I found a book that does not exist. It cannot exist because if it does, it means I’ve gone mad.
I love books, I always have since I could learn to read at a young age. People think books contain just words, but they don’t, they contain creation and life. What someone writes, puts pen to paper, it becomes real in a sense. When someone reads those words, imagines in their mind what the author says, is that not creation? To write is to create and to read is to experience and I care, no desire, to experience all that writers create.
To describe myself as socially awkward would be an understatement. What connection I could never experience with people I could always find in a book. I was a voracious reader and it became the only thing I truly loved. It perhaps comes as no surprise then that I gravitated to becoming a librarian where I could be with my beloved books all day.
I gained employment at Boston public library shortly out of college. It is a wonderful place and institution being one of the oldest libraries in the country. Where I found my home though was in the sub-basement floors, a role few fought me for. Row upon row, stack upon stack, of old and priceless books from around the world and time exist there. That smell of old books greeted me every morning, the smell of knowledge and creation and time was a scent few enjoy but myself.
We had recently received a batch of very old and unidentified books from an anonymous donor that I was tasked with cataloging. The box that arrived was ornate and baroque in style with a thick layer of dust and grime caking the outside. It had no discernable writing and other than an air of gaudiness was unremarkable. When I opened it up there were twelve thick leather bound tomes inside and I dived into finding out what works lay inside.
Though it may be a surprise to some, Librarians are professional researchers. Most of the books were easily identifiable with a little work and all were occult in nature. Titles such as the Malleus Maleficarium, Les Secrets merveilleux de la magie naturelle du petit Albert, and De Nigromancia were present along with other hermetic texts. Every one of them was priceless and in pristine condition. I admit I was beyond giddy and excited in identifying these texts as such works were rare in the extreme.
One of the books eluded identification though. It’s pages were thick and brittle with varying languages varying from Latin and Greek to what looked like Aramaic and other writings I could not identify. Like the other pieces of the collection the text inside was intermixed with various drawings and sketches of glyphs and sigils for some unknowable rites. The book fascinated me as I worked to analyze it, wishing I could read its words.
When I spoke with my boss about the treasures she seemed less than enthused and asked that I simply catalog them to the Library’s collection and move on. I asked who had donated the works and my Boss shrugged and said it was apparently some heir who received it and wanted nothing to do with it. I then told of the undefined book and she hand waved me away saying not to waste too much time on it.
I called colleagues at the Ritman Library in Amsterdam which has a considerable occult collection but no one could assist me in identifying the book. They told me whatever I had in possession was not known to them. I tried to translate some of the more recognizable Latin and Greek texts but what came out was garbled or didn’t make sense. I poured over and stared at the book for endless hours.
It was late the other night, I had left to grab a hot cup of tea and try anew. I had left the book open to a page that had a pictograph of a door and some unrecognizable text around it. When I sat back down something caught my eye, a portion of the text was no longer gibberish, it was in English. I shook my head and blinked my eyes attributing the sight to the late hour but there it was. More text on the page now read in English. I flipped the page back and forth and the other pages still remained in their original languages but this one now was readable to me.
The door picture was not really a door but simply my best description of it. The drawing was of a dark arched space with a singular point of light beyond it as if out in infinite space. I leaned in and read the newly legible words on the page aloud “that where the light shines shall be devoured by the darkness.”
I looked back at the drawing, of the speck of light in the infinite darkness. The light in the drawing then began to illuminate in reality. I stood up and shot backward, staring at the now glowing page. The speck of light had become an orb. I should have looked away but I didn’t, I couldn’t as I was mesmerized and drawn to it. As I stared, the light enveloped me as I was cast through it. At the end of the cascade of brilliant illumination I was in place of darkness. Looking around the library was gone.
What surrounded me were shapes and spaces my mind could not process. Grimey lichen covered rocky features and brackish water formations were around me in every direction. Light and stars that had no point of origin floated around me. The non-euclidean nature brought me to my knees in panic and despair as I wretched. There was no sky and no ground to speak of. Perhaps I was up or down and neither made any more sense than the other.
As the strange reality churned and moved in incomprehensible ways something appeared in front of me. It was amorphous and it was larger than a skyscraper and smaller than my hand all at once. There was a single point of light on it though and it stared at me if such a thing can be described. The light focused on me, it bored through me and my very being. I swear to you now there was a hunger there, a malevolence in that light that pains me to even recall. In a moment it turned it’s gaze from me, it turned away and disappeared as if it had taken what it needed from me.
The kaleidoscopic reality then swirled again in front me as the impossible space molded to a single point of darkness. I blinked and I was back in my chair in the basement of the library. The book on the table was gone, I searched around everywhere but it was gone.
When my boss found me the next morning I was on the floor, my knees to my chest cowering. I told her everything, about the book, about the unreality, and I cried gibbering on. She tried to calm me as best as possible. She told me again and again in the most comforting tone possible, there were only eleven books donated to the library and this twelfth one could not have existed.
Credit: Avatar of Horror
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