ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the October 2014 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alexseanchai, who wanted the 'click' moment of seeing The Matrix. It also fills the "extra-sensory perception" square in my 9-11-14 card for the Halloween Bingo Fest.  This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.  It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics setting, and is a direct sequel to "Look Both Ways."

WARNING: This poem contains some intense topics, and it doesn't have a happy ending.  Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. There is prejudice, sexist and racist language, nausea and vomiting, a superpower misinterpreted as anything else, serious rupture of reality tunnel, extreme disorientation, and unfocused suicidal ideation.  Sadists who enjoy watching obnoxious characters writhe in torment may enjoy this.  Sensitive readers may wish to skip it.


"Shifting Perceptions Without a Clutch"


Hector Belanger leaned over
and puked down the pewter shoulder
of the horse he was riding.

The lady cop held onto him by the handcuffs
or he would have landed face-first in the street.

Everything had turned into a smear of light,
weird threads of color running through it all
so that Hector couldn't see where they were going.

He might have had a chance to make
some sense out of it if only things would
stay the same from one minute to the next,
but it all kept shifting and running together
until the motion made him seasick.

It was like the time his uncle
took him out to the country
and tried to teach him to drive stick.

All he could remember was the
sickening buck and lurch of the little bug,
trees blurring green through the windows,
and Uncle Rufus swearing that he was
a no-good fool and would strip the gears
if he didn't learn to use the clutch proper.

He never did get the hang of that pedal.

Now he was caught up in the sickly pea-green
tangles around the panhandlers on the street,
which gave way to a bunch of college chicks
trailing that ugly pink color his Nana called puce,
then mustard yellow all over the niggers.

By the time they got to the police station,
Hector was so dizzy that he couldn't walk straight
and the lady cop had to half-carry him indoors.

He kept trying to walk around the thickest tangles
because they looked like thorn bushes, but
she dragged him straight through anyhow.

It was hard to concentrate on the voices
enough to pick out what they were saying.

When he complained about the awful colors,
people asked him questions he couldn't answer.

He could hear them arguing over whether
he had a concussion or was just drunk,
but Hector knew better.

The fucking soups had done this to him,
somehow or other, it was all their fault.

Then someone suggested that
maybe he was flickering.

No. It couldn't be ... that.

He was just sick, hallucinating,
they must have drugged him.
Or maybe he was getting a migraine;
his mother got migraines.

It wasn't that.

The hands patting him down were
more gentle than when he got brought in
for being drunk and disorderly, but
the station was the same lurching swirl
of colors as the street had been.

Hector threw up on the floor.

Someone hollered for a mop, and
the lady cop suggested that maybe
they ought to fetch a nurse to check him.

People poured him onto a bench
and tucked a wastebasket beside it,
then draped a wet cloth over his eyes.

That helped a tiny bit, although
Hector could still see the colors
through his eyelids and the cloth.

Hell, he could see them through his skull.

Maybe it wasn't just a migraine after all.

Hector curled into a ball on the bench
and wished that he could just die.

* * *

Notes:

Hector Belanger -- He has fair skin, bright blue eyes, and wavy dark blond hair.  He gets by on odd jobs and is pretty capable at finding a way to make things work.  Regrettably Hector tends to look down on other people for a wide range of reasons.
Origin: He hassled students at Loyola University, including Claire Bonheur.  Claire's superpower of Reflective Luck gave him bad luck -- and the worst thing that could happen to him was his own latent ability turning active.  He blames the soups for causing this, not because he actually knows what happened, but just because Gumbo Ya-Ya had a table there.  He does not accept any personal responsibility for it.
Qualities: Good (+2) Friends in the Bayous, Good (+2) Hunter, Good (+2) Persistent, Good (+2) Poorskills
Poor (-2) Bigot
Powers: Good (+2) See ALL the Oppressions
Motivation: To crawl higher up the heap.

* * *

Driving stick shift requires knowing how to use a clutch.  If you work the clutch wrong, the car will buck or stall, or both.

Oppression includes such things as classism (represented here as pea green), sexism (puce), and racism (mustard).

Hallucinations may affect any sense, for a variety of reasons.  There are many ways of coping with hallucinations.

Denial is a coping method that can be useful in the short term, but soon tends to do more harm than good.  Understand how to overcome denial.

Suicidal ideation happens when it hurts too much to live.  Here are some tips for dealing with suicidal thoughts.

You know--

Date: 2014-10-24 03:46 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I'm only a pretty good person, because I /really/ liked watching a fork have to /face the same problem/ he was bigoted against.

Honestly, the suicidal moment is mild, and I honestly didn't think it was more than a vague hyperbole. I do hope others are watching /out/ for him, though, because it could very well develop.

(Which is why I set the bar at "pretty good"-- I don't actually want him to /die/, just have to deal with the crap.)

Re: You know--

Date: 2014-10-24 08:42 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Oooh. Good point.

I'd like to entangle him with your dirty cop, though... a bit down the line?

Re: You know--

Date: 2014-10-24 08:54 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I was actually thinking of Brad, and banging these two together precisely for the fizzgig! It'd have to be a very controlled setup, of course, otherwise they'd level a freaking BLOCK or six.

Re: You know--

Date: 2014-11-05 09:36 pm (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
(Giggles) Gregor! :-D. Ok, I am *so* all in favor of this. NOT IT!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-24 04:04 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Woof. If this was the reflection he got, he must have put out a LOT more negative energy than was obvious in the previous poem. While I don't exactly revel in this, there is a strong streak of "let the punishment fit the crime" in my worldview, so I can't be entirely sorry to see it happening.

(Aside: if I had the power to cast spells, the one spell I would cast on damn near every current Republican politician would be "bad financial decisions". Let them see how fast their "friends" disappear when they've lost enough money to drop them down to peon level. Same principle.)

And now he can "see" his own bigotry, is that how it works? This could be Interesting.

Janet, thank you for sponsoring this! It was on my list for next month's donation, but I'm happy to see it sooner.

Hmm.

Date: 2014-10-25 04:40 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I want him to realize it's his own fault. That way he learns better. And feels worse.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-09 06:46 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
*looks at comments* So... I'm the only one reading this whose response is "Can I give the poor guy a hug?" then?

Re: Well...

Date: 2014-11-09 08:04 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
I think that was me for the Sponge? Definitely for Subwoofer, the poor man.

I'd... comment here that even I have my limits when it comes to sympathy, but possibly not. If I recall we haven't seen them do anything other than be horrible, though, and not so much in the way of them hurting. Hector's hurting badly at the moment. And sure some if not a lot of that is his own doing, but even so.

Re: Well...

Date: 2014-11-09 08:22 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
The subjective misery is implied: the Sponge is a plain pure addict, and Subwoofer hates himself for having superpowers.

Whereas Haboob and the Mandible, from what we've seen, either don't have that misery or hide it a heck of a lot better. Also with Haboob I think there was a suggest that he enjoys the havoc he causes too? That doesn't mean he can't be hurting, but it'd aid in masking it further since you have to look much deeper to find it.

He's hurting because he threw a rock in the air and conked himself on the head with it, which is what often happens when people act like bigoted dicks.

Mmmm. I hope they'll get him that psychiatrist. He's going to need one with the dose of self-loathing he's going to get on top of everything else he wasn't aware of and can't ignore anymore. But good luck trying to get him to understand how his powers work never mind how to improve his situation.

Re: Well...

Date: 2014-11-10 08:59 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
*gesture like 'you see?'* It's harder to build up sympathy for characters like that not just because their actions are a lot worse, but because they mask anything that could create it either consciously or subconsciously. Add them up together and you get vastly unsympathetic characters that are severely messed up and potentially utterly irredeemable.

'twould. Hector seems the kind of person who'd deny having a problem he needs helps with without considering how he feels about soups whilst dealing with being one.

Re: Well...

Date: 2014-11-10 09:40 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
That could be sympathetic. No one cared about the Mandible at all if everyone cheered when he died. That's... probably because of the kind of person the Mandible was and what he was capable of and willing to do, but that just asks the question how that happened and that way lies tragedy. Or possibly he was just one of those people born nasty for reasons we do not know, I suppose, in which case there'd be a lot of tragedy around him and he'd probably be at least somewhat decent at spinning it his way.

Mmmm. I'd throw in that he'd need a soup with powers like the Muffler's too, just to get past the way his own powers are hurting him and get the self-work to stick. Sounds like he's going to be in constant pain no matter where he lives and that's going to make it still harder for him to accept help.

And that's assuming that his power wouldn't spike up like this were he to try and deal with his issues in a way that could see him improve. If he did have enough of a cluebat to try working on his bigoted self and the pain did reach these levels again... He might never try that approach again.

Re: Well...

Date: 2014-11-10 09:31 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
The Mandible was one of those guys who just saw the world as a rotten place and wanted to do away with it.

There's your potential for sympathy for him then, no? Most everyone would think his idea of a solution is utterly unacceptable (for obvious reasons), but "the world is a rotten place; we should get rid of it"... I wouldn't be surprised to hear people feel similarly from time to time. It's just they wouldn't act on it the way the Mandible does even given the means.

Ironically I can sympathize with his aversion, but that doesn't make it okay for him to be a dick about it.

Yeah, definitely. It's just that, given what his powers do to him, it sounds like something that he'd need in the beginning and... He's not likely to accept it for a lot of reasons. I'm sure he could do without that, but it'd be exponentially harder and take at least twice as long.

Well, if he stays away from people, it won't do much.

You said part of the reason it's so bad now is because it's reacting to his own bigotry, though. And that's not going to go away, so even if he went off and became a hermit some of the issue would remain purely because his own feelings are causing part of the problem. I suspect he'll adjust as he gets used to the pain too, but it'll remain a constant drain on him.

I don't think the current situation is stable, though.

Definitely unstable. And he's currently definitely in a situation that needs careful handling for everyone's safety. Poor Hector.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-24 12:41 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
There's quite a few people I'd wish that one on...

Well...

Date: 2014-10-24 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Some writers just murder people in effigy. I am usually not that merciful.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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