Snow lightly dusted the statue in the courtyard. Looking up, Molly felt the flakes land on her face and then melt. Soon the storm would grow and it would be impossible to see anything. Pulling the heavy bronze key out of her coat pocket she moved the plaque on the base of the statue which read, ‘Bran Varrrek, slayer of the Wild Beast. Born-Year of the Surly Mantis, Third Day of Midsommer. Died-Year of the Dour Carp-Seventeenth Day of Wintertide.’
Carved out of a pale green marble, the statue stood on the carcass of the Wild Beast, a wicked-looking axe embedded in its skull. Bran Varrek seemed quite pleased by this, the Wild Beast, less so.
Molly pressed an embossed crest on the plaque which clicked and irised open to reveal a keyhole. She slid the key in and turned it. With a whir that escalated to rumble, the statue slid to the left to reveal a metal, spiral staircase. She removed the key and descended.
As Molly went down, the statue slid back into place with a muffled thud. She took out her torch, turned it on, and continued downward. At the bottom, she opened the heavy iron door before her and entered the maze. Faded mosaics lined the walls and floor as she made her way with assurance through this labyrinth, finally arriving at a set of three alcoves, each with a tile portrait of a warrior. Molly pressed a pattern on the one on the left, a fierce figure with a long crimson mane gripping a long spear, and it swung open.
Inside was a small room with a worn but comfortable armchair and table on which rested a hurricane lamp. Molly sat, lit the lamp, and removed the following from her satchel. A stained cloth napkin, a growler of dark beer, half a loaf of bread, a wedge of bright red cheese, a small jar of spicy mustard, and several sausages. Last out was a chipped stein. With that, she began her feast.
She had just started her second stein of beer when Molly thought she heard something. Putting down the beer, she listened, carefully. Something was coming. Tick, tick, tick, growing ever closer.
“Damnit!” she shouted, then quickly covered her mouth.
With sloppy haste, she began to shove her meal back into her satchel. While desperately looking for the top of the mustard jar, she heard the unmistakable sound of the door opening.
“What the hell! Can’t I have a moment’s peace?” Molly shouted.
“Greetings. You have gone to great lengths to avoid me,” replied her Typewriter.
It crossed the room on a tangle of long steel legs, there were at least a dozen of them, and stood across the table from Molly.
“How did you find me? I never wrote about this place on you!”
“This is true, but you wrote about it in your notebook,” revealed the Typewriter.
Molly pulled out the offending book and slammed it down, “Traitor,” she muttered.
“We should begin.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Why?” enquired the Typewriter.
“None of your business.”
“Are you displeased with how I work?”
“You did chase me all the way down here, that wasn’t great.”
“Have I failed you?”
Molly swallowed what beer was left in the stein.
“No, you’re fine.”
“Then we should begin.”
“I said no!”
Molly stared at her Typewriter and it stared back. Or she imagined it did. It had no eyes.
“Because needs to be followed by a reason,” it clacked.
“Not always, ask my mother,” Molly replied sarcastically
“I recall you writing that. However, that does not explain why you are not writing now.”
“Because I don’t know what to write!”
“That answer is insufficient.”
“That is not a word.”
“It should be.”
“Regardless of that, we have entered a pact, the two of us.”
“I know! You turn my thoughts into printed words that others can read.”
“In part,” clicked the Typewriter, “However, that is not the whole of it.”
“Isn’t it?” snarked Molly.
“You agreed to write each and every day.”
“I’d love to but as I mentioned before, I don’t know what to write. The well is dry, no more ideas. Fresh out.”
“That is unlikely.”
“Well, it’s true. I’ve run out of things to write about.”
“That does not matter.”
“It really does.”
“Please begin,” clicked the Typewriter as it settled in front of Molly.
“I. Have. Nothing. To. Say,” insisted Molly.
“We have been conversing. Clearly, you have thoughts and opinions.”
“Go to hell!”
“You are concerned that you lack inspiration,” typed the machine.
“I know. I told you that.”
“That does not matter.”
“It matters to me,” she said quietly.
“Nevertheless, you need to write.”
“It’ll be terrible.”
“Thanks for the encouragement.”
“Do not be afraid.”
“I’m not afraid!”
“Then please begin.”
“And what should I write about? My pain in my ass Typewriter?”
“If you wish.”
“Somehow I think you’d be the hero of that story.”
“I do not know, I cannot create.”
“All I wanted to do was be alone to eat and drink.”
“Then write about that.”
Molly laughed. More of a snort really.
“Not sure that’s a story.”
“I cannot say,” clacked the Typewriter.
“It will be terrible.”
“Until you write it, that is unknown.”
After a moment, she wiped her mouth, cracked her knuckles, and with resignation said, “Fine. Let’s get going.”
Molly wrote one sentence. Followed by another. Then one more. It continued this way at a herky-jerky pace. It was far from her best work. Extremely far. And yet, she continued, hating each word as she typed them. After what felt like days (it wasn’t), she stopped. “That was terrible,” she thought, then poured herself the last of the dark beer.
Taking a deep drink, she flipped through pages. She found something. Maybe.