Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Science Fiction

18+ Language

Mixed Metaphors

by YellowSweater


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

A light mist was pouring in off the Caspian sea. The air outside my window smelled like salt. I closed my click, sighing into the dark as I pulled on a yellow, wide-legged, vinyl jumpsuit. It was museum quality, a molecular recreation of something an obscure rock star had worn in the late 20th century. It’d cost me a week’s allowance. I ran a matching stick of lip-stain over my mouth, smirking into the mirror. The door to my room slid open. I grimaced at the soft buzzing noise it made as it shut behind me. My mother was asleep, and I doubted she cared enough to wake up. But my crypt of an apartment was stiflingly quiet, especially at one o’clock in the morning, and any small sound echoed. 

I crept down the wrought-iron spiral staircase that led into the living room. The strokes of bright red paint on the tasteless modern art piece we’d recently installed glimmered dully. I passed my mother’s collection of houseplants, absently reaching out to touch something soft and green. I landed on a cactus. In the gray light, the blood beading on my finger looked just as abstract as the painting. Wiping my hand on the plasticky fabric of my jumpsuit, I took the elevator down to the lobby.

The city was still very much alive. The platform built around my building was neon and pulsing. Groups of fashionably dressed humans laughed, drinking brightly colored iced tea in the rare summer rain, mixing English, Turkish, Russian, Farsi, and Si?lut into a complicated vernacular that would be incomprehensible to anyone who hadn’t gone to one of Baku’s exclusive preparatory academies. Advertisements for new clubs kept popping up on my click as I passed through the crowded streets, chased by the jangling psychedelic folk of a street musician. The walk to the nearest hover-rail station was only a few blocks and soon I was cruising over Baku’s lovingly preserved medieval quarter on my way to the boardwalk.

I took another elevator down to the shore, gazing out over the collection of three-hundred year old oil tankers still anchored in the bay. The ships had been turned into affordable housing after the Caspian oil reserves had run dry, but eventually they too had been gentrified, forcing their inhabitants to the colonies or slapdash developments erected out in the desert. The neighborhood still had a ghetto feel though. By design, the tankers contained a well-regulated black-market. They were where you went to buy illicit drugs and sometimes delicious alien delicacies, attend dance parties and orgies.

“Where the hell are you?” I messaged through my click as I climbed onto the dock. “I’m at dock three, but everyone has a haircut from this century.”

“Wait, doret begardam.”

“Vasya, aşkım, I expect a more devoted vulture!”

“What? Doret begardam...” Vasya repeated. “Let me circle around you, I’ll be there in a bit…”

“Siktir! And once you get here, you’ll just continue circling because you love me much-mwa” I used the inflected Si?lut amplifier, but applied Turkish rules of vowel harmony, so it would sound like kissing noises.

“Hui! I’m going to fail that test on Farsi idioms tomorrow.”

“You can cheat off mine. I’ll send you an encrypted link. I promise they won’t be able to track it.”

“Doret begardam!”

“Get on over here then! First, shave off that fucking mohawk though.”

“If I did that, how would you find me?”

“You’re the one who is supposed to be circling me” I got an alert on my click that Vasya was tracking me. Grinning, I sprinted onto the nearest tanker, then turned off my location.

A final message popped up: “Prick.”

I found my way down into the bowls of the ship, squeezing through claustrophobic corridors that smelled of sweat and perfume. Squished between the metal wall and the sequenced dress of a boy whose face I couldn’t see, I found a small locked door a few meters in front of me. I pushed ahead, pressing my hand to the door. The boy tripped, tearing a seam in his dress. Access denied flashed across my field of vision in big red letters as my click connected with the locking mechanism. I closed my eyes, letting the stream of code pour into my consciousness. The lock was better protected than I’d anticipated, but after a couple of minutes of fiddling, I found the trick. The door buzzed open and I slipped through. To my surprise I found a group of people in formal wear, sitting around a table, in the middle of what looked like a corporate meeting. “Fuck,” I muttered under my breath, backing out slowly, but it was too late. A woman in a black mock neck cashmere sweater stood up menacingly.

