This is the second in a short story series, for the first short story please read Cabin in the Woods.
The Clearing is a different place in the day and night. During the day, the scope of work needed for the cabin was clear. At night the Carpenters life’s task sat bigger than the cabin. The coming dark was an anxious time, the distraction of working on the cabin slipped with every inch the sun fell behind the trees. The sun brought quiet, the night brought questions.
All questions of themselves were manageable. The judgement of one person was not something that jarred him. The judgement of the human race, the many who walked around unaware did.
The Carpenter began to think more about how he came to be in this position. To be the judge and executioner. They thought he was worthy, that he was perfectly develop but how could they be sure. They were wrong before, never completing the task they aimed for. If they knew only failure how could they be sure that he was success.
As the night came on he thought about his life. Attempting to ignore his purpose and just remember what it was like before They came to him. Before judgement was the purpose that so many never have.
The Carpenter’s mother and father were of great faith. A conclusion he could never draw, that there was an all-powerful being. In a way they were right, there were beings who were aparantly all powerful. They could be the most powerful in the universe.
From a very young age he had a disconnection from that core belief. A belief that something out there was more powerful than you. He never imagined it to be true. He never imagined that one day that would be him.
The Carpenter was an old man now, he had spent his youth rebelling against his family. Rebelling against the thought of predestination. It was preposterous that there was someone controlling your path. For the other 6 billion people this was true. For him, the consummate denier, the fairy tale was true.
As dusk came on he thought about the time they came to him and told him about his task. It was back when he had a name, before he was the Carpenter. He was coming on adulthood, finally convincing his family that he was not crazy, his non-belief was his path. With a sense of sadness they accepted this, his happiness was what mattered.
Then he came home and told them that he believed in a higher power. That he was visited by them. They showed him the past, they showed him their work. All his scepticism was gone in that moment, they were able to talk past his cognitive self. Talking to the part of him that lay beneath reason.
They came to him while he sat watching a movie, the theatre stopped moving and they spoke. Then he told his parents. They were happy that he found faith but worried when he told them that he would pass judgement.
They saw him talking to them, rather he talked to the air. They weren’t material as he was. They existed in his mind, and not of the world. The Carpenter’s parent worried, his unwavering belief made them seek help. The help sought to have him put in an institution. He quickly learnt to hide them but not before enduring that place.
The institution was where he saw his first subject. She was in for an eating disorder. He loved her instantly, They made it so. They were cruel in their means, they did not understand that love was not the way to engender judgment. It had been so long since they felt, that all they knew was cause and effect. They wanted him to be close to her, they knew by bringing them together They would have that effect.
As in so many times They did not give thought to the effect it would have on him. With the sun dipping below the trees her face began to come to him. He looked to the cabin, its half-finished walls could not rescue him. The Carpenter would need to remember, to feel her love and hate.
The Carpenter would have to judge humanity on her deeds.
Marilyn was her name and she struck a striking a figure. Her story did not start or end in the institution, this intake or the many that followed. She was a story of fragility, of mind and spirit. Her eating disorder was systematic of the dark that grew in her.
Her mother and father disappointed as they put her in for the third time but they ignored the hurt they caused. Marilyn’s father ignored the effect his womanizing had, the deep and dark places it would send his wife. He believe that the sparkling things he gave her made it right. He did not see, or look for, the pain she was in. Her mother shared the pain with Marilyn, warping what love and acceptance should be.
Marilyn’s mother believed her husbands dalliances were attributed to the faults she saw in herself. The ounce of fat that sat on her hip or the lines on her face. She nipped, tucked and dieted constantly. The combination of an image obsessed mother and woman obsessed father developed in Marilyn a need. To be loved by many and for her beauty.
Her parents were sad as she was admitted, for their daughter and themselves. The inability to see their impact meant no matter the treatment, real life would make her fall into the trap of vanity.
Ezra, the Carpenter’s name before he threw off society, saw her come in and felt for her instantly. He loved her beauty but also her vulnerability. She clung to him through fear in the institution. He saw a beauty she wished the world could see. Under the vanity, the obsessions with her appearance there was a person deeply in need of love. He did love her, for the person she was and could be.
Out of the institution her obsessions went unchecked and grew in magnitude. Love may have been there, she may have loved Ezra but her innate need to be looked at split them. He was angry, more when They told him that she would be one of seven. He was angry that They would be so cruel, more that he would need to watch her live her life. To be invisible to her and see everything. That he could not step in and help, she would not allow him to and They made sure of it.
Marilyn went about her life after Ezra, she knew she loved him once but that was gone now. In time so was her memory of him, They could be cruel.
She explored fame and fortune and like so many failed. Time after time, auditions numbering in the hundreds there was failure. Fame came to so few, most fell at the feat of despair.
Her parents split and the venom of her mother grew, poisoning Marilyn and killing her in time. With her mother dead her father dated with abandon not worrying what others would think. The women got younger, to where at 25 years Marilyn felt to old for her fathers love. She went through life rudderless, raised to need them but tossed to the wilderness.
Ezra stood by unable to help, tortured that he could have no contact. Torn apart that she was the first of seven. Slowly they killed his humanity, he gave up love when he gave up on her.
Marilyn began to look for different ways in which she could validate herself. At first she modelled but it was clear that the curves of her body would not allow her to reach the height to which she aspired. She tried acting but the cosmetic treatments left her unable to convey emotion to the audience. She began to strip, her craving of attention made her quite adept at this.
The men staring at her made her feel wanted, that she was beautiful and necessary. She did this for months, and the high lasted for most of that time. Then the lights and attention began to wane. Her name being called out onstage to be ogled at by intoxicated men was not enough to keep her satiated.
