You regular readers might have noticed I’ve been keeping the plot, if it can actually be called that, of The Caitiff fairly close to my chest and, in fact, I’ve been showing off very little besides the occassional experiment with presentation and such.
Well, a few days ago I decided I’d give changing the voice a go – I know, I know, I decided I’d do 1st person a while ago, but I’m currently trying to tone down the character’s voice. I think it’s a little too miserable, if you can imagine such a thing!
Perhaps this little release can be considered a celebration – Today is my very last day at this SEO internship, and I’m back at the jobcentre in the morning. Yay. On the bright side, I’ll have more time to write again which, y’know, will be nice!
Anywho, here’s the first thousand or so words of The first draft of The Caitiff, written in third person. Thank you; I hope you enjoy it!
The Caitiff: The 3rd Person
Through the haze of dirt and water-soaked glass, Cedric Healy followed the wrapper’s trail as it scurried along the street. He saw it dodge the occasional footstep, leap broken paving and sidle around protrusions of once-white chewing gum, clinging to the stone. It scuttled in disjointed episodes around abandoned cigarette ends; some had made their homes in the textures of the pavement, others still smouldered as though desperately signalling their owner to expedite their return.
He caught the brand name, Durex, before the blue material spun on again; its innards were silver, and caught a sudden offshoot of the meagre sunlight as it broke through the clouds. Healy could not help but imagine that it was on some epic journey, a fantastical adventure, searching for its lost partner – a quest, he mused, worthy of some world-renowned animated production company; one of those famous collectives which could control a child’s emotions – not to mention their parents’ wallets – as easily as one could convince a dog that they loved it.
If only one such company could see the world for what it was, could see the beauty in such ugly components, then they could have crafted that narrative, via storyboard and celebrity involvement, into the epic which defined generation Zed. They could have littered its script with contagious songs and brand placements and half thought-out illusions of morality; the dishonest victory of inarguable good over indefensible evil.
Healy, as much as he secretly wished the opposite were true, knew that he was not the only one to witness that story unfold. Though he tried to console himself with the idea that his thoughts, at least, were his own, he struggled to believe himself. If anyone could see through his own lies, then Healy could.
Still, whatever Healy’s disposition, it was and was not so that the condom wrapper’s motion was viewed and recorded, destined to be logged and analysed by the knowledgeable worker whom had wanted to make much more of their life. Filtered through inorganic eyes and the familiar digital haze, a vile and masterful oculus, dozens would see that which he saw.
He closed his eyes and allowed himself to succumb to the exhaustion which wracked at his body; he was weary, weary of their inarguable dominance over his senses, worn out by his physicality’s demands that sight was his main interaction with the world. He felt a thrill in such anarchy, in such rebellion against himself, and felt his thoughts retreat with a physical lurch, into those senses which he deemed bestial.
Cedric was a guilty man, guilty of a crime which could be found in no law books, but which everybody condemned, guilty of the same travesty as that which had sent hundreds of men before him to the guillotine, and had never been marked as their wrongdoing.
He assured himself, in conscious terms, that he was different from those around him, even as he titled himself as the most sickening hypocrite the human race had ever produced. He reminded himself that he was a lower creature than those around him, than any living thing which crawled the earth. He was certain that he had been denied some knowledge that made the world around him bearable, that he had been found unworthy of an all-encompassing theory which crackled along modern DNA like fire moved through a forest.
Whilst his consciousness reminded him of such, beneath the surface of his self-loathing another opine moved through still waters. He knew that he was, in some way superior, as though his hatred gave him some unbeatable quality; that he was the very last creature to understand a personal morality, unhindered by those of others.
Once, several months beforehand, he had confessed the very basics of his principles to a friend of his, a magazine editor, whilst they were both lost in the mire of inebriation.
‘I think that I think I’m some kind of rebel,’ he had confessed, running a fingertip around the rim of his Guinness, a habit of his which only emerged when he had already consumed two pints, ‘because I can’t really dare to think of myself as anything else. I mean, could you live with yourself if you were just another of the mass? Just another bloody sapient with your mouth hanging open? Just another mind trapped inside a body that you were poisoning through convenience?’
He had regretted it instantly, of course, but his friend wasn’t really paying attention, he could tell. He felt a spike of rage in the midst of his relief; was he such dull company, as he believed himself to be, that his companion would rather stare out of a window marred with condensation?
Whatever the reason, the thought of that admission haunted him again, and he allowed his mind to return to his drunken speech.
‘Is this motion, when I tighten my eyes against the world, like a child disgusted by what he sees, a direct result of my rebellion? Am I so concerned with proclaiming myself the ‘other’, the creature against which humanity must define itself, that I manifest those wishes in such a manner, in such a basic denial of a species-wide instinct?’
Whether his thoughts bore any truth, or whether he simply possessed some envy of the blind, he could not know; in his heart of hearts, he did not really want to know. Instead, he turned his thoughts to his sight and the parody of that sense into which he had fallen.
His world could not break through the filter of his flesh and he could see nothing but a haze; a natural darkness with tints of orange and purple stretching throughout the shadow.
As he had once admitted, he enjoyed such strange activity. He loved to lose himself amongst his trailing thought-processes, which curled about him like suicidal boa constrictors surrounded themselves; he took pleasure in such illicit movements of the body and motions of the mind.
Currently, he forced his eyelids against each other with ferocity; he tightened the muscles about his eyes until his own efforts stabbed at him. For eternity, or for long moments, all life and the grandeur of existence was nothing but unidentifiable sound and a thousand explosions of furious light beneath the flesh of his eyelids.
So, what d’you guys think, if you’ve actually made it this far?
I’m of the opinion that the 3rd person is much easier to read, whilst the 1st person is much better at conveying the character’s voice and enables me to use techniques which would not work as well in the 3rd.