Block

“So, you’re saying there’s no such thing as writer’s block?”

I tamped out my pipe, refilled it with Dunhill Nightcap, touched the lit match to the aromatic leaf and took a few deep puffs. We were only fifteen minutes into the interview and my mind was already drifting to other things. Then my eyes wandered to the bottle of Macallan 25 the young man had brought, a gift from his publisher, and resigned myself to my fate. There were far worse ways to spend a cold, dreary afternoon.

“Would you like a glass?” I said.

He smiled and shook his head. “Thank you, but no. I’m more of a beer man myself.”

I poured my second shot of the amber ambrosia, savoring the aroma a moment before tilting the glass back oh-so-gently.

“I love a cold beer as well, but it’s a poor substitute for fine scotch.”

A gust of wind shook the windowpane, rain pelting it like ball bearings.

I couldn’t tell if the phone on the table between us was still recording, as the face had gone dark. The interviewer, I had forgotten his name, took no notes; his complete reliance on technology baffled me. Then again, most of the workings of today’s world left me scratching my head.

Waving a cloud of smoke away, I said, “I’m sorry, I’ve completely forgotten your question.”

He shifted forward in his seat, tapping on the stack of books, my books, that he’d brought to the interview.

“We were talking about the staggering volume of work you’ve produced in your thirty-five year career. I counted forty-three novels, seventeen novellas, two-hundred and eleven short stories and at least a hundred articles. I’m not alone in being wowed by your output. I asked if you ever had a moment when a story just wouldn’t come to you and you said there is no such thing as writer’s block. I find that intriguing because I’ve yet to find a writer who hasn’t experienced it at least once in their career.”

“You’re not talking to the right authors,” I said, grinning.

“I’ve interviewed a considerable number.”

I noticed the creeping strands of gray hair at his temples, the very beginnings of crow’s feet when he smiled. Perhaps he wasn’t as young as I’d thought.

I drew on my pipe and said, “A real writer is never blocked. He or she may be lazy, tired, scared, or in the grip of some addiction or flight of fancy, but they’re not writing because they’re unfocused, distracted, not blocked.”

The interviewer crossed his left leg over his right and rested his forearm on his knee. I wondered if it was too late to ask him his name.

“In all these years, you’ve never been too distracted to write?”

“Not once. On the day I had surgery to remove my appendix, I wrote a story on the back of my chart an hour after the anesthesia had worn off.”

“That’s incredible dedication.”

“I prefer to call it necessity.”

“To feed your compulsion?”

“Yes and no.”

“Can you remember the last time you took a day off from writing?”

It took me a moment to think. Ancient history gets harder for me to recall.

“It was the day I received my very first acceptance letter for my book, The Forbidden Forest. There was much celebration that night. A little too much.”

He settled back into his chair. “I’m going to be honest, I’m envious. I hope to be a novelist some day, but I can’t seem to get the first one across the finish line.”

I downed a third glass of scotch.

“You just don’t have the right muse,” I said.

“Maybe I can borrow yours,” he said affably, with just a hint of a nervous chuckle.

“Oh, you wouldn’t want that. I assure you.”

“If I could have one tenth of your career, I’d die a happy man.”

I set my pipe down and locked eyes with him.

“A muse isn’t just a mystical force from which ideas spring. Some muses can be strict taskmasters. Happiness has nothing to do with it.”

He looked at me with incredulity. “Wait. So you believe that a muse is a real thing?”

“I don’t believe, I know.”

Perhaps it was the scotch. No matter. I’d said it and let it hang heavily in the air between us.

Now he checked to make sure his phone was still recording, hot to have the scoop that America’s bestselling author had lost his mind.

“Do…do you see your muse? Can you talk to her? Or him?”

There was no going back now.

“Yes and yes, and my muse has no gender. At least not in the sense as we would define it.”

He ran his hands through his hair. No doubt his palms were sweaty with anticipation of how much publicity his interview was going to garner.

I drank more Macallan, enough to make me lightheaded, but not too much to hinder the work that needed to be done later. Oh no, that could not happen.

“Can I ask how often you talk to your muse?” His smile looked like a shark’s, circling for the kill.

“Every day.”

“Your muse has given you a constant stream of ideas and inspiration since when?”

I shook my head, relighting my pipe.

“Truth be told, it’s not very big on ideas.”

This rocked him, wiping the shark grin from his face.

“Then…then what does it do?”

I leaned forward, the leather chair creaking, and touched his knobby knee.

“It makes me write.”

“It makes you write?”

“Yes. Every…day.”

“And what if you don’t?”

Now it was my turn to beam like a sly Great White.

“Terrible, terrible things happen.”

There was a ripple in the darkness behind the eager interviewer’s chair.

“You say you’re working on your own novel?” I asked.

His face blanched. “Yes, in fits and starts.”

I sucked on my teeth, releasing trapped scotch from my gums.

“That simply will not do. Not if you were to ‘borrow’ my muse.”

“I don’t understand.”

I filled the void between us with sweet, aromatic smoke.

