The Fall of the House of Vowels

The author, returning home from his day job

In my long and harried career of not writing for a living, my relationship with my crooked assistants had always been amicable, pleasant, and even enjoyable. Our partnership was one of mutual respect and camaraderie, and the fruits of our time together were considerable. But the years were difficult, and the course grew coarser, and my hoary associates bore the brunt of my opprobrium. It was frustration and weariness in part, but lo, it was largely devil intemperance that led me to ruination – yes, intemperance! I can barely bring myself to copy down the events – so chilling, so horrifying they were, and so recklessly egocentric and jejune I was! But the world needs to know of my epic folly! Read on, if you dare!

It was a dark and stormy night in a dark and stormy month on this side of this dark and stormy millennium. Me and my 26 associates gathered round the familiar Staples brand perforated pages, me with Bic in hand as I madly tried to cement for all times the rush of nouns, clauses, and assorted ephemera bouncing around my besotted noggin. Soon the ghastly head of intemperance would again rear anew, and all would be lost (Oh my shame! My shame is my own!).

I turned to E., my lead and most steady companion for this journey, even still in those final agonizing, eye-crossing days, and demanded help in reaching the nirvana of the page’s bottom.

I apologize to you, most of all

E. was weary. Grueling work. Misuse. Typos. I’d scribbled him over with impugnity time and again. Often it was my own wayward thoughts that caused it – no fault of his, no misspelling, just my mind gallivanting in erroneous directions. But who was the one to suffer for it? I, the director of this bungled effort? No, it was E., E. that did!

Again and again I threw him down on the page, trying to make sense of the jumbled mass of rubbish laying there like so much twaddle. Sometimes he could spend comfortable hours with familiar companions, like jovial T. and H., but I wouldn’t hesitate to cast him into the Thunderdome with V. – a known lexophile, and even Q.! Vile Q., the worst consonant of all, rarely spotted due to her lengthy and perverse record of botching perfectly well laid phrasing. Oh E., if you only knew how I regret the addled decisions of that cursed night!

How can I write on when the words wrench at my heart, my rotten guts, and my very loins?! Please extricate yourself from this galling mass of woe! You’re free to live on unfettered by the weight of this tale, but continue on I must, until the wretched story reaches its horrid conclusion!

All the evening long I amused myself pummeling and badgering my poor assistants with pointless, talentless devising. N. was groggy from a particularly tough day of tongue-twisting nursery rhyming with U., but did I care? Did I evince the slightest iota of human compassion? Nay! I, the ogre, did not!

The author, relaxing at home

A gruesome and interminable session at the wordmake stretched long into the dead of night. Finally, it was daemon intemperance – the fanged and seven-eyed spectre of Segram’s in particular – which kicked me away from the page, leaving me half insensate on the chaise. Yes, a chaise! Oh, the wrongheadedness of youth!

E.’s tolerance had reached an end. He pulled himself up and brushed away the errant consonants. Especially those experiencing heavy rotation of late – your R.s and C.s and M.s – were too worn, too haggard to be of use. No, it would be the hearty vowels reliable for any actionable service. E. espoused a plan, a plan of vengeance and comeuppance – vengeance they fully deserved and comeuppance I was wholly entitled to!

My head bobbed over the nearly empty bottle, my vision a smeary mass of colors and shapes indeterminate. Little would I have expected the vowels to line up to a letter against me, and even less would I have been capable of seeing it coming.

The lonesome typewriter of yore sat dusty and forgotten in a far corner, its inky ribbon a dry remembrance of creative pasts. The emboldened vowels marched into the black recesses of the room and roused the hunk of steely hammers into action.

*CLACK*

I cast a rolling eye into the room’s dark corner, convinced I’d imagined an ancient noise sounded out like gunfire.

*CLACK*

The bottle slipped from my hand and smashed to the floor, devil liquor sloshing every which way in hasty escape.

*CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK*

My feet numbly supporting me, I staggered the dozen steps into the pitch, eyes attempting to focus and discern the source of this ruckus. An unholy light rose from the innerworkings of my retired old Underwood.

*CLACK*

E. glared up at me from the page. Even in the near complete darkness I could make out the jutting lines of my former compadre. The horror that filled me brought waves of nausea and bladder evacuation.

*CLACKCLACKCLACKCLACKCLACK*

Rapidly the vowels all shouted up at me, and began screeching in torrents around the room, sailing as though blown by a breeze, and leaving thick jet exhaust trails of their duplicated selves in the wake. In seconds my humble apartment was crammed to bursting with violet strings of OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and crimson banners of AAAAAAAAAAA. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII nearly gouged out my eyes, while enormous, thundering Es bounded from every surface, smashing my sanity into tiny piles of Us and sometimes Ys.

Like this, with vowels

The windows blasted out in all directions, the night sky flooded with an ocean of alphabetry. I was hurled from the typewriter as from a tornado, my senses overwhelmed and my gullet emptied. Howling cries of “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” and “Oooooooooooooooooh!” assaulted my ears, and I prayed for death as my only salvation.

As quickly as the mayhem had begun, it ceased with a bang, like a door slammed on the promise of heaven. An eerie silence hung over me. The room was back to its pre-dawn grey, and nary an X. floated in the ether. More somber than sober, I weaved over to the Staples pages.

No vowels could be seen there. None. Words were smashed together in choppy, discombobulated heaps, with plenty of K.s and B.s abounding, but no O.s. No A.s. Not one single solitary U.

Horrors

I rushed to the typewriter and hurriedly flicked on a lamp. Six keys had disappeared from the panel. I peered down into the cavity housing the hammers and all six vowels were missing. There was no sign of the preceding violence, no evidence of these vanished components. They were simply gone.

The computer sat in a separate room – surely that would have been spared the exodus! But no! The vowels there too were hollow sockets –U.I.and O. leaving the keyboard a wide mouth with which to laugh at me!

Thus my days as a writer ended. Others have assured me that their keyboards have vowels, that society has not been forever deprived, that there are still words making normal sense the world over. But when I sit down with pen or keyboard the vowels will most assuredly slip away. Maybe not immediately. Maybe I’ll write a few words, get down a paragraph or two, but soon enough the letters drop away, and I’m left to try and fight through without. In the walls, in the floor, around corners, and from the very firmament itself I still hear the echoes of the vacated vowels, tormenting me to madness.

This is my permanent shame and horror. I am become the destruction of slf. Unspkable tortrs awt me, off n the scking vd, whre my wrngs wll b jdgd nd jstce mtd t cordngl. Pry fr m trnl sl, nd hd th wfl mrlstc mssg f m ndng!

——

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