Don't Wait For An Invitation :: No Need For Reservation

-SH's picture

Written yesterday from about 10p, til 2am, so sorry of the quality drops as it carries on.
Anyway, it's very likely to be cuts down as it's just a GINORMOUS chunk of writing right now.
Still as for the content, it's a history/introduction to the forest of character Sammy.
Brief mentions of nudity, nothing graphic or explicit.

Constructive criticism welcomed - tell me what you like, tell me what don't like, that kind of thing (:

August 1st 2013 - This Life Is An Exploration
Word Count - 2,815.

The air was stagnant in the rainforest, and the humidity so high that any movement was effort, as if wading through the very air. All wildlife had come to a standstill, the heat fogging thoughts and motivations, until lethargy gripped the local fauna. Even sounds seemed somewhat muted today – no birds screeching, no faint predatory roars in the distance… only the incessant whine of mosquitos hung in the air.

And, quite honestly, he was tired of it. He was tired of the ceaseless droning and the screeching and the constant feeling of a weight on his shoulders. He was tired of the draining warmth, and the relentless feeling of always being sticky and sweaty and clammy. He was weary of the way the hide clothing stuck to his chest and clung to his legs, and he was utterly sick of the constant layer of grime that coated his grey skin. The worst, though, the absolute pinnacle of frustration was the way the thick, carved piece of wood that masked his face and prevented him from dragging any fresh (or fresher) air into his lungs. It trapped a muggy, moist cloud of tepid air in a muzzle over his mouth and nose and in conditions such as these, it was the last straw.

Why he didn’t just leave was beyond him.

For seventeen years since his birth, he had lived, worked and – just barely – breathed the rainforest, the tribal traditions and all the annoyances, that came with it: the never changing diet, the back breaking labour, and the goddamn religion… the list went on. He grunted (not quite the scream of infuriation he had wanted to let tear out from him, but an almost acceptable exchange) before picking up the hide bag of his kill, the leather thongs cutting into his palms, and swinging it over his shoulder.

So riled was he that he didn’t even bother to check his immediate surroundings before yanking the mask from his face. He turned it over in his hand, his thumb running over the worn purple-wood, and examining the bright orange eyes that bulged from the mask and similarly coloured, garish eyebrows that jutted out, right down to the flared nostrils (the only holes in the mask) and the single line that had been carved just above the curved chin, in an interminable – and frankly creepy – grin.
He was just contemplating throwing it in to the forest to rot, when a hand clamped down on his shoulder.

“Samiik-ali’tete! Not in public!” the owner of the hand scolded and he groaned inwardly. He, unfortunately, recognised that voice. “Put that back on, right now!”
“Yes, mother.” He said quietly, taking a deep breath before replacing the mask back onto his features. He shrugged his mother’s arm off his, under the pretence of adjusting the grip on his haul. His mother made tittering noises.
“Come now, Sam.” She said, sympathy creeping into her voice, “The ceremony is tonight.” She sounded faintly excited – but it did nothing to change Sam’s mood. He nodded along good naturedly, though, and wished for his mother to leave. She didn’t.

They came into sight of camp, and Sam excused himself, on the façade of attending to the meat he had with him. His mother shook her head.
“Not today.” She relieved him of the burden, and ushered him towards the thatched house they called home. “What did I tell you yesterday?”
He screwed up his eyes, trying to remember. “Oh.” It had finally dawned on him. Today, the day of the ceremony, meant that the latter half was spent in preparation. His mother looked pointedly at him, nodding. “Go on. Off with you.”

‘Preparation,’ to Sam, meant spending as long as he could in the hot springs that infrequently served as a bath to all members of the tribe. He sat up to his eyes in water, as hot as he could bear, in an attempt to relax himself and scrub the embedded layer of dirt from his skin. After not long, his mind strayed, pondering over the ceremony. It was, of course, your typical clichéd tribal event. The ceremony of adulthood, in which the candidates – those who were about to ‘come of age’ (he really hated that saying) – went through spiritual enlightenment through the elder, the Quala of the tribe.

Eventually his mother found him and, again, reprimanded him for staying so long and practically dragged him bodily from the springs. She then forced him to a clearing in the forest where he was to meditate and contemplate with the other candidates. For hours and hours he stayed there, sitting and thinking, feeling adrift. At some point he was sure he fell asleep, dreaming of running through the trees, branches and leaves whipping his arms, legs… and his face. No mask he realised. Happiness bubbled in his abdomen and flooded out in a laughing call of joy that rang through the forest.

