I had a nebulous idea for a Mr. Satan story from the onset of Things Were Better Then, but no clear idea for the plot at first. Like with Midnight City, I listed this story as "ready to write" as soon as I posted the TWBT page on this wiki and all of its one-shot ideas on my userpage. I was just excited to write for Mr. Satan; I didn't really know what the story would be about.
When I first revealed the TWBT lineup to Destructivedisk on Facebook, he thought that this story would end up being a lot like Three. While this worried him, I assured him that my plan for this story was not going to be similar to Three. I didn't want to copy him; that much I knew.
As the above pictures show, I had chosen Mr. Satan to be the protagonist of this story pretty early on. My very early list of candidates that I sent to Destructivedisk on Facebook was "OID - Mr. Satan, Chiaotzu, Krillin, Yamcha, Bardock, King Vegeta, Frieza, King Cold, Korin, Master Roshi, Cell, Android 17, Tien, Goku, Tarble, Bulma". I think this was the longest list of candidates for any of the ten stories, but notice how Mr. Satan was the first candidate. The first thing I thought of while listening to Only in Dreams to come up with a protagonist for a story relating to it was Mr. Satan. "Only in Dreams" works for quite a few characters, of course, but the song felt most relevant to Mr. Satan to me. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to write about for him, but I wanted it to relate to the song in some way. The phrase "only in dreams" seems to go well with Mr. Satan's history and demeanor. That was pretty much all I had for this story at its earliest point.
The above picture shows the theme color list I had for this song, as do some of the pictures above that one. I had narrowed it down to purple or black very early on, as I had similarly done with story #5. I eventually chose black for A Soundless Dark and purple for Suicide Missionary based on the instrumentals of each story's song. Black works well for Mr. Satan, of course, as it is the color of the devil and a color that dominates all others. It was also cool that the last story in this collection had black as its theme color when the first story had white. Mr. Satan is associated with black all the time in canon so this was one of the more straightforward theme colors out of the entire collection. Black is also a way more common color than many of the other theme colors, allowing it to be worked into far more aspects of the plot and themes of this story.
So I did very little pre-planning for this story. The only thing I had from the start of Things Were Better Then was the idea that at some point, Mr. Satan would have a dream about some regret, some failure, or about how he hasn't become all he could. That was all I had. I basically didn't do anything else for the story until Before Creation Comes Destruction was completed. At that point, I began to mentally come up with some plot ideas for the last two stories. These ideas were very vague, and I never wrote them down. I mainly focused on Midnight City in the weeks after Before Creation Comes Destruction was completed. For A Soundless Dark, I didn't develop anything I liked aside from the dream scene. Even then, I wasn't sure what he should dream about or if that should take up the entire story. Since all TWBT stories are separated into two parts, I knew it wasn't possible to have him only be dreaming, so I knew I would have to come up with a plot.
It was only a few days before I wrote this story that I came up with the idea that Hercule would be grieving about his wife's death. This is an issue that I have never seen tackled before in a Mr. Satan story, so it interested me from an originality standpoint. It also fit well with the overarching themes of this collection. Once I had that idea, I didn't really develop it further. I felt like it would be best to just sit down and improvise a story about Mr. Satan's grief. I did minimal research on his wife and what is known about her, as well as when Videl was born and when the World Martial Arts Tournaments took place. Additionally, I refreshed my memory on Mr. Satan's role in Spindlerun: The Tale of Yajirobe in case I wanted to use anything from there.
I felt like this would be a very short story, perhaps the shortest (it ended up being the fifth longest, to my surprise). That is primarily why I felt like I could write both this story and Midnight City on May 31, 2015. I had procrastinated up to that day, having not written either story, and I wanted to complete Things Were Better Then before the start of June, so that left me with little choice but to write both of them that day. I started Midnight City early and finished it by 8:53 pm that day. After I finished, I took an hour or so break and thought about this story and the stuff I wanted to do for it - tone-wise, theme-wise, etc. Then, I began to write this story at 10:51 pm. I wrote for all of two minutes (which consisted of only part of the first paragraph), until 10:53 pm, and then took another break for about an hour. I just wasn't feeling the story at the time and needed to step back and re-evaluate what I was doing. When I came back with a clearer plan of what I wanted to do, I wrote from 12:07 am of June 1, 2015, to 2:18 am of the same day. Once I was finished, I published the story and went to bed shortly after.
