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The Land of Windmills

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The Land of Windmills

Postby codlaim » Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:10 pm

So this is the piece I've been working on. Spent a couple of days a couple of weeks apart on it. I don't know how I feel about it. I see some problems. Would like to hear from you on any you might see.

Thanks.
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There once was an old man who could not breathe. He had spent his childhood in the farthest reaches of the land. It was a place where the imagination of his lord did not have a strong hold and the imaginations of other lords influenced the land. It was still the country of his lord. There were corn fields and windmills and wells and little streams carved out of the poor soil by his people. All these were twisted by the presence of the other minds, though. The corn was blue here. The windmills were warped and so made loud clacks and groans as they turned. The wells sometimes brought forth brown water that tasted of chocolate. The streams were full of little orange fish, the only fish in the land.

Not far from his childhood home was a field of flowers, the only flowers in the land. The “dreaming flowers” they were called. The people avoided these red blossoms. The fragrance sent people into a deep trance that filled heads with visions. The people may have lived in this strange place, but they were still the people of their lord and so looked on such things with distaste. The old man, who was a child then, thought differently. He was young enough to have no chores or duties and so he spent all his time in this field, breathing deeply of the flowers. He would walk through the mist of scent that hung above the flowers, so thick that he could not see more than a few feet in front of him as he wandered in a stupor, but seeing things that no man in the land had ever seen.

He did so until it came time for him to work like all the other men. By then he had spent most of the days of the past ten years in the field. He had grown strange and different from his people. He had also ruined his lungs. The thick scent had filled his chest with sludge. No one had noticed. No one had wanted to notice. Children were ignored in the land since they couldn’t do the kind of work that occupied adults.

The old man, who was still young then, was cast out of the village. He was too different and useless to be kept. He made his way toward the capital of the land. He hoped to find acceptance there, things he could do and people who would value him. It took him a long time. He lived as far from the capital as one could and still be in the land. His lungs were ruined and made the going slow. Although the people of the land were unwilling to house him for the rest of his life, the people were kind to travelers and offered their hospitality. A man on the road was a test from the lord most could meet. A useless man in the village was one most could not.

In return for their hospitality, the old man told the stories of his visions. They were strange and wonderful, full of color and life and joy. His progress was so slow that word of this man spread before him and he found many people eager to listen to his stories. He became known as the coughing man, a name that marked him as even more different, for there were no names in the land. The lord had never thought to imagine such a thing.

Each time the coughing man was greeted by a village, he hoped that this time the people would want him to stay. The stories would fill the span of a moon. Each night, after the work had been done, the people would gather in the center of the village and listen to the man. His voice was weak and rasping and often interrupted by fits of coughing. His stories were like nothing that had ever been heard in the land, though, and the poverty of his voice was overlooked. For near a month.

Then the people would grow tired of the tales. It seemed that, for a little while only, their imaginations could be touched. Then the crush of the lord’s mind would settle on the people and press their dreams down into their guts where food and water could fill them.

This continued for many years. The coughing man would spend a long time on the road, stopping often and eating and drinking what he could. He would come to a village. There he would rest and tell stories for a while before the people would ask him to leave. The land was vast. The lord might not have much of an imagination, but he had seen far when he thought of the land. By the time he approached the capital, he was old and bent and his lungs had become so bad that he could barely breathe.
"We need men who can dream of things that never were."
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part ii

Postby codlaim » Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:11 pm

There was a great windmill in the capital. It reached the clouds and tore them with its sails. It sent huge shadows drifting across the land for miles around the place where it rose. It was the single thing the coughing man had seen that matched the dreams he had when he was a boy. He decided that he would die upon its top. He wanted to see the land he had traveled so long, to see it as the lord had, before slipping into death.

He collapsed on the stairs that wound around the outside of the great tower of the great windmill. A woman found him gasping for breath near the base and brought him to her home, a small farm outside the capital.

The woman was from the land to the south of his own. There were several of her people in the capital who taught maintenance of the windmills to the people who came to them. The land to the south was filled with machines. She tried to nurse the coughing man back to what little health he had before his collapse. The damage was too great, though. He listened to her stories for a long time, the flower dreams coming back to paint her words in his mind. As she spoke, she worked on something he could not see. His vision was blurred, nearly gone. She fell silent after she had told him all she could. Then he told her his stories, the stories he had told so many times.

Months passed and she never got tired of his tales. When she came home at night he would talk to her until the wee hours. She smiled and paid attention, the work in her hands taking shape seemingly without thought from her. He had nearly finished all of his tales when she stopped him.

She told him that she could change his lungs, take the ruins out and replace them with a machine. He understood a little from her stories and knew it could be done. He hesitated, though, unsure. That night, while he slept, she took it upon herself to perform the change. He awoke outside, sitting in the open air as the wind blew all around. He could breathe again. He looked down and saw that there were holes in his chest and that in these holes were things much like windmill sails spinning in the gusts that blew through. With each turn he could feel his breath.

The man was old, and though his breath came easily now, he could do nothing of value in this land. He spent a few years with the woman and came to love her. They married and lived on her earnings. They were happy, the woman enchanted by this man who was so unlike his countrymen, and the old man pleased to be at rest and taken care of as he had never been.

