Obsession: An Overview and Excerpt

Read an excerpt of Nathan Pyle’s “Obsession” and the writer’s own thoughts on his 2021 Honor’s Project

My favorite director and screenwriter, David Lynch, once stated, “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and purer. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” I have always admired this quote because it is crucial for me to find these fish and make them a reality. Ideas are the most beautiful things that a writer can have. This limitless sea of ideas enables me to dig deep, build worlds, and establish new characters with unique perspectives. 

During my Junior year at Millsaps College, I was accepted into the Honors Program and began work on an Honors Thesis, an undertaking similar to a dissertation focused on a specific area. My Honors Thesis, Obsession, consists of four short stories centered around obsession in the genre of weird fiction and magical realism.  

Like the characters in my short story collection Obsession, I am influenced by obsession. My obsession was, is, and always will be my writing. This passion comes from the constant need to tell stories and share them with others. One of the most beautiful and pleasing feelings is sharing my stories with a reading audience. Storytelling is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. No other species can do what we do. These metaphoric fish are fragments of learning from experience, and one lesson I have learned is you cannot catch these fish if you never attempt to cast in the water. 

Below is a brief excerpt from “No Love, Deepfake”:  

About lunchtime, David walked through the door. The entire office went silent. All the employees looked up from their desks and cubicles and quickly turned away. David had a frown across his face. His face was devoid of any expression. David’s eyes were red, and his nose was pink. He sniffed and cleared his throat before he stumbled out: 

“Everyone? Can I have your attention please?” 

David didn’t need to announce it. The office went silent as soon as he walked through the doors. All that was heard were the rare ring of a distant phone or the whispers between coworkers. 

“I’m sure as most of you have heard by now of the allegations that are being thrown against me. Saying that I have been disloyal to my wife, my children, my family. There are photos of me circulating around, on social media of me…with another woman,” David shuddered and cleared his throat. “These rumors and allegations are not true, and I will continue to maintain that! I wanted to address this as a group, but it seems as though- whoever is doing this is contacted the news about it first and for that I apologize. I’m sorry if this incident has caused any of you any harm. Take…take the rest of the day off. I have to settle this issue. That is all.” 

David walked back into his office, silently. He shut his door and laid his head down. The entire floor was silent, nobody spoke up, and nobody interacted with one another. I picked up the post-it notes from my desk and headed into David’s office. 

“Um Mr. Fischer––I mean David?” 

He turned to look up at me, standing in the doorway. 

“Oh, hi Lily just drop them on my desk, and I’ll get to them later.” 

He pointed at the mound of paperwork on his desk. I looked across at his office. On all four sides, there were bible quotes everywhere, some on canvas prints and some with his daughters all standing together in a line. They looked like little angels. I envied David and his wife. 

“You received a bunch of calls, nineteen, I think. All about—well ummm you know.” 

The tension and awkwardness lingered in the air before he finally spoke. 

“I just can’t get over this, how did this happen? I mean…am I really this bad? That someone feels the need to do this?” David slid down in his chair. “I mean there’s photos of me, not even me of someone who looks like me, at a bar, leaning in with some other woman. I’ve never even met this person before. Never. And I never drink, never so how can I- you know what? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t take this out all on you.” 

I shook my head. 

“No, David. No, it’s fine! Honestly.” 

David made a grunting noise. I cleared my throat. 

“Maybe I can help you?” 

David shook his head. His pale face turned to me and he had a hopeless look in his eyes. I continued: 

“I haven’t seen the photos but from what people are describing it sounds like someone maybe trying to blackmail you.” 

“Blackmail me? Why? What did I ever do to anyone?” 

“Nothing!” I quickly corrected him. “But someone may be out to get you.” 

“Get me?” his voice was full of genuine concern, “Like hurt me?” 

“David, I’ll help you through this. I promise” 

David sighed and gave a smirk at me. 

“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. You know, you are the first person to believe me. You do believe me, don’t you?” 

“I can assure you, David—you did nothing wrong, ” I grinned at him. “I believe you. One hundred percent.” 

I turned around and smiled to myself as I shut his office door. My twisted smile grew until my lips began to hurt. 

My plan is working perfectly. 

David would never suspect me.