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The Devil's Pen

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Question: which version of this story did you prefer?
version 2 - 0 (0%)
version 3 - 9 (100%)
Total Voters: 9

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Author Topic: The Devil's Pen  (Read 1929 times)
Gwen Parker
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« Reply #60 on: March 23, 2007, 03:49:11 am »

This is the best version of the story yet, Unknown.  I noticed that you started a romance section.  Have your written any of those yet? I bet you could write a good one if you haven't. Your work already seems to lend itself to that.

Gwen
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unknown
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« Reply #61 on: March 23, 2007, 05:22:34 am »

Thank you Gwen


I think it is too, I think to do the story justice I would have to make it at least twenty pages.

I may come back to it after a while. Undecided

I haven't written any romance stories yet, I really don't know how...

I mean how to set up a conflict to make a real story out of it.

I will right one, whether it will be good is another question entirely, thanks for your confidence in me.


I have been thinking about tackling Anna again, oh that didn't come out right,

I have been thinking about writing about Anna again, actually

and I want to do a sword and sorcery story.

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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Heather Delaria
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« Reply #62 on: March 25, 2007, 01:58:03 am »

Twenty pages isn't that long for a short story, I have seen them as long as fifty pages.

It would be nice if you turned Anna's story into a novella spanning three time periods in three acts. That way, you could see how the character evolves - from girl to supernatural creature.
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"An it harm none, do what ye will."
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unknown
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« Reply #63 on: March 25, 2007, 02:04:47 am »

Hi Heather

The count I get is eleven pages, the older short stories like from the forties back are usually at least twenty pages,

The modern short story is shorter than the traditional short story, I think the trend started with Hemingway.

For instance Poe's short stories like The Fall of the House of Usher is around 25-30 pages.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2007, 12:11:40 am by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #64 on: March 25, 2007, 02:09:25 am »

Hi Heather

I hope to start working on the Anna Series again.
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Heather Delaria
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« Reply #65 on: March 25, 2007, 02:14:16 am »

I'm glad it's now become a series!
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unknown
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« Reply #66 on: March 25, 2007, 02:17:34 am »

I do have some ideas, but they are going to take some actual work to pull off, research etc.
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Veronica Poe
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« Reply #67 on: April 06, 2007, 03:59:33 am »

No revisions yet?
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unknown
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« Reply #68 on: April 06, 2007, 04:38:24 am »

No Veronica

But I am thinking of adding at least one, maybe two more scenes.

I think Myra deserves some closure, and William and Suzette should meet one more time.

I will have to see how the characters feel about it. LOL


Veronica, if your interested--I posted a new story in the horror stories categorie, Ezrabette, The New Queen of Cats.

I could use a critique!
« Last Edit: April 06, 2007, 07:44:32 am by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Veronica Poe
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« Reply #69 on: April 07, 2007, 04:12:15 am »

Great, I'll read it and tell you what I think there.
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unknown
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« Reply #70 on: April 07, 2007, 05:32:42 am »

Thank You Veronica
« Last Edit: April 07, 2007, 05:45:32 am by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #71 on: April 10, 2007, 01:16:35 am »

We are still waiting for those rewrites, Sonny, and they better have some sex in them! 
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╔╪╪╪╪╪╪╪╪╗
☼The Pagan ☼
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unknown
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« Reply #72 on: April 10, 2007, 02:58:35 am »

Yes mam...
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #73 on: May 18, 2007, 08:00:33 am »

The Devil's Pen


My name is William Hargrove. The year of our Lord 1827, October, the Seventeenth, I do solemnly swear upon my honor and before almighty God that this is a true and accurate account of the events of my life.

I do freely and willingly confess to all the unspeakable acts of villainy and debauchery revealed in this written statement. These acts are largely the result of various faults in my character, faults that show me to be a base, and vile creature. You will not hear from me vain justifications for what I have done, or pleas for mercy. What I have done, I have done.

An untamed beast lives and breathes just below the surface of us all, straining against the confines imposed on it by our polite and mannerly society. That beast waits beneath the mask, gentlemen.