I waved, then ran towards the hallway on the other side of the room yelling “I’m late! The boss is going to kill me!” It was the first line I could think of that would fit either into a mafia movie or an office drama. After a couple random turns, I ended up at the base of a tall ladder. With glee, I remembered that I had turned off my tracker. Had it not been for the game I was playing with Vasya, I would have forgotten that essential step of breaking an entry all together.

I turned on the tracker again, starting up the ladder. “You’ve disappeared off the map.” Vasya messaged. I continued climbing until I reached an old fashioned latch. “I should reappear right about now… Shit! It’s rusted shut!”

“What’s rusted shut?”

“The latch!”

“You have got to be a bit more specific, Tamerlane.”

“The Godmother is going to catch me! I could really use a magic pumpkin carriage right now!”

“You’re mixing your metaphors. It must be really bad.”

“What do you mean? I always mix my metaphors. My whole persona is fucking plov of mixed metaphors. God, I hear voices. I have gunpowder in my pocket. I wonder if I could blow this thing off.”

“Why do you have gunpowder in your pocket?”

“I don’t have a lighter though. Zyi! Why don’t I smoke? You smoke right?”

“Why do you assume that?”

“You’re failing Farsi. Do you have a lighter on you?”

“Yeah…”

“Get over here then!”

“Tamerlane, I can’t find you! My click says you're inside a wall.”

“Find the wall ahmagh! If I get out of this alive, I’ll buy you some more kiki for your stash.”

“I don’t smoke fucking kiki!”

“Fine, we could start together! Get your ass over here, the voices are getting closer!”

A couple of unnerving minutes later, Vasya messaged again. “My click says I am right on top of you, but I am in the dining room of a falafel restaurant. Please don’t ask me to blow up a falafel restaurant. ”

“Look down.”

“There’s nothing here. Wait! I do see an odd, circular piece of flooring. Is that your latch?”

“Probably. Can you cause some sort of distraction? Start a falafel fight or something?”

“I’m not blowing up a falafel restaurant. Can you find some other way out?”

“I’m sure I could. The wolf of Wall Street stopped barking up my tree, but I want falafels!”

“Asla, no, niet, z/at! Fuck! I'm totally blanking on the Farsi word for no! No fucking way!”

“Well then, good luck with your test tomorrow. Looks like you won’t even be able to say na to a fail.”

“I doubt an A on a Farsi test would help me out in prison!”

“It could get you into a white-collar prison.” I said, pressing my mouth to the crack in the latch, grimacing at the taste of iron on my lips. “Everyone. We are going to need you to calmly and quietly evacuate the area. There is a problem with the deep-fryer.” I used a voice disguiser on my click so my words sounded deep and gravely, a far cry from my melodic tenor. “It could explode, spewing hot oil all over the restaurant.” I clarified.

I could hear people scrambling to their feet. “Quick!” I messaged Vasya, stuffing a packet of gunpowder through the hinge. “Just light the packet and step back. Don’t worry, no one will notice you. They are far too preoccupied with the idea of getting hot oil on their outfits.”

“Fuck. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I hope Tamerlane sits in a deep fryer for all eternity.” I heard Vasya mutter above me as he prodded the packet of gunpowder with a lighter.

I smelled burning plastic and retreated a few rungs down the latter. An ear splitting bang, disturbed the muted muffle of the shaft. I crawled out, pushing up the broken latch. “Nice work! You definitely deserve an A on your Farsi test. Wait, scratch that. I just realized I sound like a racist American from the early 21th century. I should stick to mixing metaphors. Entire conversations don’t work quite as well.”

“My hand! I burned my hand. You absolute fucking ass!” He showed me a tiny burn on his pinky finger.

“Should we steal some falafels? I’m hungry” I looked down at my jumpsuit. “Shit filled Şapka!” It was covered in blast dust.

