Sam slammed the laptop shut and shot up from the table, shoving the chair he’d been sitting in backwards; the metallic legs screeching across the wooden floor. “Fuck!” He shouted, in an exasperated tone as he’d headed for the cabinets where he kept the liquid courage he’d needed to bring about the state of mind required by the Gods for them to favor him with creative thought. The cork fell to the counter top and then rolled lazily to the floor as the clear vodka filled four fingers in Sam’s uncleaned drinking glass. It was a habit of his. Some baseball players didn’t wash their jockstraps, others didn’t wash their socks. He’d even heard of one superstition that if the clasp of your necklace moved to the front of your chest, you could make a wish as you moved it back. Sam sighed as he downed the glass entirely while fingering the emblem of St Christopher that hung loosely round his neck. “Saint of Strength, and look at you. He’d think you”re a pathetic little worm.” Sam shook his head trying to clear his mind of that damned voice. It had the sound of those horror movie voices when the dead ghost called out from the past, yet with a deep eerie rasp to it. “Not now. I’m not in the mood.”

You’re Never in the mood. You’re always too….” The voice stopped as Sam saw the image of the voice’s face in his head making the features of utter disgust. “Damned happy. You know that’s not how this works.” Sam shook his head as he leaned down to retrieve the cork, only to hear the voice continue. “Another. Drink another. You know it’s what the Gods demand.” His hand shakily took the cork and slipped it back into the bottle. “I don’t give a shit what the Gods want.” “You say that as if they’ll actually believe you.” Sam turned to cast a glance back at his laptop sitting there, looking at him with disgust. “You’re a writer. This is what you do. You drink, then you fuck, and you do whatever you have to-to get the Gods to bless you with creativity.”

Same drew in a long breath as he pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes while leaning back upon the kitchen counter. He’d felt the double shot begin to work. His blood began to warm and flesh begin to tingle with heat. Outside the dark night lit with the fast streaks of lightening that stretched their white arcs across the dark Seattle skyline while the rain pounded mercilessly atop his run down apartment roof. Damn this humidity. It was miserable, and to make matters worse his apartment wasn’t furnished with any heat or air conditioning. “A struggling writer living the dream.” He thought to himself. “Doesn’t have to be that way, Sam. You keep pulling away from them and all they want is a simple sacrifice.” Sam pushed off of the counter and looked back at the bottle. “Yesssssss.” Whispered the voice. “No.” He whispered out into the nothingness of the kitchen where he wrote. “Oh fucking stop it already with the fake virtuosity. You know what you are, so fucking be it already.” The voice hissed at the end.

Sam shook his head to clear his mind and went to the table where his phone rested by the closed laptop that sat there in contempt of him. He plucked it up and thumbed through a series of songs. Closing his eyes, he began to scroll through the music selection. Let fate dictate his mood for tonight. He scrolled up and then down and then up and then down until finally it came to stop on a song called “A desolation song.” Fitting. He pressed play and as he slipped his headphones on and turned to walk towards his porch doors and gaze out at the Seattle slums skyline. The music was deep and dark. It had the feel of Nirvana mixed with Type-O Negative. He’d never heard it before and couldn’t recollect how it had even made it on to his phone, but for now, it was getting him where he needed to be. “Yessssss.” the voice hissed out again.

He flipped the laptop open to peer into a blank word doc that beamed its white angelic light up at him as if to mock him being there was no offset black coloring which would indicate text. It was a blank sheet of paper and no creative ideas to be seen. His fingers poised over the keys like that of a pianist ready to give his debut performance, ready at any moment to begin giving birth to his own operatic literary masterpiece. The music swirled in his brain as dark scenes began to unfold, but then as quickly as they entered his mind and he’d feel the taste of creativity upon his brain’s tongue, they were gone. Withdrawn from him almost as if he were being punished. “God damn it!” He belted out as he sat back in his chair, angered with himself that he’d been within reach of something solid to write. “Oh, no no no Sam. He won’t help you here.” The void cackled softly and then continued. “You’re looking in the wrong direction. Don’t look up, but simply look down.”

Another four fingers poured, and another four fingers downed. What could it hurt? Fuck it. He needed to go down the dark rabbit hole to find Alice’s tracks in order to meet the mad hatter and pick his brain for creativity. Two drinks turned into three, and then three into five. He was feeling it now. His body and mind were aligned with the darkness that had begun to surround him. Sam heard the voice laughing in the background. “Yes. Yes! This is what the Gods want! Deeper! Go deeper, Sam!” Sam felt his face flush as the drinks continued to relax his nerves while the music on his phone played on. Together, they created the thunder and the lightening for the oncoming mental storm of creativity he was almost ready to unleash.

