He sat there, pen in hand and hand on head. The world before him had paused. It wasn’t a modern pause, though. It wasn’t a clean break where nothing moved and the whole world was drenched in a silent calm. No, it was a VHS pause; the old stuttering and shaking that kept catching your eye and impressing upon you that things could go no further.
The narrative had stopped, progression had stopped, but motion and energy still remained. Like a fidgeting horse in the starting gate, the world was itching to break free. It was waiting for the starting gun. It was waiting for the press of a button marked play. It was waiting for the one idea that would unlock its energy and focus it all in one direction. It was waiting in vain.
He let the pen fall, slipping out of his fingers and tumbling, in slow motion, down onto the blank sheet of paper laid out before him. As an isolated comrade caught in an ambush, the pen collapsed. His eyes watched it bounce once, twice, three times and then lay at rest amid the splatters of its blue blood. With its death, he had lost his own love of life. He wanted to ignore the rattling machinegun fire of doubts and expectations that cracked around him and rush forward to cradle it in his arms. He wanted to hold on to those good memories, those times of innocence and exploration that they had once enjoyed together. He wanted to forgive it of all those insignificant slights and arguments that had forced them apart. But, as he watched it lie there, motionless, he knew that it was over.
The dream was over. Their long life together cut short in a single moment. Thousands of hopes and dreams dissolved into a wasteland of the mundane. Years of toil; years of passion; years of certainty, all obliterated. And what was left? Their identity had become so entwined that his very essence seemed to have vanished. He felt like an easel without a painting; a car without an engine; a plane without any wings. His purpose was gone. He was gone.
Somewhere, in the deep subconscious mines, something was still at work; a lone pick axe hacking at an unsightly lump. Every swing caused a crack to slither a little further up the black featureless wall.
His eyes were still rooted on the pen. A plucked flower, dried and left in a dusty anthology. The forgotten sock of a walked out lover. The last conscious memories of a disabled mind. The…
The pick axe thunked into the wall causing a tremor to reverberate around the whole mineshaft. The crack widened, snaking along the passageway and away into the gloom. The floor shook. The walls shook. And then, in a cloud of dust and a roar of motion, the wall collapsed. Something glittered behind. As the dust started to slowly settle, the sparkling increased. A thousand subterranean stars blinked into consciousness.
The gun went off. The button was pressed. The direction was known.