Oh, brothers, dear sweet sisters let not the ravings of that insatiable beast we call emotion get its claws into you. Lock away the ravening beast that rages with carnal desire. Lock it away in a cage of adamantine will and then cast the key away forever.

Pay heed to the warning in my sad tale. Hereafter build your lives on the solid rock of reason. So you may take every advantage from that sure and sound footing.


***

I drift back in my mind now to happier days when I was filled with youthful innocence and exuberance. It was less then two years ago today and yet it seems that it was another man entirely that stood on the steps of the grand and magnificent auditorium at Baneford Academy. I was waiting there to receive my doctorate in the literary arts. In my time at the Academy, I made something of a reputation for myself as a writer.

The Head Master, Professor Perkins was a dear and gentle soul who was prone to emotional outbursts, just as I was. In this and in our love for the written word we were kindred spirits. The dear old gentleman was so happy it was as if he were receiving the diploma instead of conferring it upon me.

It seemed to me as if I had waited an eternity for this moment. Unlike most of the other students, my parents had not been wealthy or aristocratic. In fact, it was something of a miracle that I had been allowed to attend at all. I struggled endlessly with finances. My parents died when I was quite young and although they provided for me in their will, it was in the form of a monthly allowance that was not nearly enough for tuition.


***

But my mind was not on these things. What the diploma meant was that at last I could marry my beloved Suzette. We met at her coming out party. I had not been invited to this affair, aristocracy only, you understand. Charles Sterling, a dear friend from the academy brought me along as his guest. Charles was a noble fellow who never held the fact that I was a commoner against me, the way most of the other students did.

But I digress. What an unforgettable day it was! From the very first moment I saw her, I adored her, I worshipped her. I was filled with a glowing love light, my feet disdaining the coarse and crude earth beneath them. My soul enshrined an image of her forever, my dream of love always and forever my sweet Suzette.

When my lips met hers for the first time what a rapturous thrill. Sharp currents of pleasure coursed through me, overwhelming my senses, stirring in me a wild and erotic fascination. It raged inside me like a hurricane at sea, buffeting my emotions about with waves of wild desire.

Her father strongly disapproved of me, from that very first afternoon at Suzette's coming out party. We met secretly every Sunday evening when she was supposed to be at piano practice. Her piano teacher didn’t mind. She was still being paid and, as Suzette explained to me laughing, she just couldn’t stand the, “God-awful racket.”


***

With my diploma in hand, I would at last be able to face her father and legitimately ask for her hand in marriage. I rode to the Brettel Estate, a grand and imposing five- story Victorian manor. It was set amidst a lovely eighteenth-century style hedged garden and enclosed by an impressively tall and imposing iron-gated stone wall. One of the servants took my horse the other led me inside. “I will tell Colonel Brettel you are here, sir.”

I stood in the grand entrance hall. A winding staircase led to the second floor, above me hung a magnificent golden multi-tiered seventeenth-century chandelier. Upon the freshly waxed floors were busts of some of the great men of British history. There was Wellington, Chamberlain, Cromwell, Shakespeare and many others all waiting there with me. I waited and waited -- and waited. I must have stood in that hallway for an over an hour.

Finally, a servant appeared and said; “The Colonel will see you now.” The servant led me to the library. The Colonel sat near the fireplace drinking brandy and smoking one of the biggest cigars I had ever seen. “What can I do for you Mr. Hargrove?” he asked.

“Sir, I have just received my Doctorate from Baneford Academy. Your daughter and I are very much in love. I have been assured that I have a very promising future. All of my professors recommend me highly. I have come to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The Colonel jumped from his chair his face flushed, his eyes blazing fiercely. “You little bastard! You have been sneaking around with my Suzette, haven’t you! Is she pregnant? By God I’ll kill you with my own bare hands.” He lunged for my throat, He was built like a bull with huge hands, but I was much faster. I blocked his arms and swung around behind him in the same motion grabbing him in a headlock.

“Calm down Colonel. Suzette isn’t pregnant. I haven’t touched her.” I pleaded with him.

“You get the hell out of here. If I ever see your face again, I shall sick the dogs on you!” he said. Now I was consumed with rage myself and sorely tempted to break his damn neck.