“That ridiculous thing is vinyl. It will wipe off, you imbecile. I can’t believe you were teasing me about my mohawk, when you're wearing that.” He froze. “Tamerlane. Run! Someone called the guard.”

“But I haven’t gotten my falafel yet!” I whined. Vasya pulled me out of the shop. The deck of the tanker has been transformed into an open air market place. It was well lit and busy despite the late hour and small explosion that had just occurred. “Wait. I have to stay close if I want to hack into the security cameras.”

“There were security cameras!”

“Of course. Don’t worry, it should be easy to take them out. I can’t imagine a falafel shop has a state of the art security system. If I could break into the mafia's headquarters, this should be no problem.”

Vasya groaned. “I don’t think I want to know where all the mafia jokes are coming from.”

“You sure?” I asked through gritted teeth, distracted. “What the hell were they making these falafels out of!” I exclaimed after another failed attempt.

“Hurry up! The guards are at the door.”

The cameras finally gave in. “Okay, done. What should we do now?”

“I don’t know…clubbing, that place on the bottom level we were planning on checking out?”

“First, I need to clean the dust off my jumpsuit.”

Vasya was right. The blast dust wiped off easily and soon we filed down the stairs to one of Baku’s most popular new night clubs. It was almost dawn, but we had a good four hours before we had to be at school.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
51 Reviews


Points: 2346
Reviews: 51

Donate
Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:10 am
PoetryMisfit wrote a review...



Hey there YellowSweater.

I am going to leave a quick review. First things first, I want to express my specific thoughts as I went through your story, and then I will give my general review at the end.

"I closed my click, sighing into the dark as I pulled on a yellow, wide-legged, vinyl jumpsuit"(what is the click that you are referring to in this sentence?)
I like the imagery you use at the beginning of your story, it really draws in the reader and paints the scene.
"It was museum quality, a molecular recreation of something an obscure rock star had worn in the late 20th century." (by describing the jumpsuit as being of "museum quality", do you mean that it is old?)
Your initial paragraph is a bit choppy with fragmented sentences. I would recommend combining some of the sentences to improve their flow. That way the pauses in between are less distracting.
"I passed my mother’s collection of houseplants, absently reaching out to touch something soft and green." (Why does Tamerlane want to touch the plant? I can't quite get passed that detail. I can see how you use the protagonist's trek to the front door as an opportunity to describe his apartment, but I think it might be a good idea to include some descriptions of what is going through his mind. Is the protagonist sleepy still or excited? What's the emotion he's feeling? I felt a bit of a disconnect with the protagonist here).
"Groups of fashionably dressed humans laughed...." (This is an indication to me that Tamerlane is not human because he refers to other people being as such. It actually makes the descriptions from earlier more understandable because he views everything that he has access to like his clothes and lip-stain through the mindset of it being foreign and dated.
"The walk to the nearest hover-rail station was only a few blocks and soon I was cruising over Baku’s lovingly preserved medieval quarter on my way to the boardwalk." ("cruising" over meaning flying over?)
The concept of the city having a preserved medieval area is so interesting, it makes me wonder what the rest of the city is like and why there are preserved areas such as that one).
Oh my gosh, they way the characters communicate is so interesting, especially the way you describe them pulling from different dialects to achieve a certain inflection of tone.
"I found my way down into the bowls of the ship, squeezing through claustrophobic corridors that smelled of sweat and perfume." (it seems like you meant to say bowels where you wrote bowls).
Is Tamerlane a cyborg or is does his mind just have access to the server where everything is connected?
I enjoyed the banter between the characters, it was very funny and amusing but also a little confusing. It seemed to go all over the place and there were references to so many things. I like that you incorporated references (metaphors) like the Wolf of Wall Street and the pumpkin carriage from Cinderella, but they threw me off at the same time.
What was the purpose of Tamerlane going through that bunker in the ship? He went through all that trouble to unlock the door and rush through that room with the finely dressed people only to escape around the next corner.
Here are my overall thoughts on your story. You used a lot of great imagery to describe the scenes, I was transported to a world similar to that from Bladerunner. There were many interesting concepts here regarding the layout of the city and the way you portrayed the future of what I assume is Earth. The dialogue is very witty and funny, but it is also very chaotic and maybe that was intentional to reflect the chaos of the characters' personalities.
There was a lot to digest from your descriptions, and it is all so incredibly imaginative and cool, but overwelming. I think if you lengthened your story and offered more explanation regarding the city and what was going through Tamerlane's mind as he went on his trek through the night, it would help the reader to better process everything that is mentioned and described, and also help to connect with him.
I really did enjoy this story though and I hope to read more from you.

