Author's Note: I'll admit that at first I felt silly writing this, considering how few people write/read fanfics for Alan Wake. Then I realized that the game I'm writing for is all about writing and the creative process and I stopped feeling silly about what I was doing. You gotta listen to the muse when it strikes, you know? So long as it's not a malevolent entity using you as a tool of destruction, I guess.
Not gonna lie, I wrote this trying to imagine Alan Wake narrating it as he would his manuscript pages. Hopefully I nailed that tone at least a little bit.
Alice shifted around in her purse for her apartment keys, humming in contentment. The day had been an all-around success. She managed to complete plotting out the quickest, most stress-free route to Bright Falls over a latte and a thick blueberry muffin in one of her favorite coffee shops. Booking a cabin went through without a hitch. A call to Dr. Hartman ensured that he was still available for walk-in appointments whenever she was ready. Even a swift meeting with Barry Wheeler had been far less annoying than she had steeled herself for. All the arrangements were now neatly in place. A whole three weeks were cleared of any sign of interviews, promotional tours, and every other type of prolonged contact with other people she and Barry could think of. Alice had a good feeling about this plan of hers. There was no way it was going to fail. She would not give it even the slightest chance to do so. All she needed to do now was convince her husband that a little R & R was just what he needed.
She finally found her keys and unlocked the door. Ideally, she would walk in to Alan reading or watching television in the living room or making some lunch in the kitchen. It would be a signal that he was in a receptive mood. Not a necessarily good mood—those were distressingly rare for him nowadays—but it would be far better than the mood he would no doubt be wallowing in if he had spent the whole day locked up in his study.
Alice took a deep, steadying breath. "Only one way to find out," she told herself as she opened the door. "Sweetie!" she called aloud. "I'm back from my erra—Alan? Alan!"
She had just locked the door behind her when she heard a horrible yell, followed by the mighty crash of something heavy hitting the floor with great force. Her heart jammed hard into her throat and beat out a frantic tempo there. She dropped her purse and sprinted straight to the source of the noise: Alan's study.
The scene she came upon was not a pretty sight. Alan was standing in the center of a mess of blank printer paper. By his feet was his typewriter. One glance at that told her that it was broken beyond repair. He was glaring at it with a ferocity that almost scared Alice. Before she could think of something to say—anything that might bring her suffering husband back down to a safe level, his expression contorted into something hideous, almost unrecognizable, a demon trying to break free of the human disguise it wore. He bent and picked the mangled typewriter back up, his intentions loud and clear.
"Alan, don't!" Alice rushed into the room, grabbing his arms before he could toss the poor thing straight out the window. "Calm down, please!"
Alan blinked dazedly at her, the ugly, raging monster that had approached so close to the surface fading back into the man she loved so well. The heart still lodged in her throat broke and crumbled into the pit of her stomach as she gazed back at a face she had not been able to get a good look at for nearly a week due to Alan's sullen avoidance of her. Stubble sloppily conquered much of his chin and around his mouth. Deep, painful shadows circled under his eyes. His whole face seemed to droop with exhaustion, as if every particle of energy had been utterly sapped out of it.
"Alice?" he sounded as if he was struggling out of a trance or a bad dream.
She gave his arms a little shake, willing him to snap out of it. "Yes. Me. Honey, please. Please give the typewriter."
Gently, she tugged it out of his grip. He let go without a fight. She turned around and placed it on the bed before quickly grabbing his arms again in case he tried to flee, but he seemed incapable of moving.
"Let's…let's go into the kitchen," she suggested. She could tell Alan had yet to register what he had just done, and there was no way she was going to let him linger in the room that was becoming more like a prison cell to him with each passing day when it finally did hit him. "I'll fix you up something nice."
Strangely docile, Alan let her pull him out of the study and lead him into the kitchen. She sat him down at the kitchen table and then began digging through the cupboards for their old, neglected water heater. Every so often she would glance back at her husband, but his eyes were resolutely on the table. It was like standing too close to an active volcano. How long did she have until his next violent outburst?
