Criticisme

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
He wanted to become a legend. His wish was granted in a weird way.

Submitted: July 15, 2014

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Submitted: July 15, 2014

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When he got out of bed this morning, he decided not to work. He wanted to take a day off, something he hadn’t done for a long time. He abandoned his career six months earlier to focus on his passion: writing. He loved to write. He had always wanted to become a writer. He decided to pursue his dream. Even unaware if he had a real talent, he began to write. He had found a publisher interested in what he wrote. New Wave had asked him a few changes before making him sign a publishing contract for three books. His first novel had finally been published! He had finally achieved his goal and he was very proud. He was officially a writer! And today was another great day for him. Once a month came a magazine called Monthly Writers. He hoped that his book, now on the shelves for a month, would be mentioned. He was eager to read what the critics thought.

He made a hearty breakfast he ate while reading the newspaper as he did every morning. He cast a quick glance at his computer before getting up to do the dishes. He already had begun a sequel for his first novel. With the publication of the magazine, he was able to get a good idea of what he could be added. He took his jacket and left. He went to the little stand near his favorite café to buy the magazine. Then he went to the café to order something to drink and settle down to read the magazine. On the cover, he wasn’t surprised to see the very popular Lana Durant. He hated her so much! She was attractive, popular and could write on any subject and keep all her readers without any problem. He envied her a lot. He really wanted to be like her one day! They still could put someone different every month. She’s not the only one to write! He shook his head, turning the page. The first pages related future projects Lana has. She wanted to write a musical. Of course! Great idea! This way, everyone will see you on Broadway and it’ll finally make room for other writers. He took note to email Lana to encourage her in her new projects. He really wanted to get rid of this competitor to take her place at the head of sales. Since the publication of his novel, he was convinced to have a lot more talent than this bitch.

Shaking his head, he made a quick tour of the magazine to find an article about him. He finally found one at the end. He wore a huge smile before starting to read the article. He frowned, unsure of what he had before him. In which section was his book? He was horrified to learn. His book was in the section of “Horrors of the Month to Avoid”! How was it possible? The critic named Duncan Preston totally demolished his work! He closed his eyes, took a deep breath before exhaling and opened his eyes again. But he had seen right. Still in shock, he closed his eyes again and counted to five to calm down. According to the critic, the story had no plot and the characters were without substance.

“This guy is completely cracked!”

He finished his coffee and went home, still holding tight the magazine in one hand. He hastened to call his editor, pissed. She did everything she could to calm him down and have a civilized conversation.

“Tell me why this guy hates my book so much!”

“He just does his job. There is nothing wrong with that…”

“He talks about my book as if it was a foul shit! He destroyed my work! This guy is unable to recognize a true masterpiece.”

His editor muttered something he was unable to understand. When he asked her to repeat, she just answer him he was worried for nothing. He knocked loudly on the kitchen counter, accusing her of not listening. She sighed deeply, but he hadn’t finished with the insult. This literary criticism had demolished his first book when she had sworn that it was excellent. Why had she lied?

“You can’t ask everyone to love something!” she replied.

“Yet you swore to me that…”

“I haven’t promised you anything, David. Even if I liked it, there is no evidence that this will be the case for everyone. He’s a literary critic. It’s his job!”

“But why doing it on my work?”

“Just because your book was released last month.”

“I’m not the only one to write!”

She sighed again.

“I don’t know what you want me to tell you. He didn’t like it. There’s nothing you can do.”

“Talking to you is worthless.”

He pressed the button to cut off communication with his publisher. He was too much angry to talk to someone. And anyway, his publisher wasn’t a great help! He suspected a lie from her part. She was far from being honest with him. He let himself fall heavily at his computer. He opened it, determined to get to work.

“I guarantee you’ll like the second volume, Mr. Preston.”

* * * * *

He spent the next weeks locked in his apartment to write. There was damage to his pride as an artist and he demanded compensation. His publisher tried several times to contact him. He refused to speak to her. He decided to ignore her until his new novel is finished. He sent chapters when they were finished. It still was part of the terms of his contract which he strictly respected. He still was a man of word. He agreed to talk to her only by email. At least he didn’t hear her little arrogant tone. And as he could see, she loved what she received. Another odious lie, I guess. Except he didn’t believe it. What he wrote was great and he knew it. He just had to prove that to this stupid literary criticism. He had a lot of talent.

