The calendar mocked him. A red circle surrounded the last day. The deadline.
He’d sat at his desk for hours. Hell, it had practically been weeks; months even. He’d lost count. The blank page on his computer screen told the whole story. Emails from his editor pinged daily. His head felt empty. There was nothing left to flood the page.
She would help him though. She would fix everything.
He opened the door to the basement and listened. Silence. Walking downstairs, his mind pulled in two separate directions. He slid down and sat on the last step, leaning his head against the wall. It felt cool against his skin. After a few moments, his mind cleared and he opened his eyes. She sat in the corner, eyes wide and filled with terror. He stood and walked over. She squirmed against her restraints. Suddenly exhausted, he sat down next to her. The enormity of what he was doing weighed on his shoulders but he shook it away. It had to be done. His life depended on it. His work depended on it. He reached over and ripped the tape off her mouth. She screamed and he flinched. Before he could think, his hand darted out, slapping her face into the wall. She whimpered and the screaming stopped.
“What do you want with me?” she asked.
He stared at the ground, unsure of how to answer. Her fate was sealed. It wouldn’t do any good to tell her.
“I need a favor from you.” He left it at that and she seemed to accept it as a valid response.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
He nodded as if that changed anything. He rolled the name around on his tongue. He was stalling. He’d never done anything like this before but his head knew it had to be done. He had to fix it. He had to fix the blank page.
He stood slowly and walked across the empty basement to the counter lining the wall on the opposite side of Sam. His tools lined the walls. He traced his hands around them and wondered what he would do first. The words were already forming. They flitted in and out of his mind and he swayed back and forth to the rhythm of them.
“What are you going to do?” Sam’s voice carried softly over the space. She sounded surprisingly calm. He picked a short blade; a late add-on to his collection for this experiment.
“I need your help, Sam.” He turned and moved over to her. Her eyes moved to the blade. She wanted to scream but she seemed incapable. When he knelt down to her, she pushed herself into the wall and down to the floor. It was the only way to get farther away from him. He smiled. The words were coming faster now. They swirled in tornados through his brain and the story began to form as he traced the blade against her skin. It would work. He knew that now.
When he finished, he ran upstairs. The blank screen stared back at him from his office and for once it didn’t scare him. He sat down and typed. The words formed into sentences; the sentences into paragraphs. It was working.
He looked up at the calendar and laughed. It no longer mocked him. He had three days to get it done. He wasn’t finished. Not yet.
Sam’s face floated into his mind and he stopped typing. He looked down at his hands and saw the blood for the first time. It coated the keys. He stared at his palms and shook his head.
She’s fine. She fixed it. She fixed everything.
Everything would soon go back to the way it was. Sam would soon go back to the way she was. He smiled, forgot his bloody hands, and started typing again.
But Sam was never the same again.
Come get Sloshed at the Speakeasy!