This story was very stressful for me to write because I had a test to take (non-school related) on June 1, relatively early in the morning. I felt tremendous pressure to get this story done as quickly as possible so I could get some sleep. I remember being very tired while writing this story, but pushed on because I knew if I didn't write A Soundless Dark then, I would likely procrastinate on it for a few more weeks. And I didn't want that. So I pushed through. The writing process is a blur, but I remember being very hot while writing (as a consequence of me taking a shower shortly before starting to write this story) and taking a few walks outside in the dead of night to clear my mind and cool off and try to gain some inspiration. I'm not sure if those walks helped or not, but I did eventually get this story done in about two hours, which was thankfully much less time than how long Midnight City took me to write.
When I finished this story, I was more relieved than happy. I was happy that TWBT was finally done, though, as it took me nearly three months to complete it, and about a month before that of planning out all of the stories. It was nice to have completed a project I spent so much time on, but at the time, I was too tired and too stressed out about my test the next morning to really appreciate that.
I don't have very fond memories of the actual text of A Soundless Dark. I remember being disappointed by it and wanting to re-write it. However, I have not read this story since I posted it on this wiki. I don't know if it's actually any good. I have read parts of the second section and think that is some of my strongest writing ever (Destructivedisk called the second section of this story some of the most beautiful prose I've ever written, which was very kind of him). The thing I'm looking forward to most while re-reading this story for the commentary below is to see if it actually is any good, or if I actually do need to re-write it, because I really don't remember much of what happens in the first section. Anyways, onto the endnotes!
|A Soundless Dark|
|Things Were Better Then|
|Written:||May 31 - June 1, 2015|
|Released:||June 1, 2015|
|Theme song:||Only in Dreams|
|Things Were Better Then track listing|
This story's theme is Only in Dreams.
Blood ran down the cracks in the mirror to the tiled floor, red on black. Mr. Satan stared at the image of himself, fractured, broken, bloody, and took another drink. His face twitched when his throat began to burn, and he realized it had been a long time since he’d gone this far. He could hear his heart beating deep and slow, as if it was trying to break free from the cage that was his body.
The pill bottle was half full, which was too full for Hercule. He popped open the cap and downed four of the little blue pills and sighed, waiting for them to take effect. It was cold as bone in that room – a familiar cold, but not unwelcome; the light flickered and danced, and Hercule knew it would give out soon. The walls were unimaginably dirty, but with black tile, even the grimiest of bathrooms looked alright. It was a clever, sorry trick. Noticing his hand leaking blood all over the floor, Mr. Satan unhooked a roll of toilet paper and wrapped it around his wound. It was a good feeling, the pain. It helped him forget a little bit.
Sleep was a capricious thing, so the man decided to take a walk along the moonlit docks. The sea gave the air a soft, salty smell, and that calmed Hercule a bit. He found an old izakaya on the water’s edge and went inside. Sitting down in the dim light, Mr. Satan ordered a drink and some sushi and watched a band play old hits. The musicians were all women, young, pretty and confident, and that made Mr. Satan wistful. He was reminded of the last time he’d entered this place, but that had been many years ago, before Videl had been born, when he had been young and confident himself.
A waitress in a black dress served Hercule, and after she handed him his drink, she lingered, chewing on the nail of her little finger. “Hey… I know you, don’t I?”
Mr. Satan traded stares with her. “I don’t think so.”
“Didn’t you used to come in here all the time with a–”
Hercule slammed his glass on the table, cutting her off. Several patrons looked over at the noise before hastily turning away, lest they be caught in their spying ways. “I don’t think so,” he said gruffly.
“Oh, okay. Well, if you need anything else, just give me a holler!” she said as cheerfully as she could, but Mr. Satan noted how forced her tone was.
The man nodded and drank his black soda and wondered whether he would be able to sleep soon. The band began to play Maybe I’m Amazed and Hercule nearly began to cry. But he was a man, a warrior, so he bit his tongue and pushed his feelings deeper inside until not even he knew where they had gone. He had heard that song maybe a dozen times in here before, back when the room had been lively, lit up, full of people and vigor. And now, no more than five other patrons were eating and enjoying the music, and they were, all of them, alone.