The land was growing poorer and poorer. It took great effort to wrest grain from the land. The coughing man had seen this in his travels. The imagination that had given birth to the land was being used up. The old man knew that it would soon come to be that the land could not support its people. He did not know that the lord would do the things he would as his land died.
"We need men who can dream of things that never were."
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part iii

Postby codlaim » Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:11 pm

As the land grew poorer, as it gave up less and less of itself, the hunger of the lord seemed to grow stronger. The duties paid by the people rose until nearly all of their crops went to the great windmill in which the lord lived. An endless procession of carts and wagons, pulled by scrawny cattle and scrawny people, filed into the lord’s home. All of the things that filled the lives of the people needed a stamp, stamps which sent more carts and wagons to the lord. The only things free were the wind and sleep.

Then only sleep was free. The wind was important to the people and the land. It moved their windmills, which pumped the water from below the arid earth and ground the corn into meal. The duty on wind was enormous. The wind was rationed in large bags, which once opened spit out their load all at once. This made their use impossible. Instead, the people hired giants from the lands to the north to sit and blow on the windmills. The giants paid the majority of their incomes to the lord in income and foreign worker duties. The lord did not care, as long as corn continued to flow into his great windmill.

Of course the people could still breathe. The old man could not. His windmill lungs would not turn without wind. So he was moved up onto the top of his wife’s windmill and there he sat, laboring for breath in the puffs of his giant. He was uncomfortable, but not as miserable as one might think. He had his flower dreams. It made him a little sad to watch his wife devote more of her time to his care. She did all she could to lighten that burden upon him, and so it was not unbearable. His burden upon her was becoming so, though.

After a year of this, the wife decided that she could not go on like this. She traveled to the mountains in the east, where the machine had been built to control the winds. She left her husband with a crate of dried fruits from the north and set out to see what she could do. It was a month before she came to the mountains.

Her people had built a huge funnel in the gap in the mountains from where the winds blew. The funnel came out in little tubes that were used to fill bags by an army of the insects that lived on the other side of the mountain, in a land even more arid and wasted. The rising sun burned away all growth and only these insects that ate sand lived there. For a little water, the lord had found a hive of slaves. The wife was disgusted by all of this, not least of all because there was nothing she could do. The insects were not beings that she could deal with in any way.

The wife returned to the capital. She saw the sails of the great windmill twirling in the winds that blew on high. Those winds were beyond the lord’s reach, or at least his imagination. She remembered one of the visions the old man had told her. He had seen a boy holding a balloon that carried him higher and higher into the sky. The wife hurried home to work.

The old man listened to his wife bang and crash around in the workshop below. She did so for a few months, coming out only to see to his needs and sleep a little when she could no longer work. He also noticed a large number of wind bags piling up at the base of the windmill, more added every so often. The old man went on in his meager life, dreaming what he could when not struggling for breath. The wife was a bundle of action and work.

Finally, the woman brought out a rig. It was a large basket with propellers and wings and ropes and sails shouting out from it in strange directions. All of these could be directed from a number of levers and wheels inside the basket. She spent the rest of the day securing ropes and lines to the bags of wind. She finished and the rig began to float up as she cut the moors. She grabbed the old man as the airship floated past him, hauling him into the basket.

The balloon soon reached high enough to catch the winds that had not been caught by the lord. These carried the couple away from the capital. The farther the ship traveled, the less distinct the land became. Soon, the ground was crumbling into the vast sea that lay under the land from which the windmills pumped water. Hunks of the land floated overturned in the sea. People clung to these. Cattle stood in small groups of two or three atop the larger stones. Soon there was nothing but water. The balloon floated for a long time over the waste of the sea.

After a year, the ship passed over a field of red flowers sitting on an island in the middle of the sea. The old man smiled. He was soon to reach his new home.
"We need men who can dream of things that never were."
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Re: The Land of Windmills

Postby clknaps » Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:55 pm

Hi, welcome to the Forum, thanks for sharing this with us. I would suggest that maybe no one has replied on this because you broke the story up into three messages, so it looks like you already have two replies to the message, just something to note for the future.

There once was an old man who could not breathe.

An interesting beginning! This caught my attention immediately. However, it's not quite correct once you get into the story. He can breath, just not very well. I'd suggest you change this sentence to something like:
There once was an old man who could scarcely breathe.


He had spent his childhood in the farthest reaches of the land. It was a place where the imagination of his lord did not have a strong hold and the imaginations of other lords influenced the land.
Since these "other lords" are never mentioned again, I'd suggest cutting this part out of the sentence, it bogs down the story in unnecessary detail. Would suggest rework to:
He had spent his childhood in the farthest reaches of the land, a place where the imagination of the lord did not yet reach.



It was still the country of his lord. There were corn fields and windmills and wells and little streams carved out of the poor soil by his people. All these were twisted by the presence of the other minds, though. The corn was blue here. The windmills were warped and so made loud clacks and groans as they turned. The wells sometimes brought forth brown water that tasted of chocolate. The streams were full of little orange fish, the only fish in the land.

I like the interesting picture that is painted here, very colorful. However, I didn't understand what you meant by "presence of the other minds..."
Is that the other lords you mentioned earlier? Are the lords' imaginations somehow physically altering the land? This is quite an interesting idea, it need more development (description in the story).

The people may have lived in this strange place, but they were still the people of their lord and so looked on such things with distaste.
Why did they look upon the flowers with distaste? This isn't clear to me.


Overall, I liked reading this. It is a strange and wonderful place that you paint for the reader. I'm going to hold off on commenting on the rest of the story, as I want to make sure you are still a part of this forum. Thanks, CLK
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