Misery Loves Company
A Misery Fan-Fiction by Sassy Lil Scorpio
Disclaimer: Annie Wilkes, Paul Sheldon, and all other names and occurrences are the property of Stephen King. The author makes no claim of ownership. No monetary gain is being made from this work.
Summary: Annie Wilkes is obsessed with Misery, so why doesn't she write her own Misery stories? While struggling to overcome writer's block, Paul Sheldon wonders if his fans write stories about his famous characters and what scenarios they come up with.
Dedication: For Tina, a wonderful friend, and Misery fan. Thank you for all your love and support! I'm truly blessed to have you in my life.
Any other time, Paul Sheldon, writer extraordinaire, would've shrugged off the usual case of writer's block. No writer—no matter how long they've been writing, or how talented they were, or how many books they sold—was immune to the creative blockage known as writer's block. It was like a clogged artery that wouldn't let blood pass to other vital organs inside the body. The blood was his creativity and literally, his life. And right now, he had to get past his writer's block. Strike that, he needed to get past the horrible syndrome that all writers dreaded. His very life depended on it and yet the words were suspended above his brain, mere inches out of his grasp. The ideas, on the other hand, were non-existent.
Utterly frustrated, he groaned and nearly slammed his fists on the Royal keyboard. Right away, he looked down at the keys to make sure he didn't loosen another one. If he lost another vowel, say an "a" or an "o", he didn't want to think of what punishment Annie Wilkes would belt out to him for destroying the "gift" she gave him.
Oh yeah, what a great gift, he thought, glaring at the Royal typewriter. He was tempted to push it over so that it would smash to pieces on the floor. But if he did that, who knows what Annie would do to him. Your life, Paul, your damn life depends on this. So. Think. Smart. And act it! He sighed heavily. Never in the world did Paul ever imagine that his very living would be turned around on him into the very thing he had to keep doing to stay alive. He stretched his arms and then let his hands drop to touch the wheels of the wheelchair he sat on. One of these days, he wouldn't wheel himself out of this hellhole—he'd run out and never look back.
Yeah, Paulie, that's a nice little dream. In the meantime, you need to finish this crappy little romance you're working on.
But it wasn't really a "crappy little romance", was it? He actually enjoyed writing this story and he needed to keep writing the story just to see how it turned out. The other reason he had to continue writing was blatantly obvious: writing Misery's Return had become a mental escape from his hellish situation. He wasn't going to write it originally, but after a certain point, Annie Wilkes, endearing nurse that she was, made it clear that Paul didn't really have much of a choice. She was his Number One Fan after all, and he had to write this to please her—(and placate her 'cause goodness knows that crazy bitch had all her marbles, yep, she sure did.)
The writer's block was a massive black hole sucking up any ideas that might've crossed his mind. It was the worst thing to ever happen—aside from coming to terms with the fact that Annie Wilkes was indeed a crazy bitch and Paul Sheldon didn't use those two words—"crazy" and "bitch"—lightly when describing her. Of course, he didn't say that to her face, he pretended to be The-Writer-Who-Would-Write-Anything-To-Please-His-Number-One-Fan. It's just that he didn't expect this severe case of writer's block to hit him at the worst time. He didn't see it coming, and now, more than ever, Paul grasped at strands of creativity, wondering how in the world he would link two characters together: namely Misery Chastain and Lady Evelyn-Hyde. How would he tie in the fact that they were related? Paul couldn't remember the last time he had such a roadblock on the highway of writing. Frustrated, he rubbed his temples, willing himself to think and come up with something fast before Annie Wilkes came through the door.
The door to his room swung open and Annie Wikes the Benevolent came in clutching a packet of orange pills in her right hand and a glass of water in her left hand. Good ol' Novril, Paul thought, eyeing the packet. She was right there in front of him, so he'd have to take them. No matter. He had stashed plenty of pills inside his mattress already; as far as he was concerned that was his little secret. Ha-ha on you, Annie, you cockadoodie! I pulled one on you! He grimaced, trying to suppress a laugh. Annie had her back turned, so she didn't see his mixed expression of elation and bitterness. When she turned around to face him again, she had taken out the orange Novril pills. She held them up to him, willing him to take them for his own good.
"Here you go, Paul, to ease the pain."
Paul swallowed them quickly, along with the water she handed to him.
"You are quite welcome, dear." She patted him on the back and he had to try very hard to not cringe under her touch. She set the glass down on the floor and then turned to face him. "So how's the novel coming along?"