He didn’t remember when he left. Mr. Satan found himself sitting on the concrete dock, just to the left of a large bridge. Cars danced across the land tether like coruscating shooting stars, burning red and white and then fading out into the black stretch of night. He swung his dangling legs over the dark-as-pitch water and felt the wind scream through his hair. He remembered the last time he had been here. It had been after a ferocious fight, a backstreet brawl, where his foe had broken Mr. Satan’s nose and tried to rip off one of his ears. Hercule had broken his opponent’s jaw with one of those devilish kicks of his, sending him tumbling into the water, and the crowd had gone wild. Time had been most unkind to Hercule in recent years, but even it had let him keep that one memory, that one moment of triumph, untainted and pure.
Here now was Mr. Satan, an accomplished martial artist, but by no means a champion. He wasn’t even as good as his brother had been when he had lived. Hercule was a ticking time bomb, a fading star, just waiting for the last of his light to stretch across the sky in one brilliant flash and then be gone for good. At least then, people would have something to talk about.
“I thought I’d find you out here,” the waitress said as she sat down next to Mr. Satan. “Cold night, eh? Chilly!” she shivered and laughed.
The sea breeze was the only thing cooling Hercule’s heart, the only thing from making him go mad. Maybe he already was mad. Maybe he couldn’t sleep because he didn’t want to see what awaited him in his dreams.
“Look, I know who you are. I ran your name on the receipt. You’re Hercule Satan!”
The man nodded, running a hand through his ragged beard. His eyes were hurting now. They were screaming at him to sleep, but his brain would have none of that. Mr. Satan was too weary to argue with either of them.
“You won the regional tournament in Orange Star City, didn’t you?”
He nodded again. “That was years ago,” he said hoarsely. “It doesn’t matter anymore. Everythin’ goes away, ya know. Nothin’ matters.”
“Are you going to compete in the World Martial Arts Tournament?”
Emotion rippled across the man’s face for a fraction of a second. “I doubt it.”
“Well you should. I think you could do well.”
“I haven’t won a fight in half a year.”
“I heard about what happened to you in the paper. That was five months ago, right?” her voice was careful and cheerful, deceptive as honey and wine. When Mr. Satan didn’t respond and instead grabbed a nearby rock and skipped it across the obsidian-polished waters, she spoke again, this time with greater sympathy. “I… I’m sorry about what happened to you. I can’t imagine going through something like that.”
“Yeah, me neither,” Hercule said sadly.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” she asked.
“No,” he replied solemnly. “But if ya wanna stay, I won’t stop ya.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“The sunrise. We used ta watch a lot of them back in the day.”
“I’ll stay then,” she said. “Hey, in the morning, what do you say we grab some coffee?”
Mr. Satan stared out over the water. The city lights and stars reflected in the dark water. A seabird flew silent and low across the unbroken surface, scanning for fish. He tried to focus on his breathing, but that wasn’t helping. He wanted to succumb; he wanted to slip away; but his body refused to fall asleep. So he stayed with the waitress and felt a small measure of comfort, for she reminded him of someone he used to know.
The morning rose in a pale pink mist, and the two watched the fog dissipate and the ships come in from long nights at sea. The sun burst out from over the horizon, and the sky opened up. It was a light blue, with a single puffy cloud hovering in the midst of it. The sea winds carried that away with haste, and soon it was just an open blue expanse, a frontier of young joy. Mr. Satan threw up into the sea.
That woke up the waitress, who had fallen asleep on his shoulder. “H-hey, are you alright?” she yawned.
“I’m just tired,” he replied distantly. “I just need to sleep.”
“I used to have the same problem. The way I tricked myself into falling asleep was to stop thinking about anything. I know it’s hard,” she said, smiling, “but the fastest way to get to sleep is to forget everything that’s troubling you.”
“It’s not gonna happen.”
The two of them stood up, watching the city wake up around them. The early morning is not good for the tired, and Mr. Satan felt a migraine coming on. The day was bright, but it was too early to be warm; the biting cold was worse than getting punched in the face by a half-drunk lunatic.
“So what do you say about that coffee? the waitress yawned again. “I’m buying.”
“I don’t want coffee.” That was the last thing he needed.
They looked into one another’s eyes once again. Hers were so dark brown they looked almost black. Hercule knew his were bloodshot. There was something flickering in her eyes – was it pity? Sympathy? Longing? What Mr. Satan wanted more than anything else was to reach out and make things go back to how they once had been. He was too tired to stop himself.
The man lunged forward and attempted to kiss the woman. She backed off and slapped him across the face.
“Whoa, not cool! What was that for?!”
