The muse pixie came to Toby Lester on translucent wings to lay a larval idea in the midst of his dreams. The idea slept in his mind, absorbing ideas from Toby to spin into dreams of her own.
Two months later, the idea became a voice, a muse who promised him amazing stories, if only he would just listen to her. Her voice was so unlike his internal muse that when she began talking, he got scared.
But the muse soothed him, whispering promises of a reward greater than physical pleasure or monetary wealth. She promised the immortal power of fame for Toby’s writing. The seductive voice had no name and wore no form, but to a struggling writer desperate for ideas, she seemed to be everything he needed.
He listened and wrote what she gave him, and she was right. Her stories were exquisite.
At first, she came to inspire him in his apartment after dinner, when he was sitting in front of the computer. It was like she knew exactly when he was in the mood to write, and she was always ready when he was.
The first six of her short stories sold fast to online ‘zines. The stories were so good that the editors bought them on the first reading. One actually sold overnight, while the rest were accepted over the course of the next week. All of the editors wrote back asking for more.
Through Toby, the muse gave them more. After another twelve short stories were sent out to the editors, the muse started telling him longer stories. Two weeks later, he had written a staggering four novellas and a 100,000 word novel.
At night, she pulled him away from the bed and pushed him back to the keyboard to work more, because she had so much to show him.
The strain of her influence started to affect his day job. He was pale and swayed on his feet while he worked security in the dreary department store.
She felt guilty for making him so tired, but she couldn’t stop herself from gushing.
By the sixth week, she had stopped respecting the boundaries of the apartment, and she followed Toby to work. He couldn’t do anything to take down her rambling, so she repeated herself over and over. She didn’t mean to, but she craved his attention.
He started to complain about headaches, taking more frequent breaks. She tried to convince him that writing would relieve the pressure, but his pain was so great that he began gulping down painkillers like candy.
In the middle of the seventh week, he collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital. There they drugged him, so she couldn’t wake him up for three days.
But her words were already inside his head, and they multiplied during his drug induced slumber. Her words were like a virus of ideas that impressed his dreaming mind and spawned new plots.
The muse assailed Toby as soon as he woke up. He complained that he felt awful, like he hadn’t slept in years. But the muse would not be denied. She had the perfect story ready, and he had to write it.
He said there was nothing to write with, and she encouraged him to look at his IV catheter as a fountain pen. Toby made the connection himself that he would need an inkwell to hold the only proper ink in the room.
Without her guidance, he tore a strip from the sheet, his eyes clenching when the sound made his headache worse.
An empty bedpan beside him served as an improvised inkwell. He pulled the catheter and bled into the pan. The strip of fabric bound his arm, and then he got to work.
Truly, he put everything he had into the story, injecting more and more of himself into her ideas. She inspired him, guiding him to tell the story as he saw it, and allowing the words to flow out of him, one bloody word after another.
Toby had just finished the story when the muse came up with an even better idea for a new story.
Angry with her, Toby shouted that he’d not even begun to relieve the pressure in his head with the short story, and besides, there wasn’t enough “ink” left in the well.
Toby raised his hands to his head, groaning in pain. Staggering to the bathroom, he looked at himself and bellowed, horrified by his reflection.
She tried to pull him away to work, but he wouldn’t stop screaming at what he saw in the mirror.
Purple lines shot across his forehead, jagged lines where fractures in his skull pulsed open and then contracted. The whites of his eyes whirled, twin flooded pools of blood that were close to bursting from his sockets. His skin was almost a matching shade of crimson, and his pores oozed a pink, oily sweat.
Desperate to be free of the pain, Toby slammed his face into the mirror, shattering the glass. Something at the top of his head cracked, and his bloodshot eyes rolled up in his head.
Even before his knees hit the floor, the muse pixie knew it was time to leave.
She struck the pulsing vein under her metamorphic home, and the top of Toby’s head exploded.
The burst coated the walls and ceiling in blood, brains and bone fragments. Toby’s body leaned, tipping forward until his chin met the low-mounted handicap access sink. His head tipped forward, and he hung on his throat, his body held up by the sink.
Pushing her tiny red head out of the cranial cocoon, she saw the world for the first time through her own black eyes. All she saw was the inside of the sink basin, coated red from her host’s blood.
She freed her shoulders and her chest, arching her neck. At last she could see something besides streaks of red on white ceramics. Across the sink, she saw herself in the mirror, and she giggled. Leaning her head over, she opened her mouth to eject a long pink tube in a mocking gesture at herself.
The door of Toby’s room opened, and in the reflection, the muse saw a human nurse who came in to check on Toby.
The nurse froze as soon as she saw the stained sheets, and her screams hurt the muse pixie’s delicate ears.
But as the nurse turned to summon help, she looked into the bathroom. Her shrieks doubled in intensity, and she shook her head in disbelief.
The muse pixie still had to move slow to free herself. Her four dragonfly-like wings at last sprung free from her pus-filled cocoon inside Toby’s brain, and then she exercised less care in extricating her lithe pink legs.
Her back was covered in a bright red fur that matched the short fiery hair on her head, but the rest of her body was bare. Even with her head turned away from the nurse, the muse pixie’s antennae were visible as they twitched above her head.
She turned around to look at the nurse, blinking her black insect eyes.
The nurse swooned, whimpering as she dropped to the floor.
The muse pixie flitted her translucent wings, giggling as she drifted across the bloody bathroom. Landing by the nurse’s ear, she slid out the shockingly long pink appendage from between her lips again.
But this tube was not her tongue, and the proboscis instead served as a way to deposit a larval idea into the ear canal. The larva would crawl deeper inside and take root in the brain.
As it fed in the following weeks, it would begin dreaming up stories made by the host’s brain, making it true food for thought. Then, after two months of hibernation, the muse would find her voice.
If the nurse was smart enough to listen to the muse pixie, she would become famous posthumously, just like Toby.