The books tempted him.
Christopher Jones came searching for books. His need for rare volumes had driven him to Cross.
I suspect by the time he was done; he wished it hadn’t.
He arrived on a fall weekend and spent that Saturday making house calls. By Friday, he had gathered up eleven books, and he heard of one more he wanted.
The book belonged to John Carver, an aged scholar who had returned to Cross after years abroad. John had brought with him a wide array of occult books, several of which he kept bound in chains. John, unlike most, knew what he had and how dangerous they were.
We spoke of the books often, and those books were to come to me with his passing (which they did).
Mr. Jones went to John’s house on Friday evening and tried to pressure the old man into selling.
John refused. No amount of money or threats could sway him, and when I arrived for our evening game of chess, I walked into an argument.
Mr. Jones had knocked John into a chair, the old man bleeding from a shallow head wound and glaring at the collector. Mr. Jones, for his part, held the book he wanted in his hands, and he was fumbling with a key, attempting to release the padlock and hence the chains as well.
I stepped forward to stop him, but John stopped me with a shake of his head.
Mr. Jones paid me no mind. Indeed, he even forgot about John as the padlock sprang open and the chains clattered to the floor. The man tossed the lock aside, dropped the keys, and sighed with pleasure as he opened the book.
For a moment, Mr. Jones beamed at the book. He turned a page, and thick, green hands reached out from the volume. Black talons dug into his head as he screamed, and another set of hands appeared. They gripped the edges of the book, holding it open as the first pair of hands dragged themselves toward Mr. Jones’ head. In a heartbeat, the book was over his head, and his screams were muffled.
The hands pulled themselves down to the floor, and Mr. Jones was silenced.
The hands slipped back in, and John got to his feet. He closed the book as he picked it up.
“Book’s hungry,” he explained. “I haven’t fed it in years.”
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