The one pen

by Redbeard

An odd thing happened while I was working on updating the scrapbook. At one point, I looked up and there was a young man sitting at a table in my living room with a stack of papers and a pen frantically scribbling away.

I approached him to ask who he was, and found myself suddenly growing taller and noticed my beard changing color.

Redbeard as Gandalf

"Young man," a deep voice came unbidden from me, "How long have you been using that pen?"

"Oh hello, Greybeard," he replied. "I'm just finishing up another inkling -- my fourteenth today."

Suddenly, I reached over, grabbed the pen, and threw it in the inkwell.

"NO!" he cried.

"Pick it up." I said. "Don't worry, it's quite clean. Can you read anything on it?"

"Just 'Papermate'... oh wait... the ink has created lettering on the pen, but I cannot read it."

"It's written in the language of messageboard, which I will not utter here. But in the common verse, it reads:

Three pens for songsters in three-four time,
Seven for storytellers using up the inkwell,
Nine for epic poets doomed to rhyme,
One for the editor coding html,
In the land of fanclub where the verses lie.
One pen to write them all,
One pen to rhyme them,
One pen to sing them all,
And in the scrapbook bind them
In the land of fanclub where the verses lie.'"

"It sounds ominous," the young man said. "What does it mean?"

I looked at his emaciated body and sallow complexion. "When's the last time you got away from your writing and had something to eat or some exercise?"

"Oh, I don't worry about all that. My writing gives me all I need."

"That's the pen at work," I said. "It appears to be feeding you, but it's draining your life force out onto those sheets of paper. You must use it carefully. And also make sure to keep it secret and safe."

"If it's so dangerous," he replied. "Won't you take it for me?"

"NO!" I thundered. "Do not tempt me. I would try to use it to write wonderful works of great meaning, but the pen would corrupt me and before long I'd be writing some silly parody and adding myself as a character in it."

"Then what must I do? Must I take this pen on some dangerous quest to destroy it?"

"Of course not," I said. "Just stick it in a drawer. It's a beautiful day -- go out and play. Read a book. Go see Star Wars. The pen will be there for you when you're strong enough to handle it and when you have new adventures to write about."

"Thank you, Greybeard. I will!"

The young man put away his pen and dashed out of the room, leaving behind the stack of papers. I picked them up, sighed, and went back to entering them in the scrapbook.