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"Pause" posted here with the kind permission of the author.
Germany, February, 1995
The stone floor of the library was awash in paper snowballs, testament to a deluge of plot ideas too pitiful to sustain life, of opening paragraphs that emerged DOA. Gabriel Knight wadded up his latest debacle and took aim. It missed the wastebasket, denying him satisfaction to the bitter end.
He sighed and rose from his chair, scratching and stretching and wracking his brain for absolutely anything else that needed to be done, anything that would get him out of the library and away from the smell of failure. This being Rittersberg, nothing came to mind.
Six months ago he had come to Germany, supposedly to pursue this Schattenjäger business and start a new book. Both had alluded him utterly. If Gracie were right and the pendulum of life swept from conservative to liberal, from sad times to joyous times, from periods of activity to periods of inactivity, then he was surely at full swing on the absolutely-nothing-going-on side. He could almost feel himself suspended weightless in that heavy, stomach-dropping pause at the apex of the arch — the pause that came just before dropping headlong into something new.
The standstill was all the worse for the memory of the days when the pendulum had paused heavily on the other side, the vibrant side. Last summer had pushed him forward through the streets of New Orleans, willing or not, until it was all he could do to hang on. Then at the end, flying to Africa and meeting Wolfgang… the circles and the wheels, the hounfour revealed, the fire and the sacrifices made — not just by his side but by hers as well.
Even after the mystery was solved, the fever remained. He shut himself in a room and wrote. For four weeks he'd pounded on the keys, only sleeping when his eyes refused to stay open. Grace brought him coffee and sandwiches, not saying anything because nothing needed to be said. He remembered the amazed glances stolen at the pile of money in the corner. Money, real money, for the first time in his life. Grace, the money, and the work — words flowing from his fingers as purely as the power beams magicians could throw in bad midnight movies… (Okay. So, the Voodoo Murders wasn't Shakespeare. But it had come, it had literally forced its way out. And, even more miraculously, it had sold.)
Nothing in his life had ever been that good, that pure. The problem with feeling like that, the problem with life crackling around you as if the planet were a light bulb and you'd rubbed it, was that it really sucked when it went away. The magic leaves a gaping hole when it ends.