Monday, 30 July 2012

The Scribe

It takes a power cut for me to write a short story. Dedicated to Robbie. Enjoy guys.

The Scribe

The arid smell of burning wax wafted up his nose. He dipped his quill inside the nearby inkwell and placed it on the parchment scroll, still fresh. Months of experience made his hand hover, without spilling one drop of ink.

Ink costs money after all. As do quills and parchment. The scribe was very fussy over the shape, measure and texture of his stationery. He was strict in the type of quill he used, believing some to be luckier than others. His educated mind knew that this was utter rubbish, of course. But he maintained that if a writer was not a slave, a flirtatious confidant, of his own thoughts both rational and not, then that writer is not a very good one. Maybe a chronographer. Or perhaps a stylist of words. Or worse, a royal scribe, may they all be cursed with vivid imaginations to haunt them in their sleep.

He had placed the parchment between two lit candles. He sat, placid, listening to foreign noises outside his room. The whining of horses, the barking of dogs, the incessant huffing of that elderly woman.
It was night and darkness swallowed the world, all save for the small amount of luminescence provided by the two candles. His eye twitched as the one on the right kept flickering, much to his annoyance.

The scribe missed the cold. This heat was unbearable and the blank parchment reflected his state of mind. The hot meal eaten at the tavern had not fulfilled its promise, leaving him famished for something else. He had tried to quench his thirst with all manner of vice in the past: gluttony, lust and avarice. But now he knew that no plate or bosom, blade or coin could replace the serenity of the ink snaking on the page, writhing into shapes, each with its own meaning.

Each with its own story.

His meditation over, the trance morphed into corporeal movement. The tip of the quill began dancing on the page, creating. Words, still moist and supple from their christening, made his eye twinkle. The scraping sound rang like a siren’s song and a lover’s promise.

He needed not see his script, much less read it. His hand, already intimate with the inner machinations of his mind, needed but the slightest of pushes.

Hours passed by. A story was created, but not read. He did not need to read it. He simply lusted after the following word. The story spoke of the unthinkable: the future. Years to come, where all men held magick and power. Whereby they bent light and heat to their will and pieces of artifice did their bidding. A world of many worlds. He wrote of men soaring through the skies and navigating the dark fathoms of the oceans. He wrote of the scariest feature of them all: a world where wits were valued and every man spoke, acted and was a nobleman. Everyone was intelligent and powerful. All were mighty, so long as they believed it so.

He knew that he could never report the story. Not to his people. Not in his time. It will be placed in that special pile, with most of his valued work. Work which any man in his right minds would burn in an instant.

But he was not in his right mind.

The ecstasy of the writing had now got to him. He will continue until the darkness covered his eyes and dulled his senses. But never his mind. He would only cease when his hand would shake so badly that the sculpting of the words would be compromised

Hours passed. Light snapped into the room like one of those switch and bulb contraptions he wrote about. He mused at the irony that when light and life flooded the world, his would cease to function. He dropped his quill and rolled up the parchment. Someday, he thought, someday he would publish these stories. Someday his name and creations, his fantasies, will be on every man’s tongue. Every child will aspire to become a scribe.


Maybe on the same day that man can be everywhere, when he can bend light and heat. On that day, his stories will leave the dusty bag. They will leave the dark recesses of his mind and flirt with everyone else’s.

It only takes a bit of perseverance. And his, the scribe knew, lasted through the eons.