Chapter3: “The Serpent of Old”

The darkness pressed heavily down on John.

It beckoned him to fall down to his knees, to submit.

He struggled to stand, though immobile.

John curled his fingers inwards and felt his palms begin to dampened. His breaths shortened.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t see anything that was scary. No, the scary part was that he didn’t know what to fear to begin with. He began to understand the terror of loneliness, of not existing. John closed his eyes and thought of his mother’s cold hands cupping his face. He thought of her eyes, stern, her lips, pouting. She was never the one to yell or even raise her voice. He felt the love behind her scrunched eyebrows and crow’s feet which he learned from his father never to mention. He opened his eyes again, and it crushed him harder, even now.

From behind the thick drape of blackness, a monotonous drone drowned out his breathing. It had always been there. The slight pressure against his eardrums was becoming unbearable now, filling his mind until it was empty of thought and fear. The constancy of the sound lulled him into an uneasy stupor, helpless to even shield his face from the unseen horrors.

In the darkness he felt tiny. He wondered if the end was an arm’s length away or if the expanse even had an end. Afraid of being pulled into the emptiness, he kept his arm by his side and tightly balled up the end of his loose shirt.

He peered into the infinite blackness, trying to uncoil the void before him. The sound segmented into a rhythmic pulse, echoing all around him. The pulsing didn’t go very far before it came back twice as loud, sharpening into a hiss that pierced his ears. John saw a sudden movement as the noise cut off. In the darkness all he could make out were two angular eyes, yellow and glazed, and fleshless lips framing a set of polished fangs. Out from the shadow, a snake sprang at him. His muscles unlocked and with a swift, fluid motion he stepped to the side. He felt the smooth scales brush his face and a chill emanate from his spine. As he completed his revolution, he met another pair of eyes.

Just like that he was frozen again. There was no sound of struggling, but John could see the snake coiling around the figure’s neck, about half a foot below his bloodshot eyes. Despite the hostile hisses and display of the porcelain fangs, it seemed like the snake had no intention of biting its victim. Those eyes held him there. There was a feeling of betrayal behind them. “Why are you just standing there? Why aren’t you helping me?” they seemed to ask.

John turned around again and ran. It wasn’t his fault. In the stillness it seemed like he wasn’t moving even though his lungs burned and his legs ached. He didn’t mean for this to happen. He felt like a child, locked inside a room, madly pounding at the door, desperate for the sliver of light peeking through at bottom. It was an accident. He couldn’t face the darkness looming over his shoulders. He couldn’t look back. Although he knew the real danger was on the other side, he longed to join the shadows dancing behind the door.

“Why aren’t you helping me?”

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Here you go! Hope you guys enjoy this. It’s sort of like an intercalary chapter and this sort of theme will be repeated throughout my writing. As always, feedback is very much appreciated and need. Crush my soul as long as it’s with constructive criticism. Thanks and hang on tight for the next chapter!

For past chapters click here.

 

Try the peanut butter pie

This adventure started with a little app called Ness. This a user-based app, with its simplified interface, makes recommendations based on past eats, location, time of day, and of course how fat you and your wallet are feeling. It’s a foodie’s paradise.

I don’t just love to eat, because who doesn’t? I love to try new things. I’ve written another food related post called Spice of Life actually.

Scrolling through the app, I stumbled across Shuck Oyster Bar. It didn’t take me long to deduce through the reviews and pictures that it was located smack dab in the hipster capital of Orange County: SOCO. I knew I just had to go.

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Stepping into the restaurant, I’ll admit there was a twinge of intimidation, but it was everything I expected: modern whitewashed interior with some wood decor, oversized incandescent lightbulbs, an iPad-integrated cash register, and chalkboards plastered on the walls. I basked in the sophistication of the wine racks and took my seat. The service was incredibly attentive start to finish (which could be contributed to the fact my friends and I were the only patrons during the afternoon lull).

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To start off, we order the Seafood Stew, Chowda, and grilled cheese. I’ll keep the descriptions brief as I understand this isn’t a food blog. I’m sure you’ll all appreciate it though.

