Home Other Fantasy
Inspire Me
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved

"Tom?" Alice asked me. She was whispering as we were in a library.

Closing my eyes I forced the face to remain calm. I knew what she was going to ask. I would answer, and she'd be happy.

And I'd have another chunk ripped from my dream.


Slowly I opened my eyes and turned to look at her. I felt sick, sick to my stomach, sick in my head.

"Can you help me? I'm stuck."

Stuck she calls it. Stuck. At least she has something. I can't even get that far!

Digging my nails into the palms of my hands I forced my voice to remain quiet, though it sounded desperate in my ears. "Stuck with what?"

"Oh Tom! You know... the poem I'm working on."

Closing my eyes I felt my fingernails dig deeper into my palms. Oh yes, I knew what she was working on. I always knew the instant they asked. The knowledge poured into me like water down a cliff. Powerful, irresistible.

And never wanted.

I sighed. "A poem?"

Jokingly she punched me in the shoulder. There was no pain from her punch. Instead there was just a sick pain in my chest, and horror as once again my inadequacy would be confirmed.

"Of course a poem. Can you help? You always help--"

Closing my eyes I whispered, "What do you have so far?"

In my darkness I heard her pressing her notebook flat. She cleared her throat. She began whispering, but to me her voice echoed in tones, dominating, overwhelming everything else. "I wander the mundane avenues of life\Each road a different adventure"

A heat, no a raging inferno burst through me. Behind it I was filled with possibilities. Various ways the poem could flow, that it could grow, change. It could become comic, dramatic, horrific, silly... One possibility pushed itself to the top and shoved itself into my throat. Urgent, desperate. I knew it was the right answer, the one Alice was looking for.

Why couldn't this happen when I tried? WHY?!

Brutally I shoved it down into my chest which began to gurgle and boil as though I was about to vomit. Desperate I grabbed onto another possibility, faint, definitely wrong, but the metre was right. "Until I got hit by a bus and lost my teeth\And now I must wear dentures."

Even though I knew it was wrong, even as it flowed from my throat and out my mouth, I felt my body relax, sink into the chair with a warm satisfaction. I always felt a strange pleasure when I helped.


Somebody nearby hissed out, "Shhh!"

Then she continued, her voice back to a whisper, "That's not what I mean!"

Of course I knew that.

And then the pain was back, the burning heat, the desperate build up of possibilities. And once again the correct answer, the one she wanted, burst to the top.

Resigned I spoke: "Change 'adventure' to 'destination' and then continue with: The routes we take will form our fate\Our roads direct our transformation."

The pain left, leaving behind a pleasurable warmth. A glow of a job well done. Opening my eyes, I watched the bland world rise into existence all around me. And watched Alice's face.

For a second she stared at me, and then she fumbled around on the table between us for her pencil and the soft hiss of lead on paper whispered around us as she wrote my words down on her paper.

In HER poem.

Why couldn't it be my poem? Why?!

"Brilliant!" she hissed. "Perfect! It's exactly what I was looking for. You captured the 'street' metaphor I was using absolutely! Thank you! Thank you!"


I looked into her face, her eyes wide and wonderful and happy. And so filled with creation.

"Tom, why do you never write poetry?"

Like a bird about to flee in terror I stared at her, horror, hatred, fear, and an all consuming envy dripping from my eyes.

"You've always been able to help me. Whenever I'm stuck you tell me the perfect continuation." Impishly she smiled. "You're my own personal muse."

For a second I stared at her. I'd known her for almost a year now, a long time in my life given how much my parents moved around. Her words twisted inside me, cut me like a dagger through flesh. Twisting, tearing. If only she knew! But how could she? HOW?!

As she wavered before me, blurred through my tears, I violent pushed my chair back and stood up. It fell backwards to the wooden floor, its hard wood banging on the wooden floor, the sound echoing loudly and remorselessly all around. All around the muted whispers fell to shocked silence and I could feel everybody staring at me.

They knew. They all knew. All of them!

Blinking my eyes I had enough presence of mind to grab my bag before fleeing. I could feel their eyes following me, scent their need for inspiration. Sense their hidden desperate urges to create.

Shoving the doors open, I ran down the hallway.

"Tom...?" Alice called out.

It was between periods, just after lunch. It was my spare. The hallways were quiet, empty, soundless. Except for the echoing sound of my running shoes pounding on the polished floor.

In the classrooms I could sense them. I could feel their dreams, taste their imagination. Verse hovering below their consciousness dominating their dreams. In most it was fake, but in a few it was strong. Each one pulled at me, created a heat in me. I could sense words wanting to flow out of me.

