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Rated: ASR · Assignment · Dark · #2102746
This is a piece for Uni. Please give me some feedback!

Diana McDonald A755615X

TMA 01

This TMA accounts for 15 per cent of your continuous assessment mark for the module.

When you have completed the TMA, please submit, ensuring the work arrives no later than 27 October 2016. For information on how to submit your work see the Assessment information for Arts modules

Option 1 - prose

The Siren

Modern life is a steep learning curve. Throughout history, it has always been a vast rushing of change conflict and calamity. There have been so many momentous moments, moments where the world has literally changed overnight or have changed so drastically that it is felt for hundreds of years, times like the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the assassination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand, the forming of Israel and the invention of the computer to name a few.

While the history of the world is varied and diverse and complicated, many of our accounts of the events of time gone by are reduced to writings and stories by a small minority and the few pieces of physical evidence left in the ground. This and the fact that history is often written by the winners makes it hard to really see the impact of the events in real time, to really experience in the most powerful and brutal terms how the actions of a few changed so many things in the lives of so many. The good and the bad aspects, the danger and the elation, the sheer struggle of living through interesting times.

Modern times is a whole different thing. As we have developed in industry with free trade and international companies and in technology advances that have been improving communication and life-saving science, our observation of the world and of events in it has become much easier. Printed word, education, television, radio, the internet has helped to involve and inform us about events in places far away or about people who live in very different circumstances. This has made the world feel smaller.

This is all very inspiring, but in reality, there is a dark side to this proliferation of the melting pot that is Earth. There have been so many disastrous events that have changed our perspective and altered life foe so many and these were in part due to the modern lifestyle. World politics that are so volatile that a single politician misspeaking or venting after a long day can make ramifications that hurt so many. Faster, stronger firearms make it easy to murder indiscriminately and en masse. Waste products of cheap and fast industrial practices cause environmental damage in the local area and the long-term effect on climate change.

So, with all this in mind, what would it feel like to be part of one of these historical moments in history? To be a blip on the radar in the vast tide of massive change, the very way of your life to be altered in the space of a few hours? With no control or input in these events.

How would it be if a life altering event happened now? Today?

How would you cope?

Set the scene. You have been toiling away at work, a decent paying job in an office, maybe administration or IT, living in London or maybe somewhere in the South of England. You get home after a painful commute, damn roadworks! Every time some council muppet decides to alter the high street or dig up a roundabout during the day, you spend an extra hour of your life driving instead of chilling out at home. As you arrive, you smell your favourite dish, made by your favourite person, be it partner, parent or the local delivery place. In this case, we'll say a homemade curry courtesy of your fianc (Aren't you spoiled? She works too you know!)

Just an ordinary Wednesday night.

After a delicious spicy meal with the love of your life it's time to relax on the sofa and catch up on some quality TV courtesy of BBC One. A bottle of wine is opened and you slowly settle into a warm stupor as weariness plus filling food drags your mind closer to bedtime land.

Then it happens.

While idly watching the One Show and vaguely daydreaming of murdering the presenters, the screen suddenly freezes and changes. There's a shrieking alarm type sound issuing from the set. The BBC logo comes onto the screen. All black with no graphics. You wonder why and try to flick over to another channel. Then she begins talking. The woman talking over the BBC symbol has a flat monotone voice. You listen as she states:

"This is BBC Television from London. Normal programming has been suspended."

You stare at the screen, not sure what to make of this bizarre announcement. Your fianclooks equally perplexed. They laugh and comment on the TV licence prices and the terrible service. You smile but feel a small lurch in your stomach. The woman, still in the same droning flatness, repeats herself;

"This is BBC Television from London. Normal programming has been suspended."

You look at the screen. What is going on? This time the pit of the stomach thing is really pronounced.

She repeats herself, it goes on and on. Then that beeping again. Over a minute now. Has something happened? Is it a broken connection or something worse?

The wailing of the siren sounds again. The screen changes. This time to a white screen, this time with three logos on it.


Home Office...

Emergency Broadcast...

...Holy shit.

A new voice, older sounding, almost refined.

"This is an emergency broadcast from the BBC. Information of a possible nuclear strike on this country has been received."

Oh, my God, is this real? Your partner clenches their hand on yours. It feels like the air gets sucked out of the room.

