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This is the prologue to my novel The Blackbird’s Tale. Please note that I am not a native English speaker, and that the book is ‘work in progress,’ so there are probably still some awkward sentences here and there. The story takes place in two worlds: The first world is a fictional version of our real world, with a focus on Europe. Most of the chapters in this world are ‘seen’ through the eyes of psychiatrist RE Junesworth. The second world (in which the majority of events take place) is a fantasy-themed world by the name Astaria.
I began writing this book after many failed attempts to put my perspective on complicated topics, such as consciousness, mental illness, and the human condition into words. I underwent an episode that many would describe as “psychotic” or “disordered.” However, I found such shocking and overwhelming altered states of consciousness to be rather enlightening and liberating, and a process of recalibration began in my mind. This book is an attempt to transform this process into art.
The Blackbird’s Tale
A Schizophrenic Fable
by Jupiter Stormwell
edited and annotated by R. E. Junesworth
Based on a true story. Based on true human emotions. Inspired by true events. At this point we might as well call it fiction.
Shall we then?
This is not normal, Jupiter thought and stared at his uncle who was currently talking to his brother – Jupiter’s father – about the natural order of things. He was of the opinion – since his daughter married into a rich family twenty minutes ago – that there must be rich and poor, that it was rightly so that some had nothing while others had it all. He belonged to them now. Naturally, he could leave his leftist background behind now, though his stained suit was reminiscent of his rebellious background. Weddings . . . It’s like a trip. A connecting experience, a bond you may call it, and then you come out a changed man. Just that it doesn’t really do any of that.
Jupiter let his gaze travel along the restaurant. His mum danced with his father’s sister, Olga. His aunt was completely wasted, and his mother wasn’t real. It was quite normal after all, Jupiter concluded. A normal day. Almost. . .
Jupiter’s real mum was still at home in the bathtub, he knew that. Not the new home his parents bought, but the old one, the one Jupiter grew up in. It was weird being at the new house, seeing a new bathtub, without his mum inside staring emptily back at him. Many things had changed. For once, his parents didn’t try to poison him anymore. So many things have changed, indeed.
Jupiter wasn’t stupid, he was a rationalist, and a perfectionist. He was used to walking around through the world – or how he preferred to see it, space and time – listening to the pre-made conversations, and responding with manufactured rational responses. He was very good at the game. And so it came that he never told anyone about the way he experienced reality; that he heard a mysterious voice, and that he could see people’s infected souls. That his mother was a monster, and not his real mother anymore. That he was being watched, being followed. And, generally, that they know.
But, as mentioned earlier, things were different now. Jupiter had went into therapy, and it helped him a lot. He couldn’t tell how it helped him, but he was getting along quite well for a while. For some years after therapy he was hooked on a medication that numbed down his feelings and suppressed his weird experiences to the point where that newfound clarity became weird.
Jupiter had stopped psychiatric treatment, and began his own therapy. Then it was all back, but this time different. He saw the good in the world now, and in himself. He saw that while he was very convinced that his mother wasn’t real, he could also accept that she was real, and his mind just made up things to explain why she behaved like a monster when she didn’t know better. The delusions were still there, but now they were different, they were good. And they weren’t delusions anymore, Jupiter knew that. And so he enjoyed his positive outlook on life.
It was hard seeing it here – the good – but it was there . . . somewhere. There it was! Dressed as Dieter, the new pimp friend and lover of Jupiter’s aunt. Currently, the good was acting pretty bad. But it’s always just a matter of perspective, Jupiter got reminded by the voice.
“Deep down maybe, yeah,” Jupiter said to himself.
“Did you say anything, dear?” was the rapid response from his aunt who had hurried over to him. She sat on his lap and grinned drunkenly.
Fuck, Jupiter captured the moment without meaning it as a proposition.
Then she began to talk about the same things as always. That life was beautiful, and that she didn’t want to grow up. That she lived the good life. And all the other things.
Two years ago, maybe one and a half, Jupiter would have nodded and agreed, hugged her, and kissed her on the cheek. Then she would call him a cab so he could get home safely. Drunk times.
It felt so awkward now, so unreal. Almost as unreal as . . . He could smell the alcohol in her breath. But there was another smell. The smell of a days-long empty stomach.
