The man guided the writer down the cavern, weaving between the clumps of words.
‘But mine is so huge,’ the Writer said, glancing back at the big Doubt Beast following them. ‘I can’t seem to do anything that stops it much at all. And I’ve never seen it shrink.’
They approached a tunnel opening in the cavern wall. Multicoloured word strands flourished along its floor.
‘Patience, practice, perseverance,’ the man said. ‘Thats all I can tell you, I’m afraid. You’ll beat the Beast for a while, then it will grow again, and you’ll have to beat it all over again. Its a cycle.’
‘Oh, and one other thing,’ he said, as the Writer looked dejectedly at the ground. ‘You already carry the most powerful weapon against your Doubt Beast.’
She looked up at him. He held up a battered pen, its tip glowing as brightly as the light that filled the cavern. She looked down at her own, clutched loosely in one hand.
‘The more you search with it, the more words you find with it, the more powerful it becomes. Even if they aren’t useful words. Trust me. Never stop using the pen.’
The Writer looked from her dim pen to all the words surrounding her.
‘Can I?’ She asked.
‘They aren’t mine, love,’ the man said. ‘They grow and I care for them.’
The Writer ran her hand through the words at the entrance to the tunnel. They felt wonderful, exciting. She shone the pen across them, the light swelling already. One line seemed to catch in her hand. Gently, she pulled in from the ground. It gleamed and curled in the light of her pen.
‘Think about those words,’ the man said. ‘And let the light from your pen guide you on.’
The Writer smiled, suddenly itching to see what her pen could show her next.
‘Thank you!’ She called to the man as she strode into the mouth of the tunnel. She heard him laugh, thought she saw him wave. Then she was alone again, her pen held out before her.
In its light, she caught the shine of different word strands as she marched along, standing out in the light. Carefully, she plucked them from among the many others, gathering them into her fist.
Away from the cavern, the word meadow began to thin. But the Writer could still see the words she wanted. They seemed to sparkle in the light from the pen. It lit up the whole tunnel, brighter than day.
She heard her Doubt Beast behind her, heard it sneaking up. She let it get close, thinking about it. Let it reach out toward her. Gripped the shining words in one hand, she raised the pen in the other and spun around.
Light blazed down the tunnel. It illuminated every black hair on the Doubt Beast, washed out the red of its glaring eyes. It crouched down in the tunnel, trying to hide. As the Writer watched it under the light of the pen, the Doubt Beast shrank. Only a tiny bit, but shrink it did. The pen blazed brighter.
A moment later, the Doubt Beast fled. It turned from the light of the pen and dashed back down the tunnel, out of sight.
Elated, the Writer stared after it.
‘I know you’ll be back,’ she said quietly. ‘You’ll always come back. But I’ll have more words when you do.’
Eager to explore with the new words she’d found, the Writer turned down the tunnel. The bright light of her pen led her on.