I took a deep breath in, and then out. My fingers tapped relentlessly on the cheap desk at the motel. Niccolo- well, his body, anyway- was still asleep, thank God, but I was in total panic mode. Attempting to sleep had only wasted time. There was just no way out in sight. Where do I go? I asked myself desperately, Where do I go when I hit a dead end?
Niccolo, was the immediate answer, quickly followed by a quick glance over my shoulder, and I shoved that idea to the back of my head. Where did I go before Niccolo? Before we ever met? Who did I turn to? There was someone, right? There had to be someone... Someone! Come on, think! The tapping grew faster and faster by the second. My mind raced forward like a train. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me- realization was like racing directly into a brick wall. It was hard, and fast, and almost hurt for a bit, and I had to take more than a few deep breaths.
Muses, I thought to myself, Of course. My muses. I haven't used them in ages, but my muses! I laughed out loud a little, more a product of nerves than anything else. I had to think for a bit- remember their names, their faces, their stories- and then they appeared. I pictured them in the room just as accurately as if they were physically there. In fact, for me, there wasn't really much of a difference- I had always had a (sometimes quite inconveniently so) strong imagination. And I didn't write nearly as much as I had before, but when another person is living inside of you, they're kind of impossible to forget.
"Well, here we go again," I said aloud, "I'm sitting in a room, alone, talking to people who aren't actually there."
"And that's why they call you a nutcase," Veracruz, a dark-skinned girl with hair as bright red as her dress and heels, pitched in. Her eyes met mine, and I could tell she was being serious when she said, "It's been a while." But the moment passed as quickly as it came. She let out a large yawn, stretching her arms out behind her head. "I mean, seriously, would it have killed you to let us out every now and then? Or just me- that would've been fine, too, you know. Oh, by the way- your fire power sucks. Like, majorly. I mean, you can barely light a candle!" She exclaimed, exasperated, throwing her arms open as they burst into flames for effect.
"Now, that's hardly fair- you are fire. Literally. I don't think anyone can beat that. Besides which, Aretha brought us here for a reason. She needs help." Frenzical pitched in. I had come up with some really weird names... They still seemed normal to me, though. No, not normal- natural.
"You're not going to ask us to kill anyone, are you? Because you know I'm against violence... Wait, you do remember that, don't you?" Colara asked nervously.
"Oh, don't be an idiot- you wouldnt've said it if she didn't remember," Veracruz interjected again. "And yeah, I know 'wouldnt've' isn't a word. I used it anyway. Deal with it. So, what's the big problem?"
"It's him," Mentorilo spoke for the first time, pointing towards the couch. He wore simple clothing- slim black pants and a gray tee shirt- and his clouded gray eyes were soft and understanding. "We all know everything that she knows. She came to us for help, and we need to give it to her."
"I say we torch him," Veracruz said bluntly.
"No! We can't just kill him!" I argued immediately.
"Why not? New guy takes over the body, we kill him before he wakes up. Simple. Easy. That's what he wants you to do, anyway! He asked you to, specifically! I'm not seeing the problem."
"Look, if I wanted to kill him, I would've done it without asking your opinion. I want ideas. I don't want to kill him, I want to bring him back. If you can't help me, I'll ask someone else. Another muse. I have plenty."
"Alright, geez, no need to get all touchy."
"What we do need," Mentorilo cut in, "Is to get you thinking. You'd be looking for something like a link to bring him back through, right?" I nodded.
"Yeah, I was thinking maybe something like that."
"Then we need to form some hypothesis. First, we need to understand the way a link would work. Second, we need to know exactly how Niccolo's true name is functioning on its own in the past. Then, we need to figure out how to use the link to bring that consciousness back."
"Sorry, I know you guys are forming theories now and everything, but this letter... Did he really write this? I mean, that's just..." Colara trailed off as she stared at the old paper on the desk, and a single tear fell down her cheek. Frenzical stood reading over her shoulder. Then, suddenly, his electric blue eyes flew open wide.
"Hey, guys, check it out- this letter is not just a letter..."