Mr. Satan’s eyes were watering. He was confused and delirious. “But…”
Her face reddened with anger. “I just wanted coffee. You’re taking things way too fast! What are you, some kind of creep?”
“You thought?!” she yelled, causing a few passersby to glance over at them. “Yeah, I bet, you pervert. Only in dreams. It’s not gonna happen.”
She gave him the finger and walked off into the burgeoning day. Mr. Satan’s vision began to swim and he knew it was time to get home. The universe was out to get him, he thought. Time had not been kind to his prospects nor to his state of mind. And now he couldn’t even sleep. He had a martial arts tournament tomorrow. If he wasn’t well-rested, he would lose, and he wouldn’t get paid. He needed that money to survive. He needed that money to feed his newborn daughter.
Mr. Satan blinked furiously and shook his head. The waitress had taught him one valuable lesson, even if it wasn't the one he had hoped it would be. He didn’t have time to feel bad about messing things up with her. He needed to end the pain. He needed to fix himself. “Okay,” he said aloud. “Just clear your mind. Clear your mind! Don’t think about anythin’!”
It was so hard not to think about it, like ignoring your arm being on fire. There was pain in knowing, and even more pain in forgetting. But for his sake and his daughter’s, Mr. Satan closed his eyes and thought of nothing. How long it took him to pass out on the docks cannot be said, at least not by Mr. Satan’s own calculations. He receded into the darkness of his mind and shut off all thought. He was an animal, a series of organic processes. He was human, but it was killing him. He had to let it go.
The darkness was not total, nor was it static. Mist swirled about, great sparkling blackness erupting in plumes of stardust. Shapes of impossible distortion danced in and out of sight like leaves along an autumn path. They were there; he knew, but sight was the wrong word to describe how he knew. He felt them. He knew she was there too, lurking in the shadows, but why wouldn’t she show herself? He could smell her in the air, feel her movements as he swam into the starless veil. The shapes touched him and filled him with a sense of need. Faster, they urged, but he had not the strength. He knew what that meant. The man began to cry great drops of ink. He was freezing up. He was losing his opportunity. Reality had dissolved away, like salt into water, and all that remained were the shapes who knew him. They were hunting him, as they had hunted her. The man’s sobs echoed through nothingness.
And then through the stillness, came a figure, like broken glass, slender and deadly. Her features were so vivid, that for a moment, she seemed to radiate the only light in the whole damn miserable world. He reached out to touch her, and she reached back. Their hands touched. He felt warm and free. Unfocused, distant lights trembled across the ancient sky like candles. He took her other hand in his and felt her body press up against his. This is how it’s supposed to be, he thought. I never want to leave here. She smiled sheepishly and twirled around him, the light reflecting off her crystal form. You have to let go, she implored. Ice filled his veins. No, I can’t. You must. I can’t! She smiled again, that same smile that had won him over on their first date. That same smile that had put him beyond the point of no return. Please. But as they danced, the lights faded, the dark shapes dissolved, and even the darkness itself began to fade into a grey-bleak nothingness. It was over. No! he implored, reaching out for her again. Please, you can’t go. She danced away from him and smiled knowingly. Let go, Hercule. Let it go. The man swam forward, desperation driving him. Please just once more. One more dance. She shook her head. Once but never again. It’s too late. His wife exploded into a sea of blue crystal stars, flaming out into oblivion, the last few bits hovering in silence, and burning, burning, burning to the beat of his own heart before bursting again into nebulous streaks of white that soon encompassed everything, and he knew it was time to wake up.
- "A Soundless Dark" comes from a line in the book The City & The City. It comes from one of my favorite paragraphs in the entire text, which is separated from the rest of the chapter it is in. The paragraph is as follows: "It was not a soundless dark. It was not without intrusions. There were presences within it that asked me questions I could not answer, questions I was aware of as urgencies at which I failed. Those voices again and again said to me, Breach. What had touched me sent me not into a mindless silence but into a dream arena where I was quarry." This paragraph has influenced other stories of mine in the past. I'm not sure if any of them are on this site, but one story I wrote about the myth of Icarus was greatly influenced by the above paragraph. A Soundless Dark is influenced by it too, particularly in the second section. Although the dream the protagonist of The City & The City has is quite different from Mr. Satan's on many different levels. The paragraph was a starting point of influence; I didn't actually use much of the contents of the above dream in Mr. Satan's dream in this story.