His aunt tripped off his lap, and slouched away. Jupiter had not said a word. Say something idiot. He smiled comprehensively at her. She smiled back coerced.
Jupiter wasn’t drinking anymore. Alcohol doesn’t teach a lesson other than that you should quit. But many need to trip first.
Jupiter did other things, mostly cannabis. Sometimes a psychedelic trip. His aunt wouldn’t understand. She would understand, but she wouldn’t understand. He remembered how she talked about smoking marijuana and how she lived her rebellious Sturm und Drang. Most people are just too far removed from any mystical experience to get out of the dark.
The crowd started to get noisy. They wanted bride and groom – or how the German part of Jupiter’s family assured him it was called, bride and broom – to kiss. What else would they want on a wedding?
Normal people just want the standard experience with kisses and stuff, Jupiter thought and looked at his cousin. She looked dreaded and tormented. But, that doesn’t really mater. Myths and lies and of course pictures will correct those memories about the happening and suddenly, ten days after the wedding, you remember that it actually was the best day of your life.
Jupiter left the room when the awkward kissing was over. The baby cried in a funky rhythm when he strutted to the lounge and into the gentlemen’s bathroom. In his pocket he turned on his vaporizer. This is the 21st century, you can get high without smoking, and millions of strangers on the internet assure you it’s healthy.
In the toilet he took four deep drags and left again. He went out to the terrace and waited for the effects to kick in. The moon was full and out to greet him. But it wasn’t the moon that spoke to Jupiter.
“It’s all good now. This is a mere temporary situation.”
“I know, I know. I just wish I could make contact, truly, with any of them. Wake them up. Talk from human to human. From one to one. Make them see their true selves, and their potential.”
“I know. And you will. But not now.”
“Art thou ready?“ he said in a funny voice that reminded Jupiter of the times when he heard the voice for the first time and it still sounded like a child’s idea of an archaic noble. “To walk in there? And start being who you really are?”
“No . . . I would sound crazy. Mad. Or worse, like a conspiracy theorist,” he laughed, “I can’t make them understand it in the words they already know. All those claimed words and meanings.”
The voice nodded, however that was possible. “So you want people to read your book?”
“It was you who told me I’m a prophet, so yeah.”
“No, that’s not what I told you. I said you will be like a prophet to them, because they won’t understand what we really are. People need that image in their head, to get triggered.”
“All that prophet bullcrap,” Jupiter said and scowled.
After a while he felt the cannabis.
“And you are certain . . . that I am . . . that I did the thing?”
“Yes, you’ve done it. It is impossible for you not to do it. Because you are it.”
Jupiter stared into the night-sky over the river. The sky was illuminated in a mysterious orange light. It was light pollution from the harbor a few miles west.
There they all sat, just like his friends all knowing what they want. Actually, they didn’t know a thing. They knew how to abuse their bodies and minds, and how to pretend that they weren’t. They were so good at their roles, so good that you would seem a fool to try to approach them outside the framework of their act. Completely unaware of the myth they are living. Yet, it is so obvious. All those fabricated behaviors and responses, as if you’re watching the tv-character they’re quoting. They are terrified by the Nightmare, and yet they wear it as their shield against it.
And then they came . . . the weird questions.
“What are you doing at the time? What do you want to do later?”
And there was his best friend, and her sister who was eighteen. She had just got a nose-job. Poor soul, Jupiter thought and felt bad. Her friend couldn’t understand why Jupiter thought of this as sad. Jupiter wondered if the young girl would have ever done this if she was just by herself. Did she really make that decision herself, or were it the voices in her head? All the outside-opinions. Imagos, Jupiter concluded. But of course, the sister of Jupiter’s best friend wasn’t hearing voices. Jupiter was, according to modern psychiatry that is.
He continued his gaze. The questions were over, but Jupiter hadn’t given an answer, yet. His friends were gazing back at him in expectation. Jupiter didn’t like lying, so he had to learn to tell the truth without telling the whole truth. It’s easy, he thought, you just need to leave out some minor details. It’s all a matter of perspective if you really get down to it anyways.
“Stuff,” Jupiter said and went out again. The moon was still there.
