CAT STORY AND OTHER TAILS

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WRITER'S BLOCK

“Try it” advised the therapist whom he had been visiting once a week for many months “I’ve seen it work before. Once I had a schizophrenic patient who was so disconnected from herself and the world around her that she could barely communicate. This exercise allowed her to get in touch with herself again to the extent that she was eventually able to talk and express herself freely. It’s worth a try anyway”

Dennis admitted it was worth a try, although he didn’t hold out much hope for it working. He had suffered from writer’s block this whole year and thus far nothing had worked to break the stranglehold on his creativity

He finished the session with the therapist and thanked her for her time, as always. Then, as always, he went for a drink in the nearest pub. Therapy made him tense - it was a relief to be out of there and a drink always settled his nerves. He ordered a pint and went and sat in the corner on his own. It was quiet anyway , just a couple of lads watching football on the TV but apart from that the place was empty

Halfway through his drink he decided to give the therapist’s suggestion a try. He took out his pen and pad which he always carried with him (you never know) and wrote down “What is wrong with me?” Then he switched to using his left hand and tried to scrawl an answer . Surprisingly, the words flowed out of him and although they would be illegible to an outsider, he himself at least knew what he was trying to convey. “You have forgotten”

“Forgotten what?” he wrote again

“What to write” was the answer

This was intriguing, although not particularly helpful so far

“What should I write?” he asked himself

“Let me write” came the answer

Strange, thought Dennis , if it’s true that I’m somehow tapping into my subconscious using this right hand, left hand, writing exercise then maybe I should follow through and let my left hand have a go at writing a story for me. Encouraged, he left the pub and headed home to start up his computer

Two hours later he was ecstatic. Typing with his left hand had worked like a charm. There in front of him sat five thousand words of quality creative writing. That was more than he had managed to write for the last six months. He decided to nip out to the supermarket and came back with a six pack of beer. Back to work he went, whilst slowly working his way through the beers as well. By the end of the evening he had written another ten thousand words. He slumped into his bed without even bothering to shower, he was a little drunk after all those beers but he was happy to have finally been productive. It felt like he had cured his impotency at last

It was around 3am when he woke up with a start. Something had disturbed his sleep. He looked out of the window next to his bed and was amazed at how still the night looked. The moon was large in the sky and the clouds moved slowly across it. He felt as he had when he were a child laying awake in the middle of the night, feeling like the world was timeless. This was similar except the tone was menacing and intimidating. He shivered a little. There was a sense of fear growing in him although he couldn’t pinpoint the reason for it or even discern if it was real fear or paranoia. He looked down at his body. His left hand was twitching crazily. He sat up and gripped it with his other hand but the twitching continued. He squeezed hard and managed to stifle the movement but he could tell that the moment he released the pressure it would resume

There was only one thing to do. He sat at his desk and turned on his computer and allowed his left hand to begin typing. Four hours later he was exhausted but he had written another ten thousand words of his new novel. Once again, he collapsed into his bed and slept

He woke around noon feeling great, if a bit tired. He decided to eat brunch in the pub. He reasoned it wasn’t too early for a pint and after that didn’t fully quench his thirst he ordered another. On his way home he bought a couple of bottles of wine. I’ll put them in the cupboard and savour them, he thought . He felt the urge to write again so he set off using his left hand and once again the words poured out of him as if he had never struggled in his life. He found himself drinking glass after glass of wine. He was surprised to find the first bottle already empty so he opened the second. By the time he had finished writing, the second bottle was also gone. He had written non-stop for eight hours and his left wrist was aching and sore. In fact, he realised he hadn’t moved once from his desk in all that time, not even to go to the toilet, which was surprising after drinking two whole bottles of wine in one sitting. Once again, he stumbled into bed despite it being early, he was drunk and tired.

