By D.M. Woolston
My body and my stack of books landed with audible thuds onto the carpeted floor of the Rare Books room in the New York Public Library. I lay prone and lifted my head, glancing sheepishly around to see if anyone noticed. Heads turned away as my gaze met each onlooker. Laying there, embarrassed, I should’ve known I couldn’t carry them all, but each thick tome cradled in my lanky arms was necessary if I was ever to complete my long overdue doctorate in Ancient History.
Although I wished I could somehow seep into the musty floor and slink away, I prepared a singular push-up hoping to not embarrass myself further. Rising with as much suave as I could muster, I looked ahead and caught a glimpse of something metallic poking out from beneath the mile-high bookcase a few inches ahead. Its shiny point protruded ever so slightly. Glistening and sleek in design, I found the object to be a modern ink pen as I quickly I slipped it into my overcoat and returned to an upright position.
Back in my small apartment on Fifth Avenue, I took up the writing instrument which felt quite hot to the touch and began. Words spewed forth in a torrent of storytelling, the likes I hadn’t known I was capable of writing. My fervor continued while the white-hot words etched into the pages before me, and indeed by my own hand.
At first I assured myself the discovery of this tool was quite by accident, caused by a lifelong issue with my thin build and inherent loss of balance, but soon I had a new theory. The object was no ordinary pen. I wholly believe it came from another place, a far away place yet unknown to man. A place no mind could comprehend without being driven to madness, much like attempting to grok the dark heart at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.
After nearly four straight days of writing with only small breaks between, I completed several manuscripts. Exhausted, I dropped the instrument and watched it rattle to a smoldering halt on my scratched wooden desk. What tales I had spun! There would be no more dry and academic writing for me. I imagined the books I had yet to write. Drunk was I on the power I now possessed to bring them forth.
Instead of being able to celebrate at the height of my unbridled creation, my writing hand rebelled and seized, contorting from apparent overuse. Fingers quickly twisted into tangled knots accompanied by excruciating pain. My fantastic writing career imploded in place. I held hopes of returning to writing but several weeks of therapy failed to bring relief. Somewhere deep in my consciousness there was a murmur of what I must do. I could ignore it no longer.
Just before dawn I walked down to the water’s edge in Central Park and pulled the wretched device from my coat. Why would it have come to me, then soon become unable to be wielded? I shed a single tear for the irony as I launched it with all the strength my weak arms could produce. The object followed a smooth trajectory until landing atop the water. I thought it should immediately submerge, but instead it curiously floated on what appeared to be a small and continuous wave. It swayed for a moment like a great ship, then tipped up toward the gloomy sky until becoming perfectly vertical while unbelievably hesitating once more. Finally, it began a slow-motion sinking into the dark waters below. Muse, angel, or devil; it returned from whence it came.
I never finished my doctorate. I write fiction now. The stories…they find me no matter where. One evening after the eventual recovery of my twisted hand, I returned home to notice a strange and most definite glow emanating from my computer keyboard. It appeared strangely unlike it had any of the nights before, glistening and sleek in design. My fingers paused ever so slightly over the keys. Finding them quite hot to the touch, I smiled and began to type.