“And you never will.”

The gray beast sprang from the ether, tearing the man’s jugular with a single swipe. I ducked to avoid the spray of blood – blood I knew my muse would slurp like a starving cat, leaving no trace of the young man behind.

I looked away, unable to watch the ravenous mastication. I grabbed the bottle of scotch and staggered to my study where my typewriter awaited.

It had been a long while since I had written a horror story.

I guess it was fair to say that today, my muse had given me inspiration. Putting a fresh sheet of paper into the Royal typewriter, I began the day’s tale.

“So, you’re saying there’s no such thing as writer’s block?”

I tamped out my pipe, refilled it with Dunhill Nightcap, touched the lit match to the aromatic leaf and took a few deep puffs.

~ Hunter Shea

© Copyright 2017 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved

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About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. His novels, Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal , Swamp Monster Massacre , Sinister Entity, Hell Hole, The Waiting and Island of the Forbidden are published through Samhain Publishing’s horror line. Hell Hole was named Horror Novel Reviews #1 horror novel of 2014. His first thriller novel, The Montauk Monster, was released June, 2014 as a Pinnacle paperback, and was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the best reads of the summer. His follow up Pinnacle novel, Tortures of the Damned, a post apocalyptic thriller, will be out July, 2015. That will be followed up by his latest cryptid tale, The Dover Demon, in the fall through Samhain. His horror short story collection, Asylum Scrawls, is available as an e-book, straightjacket not included. Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. A copy of his book, The Montauk Monster, is currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME. He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years. Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

30 responses to “Block”

  1. adeleulnais says :

    I love this story. The way it slithers along like a snake until bam……..great writing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Mr Shea, thank you for a wonderful start to a very cold day! Well thought out , beautiful flow and wonderful attention to details! I know how real , spiteful and demanding a muse can be, when I did I was still doing diagnosed work she would hit at 2.30 am and would demand all of me , not just attention, but my whole bloody being! Bravo that writer! Awdw x x x
    Ps – The jersey devil help get me a A+ in my English class , so cheers! X

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hunter Shea says :

      Thanks! The Jersey Devil got you an A+? Now that’s awesome. I have to meet the teacher and student that are so damn cool.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Angel with dirty wings says :

        Haha! Not sure I could get him to fly out for a chat! However, myself , the girls and maîtriser are heading out to jersey and nyc on 17th or 19th of Feb! So if you can handle some bat crap crazy girls and a grumpy frog … Lol

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hunter Shea says :

          I specialize in bat crap crazy. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • Angel with dirty wings says :

            Haha! My dear sir, jersey is getting off lightly , as the are only the 3 girls, the frog and myself coming out to play! If it was all of the girls , that would be 13 girls and we sort of hunt in a pack! I’m not allowed to drink more than 3 beers, cos I’m a tots lightweight! I tend to hug people, try to rugby tackle men and misbehave with my Nikie!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    ‘So, you’re saying there’s no such thing as writer’s block?’

    Great story, Hunter! I have a particular love for pieces that take place in a short time span with the attention devoted to small details. This one hits it right on the head! I loved the ease with which it flowed! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. afstewart says :

    Quiet, dark, and chilling. An excellent story!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Brian Moreland says :

    Excellent story, Hunter! Well crafted. So that’s your secret to churning out 4 books a year. I thought maybe you had a swamp monster in your closet or a Jersey Devil in your tool shed.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. John Potts Jr says :

    So that’s what I have been doing wrong…. Nicely done, Hunter. This is a stellar short of brutality presented in a vivid fashion.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Veronica Magenta Nero says :

    we are all at the mercy of our Muse, nice one Hunter!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christopher A Liccardi says :

    WOW – fucking muse… every time you turn your back on it… Good tale, Hunter!

    Like

  9. Joseph Pinto says :

    Now I realize what I’ve been doing wrong…appeasing my muse with the flesh of strangers instead of a fine scotch!!!! Ah, but I’ve never been one to share my cordials…. lol Loved your story, Hunter! You definitely made a monster of the beast that at one point or another sits like the weight of the world upon our backs!!!! 🙂

    Like

  10. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Reblogged this on The Road to Nowhere… and commented:

    “So, you’re saying there’s no such thing as writer’s block?”

    How does he turn out four novels a year, plus a ton of short fiction? The opening line from horror author Hunter Shea’s latest story, ‘Block’, on Pen of the Damned says it all… Or does it? Perhaps a little unrelenting drive is in order; a bit of gentle persuasion from his muse. 😉 <– that's an evil grin, in case you were wondering.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    What a great tale! I love the characterization of his muse. Love the twist at the end too, how it ends where it began. Anyone with a deadline can relate to this for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jonolsonauthor says :

    Loved it, Hunter! The build up was great and like the interviewer, I was expecting more of an explanation in regards to the muse. I tip my hat to you sir! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on Jon Olson Author and commented:
    BLOCK by Pen of the Damned’s Hunter Shea

    Like

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Block – Pen of the Damned - January 26, 2017
  2. Block - January 28, 2017

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