- Hercule's blood on the black tiles implies he punched the mirror. Of course, the tiles are black, so that is a reference to the theme color (with Hercule's blood on it). That Hercule would destroy a mirror says a lot about him, too.
- The cracked mirror gives a distorted, fragmented, broken image of Mr. Satan in its reflection. This hints at the inner turmoil and brokenness of his character.
- While Mr. Satan does drink alcohol in this story, it's not in reference to Three. I think that Hercule is one of the most likely canon characters to be an alcoholic. However, this story states that he hadn't gotten drunk in a long time, so perhaps he's not an alcoholic after all, or at least a recovering one.
- "His face twitched when his throat began to burn, and he realized it had been a long time since he’d gone this far." - this is not merely referencing the fact that he hasn't gotten drunk in a long time. It's referencing how he's let his anger and grief take ahold of him.
- Heartbeats are a reoccurring motif in Things Were Better Then.
- The way the light flickered in the bathroom is a reference to Three.
- The dirtiness of the tiles being masked by the black color is a reference to what the theme color in this story means as well as a reference to Suicide Missionary.
- A big theme in this story is the difference between physical and mental pain. Notice how Hercule uses physical pain to make him forget about his mental pain. It's a brutish, un-elegant way to do that, but it fits a fighter of Hercule's demeanor. It also allows the bathroom scene to work on several different levels, thematically. There's really quite a lot going on in the opening scene.
- Mr. Satan goes into an izakaya, as opposed to a regular bar, because I had just recently watched Kill Bill: Volume 1 (when I was writing this story), where an izakaya was featured as one of the film's main settings.
- The all-female band playing old hits is also inspired from Kill Bill. Thematically, they also represent the "things were better then" vibe that is important in all of these one-shots, and this one in particular. Additionally, they were a good segue from Mr. Satan thinking about them to his daughter. By mentioning Videl, I was able to hint at when this story takes place realistically and effectively.
- The soda references the theme color.
- The band played "Maybe I'm Amazed" because that was the song playing on pandora while I was writing that scene. The song made Hercule cry because it made him think of his dead wife.
- The way Hercule pushes his feelings inside of him is similar to how Vegeta does that while he's working for Frieza (more of that can be seen in His Majesty's Pet).
- The state of the izakaya itself shows that "things were better then", even though it's very late in the night (which would explain why it's not very populated).
- The dock locale was one I wanted to use in Suicide Missionary, as it was one of the most striking settings in Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions. I instead used it here, hinting that the dock locale is based on Japanese dock areas because of the izakaya nearby.
- The cars flying by on the bridge are a very striking scene; they hint at some of the themes in this story (notice how they disappear into the blackness, being swallowed whole) and also foreshadow the ending of this story.
- The way the wind attacks Mr. Satan is similar to how it attacks Krillin in Midnight City.
- Mr. Satan isn't a champion yet, so this further hints at the timeline of this story. This is before Mr. Satan makes it, before he becomes a celebrity. He's living a hard life, moving from fight to fight, barely paying for him and his daughter. This is gritty and real and hopeless, made ironic by where we know he ends up. Still, I felt it was important to show Mr. Satan before he became a mega celebrity, to portray him in a sympathetic and down-to-earth light.
- Daniel, who was a great warrior in Spindlerun, is the brother Mr. Satan mentions in this story.
- Mr. Satan compares himself to a shooting star for a variety of reasons. For one, being a "star" is very apt for him. Shooting stars are transient by nature, so that felt like a good descriptor for him. It also works with the theme relating to stars in this story.
- Mr. Satan is very much like Kuriza in that he's afraid to sleep because he knows what his dreams will hold. His dreams are of a different nature than Kuriza's, though.
- Notice how Hercule tries his best to ignore the woman, even in his thoughts.
- The hot/cold theme mostly seen in Before Creation Comes Destruction again surfaces here, with Mr. Satan noting that the coldness of the sea was the only thing that was keeping him from going mad.
- The descriptions of Mr. Satan's exhaustion were basically just me writing how I was feeling whilst writing this story. The hurting eyes description in particular is accurate.
- When Mr. Satan says "Everythin’ goes away", he is referencing Always Gold by Radical Face.
- The upcoming World Martial Arts Tournament is the one that Mr. Satan wins. It's really cool that he's sitting there on a dock in the dead of night thinking that he won't even compete in it, when, in the future, he does and wins. It's a huge contrast of where he is compared to where he will get to. Of course, as to why he does end up competing when he says in this story that he won't, that has to do with his dream at the end.