Thank you for sharing,
Poetry_Misfit




User avatar
32 Reviews


Points: 226
Reviews: 32

Donate
Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:10 am
VengefulReaper wrote a review...



Hi, just here to drop a quick review.

"A light mist was pouring in off the Caspian sea. The air outside my window smelled like salt. I closed my click, sighing into the dark as I pulled on a yellow, wide-legged, vinyl jumpsuit. It was museum quality, a molecular recreation of something an obscure rock star had worn in the late 20th century. It’d cost me a week’s allowance. I ran a matching stick of lip-stain over my mouth, smirking into the mirror. The door to my room slid open. I grimaced at the soft buzzing noise it made as it shut behind me. My mother was asleep, and I doubted she cared enough to wake up. But my crypt of an apartment was stiflingly quiet, especially at one o’clock in the morning, and any small sound echoed."

A good opening paragraph I would say. Excellent description and just vague enough to keep the readers intrigued.

" “Wait, doret begardam.”

“Vasya, aşkım, I expect a more devoted vulture!”

“What? Doret begardam...” Vasya repeated. “Let me circle around you, I’ll be there in a bit…”

“Siktir! And once you get here, you’ll just continue circling because you love me much-mwa” I used the inflected Si?lut amplifier, but applied Turkish rules of vowel harmony, so it would sound like kissing noises."

Okay, I was sort of disoriented when I read this and thought Si?lut was a typo? I think it's a little too vague unless you are particularly going for that kind of disorienting feeling.

Your dialogue is very natural and the banter is great. It really feels like a different world with it's own language and manner of speaking. That can get weird to read at times but fortunately, most of the time you make it clear it's a foreign language.

I'm assuming a click is like a HUD or a UI. It does feel like something like Iron Man's HUD? I'm not quite sure though.

The tension you created towards the end was good but it could have lasted a little longer just to make Tamerlane seem more desperate to get out.

Overall, a really enjoyable piece. very well written with little to no grammar errors (unless we want to consider all the Farsi words english xD) and an interesting little story.

Thanks for the read and hope this review helped in some way or another.
Reaper






Thank you so much for your excellent review! It super helpful to hear where the dialogue, world building gets, and inter-language word play gets confusing. I'm also not a native speaker of any of the languages I was using besides English... so if you are and notice anything off (besides, of-course ,the Farsi transliteration which is going to be a bit haphazard) I'd love to hear your thoughts! Also the dialect of English Tamerlane is speaking is specific to Baku. On this version of Earth, even though there is really no such thing as contemporary nation states, people learn the languages that have had an important effect on their region. To answer your questions: Si?ut is what I'm calling the standard galactic language spoken by a lot of different species. ? is supposed to represent a guttural stop because I'm lazy and don't want to find an IPA keyboard. Also, as for the click, it's kind of close to what Iron Man has, though it's not actually displaying anything directly unless you texting or reading or something, instead it directly stimulates the part of your brain that would process that kind of information. Though I have to admit this is a 'polysci-fi" novel and I know next to nothing about hard science. I having a difficult time not just adding quantum in front of everything. (I may have stopped to that I a few places:)




I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
— Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom