by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Henry Morgan had run out of steam. “I’m going to tear my hair out. Look at these bills.”
“Sorry, pal. No more advances.” Phil Stern no longer sounded sympathetic. “That last sorry attempt for a first chapter for your horror novel only made the publisher laugh.”
Having his editor hang up on him was the last straw. Henry, once star writer welcomed everywhere had nowhere to turn. He’d lost his free digs at the university when students refused to sign up for his classes. So there went that easy flow of money and free sex with adoring female interns as well.
Someone was knocking on his door. Maybe his call for help from past friends now shunning him had brought sympathy along with help moving out to who knew where. Maybe a stay at their house? “I’m coming.”
“Process server, sir, for your mandatory court appearance for failure to pay alimony.”
Henry felt like he’d been slapped in the face as the document was slapped into his hand. “No problemo. I’ll probably already be in jail.” If drunken memory served him right, he’d made a mess of last night.
Suicide was too easy. “They’ll have to drag me to hell.” The thought made him pause at his open door. It made him remember his first best seller, “The Devil Made Me Do It”. To bad, he didn’t believe in the religion he made fun of to the delight of a million readers. Making a deal with Satan might be the only thing putting him right again.
Henry gave his scattered belongings he’d trashed a last look before deciding to leave everything behind. He had enough gas to make it to the homeless shelter he used to donate to. Surely they’d remember and put him up.
Henry didn’t turn around to face the shadow dancing at his feet. “Whatever you want, take it. I was just leaving.”
“What I want is your talent, sir. I have a business proposition for you. Interested?”
“The timing couldn’t be better. Where do I sell my soul?”
That got a snicker for a reply. “Nothing so bad as that. I’m a fan. I’ve read every book you wrote. Let me treat you to some coffee and we can talk.”
“Let me get this straight. You admit you are a serial killer. Perfect track record with forty gruesome torture murders over the past twenty-two years. I was to be your ultimate trophy kill. You read I was no longer famous and on the skids.” Henry sipped at his scalding brew.
“That’s right. It gave me an idea. I could make you a partner instead of offing you. Make you famous once again.” The shadowy figure sitting next to Henry at the back of the coffee shop went on. “I’ll regale you with my past. You churn it in your mind and write it up as pure fiction with enough facts to make people wonder. It will be a sure win.”
Henry drummed his fingers on the table trying to figure this guy out. “And you get what out of the deal?”
“We won’t need a written contract. After I tell and show you the things I’m capable of you’ll be too terrified to resist. We’ll split the profits of your next novel. Deal?”
“Prove it.” Henry demanded, testing the man. He’d never heard anything so insane.
They took Henry’s car, the shadow took him winding through off campus student housing to a rundown duplex with overgrown dead grass. “My last venture. Take a look.”
The co-ed hanging by her feet from a rope tied to a living room ceiling fan twirled gently around to face them. The horror of what had been done to her showed on her once pretty young face. “God.” Henry had to sit down.
“Deal?” The shadow chuckled. “For a refined horror writer you look much too faint seeing the real thing.”
“No way.” Henry leaned over and threw up on the shadow man’s shoes.
“Too bad. I can only trust one chance. You just had yours. We’ll continue with plan B, then.”
The next weeks were a surprise to Henry Morgan. He found out he was able to write again, better than ever. Inspiration came in fits and starts but never stopped . . . except when the shadow man tortured him in small intense sessions called ‘education’.
Henry was young enough himself to heal up well enough to write between episodes. He wrote as long and fast as he could, knowing what awaited when he stopped.
The shadow man was pleased, having read Henry’s earlier novels he knew this would be Henry Morgan’s best, if final, work.