- Mr. Satan hasn't won a fight in half a year. His wife died five months before this story. That means that he hasn't won since she died. Surely, his grief has affected his fighting ability. He knows this - that is why he isn't even bothering with the World Martial Arts Tournament. The epiphany he gets at the end of this story, however, changes all of that.
- Notice how I don't explicitly mention Mr. Satan's wife has died, but it's pretty easy to piece that together. This is similar to how I portrayed Yamcha's relationship with Bulma in Bonetown Blues.
- The midnight waters are described as being blackish, referencing this story's theme color.
- There is a cyclical feeling to Things Were Better Then. Notice how Glory starts with Goku waking up from a dream in the early morning. This story ends as we get to that early morning when Mr. Satan falls asleep and begins to dream. Where one ends, the other begins. These were deliberate choices on my part.
- The sunrise is associated with romantic moments, so mentioning that should make it pretty clear who Mr. Satan used to watch the sunrise with. He wouldn't do that with any old friend or training partner.
- The city lights reflecting in the waters is something that happened in Midnight City (only with Krillin's eyes instead of the waters). Since the waters are related to this story's theme color, that ties A Soundless Dark to Midnight City, thematically speaking.
- Notice how Mr. Satan doesn't answer the woman when she asks him out. He's in too much pain, though that pain is very understated (I channeled a bit of We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore with that move, truth be told). He doesn't want to have another relationship. The woman asked him out because she feels sorry for him and thinks spending some time with another human being would be good for Mr. Satan.
- The seabird is a reoccurring motif also seen in Ergo Sum, Suicide Missionary, and We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore, if I remember correctly.
- "So he stayed with the waitress and felt a small measure of comfort, for she reminded him of someone he used to know." - this line references Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye. I don't particularly like that song so I'm not sure why I made the reference. Still, it made for an elegant sentence.
- When the pale pink mist dissipates, the sky is revealed - blue and bright with but a single cloud hanging in it. This description is very similar to the description of the sky in the second section of Glory, again tying this story to that one and showing the blurred ending and beginning of this collection. Notice how the sea winds carry that cloud away, though, hinting at what wind means in this story (which is quite different from what it was used to symbolize in Midnight City).
- As to why the sky opens up into a frontier of blue joy, that is perhaps foreshadowing Mr. Satan's journey in this story. We don't get to see him wake from the dream, but we know from canon that he goes on to win the World Martial Arts Tournament and become very famous, so perhaps by clearing the fog and the lone worrisome cloud, the sea wind is showing how Mr. Satan has survived through the darkest time in his life and lived to see a new day. That is all figuratively-speaking of course, but he also literally does that in this story. This beautiful scene is juxaposed against Mr. Satan throwing up into the sea, which is rather funny. It also symbolizes him expelling all of the old poisonous stuff inside him that is holding him down. Also Mr. Satan throwing up is similar to how Goku and Beerus did that in their own TWBT stories.
- I don't much like the early morning - it is oft cold and wet and bright and miserable. Mr. Satan conveys the same thought in this story.
- Notice how the cold of the morning is not the same cold that comforted Hercule the night before.
- "the biting cold was worse than getting punched in the face by a half-drunk lunatic." - I'm sure this is referencing something, perhaps Spindlerun, but I'm not sure. I don't remember. Yet it's too specific a comparison to be referencing nothing methinks.
- The woman wanting to take Mr. Satan out to coffee shows just how dissimilar the two are (mostly as a result of Mr. Satan's tragedy) and how they really can't get along. The woman's priorities are the last things Mr. Satan wants to do.
- Notice how the woman's eyes are almost black.
- The woman calling Mr. Satan a creep is a reference to Creep by Radiohead. I think the lyrics can be used to explore Mr. Satan's situation in an interesting way.
- Eyes and the meaning they reveal about a person in their appearances has been a reoccurring motif throughout TWBT. The eye descriptions of Mr. Satan and the woman in this story highlight that.
- The woman says "Only in dreams" near the end of the first section, which is the name of the Blue Album song tied to this story. I'm not sure I did that with any other TWBT one-shot. I don't think I did.
- Videl is revealed to be a newborn near the end of section one, showing just when this story takes place.
