Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Inscription”

Branding Vs. Bite Me, I Write What I Want

TODAY’S BREW: A lot.

By Julie

Edits on RUNNING AWAY will be finished by March first, and while my beta readers dig in, I move on to the next project.

And with that, comes the initial worry of, “Well, shit. My readers aren’t ready for this.”

RUNNING AWAY feels very cohesive in character to RUNNING HOME to me, as well it should. The few people who have read THE HARPY, which is currently on submission to publishers, got an eyeful of Charity Blake, who, shall we say, has quite a bit more edge than Ellie Morgan. Charity would as soon give you the finger as make out with you in public.

March’s project is final edits on a book that I’ve let sit for a while, waiting for me. And it’s as different from THE HARPY as that book is from RUNNING HOME. There has been an excerpt or two on Deadly Ever After of THE ANIMAL, and it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. Erotic, aggressive, and in some parts probably offensive, it very well may not appeal to the same readers as RUNNING HOME. I have to wonder if I’m broadening my horizons or upsetting my readers by giving them Trent and Min, and all the debauchery the two are capable of.

The best part? Today’s plan is plotting my newest book, and man alive have I struggled with whether or not I should write this. Because naturally, the progression from Japanese vampires to a bitter, vengeful, punk Harpy, to an obsessive compulsive man possessed by a defiled sex god is straight to young adult. Naturally.

Yeah, that’s right. The adventures of an Egyptian sex god and the beginning of a young adult novel, all in the same month. Right after that, I might be making INSCRIPTION, my short horror story series that never seems to go away into a full length novel. And THAT features a teenage boy. So YA horror.

My mantra is to write the book you have to write. Don’t listen to what the trends are, don’t worry about what the Joneses are writing. Write the book that itches at your soul like a wound that won’t quite heal, and there will be an audience for it. Anything that ignites that much passion in you is going bleed onto the page, and that kind of power gets heard. I firmly believe it.

But then you’ve got the other side of life, which is branding. Am I making myself unpredictable? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Am I right in relying on my voice and unique style to carry me through these wild ideas I have and make them have mass appeal based on that alone? Am I right in thinking that if the author connects with readers now more than ever, then my readers will expect me to write something unexpected, wild, often brash and always strong? Is it me selling the story, or the story running off without me?

What are your thoughts on sticking to the straight and narrow as opposed to giving all your work the attention you think it deserves? HELP ME, PEOPLE, I’M DYING.

 

 

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Inscription 4: The Dedication by Julie

Today’s Brew:  I’m sure Julie is enjoying her cheese flavored coffee.

Inscription 4: The Dedication

It was the first time Edgar had been able to stand long enough to look out the bedroom window. His mother had taken care of the swollen gashes on his legs, sewing book bindings over the open wounds filled with precious book pages, bound to him with his own blood. Ever closer to those masters, so that he may become one himself.

He ran a dead finger over the windowsill, having long since forgotten that he could no longer feel anything with it. The everpresent flies landed on his hair. He waited. Edgar didn’t remember what time school let out; it had been so long since Mother had removed him. ‘A prodigy needs isolation, not the company of half wits,’ she’d said.

He did know that at 3:20 each afternoon he could hear Liv’s voice, laughing and saying goodbye to the other kids on the bus. Liv’s sparkling cheeriness in his bloody cobweb world was the only thing to awaken him lately. He would force himself to the window to see her today, even though he had not eaten for days and was so tired he could barely move. Hearing her had been the only reason he’d not succumbed to death when inspiration left him. If he could not write, he was a flaw in this world.

But she was perfection. To see her face would spark his passion and ignite his genius to finish this great American novel. He had nothing else.  The pages stuffed in his legs could not carry him to excellence anymore. The book spines that held those words inside him did nothing to keep their brilliance in his heart now.

He stood, shaking, waiting to hear her through the grimy window that was the only sunshine he could stand. Only three more minutes to first hear the rumble of the bus, the screech of the door opening, the kids jumping down the stairs.

He tapped the windowsill with the ballpoint pen protruding from his fingertip. Breathing heavily with nerves, exhaustion and his own stench, he patted his hair, the matted and oily mess that it was. As if she could see him. As if she would ever see him.

“Well, look at you.”

Edgar jumped, making his legs falter and his wounds screech.

“I didn’t hear you come in.”

His mother looked out the window with him, her hand on his shoulder. “You got up. And the first thing you did was look outside? Not write?”

He hung his head, his mop of hair falling over his face. “I’m ashamed to say I feel too weak to write. My thoughts are not clear. I have nothing left to live for.”

“Edgar, poverty and self-denial fueled some of the greatest writers in history. You have more heart than even they do.”

The sharp sound of the bus coming to a halt jolted his head back up. Fighting back dizziness, he watched the high school kids get off, yelling to their friends in voices louder than Edgar’s had ever been. Then, there she was.

Liv bounced down the steps. Bright yellow hair shone in the sunlight, her silver headband glinting. It would have been painful to Edgar’s eyes if he had been closer. Violet and magenta flowers lined the sidewalk, bees buzzing around them with unhurried urgency, both purposeful and serene. Liv did not swat them away, but walked right through them.

Edgar jumped as his mother smashed and killed one of the flies on the window.

He forgot his mother next to him as he pictured sitting next to Liv on the bus, eating lunch with her, holding her books for her.  In his visions, his legs were normal, his ribs didn’t stick out, his hands were just hands. He wasn’t this thing.

“They are less than you. None of them could endure what you have. Their only genius is that they can survive each day in their utterly average world. Yours is something divine.”

His mother’s voice was cold and far away. As far away as Liv was.

“Why can I not be part of both worlds?”

A chill trembled down his body as his mother turned to face him. She put her hand on his side, her fingers nearly sinking in between the ribs. “Edgar. Roses cannot flourish when surrounded by weeds.”

Sunlight streamed in the window, highlighting half of the boy’s face, grimy and ashen. Gaunt. Edgar’s eyes glowed with fervor and he looked at his mother with a pain-filled fury. “Roses die, and accomplish nothing before they do. They are meant to be seen and loved for that brief time they live, and that is all that’s expected of them. Nobody urges the rose to be more than beautiful.”

She bent down to eye level with the hunched over boy, gray eyes boring into his ocean blue ones, the only color in the room. “You were right the first time. Roses do nothing but die.” Her heels pounded the dark wood floor as she stormed towards the door.

“Mother,” Edgar called to her.

She turned, a bitter smile darkening her face. “Something you’d like to say to me, Edgar?”

Edgar watched Liv close her eyes and tilt her head back to feel the sun on her face. He brushed away a cobweb on the windowpane and smiled.

“Yes. I think I would like a sandwich before I work.”

Inscription 3: The Quill by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Still working through this deathbeast Cinnamon Maple. It will not kill me, only make me stronger.

by Julie

You guys remember Edgar, the 15 year old writing prodigy? Yeah, it gets worse.

Inscription 3: The Quill

Edgar felt poisoned by inability. A dung beetle of words, rolling them over and over until they created an untidy ball that he could survive off of, never give back to.

His fingers shook holding the pen. Eating had become such a distraction, and the greats were not afraid to suffer for their art. If Edgar wanted to be one of them, he must do the same. So he had not eaten in days. Now, it made him tremble like mad, and the page he wrote upon blurred in front of him.

No one could be expected to eat over that stinging stench of dried urine and vomit.

Edgar retched as he reached for the pen he’d dropped, determined to finish this one paragraph, despite the throbbing in his head, the bitter need for water that was just too far away, the intense ache of his very skin.

Despite the raging infection that had crippled his legs.  That had now worked its way to his fingers.

The prodigy looked down at the wounds on his thighs. The greatest gift he could ever ask for; to become one with the very novels and their creators.

Edgar had a gift for description. He would have said that his legs were the color of broken birch trees, and just as thin. He felt closer to his favorite works having cut holes in his thighs, pushing inside their best pages to feel them deeper. There could be no other way.

They festered, seeped.  Mother told him they needed to be attended to or he would not be able to finish writing. She hadn’t taken him out of that public drudgery to homeschool him for nothing. But when Edgar continued to shove pages into the wounds, she had understood. And she had helped him, as she always did. She sewed the leather spines of those very same masterpieces over his legs to keep the pages safe. His mother knew where inspiration came from.

What they’d created with his legs had driven him to mangle and evolve words, making something so extraordinary even he could not believe its beauty.

But he drained himself to a shell. Nothing left. And there was so much more to write.

The room was bitterly cold, the darkness of it making it even colder. Edgar’s body made no warmth of its own anymore. He didn’t mind the pain, but with fingers so dead, two black, in fact, it was becoming impossible to write at all. The nails had fallen off long ago, and when they weren’t numb, they were even more useless.

He fell back hard against the wooden chair, weak from trying so hard. His breathing was labored. Mother would not be happy with his progress. He looked around the floor at the crumpled papers, tears wetting his eyes.  How could he continue, if he could not write?

His physical body had broken his soul.

Mother came in with another rush of cold, making Edgar shake and cower into himself.

“Edgar, you look half asleep.” Too dehydrated to speak, he only nodded.

She bent over him at the desk, gagging him with her perfume that smelled too much like food. She ran her hands over the book bindings on his thighs. She took both his hands in hers, turning them over, clicking her tongue in disapproval.

She dug a fingernail into the black sore on one fingertip, getting a gagging scream out of the boy. She did not flinch when she said, “Well, you still have feeling in that one. Good.” She jabbed one of the black fingers. “But not these. This is your writing hand.” She continued to feel his hand, his wrist, the forearm, the only doctor he was ever likely to see. “Try to hold the pen, Edgar.”

He concentrated on moving the destroyed fingers, an alien in his own body. Only some of his knuckles would bend. Mother put the pen gently between his fingers, holding it properly for him, with predatory intensity. Edgar grunted with effort to move, the lack of feeling so at odds with the heated passion in his brain, insectile ideas running with pinching tentacles, scraping to get out.

“Help me, please, Mother. Can you write the words for me?”

Still staring at the fingers she clenched, she shook her head. “No, Edgar, they are your words, the process needs to be yours, completely. This is how the artist suffers, to find the next way to express himself. Now, you find yours.”

He screamed as her nails impaled his hand, trying harder to make him hold the pen. But then he was awakened.

“Mother!” he cried, struggling against her. “I know what to do.”

Cold sweat dripped into his eyes as his mother let go of his hands. “Please give me the scissors.”

They scraped across the desktop, leaving flecks of dried blood in their path.

Their eyes bored into each other, buzzing determination passing between them. Edgar took the scissors in his skeletal left hand, and carefully twisted the point of them into the black index fingertip on his right. His mother did not move as she watched. He did not scream as putrid blood flowed out. He pulled the scissors out, a rancid squishing noise making his head swim. He pushed it in harder, again, wiggling it back and forth, feeling nearly nothing. His eyes darted as he tried to focus.

With an adrenaline surge he knew too well, Edgar struggled to hold the barrel of the pen in his left hand. He needled it into the scissorhole of his index finger, ignoring the agony he knew it must have caused him. Flies buzzed around him as he slowly pushed the pen further into his finger, forging a path with its blunt end, to forge a path for his words.

“Good boy,” his mother whispered, caressing the finger that would not bend again.

Black ink from blacker finger from darkest heart.

Edgar vomited, sweat dripping onto a fresh sheet of paper. Wiping his mouth, he looked at his mother with glistening eyes.

“I’m ready to write.”

Take A Frigging Vacation

TODAY’S BREW: Some ungodly Cinnamon Maple coffee I got cheap. It tastes like something I would get from an airport vending machine.

By Julie

You all know I finished The Animal.  And since then, I have been lost. Accepting my breakup with Trent, I gave myself the mourning time I never expected I would need. I thought I would finish it, and feel nothing but joy but that was not the case. I literally couldn’t listen to the song that had become my soundtrack to writing the book. Total basket case.

2 weeks was what I gave myself off. Not from writing, just from The Animal. I took some time to work on the long neglected Running Home, querying it and reading the beginning again. I wrote some short stories. I even got up for 5am Writers Club on twitter, just to keep routine and give myself some structure.

None of this helped.

I wanted my book back.

I started to edit The Animal 2 weeks to the day that I finished it. I did do some good to it, I think, but it didn’t feel like I had really taken a break from it. It was kinda like listening vs. waiting for your turn to talk. Knowing this, I realize that I am still too entrenched in Trent to be objective in my editing process. So again, I step away.

I buy shoes.

I eat candy bars.

I relax.

And I realize something else. While taking writing as seriously as any job, I never give myself an actual vacation. Think of a job you really enjoyed, and when your boss said “You should take some time off, Johnson,” and you were all “No, I feel great!” and you did, but then you CRASHED. Because throwing yourself into something you love is as draining as it is to throw yourself into something that’s difficult.

As soon as I decided that I would take a little vacation from writing, one that I totally resented, I immediately became inspired with a fantastic new idea for my short story that is evolving into some sort of novella, Inscription. It was the first time I had been truly fired up to write anything in the past two weeks. Just the thought of taking time off, making myself aware of the need to refuel was enough to make me stop looking for the next thing to do.

While determination and commitment to your craft is critical to writing being a habit, beating a dead horse is a horrific way to treat your passion. Knowing when to back off and knowing when to “just write” is a fine line. One is a copout, the other a surrender. And what do we do as writers but surrender? We surrender all of ourselves to write something that feels alive.

If we don’t let ourselves live outside of our own self-imposed deadlines and guidelines, how can we ever evolve as artists? Stopping is part of facing our fears. It is the fear that maybe, just maybe, we won’t ever start up again.

And when you have no fear left, create a new one.

 

Inscription 2: The Binding by Julie Hutchings

TODAY’S BREW: Killian’s Irish Red. It’s St. Patrick’s Day! I drank it yesterday, too.

I hope you cringe at the second part of Edgar’s story.

 

Inscription 2: The Binding

by Julie Hutchings

 

“It’s as real as you imagine it to be. There is a spark in you, but you have to ignite it.”

Edgar twisted on the floor, a worm writhing in salt. The blackening wounds on his legs bubbled with infection. The pain of it was too much to write through. It was ruining him.

His mother did not touch him. The boy was beyond touching now, even if she had wanted to. The dark wood floor was lighter than the bruised black skin that covered the pages Edgar had shoved into the ragged cuts on his legs.

She was proud of her boy. He knew how to suffer for his genius. He knew how to create inspiration. What he had written after the butchering to his legs with scissors was masterful, legendary. The sort of words that when strung together create something new entirely, an emotion never known, a dimension never seen.

The child pulsed and rot on the floor with seeping genius.

“Edgar,” she whispered, quiet and smooth as spider silk in his ear. He had clawed his ear with overgrown fingernails, making it bleed. “You must sit up and eat or you will not have strength enough to create. You must continue.”

Edgar felt the devil creep closer, awakening his fitted sleep.

He moaned, a spiderweb of foamy drool connecting to his arm. The words kicked at him from the inside. He was never so glad to have cut himself and pushed the pages inside the wounds. They burned and stung, fueling his pained fingers. Crust closed his eyes as he tried to look at his mother. The rich smell of cooked lamb turned his stomach. But he knew he must eat it.

Flexing his stiff fingers, he took the glass of water she offered him from where she knelt on the floor. It dripped down his chin, making a river of pink from his bleeding gums.

A fine example of an artist’s life. Her boy was suffering for his craft, he would be magnificent because of it. She was sure he loved her more every minute for it. He was becoming a creator the likes of which the world had never seen.

Edgar gagged on the meat, his stomach turning. He held the bile down, but knew it would not be for long. His body shook with fevered cold, making him drop the fork.

“Mother,” he choked out, using his voice for the first time in days. “I think….I think maybe a bath.  A hot bath to get my fingers working.”

His mother took his hand, pulling him up. He would not be able to stand on his own. His legs were hideous meat now, homemade stitches holding the wounds closed in pathetic attempt to heal them. They reeked of rot. His mother had gotten antibiotics, but did not think they were working.

She may have to give in and get him medical treatment. But how? Without exposing him to the world?

His legs were lifeless, causing her to all but drag him to the bathroom. His odor was appalling; she was glad he would no longer smell like urine and infection, if only for a little while.

Once lowered into the steaming bath, Edgar let out a deep sigh, and smiled.

He smiled.

For one moment, a tear pricked his mother’s eye, but only for a moment.

Pus leaked out of the bursting wounds on his legs. They looked awful and would not hold the stitches.

“Do they hurt much, Edgar?” she whispered as she gently cleaned his back, every vertebrae bumping under her fingers.

He just nodded, still smiling.

“What you wrote, my boy. It is the kind of work that speaks to generations. The kind of thing that is brought to classrooms. I am so proud of you, Edgar.”

“The pain makes me feel it all. I want to write more.”

“You should sleep, Edgar.”

He snickered, the smile gone now. “Mother, I may not wake up.” His eyes were closed, and he did not see that her eyes were dry.

Edgar was a prodigy, and his abilities would be realized. He would finish this masterpiece. But he had to feel those classics the same way, he had to absorb them, it had done wonders for his words. But the wounds on his legs were full to exploding with pages torn from the novels in his room, and would barely stay closed through the stitches. There had to be another way.

Edgar was clearly feeling alive when he got out of the tub, and was even able to walk without looking like a crushed spider. He would have the energy to write once she dressed the wounds.

She helped him lie on the bed, allowing him the comfort of it while she figured out how to keep his mental web spinning. He could finish this book tonight if he remained inspired by the great writers the way he had been. He had felt one with them, doing this to his skin. She couldn’t let some doctor take away his inspiration.

And she answered the question that had been plaguing her. No one would take the pages out of his wounds. He always put them back in, as it were. Edgar and his words needed to be bound together, and there could be no better tie than the very leather bindings that gave the words to him.

She took down what was now a shell of a novel, so many pages torn from its binding, wings clipped to keep them with her boy for as long as he needed them.  It was not hard to peel the four inch wide strip of leather off the mess of remaining pages. It was perfect, just the length of Edgar’s tattered incisions.

She could see every rib as he breathed deeply and comfortably on the bed. Like he had when he was just a little boy, with only a glimmer of brilliance. He was so much more than that now. She ripped another binding off of a copy of Shakespeare’s complete works. Now incomplete, some of Edgar’s favorite pieces now a part of him.

The heavy thread she’d used to stitch his wounds shut and the needle still sat on his desk. She rolled the needle over and over in her fingers, taking deep breaths. Ready to heal her boy, to bring him closer to the genius they both craved.

Standing over his peaceful, mutilated body, she closed her eyes and listened to him breathe. She put her hand on his forehead, bending over to whisper in his ear as he slept. “Egar,” she said. “Edgar, are you too tired to write? Does your mind sleep like your body does?”

He groaned in response, stirring slightly.

“Edgar, it is time to finish your work. You will need your sleep after, but not now. And first,” she pressed a finger onto one of the blistering cuts on his leg, making him scream and jump up, “I want to take care of the work you have done on your legs.”

Edgar looked afraid, but quickly gave in, waking from his brief sleep. He saw the needle, and the spines of his now broken novels, and was confused. But it was not long before he understood.

“Mother?” he said, voice shaking, eyeing the fragments of books. He had childlike fear when he awoke, so unlike the strong boy she knew he was now.

She touched his hair, now clean, but still thin with malnutrition. “To keep your pages inside, where they will always be a part of you. The skin that was used to create those books, now will seal your wounds.”

His mother had novocaine. He did not know where she got it. She shot it into his legs whenever she took care of the infections. It did not do much to dull the pain, but the pain is what he felt with those writers now, something they shared. Soon he would be one of them.

He screamed brutally, once, when the huge needle went in, but when the slight numbness took away the ever present burning in his legs, he relaxed. The stitching could not hurt more than that.

It was not long before Edgar passed out, and his mother could stitch the book spines over his wounds without him wiggling. He would thank her tomorrow. She would give him ice cream, insist that he take it, and he would see the titles of his favorite works of genius as part of his very skin. They held inside the words he loved, the pieces of those great minds now pieces of him. She admired her handiwork, covering his unconscious, shivering body, pushing aside some of the crumpled paper that was always around him.

It was not his flesh, but the need to create that held him together. The bindings were the cocoon he needed, and his pain the catalyst to evolve.

Tomorrow he would spread his wings.

 

 

Inscription: by Julie Hutchings

TODAY’S BREW: Fancy double chocolate stuff I ground myself. Not really, Tim did it.

All geniuses have a hint, or more than a hint of madness. And some of them have it bred into them. Enjoy.

 

INSCRIPTION

by Julie Hutchings

 

There is no greater death than the inability to create.

The prodigy twitched. It was the only movement the boy had made in an hour, sitting on the floor. Sweat stuck to his naked legs and back, though the room was cold in its must and darkness.

It offered him nothing to make his mind work, nothing to make his heart full, and nothing to make his soul cry for creation. All he had was himself.

Paper was scattered about the dark wood floor, gleaming and Moby Dick death white. Blank. Towering shelves of loved books loomed over him in neat rows. Powerful words that took him apart bit by bit. Reminders of what ignited him, what drove him to utter decay.

Noises from the kitchen made him cringe, and brought him back. He stretched his fingers, the pen falling from their seeming rigor mortis. He had to get to work.

A half- naked human fly, he flitted through the mess of paper, scavenging for something to work with. His hand shook on the crumpled sheet, trying, always trying. He dropped the pen several times, eliciting a sob from inside. The boy had a job to do, a genius to nourish, even as his body withered and crumbled.

He couldn’t remember the last time he ate. He couldn’t remember if Mother had offered it, if he had refused. His weary mind faintly recalled being told starvation and anguish created hallucinations. And genius. She pushed him to find inspiration other than her.

Edgar shuddered, willing himself to fight the urge to put down his writing and find a shirt. The cold made him feel, made him desire. Comfort only makes an artist weak, his mother said. Edgar had an obligation, with the gift for words he had, to become as formidable an artist as possible. He was a genius, she said, his head a hornet’s nest of ideas, and she would not allow him to fail. She would help him learn to create.

He put the pen to paper, making every effort to feel the hard chill of the floor, the stagnant air of this room that was built when nothing was warm or happy. The stomach acid boiled inside him, a belly that long since stopped growling. He was weak, and so tired.

The real you comes out in your exhaustion, his mother told him

So he created.

He wrote, for hours on end but with no concept of that time. The sky grew darker, but there were no windows. He wrote on loose pages, fluttering around him haphazardly, torn butterfly wings, until his hands were too cramped to move.

And then he read. He pulled down volume after volume of classics and pop fiction, biographies and romances, absorbing all he could from random pages, watching every move those words made to draw him closer. These masters that could create and be known.

Could they possibly have tried as he did?

Self- pity disgusted him. This suffering was a means to an end. There was no room for envy, only learning. This was another step toward unleashing his own genius. His mother knew it was in there.

Edgar read until he fell into a painful, cold sweat sleep. He did not make it to the comfortless bed, only closed his eyes on the floor, amidst piles of torturously adored books. His dreams were fevered and haunted him with language he could never hope to emulate. Flies buzzed around his body, waiting.

He woke from the clatterings in the kitchen again, or still. He shuddered to life, slick with filth and wild with imaginings of things he could never be.

Dry eyes stung, fingernails dug into the floorboards, only partially the cause of his agony. It showed him without doubt that he suffered in sleep, as well. He couldn’t know what time it was, but had a vision of kids his age outside, just leaving school. Like he had done once. When that sort of thing mattered. Nothing mattered now but emerging from this cocoon his life had become.

His mother would make sure of it.

Wiping drool from his chin, sweat from his forehead that accompanied a fever he was unaware of, Edgar sat up with the creaking bones of an old man, grunting, reaching for the trails of paper that he knew were leading nowhere.

He had dreamed of the greats, of the geniuses trapped until released on paper. He was too weak to be one. He was not one of them. It knuckled his consciousness, tore his heart into pieces, what was left of it. He was a human insect preying on their words, and he could never be satisfied.