Jupiter was different than most. He was magical. He had special abilities. Or in the language of western psychiatry-students he was a retard. A schizophrenic.
Jupiter was smarter than that, he didn’t believe in mental illnesses. He used his condition for his benefit. At least that is how he experienced it. From the observer’s perspective – that was absent, contrary to what Jupiter’s paranoia made him believe – his opinion of the disease schizophrenia itself was delusional. They always win with their definitions. The secret language authority. He got sad and looked into the distant horizon, hoping for some message. Nothing came. Time to go, he thought and left without saying goodbye to anyone at the wedding.
“Hah,” Jupiter laughed and removed the blanket. “Isn’t it funny? I felt so horrible yesterday. And just now I woke up, my eyes still closed, everything seemed so calm for a moment. And then I remembered: I still feel terrible.”
Jupiter jumped out of the bed and into the shower.
“And then, I wondered. Why is it that I need to feel all the time? And then . . . and then you know . . . I laughed. You remember? We always find it again.”
He shampooed his hair.
“And, you know, it’s so funny. Because it is the same thing. It’s raw emotion. And you know that we can just turn it around. But I forget it all the time, because that’s part of the feeling, or how it comes to be. Forgetting that emotion is neither good or bad, it is me who makes it good or bad. And likewise, I just had to remember that suffering is useless, if there is no suffering now. All that is past. I see that now.”
Jupiter finished showering and hopped into a soft bathrobe. “Oh man, I’m telling you I knew it all along, but it was stuck in me. That’s why I wasn’t writing anymore, you know? Because I forgot. That it’s all bullcrap. Oh man.”
Jupiter filled the water boiler in the kitchen and sat down on the table under the window to wait. Immediately he was on his feet again. “Tea” he said and started to rummage around in the closet above the kitchen counter.
The water boiler clicked to signal that it was ready. Jupiter had finally decided what tea he wanted: Black tea with a hint of cardamon.
Tea was ready.
“So when you’re on the other side, you also just forget? Just like I now forgot the sadness that filled me? Like . . . I just forgot it, but I have the memory of it. Isn’t it fascinating? I don’t feel the pain anymore. When I was on the other side, I couldn’t feel happiness. And then I just felt deep into the feeling, and wondered why I couldn’t feel any different. And then, I felt you.” “Swoosh. I was happy.”
Jupiter lifted the glass and sipped the tea. He opened his laptop and began to write:
“Hah,” Jupiter laughed and removed the blanket. “Isn’t it funny? I felt so horrible yesterday.”
. . .
Jupiter giggled when he opened the window, still typing with his right hand.
“Who’s gonna write this down?” He said and jumped.
It was a poor attempt of suicide. The building was three stories high, and he jumped from the second floor. Three, if you count the entrance stairs.
That counts for half!
Two and a half, fine.
Jupiter fell, time slowed down. He watched over to a small window in a tiny house where a giant boy stood and stared back. He looked confused, maybe shocked, and Jupiter could understand that. It’s not that you see someone jumping out of their window every day in this city. However, oddly, you could see giants in tiny houses on a daily basis.
That’s why Jupiter loved the Dutch. If you are the tallest people in the world, and have less space than most, you have to have a strong sense of humor.
Shit, someone should write that down, Jupiter thought and smiled at the stranger. What else should he have done? After all, he didn’t want to mess up the poor guy’s day.
Reality hit, or to be more precise, a spiked metal fence hit. Jupiter felt dizzy and nauseous. He couldn’t see. Then he realized that his head was pierced by the fencepost. I think something is in my stomach too. Damn look at that.
He opened the one eye he had left. A piece of skull, flapped down and covered his eye. Jupiter pulled at the piece of bone, or at least he thought he did. I’m done for anyways, might as well play with my own skull before I go. And right he was, only on rare occurrences you could do things like these. Only in moments of dying.
The bloody piece flopped off, but Jupiter didn’t feel the pain. When he could see again, the world had changed.
Before him stood a young woman, she smiled beautifully at him.
“I am Arves,” Jupiter mumbled, “nice to meet you. Tell him it’s happening. Tell Junesworth. Arves Siala.”
Someone should close my window. I don’t want the cat to –
Before he could finish his thought a blackbird flew down from the sky and started to sing.
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