“Be reasonable, sir,” I said releasing him, restraining myself from further violence.

“Get out now,” he said in a low even tone. He was deadly serious.

I turned and walked slowly out. I was flooded with grief and anger. Well that did not go well, I thought. As I stepped out of the double doors of the entranceway, I heard the Colonel yell, “Grab him!” The two doormen tackled me, and held me face down in the entranceway. From the floor I could see the Colonels boots. Then I heard him say, “This will teach you to keep your damn hands off my daughter!” I felt his hands in my hair, and then he began to slam my face into the floor. More of his men must have come, because I could feel them stomping and kicking me with their heeled riding boots. I passed out, the third time my head went into the cold stone floor.

***

I came to in a ditch alongside the road, one eye was swollen shut, and my lips were thick and rubbery. I could taste the irony flavor of blood in my mouth. I ran my tongue around inside of it and felt a couple of my teeth had been chipped. Well there go my boyish good looks, I thought, laughing at myself.

Beside the road stood my horse Uncas, whom I named after the fierce Indian in J. Fenimore Cooper’s “The last of the Mohicans.” I had a hell of a time climbing back into the saddle. My mind wouldn’t focus and I was awkward. I couldn’t get my foot into the stirrup. Every moment sent sharp pains through me. I think my ribs were broken because they always gave me trouble after that. I don’t remember how I made it back to my flat.

***

I awoke two days later, naked atop the sheets. The sheets were covered with vomit and stained in blood. I limped around trying to clean it up as best I could. I was starving. I could not eat because of my swollen lips it was just too painful. My mind went racing out to Suzette, what would her father do to her? I had to see her. I threw on a long overcoat and headed out the door. I couldn’t ride, but if I could get a message to her, perhaps we could arrange something.

As I walked out into the street I saw a thin taunt and lively gypsy girl. Her mouth was exquisite, ripe, plump and succulent with the most enticing little gap between her top two front teeth. She had long straight raven black hair falling to her waist and the most intriguing coal black eyes. Her eyes seemed to peer into the secret depths of my soul.

“Oh you poor man, what happened?” she asked.

“Well, I got knocked around pretty good. It doesn’t really matter. My name is William. Would you please do a favor for me? I’ll give you whatever you ask, within reason.”

“What do you have in mind, darling?” She said, winking at me.

“Oh no, it’s not that! I need you to get a message to someone, will you help me?” I said.

“Too bad," she said with a wicked little smile. “Sure I’ll do it, ten pounds up front.”

“Five now, five when I get a message back saying the note has been delivered.” I said.

“All right William, I’ll do it. My name is Myra, a pleasure.” She said.

With Myra’s help, I was able to get a message to Elisa, one of Suzette’s old friends from finishing school. Soon after, Elisa and I arranged a rendezvous.

***

I saw Suzette standing in our secret meeting place. It was just beneath an old and distinguished gentleman of an oak, the last surviving member of the forest that once covered these rolling hills. It stood well over a hundred feet tall. The oak's branches forked out at twenty feet above the ground. It stretched one mighty limb across a small stream that ran lazily through the manicured grounds. A dove cooed softly somewhere in the high grass of the field beyond the stream.

"Oh William, your face! Did my father do that?" Suzette said.

“Yes, him and a couple of his men.” I said.

“Why did you do it William? Didn’t you realize what he would do? I am practically under house arrest now. He has men watching me night and day. Oh, I do hope I haven’t led them to this place.” Suzette said.

“I did it because I love you terribly. I want you to be mine always and forever my sweet Suzette. Come away with me tonight. We’ll leave the country. Let's go to America Suzette. We’ll start a new life together.” I said.

“I'm so torn up inside. I can’t marry you now, William. He means to marry me to some wealthy and powerful aristocrat. It's all business with him. If we ran off together he'd have you killed. I just couldn’t bare that William. I do love you so. I can’t even see you now! He has his spies everywhere,” Suzette said.

“This is not the end Suzette. I shall find a way for us to be together.”
 I said. As I held her gently in my arms, kissing her forehead.

***

“Well tell!” Myra said, poking me in the ribs, which were still sore as hell. “I want to hear all about it, you romantic devil, you.”

“She won’t marry me. She says her father would have me killed. After what happened last week, I think she’s right. I am half out of my mind Myra. I don’t know what to do.” I said.

"Why don’t you just kill the bastard?"

“You’re not serious.”

“No William, I know you don’t have the stomach for that. But maybe I can help.”

***

I saddled up, Uncas. Myra and I rode together to her camp just as the sun was setting in the sky. The sunset presented us with an amazing display of the maker’s art, broad strokes of smoky deep purple, splashed nonchalantly with a melancholy vermilion. You out did yourself tonight, old man, I thought to myself as we drew closer to the wagons of her vagabond tribe.

A violin played soft and haunting strains somewhere in the night. She made a series of hand signals as we neared, obviously to communicate with the men guarding the gypsy caravan. The campfires were already burning in the fading sunlight. The women folk were cooking the evening meal in heavy iron pots hung from tripods, over small stone encircled fires. The men were gathered in groups talking with each other, or sitting on the steps of the circled wagons enjoying an evening smoke.

She walked up the back steps of a red and yellow painted wagon. It was longer and taller then the rest of the wagons, with more elaborate scrollwork. Myra knocked. The round windowed door swung open slowly. An elderly woman stood there in the doorway. Her white hair contrasted sharply with the red paisley kerchief she wore about her head. About her withered neck hung a string of gold necklaces. But what held my attention were the eyes she peered out at the world with. She had the same coal black knowing eyes that Myra had, “This is Esmeralda…William… Grandmother I have brought this man William to you. He is in need. Will you help him?” Myra said.

She looked me over carefully, as if weighing my soul on scales in her ancient mind. “Give me your hand, William,” she said in a tired, world-weary voice, “Oh you poor man.” She sighed, “Be careful of this one Myra.” She warned. “You are a very passionate man William: so very passionate it is killing you. Eating you alive inside.

Here I shall show you.” She traced a path with her wrinkled finger over my hand as she spoke. “You are unlucky in love. Your heart line is so deep, so strong, but severed. You are torn between two paths. The lifeline diverges. Both paths you deeply desire but the paths do not intersect. You shall be offered a choice. I have never seen the like… I cannot help you my boy, but you have my sympathy.” Said Esmeralda.

“Is their no one who can help me?” I asked.

“Perhaps there is one, but I warn you! It is very foolish, very dangerous,” she said.

“I don't care. I've got to do something. I can’t live without her!” I said.

“Very well, come back tomorrow night.” Esmeralda said.

***

I returned to the camp the following evening. Myra ran out to greet me, her long black hair flowing gracefully behind her. “Hello William! It is all arranged. I will take you to your guide.”

“But where am I going Myra?” I asked.

“Ha, ha, ha!” Myra Laughed. “Why to see Old Kate of course! She knows things William, she maybe able to help you.”

I kissed her cheek and said, “Well, wish me luck.”

"Good Luck William, and for God's sake be respectful to Old Kate!" Myra warned.

***

Black muck clung thickly to my boots as we trudged through the foul smelling fen. Whooping cranes were calling out in that lonely, long and mournful way of theirs somewhere out there -- in the dense rolling fog. Foul shapes seemed to hang and glide just out of the reach of perception on that dim and moonlit moor.

We waded through waist high reeds from stranded hillock to narrow ridge. Stunted and twisted, little sharp-limbed trees took on the aspect of gruesome sentinels, as if guarding some unwholesome secret known only to them. Every now and then my guide would lift his lantern high and wave it slowly from side to side reminding me of a lonely lighthouse on the shores of a fog-enshrouded sea.

I could see no path at all. How my guide found his way through this, I shall never know. Perhaps it was merely his familiarity with the region, or perhaps this was his natural element, for I never saw anyone who looked so much like they had just stepped from the pages of a penny dreadful.

He was broad shouldered, thick limbed and short legged, perhaps six and a half to seven feet tall, if he had stood upright that is. He was bent and twisted, one shoulder higher than the other, his back bent as if crouched to spring. His crude and roughly hewn features only added to his apelike appearance: thick lips, a wide-nose, no chin to speak of and a low protruding forehead. Add to this primitive picture of a man, one baleful eye entirely white. A scar stretched over that eye, from the middle of his forehead, to just below the left cheek. His hair was a thick and wiry mop that sat unruly atop his head. He wore a horsehair tunic bound about the middle with thick rope, knotted in front and from which hung a long and deadly looking dagger.

