by Thadd Presley
The wind blew out of the woods and though the window, ruffling the curtains, heightening my awareness of the strangely warm night. I had been writing for three hours every night for the past week, feeling more at home at my desk than I had in months. I was becoming more involved in my writing and the newest character, Markus, was finally going to escape the town and the evil I’d created for him so long ago in the short stories written in my youth. The writing had suddenly become effortless and each scene fell out of my mind so easily that I didn’t realize I’d slipped back into an ongoing story I never finished. Actually, I’ve hadn’t tried to finish the story and for over a decade I stayed away from it, dodging every scene that formed in my mind. But tonight, the click-clack of the typewriter keys calmed and somehow soothed the story out of me. I remembered a time when the typewriter was the only thing that quieted the voices in my head. The voices and scenes that returned to me tonight were directly from the origin of my stories which took place in the same fictional town.
Lately, the voices for these long lost stories had become so loud that they were nothing more than a constant noise I couldn’t escape. I’d written nothing new in so long I was beginning to worry. I knew the only relief from the burden was getting the stories out of my head and onto the paper that I hoped would hold them forever.
Being a professional writer, I often took my writer’s curse in stride and learned how to use it to my advantage. I always told myself that I was lucky to have these voices, although it was sometimes troublesome, it was part of being a writer and, knowing that, I welcomed it.
In my work, it never seemed strange to hear voices and write down what they told me. Many of the voices came through as dialog, but others told me about their lives, their families, and I saw it as my job to document what they said. In some ways, in many ways, I was a journalist and biographer for the people and places that resided in my heart and mind. I made it my life’s work to tell the stories of those that lived and died in my head.
Does this seem strange? It might seem lunacy to those who don’t write stories, create music, or perform any other kind of art. Also, I realized that it’s not just artists who hear voices. I think most all of us have a nagging voice in our head. After all, my thoughts come through in the form of a sound. My ideas have never appeared before my mind’s eye on a computer screen. The voices, the people, the words become part of a process that drives the ideas that make life worth living.
I always heard the voices and for a long time I didn’t mind having these strange people living in my head. It all changed when I was in the seventh grade. It occurred to me suddenly that I didn’t know if the voices were other versions of myself or if they came from somewhere outside of me. I decided I wanted to be a writer around that time and I’m not sure why, but the voices had much to do with the decision.
Whatever reason it came about, all I can say is that it’s become my career and I’ve been very lucky to have a job that I mostly enjoy. After all, not many people get to document the lives and secrets of imaginary people.
My love for writing has been very strong ever since, but I was often hesitant to write about the depravity of some lives and the gruesome themes of others. It was a good friend of mine during college who told me that it was a gift and I’d be a fool to not follow every trail and embrace it, no matter where it took me.
Years ago, before I realized what my future was going to be, I tried to talk it over with my best friend. I’d already told him the story before, but it never came out the way I intended. Perhaps, he thought I was trying to brag about my chance to publish n a back door fashion and that might have been a tad bit true, but mostly, I think, he thought I was lying. Then one night, I finally got it all out to him.
“Greg,” Allen shouted one night while we were drinking in the local college bar, “it’s time to show your talent. Come on and just publish the novel. You said yourself that it’s finished. What are you scared of? You chicken or…” He didn’t want to continue because we were friends and he knew it wasn’t his place to dictate my career, but he knew me well enough to call me on my bullshit.
“I’m not chicken. I just don’t know if I should do it. My mom’ll want a copy and she’ll not understand why I’d write something like that. It’s not my style at all.”
“Do you want to be a big time writer or not?”
“Yes,” I answered. “I want to be published, but I don’t want people to think I’m a weirdo or become someone who thinks of evil shit all the time. It’s bad enough to be typecast as a horror writer when there’s so much more to write about.”
He only smiled at me.
“Everyone knows there’s more to a writer than what he writes.”
It’s always been hard to argue with Allen, because he always knew me so well and I he usually had my best interest at heart. “But, my mom.”
“But my mom,” he mocked. “But my … What the fuck does she have to do with this? You are the writer. She knows the talent you have. Believe me, she’ll understand. I think she’d be more disappointed if you didn’t follow your dreams because of what you thought she would think.” He laughed then. “She knows it’s only a story. It’s not like it’s a biography.” He took a moment to finish his pint. “She’ d want you to publish and realize your dream. She’d want you to be happy.”
But, he was wrong on one point. It was a biography. A biography of someone in my head and that person is part of me. So, in a small way, the stories are my biography. I shrugged the thought off and took a drink of my beer. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said. “I just don’t want her to be shocked when she reads it. For God’s sake Allen, it’s the weirdest story I’ve ever written.”
“But you have a publisher ready to roll.”
“Everybody has a publisher ready to roll. It’s call Amazon. They’ ll publish anything on demand.”
“You know what I mean. You’ve got an income stream waiting to be utilized and you’re…”
“Yeah, I’m behind on rent. Just say it.”
“Damn it, she’d want you to do this. Imagine if she knew you were afraid of publishing a story because you thought she’d not like it. She’s a grown woman and has probably read books just as weird.”
“I know.” My excuses were running low at this point and I needed the money.
“Then quit wasting time. The moon is full and the devil is waiting.”
“Don’t say it like that. The voices are not the devil.”
“Well, then, correct me if I’m wrong. Last time I talked to you, didn’t you say that someone spoke to you out of the darkness and promised you fame and fortune? I think you said that the voice said anything you want could be yours.”
“Yes, but that was just my imagination. I’d been awake for days writing on the novel and probably having delusions. It was probably just sleep paralysis.”
“But, you did it. Didn’t you? You listened to the voice and now the public is waiting to buy your book. Money in hand.”
Slowly I took the knife out of my pocket. “I did it with this, you know.”
“Tell me again. Exactly what you did. I want to be rich too.” He was holding his empty glass up to signal the waiter. It seemed as if he was getting ready to hear the story for the first time.
“I’ve told you twice already. It’s just not something I like to –”
“I want to hear it again. Please tell me.” He ordered us each a pint each and when they were in front of us we took them to a dark, corner booth. He was waiting for me to begin, so I downed half the pint and began the story for him.