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His hot breath is screaming in my ear. I try to run but all I can do is trip and stumble. He picks me up with a heartbreaking look in his eye. I writhe under his grip and he slowly turns me around. His rosy cheeks were painted with blood and his white beard was made of little children’s bones. As he gasps, I see my sister’s red ribbon between his white, jagged teeth. I scream, but no sound comes out. He squeezes my frail, feminine body until I can squirm no longer.
I wake to a searing pain coming from my head. I open my eyes to find myself lying face first on the ground, next to my bed, my sheets suffocating my body. Sweating, I quickly tear the sheets away from me to catch my breath. I look around the room to acknowledge my surroundings. My room seems to be in order. No intruders. I stand up and turn on my light. I think about going to Mom’s room and sleeping with her. No. That would be a child’s thing to do. I am not a child. It’s not like it would help either. I look to the open door and see nothing but blackness. The walk there would scare me more than staying in here. I hate my new room. The only colorful thing is my stuffed bear, and he is pastel colored. Mom found him in the old house. He was one of things that survived. I return to my cool bed. I stare at the one-eyed bear and somehow fall asleep.
At breakfast I tell Mom about my dream.
“You shouldn’t have eaten those chocolate doodads after dinner.” She remarks coldly while stirring the third helping of eggs.
“For God’s sake Mother, you’re wasting food.” I reply with my mouth full of bacon. I mix my remaining eggs and hash browns into one gross mess.
“Jessamine, I’m not wasting them. They’re for your sister.” She scoops the rest of the eggs in our best bowl and set them aside. I sigh.
“Fine.” I shouldn’t have told her my dream in the morning. She’s always gloomy in the mornings. “What are we going to do today, Mom?” I ask excitingly.
“I have to go to the store.” She always seems to go to the store. “So, why don’t you help me clean up and I’ll drop you off at the library.” I was going to ask her if I could come with her to the store, but her bribe with the library was too good of a deal to pass up.
“Okay.” I grab Celosia’s bowl and dump the eggs in the garbage.
I look through the colorful books in the young adult’s section. I pull one of the books out and read the back. Some people say ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, but I’ve read enough books to know the contents of the inside by the cover. Still, I’m making an effort to not judge them before reading them a little bit. I look back at the shelf and notice a hole between the columns of books. I peep through the hole and see a man my age reading a new vampire book. I snarl, but notice that the other book in his hand is ‘Romeo and Juliet’. He must have a personality defect. He looks in my direction and I quickly retreat. The last thing I want is an awkward conversation.
“Hey.” The vampire enthusiast calls behind me. I jump and whip around.
“Oh, h-hey. What’s up?” Is my automatic response. I never say that. Why did I just say that? He smiles.
“Nothing much.” Then why talk to me? “Is that a good book?” He smirks. I could tell that he thinks he’s the bomb. He pushes back his thick, blonde hair with his bookless hand.
“No, well, I don’t know. I haven’t read it yet.” If I read it, why would I look at it in a library? To remember all of the fond memories I’ve had with it? Oh, book, remember that time when we were in that coffee shop that one morning and I spilt some mocha on you? Haha, good times. No. Geez, he’s stupid. “Are those good?” I point to his books.
“Well, my friend told me to read ‘Vampire Vengeance’ so, I don’t really know quite yet. He said it was good though.” He grins. “And for ‘Romeo and Juliet’, I have to do a report on it.” He almost seems to be pouting. I didn’t know what to say to that, so I remain silent, force a smile and nod. He shifts his weight after a couple seconds. Then he moves closer to me. “Did you know that there is forbidden book in this library?” He whispers.
“Uh, yeah. There is a whole section dedicated to forbidden books right over there.” I point to the shady room that has the sign of ‘Adult 18+’ on the door. What, does he think I work here? He laughs.
“No. Hidden in this very library, is a book that can be only checked out by one person. And that person is” He sets his books on one of the shelves and does air quotations. “‘The Chosen One’.” He wiggles his eyebrows then winks. Is he trying to be flirtatious, or trying to make me sick? “You can even ask the librarians about it.” He gathers back his two books.
“Nuh, uh. There is no forbidden book.” I cross my arms.
“Ask one of the librarians if you can check it out.” He gets closer to me and leans his hand against the shelf. “Maybe you are the chosen one.” He winks again.
“Let’s do it.” I announce loudly. His cheeks turns a pinkish hue but quickly started walking to the front desk. The librarian already was looking at us because of our ruckus.