- Mr. Satan is pretty noble in that he desperately wants to take care of his daughter. He feels like crap, is having a very hard time in life, yet knows he has to compete in a tournament (knowing full well that he will lose) just to get paid enough to feed her. It's quite an interesting character trait. This trait can be seen, vaguely, in canon, though Mr. Satan is of course in a much different position there than he was in this story. I wanted to put that in to show how hard a worker Mr. Satan was before he became rich and famous.
- Why did I have Mr. Satan try to kiss the woman? Because he's emotional, confused, tired. It made sense he'd do something stupid. Also, I wanted to get her out of the scene. It also highlights how Mr. Satan has self-destructing tendencies.
- The woman wasn't just there for no reason though. She helped him get to sleep in the end, showing her plot significance.
- "There was pain in knowing, and even more pain in forgetting." - I'm very proud of this line.
- Mr. Satan doesn't want to sleep. He's stayed up all night so he wouldn't have to return to the dreams that have been haunting him. But he eventually gives into sleep for Videl's sake, showing how much he loves his daughter and values her above himself.
- One of the hardest things for me to write was Mr. Satan falling asleep. What I eventually wrote to describe it - "He receded into the darkness of his mind and shut off all thought. He was an animal, a series of organic processes. He was human, but it was killing him. He had to let it go." is excellent, I think. I don't remember writing it, I confess, but I think it's an apt description of him falling asleep and focusing on the biological absurdity of it all. The "let it go" part is foreshadowing the second section where his wife implores him to do just that. Of course, it's not his wife saying that, but his subconscious, so it only makes sense that he would think of that as he's falling asleep.
- The second section of this story is the shortest single section in all of Things Were Better Then. It is shorter than the first section of Burning Man (the second shortest section in the collection) by only 37 words.
- I went all-out in the second section. I made it as vivid and surreal as possible. I wanted this dream to be similar to Kuriza's dream but also quite different and memorable in its own right.
- The theme color is utilized in varied ways in the second section too many times to note here. What I will say is that the darkness/swallowing whole aspect of the theme color is just one part of it. The color implies more than that in the second part.
- The things saying "Faster" to Mr. Satan is a reference to the quote that inspired this story's name. Where in that quote, the shapes said to the protagonist "Breach", here they say "Faster".
- Notice how Mr. Satan swims into a starless veil. One way to interpret this is that he's swimming away from his pain and hubris to have a pure moment with his dead wife.
- I wanted his wife to be glass-like because it would allow me to reflect light off of her and give her impossible curves and allow her to explode into fragments - all things that enhance the aesthetic quality of the second section.
- The unfocused, distant lights trembling were inspired by the background image on the "Only in Dreams" video linked to numerous times on this page.
- "Once but never again." - this is a lyric from "Only in Dreams".
- "His wife exploded into a sea of blue crystal stars, flaming out into oblivion, the last few bits hovering in silence, and burning, burning, burning to the beat of his own heart before bursting again into nebulous streaks of white that soon encompassed everything, and he knew it was time to wake up." - this line references Kerouac's famous quote, "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.". I had first found this quote while researching Kerouac for Midnight City and liked it well enough to reference it in this story. Still, I must say, my sentence turned out quite different than his, and I do like mine more.
- I don't really have a lot to say about the second section of this story. Saying too much will reveal too much - it's best the audience comes up with their own ideas of what all the images and such mean. What I will say is that the second section is the best prose I've written for this entire collection. The last line of A Soundless Dark is one of my favorite lines I've ever written. I'm tempted to say it's my favorite line in the entire collection. Certainly, this story ends with a bang, a much-appreciated moment of triumph from a plot perspective as well as from a technical standpoint.
So this story is better than I had hoped it would be. This is the first time I've read the story since posting it, and I can say it's a fine story. The first section is clearly on the weaker side for TWBT stories, but it is still solid. It has many complex themes and a very cool take on Mr. Satan's character arc that I had forgotten I'd written. It's all really cool. The theme color was used to perfection in this story, I think. I can sense my impatience to finish Things Were Better Then and this story in the prose of the first section, however. The second section to me is basically perfection. I really, really love those two paragraphs. As I've said in the endnotes above, I think it's some of the best prose I've ever written, particularly the last line of the story. The imagery is me at my best, in my opinion, and the way I tied the themes and the messages I wanted to convey to those vivid images and fragments in the dream was really good. I'm quite satisfied with this story, but I do think section one is a bit weaker than I would have hoped. Overall, I'd give A Soundless Dark an S-.
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