“I’m sick of this crap,” Georg said. “I’d kill myself if I weren’t already dead.”
“And in Hell,” the walls whispered in completion. “Never forget that - you’re DEAD and IN HELL.”
Georg sighed; at random he picked a Block out of the ‘Plot’ box and read the words cut into its corpse-flesh: ‘Then the president had a burst of inspiration: what if she . . .’
He shook his head, dropped it, picked out another: ‘“It can’t be true,” she gasped, “she’s pregnant!!?”’
Georg nodded, this was better, more in fitting with the tale he was ‘making’ for David Heilberg.
He pulled the ‘composition’ box towards him, examining and tagging the bits he’d already got. So far Doctor Mary O’Blige had come home to find her father dead, had been chased down a dark alley by a werewolf, and had had her little brother kidnapped by the French terrorist underground. Now she’d just discovered her boyfriend Inspector Hardcop had gotten her best friend pregnant.
Feeling like he was being emotionally castrated, Georg resumed ‘making’ Dave Heilberg’s next bestseller.
One Hundred Years Earlier.
“Look,” Georg told Beetle-Pie, the UGLY-AS-HELL demon he’d just summoned, “I want the gift of originality. I’m a writer, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t think up anything that hasn’t been done before. My last four books were all panned for being derivative; worse - they sold worse than expired milk. So I want . . .”
“Originality? There’s no such thing, Georg.”
“There is . . .” Georg said defiantly, “I’ve often come up with . . .”
“Recycled versions of everyone else’s stories.” The demon laughed, picking his teeth with a bloodstained fingernail. “Let’s simplify things, okay? All you want is originality?”
“Georg recognized the trap. “They’ve also got to sell BIG TIME.”
Beetle-Pie pulled a briefcase out of his belly and rummaged in it a while. Finally, he extracted a paperback novel and handed it to Georg. “Your next book.”
“I said I want to create it dammit; are you deaf!?”
Beetle-Pie’s smile faded.” You will create it Georg; you will. You’ll NEVER once remember this conversation, this . . . contract . . . until it’s pay-up time.”
“Gimme that bullshi . . .” he snatched the book out of the demon’s hand and irritatedly flipped through, quickly growing more and more enamored with its contents. He finally stopped, stared at the demon in total stupefaction. “It’s fantastic,” he stuttered, “exactly what I’ve always wanted to write . . . the characters . . . the plot . . . the setting . . . Nobel Prize shit for real.” He smiled apologetically at Beetle-Pie. “Look dude, I’m sorry bout all that crap I spouted earlier. Let’s do the deal okay . . . Okay?”
Beetle-Pie smiled thinly. He’d been through this routine with so many writers through the ages.
“And now as regards payment . . .”
“Oh to Hell with that,” Georg said hastily, already living on Literary Olympus, “For a lifetime of this, I’ll sign anything . . . anything.”
“Fair enough,” Beetle-Pie snickered, with a flourish pulling a smoking contract out of his left nostril. “If you’d please append your signature here . . . and here . . . and oh yes here.”
* * *
It HAD been good. Georg had NO regrets. He’d won award after award, travelled the world, made MONEY. And died PEACEFULLY in bed at the age of ninety-three.
And immediately he’d closed his eyes that final time he’d found himself . . . in HELL.
* * *
“So what now?” he asked Beetle-Pie with trepidation, all memory of his lifetime successes already falling away like discarded clothes, “Am I in for an eternity of torment?”
“Something like that Georg,” the demon replied with an enigmatic smile, remembering he disliked Georg. “Something very like that."
He led Georg to a large room and pointed to a pile of packing crates and plastic cartons. “You’re just going to make up stories.”
“Oh that’s easy,” Georg breathed in relief, “that’s ea . . .” In shock he realized he couldn’t think up a single plot; not an idea came into his mind.
“It is easy,” Beetle-Pie said with relish. “The crates and cartons contain Writer’s Blocks; they’re all organized by plot character, scene . . . in some case even by writer, if they’ve a contract with us. Consider them a puzzle, you just put the pieces together, anyhow you like. Once you’ve made a complete book, we find an author it fits and . . .”
“Make books for other authors?” Georg’s dead face creased into a frown. “No way in Hell am I making stories for another’s glory. Let the uncreative hacks do their own legwork.”
Beetle-Pie smiled nastily. “Don’t be selfish George - How’d you think we got the bestsellers we gave you? Besides, if you don’t do it, we’ll chop you into Writer’s Blocks for other writers to assemble.”
He vanished in a puff of ochre smoke.
Defeated, Georg walked over to the ‘Plot’ box and pulled out a quivering cube. It seemed made of human flesh. He turned it over, read the script engraved into it.
‘Hard-as-nails C.I.A. operative Blake Hammer . . .’
Georg nodded, he liked the name Hammer. He picked out another Block - “then Jack and the rabbit . . .’ he dropped it back, picked out another - ‘The aliens landed and blew up New Moscow . . .’ That seemed good to Georg . . . but so far no women in the story; he began rooting amongst the ‘Female Love Interest’ Writer’s Blocks: ‘Melanie raised her gun and spat . . .’
* * *
Sitting in darkness much MUCH later, Georg wept: “I wish, just wish, I could create something original, anything - just not spend eternity as a hack . . .”
“Georg,” the walls whispered softly back, “there’s no such thing as true originality.”
Copyright: © 2010 Wol-vriey
Wol-vriey is Nigerian, and quite tall. He believes that there actually are things that go bump in the night.