Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

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Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by Gloom on 2012-02-07, 15:22

So as I said before, I also wrote a quick insomnia themed piece.
You'd notice that this one is poorly edited and not very well thought out (more so than my pieces usually are), but in my defense, I had very, very little time to write it. Inspiration came very late at night, and I had to be at the base working at 7AM. The base which is an hour's drive away from my town. Ahem.

Anyway, this one isn't a love story or anything, just the whiny monologue of a completely featureless first person puppet (I'm starting to think those are my specialty):

Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

I take another look at the alarm clock sitting silently upon the nightstand.

I don't have any trouble seeing the hands moving: my eyes are well accustomed to the dark.

3:57 AM.

I take a deep breath, roll to the other side, and close my eyes again.

This is going to be a long, long night.

Everything started going to hell about a year ago, maybe a little less, maybe a little more. It's hard to keep track of time on such a scale when there's so little to tell apart one day from another.
I had a big test on the following day; chemistry, I think. It wasn't a really important test, but it was big, it was difficult, and I guess I've always been the sort to get nervous on the night before. I studied hard and well, like I always do, but it didn't help. Maybe it even made things worse; maybe I wouldn't have been so nervous about failing tests if I hadn't always put so much time and energy into preparing for them. It wouldn't feel like as much of a waste or a disappointment.

But that is aside the matter now. The thing is, I was nervous, and as so often happens to nervous people, I had a hard time falling asleep. I got into bed on the usual time, turned the lights off, closed my eyes and waited for sweet, blissful oblivion to come.

But for some reason, it never did. Tick-tock, sang the clock. Thirty minutes, one hour, two hours. Tick-freaking-tock.

I rolled and turned time and a time again, to no avail. At some point, I got tired of it (funny, isn't it?) and decided to turn on the bedside lamp and pick up a book to read. Some silly adventure story about wizards in Moscow.

One chapter, two chapters, three chapters; I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore and that warm, comforting heaviness in my chest started spreading evenly throughout my body. Sighing in relief, I put down my book and turned off the lamp.
But tired as I felt, I still couldn't sleep. It was as if I was too energetic, too anxious to fall asleep, yet in the same time, too exhausted to do anything else.

I got up and went to the bathroom. Took my time, too, not that anybody cared since it by that time, nobody else was awake.
Half an hour later I got up to take a glass of water.

I did fall asleep, eventually, but it was very late. The day after I was tired, nervous, and irritable. Still managed to ace my test, though (guess studying hard did pay-off after all).
But I didn't pay any attention to it. It was normal, an unremarkable occurrence. Not for me, maybe, but it's nothing unusual to not be able to sleep on a night like this, right?

So as I left the classroom, I couldn't help but smile, sigh in relief, laugh a little at my own foolishness, and think "tonight, I'm going to sleep like a baby".

I have no idea what went wrong. Something obviously did: that night was just as bad as the one preceding it.
Tick-tock, rolls and turns, book, bathroom, water, tick-tock, oh-so-tired but sleep just won't come.

The night after that one I fell asleep pretty quickly, but the one after that was even worse than the second one. On average, I didn't sleep much that week.

And the week after it.
And the week after that one, too. I thought one sleepless night was enough to ruin the following day, but I had no idea what was coming to me. I didn't know human beings could reach such levels of tiredness. I sort of assumed that at some point your brain just shuts-down and you fall unconscious on the floor for a few hours, like in that one computer game.
When you're tired, every little thing ticks you off. You don't have much of an appetite: even your favourite foods don't look very inviting anymore. You feel lightheaded, and it becomes harder and harder to concentrate.

My friends told me I wasn't looking very good, but I just laughed it off. That is, until one of them said something inappropriate, or bumped into me, or dropped something, at which point I screamed at the poor fellow as if I was stopping him from knifing my child. He looked horrified, and I assume I must have been as well. I spent the rest of the day trying to apologize.
I was just that irritable.

My grades were dropping quickly. I was a good student, as I said, but all the diligence and intelligence in the world can only take you so far if you don't get enough of your basic biological needs. Even my teachers became concerned.

I went to visit a doctor with my parents, and without even bothering to check up anything he gave us a prescription for some kind of pill or another, all the while smiling that calm, polite, fake doctor smile of his.

I slept like a log on that night. Those pills were like magic.

Problem was, a few weeks later the spell started to wear off. I took my pills and everything, the largest dose I was allowed to take according to the label on the bottle: nothing. It was just as bad as before. Maybe even worse. Every night I would sleep a little less than the night preceding it.

I was beyond tired, beyond exhausted. When I tried to speak, I often mumbled incoherently. I started bumping into walls and objects more and more often. My skin itched. My tongue itched. The feeling of the air flowing against my skin became insufferable. The feeling of the fabric of my clothes became painful. My fingers twitched.