When he jerked awake, as the last remaining candidates were exiting the clearing, Sam felt the usual weight settling back onto his shoulders. His frame slumped as he, too, left the glade, casting a wistful look back. He was willingly, walking away from the peace, the tranquillity – the freedom of dreaming, and it leant heaviness to his limbs.

The final preparation took part as night began to fall: the practise of painting his body with symbols. The custom was to use colours that matched the candidates mask, so for Sam, it would be swirls and lines of greens, oranges purples and dark blues. His body would become a work of art, a shrine, and – while one would expect Sam to scorn and detest the ritual – he really didn’t mind. He was, in fact, looking forward to this part.

The reason behind this was because, traditionally, a friend had to do it, and when he arrived back to the hut Mare was already waiting. She was like a breath of fresh air in this humid environment, short and adorable with waves of red hair, specially perfumed for the occasion. She, herself would not be taking part in the ceremony, as she was a year younger than him. She would get her turn next year, when (he hoped) their roles would be reversed.

Mare’s mask was green, with large yellow eyes and the mouth, unlike his, was cut out into a large, smile so her full, pale grey lips were on view. She smiled at his entrance, and he grinned back – not that she could see that beneath his mask.
“Sammy.” She said in greeting, bowing her head. He rolled his eyes.
“Is that really necessary?” he asked. She crossed her arms over her chest and waited – an action scarily alike to his mother’s. He reluctantly bowed his head.
“Mare.” He conceded, finishing the greeting. Her lips broke into a beaming smile.
“Are you excited?” she asked, motioning for him to take off his clothes.
Nudity was natural in the tribe, modesty and self-respect given in the form of a mask. Tatenka they were called, in the language of the forest. This he removed last of the hide wear as Mare finished preparing the body paint, a paste made from vegetation and coloured with fruit juices, amongst other things.

She turned to face him.
“You know I’m not excited.” He said in a low voice. She crouched and began to dab the paint across his skin. She sighed, glancing up at him.
“This ceremony only happens once in your life. Is there nothing that appeals to you, even slightly?” he shook his head.
“You know there isn’t, Mare.” She rested a hand on his calf, looking sceptical.
“You know,” he continued and gestured around him, “that I hate all this, that I’d much rather see what’s out there.” He had heard the stories, seen the living proof, as a young child. Really that was what had first sparked his rebellious nature
“You want out.” She commented. He nodded.
“You want out too, though.” She licked her lips, but fell silent.
“Mare – ” he started, but she stopped him with a sharp rap on the thigh.
“SH - I have to work.” she said flatly, and he obediently quietened.

She worked in an upwards spiral around his body, humming quietly as she completed his feet with her long, gentle strokes and then his shins, calves, knees and thighs. She ran her fingers over his hips and groin, and buttocks, completing the well-practiced motions, instilled since she had offered to be the painter. Mare worked nimbly over his back and shoulders, her touch light; a caress. She came round to his front and worked up his stomach, her fingertips swirling around his navel and over his ribs and chest, sending shivers down his spine. She paused as her hands came to his face.

“Sam,” She whispered, “Whatever happens tonight, promise me you’ll think it through first?” He nodded, trembling slightly. She was the only one to really know of his loathing of the culture, and often had premonitions of when he was likely to do something stupid. He nodded again.
“I promise.” He swore. Her mouth, the only visible part of her face, relaxed. Her hands went back up to his neck, and face, running over his cheeks and lips. Her fingers hovered around his eyes, and he obediently shut them, feeling the stroke of colour and it swiped over the pale white skin. His eyes fluttered open after he felt the fingers retract, once she had streaked the dye over his forehead.

A moment of confusion gripped him, as she removed her own mask, revealing a heart shaped face and a pair of striking black eyes with green pupils. “The last part.” She remarked softly, and he bowed his head for her to reach. She reached up onto her tiptoes and delicately kissed his right eyelid and then his left. His muscles fluttered at the touch. He hesitated, unsure as to why then as her lips pressed tenderly to his. She pulled away, but he crushed her in an embrace.

“I’ll be back for you, Mare.” He murmured.
“Don’t ruin the paint!” She choked out from his harsh grip, “I worked hard on that.” He quickly pulled away from her, and shrugged sheepishly. The two shared a chuckle before a sombre atmosphere once again settled. She leaned in close again; face lingering just slightly away from his. He could feel her warm breath on his lips, almost taste her sweet skin.
“I know you’ll be back, Sam.” She breathed and kissed him again.

After that she vanished, scooping up her gear and sweeping swiftly from the hut. He stood there dazed for an age before hurriedly dressing and replacing his mask; the falling night signalling his need to leave.

The forest at night was decidedly different from the day. A cacophony of noise was buzzing in the air: wails and shrieks and howls, the hum of insects and rhythmical croaking of frogs. This was the first thing Sam noticed, but to an outsider that would be very different. In the day, the rainforest could be mistaken for any number of Earth rainforest (albeit, with a variety of different colours), with the tall trees, dangling vines and massive buttress roots, but at night… a very different song was sung.

Bioluminescence was everywhere on this planet. The purple wood trees had cords of light running up and down their trunks and along their branches. The leaves attached to the end shone, while fungi and flowers growing around the base and winding their way upwards glowed in a rainbow of neon colours. Even Sam, whose skin in the day was rather boring shade of grey, glowed cyan. Mare’s markings showed up even more significantly because of it.

Where Sam needed to be was a communal clearing, not far from the village. Really it was an island, a large oval disrupting the flow of a river. One end was a strip of pebbled beach, dashed by fast running water, while the other end overlooked a waterfall. This is where the ceremony took place.

He settled comfortably with the rest of the candidates near the front, catching Mare sitting somewhere in the crowd. Her lips twitched, and he bowed his head almost imperceptibly in her direction.

Finally, it began.

Soon, Sam was cursing the heavens. It was long and it was boring, and the Quala was the oldest being Sam had ever seen. The skin of his hand, wrapped around an intricately designed staff, was so wrinkly and droopy, Sam was surprised it didn’t just slide right off and, framing his ornate yellow-wood mask, was a headdress adorned with bioluminescent golden feathers (which cast shadows over his face, only affirming his ancient look) and precious gems.

When his time came, Sam was called out with a regal “Samiik-ali’tete.”
He rose to his feet, and took his position, right on the very edge of the cliff. Sam could feel the spray of rushing water, cool droplets on his calves and hoped the paint wasn’t being washed away. The roaring of the water was deafening to him, but glancing back, saw only the water charging off the cliff and falling away into darkness, causing him to be momentarily seized by fear.

He looked back, gaze roaming over the crowd of mask clad faces staring at him. For an instant Sam felt very exposed, and then he felt very angry. The emotions the morning had given him rushed back like a tsunami; crashing over his shoulders.

The Quala looked at him appraisingly, and Sam had a sickening feeling that he knew. For the first time, Sam felt as though he shouldn’t have underestimated the elder being.
“Something you wish to say?” he croaked, and the crowed shifted restlessly: it was the first thing he had said all night. Sam automatically began to shake his head, but stopped and pondered – only for a second. He nodded slowly.
“I want out.” He said quietly. A collective gasp from the crowd gave him an assurance, although he knew not how, that they had heard him over the din of the river. He reached up to his face and slipped the mask from his face. The tribe members gave a scandalous cry and began to mutter amongst themselves, outraged.

Sam felt his muscles tighten, his heart rate pick up. The whole affair – the pompousness, the judgemental outcry of the crowd – he was so… tired. Tired of it all. At least now they all knew.
“I want out!” he yelled, shouted it at the top of his lungs, finally elated, finally feeling the weight rise and lift from his shoulders. He laughed, relief washing over him; he only felt this good when he was with –


The thought snapped him out of it, and his eyes immediately went to her. She was standing, mouth open in shock. He had known her long enough, to read her, even without seeing her face. She wasn’t shocked at the outburst, nor what he had done. Then it hit him like a punch in the stomach… No, she wasn’t shocked. She was scared - scared for him, scared for the reaction, the… consequences that would follow. He instantly looked to the Quala. The elder’s hand had gripped the staff more tightly.

