I joined a writing group on meetup.com nearly two years ago and managed to meet some quite lovely people there. During each meetup, the group would offer a prompt and then you would write for a set period of time (for the life of me I can’t rightly remember how long it was now…). You could choose to use this prompt as a basis for whatever you were writing, or you could choose not to. I chose this particular prompt from 11/29/2011, because it fit perfectly for a character study I was performing on the main antagonist in my most recent original sci-fi work, tentatively titled “Kinetic”. The prompt was “So, tell me about your childhood…” A FINE prompt for this Psychology major who never wanted to deal with other peoples’ problems and chose never to go to grad school for such things. ^_~
The antagonist, or villain as some would call him, is a product of his environment. Duquesne Ja’Rad is a member of a powerful political family who is unwilling to relinquish the possibility of a despotic role in his society. Planet Sha’di 6, his home, has been ruled by the same benevolent political family for nearly 15 Earth Years – about 4 Sha’di years, and highly unusual given that the political climate on Sha’di is by nature very unstable, being a young colony of only about 170 Earth Years. House Ja’Rad is a radically right-wing political force. They value purity and the right of purity to make decisions for those who are NOT pure above all other things. The current ruling family oppose this and consider themselves the mediators between politicians like House Ja’Rad, and other radical groups. Most have acquiesced to this mediation, but House Ja’Rad is an old and mysterious family, and it is evident to the reader even after a few interactions with Duquesne (referred to by his closest friends and family as ‘Kane’) that is he is not what one might think.
His unfounded hatred of a certain group of people called “Kinetics” – I will delve into this once I figure out this bloody blog page structure lol and create a page for those original works and their summaries – could perhaps be explained by his upbringing, but he has an off-balance from the other characters, and even his inner monologue is often disjointed and random. Kane instead chooses to chase his mind wherever it may go at any particular time, whether he has willed it there or not. Here, I’ll include this mock “psychoanalysis” I created. I’ve discovered that Kane is a most interesting person, through my own research of him. I often fall in love with my antagonists and try to make them sympathetic. Although, I’m not sure about Kane’s ability to force a reader’s empathy. We’ll see. ^_^
“So, tell me about your childhood…”
Kane is reclined on my couch, his long legs draped over either side as though he were straddling a very short horse. He takes a deep and sudden breath.
“I… don’t really have one. Or, I didn’t have one,” he says gently. His answer is not uncommon. The grammatical confusion stops me for a moment, though.
“Well,” I say, “at least tell me about the memories you have from that time. Or tell me why your experience would lead you to say this–?”
“No,” he interrupts me, “you don’t seem to understand. I have no childhood. Whatever I would have, should have remembered: it isn’t there.”
This is indeed curious. Although self-induced amnesia is not impossible, it is a rare and interesting phenomenon.
“So,” I venture, “you can’t remember, or you won’t remember?”
Duquesne Ja’Rad sighs irritably. His eyes roll back into his skull for a brief moment, and he places a hand behind his full head of curly hair. One would almost believe him a child. He exhales so forcefully from the “o” of his lips, that a long black curl blows back from his forehead.
“No,” he says again. “I’ve told you; the childhood you speak of, it isn’t there.”
“I see.” My response seems so frail. But I’ve seen this kind of stubbornness before in patients, so I press on.
“What, then, is the first thing you remember?”
There is a pause this time. Ah! I’ve got him, I think. his narcissistic psychosis won’t allow him to ignore such an open-ended question about his life.
“I remember moving to Sing-ha,” he says. I find this odd, since, in his initial interview he had mentioned moving to that mysterious city in the clouds east of Karsus at the age of eighteen. “Yes,” he continues, “I remember the crashing waves against the cliffs there by the sea. The steep, steep cliffs.”
“But Kane,” I say to him, “you were eighteen. There is nothing before that?”
His eyes open slowly, and he lolls his head to the side to look at me. His brown-black eyes are faintly, psychotically amused.
“I’ve told you, no. For a therapist you seem quite stupid.” There is a hint of joy in his condescension. “I remember Sing-ha, and I remember that my brother was dead. That is all.”
“Yes,” I reply suddenly, elated at this admission. I’d been aiming at this all along. “Yes, tell me about your brother.” I urge.
“There is nothing to tell,” he says. “I remember that he was dead by that time.”
“Yes, but how? Your parents must have told you how.”
“They told me he was dead.” Kane’s voice has changed now, and it is full of an emotion that, even for a seasoned therapist, is difficult to name. This time he continues without prompt.
“They did not tell me how. I did ask though, you know.”
“And what did they say?”
“They said, ‘your brother was very sick, Kane. He could not have lived as we do.'”
“As we do?”
“I’m sure they were referring to his infirmity,” Kane says in reply. He looks away from me again, shuts his eyes, and shifts only slightly on the couch. I can see the walls going back up again, so I change the subject.
“If you–had no childhood, as you say, then tell me about… Now. Tell me about your memories in the recent past.”
His eyelids slide open slowly. I may have touched a vein this time. But I cannot tell if it is a mere vessel or a throbbing artery. To my shock, his mouth quirks into a half-smile. His handsome face seems to twist into something else, even as he stares into a distant vision behind his eyes that only he can see.
“You want to know about her, do you?” he asks.
Without my meaning it to, my jaw falls open until I am sure he can see.
“It’s alright. Everyone does.” His reply is not at all what I’d expected. The recent death of a loved one is, for anyone, a difficult hurdle to mount. This is especially true if the death was sudden, or in his case, well…
I shake my head a bit and close my open mouth.
“You don’t have to go there yet, Kane. Not if you don’t want to,” I tell him. The quirky smile on his lips begins to grow unexpectedly.
For a moment I think, God, have I unleashed the monster that easily? Could he really be as mad as it is believed? But no, I am a doctor, a scientist. There is reason deep inside every human being and I have seen it drawn out of the most unlikely case, the most desperate character.
But perhaps Duquesne is here to prove me wrong. The smile is bigger now, and he is chuckling. The sound sends a chill down my spine, and all the way into the tips of my fingers. It grows until he is laughing quite heartily. His head of thick curls lolls over toward me again. The sound of his laughter is now filling the room. My whole body is shuddering.
“You…” he can barely speak over the guffawing. “You speak as if I’d lost a–a person of great importance to me. Perhaps even a–a dog or a beloved horse!” He laughs more and puts one hand on his forehead as if to stifle the maniac living inside it.
“No…” he sighs after the word. “No.” He laughs more softly now. “It’s as though I’ve finally stomped on a roach I was chasing through the kitchen.” A pause, and another chuckle. “Or perhaps, as though I were myself a hound, and I’ve finally caught up to the fox, and gutted it.” His hand lifts and clenches into a fist.
My insides twist. I can feel sweat breaking out on my lower back.
“So you’ve–you’ve come to terms with it, have you?” I say; is it really a question?
“‘To terms?'” He repeats the words as though they are disgusting to him. He chuckles once again, aloud, and rests his head back on the couch, on top of his long fingers.
“That bitch was not human. She had become something entirely monstrous Her death was not just my obligation. It was my pleasure.” Between my gasps for air, I can hear him say, “her death made me a messiah.”