They came for me at midnight. Black sedan, dark glasses. Threw me in the trunk and drove for an hour. Tied me to a chair. Pulled the sack off my head. I was in a log cabin, a guy in a suit standing over me.
What is this, a second rate crime novel? I asked. He slapped me. You’ve exceeded your quota, he said. What quota? I said. Your Ideas Quota, he said. Everyone gets a quota. You’ve blown your limit.
He produced a badge from his jacket pocket. The Ministry of Ideas. He said, Your last idea was a good one. But it was your last. We know you’ve been trying to top it. Well let me tell you something, pal, it ain’t gonna work. I shook my head. No, I said, it’ll work. It has to work!
He laughed. Thought you were a right little genius, didn’t ya. Well it’s all over now, buddy. He leaned forward, blew smoke into my face. No more good ideas for you, he hissed. No, I protested. It’s not over yet! I‘ve got something new! It’s good! Honest!
He grabbed me by the shoulders, dragged my chair to the door and kicked it open. Out there! he yelled, spinning me into the wind. What do you see? He yelled again, what do you see? A dark and stormy night, I cried. It’s a dark and stormy night!
A flash of lightning. He released his grip. What? I said, what’s going on? I couldn’t read his expression. It’s over, he said quietly. You’ve gone cliché. Then shook his head and turned away. Somewhere, a dog howled.