on," thump, the blows came down. Until Terry felt a devil of enjoyment sitting on his shoulder and he stopped.

Everything went quiet again and Terry stared at Peter's face while the other looked blankly at the sky, his eyes growing darker as his body began to shut down.
"Ok," Terry told the body, "That's alright." He leaned closer to Peter's cold face, rubbed the dead boy's cheek with his hand, and pictured her, the woman from his dreams. Though Terry had no idea where she had come from, he was positive where she waited, maybe for everyone. "You shouldn't die," he said, "for whatever reason." He pressed his own to Peter's blue lips and blew hard into his liquid filled lungs.
It worked, but not like Terry had hoped.

In the time it took for Terry to reach his side, Peter's body had done a wonderfully thorough job of sucking in as much water as it could in order kill the young man as quickly as possible. It was ever-efficient biology, taking no sides, just working in the way that it works.
The water began to kill Peter. It starved the lungs of oxygen until the heart's supply was stifled and his blood began to darken without it. Then the black blood began to slowly invade Peter's body and headed for his brain. During all of this Peter's heart was only kept moving by the thumping it received.
But once Terry's burst of air forced its way into Peter's waterlogged lungs there began an instant reaction.
Out the water shot in a geyser of a muscle spasm, straight out of Peter and into Terry's open mouth.

Terry fell on to his back and barked loudly, spitting the second hand water from his mouth. The two of them coughed in unison, it echoed round the yard. It was possible that someone was watching them from a window, a bored student, a pensive lecturer, or a tramp across the road, peering through the gates. But no one came to help them up, so it was difficult to tell.
Terry was the first to recover and he helped Peter to his feet while the other was still reeling and gasping for air. Though his senses had been shocked, as much by his energetic revival as his drowning Peter's head was a blur of dead brain cells and thickened veins. Yet the rush he felt at being alive was akin to being out of it at four in the morning when the only possible way was down.
"Oh god," he groaned, "haw, what the…" Peter staggered in a circle around Terry shaking his head.
"Hey! Hey!" Terry straightened Peter up and shook him. "You alright?" Peter steadied some, but not much.
"Yeah, yeah, thanks. Jesus what the hell happened?"
"You don't know?" Terry asked and Peter looked at him puzzled.
"No I was just sitting there and… I don’t know really. I fainted or something?" Peter looked to Terry for help.
"You were just lyin in the pool when I came alone."
"Yep." Terry assured him, "You look cold, are ya cold?" Peter nodded shivering and Terry turned him around and faced him towards the canteen.
"Let's go get a coffee." Terry said leading the way and Peter shook his head.
"I don't drink coffee," he said and Terry laughed.
"You're so fuckin awkward, aren't ya? First your all I'm dying in the fountain and then you spit water all over me. And now!" Terry slapped Peter on the back as he spoke. "Now you don't even drink coffee. Well, you're in luck, because that's all I do. So you can watch me drink and maybe you can get some warm milk or something?"
Peter laughed out loud at this.
"Actually, I hate milk too," he said and Terry joined in his laughter.
"Fuckin awkward," Terry repeated as the two of them headed for the canteen. It was typical Terry thought, that when he was at his lowest, something crazy like this could happen and he could meet someone that was already, without any need for further qualification, at least as fucked up as he was. Life was beautiful all right.

Peter was at least as surprised if not a little more worried about the outcome of his morning. So, he was bad enough now to collapse and nearly drown himself, like an old man, or a State-Care projectee. That wasn't what really worried him though. As soon as he saw Terry's face he knew. There was something that connected them beyond this incident, but the reason was far too far away from him now to see.

Stop looking so deeply into everything, he told himself and joined Terry on his way to the canteen.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

joolsk at 11:04 on 19 April 2006  Report this post
Hi Eanna,

I really enjoyed the section starting 'Terry was ten minutes late', lovely action, good dialogue, believable characters.
But...I did struggle through the sections before that, only because the constantly changing POV had me confused.

In the first para your authorial voice came through very loudly, I'm not sure if you intended that but it made me aware of deliberately reading something that someone has written, rather than a great story that just carries me along; the author invisible.

So the points of view that I could see in this piece: you/author speaking/writing, Peter writing and thinking, Rachel thinking, Terry thinking, Terry and Peter talking.

You've got great content here, but perhaps you should choose just one POV for the telling of the tale?

I hope you've found this helpful. I look forward to seeing what you do with this.

Kind regards,


johnwayne at 13:55 on 19 April 2006  Report this post

I really loved this. the character of Peter is really interesting and tugs you in. I am sure I knew a few like him at college! You capture the weird mix of self-importance, and painful self-awareness that people like this have.

And Terry the accidental hero is really great.

I loved the "Dude, I'm not kissing you.".

About the sentance mentioned above. I read it with quotation marks.

"first, you're all 'I'm dying in the fountain' and then you spit water over me...
I thought it was nice like that...?.

One thing:

the colloquial talk of the girls:

First, I agree with Bege that his ruminations on their language could be less spelt out, more in terms of "I wouldn't know how to talk to them"

Second, their language to each other did not ring true for me.

"Either go over there and ask him to go out with ya, or come on the fuck inside!"

Maybe you should leave the 'on' out?

"Shut up, you bitch,"

maybe you should leave out the 'you'? Or "cow" It just seemed a bit stark to me.

I would fully admit that the language of college kids is not my specialty, but on the other hand Terry's voice and words seemed spot on to me.

Looking forward to more


eanna at 11:43 on 24 April 2006  Report this post
Thanks Guys, that's really helpful.

This is one of my problem chapters. It didn't read well when I was going through it and I'm glad you were able to point me in the right direction.

I'll get working on it immediately.


smudger at 12:54 on 27 April 2006  Report this post
Hi Eanna,

This chapter has some of the qualities that I recognise in your work: the intricate plotting and the sense of significant events happening in the periphery of your characters’ fields of view. The playful use of language and the one-liners are fun too, for example:
Mr Spineless had come to town for the good weather, and was staying for the company.

Peter, as he sat and scribbled and never seemed to speak to anyone or connect with anybody.
Drop ‘anyone’?

a wide smile form the brazen
– typo

Marie laughed at him and gave him a little wave.
"Bye little Guinea pig," she said her smile disappearing as she turned away into the Arts building.
Nice intrigue; makes one wonder whether she is in on the conspiracy.

sickening inconsistence
– typo?

Waters current
– typo

Loved the bit about the hairdryer in the bath.

It was like being drowned in icy water and having a radiant light shone in gloom accustomed eyes at the same time. The world around him was a sharp trail of blurred colour that tunnelled towards the fountain in front of the Arts building, where a form was slumped and drowning.
I liked the way that this hints at some kind of telepathic link between Terry and Peter.

Punch him the chest
– typo

Out the water shot in a geyser of a muscle spasm, straight out of Peter and into Terry's open mouth.
Well crafted bit of disgust reaction.

"You were just lyin in the pool when I came alone."
– ‘along’?

I chuckled at the Schadenfreude in the 3rd to last para!

Looking forward to more.


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .