Author Topic: Invited to the desert  (Read 312 times)

KyriakosCH

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Invited to the desert
« on: 20 Jul 2018, 07:36 »
Writing can suck; not due to being a lowly interest, but because one can easily lose sight of what one can do, and end up in some desert where any movement is pretty much futile and will only lead to variations of the same pointless end.
Recently i have been returning to some actual attempt to write a bit better again. Not that i regard anything i have wrote by now as being that good; but there is always a difference between a slow-moving person, a zombie, and an immobile corpse...
According to some writers (eg Pessoa), one mostly just has to express oneself - and know how to do so - in order to produce something decent. Moving away from some prototype/influence is always hard (i think that most writers either don't have much reading of classic literature done, or never move past any model they based their own writing on, consciously or not), but it can also seem a bit dangerous. For example i always viewed originality as a road without a map (though i had very specific reasons to do so, since elementary school, and those weren't about writing). In a way you can feel safer by revisiting information or forms you have stored in your memory as crucially tied to other people (eg other authors in this case), rather than moving in a path you identify as more open-ended...

That said, recently, as i noted, i tried to return to my writing work, and produced three new stories (actually more, but only three survived). One of those is titled "Invited to the desert".
While it likely isn't even the better one of those three (and maybe none of the recent three will ever be in a book; they may get erased in time or i may not choose them to be in the next book), at least it is a bit more alive than some other works of mine in the last year.

The story is about (or seems to be, anyway) a person who was invited to a small prison in a province of an emirate, in some region which consists of desert. The prison warden wants to gain influence with a prominent politician, with whom they share some slightly more humanitarian ideas; namely they both want to stop having execution-by-sword in the prison system.
So the warden means to replace it with hanging.
It would be enough to do so, so as to be on the good side of that politician, but a problem does appear: the majority of those executed with the new, meant to be less gory, method, end up decapitated by the sheer force of the rope tighted during the fall.

So the narrator is called there, to try to help. Naturally he is aware of the weight-to-fall ratio to produce a non-gory spectacle in the hanging. (well, a less gory one :) ). But some other problems arise, because he has little access to actual tools, and has to improvise.

The story ends just as the new execution - now with the important politician present - is about to take place. If it works as planned, the warden will be pleased, and the narrator can finally leave that pitiful place.
It is inferred, in the final words of the story, that he may be another inmate, imagining all this important role so as to not go insane while waiting for his own execution to happen.

Do you like this kind of plot?
Sometimes (like Borges noted) a hidden meaning can be so obscure than it just won't be picked up. And (as Kafka said) some machinations are just so delicate that they fail due to inherent traits. :)
« Last Edit: 20 Jul 2018, 07:38 by KyriakosCH »
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Stupot

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Re: Invited to the desert
« Reply #1 on: 20 Jul 2018, 08:37 »
I quite like the story. I would have preferred to have read the actual story rather than this summary but yeah, I can see it working quite well. My only thing is is there really much difference in humanitarianism between beheading and hanging? Both can go equally wrong. Even lethal injections get bodged fairly frequently.

Mandle

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Re: Invited to the desert
« Reply #2 on: 20 Jul 2018, 08:39 »
Apart from saying that the potential twist ending seems almost the same as
Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
Shutter Island
I can't really say if I like the plot or not because I haven't read the story. Unless incredibly original I would say reading a synopsis of any plot is quite bland.

I do find the part about the noose cutting off heads a bit hard to swallow. I guess it's supposed to symbolize something like "the better of two evils" or that, in trying to fix a system we usually just duplicate it under a different guise, but still it seems a bit unbelievable. Of course, if it is also part of the fantasy of a madman then that explains that I guess.

If the story was written well and the characters were engaging I could see this plot working.
« Last Edit: 20 Jul 2018, 08:41 by Mandle »

KyriakosCH

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Re: Invited to the desert
« Reply #3 on: 20 Jul 2018, 11:11 »
Actually there is nothing unbelievable about it :) It is known as "involuntary decapitation", and is an event not just historically documented (eg 19th century Britain and US) but also happening nowdays (apparently Sadam's brother had this fate...).

You can easily find info on this, in the general hanging article in wiki, or more specific sites, eg: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17645743

To sum the issue: A person who has over a set weight, will get decapitated by force of the rope pressing around his/her neck, if the free fall is long enough* :)
The specific ratio had been studied (irl), to avoid so gruesome a spectacle. Having a long free-fall was used so as to avoid the also nasty spectacle of soft-hanging (person dieing slowly/agonizing death), by causing instant death by breaking the neck. But the long free fall makes the force with which the noose is pressed on the neck potentially be large enough to take the head off. (nod)

@Stupot: glad you liked the plot 8-)
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Re: Invited to the desert
« Reply #4 on: 20 Jul 2018, 11:55 »
I like the idea, but I also didn't think that hanging is more humane that using the sword (I guess depends what someone is doing with the sword).

I think this is the only part where I struggle to imagine what happens:
But some other problems arise, because he has little access to actual tools, and has to improvise.
Surely, regardless of the maths, the solution is just to shorten the rope?

KyriakosCH

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Re: Invited to the desert
« Reply #5 on: 20 Jul 2018, 12:54 »
That can't be done, because an antagonist to the warden is in control of what rope is used ;)

Re the method being more humane: only to a small degree; part of the story is about how this is all just for show, and politics. Nothing really humanistic is going on, and the narrator was invited to act for the warden's gain.
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Mandle

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Re: Invited to the desert
« Reply #6 on: 20 Jul 2018, 16:52 »
It is known as "involuntary decapitation", and is an event not just historically documented (eg 19th century Britain and US) but also happening nowdays (apparently Sadam's brother had this fate...).

Ohhhhh, grusomely informative!

I guess I might have stuck my neck out a bit too far with my assumptions. (laugh)

KyriakosCH

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Re: Invited to the desert
« Reply #7 on: 20 Jul 2018, 17:13 »
It is known as "involuntary decapitation", and is an event not just historically documented (eg 19th century Britain and US) but also happening nowdays (apparently Sadam's brother had this fate...).

Ohhhhh, grusomely informative!

I guess I might have stuck my neck out a bit too far with my assumptions. (laugh)

(laugh)

Yes, it is pretty brutal!
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