We went to the doctor again, and this time he ran a few tests, a little meaningless checkup, before turning back to us, his doctor-y smile still bright on his face, and gave us a prescription for some stronger stuff.

And once again, for a while, things were better. That stronger stuff was, in fact, stronger.

It lasted for about as long. And when it stopped working, everything became so, so much worse. In an average week, I'd have more nights without sleep at all than nights with any.
I was now constantly shaking and shivering. Teachers and friends freaked out: I looked pale as a ghost. I was so nauseous I could barely eat anything. Sometimes I'd forget what I was doing in the middle of doing it. Sometimes I'd get lost in places I thought I knew like the back of my hand.

It was becoming more and more difficult to tell where things are; where I am. How big or distant things are. I tripped, fell and crushed every day. Some guy from class started leading me around the school by the hand out of pity.

A part of me, a small, cancerous part of my psyche which I've desperately tried to keep quiet, was becoming afraid that normal sleep would never come back to me again.

And the itches. Those godawful itches. Every little annoying, meaningless, barely noticeable feeling is magnified by tiredness. The tiniest sound is like nails scratching glass. The dimmest light is like staring at the sun. It wasn't about my clothes any more: my own skin became insufferable, a sticky, wet, warm rubber suit that I couldn't remove from my flesh for all that I'd wanted to.

Tickling, irritating, itching, maddening. Before I knew it, I was crying, quietly sobbing to myself. I couldn't take it anymore. It felt like there were bugs all over me.

I looked down: crawling up my shirt, up my arms, hundreds of thousands of them, more than there could physically have been there. Chittering, buzzing, shrieking, pitch-black. Roaches, moths, spiders. I screamed and dropped to my knees, but they were gone as soon as I tried to take another look at them.

I finally did it. I broke my brain. The walls between reality and dream have been brought crushing down- those barriers of the mind which we all assume are impenetrable between the waking world I couldn't stand anymore and the dark, howling depths of a subconscious I didn't know anymore were shattered.

This time, the doctor didn't smile. He looked embarrassed, ashamed, maybe even a little frightened. Maybe he was wondering how much of this was his fault, as I sat there on the little metal bed whimpering uncontrollably, as he told my parents with a quiet voice that he wasn't allowed to give me anything stronger.

That something was terribly wrong.

As if I didn't know it already.

I take another look at the alarm clock sitting silently upon the nightstand.

I don't have any trouble seeing the hands moving: my eyes are well accustomed to the dark.

4:08 AM.

I take a deep breath, roll to the other side, and close my eyes again.

This is going to be a long, long night.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

So, what do you think? Any comments? Advise? Constructive criticism?

On a sidenote, I've also started writing similar pieces inspired by my ideas of nymphomania and paranoid schizophrenia. Unfortunately, as it seems now, neither looks as good as this one (which doesn't bode well at all), so I'll see when I feel like posting them.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by Dr. Friendly on 2012-02-07, 15:27

I liked it. Good visualizations of the degrading effects of sleep loss. Something I think most of us can relate to bounce

The use of hallucinations is good too. I did a bit of research on the effects of severe insomnia and had planned using hallucinations and the feeling of slow motion somewhere in my story.

Can I ask if this story or some aspects of it actually happened to you? It gives off a vibe of personal experience. Looking forward to seeing more.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by Gloom on 2012-02-07, 15:38

Dr. Friendly wrote:I liked it. Good visualizations of the degrading effects of sleep loss. Something I think most of us can relate to bounce

The use of hallucinations is good too. I did a bit of research on the effects of severe insomnia and had planned using hallucinations and the feeling of slow motion somewhere in my story.

Can I ask if this story or some aspects of it actually happened to you? It gives off a vibe of personal experience. Looking forward to seeing more.

It was never anything remotely as bad, but yes, there were periods of my growing up in which the medicines I took to treat the symptoms of ADHD caused a degree of insomnia. Nothing like that now, though, thankfully.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by myshoesarebrown on 2012-02-07, 21:44

I don't know whether I'm confused on this, or if I'm just interpreting the story in the my own way.

At the start, it's 3:57 AM. At the end, 4:08 AM. Is the story the narrator reflecting on when he first developed insomnia? As in, he started remembering the parts of his life at 3:57, and was done at 4:08? That's what I think is going on, anyway.

Or maybe you the writer were having trouble sleeping and wrote this in that amount of time. But I don't think anyone could write that fast.

I think we've all had bouts of insomnia -- at least, minor cases. On the (thankfully rare) occasions when I'm without sleep, I get the typical symptoms. But, rather than lacking an appetite, I actually get extremely hungry, incredibly quickly. Like, eating every hour, and then chugging water.

