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The tinkling of bells and the smell of burnt coffee alerted me my muse had fled. "Having fun, Isogolem?" her replacement heckled.

I stared at the screen, knowing it would remain blank unless I typed something, but afraid of what might come out if I did. "You could help me, you know?" I said. The jester cartwheeled gleefully around, his bells giggling in time with his laughter, leaving me embarrassed I mentioned it. He finished his circuit perched atop my monitor like a gargoyle.

"Well, being a simple knave you know that is one thing I cannot do, Galoot. These butter-fingers of mine would only get in the way of your poised digits," he responded, juggling three balls with one free hand.

"Then why don't you leave me alone?"

"Another impossibility. You called me here, So-So. You came onto the web arrogant and self-assured. 'I'm an excellent writer. I've been published.' You neglected to mention where. But then perhaps a high school newsletter isn't something to brag about. You might have been a great author one day, Mr. Lego, but you couldn't be bothered to make the effort. And I'm here to make sure you pay the price." The ending hiss degenerated into a fit of snickers which felled him from his perch onto the floor where he rolled and kicked, clutching his belly.

"What do you mean?!? I wrote masterpiece after masterpiece -"

"Every one of them worse than the one before it!" he said between gasps.

I yelled over him. "- which those idiots couldn't appreciate. My stories are visionary works, far beyond anything posted by that cult mediocrity they call 'editors'!"

He pretended to yawn and stretched like a cat. "Really? Then why do you keep posting? You've had your account for over a year and you haven't learned a thing, have you? You scoffed at feedback, refused all offers of help, and insulted even the die-hards who still read your pieces and sent you constructive criticism. You don't get many upvotes anymore. You don't get many votes at all, actually. Some part of you must know the truth: No one even reads your 'masterpieces' anymore."

"No, they just can't grasp the metaphor of -"

"Bollocks! You know just writing doesn't mean a thing in the end," he said, strange firelight shadows playing across his face. "You must be able to listen before you can learn to speak."

"I'm listening to you," I returned, desperately hoping I finally had him.

He stood over me now, his teeth smiling while his eyes dissected me. "Hardly. You use the time while I'm speaking to try to formulate your next pathetic volley, " I began to object, but he continued without taking a breath, this time yelling me to silence. "Well, hear this, you snot-nosed little egotist. No one will ever read your drivel every again! You might write 'War and Peace' tomorrow and peoples' eyes will slide right past it, unless you learn to do the one thing which I know you will never do: listen! You have inflicted your trite and shallow verbal dustings on another human being for the last time - A fact of which I will enjoy reminding you of for the rest of your miserable purposeless life!!"

He leaned toward me, until our noses nearly touched and the acrid smell of decay filled my nostrils as he whispered, "Go ahead. Write something. I dare you to try." Then kissed me full on the lips and began laughing again as he somersaulted away. He landed a few meters away, crouching, his wide and wild eyes focused on an imaginary page, his hands poised expectantly over a nonexistent keyboard, every muscle tensed, the image of anticipation.

My sobs echoed through my empty apartment, followed soon by another of his giddy screams.


submitted for The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest and with thanks to Servo5678 for the inspiration.
You can send me any feedback you like, but ... I won't read it.

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