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Charles observed his canvas with his ever-present curiosity. He had not painted in quite a while, and he feared that his passion may have finally burnt out. No inspiration came to him; no muses wished to favor him anymore, and despair circled him, closing for a blow.

He wanted to try something random, to fly at the canvas with a brush and destroy this silly artistic obstacle. He had even dipped his brush into the paint and forced it at the thing, but he was repelled by some invisible force, a block by the canvas to make sure Charles would never tell his stories again. As he held his brush near the white, a simple blue dot appeared on the canvas, a victim of the brush’s inability to support the paint against gravity.

Charles blinked, and for an instant, he realized that no boundaries existed. The board’s horrifying powers could not cripple simple forces like gravity, so the stroke of the hand soon annihilated the newfound weakness of the canvas. He took to the task of improvising art without regard for form, structure, or even clarity, and the boy battled demons for his muse’s favor for hours.

He began calmly at first, sewing a lament for the victimized canvas. He painted carefully, looking for the correct monotone foundation for his work. As he continued, the piece cried out at him. Its wail was so lamentable as to move Charles to fits of crying. The tears of the paint formed an ocean and drowned his sorrows in its hue. Before he could prepare, he found himself following his sorrow into the ocean, and it took no time to find that he was deep underwater. He swam upward and broke free of the drowning draught and saw the sky. As he floated, he marveled at the atmosphere’s beauty. Then he found he must swim again, for it had begun to rain unexpectedly. He decided to climb so high into the air that he would escape the rain...

Charles broke away from his stupor and sat in the studio aghast. The brush had flowed into nonsensical patterns of paint without his notice or even intent. It was a simple and accidental beauty that he had torn from himself onto the canvas, and though that tear was from his soul, he was eager to see more of this new world. He stared at the painting, wondering how his foundation could be complimented. He soon chose another color and attacked again.

Charles fell from the sky for what seemed like hours. He had just begun to wonder when the trip might end when he found himself surrounded by a vast forest. He could still see the sky, but it was disappearing rapidly. Thankfully, he chose to allow light to flow even in the dense and lush jungle, and he marveled at the nature of his world. He found that almost by thought he could mold the trees and their leaves to whatever image he desired. He forced comfortable grass to grow under his feet as he walked through the forest. He saw ponds teeming with algae, giving him second thoughts about sampling a drink. A snake slithered near his foot, but he could not see it until it actually touched him; however, he knew not to fear it, for these particular snakes are rather non-threatening. After walking for an eternity, Charles desired something more interesting and complex in which to roam.

Suddenly, the trees buckled and moved out of the way of a royal procession. The gloriously clad monarch rode in an open carriage pulled by a regally-garbed equestrian herd as the faceless crowd showered the king in violets. The king refused to break his forward gaze as his royal cart pushed sluggishly through the litter of flower petals on the ground. Eventually the king was out of sight, and Charles was saddened to see the cart pass into the horizon and to see the petals wilt into a blurred mass. The sun began to set, and Charles formed the sky with the royal color to remind himself of the procession. He stood looking on in dismay, almost angered at the arrogance of the monarch as he processed uncaring of the people he had just left behind.

A ball of flame ripped through the sky into the forest. Charles tried to escape, but he found himself trapped in the blazing rubble of dead trees. The grand forest fell, and most of the crowd was confined under the fury of the blaze. Their blood poured as flamed licked the beautiful trees’ leaves. Charles felt a sort of bloodlust creeping into him as he watched the world he had manifested burn to the ground. He found that he enjoyed seeing his people trapped under burning trees, and he was glad to watch the monarch’s regal clothes covered in flame. His soul was alight for what felt like an eternity when his mind regained control to see the disaster in its true nature for the first time. The fires knew no bounds, ascending even to the horizon, forcing the sun to set and to prepare for its nighttime slumber. Mesmerized by its beauty and terror, Charles stood watching intently. Had he lost control of his world? Charles felt an impending doom rushing toward him, and all seemed lost until he realized that this place was his creation, and no disaster could strike without his allowance. He willed another downpour to put the flames out, and the blaze slowly smothered and died away.

Throughout this daunting work, Charles hadn’t realized that night was finally taking over the sunset, and afterward all he could see in his entire world was the charred remains of his once beautiful forest. The darkness surrounded him, and he accepted it as his blanket. It felt cold and uncomfortable as he slept on the ground, and night still wrapped itself around him when he awoke. He fell ionto depression, for he was unable to save his plane or the inhabitants in time to stop this horrible darkness. Nothing was to be seen, and Charles despaired more heavily than ever. He mused on his hopeless situation for a while, waiting for death to claim him, when the sun appeared in the eastern sky. He stood up, staring at the sun, and its tendrils of light showered the world in a light that broke Charles from his despair. A new and healthy vigor met him as he prepared to depart from his world finished and quite satisfied with what he had created.

Charles looked at his painting, realizing what he had done. The conglomerate of color shattered his obstacles, though it was a horrifying waste of paint. Then he noticed the mass of black covered most the work he had done, and the story remained shrouded under the infernal blanket of night. He decided to create the sun to give new light to his little world, for even the worst worlds need an appropriate rebirth. The sun rose from its slumber, annihilating the night and stretching out to the charred remains of the forest and Charles’ soul.

Ten years later, a lady stood in the parlor of Charles’ mansion where he kept copies of his masterpieces. She circled, eyeing the fantastic array of beautiful portraits, landscapes, and other pictures. She came to the “Wall of Honor” and couldn’t understand why the only picture that had been placed under this wall was the atrocious piece covered mostly with black strokes and a yellow dot. She eventually got up the nerve to ask Charles about it, and he replied, “It is the greatest piece I have ever painted.”

Confused, the only thought the woman could conjure was that artists certainly do have strange tastes.

I write short stories, and maybe I'll come up with a better signature some day, as well

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The following comments are for "On Breaking the Barriers of Self"
by Deadally

I enjoyed this piece, it is reminiscent of the Moody Blues "on the threshold of a dream", or perhaps the patterns formed when the eyes are closed and the fingers are lightly pressed against the eyelids. Like an ever-changing progression of images, or a vision quest. To the artist, it is a journey, but the final picture may not do it justice.

( Posted by: quantum [Member] On: August 5, 2004 )

Thanks for the comment, and I'd like to hear whatever anybody else has to say

( Posted by: Deadally [Member] On: August 7, 2004 )

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