The Big, Bad Book

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You can’t put this book down… ever!


“Young man! Let me warn you. That book is dangerous. No one reads it. I advise you not to be the first” the librarian intoned. His face was oddly contorted. He looked pained and reluctant to hand the book over.

“Whatever. It’s only for some summer reading thing. And I couldn’t find the movie” C.J. replied. He couldn’t believe this. Of all the kids at his school, C.J. was the only one with the “privilege” of getting to read the 613 page book Anguish for the summer reading project. But the unfortunate coincidences did not end there. Apparently there was only one copy of this book in the world, and it was located in the town of Satanta, AZ which was 50 miles from C.J.’s house. And no one would read the book because of the author. Apparently the author was an eccentric recluse who had been living in the hills of Satanta ever since his wife divorced him and ran away with their kids. The summary on the inside cover of the book said that the author’s “sorrow and hate pooled over and found their way into his one and only novel.” Sounded like some emotional junk to C.J. But this “emotional junk” had created a huge superstition that hovered around the book. People believed that the anguish that had seeped into the book would in turn settle itself into the reader of the book. And the fact that the author disappeared right after reading the first copy did nothing but fuel the fire of the simpleton’s silly superstition. Although it was all bogus, the only people with access to the book, the locals in and around Satanta, ate it right up. But C.J. didn’t. Of course he didn’t know what evil journey he was in for.

“C.J. Have you started reading your book yet? Summer won’t last forever and the project will be due before you know it” C.J.’s nagging mom, Mrs. Mavish called.

“Yah mom I’m already on the third lev--, I mean chapter.” C.J. winced. Of course he wasn’t on the third chapter- he wasn’t even on the third page- and he didn’t really like lying but maneuvering battleships in alien galaxies on his PS4 sounded much more exciting than maneuvering through pages in an alien book. But his mom knew. She always knew.

“Chris Jordon Mavish! Get you’re lazy derriere out of the couch, or so help me, I will do it myself. And you will not like that… at all!” C.J. turned to see his mom glaring at him. He was caught—again.

“But mom… I was … just…”

Don’t you dare lie to me.” Mrs. Mavish was now fuming. She had driven 50 miles through the dusty roads of Satanta just to get the god forsaken book and here it was lying on the floor like an old chew toy while C.J. was playing his silly video games. “You start reading that book this instant, or you will wake up tomorrow morning, look out your window, which by the way will be broken, and see a broken PS4 console on the ground, also broken. Do you un-der stand!” Then she stormed down the stairs in rage. That was C.J.’s mom. Always making a mountain out of a molehill. Or so C.J. thought. So with a show of exaggerated exasperation, C.J. picked up the book and began to read:

“Aldo Griffin was not one to forget an insult. He was one who would have revenge no matter the cost. His enemies never lasted long. Of course, nobody knew that Aldo. To friends and neighbors he was a kind and generous man. Though he was rich, his life was just the opposite of extravagant, and though he had been through a lot, he remained a cheerful old man. That is until the final straw broke the camel’s back. One night a terrible dispute ensued in the Griffin house between Aldo and his wife. It led to an angry joust of insults and ended with Mrs. Griffin declaring that she “had enough of Aldo’s ‘tude”. Quick as a whip, Mrs. Griffin grabbed her coat, the keys, and their kids and hopped into the Honda and sped off. On the outside, Aldo looked calm. But in the inside, deep in his heart, a whirlpool of emotions twisted and turned. Tumultuous feelings of hate and rage mixed like an angry amalgam and washed over Aldo completely. Meanwhile, Aldo’s wife, while rejoicing at her successful escape, did not have enough time to notice a tree that seemed to just pop up on the middle of the road right in front of her soon to collide car. Just as an inferno of emotions raged on in the heart of Aldo, an inferno of flames swallowed up Mrs. Griffin’s old Honda, taking with it the three passengers. And just like that, both infernos calmed mysteriously leaving behind a wicked smile and a suspiciously charred car. But too late did Aldo realize that the fate of Mrs. Griffin also descended upon his two children. Suddenly a pang of sorrow attacked Aldo’s heart and threw him into a tornado of blame. He blamed Mrs. Griffin for angering him. He blamed the kids for not resisting their mother’s arms when she took them away from their father. But deep inside the abyss of Aldo’s heart he blamed the only person who deserved the blame. The only person whose fault this unfair fate was. The only person who survived the “terrible dispute” that had taken place half an hour ago. Deep inside Aldo’s now broken heart he blamed himself. A tsunami of anguish flooded through Aldo. It was too much for Aldo to take. He relented to the pain and misery and blacked out.”

“C.J. C.J. come down for lunch” Mrs. Mavish called. She had calmed down from the frustrated mood she was in a while ago and was ready to serve lunch. But since C.J. didn’t reply, she went upstairs to bring him down and was delighted to see he was absorbed in the book. Too absorbed it seemed. “Come on C.J., lunch is ready.” C.J. turned and looked at his mom with eyes that glowed an evil tint of green.

“It’s your fault mom that I had to read this book. It’s your fault that I am cursed now” C.J. replied. Mrs. Mavish was confused and scared and she didn’t know what to say.

“C.J. what are you talking about? Are you feeling okay” she asked with genuine concern. These were her last questions. They were her last words in fact. Nobody, save C.J., knew what happened to her. A similar conversation took place between C.J. and the teacher who picked C.J. to read the book. The end result, though, was exactly the same. The poor librarian in Satanta who had warned C.J. about the book, received the same fate. C.J. was never seen again. No relatives or friends had any memories of him. No computer database in the FBI recalled him. All that was left was a book at C.J.’s house that had fluttered to the last page. A message from the author awaited anyone who dared to read from the book again. It said:

“It wasn’t my fault. You were probably warned. You know who to blame.”





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