's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" I Suck at Humans "

Submitted by Charred Newt

I suck at humans. Always been like that, canít tell if itís gonna change any time soon.

Give me a pencil and Iíll draw you almost everything else, I swear. Objects are fine, once you grasp the general structure; animals require a little more study, but in the end they come out alright.

With people, though, itís a whole different matter. Theyíre fickle, oversensitive: mess up a single line and you get a clusterfuck instead of a face. Not that you can ever be sure youíll get it right either way.

They donít end up monstrous, thatís not what Iím saying; hell, Iíd be happier if they did.

Monsters are a lot of fun. You can go crazy with them: a wobbly line only adds personality, asymmetry is a touch of charm, proportion can be a tool! When you start tracing a monsterís outline you never know where it will bring you. I find it incredibly liberating. Sometimes I feel I could go on all day, just adding details, limbs and eyes to new, surprising creatures.

If you try adding a bit of creativity to humans they just fall apart. Thereís a myriad of nasty little restraints always breathing down on your neck, if you want things to turn out right.

Iíve been told to do some practice by a lot of different people. Iíve listened every single time. Iíve done my exercises. And it has not done a whole lot of good, I tell you.

Like, at first I thought my problem was with the eyes. After all, they are fairly complex. So I focused on them: I drew only eyes for a week. Every free moment I had, I would sit down and sketch eyes on any nearby piece of paper. I ended up going through three notepads; you couldnít turn a corner in the house without being stared at. Some of them are still on the wall.

So, I get comfortable with eyes of every kind and dimension: then I go back to my desk and oh, would you look at that, I canít draw a decent nose to save my life!

You can guess what happened next. Now there were noses everywhere, instead of eyes. I got downright intimate with that snooty little bump of flesh and bone sitting smugly on our face.

And when I was finally over with that, I tried putting all the elements together. It looked easy enough. But they wouldnít line up properly. The laws of proportion had given me the middle finger.

I almost gave up, there and then. For a while, I was able to listen to the wise people telling me that it was not that big a deal, and to go on with a three-legs-or-more-only line of work. Stick to what Iím good at and be happy with it.

But I am a perfectionist; I canít change that. The challenge keeps gnawing at me. Besides, humans are damn everywhere, I should be able to make at least a couple of passable ones.

Itís 10 am. A good time to be productive. The white paper on the desk looks bright and welcoming.

I get started. Then lines come out slow and clunky, and I have to continuously stop and fix them, but some progress is made. It takes a lot of effort, though: for a couple of hours or so, the only noise in the house is the soft scraping of graphite on paper.

You know, this doesnít look half bad. Maybe Iím at a turning point.

Iím refining the last details, when I suddenly feel the paper sheet shudder under my hands.

I retract them immediately and focus on what is going on upon my desk.

Itís a pretty basic drawing, to be honest: just an average looking guy, your typical background character. He shivers briefly. Then, slowly, with little stiff movements, his arms rise to his face: when his fingers finally reach it, it comes to life. Well, mostly; his left eye remains fixated in its position, even though I can see the little eyelids twitch in effort. Maybe the shape of the eyeball isnít right. The other one looks normal enough: it opens and closes slowly, as if he had just been woken from a long sleep.

He shifts his weight on his feet hesitantly, with a vaguely disoriented look. I donít blame him; even I couldnít tell what exactly heís standing on, the rest of the page is still blank.

Another shiver, stronger than the last one. His limbs stiffen violently; his hands dart to his neck, as his good eye widens in shock.

I can see it now: the neck is too thin, thereís not enough room for the windpipe. Of course he canít breathe! I instinctively grab the pencil, but I already know thereís not much I can do. Heís full on convulsing now; his mouth opens and closes frantically as he fights for air. He may be screaming, itís hard to tell. If I tried fixing him now Iíd probably do more harm than good. Heís moving way too much.

I can only sit and watch as he stumbles uselessly through the white void. A faded grey crosshatch is making its way onto his face. The left eye has gotten darker too, and something black has started dripping from the corner. Something catches my attention: one of his sides has a lighter contour. Yes, I remember, I had to erase and redo that line, it was awful. Must have forgotten to retrace it properly. I canít stop noticing it in the small figureís desperate dance.

Finally, he falters. He doesnít even try to catch himself. As he lands on the imaginary plain, the frail line in his side ruptures abruptly. A thick mass of pitch black scribbles scatters lazily from the tear, smearing on the white background. Heís still moving, though: his legs kick every now and then, like a broken wind-up toy. Theyíre getting slower and slower. Half of his face is covered in black fluid. There are gray splotches all over the lifeless left eye. I canít even recognize the pupil anymore, itís too big of a mess.

Soon, the right eye is the only thing still moving. It darts madly back and forth, as if to escape its socket. I should end this. Itís the human thing to do. I start reaching for the eraser.

But I stop myself. The eye is staring at me. I could have some doubts about it before, but now it has clearly fixated on my movements. And, for a second, for a moment, I see something horrible beneath its panic: I see realization.

It isnít moving anymore. After a while, Iím sure of it. My legs give way, making me slump back into my chair. Little drops of sweat run down my back. Fuck. I did it again.

I crumple the dirty page up and toss it to the monstersí pile, patiently waiting by the deskís side. The air is soon filled with the sound of rustling paper.

At least they are having a good day.