“Much more than this bitch Lana!”

This guy had made a big mistake by demolishing his first novel. But he certainly won’t do it again with the second. He was convinced. He would prove to the world that Duncan Preston knew whereof he spoke. He simply didn’t understand his book! He should explain to him. His second book will be better than the first and the third would be a bestseller! He had a lot of ambition and he’ll succeed. He was sure.

He took a break, taking the time to read his emails. Magda, his publisher, absolutely wanted to meet him. She almost begged him. He just deleted the message. He had no time to lose with her. he took a beer from the fridge and sat in front of the television. He stumbled on a variety show hosted by a woman who royally got on his nerves. He was about to change the channel when Lana’s face suddenly appeared on the screen. He stopped his gesture, rapidly mesmerized. The bitch gave an interview to promote her new novel. She seemed to dominate the whole set! She had personable and look good in front of the camera. How was she able to always be so perfect, wherever she went? He was unable to understand. He adulated this woman at the same level he could despise her. She was everything he wanted to become.

He strongly shook the remote control in his hand and barely had time to stop his own actions. It wasn’t worth to break the TV! He hastened to close the television. He paced for a moment in his apartment before returning to work. He hadn’t a minute to lose. His time was valuable if he wanted to prove his superiority! He blotted his environment to focus on the only thing that mattered to him now: ridiculing Duncan Preston. This guy really took himself for the greatest of literary critics! He was so far from being a leader in this field! And he understood nothing. That guy barely knows how to read! He shouldn’t lose his concentration on trivialities. His editor was becoming increasingly annoying. She nagged him at every opportunity. Except that this time, she refused to leave a message. She called him after just a few seconds later. He really had enough. He decided to take the call, furious.

“Leave me alone, if you want me to work!”

“Where’s the rest of your novel? I need it in the shortest time, David.”

“I’m working! What do you think?”

“You could at least answer my calls!”

“But which one? You spend all your time calling me!”

“Don’t overdo it! It’s quite normal for me to call you. So tell me how I’m supposed to know where you are?”

David heaved a deep sigh of exasperation, rubbing his eyes. How could he make her understand that she interfered with his creative flow? She would never happen to understand. He didn’t realize that Magda was still talking. He ran a hand through his hair, trying to regain the flow of the discussion.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Perfectly.”

“How do you respond to that?”

“Right now, you’re far from helping me. You will not let me keep my concentration to work. If I’m distracted, I don’t work. Do you understand what I’m saying? Let me work quietly!”

He stood screaming on the phone. His anger was visible. His face was completely red and a vein throbbing on his forehead. This time, he didn’t resist the temptation. He threw his phone against the living room wall, screaming with rage. He clenched his jaws. He took deep breaths to regain control. He already had lost too much time with her. He went back to work without any delay. The sequel of his first novel couldn’t wait. I really should impress everyone with Walk in the Woods! Much more than with Back to Basics…! Everyone will love it! His fingers danced frantically on the keyboard. He projected his rage on the plot of his story.

And the big day finally arrived!

The launch of his second book was fairly quiet, unlike the first one. He didn’t want to draw attention too quickly. He wanted to take everyone by surprise. Magda became almost psychotic after the official publication. According to her, sales rose rapidly. He didn’t know if he could believe her.

But David looked forward for the release of the Monthly Writers magazine, where the evil Duncan Preston had certain notoriety. He almost hated him as much as Lana. He sometimes fell that these two unhealthy beings were on earth only to torment him. Almost as if they were acting within the scope of some kind of conspiracy. They have nothing better to do than harass me…! A bit like my editor! The conspiracy theory began to seriously go to his head. To him, the literary critic didn’t like his work – or didn’t understand it, everything depend on his mood – only to prevent him from achieving his dream. Magda was there for the sole purpose of lying to him. Lana wasn’t nothing, already have a certain notoriety of her own. He stopped setting foot outside. The less he left his home, the more he became increasingly paranoid.

