Sej is running out of patience with his writer's block
|Chapter 1 - Writer's block
Sej threw down the quill in disgust. Ink splattered across several sheets of thin parchment spread haphazardly across the table. Youthful hands, also ink stained, thrust through his thick brown hair as he tried to contain his irritation.
Why! Why couldn't he manage to finish one page, just one single page, without being dissatisfied and tearing it up? How could slum dwelling authors churn out book after book, whilst he couldn't even finish a prologue!
He stood up, dark eyes intent on the half-filled bottle of whiskey waiting on the nearby shelf. His chair, forced back so suddenly, teetered on two legs for a second and then crashed to the floor. Sej jumped, his arms flinging outwards in fright. His flailing hand hit the small bottle of ink on his desk and he could only watch as it flew across the room and smashed against the opposite wall in a spray of black and glass.
"Oh, that's just perfect!" He waved one hand towards the wall, as if to deny the situation ever occurred, and completed his journey to the shelf to pour himself a generous double.
The fiery spirit slid down his throat, heating his chest with a soft warmth as he knocked back half the measure. A couple of deep breaths and he finished off the second half with a brief shudder. He dumped the glass back on the tray next to the bottle and squinted menacingly toward his desk.
He was bending down to right his chair when a strange glint of light caught his eye. It came from the direction of the spill spreading across the floor. He stared at it. Like an inky pool of darkness, not a trace of a reflection from the candle-lit room could be seen within it.
Trying hard to attribute his unease to the alcohol, he turned back to the chair. He was still feeling the burn of the whiskey in his throat and enjoyed the growing numbness in his head. There it was again! Some strange flash of colour, yellow, almost gold. His eyes flicked back to the ink stain. It was somehow bigger than before and just as dark. How many drinks had he had?
Shaking his head in a bid to clear his thoughts he picked up the chair and sat down again. Once more he faced the defiant ranks of blank parchment in front of him. Internally he begged inspiration to come whilst a separate nagging voice instead demanded another whiskey. He blocked out the voice, determined not to finish another evening slumped unconscious over his desk, and reached into a drawer for a new bottle of ink.
The flash was definitely gold, and maybe a hint of red? He turned again to where it came from, his eyes desperately seeking confirmation. Nothing! But the ink stain had grown again, and now it was beyond the realistic. It had only been a small bottle of ink and there shouldn't have been that much pooling on his floor! It was so dark and featureless, it almost seemed to be a hole. A pitch black hole, right in his floor.
Of course that was nonsense. His study was on the first floor. Such a hole would open on the dining room below, and the candles down there would still be lit. If it were a hole he'd see them.
This time he was already staring directly at it. He'd seen the flash blink invitingly from the direct centre of the pool. Without knowing how, he found himself on hands and knees crawling toward the ink.
So pretty. Must touch it. Sej was on the edge. He reached out toward the middle, trying to get closer, ready for the next flash. Further and further he leaned, his arm stretching as much as he could, his knees as close to the edge as he could get them.
He stretched... and fell into blackness.
The darkness shrouded him instantly. It covered him as thickly as a blanket, allowing no glimmer of direction or location. There was no feeling that he was falling. No wind rushing past his ears, no coldness. He felt like he simply hung there, suspended by infinite darkness.
There was no sound. He was sure he was trying to scream; he thought his mouth was open. But the darkness was so thick it smothered sensations as easily as it smothered sound. He couldn't feel any part of his body. He was just a thought, a thought floating in the black. Would it go on forever? Had he died? Was this what the afterlife was like?
He tried to think back to what had happened. Had something killed him? He remembered his room, his study for writing. He remembered the smashed bottle of ink. He remembered the glints, the flashes of colour. Had someone entered his room and killed him as he crouched on the floor?
For some reason it was difficult to think, like he had to push on the darkness to let any thought flow. The door! The door to his office was thick oak and he always locked it. No one would have been able to enter without disturbing him. It was so hard to think now. The blackness pushed harder. What had he been thinking about? His name? What was his name?
Sej felt his eyes opening and a distant thought welcomed the return of his body. Light seared into eyes, and he snapped them shut. How could anything be so bright? Tears streamed down his face as he fought to block out the agony. His hands appeared from somewhere and he managed to put them over his face, plunging himself once again into blissful darkness.
He lay there for a few minutes, breathing heavily as he recovered. Finally his mind began to work. He was lying on something hard, but not cold. Wooden he thought. What had happened? The memories came back. The ink stain, the glint. The darkness! He must be lying on his floor, he decided. Lying on the hard wood floor of his office, passed out from too much whiskey.
He inched his fingers slightly apart and felt the light assault his eyes again through the thin membrane of his eyelids. Slowly he moved his hands away, allowing his eyes to adjust to the brightness. His mind screamed for the comfort of the darkness again, but he pressed on. He parted his eyelids. The pain reignited and he shut them again, waiting some few seconds. He tried again.
For what felt like an eternity he carefully tried to coax his eyes into accepting the light so he could look around. Eventually he peered through tear-blurred vision at the lone candle producing such devastating quantities of light. With a grunt he sat up and looked about. It most definitely wasn't his office. The sphere of light from the candle only pushed the darkness back a few feet in each direction. Sej felt the ground with his hand. Not wood, but some kind of stone, smooth and warm!
Looking down to get more detail from the stone, he noticed his clothing. Gone was his elegant white shirt, and fine tunic. He was wearing some kind of leather pants, with a rough cotton shirt, so dirty it might have been any colour. His silk slippers had vanished leaving his feet bare, but strangely filthy, as if he had walked a league through heavy mud. A clunky looking dagger was attached to the left side of a thick leather belt.
A kind of panic started to grip him, and he stumbled to his feet, casting around for any kind of explanation. The candle was resting on a small barrel set on the stone floor. The light didn't give any indication how large the area was, ending abruptly in the kind of solid darkness he could vaguely remember from before.
Something jostled against his chest, and he looked down to see a quill fastened around his neck by a piece of string. A sudden sound, a crash in the distance behind him, made him look up sharply before he could examine the quill further. A shout followed in a language Sej didn't recognise, but the tone somehow announced the speaker was cursing.
"Oi, quick, blow out the candle." A second voice cut through the darkness only a few feet away. It was strange, how Sej imagined a mouse might sound like if he could speak, and sounded anxious.
"Quickly boy! Blow it out!"