“Checking out a book?” He grimaces. He looks at us like we are two returned books with stains and torn out pages.
“Yes.” My flirty friend answers.
“Name and card, please.” He replies. His right eye twitches.
“Jessamine Von Kiel.” I slide my card across the counter.
“Oh, my name is Adam Apel.” Adam turns to me and holds out his hand. I shake it as the librarian taps his abnormally long nails on the counter.
“Do you even have a book?” He spat.
“Uh.” I look at Adam. He leans towards the old librarian and whispers.
“She would like to check out the Forbidden Book.” He looks back at me and wiggles his eyebrows. I look away before I get sick. The old man sighs.
“You know, the book isn’t such a big deal.” He types vigorously at the old keyboard. “Hmm.”
“What?” I anxiously say, standing on my tiptoes. Adam looks more excited than I do. He tries to peek at the screen. The old man turns the computer away from Adam’s sight.
“The last person to check out this book was a Celosia Von Kiel. Do you know her?” He lowers his thick glasses to get a better look at me.
“Uh. No.” I can’t seem to swallow. Adam looks at me and tilts his head. The librarian pauses, then pushes his glasses back up and starts typing again.
“Well, the book seems to have some smoke damage, but not too bad. Considering it went through a fire and all.” My head is spinning. “Its sort of weird that Celosia didn’t even bring it back. She was always good with due dates. It was her mother who brought it back.” The old man stops. “Oh, look at me with my rambling.” His grunt seemed to be a sad excuse for a chuckle. He hands me a green velvet book with an embroidered golden flower on the cover. It’s the most beautiful book I have ever seen. My eyes fill with tears so I don’t look up.
“Thank you.” Adam tells the man and starts leading me away from the counter.
“Could I speak to her alone for a moment?” The old man asks. Adam looks down at me.
“Why not.” I reply. My tears had dried now. I walk back to the counter. The old man grabs my shirt and pulls in me close. His eyes look oddly depressing and his cheeks turn crimson red.
“I will tell you this once and only once, so hear me child. I have told your sister and I will tell you.” His white beard shudders under such a gruff voice. He shakes me violently. “You shouldn’t read that book. I am Mr. Linden and I made that book. Under any circumstances do not—”
“What the hell, man?!” Adam pushes the old man away from me. I stand trembling, still clutching the velvet book. Mr. Linden stares at me then fled.
“Are you okay Jessamine? Did he hurt you? What did he say?” Adam stared at me, while searching for his phone in his pockets.
“I’m fine. I think he’s insane.” I shudder. Adam dials a number and holds his phone up to his ear. I can’t seem to listen to his conversation to the police. When the police arrive I can barely listen to myself talk. I repeat the same story over and over to police, friends, and news reporters. Mom finally comes and hugs me for what seems like two hours. Adam gives me his number to text him if I feel scared or sad by what just happened. I feel empty until I get home and lay on my bed. I stare at the book forever, until I didn’t care what time it was. I finally open the book and read. It was a boring story about a flower not being appreciated and so it started to get more and more beautiful everyday. Everyone was sad because they ruined their relationship with the most beautiful flower. I got about three fourths done and when I fell asleep.
I open my eyes to see my sister. Celosia is petting my hair. Her hair is pulled back with vines coming out of the beautiful book. Her eyes are dark brown, like they always used to be. Her hair is light brown with a tint of gold, like it always was. Celosia opens her mouth to say something. I look up at her and smile. I start to cry tears of pure happiness. Her mouth is still opening. I look curiously at her. She keeps opening her mouth wider and wider.
“What’s wrong sister?” I ask. Her mouth is as big as my bed now. I stare into her eyes, pleading for her to speak. I go on my knees and plead. She made a coughing noise. I look up from my praying hands and pleaded one more time. Her mouth snaps back to normal size.
“You should’ve listened to the old man Jessamine.” She has venom in her voice. Her veins turn black and so did her eyes as she attacks my face like a viper. My face is bleeding and my sheets had turned crimson as my blood soaked up the cloth.
I wake up on the floor, head first. My face smooched into the green book. I quickly turn around and look around the room to acknowledge my surroundings. My room seems to be in order. No intruders. I stand up and turn on my light. I turn back to my bed and see Celosia. Darkness engulfs me.
Mr. Linden had warned her about the book. Now it was too late.