Fatal Inspiration

Submitted into Contest #46 in response to: Write a story about an author who has just published a book.... view prompt



Born to professionals, a well known solicitor and a top-notch doctor, Amy was a peppy and exuberant girl in her mid teens. She lived and attended school in the upscale area of Chevy Chase, Maryland. In her Sophomore year, she looked forward to high school coming fall. 

She had big dreams, but to the disappointment of her parents, neither law nor medicine was her fascination.

Amy grew up gnawing her way through heaps of books and it came as no surprise when she aimed to graduate in literature from an ivy league college.

Introverted, she preferred her solace. Walks in the woods that extended from her backyard became her everyday routine. She spent hours there, scribbling, jotting, spilling her mind on endless sheets of papers which she kept neatly filed in organized folders with thoughts of converting them into books some day.

Her parents, annoyed by her behaviour and on many occasions, having gone in search of Amy when she failed to return on time, gifted her a beautiful golden terrier.

They hoped Becky would keep her safe from the unknown dangers lurking in the woods. And thus, Becky joined Amy as her constant companion on her woody walks.

On one such walk in mid October, when winter set in early and the ground appeared like a snow-white fairy tale book, Amy and Becky skipped along an unfamiliar trail in the woods.

Becky seemed to have caught a scent which she eagerly followed with Amy trotting close behind.

Becky ran towards a beautiful cabin nested in the wilderness to the outside of which was chained another golden terrier. Unable to match Becky's strength, Amy was dragged by Becky's leash to the cabin.

The commotion that ensued, brought out a very elegant young man, possibly in his early forties, prim and stout with a twinkle of knowledge and wisdom in his eyes. 

To the horror of introverted Amy, Becky simply refused to move jumping all over her new found friend, forcing Amy to acknowledge the stranger’s presence.

“He’s buddy said the man pointing to his dog and I'm John” he introduced extending his hand.

Amy reluctantly shook his hand with an awkward forced smile.

“Why don't you come in? It’s cold and a cup of hot chocolate or coffee can do you good” he offered.

With Becky not making any efforts to budge, Amy hesitatingly accepted.

They walked in. Lo and behold! To Amy's wonder and delight, she stood amidst half a dozen shelves extending from floor to ceiling stacked with neat rows of books. 

“Hot chocolate or coffee?” John asked

“Hot chocolate” replied Amy as she walked past one shelf to another taking in the misty odours of books old and new.

“You like books?” he asked.

“I breathe, live and love books” Amy answered involuntarily.

“You can borrow whatever you fancy. You live in the neighbourhood?” he inquired.

“Yes, North Park Avenue and thanks” she replied in gratitude.

“Ah! Wealthy parents I guess” he smiled.

“They're pretty good” Amy laughed.

“So, have books interested you all your life and have you read these all?” Amy asked curiously.

“I grew up a loner, moving from one foster home to another and books were the only constant in my life.” John replied.

“Sorry for your loss. But wow! it got you on your reading journey and quite a collection you got there”

“You should try writing too.” she suggested.

“Reading and writing are different arenas. I enjoy my seat in the audience reading what the writers play with on the field” John laughed handing her a cup of hot chocolate.

Amy warmed up to John and opened up.

“I read To kill a mockingbird at 13 and recently Gone with the wind” she said cupping the warmth of the cup with both hands as she took a sip.

So classics are your interest I guess” he said.

“Not really. I recently read A skill like none by Paul and was blown away by it. His first publication and it’s already on its way to the top” said an excited Amy.

“What made you shift genres?” he asked.

“I had to review a book, a suspense thriller as part of my holiday project. I just randomly picked this book” she said animatedly.

“I've read it too. Quite an interesting nail biting read” he added.

“Yes, agreed. I aimed to graduate in literature from some ivy league, but after reading that book, my interests made a paradigm shift. I now want to major in criminal psychology and work for the FBI” Amy smiled.

“That’s a paradigm shift indeed” quipped John.

“So, what about the review? Are you done with it? It’s almost fall now” he asked.

“Well, almost finished with the draft. Could use some help. Can you provide some tips and insight?” she looked at him expectantly.

“In order to write well as you hinted indirectly sometime back, reading quality matters. So, Paul must've read a lot of suspense thrillers I bet.” he said.

“Yes, as the title suggests, to bring about the perpetrator with a unique skill, Paul had to be seeing through his eyes and his reading experience must've helped him with that.” she agreed adding her own bit.

“The war scenes he’s painted so vividly touched me. Infact, I have quite a bit of experience with war” John said.

“You've fought in a war? You never said that. That must've been quite an experience.” Amy said amused as she placed the empty cup on the counter.

“Well, life is an entirely different ball game for people like us. Not everyone is blessed with a cosy life, parents, an upscale home and dreams like you” 

“When I was selected as a marine, that was a steady source of food on my plate.” he explained.

“I'm so sorry. Life must've been tough for you” she said.

“Choice is a very difficult area for people like us when we make fighting and killing a profession. Questioning morals is out of league. There’s a very thin line that separates right from wrong and one never knows when they've crossed that line. It gets all muddled up there” John reasoned tapping his right temple with his right forefinger.

“Oh! That must've been tough and an ugly experience. Wars are indeed ugly. I guess you must've suffered quite a bit of shell shock.” she asked.

“Oh yes. Wars do leave you with experiences and scars impacting behaviour all your life. Some cross the bridge, some burn it and yet others jump the bridge” he said.

“I'm glad you could cross the bridge and live amongst your haven of books. You're such a calm and mild mannered person.” She smiled.

“It’s late, could I come back again, later maybe and we can continue from where we left?”

“And can I borrow a book?” asked Amy as she walked towards the shelves.

“Sure” John said following her.

“You haven't read the book well Amy. And you won’t make a good criminal psychologist too.”

“Experiencing is inspiring. Without experience, there’s no inspiration” John continued.

“Sorry, I didn't get y---

“Experience is what fuels my inspiration to write. Paul never crossed the bridge. Paul is an alias for John. My next should make it to the top like my first and Amy, you are my first inspiration for my next.” he whispered, squeezing the cord tighter around a struggling Amy's neck as she slumped lifeless amidst the towering shelves of neatly stacked suspense thrillers.

June 16, 2020 03:41

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