No fifteen year old had ever felt the depth of his disappointment, the rage of his fear. A swollen brain full of shortcomings.  He could never know how singular he was.

He had slept when he should be writing.

Emaciated spider limbs barely carried him to the paper all over the floor, amidst books that tortured him for the very admiration he possessed. Bile spattered his hand as he retched with dehydration. He tried to write, he tried to write, but his blurry eyes could not focus on anything but the heaps of books, his mind flitting with fly wings to his own inability.

He read and read, but could never get close enough to their power. Their words bled with feeling he no longer knew. He needed to absorb their ink, feel it inside. The only way to know the pain of the greats and emulate it properly. Weary eyes looked at his pen with new light.

With more energy than he should rightfully possess, Edgar stabbed his bony thigh with the pen, thin blood spurting in a stream toward the flies that always surrounded him. Edgar did not make a noise.

Not good enough.

He stabbed  a second time, the skin ragged on either side, and dragged the pen upwards, lengthening the wound by a few inches. He pushed his bony finger inside, but felt nothing besides tendons, muscle, nothing that felt.  So he stabbed again in the other thigh, this time his blood soaked hand slipping, the cut not deep enough to do much but bleed onto the white paper under it, barely feeling at all. He was not in the kind of pain that inspired great words.

Edgar looked about the room for a better tool, head swimming.

Scissors.

Climbing to his feet, falling once, he made it to the antique desk, the same color wood as the floor, the same wood grain as the endless bookshelves, no other color but the garnet blood that flowed from him to activate his mind.

Mother said color was born in the brain.

He fell to the floor by the desk, hitting his head on the leg of the chair he had aimed for. More bile spilled from his dry lips. His burning throat pained him more than the wounds in his legs.

More.

Edgar slowly pierced the flesh of his thigh again, needling the point of the scissors in. He pulled them out again and opened them, putting the thin flesh between the blades like cutting paper. With poor precision, his bloody hand cut until the blades touched, weak skin in between making bloody pools. He cried now, not from the agony, but from the lack of feeling it provided. No flickers of life in his mind to put to paper.

He cut more, first one arm, then the other, with the wrong hand, making a mess of sinewy muscle. The flies feasted on him, and he felt nothing. The words of the novels around him mocked him from their pages, his own words laughing at him from the floor. With a bite of fury, he grabbed his favorite copy of Moby Dick, loving it and how it hated him, and ripped the pages out in a rush.

He devoured books, and they devoured him. He needed to be closer.

With trembling fingers caked in blood, he slowly pulled back the ragged skin of his thigh, and shoved the page in. Close. Close.

Scarlet pages of The Invisible Man followed. The Poe. Until each wound festered with blossoming pages from his skin, and he began to cut again. So close to them now. So close.

Footsteps. The smell of food that turned his stomach with its unfamiliarity.

His mother was coming.

Resting his head on the side of the desk, he watched and waited for the door to open. He became aware of the puddle of blood he sat in. Or was it piss?

More cold air entered the room with her. All in gray, towering, austere, brimming with nothingness.  She held a plate in her hands, the steam shrouding the determination in her gaze. But it could not veil the surprise when she dropped it on the floor, crashing in a china spiderweb.

“Edgar.” Bone crunching voice. Her power was undeniable. More than his written words, in that one word she spoke.

Calmly, with measured steps she crossed the room to him, fragile broken things smashing under her heels, unnoticed. She gazed down expressionless at her boy. She did not bend to cradle him, did not cry or scream at the torture he was surviving, inside and out. She noticed the books, destroyed all around him. She smiled.

“We must first destroy to create,” she told him.

Edgar closed his eyes. His mother took a glass of stagnant water from the desk and put it to his lips, making him splutter and cough.

“Thank you, Mother.” The words scissored at his throat.

She ran a hand lovingly over his death red leg, fingers tickling the pages that burst from his wounds. She ran her hand through his matted hair, flicking away a fly. Geniuses suffered.

“I won’t take your pain away,” she said into his ear.

The tarantula of darkness closed in as she shut the door behind her.

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