“What the hell are those? See over there?” I asked.

“Corpse Candles,” he replied with a grunt.

“What pray tell are corpse candles, my good man,” I asked.

“Not your man, I Kate’s man. Keep eyes open, lips shut.”

***

As the night drew on the scenery began to change, we started to encounter more clumps of trees standing on lonely hillocks, the path rockier. Eventually, we came to a wood, and after some searching my guide located a trial.

At the head of the trail a totem was set upon a stake in the earth. It looked as if the bones of various creatures had been cobbled together to form a scarecrow. The head of this scarecrow was a mountain goat with long twisted horns. The torso that of a man’s but from its wrists and ankles hung the claws of what must have been a gigantic vulture, wings sprouted from its back rising high into the air above us.

If the purpose of this twisted scarecrow was to scare away-unwanted visitors this skeletal freak was more than equal to the task. I almost begged my primitive guide to take me back across the moors. I would have, but then I considered the dagger that hung from his belt.

We walked through this wood for what seemed like hours. Several times I was startled by the sudden caw, cawing of a crow, and the heavy beating of wings as it flew off. Now I began to notice bones strewn along the path, I could not shake the sensation that I was being watched.

Finally, I saw ahead of us in the clearing a crude thatched hut surrounded by torches burning in the darkness, the ground strewn with bones. Two human skulls were mounted on posts outside the door. I began to seriously wonder about the wisdom of this little excursion.

As we neared the hut, she emerged moving with an unnatural slowness and grace. I looked into her eyes, the pupils of which were too narrow and of a greenish yellow cast. Her head had a peculiar v-shape to it. She wore a long black robe decorated with curiously wrought white symbols that flowed and twisted around the neck and about the sleeves, the tail of her robe disappeared into the depths of her primitive thatched hut.

The interior of the hut was decorated with shrunken heads, weirdly carved figurines and candles. Long strings of beads formed a sort of doorway before which sat a stack of ancient looking, leather bound books. A parrot was preening itself high upon a perch; as snakes wound and curled about the dirt floor.

“Ah, Master Hargrove, I have been expecting you. What a vain and passionate man you are William, just my type,” she said, as her eye slowly winked at me. “Ha, ha, ha,” she cackled. A shudder rippled through me as she spoke, for her voice had the sibilant hiss of the crafty serpent.

“Auuugghk, passionate man,” squawked the parrot.

“Quiet Paracelsus,” she said. “He’s always sticking his beak into things that are better left alone. Ha, ha, ha,” she cackled. “Now where were we?”

“Auuugghk, ****,” squawked the parrot.

“Why have you come to old Kate, a love potion perhaps? No! I see you’re after more, much, much more. I have something that may be of use to you William.” She said, in her hissing voice as she lifted a pen up before my astonished eyes. What is it you see William?” She asked.

“It is a pen,” I said.

“Ah! It is that and much, much, more; it is also a weapon. Perhaps the most powerful weapon of all, for with it you can sway minds, move armies and crumble empires. I thought that you being a writer, might understand this.”

“I understand,” I said.

“No William, I don’t think you do. But never mind that, you did not come here for a philosophy lesson now did you? You came here, because you are obsessed with a woman,” she said.

“What do you want for it?” I asked.

“Ah, all artists know the sacrifices that must be made for their craft. The power of the pen exacts its own price, William.” She stated.

She then presented me with the most exquisite instrument of the writer’s art, long and flowing, gracefully balanced, sharp and golden tipped.

***

I discovered the power of the pen, soon enough. I began by writing love poetry, long essays about the wonders and beauties of the natural world, and long epic poems based upon the wondrous complexities and ironies of Greek mythology. My work was hailed as a triumph. I was the new darling of the literary world. Offers poured in for me to write novels and plays.

Eventually, I was able to buy up the majority of stock in the Brettel family business in part by writing glowing praises of the Colonel's competitors and stinging criticism of his company. Criticism the company richly deserved for labor abuses, bribery, and other nefarious practices. This helped lower the cost of the stock, and caused more people to sell, further lowering its value in an ever downward spiral. This was a technique that served me well in accumulating wealth.

When the day came, that I owned the majority of the colonel's company, I simply road to the estate with a few gypsy friends for body guards, and gave him an ultimatum; either he gave me Suzette’s hand and I gave him back his company or I would ruin him. The Colonel made a very wise decision, I believe.

***

Suzette was more beautiful than ever. The sun was shining and to celebrate the triumph of our love we returned to our secret meeting place. As soon as we arrived, she began torturing me with kisses that flowed warm and sweet like summer wine, intoxicating me with passion.

I held her tender waist from behind pulling her slowly against me, nuzzling my face in the tantalizing sensuous of her soft blonde hair. My mind enthralled by the sinful suggestiveness of this embrace. I begged, “Please Suzette, let me. I love you more than any man has ever loved a woman, I would die a thousand agonizing deaths for you. I would sell my everlasting soul to win your love.”

My heart pumped; my loins ached and my head reeled in delirium. I could stand it no longer. I quickly hiked the long ankle length gown up over her back revealing the white-gartered stockings beneath. I explored her luscious long flanks with my greedy hands. As she held on to the oak for balance, her firm hindquarters were before my hungry eyes taunting me with their ripeness. Overwhelmed with lust I had to have her.

“My God William! Stop! What has gotten into you?” I did not stop. I took her then and there. It was not until I finished that I realized what I had done. Oh, I thought my dreams of loves sweet bliss were shattered like the sparkling glass upon the jagged stone. I thought she would hate me. I thought that my dreams would vanish before my eyes and all because I could not contain my animalistic passion for her.

Suzette dropped to her knees before me and put her arms about my legs, “Oh you are a real man, you are -- you do not know how long I have dreamed of this William,” she wept in joy. We were married two weeks later and I bought her a lovely old three story Victorian.

***

I wanted to visit my old Professor. I missed him. I entered the upstairs office of Professor Perkins, Head Master of Baneford Academy. As I entered he got up from behind his desk, rushed over and began shaking my hand vigorously, “We all wondered what had happened to you my boy.” He said excitedly, “Locked yourself away in some dingy room some where writing your novel, Eh.”

“Well sort of Professor, I have come to make a donation to the academy and of course to see you.”

“Wonderful William, I must say, I always expected great things from you. Your remarkable passion was clearly evident in all you literary works. But what you are writing now far exceeds anything you have produced in the past, it’s almost as if it were written by another person. Such tremendous style, such elegant phrasing, you have exceeded all my hopes for you, I am so proud of you, son.”

“Thank You, Professor.” I said. It was then that it hit me hard for the first time I was a fraud, a complete and utter fake. My fame, my new home, everything rested on an illusion. It was not I who had produced these works even though it was my hand that held the pen.

***

I slowly began to realize to my horror that the pen had a mind of its own. I could no-longer write dreamy love poems or about nature and the Greek Gods…now my writing turned to the dark side of life: murder mysteries, horror stories and political tracts. My mind became filled with visions of crime and vice. But not just that, it also followed along as armies marched to carry out the brutal business of war; wandered onto bloody battlefields, and listened in horror to screams of agony, and death.

Now to my everlasting surprise these works were hailed even more highly than my previous works. What wonderful diversity, what comprehensive ability and insight into life, the critics raved, each trying to see who could lavish the most praise on me. I was truly disgusted. I don’t believe a one of these critics had ever given a decent review to a horror story or murder mystery before.

I began to notice strange things happening. Several businesses that I had criticized where looted and burned. The longer it went on the stranger it got, my name and face were everywhere in the news. People were taking everything I said as gospel; with one word from me in the press, I could destroy a man’s life. With my notoriety it became harder, and harder to go anywhere in public, I could not even go to my own play, for fear of being ripped to shreds by adoring mobs. All this that damn devil pen had set in motion for it’s own evil designs, which I was not to learn of until much later.


