rating: +59+x

Dear Annie,

I’m sorry I had to leave without telling you anything, but things kinda… escalated faster than I thought they would. I mean, I knew the suits would get royally pissed off with our little art project, but I didn't know they'd go all “Fugitive” on us and start a fucking manhunt. Rita and Geoff heard what was going on and came to pick me up, said they had a place where we and a few of the others could lay low for a while.

I know you must be real mad with me, but that’s just the way it had to be, babe. If we don't stick it to those manipulative, conniving, shadow puppet master chumps, no one else is going to.

Give little Harry a kiss for me. Tell him his dad is going to be the coolest.

Dear Annie,

I have no idea if I’ll get a chance to send this to you, but I’m writing it anyway. If nothing else, it’ll make me feel better. Turns out Rita and Geoff’s hideout is some damp cave smack in the middle of the boondocks. I have no idea how they found out about this place, but I guess we can’t afford to be picky at the moment. We got enough canned food and art supplies to keep our head above the water for a good while, at least. Water might be a problem though- we can forget about bathing for a good while. Not that half of the guys here care.

I’m going to need something to distract me from all of this. A new project. It’s not going to be easy to top the flaming tower of screaming goat heads that got the suits so riled up, but you can bet your ass we’re going to try.

This place is amazing! Turns out we didn't need to worry about water- there’s this huge underground lake just a bit deeper into the cave. We all had a nice swim, washed our clothes, we might even catch some fish. See, this is exactly what I was saying to you the other day: trust in the world, and it will provide. It’s what the suits don't get, why they're always trying to push everyone around. It’s why we’re going to win in the end- the world is us, babe. The world is art.

I think this place is inspiring me. Watching the water ebb and flow, how the light plays on our reflections, the hues of the rock veins, it’s making me feel things I haven't felt in a long while. Something here is calling me, feeding me with colors and sounds and smells, teaching me. In here, maybe I can create something truly great. Something that’ll be remembered.

I wish you and Harry were here. He'd love it.

I've been hearing her. It started with distorted echoes, a slight haziness of sound around me. Then people’s voices began to grow indistinct. I could still hear them and understand them, but what they said suddenly didn't seem to matter as much. Then it all began coming together, the echoes and the voices and everything else, and I heard her. Her voice appeared from that chaotic swirl of mindless sound like a bonfire in the dark, streamed through me like boiling blood. For the first time ever, I feel awake, alive, and brilliant. She wants me to create something special, I can tell. I gathered whatever supplies I could and ventured deeper into the cave, where I can work in peace. The others wouldn't understand, they’re far too dull, too involved in their petty squabble with “The Man”. It’s such a childish notion, really. They are so much beneath the Muse’s notice. She only trusts me. She'll make me great.

Oh Annie, if only you could hear her. You’d never believe how beautiful she is.

I'm such a fool. All this effort I spent on banal bullshit, on trying to be ‘subversive’, ’dangerous’, ‘cool’. What a waste of time. I always thought I knew what art was all about, but I didn’t know jack. Not until I came here. Not until she began flooding through me. Art shouldn't be some sort of cattle prod used only to piss off people you don’t like. It should be transcendent, rising above all the bickering and fighting and banality, and thanks to her, I’m creating such art for the first time ever.

The others have no idea where I am. I heard them searching for me, calling my name, asking me to come back and eat something. Oafish, loud, insufferable. They think something’s wrong with me. They're right. My materials and instruments are too crude for the Muse’s call; my hands are too numb and clumsy, my brushes too thick and brutish and my paints, even that Wondertainment Wonderhue stuff which I used to like so much, seems entirely insufficient for the work the Blood is commanding me do. I need something more. I need something perfect.

I'll have to find a way to fix that. You'd understand if you were here to see it.

Just look at the colors. Sanguine and sapphire, ivory and indigo; these once barren walls now scream praises to her. It’s all I ever wanted, all I ever hoped to be.

I found it. The answer was obvious; really, it was right in front of me the entire time. All the materials I could ever ask for, the best tools, all in one neat package. Well, maybe not neat. You see, the reason I couldn't see it before was because there was something in the way, like an oily rag covering a Monet.

The human body is a wonderful tool, you see. But the soul is useless.

Luckily, removing it was easy. The Blood of the World guided me to them, took out their lights, left them alone to stumble in the dark for me to pick. They might have screamed, or begged, or cried. I wouldn't know, I wasn't paying much attention. All I know is that they weren't cool at the end. Oh no, not at all.

After that, it was only a matter of digging in, ripping and clawing and tearing until I got to the core. All that was left were dyes and pigments for my mural, gushing out, and fresh as anyone could ask for. Hairs to weave in her image, blond and brown and black. Nails and teeth for the mosaic, so delicate, so fragile. She laughed with pleasure when she saw my work. This will be enough, she said, this will make Breath and Pulse and Spine crumble before her. I don't know what she meant. I don't care. As long as she’s happy, so am I.

I always thought there was no such thing as perfection. I was wrong. One day I’ll come back and show you and Harry the hidden truth she taught me- Perfection is only skin deep.

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