He repeated the same little ritual at the publication of the magazine. Except this time, Duncan didn’t just denigrate his novel. He completely demolished it and ridiculed it! David was totally furious! How dared he do such a thing? He had as much talent as the greatest writers in History. Maybe even more! He has no right to treat me like that! I have a lot of talent! Again, he refused to take calls from his editor. She had probably read the magazine. The criticism didn’t only destroy and ridicule his book, he raised the bar a notch: he nicknamed him as the “author without talent”! David was pacing in his living room, fuming with anger. If I have no talent, how come did I manage to get a publishing contract for three novels? He finally sank on the sofa, laughing. He just understood everything. Duncan Preston became literary critic only because he had never managed to break into the publishing world. By simple lack of talent! He decided to belittle those who had succeeded where he failed! Everything was perfectly clear to him.

His new phone was vibrating on the coffee table. Without thinking, he answered while still laughing.

“Magda!” he happily threw, leaning back against the sofa. “What can I do for you?”

“You’ve finally decided to take my calls?”

“If you prefer, we can just hang up.”

“Don’t be a fool! I presume you’ve read the magazine?”

“Yes, of course.”

“What did you think of it, this time?”

He shrugged.

“Probably the same thing as you. since when my opinion interest you?” I don’t need a guy like him taunting me about my work.”

“Is that why you laugh?”

“Maybe. You can’t understand because you’re not in the context.”

“And I don’t intend to be. I call for an entirely different reason.”

“Really? Which one?”

“There’s a good chance that your contract with us is terminated.”

He jumped back on his feet.

“Terminated? But you have no right to do that!”

“The decision is not yet final, but…”

“It’s because of Duncan, right? Because of what he wrote about my books? This dirty son of…”

“Your books are selling very well.”

“So where’s the problem?”

“We believe that we should not saturate the market with your novels. When signing the contract, there was a simple limit of three novels. No time limit. It wasn’t necessary to honor your contract during the next year!”

“And if I took my time to write the third? Will you end my contract?”

“Without talking about deadline, you want to take your time to write your third book?”

He shrugged again.

“Why not?”

“I’ll what I can do. Be at my office early next week. Okay?”

“Without fail.”

With trembling hand, he put his phone on the coffee table. He could barely contain his anger. Why had she denied the reason for the termination of his contract? Of course Duncan Preston was there for something! Not like something, it was quite possible. But not only he didn’t like him, but he belittled what he created. He had such arrogance! David was always determined to become a literary legend. He had the talent to become one. His publishing contract shouldn’t terminate by this band of assholes. He would see Magda to her office to plead his cause. Nobody could treat him like that.

He took a notebook lying beside him and began to scribble a few scattered ideas for his third novel. He was determined to take his time to write. This book would become his masterpiece.

* * * * *

He managed to save his contract with the publishing house. He was still in shock when he realized that there might not be another one. His publisher wanted to drop him. His third book might be his masterpiece, but his work in itself was far from over. He still had many things to write! The world should enjoy his impressive talent! He was totally shocked when he returned home. Why the fate was so furiously on him? Moreover, the big bosses of New Wave had received many complaints about him. He would have made offensive remarks to certain employees. He suspected Magda to be behind it. She really wanted to get rid of him by any means necessary.

He went home, relieved to have been able to save his precious contract. It was the only thing that mattered to him. He took a beer from the fridge and dropped heavily onto the sofa. What could he do now? At the slightest error, New Wave could cancel his contract. This really wasn’t what he wanted! He meditated for a long time on the issue, rising to return to get something to drink. How many beers he had beers drinking? He didn’t know, but he didn’t feel really good. His head was spinning endlessly and the floor of his apartment didn’t seem to be level. He sat on the couch a long time, hoping that everything returns to normal.

He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

* * * * *

Everything is dark around him. He doesn’t know where he is, but he heard a soft music. He goes to the music without really thinking. Even if he doesn’t see much around him, he still manages to move. Is he been here before? Very much doubt it. He doesn’t practically go out. He prefers to stay locked up for work. Beyond the music, he may hear voices too. He comes in a large room lit with several candles. Strangely, there is fog on the ground. He stops in front of a huge high-backed chair. It rotates slowly toward him. Duncan Preston is seated on it. He’s dressed as one of the villains in a futuristic science fiction series. He smiles.

“Hi David,” he says, crossing his fingers under his chin. “We were waiting impatiently.”

David raises his eyebrows.

“You were expecting me?”

Duncan raises his hand for another hand to slips in. Someone’s behind the chair, but it slowly emerges from the shadow.

“Magda? What are you doing here?”

“We had so much to tell you,” the woman responds, sliding next to the criticism. “It’s great that you could come.”

“I’m very happy,” says a voice out of the shadow at the same time.

Lana leans against the chair, smiling. Unlike Magda, she maintains a certain distance between her and Duncan.

“We have so much to tell each other,” she says.

“What are you all doing here?” David launches, suspicious. “You want to manipulate my dreams now?”

“On the contrary!” Magda says, stroking Duncan’s face. “We want to destroy them!”

“As if you never existed!” the critic adds, still smiling.

“Your contract was a mistake. I admit it now.”

“You’re nothing.”

David remains speechless over all the insults that fall on him relentlessly. Something is wrong. He can’t utter a word. Then the attacks continue. The critic and his editor denigrate his work, considering it far from what it takes to become a legend. He wastes a lot of time and money of many people. David feels anger rising in him, but he’s unable to make the slightest gesture. He turns his head and sees Lana doesn’t participate. She remains standing near the chair and just listens and watches.

“I’m ashamed to have believed in you!” Magda starts before bursting into laughter.

“An error that nobody can do twice!”

They began to laugh. David clenches his fists. Lana finally raises her hand and asks them to remain silent. They shut up. She walks towards him.

“You can do it,” she says in a soft voice.

“What are you talking about?”

“Mushroom, David. You can do it with mushrooms. You’ll enter the legend.”

* * * * *

He suddenly sat up on the sofa, panting. He felt dizzier than before falling asleep. He wasn’t going very well. He took deep breaths to calm the staccato beat of his heart. Finally, he ran to the bathroom to vomit. That’ll teach me to drink too much beer… Why did I do that? I never could stand alcohol… A hand touching his forehead, he staggered to the door, moaning. The fact that his hand touches his forehead didn’t help balancing his body. I hear voices now. I’m losing my mind! He looked up and saw with relief that the television was still on. It was just a movie… He frowned, more attentive. It was a TV show in the forest regarding the dangers of nature. The host stood at the foot of a huge tree and pointed a mushroom that grown close. According to him, poisoning incidents were part of a simple mistake. David wiped his lips without leaving the screen from his sight. Almost as if he was hypnotized because of what he was seeing. Strangely, Lana’s voice was still ringing in his head. Why had she mentioned mushrooms?

 Suddenly, a flash went through his mind. He had found the title for his third book! He hastened to get to his computer. Now he had to write. Ideas raced through his head. He couldn’t jot everything in order to lose nothing. He had to act quickly. He did his best during the twelve hours that followed. Nothing could distract him. He wasn’t hungry, or thirsty. Fatigue hardly bothered him.

When his body was unable to bear any more, he collapsed on his bed where he slept during almost a day. He was conscious of nothing. He seemed to have taken a nap instead of sleeping deeply. Magda had left several messages. The last was almost hysterical. Where was he? Why he didn’t reply any of her messages of emails? He should respect the terms of his contract that he shouldn’t cut contact with his publisher. He swallowed his plate, promising to read everything and listen to all messages. Since he had to be very careful about what he was saying, so it was better for him to avoid talking to her. Except that she was very tough. Instead of waiting patiently for a return call or response, she called him again. Of course, he took his time to answer it. Just enough to make her even more hysterical.

“Good morning, Magda.”

“It’s about time!” she threw impatiently. “Can you tell me where you were?”

He rose to drop his plate on the counter.

“Home. I wrote. Why? Is there a problem?”

“You haven’t given new since the meeting.”

“Don’t tell me you were worried: I don’t believe it.”

“I wouldn’t go that far. Don’t worry. Will you tell me what happened to you?”

David raised his eyebrows. He understood nothing. If she had filed a complaint against him, why was she acting as if everything was fine? She was perhaps his editor, but they really didn’t form a team anymore. She regretted the day she had him sign the contract. She hated him and he could no longer endure her since the meeting with the big bosses.

“I mind my own business without disturbing you,” he replied calmly. “This is not what I should do?”

“You… you began to write?”

“Yes.”

“Your last book?”

There was almost a hint of relief in her voice. As if she was glad he gets back to work.

“Yes. Is there a problem?”

“No! Of course not! I just didn’t know you were writing again. That’s it. And everything goes well?”

“Yes, as far as I know. I almost have finished my first chapter. I’ll send it as soon as possible.”

“Okay… Okay…”

“Can I get back to work?”