"The current threat level is critical, meaning an attack is imminent. Civilians are advised to stay in their homes. Evacuations are currently taking place in the London area. All motorways and airports have been closed for military use. Non-essential telephone lines have also been temp disconnected. Please stand by for further information."

Then the shrill noise again. It stops abruptly.

The sudden rushing of wind sounds in your ears. You feel sick, dizzy. This is real. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. You stand, your mind reeling, you stagger to the window, you can see your neighbours. Some of them are out on the street, there is a buzz of frantic panic. Kids are crying, some people are scrambling to their cars, shouting and swearing. Through all this madness, your eyes spot one person not running. You focus on Mrs. Kendell from number 45. The sweet old lady who always has a cheery smile and positive attitude, now looking blankly at the sky, tears streaming down her face, sobbing inconsolably as she thinks only of her family, too far to get to them. There's not time. As you step slowly, shakily away from the window you hear a noise. Your fianchas fell on the floor. You rush to help but she recoils, breathing hard and her pupils so wide they look black. You stop, unsure what to do. You look at your television, willing it to show normal programmes, to say that this was a test or a hoax, anything dammit! All you hear is the woman's voice, repeating on an endless loop of well-spoken announcement of death. This articulate bitch and her harbinger voice.

Fuck. No. This is insane! Where will the bombs fall? Who's doing this? Why? Then you stop short. Laughing hysterically, you come to the realisation that you don't care. It doesn't matter! You're going to die. How will this knowledge help in any way?

You'll never see you mum or brother again, you see their faces in your mind, smiling while the skin melts off their skulls like in so many movies. Images flash in and out of vision; mum taking you to school, your first girlfriend, then stupid mundane like the time you accidently ordered pink pants from Amazon. The feeling of lost opportunities and secret desires and frustration envelope your soul and you feel like all the stages of grief have hit you at once. But this isn't grief at a funeral. This is raw, visceral and potent.

Suddenly, you become aware of a noise that has been playing for a while. Over the sound of keening beside you and screaming outside, you hear a sound so familiar but horrifying it almost feels comical. The sound of an air raid warning is resonating outside, you start to hear clearer, to feel the rhythmic high and low pitches. This feels unreal, like you've gotten stuck in a video game. This sound, to you, means that's it. They are coming. This is the final chapter of your soul. Of your hopes and dreams and failings and regret.

All gone, save for the howling and wailing and sobbing and all cacophony of noise that is pervading you.

You open your door, desperate for one final gulp of fresh air, strangely a calm feeling is settling on you like a gentle snowfall. Gradual and soft. And you glance to the heavens in time to see a cylinder hurtling through the sky, this smooth comet of oblivion.

You feel the noise rather than hear it.

Then the light. A brief flash.

Then, as it fades to black, you smile.

1516 words

Part 2 Commentary

Write a commentary (350 words) about the process of creating your writing. Describe how you chose your genre, the research you undertook, and the process of editing or revision.

I spent a fair amount of time in looking for inspiration for this piece. I decided to start with looking at the mundane. I mean this as day to day activities and how they could be re-written to seem more dramatic or entertaining. As I worked my way through the activities in the handbook however, I was taken by some of the work of David Mitchell. I enjoyed the exercise immensely, I wrote in the futuristic style with his signature English sarcasm and this work led my mind down the road of dystopian nightmares. With this in mind I began to research material to help with this, looking at films such as Metropolis and 1984 by George Orwell. I looked at a new world order style of scenario or a global disaster.

I chose the latter to enhance the feeling of personal experience and to project this feeling to the reader. I originally wrote dialogue for the character but felt the lack of made the impact easier to projectable.

This made me recall the closest I have felt to this, this was a little difficult but I did find one incident that fit the bill. I tried to recall my memories of watching the September 11th attacks on TV. I had actually seen the second plane hit and this is the clearest example of the feeling I wanted to portray. So I researched the incident online to gather personal perspectives. This in itself was fascinating and I came to the conclusion that I would like to write a personified piece to engage the reader. The next challenge was to pick an event. This was relatively easy as I just wrote a list of the things that would scare me the most. This was eventually whittled down to a national/global disaster. I tried to describe not only the thoughts of the character but the reactions, the sense of sounds and vision unravelling to enhance the horror.

324 words

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