The weight of recent rem still lay heavily on my consciousness. I’d slept, deeply, but had no idea for how long; nor where. I had to assume it had been in my own house, in my own bed, next to my own wife; but we all know what they say about assumption. As it was, wherever I’d lay down the night before was not where I found myself upon my awakening.
And where here is, I’ve not a clue.
I am tied, every part of me immobilized save my arms and hands, my fingers now spread across some keyboard device which seems quite foreign to me. I am not uncomfortable necessarily, in any torturous way, yet what I imagine are softwood logs poke at my backside as I wriggle in a seated position, sticks prop my upper body upright, and I can smell the faint aroma of some sort of petroleum product.
Through the mottled haze I spy a face staring at my own. It is immediately recognizable, frighteningly familiar; the deep dimples, the silver, long ago receded hair, the vertical wrinkle that runs the length of the fellow’s nose, showing me that he sleeps on his right side and has pressed the pillow so hard for so many years that his face has taken on a permanent marker.
In fact, as the haze begins to clear and I take stock of the entire man, I find he is virtually a clone of myself beyond his garb, which I would describe as eighth century woodsman… and the fact that he has no belly to speak of, whereas my own is nearly the size of a 16 pound cannon shot.
“Let me at least wipe the drool from his face.”
The voice, a girl’s, lilting, Celtic I believe, comes from behind me. The man nods and a wet cloth slips under my chin, it’s user rubbing my face much as my mother once did when I’d been eating mud pies and hadn’t washed up before dinner.
“Where, where am I”, I stammered, annoyed that after 25 years in the voiceover business I was still incapable of spiting out a sentence without making an error.
“Dementia lad”, came his reply; “and you’ll not be leavin’ 'til we have an agreement betwixt the half dozen of us.”
“Bragi?” I asked; “is that you?” Of course I knew the answer, or at least I should have as I’d created the monster that was now my keeper.
“Aye” he answered, “and as you’ve designed me as the main character I’ll be signin’ the papers, but there are a few with me that would like a word with you; to make certain you understand the seriousness of your predicament.”
A face as beautiful as any ever created slid into my periphery, her hair, yellow as the sun, her skin, peaches and cream, more a flavor than a shade.
“I’m thinkin’ you don’t care about me anymore mister fancy pants writer” she said with a grin which quickly changed into a scowl. “You’ve not given me any letter lovin’ for months, perhaps years, though it’s hard to tell real time in dementia as it’s your clock we all operate on. Either way, I’m quite disappointed in you as I thought our love to be as strong as my draw and as pointed as this arrow which you know I could shoot straight up your right nostril if I so desired!”
It was true. She was the Champion of Glimmerende, an archerette so perfect, so incredibly accurate she could plunk a single smallish wart off the nose of Robin Hood himself at 200 yards, and at such speed that the arrow head would be so hot it would cauterize the wound on its way by.
“Aishen” I protested. “By the gods I do so love you! I’ve just, well you know, been busy of late!”
“With that stupid game you play! I know all about it you heathen! You could be creating your own wonders and instead you’re waddling around in someone else’s with those silly, foppish characters you’ve generated! Now who’s better I ask, us or them?”
“Well my sweet, of course you’re better, and if I could have transferred you from my admittedly teeny weeny brain into the graphic system of World of Warcraft, you know I would have!”
She sighed, loudly; the kind of sigh that seems like it’ll soon be a choke that in the end will require the Heimlich maneuver. “Authors” she spat; “We characters hate you all!”
As Aishen L’Fay stomped off Bragi smiled and said “You see lad, we think you’ve ignored us far too long, and we’re not standin’ still for it. We weren’t sure how to deal with it exactly, as we are after all just figments of your imagination. So we had to speak to the only person that knows you better than we.”
“And who might that be” I asked, “did you visit heaven and speak to my poor dead mother?”
“No” said he, “though I should have thought of that.”
“Hi you big silly.”
It was my muse! Well, one of my muses if I were to be honest, but indeed, my favorite.
“What have you done lass” I cried. “I seem to be a prisoner of my own thoughts!”
She giggled. As angry as I was, I giggled too. I couldn’t help it. That’s why I loved her so, she always could make me giggle.
“It’s not like you haven’t been ignoring me too pal” she said while looking at her nails all Hollywood diva-like. “So when the big cur here asked me to help him and his friends, what could I do? I got bored! You never take me out to play anymore, and they let me have the run of the Castle for a few days so I could have the girls down for a party!”
The thought of all my muses together, uncontrolled, with an entire kingdom of imaginary creatures, foodstuffs and party favors within their reach, made me shudder.
“You didn’t trash the place did ya” I asked.
“Well” she said, “remember that door you built in the west wall? We kind of spun the castle around so now it faces east. I hope you don’t mind, the sunrise is lovely, I promise!”
I tried to stand so as to accentuate my protest with a little intimidating fist pounding, but to no avail, I was lashed tight.
“What is this exactly that I’m sitting on” I said through lightly clenched teeth.
“It’s a pile of logs sir” Morden said as he stepped into view. “I built the pyre meself, I hope it meets your needs.”
I was stymied. “Alright, why would I be tied up and sitting on a pile of logs then?”
My muse looked at her shoes and smirked. “Well that was sort of my idea, though I hadn’t meant it to be so literal.”
I looked around the room, dumbfounded; I still didn’t get it.
Ogre moved forward and spoke in his deep, slurry timber. “We asked Ms. muse what we could do to remind you to write about us more often, and she said we should light a fire under your arse.”
“And I’m here to do just that if you don’t cooperate” said Desiree’, who at that moment had a very small but stylish fireball poised on the tips of her fingers.
“For god’s sake it’s a metaphor” I shouted; “it means nudge me! Write me a note! ENCOURAGE ME!!! Not burn me at the stake!!”
Bragi only smiled, inadvertently showing me what a yellowed mess my teeth had become since I’d created him. “Had you conjured us within your own time frame we might have had a notion as to what this met-a-for might be your penniness, but as it is we are simple folk of something akin to the dark ages of human history. We still believe in trolls man! What the hell would we know? She said light a fire! And here we are!”
“So now” said Erik the Melancholy, the true King of Dementia, “As I know that you’ve stolen my name and printed it as if it’s your own on your silly journal, which means you owe me grievously, are you going to take up your pen and scribe our lives into memory once again? Or shall we have a marshmallow roast and wave you bye bye?”
It’s been a few hours since I signed the contract they forced upon me. Please don’t think I am in any way spontaneously creative and that suddenly I was struck with an urge to rekindle the story of Bragi Stringbreaker and his cohorts; because nothing could be further from the truth. I just like my arse is all; raw, unbaked, pink, without carcinogens. What part of me they might threaten next I can only imagine.
I’ll see what I can come up with….