Around 3am he again awoke suddenly. This time he instantly knew there was something very wrong. He felt enclosed in a sinister atmosphere. There was movement in the room, he was sure of it. He didn’t even want to sit up, he felt so terrified but he forced himself to. There, sitting at his desk, was a demon. It was the same size as Dennis and as it swivelled in his desk chair to face him he could see it had the same facial features, with the addition of two red horns growing out of the top of it’s head

“Hello Dennis” it squeaked in a disturbingly maniacal high-pitched voice. “I’m your left-hand man. You can count on me” It gave him a wink and a terrifying grin and then turned back to face his computer. Dennis fainted

It was morning when Dennis reentered the land of the living. He could vaguely remember something disturbing happening the night before. He felt a strong sense of terror but he couldn’t remember what had scared him so badly. He switched on his computer. Somehow he had written another ten thousand words in the night. He was halfway through his novel now and it was really good work. Dennis felt cheered by this, although deep down he knew something very dark was occurring. What was he supposed to do though? He was a writer and he hadn’t written anything at all for nearly a year. Now he was writing again. Let’s see this book through and then take a break, he thought to himself.

Feeling stoical and determined he cooked himself some bacon and eggs and went to the supermarket, ostensibly for some snacks for later. His real motivation, however, was the two bottles of vodka he bought. Beer and wine didn’t feel strong enough anymore

Later, as he worked, he drank the vodka neat. He reached one and a half bottles before he passed out, slumped at his desk

He woke up once again at 3am with a splitting headache. He moaned and stumbled up out of the chair and walked into the bathroom to get some headache tablets from his medicine cabinet. He downed three with a glass of water and wobbled back to his bedroom. There was someone in his bed. As he watched in horror, the figure sat up and looked at him. It was the demon, his red horns sticking up and that ever present insane grin on his face

“Dennis darling. Why don’t you jump in? Keep me company!”

Dennis fled from the room and nearly fell as he rushed down the stairs in his still drunken state. As he reached the bottom he tripped on a rug and flew headfirst into the hall table, knocking himself out cold

The next morning he woke up lying in the hall and wondering what the hell had happened. He checked himself in the mirror and discovered a nasty looking black and blue bruise on his forehead. I must have been so drunk last night, he thought , I can barely remember anything

Later that day he sat at his computer. Not far to go with the novel now and then when it’s done he could send it off to his publisher. God, she’ll be pleased he’s finally produced something worth printing. Not only that but it was one of the best pieces of writing he had ever done, he was sure of it. Why then did he feel so much trepidation in continuing with it? He shook his head as if to ward off those thoughts and settled down to write, of course using his left hand. He had his bottles of absinthe by his side. They had been on special offer at the supermarket so he had bought three

He couldn’t remember that afternoon or the evening, he must have blacked out - all he knew was it was now 3am and the bottles of absinthe on the table were empty . He was sitting up in his bed and lying right next to him was a demon . It’s body was scaly, hot and naked. Dennis was sure he had lost his mind. The demon turned towards him , his hot breath in his ear. “We’re partners now, Dennis. I’m your left-hand man” . Dennis was so terrified he wet himself and then collapsed into a state of catatonic paralysis. He lay there without moving and completely unfeeling for the rest of the night, the demon lying beside him

The next morning the phone rang. Dennis stumbled over to it in his underwear. He had the worst hangover of his life

“HI Dennis, it’s Laura here from your publishing house. Just want to let you know, I’ve had a quick read through your latest work and I have to say it is absolutely fantastic! Congratulations! You had us worried there for a bit, it has been quite a while since you produced anything, as you know but you’ve really pulled it off with this one. Even better, you’ve indicated it’s part one of a series”

Dennis looked to his left. The demon stood there smiling horribly

“Oh yes, Dennis” squeaked the demon in it’s horrible high-pitched manner “That’s only part one. I predict there’s going to be a whole world of writing before we’re done with this particular set of novels” the demon danced grotesquely and stuck out his tongue. Dennis felt his mind crack in two but he managed to answer Laura “Glad you like it , got to go, sorry” and he put the phone down

“How do I get rid of you?” he asked the demon, confronting it

“Well, that depends” answered the demon “Do you want to write or don’t you?”

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