8:44 AM January 1, 1931


His courage did him no good.

Jake Riley was a brave man. One seemingly without fear.

He had heard of the fate of the Archers, and he told the board members of Miskatonic that he wanted their job.

He was hired on the spot.

Over the next month or so, I heard about some of the books he retrieved. A few were purchased from places deep in Europe. Places where it wasn’t necessarily safe to travel. But he returned each time, laden with books.

Come September, he was in full swing. He’d go out once a week and return with a book or two, and then, mid-month, he vanished for a week.

When he returned, he was haggard, worn, and foolish.

On Monday morning, I saw him walking towards the university. He carried a large, curious book, and I followed along at a fair distance. There was something off about the book, and it set my teeth on edge to be near it.

As he drew nearer the school, Jake stumbled. He nearly went down to the road, but he caught himself, and a pair of nearby students helped to steady him. I overheard Jake say he was headed toward the library with the book, and they took it upon themselves to help him make his way there.

The wind shifted slightly, and I could smell sickness pouring off him. In the morning light, I caught a glimpse of sweat upon his brow, and his face paled noticeably. He bent his head toward the book as though it spoke to him.

Perhaps it did.

The trio reached a building, and Jake bade them stop. I saw him offer up an apologetic smile, and then he drew a carving knife from his overcoat.

The blade flashed in the sunlight, and Jake cut the students down. As they lay dying on the steps, he set the book upon top riser, knelt beside and cried out in a tongue I did not know.

A heartbeat later, he bared this throat and opened it over the book.

Blood washed down upon it, and the world shook as I sprinted up and threw my coat over the book. I snatched it up and felt it writhe in my arms.

It’s bound now, imprisoned here in my library. Denied its sacrifice, the book sulks and waits for me to die.

It’s not the only one, and like everyone else, it’ll have a long time to wait.

#books #horrorstories #supernatural

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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