Talk about authentic! The Chowda here made me rethink everything I thought I knew about clam chowder. The bits of fresh clams in the ridiculously smooth and creamy soup was almost as killer as the inevitable heart attack in my near future. If that wasn’t bad (good?) enough, the block of butter that came neatly tucked between the accompanying bread definitely was.

 

 

The grilled cheese was a pretty $10. It’s a simple sandwich but you could see the aged fanciness ooze from its crispy sides. I guess it’s a dollar for every year the cheddar is aged. While the seafood stew was my least favorite dish, it served as a delicious dip for the sandwiches.

 

We washed it all down with our cucumber-infused water and mentally prepared ourselves for the oysters.

I went with the chef’s selection of a dozen oysters. The variety was outstanding, but the most notable one was the Naked Cowgirl, both for the name and the taste. It was on the larger side and the brininess was just right. With a cheers, we downed those shucking oysters and knew the bill was going to be worth every penny. The taste of ocean definitely confirmed their claim of getting their oyster fresh daily.

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I see you all scrunching up your noses in disapproval as you picture me slurping down the raw oyster as a string of slime trails from my lips, but a wise man once said, “Always try the peanut butter pie.”

Peanut butter pie actually sounds delicious so I’m not sure it’s the best analogy, but the idea is spot on. Why risk the chance of missing out on something beautiful just because it’s a little out of your norm?

A passionately driven food fanatic.

A hunger inspired knowledge seeker.

A promoter of personal adventure.

A collector of edible experiences.

Those are the words of Robert Navarro, writer of 100eats. I find “hunger inspired knowledge seeker” epitomizing of myself: I eat not only to satisfy my hunger but also my curiosity. I want to experience everything I can in life and that just happens to include food. I am very grateful for a family that doesn’t mind my picking off each of their plates. I get fidgety when I’m limited to one dish. I’m the type that asks “Are you going to finish that?” before you’re two bites in. I don’t know if that makes me a pig or a “passionately driven food fanatic” but let’s go with the latter.

I also inherited my father’s love for travel, and I’m waiting for the day I can take my adventures all over the world. That would be the life. I’m also waiting for the day I can return to this establishment and try the $20 Belon oyster, French imported. Anything topped with creme fraiche and Osetra caviar has to taste good, even if it means you have to fool yourself into thinking so.

I will not recommend this restaurant specifically, but I’d definitely recommend you all get out there and experience something, food-related or not.

The Writer’s Curse

“He peered into the infinite darkness  pitch blackness  nothingness, trying to uncoil the void that laid before him.”

That’s a possible bit from my upcoming Chapter3. But I’m struggling to find those perfect words that would truly describe the darkness. Darkness (in concept as well as semantics) is very vague in of itself. To leave it at simply darkness would be doing the word an injustice. Unknowingly writing poorly is one thing, but it becomes a sin when you deliberately cop out, knowing full well the literary potential you’re squandering. This is no mere belief. It goes beyond that. I am incapable of betraying myself to this. It eats at me, like when you’re grasping at the air for that word dangling off the tip of your tongue. You know it’s there – that it exists – but that knowledge only makes you want to explode with frustration. And compromise is never an option.

To help some of you guys understand the degree to which this eats at me, I have once scoured a dictionary to find a word, going off of nothing but its first letter. Why is that anyway? How is it that our brain manages to know what the word starts with yet keeps the rest of it from us? Anyway, it was u. That’s all I had. Fortunately, the u section is relatively short and the second letter was b. Now and forever, ubiquitous will be seared onto my mind.

Fun fact: ubiquitous is the most looked up word starting with u.

It definitely was a pain to go through all that, but when I pumped out my final draft, read it over again, and saw how snugly that ubiquitous fit in my piece, I knew it was all worth it. Sometimes a single word can make all the difference in setting up tone and tying together your writing. At that point you can’t really call it a curse anymore.

Writer’s blessing-in-disguise doesn’t flow all that well though.

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Sit tight, my loyal readers. I’ll get Chapter3 out before the end of this month. Thanks for the continued support.