The metal chair was bolted to the floor. A chain wrapped around my chest and lower body, securing me like a package. My strength ebbed away like a slow tide returning to sea. Naked, I shivered from cold and fright, focusing on the latter. My left hand slightly restrained provided enough freedom to find the button that pumped drugs into my bloodstream, courtesy of an IV bag.
Light flickering from a 1950 cathode ray tube television was the only illumination in the room. I recognized the wooden console TV as a model I had when I was eight. A leather-bound book sat on top of the oak wood relic. Old black and white cartoons with funny characters danced and sang on the screen. The volume was muted, but I could still hear the cartoon melodies in my head. I recalled drawing the same crude animations for show and tell in school.
It dawned on me that I was in my childhood home. My parents were long gone, but the house was still there. On the bad side of town, the real estate was condemned after a teen girl was held captive and killed by my father. I remembered a room with gray walls splattered with blood and no windows. This was the walk-in closet the teen was murdered in, and the place my father left me for hours as punishment. My best friend used the fear I had as a child to write a horror story.
All I had to do was create a new story in the Book Of Death when I was directed to. Nonsense, I thought, even though my name was on the table of contents as the author of the next chapter. This Book Of death was meaningless to me as a chain letter. It was something to dispose of, not to be taken seriously. The instructions were to write a horror story about the death of a close friend or relative, using a pen filled with their blood on the pages next to your name. That’s what I was told to do if I wanted to continue with my own life. When I finally believed in the Book Of Death, the chapter that I was supposed to write had been written by my best friend. He wrote a horror story about me, using my blood to save his own life. But that was not my script, so I prayed to the gods of its design.
My offering of fresh goat blood and the body of my neighbor’s dog around a basement altar was not enough to appease the dark spirits. Human blood and a body part from the long-ago murdered teen were the only offerings that could erase a story that was already written. I waited too long before I agreed to desecrate the teen’s final resting place for a piece of her body. The three days given to me had passed. My friend’s story had been published, completed in the universe, waiting for a new author upon my demise.
It takes a lot of effort to murder a person with your bare hands. The act is up close, and very personal. I killed my friend in an act of revenge for writing the story before I realized it was the Book Of Death that caused me to act out. Just touching the hideous thing brought out murderousness. Filling a drum with cement, I threw the book in and sealed the lid. I rolled the damn thing off my boat, along with the lifeless body of my friend. I hoped the destruction of the book and the death of my friend would stop the next chapter from being written. The author of the next chapter would not know their time was due. The book could not be presented to them because the last author was at the bottom of the river, ending the stories. At least, that’s what I thought.
I could smell a decomposing body in the room with me. The restraints that held me prevented my turning to the side to verify, but my peripheral vision was enough to confirm it was my friend’s corpse. Also, it became clear that the novel on top of the TV was another copy of the Book Of Death, now opened to my chapter.
I had not eaten in a few days, but the furry creatures roaming freely around the room didn’t have that problem. Rats feasted on my bound feet. All I could do was keep one hand on the button that kept me in a painless fog while trying to protect the family jewels. I prayed the red-eyed devils would not have them as an appetizer. My body trembled, causing the vermin to lose their grip on my flesh for a few seconds.
I yelled “GET OFF ME!” in a threatening voice, which trailed off hapless. The wretched beasts, smelling fear, continued tearing away flesh with abandon. Too restrained to protect my legacy, I held the button down as the strongest of the mighty creatures dined on my testicles, the pain trumping the drug. I was not the author, it was not my script. But this was the last story written, penned in human blood. I guess that’s why I woke up here from the boat. The outcome could not be changed, once it was written in the Book Of Death. That’s how I got to be the main protagonist in a horror story I could have written differently.
My fingers were bones with no muscle to hold the button down. It didn’t matter, as the little bastards ate through the IV line. I guess it’s true, rats will eat anything. Maybe I tasted better than my friend. The TV was still on, but I couldn’t see because they started eating my eyes. Close to death, I chanted in my mind.
“Not the author, not my script. Not the author, not my script,” I chanted to no avail. I finally accepted this story was written for me, and I could not change the outcome.
Copyright © 2018 Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved
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