***


My days were filled with the fawning, demanding and angelic Suzette, my nights filled with aggressive and adventurous she-devil Myra. I hired her as “personal adviser,” to help with research for my novels. I don’t think anyone ever believed that, Myra was simply too gorgeous to be taken seriously, even though she was smart as a nine-tailed whip.

Ever so slowly, I lost the ability control the words that flowed from that monstrous pen. It was always there calling out to me like an obsession; I reached for it again, and again. The pen began to seriously intrude upon my waking life. I began to drink myself to sleep every night, and started up again as soon as I awoke, trying to escape its tormenting influence. I was becoming a drunken leach, an evil wanton cynic.

I had the means, and a driving compulsion to live out the sick, but wildly erotic fantasies inspired by the damn devil pen. With the ever-wicked Myra on my arm, I strolled into each and every new and more unwholesome escapade. Myra was such a temptress, “What has gotten into you William, you’re a changed man, I like it,” Myra said one night giving me that oh… so libidinous little wink of hers.

I tasted each and every vice that struck my depraved and fickle fancy. But I shall not try and recall them all here, all the meaningless nights of drunken debauchery, all the wild and often dangerous searching for forbidden and sinful pleasures. Suffice it to say, I have spent many a night in gambling halls, opium dens and the like. I chased every winking barmaid. I fondled every firm, round and tempting bottom, I could get my hands upon. I mercilessly attempted to seduce every female old, young, thin, round, dark or fair. I didn't care.

What purpose would it serve, to recount violent, desperate back alley couplings, or the nights dancing naked as a savage at sabot bonfires, the unholy orgies in the Mortimer Family Crypt, that filled to overflowing with the depraved and degenerate. Why should I confess every detail of the nights I spent reveling in strange carnal delights, with knowing, warm and willing ladies of the evening? I couldn’t even tell you how much coin I extravagantly, carelessly cast away at Madame Rousseau’s, House of Pain. What a venue it would have made De Sade himself blush.

***

I began experiencing frequent black outs. When I learned of my actions on these occasions, I was tormented with guilt but my mind could never fully accept that I had actually done these things. Even the amoral Myra began to fear me. The look on her face when we were together had changed from naughty playfulness to watchful caution.

I shunned my old friends like the plague. I could not bear to let them see what I had become. I feared the consequences of using the pen. I never knew where its unholy power would lead me. But try as I may I could not keep my hands from it. Many times I vowed never to write with it again. But that did not matter there were always fresh manuscripts there upon my desk.

More than once I awoke in a jail cell or back alley never knowing what I had done. But because of my new position in society the authorities choose to look the other way. I often wished they would prosecute me, if only to keep me away from the influence of the pen.

Suzette was crying all the time. I couldn’t bare this and it was the hardest thing for me to face. I couldn’t tell her about the pen or of the unknown consequences of its use that I now had to live with. I could never explain it to her because I did not understand it myself.

She pleaded with me to stay with her at night, to give up prowling the streets. She must have thought that I had fallen out of love with her. But in reality, I could not bear the thought of my corruption contaminating innocence. I would not share my sordid world with her and I did have the strength of will to resist the lure of the pen. But even in my darkest moments, I loved her. She was the anchor that held my soul from slipping over the edge of the world into the dark abyss.

My fantasies became ever more violent and sadistic, bloody images filled my imagination. Mists of evil swirled and gathered in the fading sunlight of my sanity. They hung in my perception like a pall over my face. My conscience deafened by the insistent drumbeat of carnal desire, I could not resist the hypnotic twisted tones of the anthropomorphic shades lurking in the dark corners of mind. It was all I could do to hold back the gibbering nightmares crawling through the attic of my soul. They beat upon the walls, screaming in anger, shrieking in anguish, begging for release.

***

Then one evening returning with Myra, I heard a low and piteous moaning, coming from the dining hall, “Yes, yes, oh God, yes.” As we rounded the corner, I saw Suzette lying on the end of the long formal dining table, her dress rumpled and scattered beneath her. Balancing, on one arm, her hand needing and pulling at the hair of the man nestled between her thighs.