The water heater was tucked deep into the corner of the pantry under their sink. She pulled it out, gave it a quick rinse, filled it with water, and then plugged it in and turned it on. Then she grabbed a roll of paper towels. She thought she had seen an overturned cup on the desk in his study, the liquid spilling on to the floor.
"I'm going to go straighten up your room a bit," she said. "I'll only be a minute. Will you stay here until I get back?"
Alan nodded and gave an affirmative sort of grunt. Good enough for her. She strode out of the kitchen and headed back to the study. It caused her almost as much dread to walk into it a second time. As quick to anger as Alan was, it was rare for him to lose so much control in a single go. She headed for the desk, taking care not to step too hard on the papers strewn about the floor even though it was almost silly for her to do so. Not a single word had been written on any of them.
His desk had not escaped his anger. Everything on it had been knocked aside. His lamp was actually hanging from the side of it by its cord, leaving behind a trail of broken bulb. And just as she had thought, he had tipped over a glass, too. It was cracked in pieces and its contents had soaked the pages that were still on the desk and left a puddle on the floor near his overturned chair.
She sighed. It was going to take a lot more than a bit of straightening to get his study back in order. She ripped a few towels from her roll and swept up the drink before reaching for what was left of the glass. It then occurred to her that what had spilled might not have been water, as she previously assumed. Tentatively, she drew a line across the liquid on his desk with a finger, and then gave that finger a little lick.
She swore out loud. The glass had been filled with vodka. And if she knew the man, it had definitely been filled more than a few times during the day.
For a long moment she found herself frozen where she knelt, struggling with the sudden fear that gripped her. If Alan hadn't hit rock bottom yet, he was all too close to it if he was falling back on old habits. She hated the thing that Alan was becoming, whatever it was. It was a threat, a storm looming on the horizon about to swallow them both alive. Maybe Alan sensed it, too, and that was why he had been keeping himself away from her.
If all her careful vacation plans really did fail, their marriage was going to be in serious trouble. Perhaps even irreparable trouble. She was determined to convince him to go to Bright Falls with her, now more than ever before. She had to help him pull himself out of this terrible rut no matter what the cost.
Eventually she made her way back to the kitchen, the remains of the glass cup wrapped securely in a wad of paper towels. Alan looked at her just as her gaze fell on him. She froze mid-step when his eyes travelled to the ball of trash in her hand. The silence between them felt as if it stretched into infinity. Then, at long last, Alan barked out a laugh devoid of any real humor. The disgust in it was almost palpable, however.
"Now how was that for an utterly pathetic display?" he asked, practically spitting out the word 'pathetic'. "I've outdone myself this time. Getting smashed before the afternoon has barely even rolled around, unleashing my inner infant and throwing an enormous, shrieking tantrum all over the goddamned place…Christ, all I need are a pair soiled diapers and drool down the front of my shirt." He spread his arms wide. "Your husband, Alice! Biggest piece of shit the world over. Must be embarrassing discovering that you have the worst taste in men, huh?"
"That's enough of that," she warned as she dumped the glass and paper towels in the garbage bin. "As volatile as he is, my husband happens to the most brilliant man I've ever—"
"Are you really trying to sugarcoat this bullshit?" he asked, his tone thick with contempt. "And I thought I was going crazy. You're straight out of your mind, honey."
"Is drowning in self-loathing making you feel any better, dear? No? Didn't think so," she shot back, opening an overhead pantry with unnecessary force and rummaging around for a box of chamomile tea packets. That was the problem with Alan. One moment made her want to shield him from every bad thing that might come his way. In the next moment he was riling her up until she longed to take a well-aimed slap to his smirking, pretty face. She shook her head as she dropped a tea bag in two mugs she had set on the counter, and then poured steaming water over them from the water heater. She didn't really think Alan would take to tea over his beloved coffee, but anything with the potential to soothe him was worth a shot at this point.