“You’re ready now, Sam. Let it flow freely now, and this time, -don’t- hold back like you’ve done all of the other times before!” Sam sat, eyes blurred slightly while staring at the computer screen, awaiting the Gods to give him their blessings from below. “I don’t think they’re pleased with me.” He growled. “No, but tonight you’re going to give them a sacrifice that will make up for that. They’ve told me they’re going to make this book a world wide best seller, but only if you submit to their wishes.” Sam shook his head. “Yeah, if you say so. Why don’t you just shut the fu…” And suddenly, it hit him.

His fingers began typing; flying across the keys as his eyes dilated and his brows lifted showing he was now the conductor giving the commands to the various sections of his orchestra, preparing them for the oncoming concert he was about to give the entire world. Oh it felt so good. It felt so damned good to feel the creative juices in his drunken mind flow so freely through his fingertips as he pounded away at each key. Stroke after stoke led him just one one word closer to the story he’d been striving to write for so many months, but something had eluded him. “You’re holding back. the Gods don’t like that. More. They want more.” Sam pushed back from the table and went to his medicine cabinet to grab a bottle of pills he’d bought from his friend. “These will work.” He’d said after popping the top and downing three of them. “Oh my. Look at the balls on you now? What’s changed, Mr proper?” The voiced laughed again, only this time Sam heard a demonic presence in his voice. Again, once seated, his fingers like lightening flashed across the keyboard as the white screen began to become intermingled with black text.

Darkness, He needed more darkness. Sam wasn’t satisfied. Outside the pouring of rain picked up and now it sounded as if they were in the middle of a tropical storm. Winds howled outside as rain blew sideways, causing random trash to fly through the air and stick to any object that would be strong enough to hold them. Sam’s head dipped a few times as he felt himself being overtaken by the vodka. “Stay on course! You’re almost there!” Sam’s fingers paused as he felt the Gods begin to leave him once more. “No.” He called out. “No, I’ll go deeper.” He said as if bargaining to the invisible people in the room that were there to grant his wish. Sam closed his eyes and began to think back on all of the bad memories he’d kept locked away just for moments like these. Soon, tears began to stream down his cheeks as he’d recalled the break up of he and his wife. How badly he’d hurt when she’d left with their daughter, ripping his heart from his chest and leaving him standing there with a child support bill that would cripple him financially. Hookers he used pitied him, and one had even laughed at him for being so pathetic for crying after they’d had sex being he couldn’t get his wife out of his thoughts. He’d paid and then left, feeling as if were less of a man for allowing his emotions to be allowed out into the world outside of his writing. More and more Sam delved down into the darkness of his mind and the deeper he went, the more he typed. It was what helped him create. It was what he needed to experience the emotions needed for the characters in his book.

They’re dancing right now, you know? They’re still waiting for their sacrifice to finish this book. It can’t be done until you do as they ask.” Sam sat there crying as he typed away. More and more came to him as depression wrapped round his heart and squeezed. Every single moment in his life that had left a scar on his heart had been relived and the scars that had healed had now been reopened and left openly bleeding. He grit his teeth and on occasion, cried out in anger and in sadness, only to be told to get back to work by the voice. Downward he plunged into madness and depression; two dark sisters that took him by the hand and pulled him through the dark underworld of his mind. “It’s almost….finished.” He cried out to the voice. “Please…leave me be!” “Not until the sacraficeeeeeeee.” Sam slammed the laptop shut again and shot upwards, hands running up through his hair as he let out a blood curling scream of mental anguish. “No! I can’t!” “Go all the way! You’re almost there! The Gods demand it.

Six months later…

There, on the book shelf, Sam’s wife saw the story her husband had finished. It had made the New York Times best seller list and had over six million copies sold. The book had started off making the rounds with the female demographic being it was a captivating love story that even most men found to be quite invoking. It was truly a literary work of art that would stand the test of time. His wife took the book in hand from the display case where dozens of copies were neatly stacked and flipped to the last page where the black and white picture of a clean cut smiling Sam was. “Mommy, is that daddy?” Sam’s daughter stood beside his wife holding her hand, peering up at the book seeing her father’s picture on the back cover as well. “Yes, sweetie.” She softly spoke. “He finally did it.”

Two weeks after Sam had finished the book, his landlord had forced open the door to his apartment and found Sam laying in a pool of dried blood; a .45 beside him with the back of his head blown out. Brain matter had peppered the ceiling, coating even the hardest to reach places with chunks of skull and debris. There, atop the table, rested the laptop he’d been using without a single droplet of blood upon it. The white screen was thick with black text and spanned over three hundred pages, and the heading that the book was to be entitled read: “Sacrifice.”

John Burk

John Burk

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