"Calliope": Somewhere in England, author Richard Madoc makes a deal with a local surgeon to acquire a bezoar. Normally, these are precious stones, but in this case, it is a ball of hair that was trapped in the stomach of a woman with Rapunzel syndrome, which prompts someone to eat their own
- You disgust me, Richard Madoc. You want ideas? You want dreams? You want stories? Then ideas you will have. Ideas in abundance.
- — Dream
Synopsis for "Calliope"
Somewhere in England, author Richard Madoc makes a deal with a local surgeon to acquire a bezoar. Normally, these are precious stones, but in this case, it is a ball of hair that was trapped in the stomach of a woman with Rapunzel syndrome, which prompts someone to eat their own hair. Richard has written a very popular novel, but has since suffered from writer's block.
Richard then visits an eccentric old author named Erasmus Fry, who has an obsession with bezoars. In exchange for the bezoar, Erasmus shows Richard to a back room where he has been keeping a woman locked in a room. This woman is Calliope, one of the Greek muses, whose power brings inspiration to those who look upon them. Though some say that one is meant to woo the muses, Erasmus Fry chose to use force instead.
Fry bequeaths the muse to Richard, and the first thing the young author does after locking her in a room in his house is rape her. He justifies it by reminding himself that she is not even human. Before he knows it, he has already written three chapters of his new novel.
In despair, Calliope calls out to her mothers for help. They cannot help her, and they can think of no one who can intercede on her behalf. However, they are suddenly caught by the idea of contacting the Endless, and Dream in particular. Calliope is reluctant to accept his help if it were offered, as they parted ways on less than positive terms. Her friends give up and begin to fade away, and Calliope becomes desperate, going so far as to say that she would accept even Dream's help.
Calliope recalls how she was captured. On Mount Helicon, she had been bathing, and left her scroll on the shore. She was startled by the appearance of Erasmus Fry, bearing flowers of Moly in one hand and her scroll in the other. When she told him her name, he burned her scroll, and became her master against her will.
Richard Madoc returns in a state of undress, announcing that he has finished the novel. Calliope feigns pleasure, and asks whether he will let her go. He disdainfully responds that she will remain in his possession until he says that she is free, and then he forces himself on her again.
Richard Madoc meets with great success over the next few years, striking film deals and book deals, going on talk shows and eventually moving to a trendy house in Chelsea. Naturally, he moved Calliope himself.
One night, finally, Calliope is visited by Dream. Desperately, she pleads for the sake of the love they once shared - however briefly - to have Madoc release her.
During a televised interview, Richard receives news that Erasmus Fry died nearly a year ago, while the interviewer favourably compared the two. Later, Richard has lunch with his interviewer, and assumes that Fry died of old age. His companion reveals that Fry had actually poisoned himself after writing a letter begging his publishers to bring a book of his back into print.
That night, Richard returns to his house to find Dream waiting for him. Despite Richard's protests, Dream insists that Calliope be released, and he is disgusted with Madoc's excuse that he "needs the ideas." Finally, Dream decides that he will give Madoc more than he bargained for. Madoc will have ideas in abundance. Richard suddenly wakes, apparently having been asleep. He accuses Calliope of giving him the dream, but she responds that he was visited by Dream, and that things will change.
In public, Richard suddenly begins to experience an overabundance of ideas. He can't concentrate on any one thing because another idea pops into his head before he's even acknowledged the last. Richard happens to be helped by Felix Garrison, the man who got him the bezoar. He begs Felix to go to his house and free the muse. Felix does as asked, but he finds no muse in the house. Instead, there is a copy of Erasmus Fry's out-of-print book lying on the floor of the locked room. Felix gathers it up, and leaves.
Elsewhere, Dream forgives Calliope for her indiscretion. In kind, Calliope forgives Richard Madoc, and asks that he be released from his torment. Dream complies, and before retreating into the realm of men's minds, Calliope wonders if she might visit him in the Dreaming. They both decide against it.
After Dream has freed Richard Madoc, the man seems to have no more ideas at all.
Appearing in "Calliope"
- Richard Madoc
- Erasmus Fry
- Felix Garrison
- This issue is reprinted in Essential Vertigo: Sandman #17, Sandman: Dream Country and The Absolute Sandman, Volume One.