But they weren't my words. Never my words. NEVER!

And then I was outside and down the stairs, still running.

My breath was ragged now and I'd stopped trying to wipe away my tears. Behind me the bell rang, my spare was over. I had a class to go to. English Lit.

I didn't stop running.

Oh god, why me? WHY?!

Beside the school was a small woods, not wild through the city pretended it was. Tended, unnatural, controlled. Turning off the sidewalk I made my way along the graveled path beneath the trees. I could hear birds singing, the soft shush of wind in the leaves, the scent of flowers blooming in the spring warmth. Finally I couldn't run anymore. Stopping, I gasped for breath. My limbs were heavy, but my bag was even heavier.

I could feel The Book in there. My parents had bought it for me two years ago. They knew of my love. I'd helped my sister with nonsense rhymes. Already I had shelves of poetry, books of condensed dreams. But this book, THIS book, was empty.

The Book was for my poetry.

I sniffled and helplessly unzipped the bag and felt around, hoping not to find it. Instead it seemed to leap into my arms. Like a man possessed I pulled it out and looked at it. It was a plain book, graceful in its simplicity. The cover was embossed, I'd never known if my parents had found it that way, or paid to have it done. There were only two words:


They'd bought it so that I could create poetry.

And it was empty.

Empty then, empty now, empty forever!

Sure, there were pencil marks, pen marks, even crayon marks. Even some scraps of poetry I'd overheard from others, or read, written in an attempt to get me started. An attempt to get me to continue them as my poems, not as somebody else's.

And I'd never been able to. Never! NEVER!

Why was it so easy to help others, but so difficult, so impossible, to help myself?


Birds screeched and burst into flight, their wings rattling the suddenly still air. It was like the world was looking at me. Examining me. Hesitantly the wind rose again, leaves rustled against leaves. I knew what they would do, knew the song they would make, the poetry of their life.

With a sudden motion I threw the book away, watching as it arced into the tamed wilds.

Even the leaves in the wind could make verse better than I.

Sniffling, I rubbed tears from my hot face and began to walk home. I'd forgotten my coat in my rush, and it was a cool spring day. Too cold to be out in just my school uniform.

Somewhere in the distance my book banged against a trunk, and thudded into the soft loam.

As did my dreams.

Somehow I made my way home. My parents were still at work and I let myself in with my key. I thought about going to the washroom, about ending it. It would be simple -- a hot bath, pain killers, a razorblade... I couldn't go on like this! I remembered the last time I'd tried it. My mother had gotten home in time. Then it was the hospital, counseling, love, anger...

Instead I went into the living room and flopped down on the couch and started to reach for the remote.

I stopped.

I knew what would happen.

I'd listen, and I'd know what could be, and what would be, and the verse that would be lost for the simplicity of prose.

Instead I just sat there, staring into nothingness.

Eventually my parents came home. The school had called them, they'd been worried. They talked to me, voices first concerned and then angry. I just nodded when they wanted a yes, and shook my head when they wanted a no. Dinner was silent and after it I went to bed, alone, angry, empty. My parents didn't know what to do with me. Heck, I didn't know what to do with me. It was dark out and my room was cold. Somebody had taken my book bag upstairs. I looked at it, looked at the homework I knew I really should do.

But I didn't care.

Instead I closed the window, closed the blinds, closed the door. Undressing, I threw my clothes into the pile in the corner and crawled into bed.

I didn't need to sleep but I had to. The only other option was to face the world, and face everybody who could do what I wanted to do so badly.

I couldn't.

Finally I got to sleep.

Waking in the dim predawn light, I looked around. My room was cold, so cold that there was frost on my quilt. It was patterned into dreams of flight and wings and horses. It was patterned into peace and hope and power and divinity. It was crystal perfection, seemingly lovingly painted over a thousand years of careful effort rather than the random results of cold air. It--

A truck roared down the road in front of the house. The growl of its engine was loud, harsh--

Why was the window open again? And the blind up? I'd closed them both. I knew I had.

With a groan I threw off the quilt and shivered in the cold air, my breath misting. I rushed over and yanked down the window with a loud bang. Then, with my teeth beginning to chatter, I almost ran back into bed and curled up under the layers of warmth. Soon I was back asleep.


Yanking my eyes open, I sat up. The blinding sun was shining through the closed window and the frost, if there ever had been frost, was gone.


My mother in the morning. Not a nice sound.

