How we think it’d play out…
The victory over John Grisham had Stephen King’s blood pumping, and eagerly he pounded at the door of Frank Herbert’s office, crysknife at the ready.
“Herbert! I’ve come for you! Open the door and let’s do this!”
Frank Herbert was slumped in his chair, his eyes the deep, luminous blue of a man in a Spice fugue. He’d been imbibing his invented drug more and more often as the hour of his showdown with King approached. His lips mumbled the Litany Against Fear automatically, but the words no longer soothed him; everything was confused by the faint orange glow of the Spice.
Wearily, he took his own crysknife from the desk and opened the door. King pounced through the threshold and immediately assumed the fighter’s stance. “It’s a shame you have to go, Herbert,” he hissed. “But nothing will stop me from becoming the Ultimate Writer.”
“It’s easier to be terrified by an enemy you admire,” replied Herbert, shifting gracefully into his own stance. The fog was beginning to lift. All possible outcomes of the fight were beginning to manifest in his mind’s eye: he had only to choose the path that led to his victory.
King snorted, taking the first swipe as the two circled one another. “Empty mysticism won’t save you, old man. Not from my friend Pennywise!”
As the razor-toothed clown blinked into existence and charged, Herbert shut his eyes tight. “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see… a dead hell-clown.”
Herbert opened his eyes again to a gently bubbling pile of goo on the floor, in which only a couple of twitching spider legs and a lone clown’s nose still sizzled.
King’s face was a mask of fury. “My murderclown! I’ll cut you good!” He lurched forward, slashing with the crysknife and forcing Herbert onto the defensive. The fight had lost all pretence of grace and honour; Herbert struggled to think of a pragmatic aphorism describing what all this said about Man, the warring animal, but he was too busy trying not to get stabbed in the face.
In the melee, Herbert was knocked backward over his desk, displacing a cylindrical device that fell onto the floor and immediately began to let out a series of low, ominous thuds. “You fool!” cried Herbert. “The Thumper… Shai-Hulud is coming.”
King laughed, but nervously. “A sandworm? Pull the other one, Herbert…”
Neither man moved. The ground began to tremble.
PREDICTED WINNER: ?????
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