The first time I encountered my Muse, I just totally freaked out and screamed my head off. I wasn’t even writing at the time, and also not painting. In fact, I was hardly ever doing anything at all in those days. It was more my habit to lay my head on my pillow, close my eyes, and let my imagination drift. Outwardly I suppose I must have seemed like a lazy kid, a slightly stupid daydreamer, but in my own mind at least, I was extremely busy.

That’s how I used to come up with ideas. Sadly, I didn’t do much more than let them soak into my pillow, to be washed and rinsed out every so often. So I imagined much but made very little. My pillows were stained and yellow with the sweat of my thoughts, feverish as they could be.

For whatever reason, it was on that day, the day when I first encountered my muse, when I felt very particularly worried I might not be a Good Screamer. I really doubted I had it in me to give a good scream. I mean, actresses do it pretty well, but some are unquestionably more skilled at screaming, really screaming as though they might die in just a second.

I was pretty sure they practiced. As I was doubtful about my screaming abilities, and as I didn’t want to make anyone think I was being bludgeoned, it occurred to me, in a great wave of depression, that I might not ever know if I could really, really scream. I was crestfallen at the possibility that it might never happen that I would even have, ever, the opportunity to let out a blood curdling scream. 

It meant, I realized at that tender pre-teen age, that I might go through my entire life without ever being able to give it a shot. My future, empty of death-defying screams, stretched before me like a long and straight road to nowhere.

So I contemplated camping. I mean I, of all people, actually considered living a night or two with bugs and no toilet nearby, just so I could practice a seriously diabolical scream. Quite ardently, I wished to sound as if I was in the jowls of a dragon, right before piercing its face with my really sharp sword. 

I allowed myself to follow that thought, quite naturally. My sword would be named, as all epic, great swords must have a name. 

Sally the Slayer. Sally. Sounds good.

Sally is big and shiny and super long, maybe half my height.

I decided.

I imagined myself screaming like a wild banshee, crazy with rage and righteousness, right before slaying the evil beast, just as a long canine pierced my stomach, just a little. Enough to scar, only. No internal damages because I wouldn’t want a stomach ache forever or something.

Through all this imagining, my eyes were closed, and I observed, contemplatively, that what I envisioned had become so intense that my face prickled and my breathing labored. I decided I had to back out of it, my imaginings, and opened my eyes for a breather.

It was day, or should have been, so when I first saw nothing but blackness I thought I’d gone blind. A quiet horror crept into the back of my mind, like a sticky breeze from a swamp. There was a depth of darkness there that was an unknown under the unknowable, a hidden something behind a dull nothing. 

I was so scared, I stopped breathing, just exactly like girls do in horror movies, right before they get killed. My face prickled with that realization, the clear connection. It was undeniable, this thought that clenched me.

Then I saw a little clearer. The blackness had shapes in it, sort of crooked, strangely bent strands. Upon seeing their separate shapes, I realized they were all moving, quietly vibrating all up and down their own squiggly mass, these gently writhing strands of blackness. It was like energy, a bit like electricity, but the opposite. It felt like the opposite, another thing, a thing apart.

I sensed it was aware that I could see it. 

Then I was aware that this black energy stretching over my face and covering my eyes, this tangled mass of squiggling vibration, was a thing that could be aware that my eyes were now open and observing it.

It was sentient.

The horror that this thing, the strange energy, was thinking and maybe capable of calculus sent chills up my spine.

I screamed. I screamed my frigging head off, the most blood curdling, freakishly inhuman squawking, screeching, shattering scream. It was a terrific scream, really. I was good at it. That brief moment, the quiet reassurance I could belt out a properly horrific scream, was soothing.