First Draft

Page 29

Benjamin continued to bite down on his finger with his eyes closed, wanting nothing more than to let out an unbridled scream. But he knew that he could not – though the office might be empty, the building was not.

The Thumper let out its own oddly-timed scream, and began slamming its watery body against the back of the drywall, in an apparent attempt to break through. THUD! The awkwardly protruding leg flailed about as it tried continuously to bash it’s way into the office.

“Redo, redo!” cried both of the fists in unison.

Finally, the Thumper reeled back into one last heaving slam of its body against the wall and then…silence. Ben opened his eyes and looked back towards the leg, which twitched and then went limp. A squeaky, slipping sound – that of moist skin on a smooth surface – came from the open hole in the wall, as the jelly sack slumped down, unconscious, evidently having smashed its own brainless head against the studs and drywall.

Ben looked up towards his screen. It had only been two hours. With as much as he absolutely despised doing the same work over again, this certainly wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to him today. He breathed in and out, in and out. It was just a quick mistake.

He looked over and caught the last few moments of a brawl between the fisted arms, which were awkwardly struggling with one another to wriggle back through the hole. At last, they arranged to take turns, and disappeared back into the wall, sealing the hole with a SLAM.

“Ok,” Ben said to no one, “We’ll get this done, it’s not a huge deal.” He scooted back up to his desk and flipped through the pages before him, searching for any other notes which might cause a future conflict. He found none, and so returned to his keyboard and mouse, and set about making the necessary changes to the work already done.

A long, seething growl reverberated through the metallic ductwork above him. Ben could feel Mara’s eyes piercing the back of his head. But he ignored the sensation, and kept working.

Benjamin, for the first time since he began writing his story, felt extremely self-conscious about it. He had recently been doing his very best to write at least one hand-written page each day, with the vague idea floating in the back of his mind that this, somehow, was going to be his salvation. Writing, through some miraculous function, would open up an opportunity for him to buy a piece of land on which to move his tiny house, and his animals, and his stored belongings – somewhere that he could finally feel a sense of “home,” and peace, out in nature, and away from the types of situations and relationships that were repeatedly causing him to have to pick up and reorient his already extremely disoriented life. Writing would give him a home that he could own.

“One page of each (one story page and one blog page) for thirty days, and you will get you land,” he repeated to himself in the dark moments, in a hopeful bid to encourage himself to write, to write, to write. And writing, he felt, could certainly lead him out of his current, impoverished state. But as Benjamin reflected on the work that he had done since he began thinking this way, he wondered whether anyone else would read it as uninspired, or forced, or even “corporate” and “hollow”, as he was beginning to feel that it was. And he had known that this feeling would likely come – it happened every single, fucking time that he had ever created a piece of art, music, writing.

Things would always start out inspired and creative. Then Benjamin would think to himself, “I like this – maybe others will like it, too? Maybe I could earn my survival from this!” And then slowly, the thoughts of money and notoriety would creep in, like a cancer, burning away the passion and creativity, until he would eventually recognize that what he was creating had grown lifeless in his clinging hands – dull, unimpactful and undesirable. And upon this realization, he would, after much misplaced hope and effort, set all of it aside, and go back to the work that he was supposed to be doing.

God, did Ben hope that this would not be the fate of this book. He had carried this story for far too long to let it whither and die in his usual fashion.

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