Out of breath. Fire filled his chest, a fire he felt on his breath, ready to leap from his lips and scorch everything that lay at his feet. He shook, turned, fought the fire with everything that was left of himself. He could feel it, it was winning, gaining ground in the endless struggle. Well, endless until now.
His eyes snapped open, staring at the blank white ceiling. Maybe today was the day he stumbled, but not the day he would fall. The hot shower cooled him, refreshed him for the day’s war. His clothes armored him, the coffee and bagel armed him. He sat at his desk, cracked his knuckles, and began.
White. The color of purity, emptiness, winter. For the most recent day in a long line of weeks, it was the color of failure. The text cursor winked away, a metronome to the utter defeat he was living. Each advance was quickly pushed away, sent into the oblivion of electronic death. Today, though, would be different from all the other days. He would begin, he would find it in himself, he would rely on his own creativity. Only his creativity. And so a beginning formed. With so much effort, it came, placed itself on the paper, and sat, just as taunting as the blank page. And it stayed alone, for far too long. He felt the temptation, the nag at the back of his mind. It was so easy after all, just to ask…
No, not today. He stood, crossed to the stereo. Music, the safest addiction in the world. He quickly found his way to the music that suited the mood, then sat once more. The music swelled to fill the void that filled the room, the space that he was so close to satiating. And still no more words came. His eyes closed as he rubbed his tired hands over his face. It didn’t have to be so hard, he knew. There were shortcuts to this sort of thing.
He jumped, looking at the time. The music had lulled him away from his work, and the sands had slipped so quickly through the hourglass. But not anymore, his focus was keen, his mind ready. Just two paragraphs, then lunch. That was all he needed. Slowly, painfully, they took their form, besmirching the page with the filth of heartless writing. He hated it, knew it was garbage. But isn’t that how authors always feel?
“No, it is filth.”
He heard he voice, but ignored it. Today was not the day he lost the battle, not another one. The dark would not win anything more.
“Oh, posh. You know that beginning is weak at best, and well, I’m sure you’re third grade english teacher is proud that you still know what a paragraph looks like, barely.”
He felt it swoop in, close, intimate. The dark whispered to him, so smooth, so silky, deceptively kind.
“You and I know you can never write this alone. You know what to do.”
He felt the redness rising within, and the dark laughed in satisfaction.
“See? It’s so easy. Just under the surface, and no one knows. Go on, take it, ride it into the wild blue yonder of creative success.”
He felt his resolve weakening. He mustn’t, he couldn’t, but he needed it. He needed the power, the greatness it gave him. He hung his head, defeated. Today, he lost. The dark clapped happily, then took a hold of his body, blowing gently on the coals smoldering in his chest.
“There, was it so hard? Now, away with you, write to your hearts content.”
He felt guilty, oh so guilty. It weighed on him, crushed him, weakening him even more to the dark. With another puff, the embers became flames once more. He felt it, the immense pleasure that it gave as it ate away at his insides. His hands flew at the keys, brushing aside the childish rubbish that had been there before. Lunch, the afternoon, then the day was gone, and he had barely moved. But the page was full, many of them. The war against the blank page had finally been won. But the cost was steep, he knew. With a final tick, he placed a period, resoundingly concluding this new piece. Starving was all that was on his mind. Slowly he ate, hopeful that the fire was out now, that the dark would leave well alone.
Then it all came crashing down. Next to the now clean plate, his phone buzzed. Dismay shivered down his spine, and he nearly groaned aloud. He fought desperately to regain himself, to pick up the phone. But the dark was there, patient as ever. And he had let it out.
“Finally! You are such a loser I thought you may have let me out for nothing.”
The dark plucked the phone from where it lay, reading the cute little love letter, bundled in hearts and smiles. Horror and fear flooded him, he fought even more desperately than before, than ever. Surely he would not have to pay with this?
“You seem to forget about how this works, if you let me out, I own you. I give you the passion, the rage, the hate, anger, despair you need, and I get to have a little fun. So tonight, shall we have fun, or should I destroy this cute little thing?”
He beat against the dark, raging into the curtain that blanketed him. A quick flurry of fingers, and it was over. He looked in horror at the phone in his hands. The dark gave a little chuckle.
“There one text, how bad could I be? Ah, but you know exactly how much.”
Tears came to his eyes as the phone began to ring. It was over, destroyed, burnt to cinders. He couldn’t stop the avalanche that was coming.
“Until next time, I’m looking forward to it.”