The Figures

Rated 5.00/5 based on 5 reviews
Haunting, perplexing Figures trouble an unnamed man, pulling at him with their eerie, magnetic presence. The exact nature and purpose of the Figures is unclear, but they have an insatiable desire to possess the man and direct him towards ever more secluded regions, until an agreement is made to borrow him ... but to what ends and where and to whom will it lead? More

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Published by Ex-L-Ence Publishing
Words: 5,010
Language: English
ISBN: 9781909133075
About Nigel Hems

I am an author and lecturer at MMU.
My works of fiction include 'Events', 'The Letter', and 'The Figures.' I am also co-editor of 'The Continuum Companion to Kant'.

'Atherfield's Final Formula' is now available. as well as two short stories, 'The Room' and 'The Resident' (which will be published together). I will also be publishing a new short story, 'The Visitor', here at Smashwords in 2013. I am at present working on a short novel length work of fiction called 'The Place', which will be available later in the year. The story revolves around the main character, Klein, who pases through a perplexing sequence of events, whilst coming into contact with various friends and foes, often without being able to distinguish between these categories. At one particular stage, Klein comes into contact with a quasi-monastic order of enigmatic hedge-cutters, who are working in a maze, and following the dictates of a manual of half-articulated rules (as well as a semblance of intuition); Klein has to decide whether to join the hedge-cutters, or risk venturing further into the daunting regions of the maze.

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Review by: feriha aydin on Nov. 17, 2013 :
From the first page The Figures had me addicted to deliberating the plot and I was kept in suspense throughout the story. It was thought provoking with an uneasy tincture of fear as I was taken to a deeper darker level of my inner self. Who were these figures? Where were they going? Eagar to get to the end to find out what the outcome was, I was left feeling compelled to read again and again because of the endless possibilities of what had really happened?.... Look forward to reading more of Nigel Hems' stories
(review of free book)

Review by: Keeley Summers on March 22, 2013 :
When I compare it to other stories by Nigel Hems, some of this was a bit too wordy, but after a while, that doesn't matter, and you get into reading and re-reading it and every time there is more layers. It is like a story of demonic possession by society.

Up to now, I thought Nigel Hems was a bit like George Orwell, but this is like vampire horror, except the horror is coming from government. I saw David Icke on YouTube and he said the world was being run by reptiles, only you can't see them, and this was a bit like that, except they were ghosts instead of reptiles.

The poor cobbler in the story seems to be a kind man, only he isn't. I did think he was going to start singing Bohemian Rhapsody after a bit, but it would have spoiled it if he had, lol!

The conductor is not conducting music, but people, so I thought that was a bad choice at first, unless you think of him as being like a lightening conductor, controlling power with his fingers, a bit like the Emperor in Star Wars. The choice between good and evil is never simple, and it's not like Nigel Hems sometimes shows it, but I can forgive this because the ideas are good.

If you think the world is only science, and there are no mysteries, we could disrespect magic as really just superstition. I think that though Nigel Hems is a philosophy lecturer, he is more into wizardry than he thinks and can't admit it, especially as it would probably lose him his job or something.

I know a bit about one philosopher called Descartes, and he said "I think, therefore I am.". But if we're not what we think, and it's like The Matrix and we being fooled, and people take us away from what we really are, does that mean the planet is doomed?

It's good to read about these ideas but it does my head in!
(review of free book)

Review by: Sammy Liston on March 01, 2013 :
This short story was captivating to the very last word. The central characters are superbly created by Hems, and there is always a sense of something sinister lurking beneath the surface as the story unfolds.
How and why the 'Figures' obtain the identity of the man is a mystery, but it seems as though they need to take over his personality in some way. I liked the idea of a judgment being passed by the conductor, and reappearance of the 'Figures' in the arena. All in all a remarkable little short story that should be read by many.
(review of free book)

Review by: Charles Faversham on March 01, 2013 :
Short stories do not ordinarily appeal to me, as sometimes they lack a sense of completeness and cohesion that only a novel can achieve in its depth and complexity. However, I find Nigel Hems’ short story ‘The Figures’ to be quite the opposite, at least in terms of complexity.
The strange, spectral figures are drawn to an equally mysterious man, whose visions are haunted by the aforementioned figures. He feels compelled to follow their trail, which leads to his name, his identity, his signature, being transferred and transmuted to these faceless, nameless figures, in so doing he loses sense of his own self-determination , but why do they want his signature, his name? What is a name worth? What constitutes his identity, his essential substance, if it can be so easily taken and manipulated by others? The figures want him to sign their ‘identity cards’; in this act we may see a metaphor of transubstantiation where the card and the signature represent the body and blood of Christ changing into the bread and wine of the sacrament, but in this very act of transubstantiation what is retained and what is lost, and what of the original act of Christ’s giving of his blood and flesh and the original act of the man relinquishing his name, his signature, his identity? How does the man change, how is he transformed? Is he transformed in any real substantial sense, or is it merely representational?
All of this is orchestrated by forces unknown and unknowable to the man, forces seemingly controlled, conducted by the Conductor, an alchemical priest-like showman, who presides over the spectacle or ‘celebration’ in the arena. Nevertheless, the conductor’s power is merely as a showman, his omniscience and omnipotence are illusory, as when the conductor’s image seems to merge with that of the lowly cobbler, and this delusion is also demonstrated in the instance of the shimmering, radiant gold of the arena’s stage slipping back into the greyish, muddy earth of the rest of the arena where the faceless, nameless figures are assembled like painted, lifeless figurines. And this is the arena where we think we find the Mercy Seat, the seat of judgement, but this too is illusory, we are never judged by an all-powerful, all-seeing God, but here in the dirty arena of life the judgement is always passed down by secular ‘gods’ , self-appointed and self-anointed, who condemn the man based on specious moral grounds, and to further their own aggrandisement and craving for yet more power, for what is the name of one man worth, and what is the worth of one innocent man among thousands, millions of complicit ‘figures’, who like musical notes are directed and shaped into a symphony of destruction and devastation by a conductor, by a great man, a man of history?
(review of free book)

Review by: James Littlewood on Feb. 28, 2013 :
We are now into the third chapter in Nigel Hems' literary career on Amazon Kindle, and already it is clear that this is writer with a bold and brilliant future. The Figures are reminiscent of Tod Browning's Freaks (1932) that melt into a primeval swamp of revenge, blended with hints of Kafkaesque judgement and a creepy chess game played out on an unfamiliar stage. Once again, there is Nigel Hems familiar motif of a supposed 'innocent' caught in a web that he (usually a 'he') does not understand.

A disguise is proposed by the Figures for the Man to borrow. This disguise seems to me to be symbolic of the disguise we must all wear to adapt to a increasingly 'name-badge' oriented society. Perhaps the figures are trying to help the un-named Man. Perhaps their insanity is the reality that we must all now adapt to in order to survive. The Figures are themselves in disguise. Is the Cobbler really a cobbler? What is the true identity of the Conductor? Will we ever truly know?

Can we escape these identities or do they imprison us. ‘You have your conscience. This is all you were promised.’ is one of the last - and subtly brutal - fragments of dialogue in the story. Indeed. We do have our conscience, but how much do circumstances prevent us from exercising it?

Although 'The Letter' was an interesting novella, The Figures recaptures the brevity of his first work 'Events'. It shows that Nigel Hems is at home with both the short-story and novella formats, and this third Kindle Edition work is an essential part of any fan's collection.
(review of free book)

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