Paul shrugged. "I've hit a roadblock," he muttered. He didn't look at her—he wanted to avoid seeing whatever expression she had on her face. It was probably demonic.
Annie stared at him for a long moment. She sighed heavily, as if trying to squash her feelings of annoyance with her next question.
"How could you've hit a roadblock?" It didn't take long for her to become frantic. "You're the best writer in the whole world—you've written my favorite character Misery Chastain over and over again. How can you be blocked?" She shook her head in disbelief. "That makes no sense…" Her voice screeched loudly in the tiny confines of the room. "That's IMPOSSIBLE!"
Paul acted like an innocent man who had just been arrested and read his Miranda rights. He decided to remain silent, knowing if he said the wrong thing, it would set off Annie. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law—and in this court of law, Judge Annie Wilkes has the final say, right Paulie? She's judge, jury, and executioner. All he had to do was utter one wrong syllable and he'd experience the ultimate punishment. Judge Wilkes already claimed one of your limbs, Paul. Want her to take another one? Hell no—he didn't want to lose his right foot—it was the only foot he had left. In the background, he heard Annie still throwing in her two cents about his dilemma. Like you really understand, Annie-poo.
He heard her yammering in the background, "That's a cockadoodie excuse. You don't want to write my book!"
Paul frowned and glanced at the stack of typed papers on the desk. How could she even say that? Look at how much he had produced so far—and under the most bizarre circumstance! Not only was Annie The Constant Reader, but she was also The Impossible-To-Please-Fan. If there was one thing Paul couldn't stand, aside from psychotic serial killers claiming to be his Number One Fan, it was The-Impossible-To-Please-Fan.
There was no question that Annie loved his writing, but she didn't appreciate or comprehend the art of writing itself—that it was more than just typing words on the Royal typewriter or a fancy word processor. So much effort went into writing. Diction, details, dialogue, description, style, voice, word usage, imagery, plot, character development, tone, mood, conducting research to make sure each detail was right because even though it was fiction, he had to make sure that it was accurate. After all, you never know who's reading your writing. Including crazy bitch fans who kill babies and the elderly, and keep newspaper articles about it in their house, Paul thought bitterly. Everything behind the words and within the story had a purpose and reason for being there. Not to mention revision after revision and rewrite after rewrite until he got it exactly the way he wanted, and even then, it still wasn't perfect. It never would be perfect. And that was part of the love and joy of writing for Paul.
Creative writing wasn't for the faint of heart. Paul Sheldon knew all too well the pain of constant rejection, the determination and persistence it took to get his first story published, the misguided and often unfounded criticism by so-called literary critics and freelance magazine writers, and the rollercoaster thrill of seeing his novel hit number one on The New York Times bestseller list, only to see it plummet to the bottom after another book took its place.
Annie didn't know about any of this nor could she appreciate it. She couldn't possibly grasp how much time and effort went into writing and what it meant to call oneself a "writer". It wasn't just a label that Paul slapped on himself after he got published the first time. He was proud to carry the title of "writer" ever since he wrote his first short story in junior high school. He had improved tremendously since then, and he had always stuck to the idea that every writer started somewhere. It didn't matter how great a writer was today—every writer had his or her humble beginnings and had to keep practicing—keep writing and reading to improve their art. Even after years of writing, Paul found that he learned something new with each new work he produced.
Over time, Paul found writing to be a metaphor for his life. Sometimes you had your stumbling blocks, and you had to get around them. There was always room for improvement and the story of one's life had plenty of twists and turns—it was never truly over, not even after death. It may sound cliché, but writing truly breathed life into Paul Sheldon. He loved writing as much as he hated that blasted writer's block, and he wished that his fans, especially this Number One Fan standing in front of him, appreciated all that went into his craft.
Sure, she loved his work; for crying out loud, she went goo-goo ga-ga over it. She'd probably love it even more if she wrote her own take on Paul's characters. Then it hit Paul: why doesn't she write her own story about Misery? She could write whatever the hell she wants about them. Let her fill in the gaps as she sees fit. Taking a deep breath, Paul finally found the right words to say. Now if only he could find the right words to write, that would be oh-so-lovely!
"Annie…I was thinking…"
"Hmm?" She looked at him, wondering what he was going to ask her. Her face was rigid, and he couldn't tell what she was feeling or thinking.
"Have you ever thought of writing your own Misery stories? You love Misery so much…" Paul held the wheelchair firmly, preparing himself for any outburst that might follow after he was done making his humble suggestion. "You probably have many great ideas up your sleeve." A little flattery couldn't hurt either.
"Oh, you fooler," Annie said in her stern, yet motherly tone. She offered him an impish grin. "I couldn't write as good as you even if I wished it on my dead mother's grave!"
"It wouldn't hurt to try," Paul urged. He kept his hands glued to the wheelchair. And if you wrote your own damn Misery stories, I wouldn't be held captive right now, forced to write Misery's Return.
Annie shook her head, pitying him. "I think it's best if I leave you alone right now. It'll allow you to concentrate better so that you can finish writing the best novel you've ever written. I know you can do it, Paul!" She went to the door, and before exiting, she blew him a kiss that he pretended to catch and plant on his cheek.
As soon as the door was closed and he was certain she was gone, Paul made a face as though he would puke his intestines through his mouth. Turning back to the typewriter, Paul rifted through the papers sitting in a neat stack. He picked one up and began reading it aloud before putting it down again. He rubbed his forehead again; the Novril was making him feel drowsy, but he had to write something—anything. Well, not just anything, but something good enough to please Annie. He sighed and picked up the paper again, scanning it thoroughly. Paul sighed heavily and looked outside the window, wishing he could be anywhere but the room he was imprisoned in.
He started wondering if people—his fans—actually wrote fiction about his novels. He had made the suggestion to Annie, well-meaning, but at the same time thinking she might free him if she wrote her own Misery stories. Fat chance, Paulie. He dismissed the idea of her writing her own stories, based on his earlier premise that Annie Wilkes simply didn't appreciate or understand how much depth went into writing.
There had to be others who wrote fiction about Misery Chastain's universe. Perhaps the fans would come up with a believable solution of how to link Misery and Lady Evelyn-Hyde. What if they were lovers? Paul nearly burst out laughing at the thought of it. He supposed fans would come up with any scenario. They might even write stories where Misery was the long lost daughter of Lady Evelyn-Hyde. Now that Paul thought about it some more, there were countless possibilities of what could be written.
Writers could place Misery and her beloved friends in an alternate universe where she had never been killed in the last book, but survived after giving birth. What about stories featuring Misery before the start of Paul's series—a prequel? Misery and her gentleman lovers could meet and battle It the clown—or even better, Misery could be buried in Pet Sematary only to be resurrected, but not quite herself. Paul chuckled at the possibilities. Misery in the year 3000. How about a story featuring Misery being abused by Ian, so that Geoffrey could come to the rescue and comfort her. After he comforted her, they could make passionate love. Fluffy romantic Misery stories with pink and purple hearts floating in the clouds would be the norm, Paul figured. What about stories featuring Misery's child? That would make for a new ongoing series.
"Endless possibilities," Paul muttered, considering how many angles Misery could be twisted into a story not written by him, but scripted by passionate fans. As long as the fans weren't crazy like Annie Wilkes, he supposed he could live with it. He'd even be honored that anyone took the time to write about his characters.
Paul's heart skipped five beats and he was thrown back into reality. He wasn't hearing things. He heard the faint click again and knew the Abominable Annie was making a swift return to check up on his progress. He had become all too familiar with the mechanical sound of a key turning inside the lock, especially when it came from the other side of the door. Usually he was frightened of it because he knew she was on the other side. What her state of mind was—of whatever mind she had left—was another matter. She'd want to see that he had made some progress while she was gone. If not, he'd have to pay the piper.
Paul quickly settled his fingers over the home keys on the Royal typewriter to feign the appearance that he was on a writing roll. As he did so, he thought about what term would be used to describe fans who wrote stories based on his or any other author's novels. Now that he thought about it, it couldn't be limited to just books. It had to extend to movies, video games, anime, manga, t.v. shows, comic books, plays, musicals, cartoons—anything with a story and characters that had a fan following.
Fan. Fiction. Fan-fiction. Fanfiction.
Paul wondered what he would think if he actually came across this "fanfiction", especially if it was written about any of his novels. I would be honored. He had a feeling that he had thought this earlier, but now it was clearer to him. Maybe he'd even read some of it and create a site just for his fans to post writings based on his works. But of course, he was forgetting One Special Person—his Number One Fan! What would Annie Wilkes have to say about it? He could hear her crazed screeching declaring boldly in the most obnoxious tone she could muster:
"FANFICTION IS FOR DIRTY BIRDIES!"
He laughed loudly and realized he was the only one laughing in the empty silent room. He was drunk on misery—and not that stupid melodramatic twat that Annie was forcing him to write about. It was true—misery loves company.
Paul was still laughing when Annie walked into the room, a bewildered expression painted on her face.