Yawning I pushed the covers the rest of the way off and onto the floor. I stretched and clambered out of bed.


"IN A MINUTE!" I shouted, trying to rub the sleep out of my eyes.


With that grabbed the nearest clothes, trying to find two socks that at least partially matched--

And found a feather.

I just crouched there staring at it. It was white. A pure white. A divine white. A white so strong that everything around it dimmed to a dark and lifeless gray. The two socks I'd grabbed slipped from my hands. Slowly I reached out to grab the feather, but then I stopped, my hand a few inches away.

It was huge, monstrous. It looked to be a metre long. Nothing had feathers that big. Nothing!

I could feel it calling me. I could hear it singing to me. It promised life, hope, dreams, glories. It--


And with that the feather vanished as though it had never been.

I just shook my head. Still half asleep, I guess I was imagining things.

Shoving some deodorant under my arms, I yanked on the uniform and grabbed two socks that didn't mismatch too badly, and shoved my feet into my shoes. Five minutes later I was running down the stairs pulling a comb through my scraggly hair. Just as I entered the kitchen my mother answered the phone. My father had already left for the base and my sister was too busy with her cereal.

"Tom, it's for you. Don't be long. I've got a lunch made for you."

Still combing my hair, I pushed my chair back, walked over, and took the phone. "Hello...?"

"Tom! I just had to call and thank you!"

I recognized her voice even through the joy and happiness that filled it. "Alice?"

"My teacher called my parents. You know what?"

"uhm... what?"

"He read my poem, I handed it in before I left yesterday, you know, the one you helped me with--"

I closed my eyes, my throat was suddenly dry. I could feel my cheeks getting warm, dampness gathering around my eyes...

"He loved it! He asked if he could enter it in a statewide contest! And it's all thanks to you! I had to--"

The phone fell from my lifeless hand. Another poem finished by me for somebody else. Why couldn't I? WHY?

"Tom, are you all right?" my mother asked.

I could still hear Alice's voice coming from the earpiece as she went on and on.

"I... uhm... I have to go."

"What about breakfast? What about Alice?"

"I don't care!" I screamed.

My sister stopped eating and stared at me. I hadn't thought anything could stop her eating her cereal.

"Tom! Sit down right now! We need to--"

"No! NO!" Turning, I fled.

Gathering speed I ran out of the kitchen and down the hall, grabbing the staircase banister to turn. I had enough presence of mind to slow down to grab an old coat from the closet, mine was still in my locker.

"Tom! Get back here right now!"

My shoes squeaked on the tile as I slid to a stop by the front door. I yanked it open, but it wouldn't move. Of course not, the dead bolt was locked. I found it by touch and clicked it clicked. I yanked the door ajar and pushed open the screen door as the inside door banged into the wall.

"TOM?!" my mother called out.

And then I was running down the walkway and across the street heedless of traffic. The world was a blur, a hazy illusion through hot tears of self hate and blinding envy. A car squealed to a stop and its horn blared but I kept going. I made for the woodlot, it called me. But not the path this time. I ran into the bushes, through the greening clumps of new shoots. I leapt over thick roots and heavy trunks still waking up from the longer winter.

I hated Alice. I hated my sister. I hated my parents. I hated the world. I hated myself.

I ran long after I should have reached the edge of the woodlot. I ran through trees that became thicker and thicker, through underbrush that grew more and more tangled. Burrs tore at me, thorns ripped my clothes, squirrels and crows yelled at my intrusion as I fled by. It grew warmer, the trees awoke, the last of their leaves spread full. Hot sunlight crept through the tangled layers and sprinkled the land in splotches of gold. Scents of flowers hidden in darkness enveloped me and then vanished as I flew past. For an instant I scented the hot breath of a lion, but then it was gone.

Finally I stopped beside a choked silent stream. Moss drenched rocks stuck up from the stillness and insects whirred and buzzed along the surface. My face was hot, my cheeks wet with tears. I fell to the warm ground and sobbed.

"There YOU are!" The voice was deep, it accented odd syllables, and it sounded like it was being spoken through an oboe.

I'd never heard it before, but it sounded familiar. It sounded welcoming.

Wiping my eyes and nose on my sleeve I whipped my head around to look up.

And up...


Standing in the silent stream was a creature of myth, of legend, of wonder. It was white, a white so pure, so crystal, so perfect, that everything around it seemed to fade to pale watercolours. It almost looked as though the water refused to touch its four legs, but that was impossible.

Wasn't it?

Slowly my head rose up, my eyes sweeping along the four white horse legs up to the white belly up the white neck behind which rested an explosion of white feathers, whiter than the rest of the body if that was even possible. Up the long neck to a wise pale horse head with eyes of ebony half hidden behind silk-fine strands of mane. There was no variation in the white anywhere, no marks, no bare flesh, no black, no dirt, no dust.

The mouth opened revealing pure white teeth set in warm crimson gums.

Slowly I began to crawl backwards, my eyes never leaving its eyes.


It was the same voice. Familiar, echoing, old, wise. It filled me with peace, cooled the hot anger in my soul.

"I've BEEN looking for YOU."

My back reached the gnarled trunk of an oak and I stopped.

"We've heard your SOUL crying. All OF us. It was quiet AT first, but then IT grew louder, more DESPERATE."

All I could do was stare.

"I was SENT to find you AND I thank Athena THAT I have."

"What..." I swallowed. "What are you?"

It lifted one foreleg out of the water and took a step forward.

I could see the water gently moving out of the way as though it was afraid to be touched, but wanted ever so desperately to be.

The creature nickered in good humour. "What AM I? You must RECOGNIZE me."

Of course I recognized what it was. Pegasus. But that was impossible. Wasn't it?

The scent of its life slowly drifted over me. It was pure, horse-like yet not horse-like. I'd been to a farm once and this scent was like that, but with none of the death, none of the waste, none of the purely mortal things that had been a part of the horse scent at that farm.

"Tom, COME with me."

"With you?" I squeaked.

It took more steps, finally walking completely out of the water so that I could see its ivory hooves dry and bare of mud. It stopped just in front of me as I pressed myself against a tree behind me. Its head lowered until the mass of it was almost touching my chest. I could feel its hot breath...

"I'll HAVE to fix up YOUR body of course..."

It leaned forward more until its lips were moving along my chest. Where it touched my clothes puffed into nothingness. I could feel its breath, hot, warm, with the sweet scent of newly mown grass. Its eyes were like pools of dark, dark blue.

"I... I can't!" My feet tore into the leaf covered ground pushing myself further up the trunk. The creature just took another step forward and continued its examination of me and destruction of my clothes.

"Tom, TOM, you must. You HAVE the gift."

"The gift? THE GIFT?!" Hatred and envy swept through me. How dare this thing mock me. Oh God but I wanted to write! "I DON'T HAVE ANY GIFT!"

In my fear, my anger, my self hatred, I lashed out at the creature and slammed my fist into its pale white nose.

It reared, looming up above me growing larger and larger. It stretched out its wings and blotted out the sun. A scream rose from its lungs and roared out its open mouth as it stepped backward. Fire snorted from its nostrils as it grew and grew, overwhelming the light, enveloping me in its shadow... Screams tore themselves from my mouth. Screams of blind, primal terror...

And then it was gone and the sun was shining again.

And in front of me was standing... something. It wasn't Pegasus, and yet it was. It was the same, but smaller, oriented wrong. Or was that right? Man-sized rather than horse sized. And it was... different. It was standing on its hind legs like a man stood on his legs. Its fore legs, or maybe arms, didn't end in hooves, but ended in heavy black fingers. It's neck was shorter, more human like. Its wings were higher on its back, more behind its head. More like an angel's wings.

It stood there for a moment as I panted for breath, terror chasing terror up and down my spine. I didn't now what to do.

"Great GODDESS Athena! You don't KNOW, do you?"

Terror changed to sorrow changed to fear changed to sadness. Tears spilled from my eyes as I stared at him. I couldn't look away.

I watched it move and change from crouching before me to sitting on a smooth rock that just appeared. It sat just like a human would. I watched it cross its hind legs which were now its only legs. I watched as it flapped its wings a couple of times for balance before again folding them behind its back.

"What the hell are you?!"

"Tom, I DIDN'T know. I THOUGHT you knew. REALLY I did."

It's voice was quieter now, gentle, more humanlike yet it still had the same tonal quality as an oboe.

"Didn't they TEACH you?"

"Teach me what?!"

It shook its head just like Alice sometimes did when I made a stupid joke. It snorted, flared its nostrils and then cocked its head and looked at me from one eye. "DO you know WHAT I am Tom?"

My breaths came quickly, shallowly. I could feel my limbs tingling. "No...no..."

"I am A Pegasus Tom."


It blinked the one eye that was looking at me. "NOT the Pegasus, a PEGASUS." It sighed. "Be CALM. I WON'T hurt you. I'd never HURT you."

