Tadarius Shipton

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Solly
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Tadarius Shipton

Post by Solly » December 21st, 2010, 7:52 pm

This character is from a novella I'm working on that will be a part of a larger novel. This character is the main character of my overall novel and will become good through forces beyond his control. He will remember his terrible past and turn those tormenting memories into the motivation he needs to "right his wrongs". Anywho, this is just a small excerpt from what I've written, trying to hammer in the pure evil this character initially exudes. Thanks!


A small, black fly buzzed in curious circles before landing near the glistening remnants of a bead of sweat. It, we shall say, for it is absurd to assume that, at a glance, one can distinguish male from female of something as minute as a fly, briefly rubbed together its hairy, front legs before greedily attempting to sop up the quickly evaporating liquid. Rapacity kept it unaware of the shadow that had appeared from nowhere and extinguished the twinkles from the remaining wet spots. Without sitting up, the man guided his slightly trembling fingers to his open mouth. A small stream of saliva had trickled from his mouth as he slept and now drizzled through his ancient beard towards the ground. He absentmindedly sucked the flies remains from his dirty finger.

With joints cracking, Tadarius stood to his feet from the flattened soil that served as his makeshift bed. A grimace blanketed his face as flares of pain seared through his body from his arthritis-plagued knees, continued through the several bulging discs in his upper back, and finally coming to a stop in his perpetually aching brain. Reaching two gnarled fingers into the ragged pocket of his dusty tunic, his yellow, curled fingernails searched for his chaw. From his pocket he produced a thick, black stick that seemed coated in a timeless ooze that was neither wet nor dry. He worked the stick between the rotten remains of his teeth, of which there were only four, two on top and the other two on bottom, and spouted what one could judge from his apparent exasperation to be obscenities until, finally, he managed to gnaw a small portion off.

He stared up at the sun overhead while hastily stuffing the remaining stick back into his pocket with a sneer. “Beautiful day,” he said gutturally before releasing a large, black stream of chaw-filled spit from between his chapped lips. What didn’t dribble to his soiled beard flew gracefully through the air, glistened in the summer sun, then splattered across the lone dandelion growing for as far as the eye could see. This seemed to lighten his mood somewhat, as a smile began to spread across his spit-covered lips. “Aren’t you just a pretty little thing?” He asked as if expecting a response from the small, yellow flower. The wink that followed would have been enough to cause any infant to break out in wails of terror. The wink held well after his tattered boot smashed, then ground, the flower into the dirt.

Tadarius Shipton was the kind of man you never wanted to meet. He had long lived the welcome of this world, but, for one reason or another, had always managed to escape death. The closest comparison one could make would be the hermits. Even they, however, with their longevity that could only be described as supernatural by those who’s lives were ending as the hermits were reaching the halfway mark, would be at a loss for words when confronted by Tadarius. Adding to the mystique was the fact that, unlike the hermits who lived a life of relative seclusion and safety, Tadarius more often than not chose to place himself in a position of violence and danger. He cared not for the generally accepted rule of treating others with respect and as kindred spirits, moreso he used that mindset to his advantage as he often murdered without warning, hesitation or provocation. Simply put, Tadarius Shipton was the most dangerous opponent to human existence that this world had ever seen.

Slowly walking around the matted down clearing that served as his home the evening before, Tadarius began collecting his gear. His gear, as it should be made known, had all been collected as he traveled the years towards the setting sun. He was born with the itch in his foot and it was what he had done for longer than he could remember. The countless miles walked over the years were evident in his physical form. His joints were swollen masses that creaked and cracked with every step, his upper back was misshapen and bent grotesquely like that of a hunchback, and his hair, none of which had ever seen the sharpened blade of a scissor, was nothing more than a giant, gnarled mess. Years of blood, dirt, and excrement formed a sort of glue that bonded his head and facial hair into unnatural clumps that looked more like clods of dirt than actual hair.

He crammed the remaining items into his pack and slung it over his back. Taking one long, excruciating stretch, his back made wet cracking noises before he set off on his way. The sun beat down unrelentingly from above and before long, Tadarius found himself seeking the relative cool escape in the shade afforded by the trees that dotted the lands. He hated this year more than the rest. The years that were filled with rain and those that were filled with snow could easily be countered by wearing extra layers of clothing, but that didn’t apply to the years of the sun. There was just no way for him to remove enough clothes to counter the blazing sun. Even though the risk of human encounters in this region was slim to none, Tadarius Shipton was still a shy man. Walking through this world, alone or not, just wasn’t something he could do naked. And so, having been cooled by the embracing shade offered under the boughs of an alder, Tadarius continued on.

Walking along the remains of what was once, in all likelihood, a major thoroughfare, strange ancient ruins could be seen sprawling across the field in all directions. They were the last remaining items that stood out in a world that had seen time pass by. Large, broken blocks of stone lay in heaps, many of which had strange, rusted, metallic branches protruding from within. Surely in the past there were those that knew the meaning of these relics of old, but somewhere along the way those knowings passed along with those that carried them.