“Yes, of course…”

The voice of his publisher had changed strangely. He furrowed his eyebrows again when she wished him a wonderful and productive day. He hung up before being struck by a revelation. My publication contract will not be renewed… They’ll get rid of me as soon as my last book will be published. He fell on the sofa. Magda was very happy to no longer work with him. The big bosses didn’t cancel his contract. Just not renewed it despite all the success that his books have apparently. This Duncan asshole didn’t help matters either. And Magda just wash her hands. What a bunch of idiots! Would he fall into oblivion? He didn’t want that and would do anything to avoid that to happen.

“With mushrooms…” he muttered aloud.

Without making them languish, he had to take his time to write the third and final book. People will remember me for a long time! I’ll become a legend! He went back to work. His creative process seemed inexhaustible. The ideas flowed into his head and hands were able to transcribe all without losing a single word. Eyes fixed on the screen, a sinister smile widened his lips.

“I am a genius. I am a Legend.”

He didn’t know where he took all his ideas, but he was once again unable to stop. According to him, it did prove that writing was his life. It would be therefore impossible not to pursue his career. He was a write and become a living legend in the literary world. Magda left him in peace during the weeks that followed. He could write without being constantly disturbed. Having no friends or family, nobody wanted to hear from him. Good for him. He didn’t complain. He finished his first chapter only three weeks later. It was the first time he lingered thoroughly like that. This impressed himself. He opened rarely his mailbox. He had no time to lose with it. In fact, there was only his publisher and banker who were interested directly or indirectly to him. He was far from being a very sociable person.

* * * * *

A year and a thousand two hundred and fifty four words later, his third book and final masterpiece was finally completed. He only had to put the rest of his plan. He allowed himself to ask a little special request to his publisher. He asked her not to read the book before the official release. She already took a look at the first five chapters. Intrigued, she still agreed to comply with his request. A month passed before the publication of his new book. He spent a few hours in the forest, just outside the city. He took the opportunity to pick some wild mushrooms. He remembered the report during his last drinking episode. He knew exactly what he was seeking: the amanita phalloide, nothing less. And he found enough to do what he wanted. He made a large quantity drying before reducing it into powder. The day before the official sale, he went to the printer to pick up two copies of his own book. He brought them with him, a huge smile on his lips. He sprinkled the pages of the books before adding a little powder into the ink of his pen for a special dedication.

Now everything was ready.

He went personally to his publisher to give her his autographed copy. She thanked him, some joy coming off of it. She didn’t even bother to lie to me. What a bitch! He took care of packing his book before giving it. And he also wore gloves she didn’t notice.

“It was a great pleasure to work with you,” she said, a strange smile on her lips.

“I hope to get a new contract with you, dear.”

She chuckled.

“The future holds many surprises.”

David smiled. You have no idea how! He wished her a good read and took the road. He had one last stop to do before getting back home. He went to Duncan Preston asking him to read premiering his latest book. The criticism seemed surprised by his audacity. Of course, he vaguely remembered what this man had written. David found the situation hilarious! Because you’ll remember me until your last day! Duncan laughed too. He took the well packed book before hesitantly thanking him. He commented that it was the first time a pseudo-writer came in person surrender their book.

“I’m sure it’ll please you,” David said, smiling.

Duncan chuckled.

“I doubt it. Goodbye.”

He virtually closed the door on the author. The criticism was the last person to see David. He disappeared that day.

* * * * *

“You’re lying!” the girl said, trembling with fear. “I don’t believe you!”

Her friend laughed.

“You should, though. I swear this is the absolute truth.”

“And then?”

“The woman read the first chapters before being sick. She started to vomit her guts! It lasted several days!”

“This is horrible!”

“She was off work for several days. When she felt better, she had repeated seizures before falling into a coma. She died five days later.”

“This is the first victim?”

The young narrator nodded, a triumphant smile on her lips. She knew that her friend was scared. In addition, it was so easy! She had just bought the damn book. Everyone had been talking about the mysterious death of two people. Their bodies apparently had the same symptoms. To add an extra touch to those unexplained deaths, she had heard that the author had disappeared.

“Nobody’s seen him since?”

“No. Some say he also died because of his book.”

“Do you know someone who had read the book?”

“Nobody brave enough, no. Then? Do you still want to read it?”

“This guy may not like being criticized. And he’s a true legend…!”

THE END


© Copyright 2017 JeCy. All rights reserved.

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