And with that my breathing slowed to something approaching normal and I felt tense muscles relax.

"What DO you know about POetry Tom?"

Glaring at it, I flung my self hatred and anguish from my eyes but it didn't seem to notice. How dare it ask? How could it ask? Wasn't it obvious?!

Blinking it turned away. "I wish We could have found you WHEN you were younger. Could have TOLD you. We tried, but WE always seemed TO just miss you."

Of course they did I thought as bitter memories filled me. Settling down for a year, or maybe a few months, or maybe two years. Just long enough to get to know some people. To make some friends. Then my father'd be reassigned and we'd move and I'd start all over again.

"You should HAVE been found YEARS ago."


The creature sighed. "You're WHAT mortals call A muse. Like I am. It's a rare AND wondrous GIFT."

"A muse? WONDROUS?!" Rage filled me -- had this thing given me the curse? "It's made my life hell!!"

"Tom, you're A muse. It WAS not my choice. Sometimes it HAPPENS. Always before we've found THEM when they were YOUNG. TAUGHT them, welcomed them. IT'S a wondrous GIFT Tom."

"Wondrous?! I WANT TO WRITE!"

"That's not WHAT a muse does Tom."

"Of course it isn't!" I remembered the mythology I'd been taught in school. "A MUSE INSPIRes....!" My voice faded out. Dear god. A muse inspires. A muse helps others create. Turning away, a new wave of tears burst from my eyes. All this time I'd inspired others. It was almost funny. I wanted to create, but I didn't have that gift. Instead all I could do was help OTHERS create. A sick laugh burst from me.

Of course! That explained everything!

I screamed, I cursed, I sobbed, I cried. Years of frustration flowed from me as the pegasus held me in its arms. I don't know how I got there. I beat on it, I spit on it, I called it names, I hugged it, I loved it, I hated it.

And all that time it just held me in its arms, its fur a soft satin on my naked flesh.

The sun was setting and the forest was a dark redness. The pegasus still held me in its warmth. I felt better, better than I had in years. Better, sadder, happier... Or at least less confused.

Slowly the pegasus' arms relaxed and I leaned back into the tree. Its bark was rough on my naked skin, and yet that same roughness was a pleasure for I could feel the tree's soul sluggishly moving behind me. Somehow all my clothes were gone, and only a small part of me cared.


"That's only FOR our mother, the ORIGINAL Pegasus. The NAME I've taken IS Xenophon."

I blinked. Xenophon. An odd name for a poet, but then Xenophon wasn't a poet. Just like I wasn't. "Xenophon, you said I'm a muse. Of poetry I guess. And you said you were too. But aren't the muses goddessese?"

"I'm NOT."

"According to the Classical Greeks there were nine."

"Yes. Calliope, CLIo, Erato, Euterpe, MelpoMENE, Terpsichore, Thalia, Urania, Polyhymnia."

"Then what are you? What am I?"

"We're BOTH muses. You ARE strongest in poETry, like me. We're KIND of, I guess you'd SAY assistants."


"Do you know THE legends of Pegasus Tom? One OF the legends relate THAT he landed on Mount Helicon one DAY and struck the rocks with HIS hoofs. From that POINT burst the fountain OF Hippocrene. The FOUNTAIN of poetic inspiration. Yes, the Gods HAD a hand in IT. The muses ARe only nine and humanity WAS bursting into ever GROWING numbers. They NEEDED help and we WERE elected. The nine muses are IN the mountain, old, HALF mad, aloof. Sometimes they HELP, sometimes they don't. But THEIR help often makes things worse THAN if they hadn't. Van Gogh was HELPED by Polyhymnia. She's branched OUT since THE old days. Newton AND Einstein were helped BY Urania.

"They only HELP true genius, which is OFTEN insane by our standards.

"We help everybody ELSE."

I didn't know what to say to that. It did make a kind of sense. The Greeks had had gods for everything. They had had great Gods and minor Gods. It seemed that the nine muses were for the great, and we were for the lesser.

"We're still NEEDED Tom. There IS so little genius, AND so much creativity. Without us HUMANkind would lose WHAT makes each individual member special."

"Xenophon? What's going to happen to me? What if I go back...?"

"Tom, I'm SORRY. If you GO back your misery WILL return. You've alREADy tried killing yourSELF once. Eventually you'll SUCceed. And THEN your gift will BE gone and the world will be A lesser place."

"I have no choice do I?" I whispered.

"None OF us do."

"My parents, my family, my friends..."

