This is a short piece detailing the very real struggle of a fantasy writer. We surround ourselves with these imagined worlds and spend way too much time sitting in them, with a swirl of inspiration around us…and yet, we seem to overlook it, searching for just the right elements for our next story. Enjoy.
Krysten sat there in the warm, brown mud, drumming her fingers rhythmically against the uneven top of the aged stump. With her free hand, she occasionally swatted aside a curious vine that tried to overtake the keyboard of her laptop, but her eyes never wandered from the flashing black line on her blank white screen.
I need inspiration.
She knew writing was hard work, but some days she really wondered what she had been thinking when she changed her Facebook profile to reflect that her career path involved “creating worlds and designing personalities.” There was a level of difficulty involved with all that creating and designing that she hadn’t quite expected.
She idly scratched the back of her head, feeling the thin, spindly legs of the agriata spider tangled amid locks of her tousled blonde hair. Without flinching, she turned her hand slightly and gently lifted the arachnid away, setting it down beside her. It scurried off, the blues and greens of its diamond-like abdomen dancing in the streams of sunlight that filtered through the trees. Turning back to her nonexistent novel, Krysten sighed.
Seriously, I need inspiration.
A voice from behind her brought a brief reprieve from the mocking screen. “Top o’ the mornin’, lass. How’s my best mate this fine eve? I’m so hip to the jive of your creative passion for the spoken language; but Hark! Wherefore art thou saddened?”
“Johnavieve…you’re doing it again,” Krysten said as a dark-skinned soldier trotted up to her on an ebony steed, tipping his bejeweled top hat in greeting. The lime green saddle stole attention from his leopard-skin loincloth but wasn’t enough of a contrast to keep her eyes from darting straight to his shiny, purple zoot-suit vest, where thick pads spread his shoulders to disproportionate widths. “We really need to work out who the hell you are one of these days.”
“I couldn’t agree more thoroughly, madame. The beast of uncertainty doth cursed this wretched land, and I alone hold the key to—”
“Nope, not today, Johnny.” She cut him off mid-sentence. The rapidly changing accent and personality of her ambiguously indecisive friend could be a bit overbearing at times. Or, more specifically, at any time he came around her. “I’m really kind of busy right now; I’m trying to find inspiration.”
“Ah.” He nodded, his tall hat rocking precariously atop his thick red curls. “Well, I’ll leave you to it then, milady. Until the sun rises in the west and sets in the east!” With that, he squeezed his legs hard against his horse and held on tight as it reared up, pawing at the air with thick black hooves. A second later, the beast took off at a gallop, and Johnavieve was gone, having disappeared into the surrounding jungle.
Krysten shook her head. When he stayed around too long, he started quoting other authors. She really hoped someone would come along and quote one of her own stories, so she could be reminded of why she was trying so hard to write now.
Where is my damn inspiration when I need it?
‘I know where it is, Cricket,” a familiar voice called out.
She knew who it was instantly by his ability to read her thoughts, as well as his nickname for her. She turned, almost falling over in the mud, and her eyes lit up at her friend’s new mount.
She reached out a hand and laughed as her fingers slid across rubbery, webbed feet. Its thick orange legs ran up a full meter high before disappearing beneath a blanket of sleek white feathers. Krysten couldn’t hold back her excitement as the oversized Pekin duck rubbed its beak into her hair, coating her in slimy duck drool.
“Hey, cowboy!” she said, still laughing. “Nice ride! I like this one.”
The man sitting on the duck’s back wore full western gear—including a beaver-fur cowboy hat and shined leather boots with golden spurs. He let loose a wide smile and lovingly patted the duck’s neck. “Yeah, this here is Puddles. Been raising him for weeks now; this is our test run. He’s doing great. And look!” He pointed to the left breast of the majestic bird, where a shiny gold badge was pinned to the feathers. “He’s already passed his deputy trials.”
Krysten could tell he was immensely proud of his pet. “I like him. Congratulations, Puddles.” She turned her attention back to her friend. “How have you been?”
“Not bad. How’s the writing going?”
Ugh. Do you have to ask, she thought.
Before she could say anything out loud, her friend shook his head. “You know I’m going to ask; it’s the only way to keep your mind on your work.”
Oh right. Mind reading. Oops.
He laughed. “Well, get back to it then! You got this.” Right as the last words rolled off his tongue, a deafening crash to their left made them both jump. The duck let out a loud quack in response.
The nearest pine tree was on fire. The flames burned an unnatural white, and the tree disintegrated rapidly beneath the intense heat. The cowboy swore and whipped the duck around to face the direction from which the baelfire had originated.
“Aayeeeeeyaaaaah!” A battle cry rang from just beyond the misty forest to the south, and they searched the barely visible treeline for any sign of movement. A few more bolts of baelfire shot past, one just barely missing the duck’s tail feathers.
Scantily-clad natives rushed out of the mist, raising their tattooed arms in front of their chests and releasing balls of colored energy. Each color produced a unique, terrifying effect: blue power sent boiling water streaming through the air, and brown shot spikes of rock flying toward its target. Krysten ducked, and the cowboy lifted his own hands toward the oncoming army.
“I think you should go,” he called down over his shoulder.
“I think you’re right!” she replied. “Good luck with your battle! I’ll see you later.”
With that, Krysten stood up. The stump in the mud, the jungle, and the battle of power all dissipated before her eyes as reality flooded back. She pushed aside her computer chair and stretched out her arms with a yawn.
Maybe I’ll be inspired later, she hoped.