At this time the internet had moved from being a tool of scholarly pursuit to the consumer tool it is today. She found a forum to speak to millions, for them to love her. They looked at her through their screens. The women, so many of them commenting how they wanted to be her. The men professed their love.
Being the centre of so many lives, the obsession of some many people was her calling. She would put on shows, tell them the most mundane aspects of her life and they wanted more. She gave them more and more, leaving her life, the reality and being involved only in this virtual world.
She was paid to be looked at, not by the few hundred in a strip club or the ones who missed her beauty in the fashion world. She was paid to be her by millions, to be beautiful and looked at.
As time went on she became further and further separated from reality. She gave up all relationships that did not revolve around the camera in her home studio. She forgot about her father and his endeavours because she was loved at long last.
Then came Camilla, she looked up to Marilyn and for so long held only adulation. She was Marilyn’s biggest fan and began to form her life around Marilyn’s every clip. As Oscar Wilde said:
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.
Camilla was sincere in her flattery and her imitation grew. It expanded beyond her obsession and became its own life.
They began to look at Camilla, and for a time they looked at both. Then like with so many things groups began to form. They picked sides, those who thought the original, Marilyn, was the only true beauty. Others picked the side of Camila, the young one whose time had arrived.
The rivalry became fierce, Marilyn fell back into her sickness and stopped eating when her viewers dropped. She put her money into plastic surgery to stave off time and her younger rival. Her behaviour became erratic on camera. She hurled abuse at Camilla, the usurper.
Marilyn’s core fans stayed with her, they were loyal and she would do anything for them. Others left, the vermin scurrying away.
The loyalty of her core group paid for her living expenses but the drop in revenue began to sap her resources. The plastic surgery cost more than she could earn. With desperation she began to put on web shows, the loyal fans paying for her to take off her clothes. They wanted to see and she was addicted to showing.
This would only last a short time, her desperation called for more surgery. With the public seeing more, there was more to fix.
In her desperation Marilyn made the call she never thought she would. The call from help went to her estranged father. He sent her money, but ignored the help she truely needed. It was clear that there was only one way for her to fix the problem.
Marilyn intended to take back her adoring public and once again be the desire of so many. On that day she did two things she hadn’t in a long time, put on a baseball cap and step outside for anything other than cosmetic surgery.
Camila was holding a meet and greet with her adoring fans. She felt the in person adulation was much more rewarding than the virtual. Many of the people there would have been amazed to have the opportunity to see Marilyn and Camila together.
In cognito Marilyn waited patiently in line. Girls who used looked up to her and men who would have lusted after her. She was quiet, because she knew the attention would be rightfully hers.
At the front of the line she was face to face with the person who took away what she deserved. From under the hat Marilyn in a high pitch and sweet voice said, “You’re my biggest fan”. With a chuckle Camila looking around at her audience said, “I think you got that mixed up”. Marilyn gave her hand to be shaken, Camila always aiming to please shook it.
The sweet high-pitched voice disappeared and the vengeful tone emerged. “You took this from me, I’m taking it back.”
Marilyn was able to stab Camila five times before anyone could intervene. Twice in the neck and three times in the face.
Camila died, the blood drained out of her but it was in front of her adoring crowd. Her last act was to email the picture she wanted the news to carry, so in death she was as beautiful as in life.
Marilyn dropped the knife and threw off the hat. She walked around the conference centre until the police came. No one wanted to go near the unhinged woman, they all stared. She took in their attention.
Marilyn was jailed for the remainder of her natural life. The beautiful blonde was popular among the powerful inmates. She was traded for favours, and she enjoyed that even in here she could be the most beautiful.
The most powerful women in the prison was Roberta and she took a liking to Marilyn. They lived together for two years, and Roberta had eyes for no other. Marilyn was treated like a queen and her beauty was venerated every day. She could overcome the things she would regard as distasteful for the attention she received.
Then like in life the eye wandered. A new inmate caught Roberta’s eye and a fight ensued. That woman was the second that Marilyn would kill. Again she revelled in the attention, everyone around her staring.
Prison is a funny place, it is not beauty that reigns but power. Marilyn’s actions were an affront to that of Roberta’s and she had no other option but to have her killed. Alone in her cell, looking at videos of herself she was stabbed. She died looking at the one person whose attention she couldn’t satiate.
The Carpenter pushed up the last wall and the cabin looked like a building. A week of thinking about her, she would always exist in the walls of the cabin. Her face and who she became was to much for him. He wanted to forget, he wanted the light to burn away her memory.
He fell to his knees, in great pain at the memory. He loved her, for all her failings. She needed to be loved and if only They have allowed him to she could be sitting beside him right now. Love is powerful, an absence of it drives us to do terrible things.
If They let him intervene perhaps he could have shown Them that. Instead they wanted him to watch and be impartial. It was absurd but they couldn’t understand the damage they caused him.
The Carpenter put in the last nail the descending sun would allow. He remembered her funeral. They allowed him to attend, to witness the full story. Three people attended besides himself. Her father, his new girlfriend, and a lone fan.
The Carpenter was the only one to cry as she was lowered into the ground. They allowed him to see love and took it from him. As she went into the ground They also allowed him to see a life that could have been. With her at his side, that was Their cruelest deed.
The Carpenter laid down in the middle of the clearing, with the pain of a life past. He looked up at the stars and cried. The decision he would make could end so many live but it would also end the memories. He didn’t know whether he was judging the human race’s pain or his own.
The clearing made their cries mute, and he thought about Marilyn and ending the world.
Thanks for reading the second part to the 9 part series. If you want to catch up go back to Part 1: A Cabin in the Woods
Next week the Carpenter will relive the story of a man who loved his country, though couldn’t help but kill it. Read A Country to Love and Possess.
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