I am sitting all alone in my dimly lit room trying hard to focus my thoughts. I can hear the cacophony of all manner of birds and beasts outside my window, it is the sounds of the jungle in all its glory. But tonight I find it distracting. I am irritable and the sweat dripping off my brow and down my back while normally refreshingly cool, is extremely bothersome. I lean forward to focus on my writing, aware that the wick of the candle is burning low and I drip sweat directly from my brow. The ink blurs on the page and I struggle to make out the words.
I hear a scratch at the window. I choose to ignore it for the moment aware that I have a deadline to meet. I hear the scratch again.
What on Earth possessed me to come to this god forsaken place! I could’ve gone anywhere but instead I am sitting in this dark, dingy and seemingly desperate room trying to please my editor. I am certain that she is living in luxury while I am centre place amongst squalor and unending heat.
I can’t see my time piece but I know it is late and the work must be done. A crack of thunder sounds across the sky. I must’ve missed the lightning prior to this noisy event. I dip my pen into the inkpot scratching out words, hurrying my normal customary pace.
Lightning strikes again and I catch a flash of something at the window out of the corner of my eye. I pause. My eye wanders back to the window but I see nothing through the gloom. The noise of the jungle continues to serenade my restlessness.
As I write the next sentence I realise my ink is fading and I lower my pen into the inkpot – a screech pierces the darkness.
Give me the sounds of a bustling city anytime. The silence which follows is almost deafening.
The candle flickers brightly and I realise the wick is almost at an end. I fumble in the drawer trying to find a replacement before the light fades completely. Once lit, I sit back down, slightly relieved that there shall be no more interruptions tonight.
I embrace the action of my right hand as pen crosses the paper. I curse my editor but relish the creativity which is pouring from my soul.
A scratch, this time at the door. My curiosity gets the better of me and I must see what it is. I glance out but no one is there. I poke my head further down the corridor but no one seems to claim the mysterious scratch.
I cross the room to my desk and stop…suddenly…an animal of four or five inches is sitting cross-legged on the desk beside my inkpot. Its eyes flash scarlet in the candlelight, the jet black fur appears to merge into the darkness. I daren’t move. I don’t want to frighten the animal or god forbid, force it to attack out of fear or vengeance. As I watch, the animal folds one forepaw over the other.
It seems to be waiting for me to make a move – but what that move is, I do not know. I take the last step to the desk and slowly sit down on the wooden chair.
The animal upon closer inspection seems to be a monkey, although what breed of monkey I cannot fathom. My forays into the jungle have never produced such an animal such as this. It continues to sit, watching me, waiting…I immediately get the instinct to reach out and stroke its silky soft fur but I kerb the desire as quickly as it appears.
Minutes pass and an itch passes over my body. I must move at least to scratch it but I don’t want to take my eye of the monkey. I pick up the pen and instinctively scratch my ankle with it – relief is quick but short.
An idea for my writing enters my head and I fear that if I don’t get it down immediately the thought will leave me. I write. It watches. I write some more. It continues to watch my movements – eerily silent continuously watchful. If I didn’t have to complete this epilogue tonight I would take a moment to view my night companion.
But work I must…and within the hour I find that my ideas come together in a rapid pace and the words settle into form. It is done.
I realise I am tired – more tired than I have ever been before so I cautiously move over to my bed keeping a watchful eye on the desk for fear of sudden movement or approach.
What happens next even my imagination could not fathom. The animal with the scarlet eyes and inky black fur picks up the bottle of India ink and proceeds to drink it. It tips the bottle upwards ensuring that every last drop pours out onto its tongue. It then sits back on its haunches looking extremely satisfied.
I could’ve sworn the monkey smiled at me or was it my imagination just playing tricks on me. A few late nights in a row had left me in quite a delirious state.
Then I heard it, the screech that had echoed through the night earlier. I froze. Then the monkey swung over the door and cocked its head waiting for me to make my next move. I slowly moved over to the door, turned the handle and gave enough space for the monkey to exit. And without a glance it left as quickly as it appeared.
I left the jungle the next day, whether it was the monkey who prompted me to do so, I cannot say. But some nights as I lay restlessly upon my bed, even amongst the noise of the carriages on the cobblestones, those piercing scarlet eyes still haunt me.
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