Week 3

Introduce your reader into an unknown world.

Write a piece introducing your reader to an unknown world. 300-500 words.

In writing your piece, use the opening to Paul Bowles’ essay ‘Baptism of Solitude’ as your exemplary model. Here are three ways you might do that:

  1. Try out the second person voice to bring your reader directly into the scene.
  2. When you are introducing your reader to a new world, try and work in a theme. How will their time in this unknown world change them?
  3. Turn some ‘thing’ (a physical or abstract object) into the subject of at least one sentence, linked to a strong verb.

An unknown World

When you step out of your capsule, the anvil of the night will hammer you. The all-encompassing dark. The sun is gone. Set until dawn. Shut your eyes. There is nothing to see. All is void. Listen, for the night awakens.

Your first encounter is fear. Feral fear. Fear of the wild, a rational barrier to the new world you have trod on. The soil beneath your feet was freshly baked by the waning sun. A gift you only appreciated if you had been here for the rain. Those iron rods of heaven’s tears pummelling the earth with life. 

Stop now. Still your pounding heart, listen to the blood slow in your veins. Let the night into your ears. Do you hear the soft rasp of the venom wasp as it hurries to evade the chiropter with its echo sensors? Attune your audio to a lower scale and feel the cockroach on your foot. Its antennae quiver in anticipation of a mate, or a meal. Be still until you hear the air transfer within your lungs. Breathe in the chirp of the crickets as they lullaby the night. Take hold of the life that throbs about your soul. Feel the lust of a male firefly as he lifts his bulbous abdomen to cast an ethereal eye over the females as they quake the grass.

And then the drums. At first, just a dull thud. Rising in demand. Beat upon beat, a pounding thrash of flesh on flesh. A tympany war cry of the saints? Your heart stalls and takes up the rhythm. Baited, you are hooked, reeling, dragged by your ears through the dark. You make tracks in the red earth.

Fear abandoned. Your pace quickens — the dark calls to you. You jog. You run.  It calls you back, but there is a light ahead. A solitary star in the big night. More come. Timid, they peek out of the black, their tiny eyes blinking in the abyss.

You reach the drum, to find – nothing but a child expressing joy. His grin is infectious. His movement beguiles. The itch in your feet demands a hand, but instead, you shuffle. 

More stars and more hearts beat the drum — pound life. Dance O earth, choose life, suckle and grow. Let your spirit free. You can always come again and find it here. Africa is going nowhere.