‘Flow’ is a concept developed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to describe “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”
I wrote this piece as a school assignment for English class in grade 11. I am still unsure how it happened or why, but while writing this piece I hit the best state of ‘flow’ that I’ve ever experienced so far and it felt as if the words were effortlessly ‘flowing’ through me and onto the computer screen. I am not commenting on the quality of the work produced which is quite imperfect, but rather the subjective experience I felt while producing it. I think part of the motivation behind this blog for me is chasing that creative exhilaration I felt while writing this piece.
The Beast Within
Ralph’s head stared down at the lonely and desolate landscape. Everything that was once so green and alive was now charred and diminished. Ralph’s head was grotesquely decapitated so you could see the veins and arteries sticking out of his neck. These vessels of life which once pumped gallons of fresh and revitalizing blood into the body of a boy who was so alive was now shriveled and useless. The head was elevated by a stick sharpened at both ends, which was personally sharpened by Roger. It was positioned on the spot where the former lord of the flies once reigned supreme. It was also carefully adjusted so that it was lower than where the lord of the flies was. Upon the countenance of Ralph was an expression of profound desperation and fear. Yet it also seemed to accuse whoever looked at him for all the atrocities and murder in the world. The minions of lord of the flies now deserted their last master and surrounded their new chief with buzzing ecstasy, as if promising to trade loyalty for decaying flesh.
A week went by after the fire.
‘What do we do now? There isn’t any fruit or meat left. We burned down the entire island. We’ve been starving for days!’ cried out Robert. The tribe was covered in soot, and was sprawled across the sandy beach under the mercy of the burning sun. There was no reply to Robert, only the laughter of the sea.
Finally, Jack said, ‘We might have angered the beast. We’ve burned down his home, and I’m afraid that he’ll come again, disguised.’
‘So what do you say we do, Chief?’ challenged Roger.
‘I say we put your head where Ralph’s is, if you won’t tone down the attitude. I’m chief, and I won’t put up with your shit anymore.’
‘Oh yeah? Try me.’
There was only the audible tension between Jack and Roger for a few prolonged moments.
Suddenly filled with delirious anger and madness, Jack shouted ‘Grab him, tribe! Do as your chief says!’
The boys stared at each other in hesitation, and some reluctantly started at Roger.
Panicked, Roger replied, ‘Chief? What chief? You haven’t gotten us any meat for days, and we’re starving! You’re not a proper chief, you’re scared, just like Ralph. Tribe, I’ll be your new chief. I’ll give you meat. Jack is the beast. Grab him!’
The boys were confused by this sudden proposition and hesitated.
‘How will you give us meat?’ said one of the littluns.
‘You’ll see.’ replied Roger. There was darkness in his answer, along with strange but promising confidence.
The boys were shaken. They were torn between loyalty to Jack and the promise of meat. In the end, their primitive instincts took over and they slowly started to surround Jack.
‘I’m your chief! Grab Roger! He’s the beast, not me!’ cried Jack.
The boys started to close in. Jack panicked. With a desperate burst of energy, he broke through the weakest part of the circle and started running for his life.
As Jack hurled himself up the beach into the carcass of the forest, he heard the savage and hunger-driven screams of the tribe on hot pursuit, lead by Roger.
‘Get him! He’s the beast! We were fooled by his disguise all along!’
‘Kill the pig! Slit his throat! Bash him in!’
Overdosed on fear and adrenaline, Jack stormed his way through the burnt trees and creepers, ignoring the cuts and bruises the forest was inflicting on him as revenge for the fire. He ran for his life, desperately hoping that the savages that he created would not hunt him down and brutally murder him, just as they had done to the sow. For the first time since he landed on the island, Jack was in desperate need and mercy of the conch, of civility. Jack ran faster and faster, and the cries of the savages started to grow faint behind him.
As he plundered deeper into the heart of the dead forest, he came upon a small clearing, and stopped, immobilized. In the middle of the clearing was Ralph’s head, still skewered onto the stick sharpened at both ends. The half-decomposed eyes of Ralph stared through Jack, leaving him petrified. The eyes of Ralph seemed to be able to see Jack through his painted face and unearth all the guilt and shame buried deep within his bosom.
‘Jack, what have you done?’ said Ralph’s head.
Jack’s face drained of blood.
‘Bbb… But you’re… You’re dead. I… I killed you. How…?’ Jack replied, stunned.
Ralph’s head broke into a thundering laughter. It laughed, and would not stop.
‘Who are you?!’ demanded Jack.
‘I am the beast within, Jack. You know who I am better than anybody else.’
‘So you were the beast, Ralph! You were disguised!’
‘Yes, I am Ralph, and I am disguised. But the thing is, Jack, I’m also you, and everybody else. Although, there isn’t much need for me to disguise myself anymore.’
Jack met the undeniable truth. He understood now. The beasts were within them, and it was only themselves that they feared. In the attempt to avoid the beast, they had become the very thing that they feared.At that moment, a single spear sliced through the air and penetrated Jack from behind. Jack fell on his knees, then collapsed, dead.
That night, the savages danced around the fire, and feasted on meat. They danced round and round, and when they finally stopped and looked at each other, they no longer knew who they were.Jack’s head stood solemnly by that of Ralph’s, and together they stared blankly at the island, surrounded by flies.
Jack’s head stood solemnly by that of Ralph’s, and together they stared blankly at the island, surrounded by flies.
– The End –