Comments and anecdotes aside, I enjoyed your story very much. I liked your usage of repetition. When used poorly, it's annoying to read, but you pulled it off well.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by Worthington on 2012-02-08, 02:02

That was really good. I'm surprised by how accurate you are. Also, I have a rule now; do not bash on your own work, Gloom. It is literally the most annoying thing about it. You're a good writer. Deal with it, but don't stop trying to get better.
Anyway, drop me a line if you ever need help writing paranoid schizophrenia.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by HeDanny on 2012-02-09, 12:25

This is some good stuff mate. Well done! I've been back to read it a few times since I found this place a few days ago, and each time I'm still impressed with how the flow if this one works. The progression is the part that impresses me the most.

The first time I read it I kept waiting for the point that the character would start to shun bed completely. It never came. I was a little thrown off by that, as it seems a rather typical thing to happen? You know, like the bed is the enemy. It silently mocks my inability to catch some sleep. You turn your back on your once welcoming retreat and end up on the couch with the remote glued to your hand as if letting go of it would mean you would fall to your doom. Catching a few nods on the couch when ever you can. But eventually the couch starts to mock you as well. You then start anxiously looking for a safe spot away from that too. Anywhere will do. The kitchen, the laundry, the wardrobe, the linen closet...

The clumsiness was great. That feeling as if the world is made of magnets and it pulls on your feet is just wrong. Its ok once your foot is clear of the magnetic field, but then you have to put it down again, and the magnets get it on the way down again too. So you feel like anyone watching would see you walking trying to step over a series of invisible short hurdles with every step, starkly conflicting with the facts that its quite possible your feet are only lifting a few inches, as you struggle to move forward. Usually against the pull of the thousands of rubber band attached to your back. Then there is the random times the world moves on you and as your foot goes down, the ground is not where it was a second ago, so you have that four inch stumble. so annoying!

Anyway, enough rambling.

TL;DR - Really well done mate. Enjoyed it. Very much so. Smile

myshoesarebrown wrote:I don't know whether I'm confused on this, or if I'm just interpreting the story in the my own way.

At the start, it's 3:57 AM. At the end, 4:08 AM. Is the story the narrator reflecting on when he first developed insomnia? As in, he started remembering the parts of his life at 3:57, and was done at 4:08? That's what I think is going on, anyway.

I did not see this. Its quite an interesting observation and interpretation. I simply assumed the whole story progressed over a series of days / weeks. So when the character sees the time at the end of the story, it is on a night that is many, many nights past the first night in the story.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by Gloom on 2012-02-09, 14:32

I did not see this. Its quite an interesting observation and interpretation. I simply assumed the whole story progressed over a series of days / weeks. So when the character sees the time at the end of the story, it is on a night that is many, many nights past the first night in the story.

The story is, of course, open to interpretation, but I'll admit that the other idea was the one I had in mind while writing this down. The whole story 'takes place' in the 11 minutes it takes the protagonist to reminisce about the time his insomnia started. Guess I wanted to highlight the torturous, smothering repetitiousness of a sleepless night, all alone with your dark thoughts.

But like I said, feel free to interpret it as whatever.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by myshoesarebrown on 2012-02-09, 19:25

Gloom wrote:But like I said, feel free to interpret it as whatever.
DON'T MIND IF I DO.

The clock is a representation of the universe. The entire story takes place within a short span of 11 minutes or so. The protagonist and his insomnia together are an allegory, representing mankind's place in the context of the universe. The universe has been around for kajillions of years. As Carl Sagan explained, if the universe's lifespan was measured as a 365 day calendar, mankind's accomplishments up to this exact second would only take up part of December 31st. The story only takes up 11 minutes -- a small amount of time -- just as mankind's presence in the universe is incredibly small. The overarching theme of this story is that our presence in the universe is so minor, it doesn't matter whether we live or die. Those eleven minutes would have occurred with or without the protagonist, just as the universe would have went on with or without mankind!

CONGRATULATIONS ON CREATING SUCH BEAUTY. The dirty plebeians will think this is a story about insomnia, when in reality, it's a nihilistic view on the cosmos and our position in them.
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by HeDanny on 2012-02-09, 19:57

Aww man! I thought it was about insomnia Sad
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by Waytfm on 2012-02-09, 22:50

HeDanny wrote:Aww man! I thought it was about insomnia Sad

Don't worry, gloom probably did too. It's a rookie mistake. Razz
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Re: Sweet, Blissful Oblivion

Post by Leotrak on 2012-02-23, 18:49

Seriously, Gloom, you're a great writer. Stop denying it Razz
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