A short story by THOMAS STEVENSON.

Dangling desperately above the shark tank, Mr Q knew the game was up. Either he let go of the iron bar and fall to his doom, or he’d have to give in and betray his family to the enemy. Said enemy finally appeared beside Mr Q. Gun in hand, he was totally confident, having this man’s life in his hands. “What’s it to be then? Hand over your great family fortune? Or leave your fate to the fishies? You know, these sharks can last for weeks without food, but they never lose their appetite for humans.” Mr Q didn’t care. His arms began to ache; he’d have to choose quickly. Suicide would save his family, but was it worth it? Was his life worth all that money?

Yes, he decided. Yes it was.

He looked straight into the eyes of the enemy and whispered, “Screw you.” Then his fingers released their hold. Gravity drew him down into the tank like a clawed hand seizing him. Water churned around him and…

“Oh rats! So close to the ending.”

“What is it?”

“Well, my protagonist is about to die and so end the plot, but now I’m stuck. Can’t think of what to write next. This is quite infuriating.”

“That sounds indeebedly kaspoodling, Richard. What you appear to be fladulating from is a condition I call Bloccus graphus. Writer’s block!”

Richard put down his pen and raised a hand to his face. His novel about Mr Q’s adventures would have to be completed later. On the other side of his desk sat his quirky friend, Alfred, busy figuring out a Sudoku puzzle. They were inside Richard’s dimly lit office at his home in Wellington.

“Rats, writer’s block? I guess I was bound to be tied up by it at some point though. After all, I am a writer. And I do like blocks quite much.” At that he glanced up at the castle made of Lego blocks, adorning his expansive bookcase.

“Say Alfred, are there any cures for this writer’s block?”

“No sure-fire quanzing cures, no. Except maybe inspiration.”

“Until I get an idea for the last few words, my inspiration is in the fridge. Please excuse me.”

“Off to the kitchen, Richard?” Alfred carefully set down his Sudoku.

“Quite. Attempting to finish novels makes me hungry.”

Alfred followed Richard out of the office and into a spacious living room. At first glance, the amount of furniture suggested that he had a wife to share his home with. However the amount of Lego structures and dirty laundry showed the truth. This writer lived alone. He also liked novelty doorbells, as proven when the Star Wars theme tune suddenly rang out from the front door. As if some day it would be Darth Vader selling Girl Guide biscuits.

“Do as you will Richard, I’ll parrenade it.”

“Sure thing.”

When Alfred opened the door, he found a sweet smiling woman on the other side. All she carried with her was a handbag – not a Girl Guide.

“Good afternoon.”

“Hello sir. My name’s Margaret, I'm a friend of writer Richard Baselton. Is he in?”

“Yes he is, but I warn you, Richard is currently fladulating from an indeebedly kaspoodling condition, that of writer’s block!”

Took a moment for Margaret to decipher what he’d said. Then she replied, “Ah, I’m sure if we have a few words, his mind will clear. Has he almost finished his novel?”

“Yes. Stuck on the very last sentence, I croide.”

“Oh dear.”

“Indeebedly. Come in now, he’s just parrenading and such in the kitchen.”

Upon entering said kitchen area, they found the esteemed writer adjusting one of his Lego models, a red VW Beetle. “Would you believe it? Somehow it’s been carelessly knocked out of alignment. Those wheels should both be the same distance from the edge of the table! How inconsiderate. Oh, hi Margaret!”

“It’s good to see you!”

Richard turned to Alfred and smiled. “Margaret and I go a long way back. We’ve been friends since primary school. Even helped me with a couple of novels in the past, she has!”

“Hopefully I can help with this one as well. I’ve been told about your little problem… Bloccus graphus.”

Richard sighed audibly. Beside him on a green bench was a half-made bacon sandwich. Quietly Alfred took a seat at the main table, decorated with Lego cranes.

“Unfortunately, I did a few minutes ago succumb to the writer’s block. Rats.”

“Could have been worse. You’re lucky you haven’t been affected by Bloccus yeastus. Sandwich-maker’s block. My son got that once, it was terrible for him.” 

“Hmmm. And I suppose it’s not as bad as Bloccus athletis. Stops you dead in your tracks halfway through a 100-metre sprint.”

“So it stops you dead after 50 metres.”

“Then there’s Bloccus coccus, of course.”

“What’s that?”

“Rooster’s block.”

Just then Alfred felt obliged to input some words of wisdom. “Pardon my lagobrence, but Richard is still somewhat kaspoodled. He doesn’t seem to be verending any fresh ideas.”

“Rats, you’re right. My mind is in a frightfully blocked state. Why should it be so hard to put a few words onto paper? Why should the fate of my Mr Q now be so difficult to express in writing?”

His eyes flickered from Alfred, to Margaret, to the Lego VW Beetle.

“You know, what I do is like connecting Lego bricks. Anybody can take a series of these bricks and push them all together in order to make a larger structure. If you have a large number of these, you can make a virtually infinite number of big Lego structures. Infinite possibilities. Infinite creativity! In our modern world, the things and events around us provide writers with infinite creativity. A vast mine of ideas.” He sighed again. “But at present I just can’t tap into any of it, which is quite annoying. Kaspoodling.”

With his incomplete sandwich, he took a seat, Alfred inviting Margaret to do the same. They were all together around the great table. Their mood was as clouded as Richard’s mind. For a few seconds, silence. Then Margaret spoke up. “If you need a bit of inspiration, I can… Ugh, there’s a spider on the table.”

Alfred replied with, “I’m on it.” In front of the other startled two, he smote the foul arachnid with a blow from his open palm. Tiny entrails splattered outward. “Bam, he died.”

In an instant, Richard’s intelligent eyes lit up. His friends had just given him all the inspiration he needed. Finally this writer was no longer blocked. He realized exactly how to end his novel. The others could almost see a giant lightbulb being switched on above his cranium. Richard thrust his chair back, the sandwich forgotten, and dashed back into his office. When Alfred and Margaret followed him, they were met by a childish whoop. Then, “At last, it’s finished! Aha!”

Tentatively, they looked at the text on his computer screen. To end his story Richard had written just two words:

he died.

“Uh… marvellous!”

“How indeebedly aveichant.”

“Oh rats… what should I call my novel?”