a/n: I started this as a warped fan letter to one of my all time favorite authors. What has crawled out of me isn't exactly a work any self respecting person would want to read from a fan. My hope is that there are some people here who might appreciate it despite my twisted intention. Of course it won't take a genius to piece together who my favorite author happens to be, but I'd like to disclaim loudly that everything I've written about him is quite an indecent fabrication. There are some facts and tidbits that I've thrown in as a tribute to the master. I've also used my own pen name just to make it sound authentic. I won't reveal which details about me are true and which are not; it is fiction, right? All this being said there is some graphic sex in here and some other brutality and profanity and I don't want kids to read it; PLEASE!

Feeding the Muse

Chapter One

It's been five years already. Still it's not enough time to keep me from slipping into a strange kind of shock in the airport gift shop. The book stares at me from the rotating rack of bestsellers with a new caption: First Time In Paperback! Of course I recognize the cover art as a miniature version of the hardback. My hands shake as I pick it up from the rack and flip to the acknowledgments page. Even in this printing it's still there: Special thanks to Corinna Tate for her invaluable help, without which this book couldn't have been written. I barely put the book back in the rack before I vomit my airline lunch all over the carpet. It matches the brown pile with red and blue swirls quite well I think. "So sorry." I manage to gasp at the shocked sales girl, as I flee from the store.

In the restroom I use a handful of rough paper towels to blot the tears that are carrying my mascara down my face. In the reflection in the mirror I look ghost pale as I wipe off the gray tracks. Not that I ever have much color, but with summer coming to a close I have what could be called a tan if you don't look too close. Really just a weathering of the normal pink and a domination of the freckles that are usually content to stay in the background. What strikes me most about what I see is the way my eyes look – wary and hunted. Five years and I'm still scared to death, post traumatic stress my ass, it's terror I see looking back at me. I fumble in my purse for my wallet and take out the slip of paper I have folded and tucked into a credit card slot.

I reread the words I memorized long ago, from the worn and creased paper.

Dearest Corinna,

I hope this letter finds you well. I know we parted on less than ideal terms, still I would like you to know that my book will be coming out soon and I am sending you a signed first edition. I greatly appreciate all the help you gave me during the planning stages; I couldn't have asked for a better research assistant.

It saddens me that we were not able to come to a more satisfactory conclusion to our collaborative efforts. You well know that I usually seek a more decisive resolution to the problems that arose as we worked together. Still it pleases me immensely to think back to the time spent in single-minded pursuit of what could have been my masterpiece.

Which brings me to the real reason for this note. I find that my mind keeps turning to thoughts of you, and I have such a desire to work with you again. I know there are conundrums you are uniquely qualified to help me with, and it is my sincerest wish that once again I can count on your expertise in such matters. Perhaps if given the chance, I would be able to put to rest all of the remaining issues that have plagued me since we parted company.

Please let me know when you would be open to such a reunion; I would gladly remove any obstacles to make this happen. Barring such an occurrence, perhaps I will simply look you up on one of my numerous trips through the Midwest, and surprise you with a visit. You of all people know how much I appreciate fans of my work.

With heartfelt appreciation,


Like a well used map it folds back into it's shape and I slip it back into my wallet. In the bathroom stall I vomit the acidic remains of my breakfast bagel before the dry heaves set in. It takes a bit more time to get myself under control. I try to reassure myself that the woman in the mirror looks nothing like the girl he wrote the letter to four years ago. My short red hair used to be long and dark blond, and I now wear glasses with clear glass lenses even though my vision is fine. Still, I can't hide the way the fingers on my right hand can never extend fully, and the way I still limp when I walk. And I still can't help but feel lucky that I have seen five birthdays come and go even though each one has been spent in a different house.

I retrieve my suitcase and walk to my car in long term parking. First I dig into the case and put my pepper spray back on my key ring since the airline doesn't allow me to keep it there. On the drive home I can't get over the feeling I'm being followed. I'm used to it, and it's more PTSD they tell me. Still, I feel better when I pull up to my house and my car is inside my locked garage. I've had to get over the idea that I can be found if someone has the money to spend on the search. I change what I can, and lock up everything else. Still I know I'm in for a long night of nightmares, now that I've given up the alcohol that used to numb my mind.

Inside I set the security code and check the doors and windows, a force of habit I still can't get over, even though I never open them. It feels better to be home even though I still haven't fully unpacked after the last move. Some of my things will always stay in boxes, since I feel uneasy around clutter. I don't have much more furniture than the basics and the wide open spaces of the house give me some small comfort. I know there is little to trip over or hide behind, with everything flush against the walls.

Upstairs I make a cursory check of the spare bedroom, the bathroom, and of course the closets and under the bed. The vacuum tracks are still undisturbed which helps to calm me. My stomach growls but I know better than to eat; I don't want to have to clean the carpet tonight. I take my shower and get ready for bed. Sometimes the scars from my knee surgeries startle me; I'm never going to have nice looking legs again. I try to tell myself that the scars on my body are marks that I am a survivor, but the ugly red marks are quickly becoming reminders that I will be alone for the rest of my life.

Once in the cotton pajama pants and t-shirt I sleep in now, I head for bed. I could put it off, but I've found that the best way to deal with the nightmares is to face them head on. By eight o'clock I'm in bed, and by nine I'm awakened by my own screams. I'm sweating, and it takes me a minute to realize where I am and get my breathing under control. My doctor tells me that I'm having these issues because I've covered up so much with the drinking. My doctor doesn't understand how badly I'd like a drink right now, and the only thing that stops me is the fear of going out to buy it. I'm awake and my memory is in full technicolor – no make that blue ray – let's keep it current.