After the insanity at the fair and Pam’s fireworks, we’d all fallen asleep on the hill. I remembered everything in exact detail but I was comfortable when I woke up, too much so, opened my eyes to my bedroom, tried to move but found myself tucked underneath a blanket prison like I’d asked someone to do it. While wriggling free I heard laughter, my mother’s for sure, and three different deep voices that seemed to be the cause.
Okay, so I was dreaming still, that explained it all. I’d imagined the fair, James getting the principal high, Pam’s thievery, it was still the 4th– my leg slid free of the sheets in the jeans I remembered wearing. “What the fuck.” I got the rest of the way free, straightened into a stretch and impressively suppressed my early morning yawn to listen; the three voices I didn’t recognize were talking again, loud enough to shake the thin walls of my house.
The two steps it took to get through the hall were plenty for me to think of the worst; I stormed into the kitchen, into the stare of an old man in a suit. The other two strangers, similarly aged and dressed, were too engaged in conversation to notice me. “This is a hell of a dull talk…” Said one with an unlit cigar in his mouth, “How about some of that champagne?”
My mom’s back turned to me, feet up on the kitchen table. “Boom, away, doom, a day – Vein we firm – The sea is We,” The least wrinkled of the three began; I stopped, tilted my head, “Parle, parle, boom the earth – Arree – Shaw, Sho, Shoosh, flut, ravad, tapavada pow, coof, loof, roof –
No, no, no, no, no, no-
Oh ya, ya, ya, yo, yair –”
“Shhh.” Said the one who’d been, was still, staring at me through his thick-rimmed glasses, “There are times when we are all autumn people.
Something wicked this way comes.”
He nodded at me and as if on cue, I stepped the rest of the way into the kitchen. Then three pairs of eyes were on me; my mom, still facing away from me, snapped to a straight position in her seat. “Are you alright?” I didn’t plan on waiting for an answer, moved towards her-
A strong arm wrapped around my shoulders, stopped me after a step; it belonged to the man with the cigar. “Relax, everything is going according to plan.”
I tried to wriggle free. “Who-”
“Are we? That’s K,” My attempts at freedom gave him zero difficulties; with his free hand he pointed to the youngest looking of the three, then the one with glasses, “And Ray. I’m Ernest. You know us.”
“You’re family friends?” I guessed, “Held me when I was a baby or something? People my mom used to work for?”
Ray stood. “Transparent desperation; denial.”
“He’s wrong but not.” K said without meeting my eyes.
Ernest spun me around. “We’re Muses. Agents of Fate.”
“No,” I tried to drop out of his grasp but somehow he predicted the movement, tensed up, caught me, “You’re-”
“Proof isn’t what you need. Sit if you want.” Ernest unclenched his arm, I slid into the chair across from my mom; eyebrows lax, mouth slack, she looked gone. “Proof was, is, what’s taken over the town.”
“Most can’t handle it.” Ray said as he toured around my house’s combined living room and kitchen; he shook his head at our flat screen T.V. but didn’t comment.
“Pure creative energy.” K chimed in.
Our table was small, it was easy to reach across and grab my Mom’s hand; her pulse thumped out the beat of a song. “Yinz are fucking nuts, Mom let’s-”
She stood, I thought for me so I did too, but she walked past to stand next to the lamp in the corner of our house; her hands, with the speed her legs had abandoned, switched the lampshade from covering lightbulb to her face. “Who had the bright idea?” Ernest asked, then laughed with his friends. “If you can’t tell by now we’re in control; listen up.
Ray, K, and I are here to ensure the plans for your creative process happen as they should.” My mom was immobilized, apparently under their control; I had no option but to play along, respond, but I still had no idea what he was talking about. “Your book, kid; you’re gonna write it now.”
“I’m going to college in a month. I won’t have time.”
Once again they laughed in unison. “It’s nothing but.” K managed to chuckle out.
“Regardless, you’re on the wrong timescale.” Ray’s voice started a step back from serious but ended securely there, “The book will be completed in three days.”
It was my turn to laugh; I sounded decidedly less confident, regretted it immediately, crossed my arms. “I’m good already, but there ain’t no way I can write a book i-”
“That you are the writer is simply the result of how the atoms crash, the collision course they’ve been on since the Big BANG.” K stood while speaking, clapped his hands together to back-up his last word. “You feel the desire because you were programmed to.”
“Why now?” I didn’t know which of the three to look to for the answer.
Silence, for a second, while the Muses arranged themselves horizontally in front of me. “The book you are to write will turn literature back to tradition, towards the complexities from which it came; remind society of its worth.
There will be three writing sessions; you will resist the destructive influences that present themselves. You will use your two friends from the fair to that end. If you are unable to express the idea it will be gifted to a new life.”
“And what would that mean for me?” I asked as if what was in front of resembled a choice.
“We will back for the first session at midnight; all essentials will meet then.
Say goodbye to anyone not; nothing will ever be the same.”
They POPPED out of existence; my mother replaced the lampshade, looked to me. “Thanks.” I said because what else was I supposed to? She left the house, walked down the street.
I shut the door, waited for a second, opened it again; she was gone. I sat down, pulled out my phone, called James. “I’m gonna need some help.”