Here’s a spoopy little story I wrote. It came to me when I accidentally wrecked my favorite fountain pen. I also got real purple with the prose. 🤷♂️
The creature sat across from me, older than the known universe. Between us sat an ornate desk, carved from wood once found in systems now marked only by nova stars. On the desk was a sheaf of vellum, the pages derived from the skins of species remembered only by my companion.
Words, in my language, for my convenience, were inscribed upon the vellum. The creature had done this with an ink using materials that should not have been liquid. The dark script drank the light, lines and whorls like chains of singularities.
The entity stretched toward me, offering a palm unexpectedly like mine. Resting on it was a rough cylinder, matte black with shifting facets.
“My pen,” it said, with a voice that resonated in my lungs. “You may borrow it, but treat it kindly.”
Trembling, I reached for the writing instrument. I tried not to touch the being as I did so. Despite my caution, my smallest finger brushed a leathery surface. Dry, hot, it drove electricity up my forearm. I snatched my hand back with the pen.
“Excuse me,” I said. It shrugged, or at least that’s how I interpreted the sinuous motion.
“Review the document,” it said. “Sign it, but only if you agree to the terms.”
I browsed through the pages, the parchment crackling. I took care with the edges: so thin, I imagined they might cut me to the bone if I slipped.
My mind drifted. My hands moved with the ease of habits that weren’t my own. I removed the pen’s cap, posted it on the end. The cylinder nestled into the crook of my thumb like a happy animal. The exposed nib gleamed silver, with a point that seemed to recede forever. Before I could resist the impulse, I touched that point.
“Careful,” it said. “I tried to calibrate the interface for your species, but it might be thirsty.”
There was no pain. Still, a flow issued from my finger tip. Rather than spill down my hand to stain the pages, my vital fluid was drawn into the body of the pen in pulses like a swallowing throat. I felt only a detached curiosity where I expected horror.
My hand hung over the final line of the document. There, a space was reserved for my name. The thing across from me had already signed. The shape of its imprint seemed to promise injury to something behind my eyes if I stared for too long.
This was the moment that brought me here. I filled my lungs and savored the sulfurous air.
With a motion I’d practiced countless times, I exploded across the desk. A wave of energy propagated through my body: Driving from feet, through calves and knees and thighs and hips. I twisted my torso and shoulders. My arm lashed out to drive the pen into the throat of the thing with every muscle at my command.
What I thought was a throat simply moved aside. My borrowed weapon stabbed through only air. I over-rotated from the strike. The pen shattered in my grip as it met the chair across from me. Shards stung my fingers. Searing cold tore up my arm. I sprawled over the desk.
The creature wailed. Its silhouette rose into a confusion of whipping things. Cords encircled all my extremities. Curled around my neck. Gripped my waist. Writhing masses crowded into my mouth and ears. Despair overcame me in a rush.
“That pen,” it said, the voice rattling my lungs from the inside, now. It reached my ears through my bones. “That pen was a gift from my daughter.”
I had no voice to respond, no room for air in my throat. My ribs cracked. My skull creaked. I felt no pain, but my vision grew hazy with suffocation. It had, for the moment, left my eyes clear and held my face steady before three smoldering embers at the hub of its body.
“You could have just declined,” it continued. “I would have left you and your kind alone. I would have been disappointed, yes. But, I would have moved on. There was no need for this.”
I felt fingers and toes and elbows and arms and legs all pulling free from their joints under implacable force. Still no pain – why no pain, this whole time?
I begged my body for shock and oblivion it would bring to my mind. Anything but this calm and full awareness of my own destruction. I could hear the groaning of my tendons. The muscles I had just so recently pressed into service began to unravel. I shivered with horror but I could not struggle.
“Now,” it said, with what I could only hear as sighing resignation, “I will swallow your mind. Your story should be delicious. Then, I will determine how suitable your species is for producing stationery.”