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The wind hit the windows hard, rattling them with a fury borne of a thousand miles of fetch across the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Cold, grey waves crashed into the rocks below the hut, trying to tear the cliff down before it was razed by glaciers at the beginning of the next ice age.

The door opened, and a figure stepped out, quickly pulling the door shut behind him. He had a stocking cap pulled tightly over his ears, and his coat was wrapped tightly around him, long tails wildly flapping in the wind. The bucket he carried held a thermos of coffee, and two rapidly cooling sandwiches.

He made his way carefully to the path on the edge of the cliff, winding his way to the observation post carved into the side of the cliff. Jutting out below, the barrels of two cannon interrupted the straight face of granite tumbling into the sea below. Pulling open the blast door with a grunt, he let himself into the gun emplacement.

Sixty years later, I let myself out of the same shack with a bottle of scotch and ice in the bucket, and made my way down a crumbling path to the same bunker. The massive steel door was permanently jammed open, salt and rust winning the battle against paint and preservation as they always must. My laptop was charged and slung over my shoulder, and I was set to write the Great American novel.

It was going to be an instant classic – hubris, pathos, and resolution all rolled up into one. There were metaphors capable of making the most jaded feel empathy, and characters so lifelike you would sit up all night waiting for them to stroll into the local pub, sweep you off your feet, and take you home. I had already struck a deal with a town in the south of France that was going to remake itself – physically and historically – into the book’s settings, and the travel site I’d struck a deal with had already begun taking reservations based on draft descriptions out of the novel-to-be. There was a six-month waiting list for a room in the shack where the main characters would have their big fight, and their passionate recovery.

In short, I was on the verge of becoming a legend.

The problem, however, was that I had diddly squat.

Oh, there were a few paragraphs here, and some moving vigniettes there, but, despite creating a wildly successful marketing plan, and landing the largest advance ever for a first novel, I had bupkus.

So, this was it, I told myself. Get rich or die trying. I figured there was enough material on the hard drive I’d left in the cabin that a talented editor could cobble together something that’d pacify the newspaper critics and get me at least enough time on the bestseller lists for the publisher to recoup the advance. It’d be popular, but if people went back for a second read, they’d realize there was nothing there. I’d be remembered as a case study in Marketing programs for a decade or so, rather than living on in the canon forever. Though I might get a few years in the Literary Studies departments as the oversold potential found tragically floating in the cold waters of the North Atlantic below an unfinished masterpiece.

The plan was simple – camp out at the edge of the world and write. There was plenty of gas for the generator and a solid supply of scotch, cheese, hard sausage, and crackers. There was a still-functioning spring on the property, and i was far enough from civilization that it’d be nigh-unto-impossible to indulge in wine, women, and song.

The wind whipped with less fury inside the bunker. It whipped more with disdain than fury, kind of like the scolding a third grade teacher would deliver after catching a student eating paste for the 20th time. I’d prepositioned a stash of firewood, and I got the kindling to start smoking on the third match. A little bit of effort, and a tidy fire was going with the smoke whipping out of the gun ports, continuing to blacken to the overhead.

I checked to see that there were batteries in my satchel, and fired up the laptop. All right – good stuff. Text editor was opened, and…

The cursor blinked there, expensive green blinking against a deep black screen. Distraction free. Just right for an outpouring of creativity.

The cursor continued to blink.

A little tipple ought to set me right, right? I pulled out the scotch, poured a generous two fingers into the coffee mug i’d poached from my last job, and leaned back against the cold concrete wall.

The cursor continued to blink.

Noticing that my glass was empty, I refilled it, and walked over to the gun port to contemplate the ocean. In my mind, I was beginning to tie together the basics of the story, all coming back to the sea endlessly lapping on the shores, and the tides, powerful yet silent, changing yet constant. Art, boys, I was here to create Art!

The cursor continued to blink.

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