The days blur together. Each morning I rise, I toil, I stumble to bed for a few hours’ sleep, then I rise again. I have forgotten what it is like to be outside, though I am grateful for the window next to my computer. Through it I can glimpse the sun and feel the breeze. There are no bars on the window, giving me the illusion of freedom; the drop to the ground, alas, would kill me.
I am treated with a distant respect by my captors—or “editors,” as they style themselves. At present, they hardly interfere with my day-to-day activities, but I fear it is only a temporary condition. Once the initial fruits of my labor see completion, the psychological terror will begin. Criticisms, rewrites, entire passages axed—I worry that my sanity will not endure.
Three local creatures, all of the same species, share my prison. They are small mammals, furry, with long tails and small wet noses. They yowl piteously when hungry and emit a curious rumbling noise when happy. The black one is friendliest; the three-colored one is alternately aloof and demanding; the fat one does nothing all day, though he is willing enough to huddle for body warmth at night. Peculiar creatures, they are, though oddly comforting; they are my only companions.
My creative powers are at a nadir. My treasured vocabulary, once expansive and enviable, has dwindled to a… to a… The word escapes me.
“Compelling. Engaging. Engrossing. Fascinating.” I knew synonyms for these words, once. No longer. Will my captors notice the horrible repetition? I try to cycle through them, but surely the pattern will be obvious. I am doomed.
I read for pleasure once upon a time, did you know? Oh cruelest of ironies: In days past I would while away the time with fiction novels, with made-up tales of fairies and elves, murderers and heroes. Now I am condemned to write about their cruel cousins, the so-called “non-fiction” books. Nothing here is made up, nothing. The books I annotate are all based on horrible, stinking reality.
My deadline looms. What a graphic word, “deadline,” and how descriptive: If I do not finish on time, I will be dead, murdered by my unforgiving jailors. Who will mourn me? The furry denizens of my prison?
It is too much to bear. Books about queen consorts, books about women’s spirituality, books about the Amazons; books about shoes, books about weight loss, books about transgendered husbands. I am losing my mind.
To think I chose this lot for myself! I have no-one but myself to blame. Had I but known what I was agreeing to… but it is too late to think on what might have been. My only hope is that someone else will find this record and take it for the cautionary tale it is meant to be. Tread not down the path of the annotated bibliography, for your very soul is at stake. Beware!