Sam froze, fear washing over him like icy water.
“One year.” the Quala finally said, and raised his hand, staff still clasped in one of them. Sam started, jerking as if he was going to run, but couldn’t; stuck irrationally to the spot.

He watched, helpless, as the elder brought his hands together once… twice… three times – and then a final time. The concluding clap made a sound like thunder, drowning out all other noises, apart from one. One scream from Mare who he instinctively knew had lunged forward, her hand raised in a useless attempt to catch him as he felt himself fall. Backward, backwards, tumbling, tumbling into the darkness.

The rush of air took the breath from him and his vision became white, the resounding clap of thunder still making his head ring. All at once and very suddenly, his back hit something hard. The breath rushed out of his body in one great whoosh and his head snapped back like a crack of a whip. Then everything went white.

Waking was a bleary event Sam never wanted to repeat. Yet, even in his dazed and befuddled state, there was no mistaking that something was very wrong. This was not his forest.

It didn’t smell right, the ground he rested on didn’t feel right and it definitely didn’t sound right. He opened his eye a crack. Oh heavens, no that didn’t look right at all. This wasn’t even a rainforest! He leapt to his feet – his hooves! He noted in alarm and stared around, bewildered, shocked and more than a little terrified. This forest… this forest was endless.

riddledrhyme's picture

I love reading writings like

I love reading writings like this, and this one was a great read ^^
I hope you don't mind but I love constructive criticism.

Overall it's a great read, truly. It seemed very detailed and had a good backbone of a story to it. Something you may want to watch out for is your use of "to be" verbs such as "was".. The less you use "was" the better quality of writing you'll end up with.. Sometimes "to be" verbs (was, is, were, etc) are necessary, but it's a good practice to use them sparingly.

I like your diction (your word choices) and you're using good sentence syntax (things like repetition or anaphora). Diction can always be elevated though ^^

You get a little comma happy (my worst problem ever) like in this sentence...
"Mare’s mask was green, with large yellow eyes and the mouth, unlike his, was cut out into a large, smile so her full, pale grey lips were on view."
Take out some commas and it makes more structural sense ---> "Mare's mask was green with large yellow eyes and the mouth, unlike his, was cut out into a large smile so her full, pale grey lips were on view."

Sometimes you start telling the story instead of displaying the story.. In example, you start of many of your sentences as "He did this" or "She did that". Does that make sense?

I apologize for picking apart your writing as this is just the way I improve in my own writing.. The best English class I ever took was one in which we gave our writings to others in the class to tear it apart with red pens and highlighter to point out mistakes; it helped tremendously.

I really loved reading this and I hope you continue with it c:
Jacklo's picture


hNNNGH PRESHIS BBI. And probably because it was so hot and clammy where I am today I really sympathized with him. The description about his homeforest was amazing I really got a clear picture.

Pretty much anything I would have added for con. crit. was covered above by Riddled <3. Personally I'd break up the speech from just a new line to a new paragraph but that is not essential its how I write heh.

Jacklo's Characters/Hub
Discord: Daddy#4977
-SH's picture

riddledrhyme Thank you so

riddledrhyme Thank you so much, that is fantastic. Very, very useful; I've noted it all down so I can look at it next time I sit down to write and keep it all in mind. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and yes, I will continue with this, likely to be more history of him on his home planet (I find writing about it really enjoyable) but probably a few adventures in the forest :L

Just gonna respond to a few points as well, while I'm here...
Sometimes "to be" verbs (was, is, were, etc) are necessary, but it's a good practice to use them sparingly.
I've never actually heard of this, but it is an interesting point, and I see where you're coming from. I'll be mindful to watch it in future.

You get a little comma happy
Something I've been told a few times and should probably watch out for more! I've also been told I'm quite hyphen happy, but that I think I manage to keep under control a bit more :U

Sometimes you start telling the story instead of displaying the story.. In example, you start of many of your sentences as "He did this" or "She did that". Does that make sense?
It makes a lot of sense. While I was writing, in fact, I was wondering if I was using too much of that, and meant to edit some specific things afterwards... except that I forgot what those few specific things were :|

I apologize for picking apart your writing as this is just the way I improve in my own writing
No need to apologise at all, it has been tremendously useful. Thank you, once again.

Jacklo Oh you ^^ Thank you very much. As for the speech, it's actually something I'm always on two minds about. I tend to just leave it because I'm lazy |: