Saturday 16 November 2013

Short Story - The Bibliophage

I sit down at my computer and stare at the white rectangle on the screen. It is blank.

Frustratingly, maddeningly blank. Taunting me.

I close my eyes and I can see a page full of words in my minds eye. I try to focus on the words, but they refuse to clear up and let me read them and they remain just the vague shapes full of promise. I look more closely, but my eyes are drawn to the white spaces between the words, and the white space grows and grows until it surrounds me.

I open my eyes again and the white rectangle is in front of me.

And I know I have to kill again.

I don't know what made me do it the first time. I don't know what the compulsion was. All I know is that it worked.

I hadn't written anything for eight months, but my last book was being released in paperback. There was a publicity push, and I was interviewed by a lot of journalists. Not just the niche press this time, but the mainstream.

He was young. Handsome. Interesting. He kept my eye contact through the interview with so much admiration and hope that a drink afterwards sounded like a good idea. And it flattered me.

He showed me his manuscript and I was briefly hurt that I'd mistaken his interest in me for being a writer with interest in me for being a person. But the interest was there anyway, and his eyes were still stunning. It hurt more when I read his manuscript.

It was brilliant. Warm, funny, smart and fascinating. I fell in love with him because of that book and that hurt more, because it made me so angry with him. He was doing everything I couldn't.

When he asked me, a while later, what I thought, I told him to come to mine. I made him dinner and we went to bed and we made love and then I stuck a knife in his stomach and killed him.

I was hysterical. Still angry with him. I held the manuscript with my bloody hands and I cried. And then, and I still don't know what drove me to do this, but I tore the first page from its binding, crumpled it up and stuffed it into my mouth and chewed it until I could swallow it.

And then I did it with the next page.

And the next.

It took me hours and I could feel it tearing the lining of my throat to shreds, but I kept tearing and eating. It hurt, but when I finished, I felt a compulsion to sit at my desk.

The words came. The writing was easy. My fingers danced at the keyboard. It felt more like reading than writing, it was so easy.

And the book was the best I'd ever written.

It sold. The others sold more because of it. But once I'd finished it, I couldn't write anything else. There were no ideas. And the blank screen just stared at me.

The next time was more difficult. Great writers don't just turn up. I chose one this time, who was represented by a friend's agent.

I met her at a book signing, where it turned out she'd liked my last book (of course it had been the last one, which was so much better than the others) and we started talking. We became friends, and I waited and waited to be invited to her house.

Nobody ever saw her again. I made sure of that.

My next book was a best seller.

The one after that, a respected writer who supposedly committed suicide, was a phenomenon.

I don't want to do it again. I don't want to be like this.

But the white rectangle is there.

Even when I switch off the computer, I see it.

Burned into my vision.

I don't know whether it is the sex, the killing or the books that makes it happen.

I just know that it works.

The white rectangle is there and I must fill it.

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