“Suzette?” She quickly jumped of the table. It was my old friend, Charles Sterling who turned with a guilty frightened look in his eyes.

“Well, what of it! You're always out with your little ****!” My Suzette screamed, staring angrily at Myra and then defiantly at me.

“I am sorry, William, but I love her, I have always loved her,” Charles confessed.

“Take her and get out!” Suzette crying, Charles threw her wrap over her shoulders, put his arm about her and led her out. Charles was an intelligent man he never said another word.

“Well, now I got you all to myself,” Myra said, with a wicked grin.

I slapped her ass, hard, “Ouch,” she said, “You know I like it when you play rough,” she said putting her arms around me.

“Shut up, Myra.” I said in a low even tone.


***

Here, I sit at my roll-top mahogany desk writing by the warm glow of gaslight lanterns set about the opulence of my personal study, staring at it. The pen, exquisite, long and flowing, gracefully balanced, sharp and golden tipped. It begs to be held: to wind and whip its way across the page, like a ballerina upon the stage and just as fluid, graceful and sure as any prima ballerina. But I shall not hold that wondrous shaft in my hand again, no, for it is the devil’s pen.

It has taken everything from me: my love: my pride, my honor and my innocence.
My will and heart have been broken. I feel like a puppet whose strings have been cut, falling to the stage, never to rise again. The last good and wholesome thing has been driven out of my life forever. I knew that under the influence of the devil’s pen: I would only end up hurting Suzette, destroying her, perhaps even killing her. I had to let her go while I was still able, for her sake, because of my love for her.

My heart felt as if it was being squeezed to death in an iron vice. I should have found some other way, if only we had gone to America when I wanted.

***

I awoke this morning, my head throbbing, my throat parched from a God-awful hangover. I went to get a bottle of wine from my desk, when I noticed a stack of papers that I did not remember writing. I began to read them. They were political tracts about the glories of the British Empire; how it was Britain’s destiny to rule not only the waves but also the world. I have no doubt of the devil's pen ability to sway public opinion and lead the country into war.

This pen is the devil's very own right hand! It contains the will of hell’s master and with me as his instrument; the world will never be safe. In my imagination, I see the horrific war playing out, men marching beneath the banner of the pen's true master as civilizations crumble and fall crushed beneath his heel.


As its' power has grown, my will to resist it has weakened. I have decided that I must die, what is one man’s life, when the lives of countless others are at stake? No, I haven’t fallen that far into depravity, yet. I will not allow all the suffering and death of war just so that I might prosper. But it is only a matter of time before the damn pen takes over completely and I become the personification of its evil will. I must end it. I must end it while I still may. Oh -- always and forever my sweet Suzette.

I have prepared the rope. I shall simply stand upon a chair, slip it about my neck and jump. May God have mercy on my soul.

William Hargrove
PS: If you value your lives leave the pen where it lies.

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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
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Veronica Poe
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« Reply #74 on: May 19, 2007, 04:14:07 am »

This version reads much better than the previous ones. The events flow naturally, there isn't that competition between the pen and the romance that was in there previously and the language is fluid.  It's amazing how changing the order of some of the events can make things out better.  You also don't race to the end, like previous efforts.

However, I still have a problem with this:

Quote
I awoke this morning, my head throbbing, my throat parched from a God-awful hangover. I went to get a bottle of wine from my desk, when I noticed a stack of papers that I did not remember writing. I began to read them. They were political tracts about the glories of the British Empire; how it was Britain’s destiny to rule not only the waves but also the world. I have no doubt of the devil's pen ability to sway public opinion and lead the country into war.


There are several problems wit Britain trying to ruke the world.  First, at the time this takes place (1830, I believe), Britain pretty much already did rule the seas and the better part of it's colonialism was behind her. After this time was, for the most part, an age of consolidation. If William wasn't upset about things prior to this, her certainly wouldn't sometime later.

You need a new vision for him to commit suicide.  Perhaps William has a vision of the atomic bomb, or maybe he has a vision of his own future misdeeds.  You could alwayw move the age the story takes place up some and make him see his future self - Jack the Ripper or something like that. The magazine would probably love it and it is something that the story (as written) does not predict coming.

Peace,

Veronica

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