“Gimme the book, baby.”
I didn’t want to. Not now. Not now that I knew.
Looking down, I watched as my hands nervously gripped the old leather bound tome. It felt warm. Not surprising since I’d been holding onto it for some time. My eyes watched as my fingers, slim and aging, traced along the binding and over the gold edge leaves between the covers. I turned it over, still maintaining a solid grasp, and looked at the words etched and gilded on the front cover.
The simple words held more meaning than all the words ever written. They seemed to swim before me, twisting and turning with each pass of my eyes. I blinked suddenly as my vision swam and blurred.
“Stop it,” I shouted. “You’re doing this.”
“Yeah, baby,” he sneered. “And I can do much more. So hand it over.” I glanced at him while he spoke. The sneer he effaced was sheer sinister; a glimpse into pure horror and evil.
“No.” The word came out small and frightened. But it was as solid as the grip I held the book with.
Not just a book. THE book. MY book. And I wasn’t about to let him take it. Not now. Not ever.
“That’s not very realistic,” he smarmed from his corner of the room. I shivered. He knew what I was thinking. I knew he would. But it frightened me nonetheless. “You’ll have to release it sooner or later.”
It was true. I knew I’d slip, my hands would fail, my fingers would lapse. But I couldn’t do it voluntarily.
“Look, sweety,” he smoothed, his voice the color of smoke and as slick as glass. “I got a deal for you.”
I didn’t want to hear the deal. But I had no choice. My tricked vision could discern no doors here to run through, no windows to jump from. There was only the room. And him.
“How about you let me just look at the last page? You can keep the book in your hands. Just give me a small gander at the final chapter. That’s all I want.”
Could it be that simple? Could he just want to look at it, not possess it?
No. Nothing from him was simple.
But I was so tired. And what could a glance hurt.
“Just a look,” I whispered.
“Just a look,” he answered slowly. His smile told me I would be damned. But I knew his word was as solid as his evil was damning.
“You won’t try to take it?”
“I will not lay a hand on it if you don’t want me to. Not a finger, not even a breathe will fall on its pages.”
I was hesitant at first. But then began opening the book to the final written upon page. He eased over. He smiled largely. And then he spoke.
I did. A shot of fear stabbed deep into my heart. I knew the awful truth. And I began to shut to book.
“Gail stops her movement. She opens the book fully and places it upon the floor, her exhaustion so very evident.”
I did. I knew I should not. But as the words filled the page, as he spoke them for me to do, I knew I was lost.
And I gave into it. It was so easy.
Now the darkness surrounds me. I feel the pain of the others. I hear their torment.
And I hear the words he speaks to his next victim, the next contributor to his library of damned.
“Gimme the book, baby.”