"It's better than sitting on my ass trying to pretend that everything's all right, that this is some kind of temporary block." His voice was rising. "It's better than staring at a blank page with not a damn thing in my head to put down on it day after day while you're pumping out masterpieces in your sleep. And drowning in self-loathing is a way better pastime than watching that one joke about how J.D. Salinger is going to put out another book before I do take the forums by storm. It's great to know that the internet is apparently fucking full of stand-up comedians!" She heard a loud thump and a rattle. Alan had smacked the table with his fist.
The pain in his voice was unmistakable. In an instant, she softened for him again, turning around to face him fully. "Alan, you're not—"
"No." He stabbed a finger at her. "Don't you dare, Alice! Give me all the scorn you have, but don't you dare pity me!"
"That's not what I—"
"Call me a failure! Go ahead, be my guest! It'd be a lot more productive for the both of us for you to do that than for you to just stand there and stare at me like I'm some dying animal you found on the roa—"
"Would you shut the hell up for just one second?" she snapped, her patience for him finally hitting a critical low.
Much to her surprise, he did. His mouth shut tight, but he continued to stare at her with hot, wrathful eyes.
She grabbed the two mugs of tea and sat down with him, pulling her chair as close as she could to his. "I don't pity you, Alan," she said quietly, placing one of the cups in front of him. "I'm worried about you. It hurts seeing you struggle so much with the thing you love doing the most. I'm trying to think of ways to help you. And I will. I promise."
"Oh, Alice." He buried his face in his hands, all of the fight bleeding out of him. "What's wrong with me? I can't keep going on like this."
"We'll figure it out." She reached around and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, leaning her head against his.
"I'm sorry I lashed out at you," he said, his voice muffled.
"I forgive you. Here, drink some of this. It might help you wind down a little."
She let him go as he reached for the mug and gave the tea an experimental sniff before taking a sip. She couldn't help but laugh a little when he pulled an extravagant grimace and pushed it away from him.
"Baby, this crap tastes like you poured dandelion pollen in hot water."
"It's chamomile. You need to be more open-minded about your drinks, sweetheart. You can't live off of coffee forever," she said, taking a drink out of her own cup.
"Oh, yeah? Just watch me." He smiled at her. It was the weariest smile she had ever seen on him, but it was a start.
"Do you remember mentioning that you wanted to go on vacation one day? You said so quite a while ago. More than a year ago, I think."
"Oh, yeah. Just barely. Where to, though? "
"Bright Falls. It's a beautiful place in Washington. Tiny town. Absolutely idyllic. You should see the brochures I found."
"Hm." He circled the rim of his mug with a finger, looking thoughtful. "I don't know, anymore. There's all the planning we'd have to do, and then I'd have to make sure that my schedule's cleared. Barry'd probably get on my back about slacking off, too…"
"Actually, I already have it all set up," said Alice. "I rented us a lakeside cabin and everything. Barry's gonna make sure you have three weeks to yourself, and however many more you need after that."
"Really. All you have to do is say the word, and we'll pack our stuff and leave early next Monday morning. No fuss, no muss." She grinned at him. For a second she thought about mentioning Dr. Hartman and his clinic, but no. Even if he was in the best mood of his life right now, it would take an absolute miracle to get him to agree to meet with him. As much as she disliked doing so, she knew she would have to keep that part of her plan on hold until they were already in Bright Falls.
"You're too good for me."
"No, I think I'm perfect for you, and you for me," she told him. "So is that a yes?"
"Of course it's a yes." He swiveled in his chair and pulled her into a tight hug so that she was nearly sitting in his lap. It made her laugh again.
"Whoa! Easy there, big guy."
"I love you, Alice," he said against her neck.
"I love you, too." She gently smoothed some of his hair back. "Hey, if the tea's not doing it for you, maybe try sleeping a little? I know you hate to nap, but you've been getting so little sleep lately."
"I'll try. Do you mind staying in the room with me until I doze off? And don't worry about the study. I'll clean it up later, alright?"
"Sure," she said. He didn't let her go, though, and she wasn't in much of a rush to leave his warmth, herself. She rubbed his back, positive that Bright Falls would help Alan defeat his awful writer's block. This trip was going to do him a world of good, she knew it would. There, in that sleepy, beautiful little place, the two of them were going to be happy together again.