This is a response to a kinkmeme request. I'll post the link later on my profile if any of you are interested to see the original prompt and also the link to my livejournal profile (which I have yet to create). Uh... let me know what you think of this. I'm not done yet (obviously) and I have no idea how this will end but... We'll find out! :D
Also, sorry about weird ratings. I had no idea how to categorize this so... yeah. Rating might go up but for now it's in the K-T range.
Arthur Kirkland was alone.
He lived alone in a small cottage just outside the city and the suburbs, far enough away from civilization but close enough to run into town for weekly errands or emergencies. He was content though. He didn't have to listen to the honking cars or walk on cold, hard streets. He'd done that before and hadn't gotten a good night's rest for the few months he actually lived in the city.
He made his living on his books, none of them terribly popular or world-famous, but enough to please the readers he entertained. He'd saved money from his government job that he maintained while living in the city. Money wasn't too much of an issue.
He didn't have neighbors but he did have a small tabby cat who kept him company, curled on his lap during the cold winters and sleeping close when Arthur was working.
Arthur had up and down days. Some days he'd be active and productive, doing housework, talking to his editor, writing a few chapters on his latest novel. Other days, his body and mind seemed to slow him down. Sometimes he didn't want to get out of bed or even wake up. His dreams were of happier times but he knew they were gone.
Never less, on down days, he'd schedule a visit with a friend or make something special. Sometimes he'd have tea with the closest neighbor he had or he'd wait for the post and chat with the mail man for a while, talking until the mail man had to move on or go home.
Sometimes Arthur did wish to have more friends or a companion. Sometimes, he wanted to spend hours and days with someone, debating, talking and being together but he'd tried making friends before, nearly stressing himself out. Often times he'd give up and convince himself that living the way he did was best and he didn't need someone.
It was one particularly sunny day when he went into town and he was riding on the train to the afternoon market. He shifted uncomfortably, wedged between two men with briefcases and work clothes on the train. As the train stopped at the first few stations on the outskirts of the city, more and more people came onto the train. Arthur frowned and tried to make room for those who needed to sit down. People fanned themselves on the train, unused to the sun showing and warming the air considerably. He tugged at his collar uncomfortably and shifted his satchel on his shoulder.
He felt a cool rush of air from the train station when it arrived at the main station, the doors sliding open with a muted screech. Arthur squeezed past everyone, glad to have escaped the sardine can of a car and sighed, frowning slightly at the hustle and bustle of the station. He walked the stairs to street level and blinked a few times in the afternoon sun. He sighed and headed off to the market, keeping a hand on his satchel's strap.
He hurried along the sidewalk, jumping a few times when a driver honked but tried to enjoy the city again. The city was basking in the sun, windows thrown open, clothes hung on lines and fans turned on high. It was very unusual of the weather but the people loved it. It was so wet and dreary sometimes; people just wore rain jackets and carried umbrellas wherever they went.
Needless to say though, Arthur grumbled about having to worry about his butter and milk.
When he got to the market, Arthur sighed, his mood lifting. Vendors called out to the people wandering the aisles, offering deals and sales. People shuffled through the rows, carrying bags of organic groceries and other artisan products.
Arthur made a beeline for the organic made tea stand ran by a retired old couple and smiled at them.
"Hello," he called out to them. The old woman's cheeks rose as her kind smile widened. She tapped her husband's shoulder and held out her arms to him.
Usually, Arthur was not one for hugs but he liked the old couple and felt welcome in her arms. She was warm and plump, her clothes smelling of spice and baking. She patted his cheek after releasing him and smiled at him.
"Hello, Arthur!" She held him at arm's length, looking him up and down. "How have you been? How is your health? Have you been eating properly?" She looked him over like a mother looking over her child before dinner.
"I am well," he said smiling. The woman's husband nodded to Arthur and tended to the stall, letting his wife have the freedom to talk. He knew Arthur's significance to her. "It's quite a warm day, isn't it?" I could smell the tea down the street."
"Oh, indeed..." She tittered. "That's what the regulars say too. Even Mr. Thompson said he was able to smell the stall from his home!" Arthur smiled knowingly. Mr. Thompson was old and blind but he had impeccable ears and a comparable nose. He could smell what you'd had for lunch from across the room and could hear a fly buzzing against a window in the next room over.
"So, did you come for our special today?" the woman asked kindly. "Most people don't want a hot drink right now, but we've got select tea leaves on sale and ice tea drinks."
"Iced tea? How very American..." Arthur mused. Though a cool swig of ice tea did smell good... "What tea leaves are on sale?"
"We can always count on you, Arthur," the man said over his shoulder. "Even if no one else comes to our stand, we'll always have you." He smiled and went back to serving the customers. The woman showed Arthur the packaged tea bags and pointed out the best tasting and the ones that were the 'hidden gems'.
All was fine until the next question came.
"So how is that next book going?" The woman asked softly, smiling at him. "I very much enjoyed the books so far. Are you continuing the series?" Arthur nearly choked and blinked a few times, looking at her, perplexed.
Not many people knew who Arthur was, but actually, Arthur was quite the author, one who had captured the hearts of readers across the UK. His novels were something of a surprise, selling out quickly. Naturally Arthur wrote under a different name but that hadn't stopped the tea stand owner's wife. Although his books were not for any particular audience, many people enjoyed them, many begging for the next novel as soon as the preceding one had been finished. For now, Arthur was happy in his small cottage, letting his PO Box fill up without his supervision.
"I... I'll see what I can come up with..." he said weakly. The woman nodded eagerly and then patted his shoulder.
"I can't wait," she said and Arthur nodded, smiling slightly and sighed, bidding them farewell after buying a few packs of tea. Arthur walked through the rest of the market, stopping occasionally at different stalls, but he was now distracted, his mind turning to his book.
His books were a horror series that quickly gained popularity around Arthur's thirty-second birthday. When Arthur got the letter from his editor about his sales around the entire island nations, Arthur quickly moved to the country, dropping his job, trying to hide. Somehow though, people got his address but fortunately, no one showed up at his house. Arthur used to read the letters of adoration but eventually, with each new release, the letters would increase exponentially and Arthur would read only those that seemed to stand out to him.
What seemed to captivate the readers was not Arthur's antagonist, the darkness influencing the darkness within, but it was Arthur's main character Francis. Francis, a French news reporter investigating a recent murder on a slow news day, had been thrown into an inescapable game with a serial killer who slowly drew Francis to madness.
The reporter had a totally of three encounters with the serial killer, witnessing the death of six victims, and countless of injuries of innocent lives, all of them bloody and yet, somehow compelling to the Frenchman. He had become accustomed to the sight of blood now, if not almost pleasant, but the killer had recently taken it too far, with Francis waking up with his wife's throat slip, his hands covered in her blood and clutching the knife that'd ended his wife.
And that's where Arthur had left his last book. And where Arthur began Francis's end.
When Arthur made it home with his groceries, he set them down on the kitchen counter and sighed. His kitchen table was almost completely covered with stacks of letters from a recent trip from the post office. A soft yellow lamp sat on the table by the recliner and Arthur turned it on, illuminating his falls filled with so many books, there were books on top of the upright books, tucked into any available space on the shelves.
A middle-aged tabby shifted and blinked from the recliner's seat, looking at Arthur with large green orbs. The corner of Arthur's mouth twitched and he walked over to run his fingers through the animal's fur, murmuring words of affection for the feline.
He walked back to the kitchen, unpacking his groceries and putting them away. He tucked his cloth bags under the sink and sighed, wiping his hands on his pants, looking around.
Arthur's eyes landed on the stacks of mail and sighed again, pulling out a chair and sitting down, sinking slightly into the patterned cushion. His cat came over shortly after to sit in the area just to Arthur's left arm as he pulled a pack of letters towards him. The letters were tied together with string and Arthur pulled at the knot at the top. The letters tipped and spilled but were controlled by Arthur's quick hands. The majority of them were white or manila but he occasionally got colored envelopes. Some had been sealed with wax, some had stickers but most were licked shut. None of them were particularly eye catching or extraordinary.
Arthur picked up his mail knife and slid the tip under a random letter, pulling upwards. He slid the letter out and unfolded it.
Dear Mr. Harris,
Arthur paused before continuing. Sometimes he had to remember his public name was different from his real name.
I am writing to tell you how much I adore your series! You're a great author! My friends love you too! We used The Knife as our book club book this month and everyone loved it! There's a girl in our club who usually has scathing comments about each book but she didn't this time! I can't wait for the next book! Will Francis be okay? Anyway, you're my favorite author and I'm sure you get toooooooooons of mail but thanks for reading this!
From your biggest fan,
Arthur chuckled a bit and set the letter aside. He liked his younger readers, though sometimes he questioned the parents allowing their children to read some of his less than happy/appropriate books. Arthur opened a second letter.
Words cannot describe how disappointed I am. As a human being, I demand of you to rewrite or change the plot of your books. They are unrealistic and sadistic. I can't imagine others reading such-
Arthur put down the letter. He'd certainly get more of those later. He started a new pile away from the previous pile.
Hi Mr. Harris,
Thank you for writing such wonderful books! I enjoyed every one of them. You're my favorite author. My English professor and I talked for an hour after class over your books, especially about The Panther. I think my favorite would be The Blood though. The way Francis still resists Mr. O'Connell's games but is still tempted is so…
Arthur sat in his kitchen quietly. Letters were strewn about him, no longer in neat piles but in scattered clusters. His cat sat idly next to him, purring when her owner scratched her head and behind her ears.
Enough of this, Arthur thought. Time to get to work.
Arthur stood and put the kettle on for tea, preparing a tea-cup with a bit of cream. The stove clicked to life, blue flames spurting out against the brass kettle. Arthur walked back to his bedroom, pulling out his laptop and opening it. Arthur opened the top and logged in, setting the computer on his table.
19,462 words to go.
Let me know of any spelling or grammar issues please.
Reviews are love :)