Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Short Story: Collaboration

by Shaun Horton

Everyone has at least one good story in them. I've made my living based on that idea. Unfortunately, my own story was told a long time ago, so now I tell other people's stories. They show me their ideas, their fantasies, and I put them down on paper. I think the correct phrase is 'ghost writer'. I don't particularly care for such a macabre term though. To me, it'll always be a collaboration.

I've been sitting at my desk writing the most recent book for the better part of four hours. My inkwell is almost dry. I'll have to go refill the bottle soon, and see if my partner has any new input. It's an interesting story so far. It's about a young woman whose nightmares are borne into the real world upon her waking, and then they stalk the night, seeking out and murdering those that have hurt her in the past or that might hurt her in the future.

I can't help but smile and wonder where the kids come up with these things. I certainly couldn't have thought it up on my own.

The inkwell is dry. I admit I'm a little old-fashioned. I like putting my antique fountain pen to paper a lot more than typing on a machine, even though my agent insists that it be so before he handles them. He said my original, handwritten manuscripts were too messy.

My latest partner, Anna Setsland, used to be my assistant. I hired her to come and type my stories out so they would fit my agent's requirements. It makes it bittersweet to be collaborating on a new novel, I'm happy to be working with her as an equal, but at the same time I need to find a new assistant. She's so tied up working on the story, she can't type out the pages as I write them anymore.

My age shows in the effort it takes to climb up out of my chair, joints are aching, popping, in protest to the movement. I wonder how many more books I'll get out. I know I'm getting old, and I don't really need the money anymore. Something about writing though just seems to help me feel . . . young, though. Oh, I almost forgot the bottle.

Maybe once I stop writing, I'll downsize, the stairs are very hard on my knees.

Ah, Ms. Setsland. I hope you've come up with something for the next chapter. Your characters are really in a tight spot and will need a quick escape. Oh, you've been chewing on your gag again. I've told you before not to do that. You've already broken two teeth, and I can imagine how much that hurts. Yes, yes, I've come for a refill as well, just hold still, you know the routine by now. We don't want to waste any blood.

There we are, a full jar again. Just take it easy there Ms. Setsland, you're not looking too good, and I want to make sure we reach the end of your novel. It does so irk me to have stories go unfinished.

Everything is routine. Draw the blood, inject the IV, check the straps. Then it's back upstairs.

I'm sure I can get a few more hours done before my fingers cramp up for the day. It feels good to slide back into the chair, the paper in front of me, a full inkwell to draw from. My old pen ready to continue.

Age even shows in my utensils, the fountain pen taking more than a few seconds to fill. I draw off the excess from the tip across my tongue and give it a moment to savor. Feeling the warmth, closing my eyes and drawing the story out of it. Then I open my eyes, smile, and continue with the current chapter.

Everyone has at least one good story in them. I can't wait to see how this one ends.

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