I’m frightened. So fucking frightened of something so utterly silly that if I had told anybody that they would’ve promptly laughed at me. Please, God please believe me when I tell you that I’m not making this shit up. When frightening things happen, it doesn’t just take a hit off your cigarette or a swig of whiskey to make it flee. My mother used to tell me that talking about bad things made them go away. So I guess I better start talking.
My name is Simon, Simon Willshire. One with such a name wouldn’t be thought as one to have many friends, right? Very true in fact. I’ve been alone, relationship and friendship wise, for as long as I can remember. The only true friends I had were my mother and father. This was a pathetic life but an easy one to live. Sometimes, I miss it.
It was on my fifteenth birthday when I began to read books. My grandmother had bought me a large book, the gold text on its broad cover inviting me to explore its beautiful secrets within. At first, I denied the gift and attempted to make friends when I started my sophomore year. Eventually I gave up and picked up the book. That’s when I began to make new friends. Well, not real ones.
Characters I adored from different books were brought to life when I read the magical words that danced upon their pages. They followed me through the halls of my school, making all the unimportant people disappear into the background. Call it odd or silly but I never felt alone when I had them. My imaginary friends.
My parents were at first reluctant with me spending all of my free time reading but when they saw that I was happy, they bought me more and more books. I could drown myself in the words if I shook them out of their pages. Happiness was a rare thing for me so it pleasing when the books brought plenty of it. I wanted to spend all of my time, all of my life just reading.
By the time I was seventeen, my imaginary friends had tripled since my first book. I counted fifty seven of them, fifty seven different souls with no relation to one another. They kept me sane, happy, and feeling alive as I started working at my first job. Can you guess where? At a book shop of course!
The shopkeeper adored me, seeing my true adoration for books, and let me run the store when he had to run errands. Although we had little customers and I was paid a small wage of ten dollars an hour, I was at peace. Things were going well with my parents, my job, and my imaginary social life. I had it all, now that I think it over again.
I don’t know why or what possessed me to look in the back room but I did. Good God, why did I look in there? Curiosity is a crude, horrid thing to hold but when one is naïve, one has no fear. And at that moment I had no fear in my heart.
The dust clogged my senses when I stepped into the back room but I was used to it in a matter of seconds. I could see that there wasn’t much in here but a couple of older books that didn’t make the cut or were too worn out to sell. As I walked about the room, my fingers lingering on the book-covers, my eyes scanned the shelves. I stopped in front of one in particular, one that stood out in an eerie way.
Now I don’t want to bore you with all the details on how magnificent the book looked. But the way it pulled me in with the glossy cover felt disturbing. Almost disturbing enough to make me want to run out of the room and go back to my post. That wasn’t the case though.
I picked up the massive book and peeked inside to discover that the pages were blank. Feeling a bit disappointed and foolish for being frightened by a blank book, I checked the book for a title. There was nothing but a gorgeous sketch of an eagle head on the front. It’s eyes were mysterious, as if holding in a secret.
The decision to keep the book was swift and extremely idiotic of me. I was no writer and there was nothing to read on its pages. What could I possibly gain from stealing this old book from the kind shop-keeper? I would take the blame but they, my “friends”, told me that it would be nice to keep. I agreed with them, they were never wrong.
At first, the book was nothing but a decoration in my room that my parents marveled at. The weeks were normal and nothing extra-ordinary happened as I went to school and work. There was even a point where I had forgotten all about the book until I was cleaning my room and I picked it off the floor. My imaginary friends urged me to open it.
My eyes widened a bit upon seeing pretty black words written on the front page. They seemed to wiggle about in their place, eager to be read and cherished by me. I looked around, noting that my room was clean enough, then sat down on my bed to read out loud to my friend.
I remember how odd the words were, almost as if they were not even real words. The weirdest part was that even though the covers were worn down to the spin, the pages were fresh and lively. It was puzzling but at the time, I didn’t really consider this to be a bad thing. Books were hard to find in a good condition.
The story inside the book was…crude, that would be the modest way to put it. It described the various ways one man would kill many others. Some parts made me want to vomit all over the floor just from reading it out loud. But my imaginary friends kept telling me to read on.
Half-way through the story, my mind was swimming and my throat was begging me to stop. They demanded more and more but I closed the book and decided to go down for dinner. I took a few steps and felt something warm wrap around my ankles, tripping me to the ground. Why did I look back at it?
A swirling black mass of words was pouring from the open book and crawling up my legs. It twitched and screeched like a wild animal ready to rip open its prey. I wanted to run, I wanted to kick it off and run far away, but I was frozen in fear. Scared of the one thing I had loved.
It screamed again then dove into my gaping mouth, choking me as it stuffed my throat. My eyes were forced open as it slipped past my eyeballs and toward the ceiling. I was suffocating as they pushed out of my nostrils and splattered all over my walls as if to mock blood. My body was its domain.
My parents found me the next morning, lying on the floor covered in my vomit and blood. They rushed me to the hospital, dropping a bag of new books they had bought me. I couldn’t remember any of it but I did hear the sounds of the heart machine and busy shuffling of nurses. I could hear my mother weeping and my father swearing like a sailor by my side.
The doctor found nothing wrong with me, no internal bleeding, no organs out of place. I was a perfectly healthy teenage boy who had a nasty spill. Mother didn’t want to accept that I was just “fine” after the state they saw me in. They argued outside of my room for hours, leaving me alone in the room with a single book.
I stared hard at it, stared until my eyes dared to strain till blindness. But when I tried to blink, I swear to God it moved closer. There it is again! That bastard is mocking me and trying to take me down when I was weak! Well fuck that! I’m not going to die!
A careless nurse left a pair of scissors on the night-stand. The blades dug into my palm as I stabbed it into the book cover. Quick rips to the left and violent yanks to the right sent papers flying into the air. The pieces of paper fluttered down like deformed snow-flakes, filling me with absolute fear.
When I was brought back home, I made sure to burn every single one of my books in the backyard. I couldn’t burn the big one but the death of these others made me feel less tense. The smoke cleared my head a bit and gave me a sense of clarity. I knew what had to be done.
So here I sit in. My chair facing the blocked off closet where that cursed book sleeps. I’ve blocked off all the exits so nobody can come inside or leave the room. Although my parents bang on the door and scream at me, I stay sitting with my eyes on the door. It’s the only way I can be safe.
Now one would just suggest to throw it away or put it back where it belongs.. I’ve tried that one hundred and fifty seven times. It kept coming back to my room, kept rushing into my body to suffocate me. Only when I lock it in the closet and stay close does it behave. This is my sacrifice.
My imaginary friends are all gone now. I burned their books and watched them corrode before my very eyes. It’s not painful for a normal person but it was painful for me. To watch the only friends I had die. But that doesn’t matter now.
As I sit here in my little chair, whispering out this tale to anybody who would listen, I continue to make my sacrifice. I’ve learned something about this book, something so wonderfully convenient to me. It likes skin, sweet and soft skin. We made a deal that will keep my parents and everyone else safe.
The pain of the blade running across my arm is starting to weaken as the layers of flesh build up around my chair. But that’s okay. I can start on my other arm tomorrow and then on my legs the next day. Oh look at that, I can see the inside of my arm..