Sometime before early evening, as the sun was beginning to dip below the unreachable horizon which Tadarius so longed to reach, but knew somehow he would never live to see, he came across a small camp. Tadarius sat in the distance, as far as his old eyes could allow him without distorting his vision to an unrecognizable blur, and waited. As far as he could tell, the camp was only inhabited by one individual. Although his eyesight was beginning to fail after years of reliable service, he could tell the person was a man of middle years. He could detect no weapons readily available around the small camp, and the occupant was clearly distracted by the labors of creating a fire, so he approached with caution.

The man, distracted by his determination to start his evening’s fire, was oblivious to the threat that had entered his camp on his back side. He hunkered on his knees and bent over a small, smoldering mass of foliage set within a small ring of stones in the middle of his camp. There were few possessions to be seen, a couple of soiled and ragged cloth bags slumped on the dirt several feet to his right. It wasn’t the bags that caught Tadarius’ attention, however. It was the walking stick that sat perched against a small alder to his left. Even in the fading light of the day, Tadarius could tell it was an item of extreme value and precision craftsmanship. Items of far lesser significance had been bought with death in the past, and there was no reason this could not be bought for less.

While Tadarius was a man who held murder to be one of his most formidable persuasive tools, he was always willing to prattle before the deed was to be done. Useful information could be gleaned from the blade of a knife, yes, but the real valuable information tended to, more often than not, come from peaceful prattle. When the situation would allow it, Tadarius always acted to befriend his victim in an attempt to ascertain details that would be worth his while. In the end, however, he always got what he wanted, prattle or no prattle.

“Moirai, tramp. Might I share warmth?” When Tadarius spoke it was clear the man had no knowledge of his arrival. That pleased Tadarius in a small way. Even with the onset of his dwindling years, he was still keen and sly enough to get the jump on one a fraction of his years. The man leapt from his crouching position and spun through the air to face Tadarius. A look of grave dissatisfaction crossed his face and his eyes widened in fear before his feet returned to the soil. The blood visibly drained from his face and his flesh turned pale, a variation one would find difficult to detect with the fiery hues of the setting sun blanketing the air. “Easy now progeny, I just want to share warmth. Might I?”

The young traveller wiped a grimy palm across his eyes then stared in awe at the old being that had stumbled into his camp. After several silent, awestruck moments, Tadarius began to get impatient. He spat chaw-filled saliva on the dirt between himself and the young traveller and a scowl began to cross his face. That seemed to break the younger from his trance, at least enough to speak somewhat coherently. “Aye. Aye, yes you can old one.” He momentarily shook his head as if the old one before him was nothing more than the fading sun playing tricks in his eye. Blinking heavily, he found the man to still be standing mere feet away. As the color began returning to his pale face, he cleared his throat. “I ain’t no tramp. And I sure as hell ain’t no progeny.” The man looked out the corner of his eye as if thinking before he continued. “Though, I guess compared to you, anyone’d be a progeny. But I still ain’t no tramp.”

“Very well. Moirai to you in any way.” Tadarius’ grunt was filled with frustration. Frustration was never a good way to begin a prattle. Despite his growing disdain, he managed a feeble smile. Somewhere in the distance of time, an innocent, smiling, newborn being held in the loving arms of its beautiful mother died without any indication that something had gone horribly wrong.

“And you as well, Moirai.” The man reached his hand out towards Tadarius but quickly retracted his offer of salutation at the glare he received. “Hungry?” He asked shakily before continuing. “Ain’t got much, few grass mice really, but you’re more than welcome to share.” He turned slowly towards the remains of the once smoldering mass of vegetation. “That’s if I can get the cursed fire started.” He turned back towards Tadarius in an attempt to request assistance with his fire starting dilemma and only had a moment to realize the warm feeling he suddenly felt surging through his body was a combination of terror and stupidity for allowing himself to turn his back on such a person as Tadarius.

Tadarius had lost all interest in prattle. What most people accepted and appreciated as common courtesy and generosity had far sinister implications in the mind of Tadarius Shipton. While the younger man before him was babbling his incessant and annoying blather, Tadarius’ eyes were quick at work. He took in the entire camp through the corners of his eyes and came to the immediate conclusion that there was nothing of use or value here other than the stick leaning against the tree. While the progeny tramp was busy discovering where he left his testicles, Tadarius had already decided what he would do when the moment became right. That moment became right when the youngster turned his back.

From beneath the right flap of his tunic, Tadarius produced a sickly looking wooden club. The metal spikes pounded into the end were coated in the crusted, bloody remains of his previous interactions. It swung mercilessly down and struck the young man square in his left temple with a sickening crunch. Before his body collapsed, Tadarius viciously yanked his weapon free with a squish. Warm blood sprayed from several gaping wounds and provided a sticky, fresh coat to his beard. As the man fell to the ground, Tadarius wiped the warm blood from his face on his sleeve and walked over to the stick.

The stick, while just a walking stick, was more than just a walking stick. It was constructed of a dark and veined wood that Tadarius had never seen before. Strips of metal were meticulously laced along the length of the stick. The metal was beset with gems and stones of all the colors in a rainbow. While it was only up to his shoulder, about five feet, it had a remarkable weight to it. Never one to gloat over his accomplishments, nor one to be amazed by such true beauty, he grabbed the stick and turned back the way he came. He coldly stepped over the twitching corpse of the progeny tramp and continued along his way.

lmjackson
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Re: Tadarius Shipton

Post by lmjackson » December 21st, 2010, 10:00 pm

Tadarius is certainly an odd and disgusting character, a risk but a good risk! From what you've posted here he still seems to be leaning more toward "distasteful" and less toward "pure evil". The interaction and resulting death of the young man helps, but I'm wondering if you could do more to instill his "evilness" beforehand? Make him seem more calculating and less crazy for killing a random stranger.

The prose itself is very detailed and affected the readability of the introductory paragraphs somewhat. I would avoid using simply comparisons "The wink that followed would have been enough to cause any infant to break out in wails of terror" and instead fully describing the object/action/feature for itself. Writers are always told to "show, not tell", and I think you really have that nailed. Just avoid trying tell after you've already shown!

“Very well. Moirai to you in any way.” Tadarius’ grunt was filled with frustration. ---> Very well. Moirai to you in any way.” Tadarius grunted.

A grunt alone seems vague, but we've already been introduced to Tadarius' personality. A reader can more or less assume that he's annoyed/frustrated by the much younger man.

Hoping you don't mind but I went ahead and did some mild editing on the first four paragraphs:
A small, black fly buzzed in curious circles before landing near the glistening remnants of a bead of sweat. It we shall say, for it is absurd to assume that, at a glance, one can distinguish male from female of something as minute as a fly, briefly rubbed its hairy legs together before greedily attempting to sopping up the quickly evaporating liquid. Rapacity Absorbed in its task, the fly remained unaware of the shadow that had appeared from nowhere and extinguished the twinkles from the remaining wet spots. Without sitting up, the man guided his slightly trembling fingers to his open mouth. A small stream of saliva had trickled from his mouth as he slept and now drizzled through his ancient beard towards the ground. He absentmindedly sucked the flies remains from his dirty finger.

With joints cracking, Tadarius stood to his feet from the flattened soil that served as his makeshift bed. A grimace blanketed his face He grimaced as flares of pain seared through his body from his arthritis-plagued knees, continued through the several bulging discs in his upper back, and finally coming to a stop in his perpetually aching brain. Reaching two gnarled fingers into the ragged pocket of his dusty tunic, his yellow, curled fingernails searched for his chaw. From his pocket He produced a thick, black stick that seemed coated in a timeless ooze that was neither wet nor dry. He worked the stick between the rotten remains of his teeth, of which there were only four, two on top and the other two on bottom and spouted what one could judge from his apparent exasperation to be obscenities until, finally, he managed to gnaw a small portion off.

He stared up at the sun overhead while hastily stuffing the remaining stick back into his pocket with a sneer. “Beautiful day,” he said gutturally before releasing a large, black stream of chaw-filled spit from between his chapped lips. What didn’t dribble to his soiled beard flew gracefully through the air, glistened in the summer sun, then splattered across the lone dandelion growing for as far as the eye could see. This seemed to lighten his mood somewhat, as a smile began to spread across his spit-covered lips. “Aren’t you just a pretty little thing?” He asked as if expecting a response from the small, yellow flower. The wink that followed would have been enough to cause any infant to break out in wails of terror (consider changing this description). The wink held well after his tattered boot smashed, then ground, the flower into the dirt.

Tadarius Shipton was the kind of man you never wanted to meet (No need to tell us that, you've done enough showing to convince us of this fact!). He had long outlived the welcome of this world, but, for one reason or another, had always managed to escape death. The closest comparison one could make would be the hermits. Even they the hermits however with their longevity that could only be described as supernatural by those who’s lives were ending as the hermits were reaching the halfway mark would be at a loss for words when confronted by Tadarius. Adding to the mystique was the fact that And, unlike the hermits who lived a life of relative seclusion and safety, Tadarius more often than not chose to place himself in a position of violence and danger. He cared not for the generally accepted rule of treating others with respect and as kindred spirits, moreso he used that mindset to his advantage. He often murdered without warning, hesitation, or provocation. Simply put, Tadarius Shipton was the most dangerous opponent to human existence that this world had ever seen.
Junior student studying at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Loves reading, writing, photography, dance, and long walks on the beach :P

Solly
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Joined: September 7th, 2010, 9:43 pm
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Re: Tadarius Shipton

Post by Solly » December 22nd, 2010, 1:32 am

Thank you very much for the input, LMJ. I understand your issues with the readability of the first paragraphs and appreciate you confirming what I had suspected. As for the "distasteful" versus "pure evil" dilemma, I believe I may have overstated my ambitions previously. Initially, I'd like for him to come across exactly as you've sized him up to be. Through later narration and reminiscence, his truly awful deeds will help to paint him more in an evil tone. That being said, were I to post it again, evil would likely not be the word used to describe him. I see him being more borderline nihilist, murder is just the most simplistic method for achieving his goals. His acts may tend to be on the evil side, but he won't necessarily be a (insert evil cackle here) evil person. I don't know if that makes sense.

Again, I thank you very much for your constructive criticism.

Solly

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