"If you GO back, you WILL eventually kill yourSELF. What will that do TO them? Stay WITH us. You'll BE able to visit THEIR dreams."

"There's no easy answer is there?"

"They'll FIND your body Tom. And then they'll EXamine IT. You'll HAVE died of A heart defect, previously undetected. They'll morn you. Alice WELL morn you. But IF you go BACK, when you END your life it'll be far WORSE. They'll BLAME themselves.

"Do you want THAT Tom?"

"No..." I whispered.

"Do you want TO stay with US? It's A good life."


"It's your CHOICE. But if you GO back you'll remember THIS as only a dream, AN illusion. You'll be as you WERE, and your LIFE will only GETrse."

Turning away, images began flashing through my head. I didn't want to go back to what I'd been. Back to the self hatred, the self loathing, the misery. My grades had been falling steadily, I had been barely passing. And it would only get worse.

I remembered my father when he returned from the first Gulf War. I'd asked him if he thought it had been right for us to go. He told me that it was, but not the way we did it. Sometimes, he said, there is a tumour, something that needs to be cut off and destroyed. If you ignore it, it'll just get worse. It's better to have a moment of pain and horror and then a longer, better future.

I had a choice. I could go back, try and hide my gift, reject it. I'd become more and more miserable. And finally I'd end it and that would destroy everybody I loved.

It turned out that I really didn't have a choice.

I looked up at Xenophon and he looked at me from both eyes. He knew I'd made my choice.

I stood up as he stepped back. His body shifted, growing, becoming again how I'd first seen him. The sun set as he slowly changed, and the moon rose. In the silver light he looked at me and read my soul as I suddenly was able to read his.

He began to sing and my body burst outward. It grew bigger and bigger, fine hair exploding all over. I felt the trees lean forward to watch the miracle, the water in the quiet stream halt entirely to witness something so rarely seen. Birds circled overhead, more and more, all coming to see.

I felt myself change. My humanness was sung away, slowly melting into nothingness as my soul took its true shape. My legs changed and stretched, my ankles bent, my feet stretched and thinned. My arms twisted, my wrists lengthened, and my fingers contracted into hard hooves. My neck lengthened, my face burst outward into a muzzle.

And when all else was done, only then did Pegasus' legacy burst from me. Great wings grew from my shoulders stretching outward, splitting into a fine web of feathers and flesh and bone.

And finally, with the moon high above, it was over.

I heard the world sigh, the trees lean back upright, the stream burst back into motion, the birds explode outward towards their nests.

And with a scream of joy I stretched out my wings and cupped the air as I leapt up and into it. I was free! Free to fly, free to enjoy!

Free to inspire.

One night I felt a soul calling to me. It wasn't by voice, and it wasn't by sight. I just knew it called. Its call was a need. Its call was a desperation. Words needed to get out but they couldn't find a way. I let the need draw me. I didn't need to fly, the silver cord of desperation was all I needed to stay a wing. Dreams filled my mind, glowing images of wonder and hope and poetry and wisdom. All entangled. It was all trying to find a way out and I could feel it entering me. I was like a half a circuit. Not the source of power, no, that was the dreamer. I was the engine that helped pushed the foggy dreams into words, and push the words into place.

Closing my eyes I let myself go to the orgy of inspiration. Desperation took me where I needed go and then I was free to play and dance.

Riding the words was like riding a rocket into heaven, like body surfing on the biggest wave in existence in an endless ocean that never ran out, and with a body that never needed air. It filled my body like cheese-drenched lasagna, and then overflowed in bursts of intense flavour. Each flavour fought with the other, each flavour passed through me. A current flowed between me and the dreamer. A circle of light that grew stronger, that flowed faster. It passed through me changing, organizing.

It passed through me being inspired.

Like it had so many times before I shrank my body into something small and hidden so that the dreamer could create without being interrupted by seeing me. Gently I touched down on something, my hooves tapping on paper.

And then I vomited out the inspiration.

It wasn't vulgar, it was glorious. An act of creation which wasn't my own. An irreplaceable moment of perfection and wonder as something unique came into existence.

And then it was done.

I sighed, collapsing with the warm fatigue of inspiration. In its normal state my body was hidden, invisible to mortals. As I had so many times I looked up to see who'd received my gift.

It was Alice.

I looked at her and she looked back at me.

And, somehow, unlike all the others I'd visited, she saw me. She saw what I was, what I'd been, what I'd become. She felt my soul as she'd never felt it before.

And she smiled.

"Thank you Tom. Thank you my muse."

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