A wise person does not stand between the cliffs and the sea during a storm.
These words echoed in my head as I walked towards the hotel, the invitation to the MUSE association meeting folded in my pocket. I had avoided my sisters – all nine of them – for over two thousand years. I had tried to get along with them in my younger days, I really had. But some families are just too dysfunctional for my tastes. The Greek gods were among the worst, though Lakshmi tells me the Hindu gods are just as bad. I don’t doubt her; I just know my own. I like my drama in stories and art, not my life.
I considered skipping this one; there would be another one in a decade or two. Then I felt the other piece of paper in my pocket. I pulled it out – an obituary for a minor muse. This one favored drug induced hallucinations and painters. Cause of death was given as overdose. How does a muse overdose? No, it was a hit. I knew this one. Went by the name Lizal or Liel, depending on the artist being inspired. She was one of mine, a freelancer. The Guild couldn’t stand us, but they tended to leave us alone. Something had changed that; more freelancers were disappearing every year. One of us must have stepped on someone’s toes. I’m guessing it was me.
I walked past the Capitol Hotel, deciding to have a quick meal first. I tapped my gold serpent earring. It wrapped through my earlobe then lazily draped around and over the top of my ear, as if whispering the secrets of gods and demons for me alone to hear. I had upgraded my emblem over the years to include functions such as phone, voice texting, and personal assistant applications.
I ordered, “Locate closest cattle.”
The serpent answered, Judge Benjamin Franklin, writer. Location: Franscico’s Coffee and Tea shop.
It was using a sultry female voice. Time for a change. I ordered, Switch to the David voice and read Ben’s current work.
Poor Ben. One of Thalia’s daughter’s had taken up the cause of creative names, which meant comedic gold if you share her particular flavor of humor. Sadly, his parents – a lawyer and a quantum physicist – thought they were inspiring him to future greatness. So, Ben published under the nom de plume J.B. Franklin. He was currently working on some sort of sci-fi adventure space opera involving computer programmers. It made for an exotic mix of creative juices. I listened to today’s writing, savoring the metallic taste of blood and gun smoke with a slight aftertaste of adrenaline and Grade B movie cellulose.
The David voice was a rich baritone, perfect for Ben’s work.
“There’s nowhere left to run, Seth. Give it up.” The assassin smirked as she sashayed towards her target, gun trained on his head. “Now, where did you hide the microdisc?” She smiled triumphantly as Seth reached up to tug at his earring. The gold snake curled through his earlobe and up around to hook over the top of his ear. “You have two choices. Give me the microdisc and walk out or I shoot you and take the disc anyway.”
Seth growled, “I’ll take option 3.”
“Can’t count? How’d you ever become a programmer?”
“It’s easy,” he growled in his raspy baritone, “Find the alternative when nothing else will work.” Seth sprang up and threw a shiraken.
It flew past her head. “Ha! Some option. You missed.”
The shiraken hit the closet door. “That’s what you think.” He dropped a fog bomb and used the cover to make a run for it. He slammed into the closet, retrieving the shiraken as he opened the door and pushed through…
…the door of Francisco’s Coffee and Tea Shop. Glancing over his shoulder to be certain the assassin hadn’t followed him through the portal, he nearly walked right into…
Interesting. The kid might be just the ace I’ll need up my sleeve when I confront my sisters. I looked around the shop, following the narcotic scent of neurons firing through the creative cascades of steady production. That’s my boy – working happily like a good little bee. This is ambrosia.
There were lots of artistic types to wade through here. All the ones I saw bore the mark of one muse or another; an ultraviolet brand on the forehead such as Thalia’s comedy mask or Terpsichore’s lyre. I passed a gaggle of textile artists brainstorming. The energy was spiky and created quite the sugar rush. I love riding the wave of inspiration. Ideas fly around, wild and colorful. The hangover the next day is worth it if it is followed by steady production. Their muses were too high to notice me; good thing. They all looked to be Guild.
Copyright 2011, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved