“I’m never going to read that book again,” said Parker with a shudder.
Dino, his roommate, looked over at him. “What are you on about now?”
“This book,” said Parker, showing it to Dino but shaking it more than was necessary. “It’s—.”
He searched for a word.
Dino set down his coffee mug and tilted his head. “The book is ‘creepy’?”
Parker threw the book to the far corner of the room. It landed with its cover bent and its pages splayed out. “The whole time, I felt like it was watching me.”
“Uh huh,” said Dino. “Have you considered the possibility that it’s a book and it can’t watch you?”
Parker was starting to get defensive. “Look. If you think I’m lame, then you read it.”
“Does it have pictures?” asked Dino.
Parker glared at him.
“Alright, fine,” said Dino. “Bring it here.”
Parker rose from the recliner and retrieved the book. He handed it to Dino as if it was some sort of dead animal.
Without speaking, he returned to his chair and sat down. He crossed his arms and stared at Dino.
“Ok. Now you’re being creepy,” Dino told him.
Dino smoothed the cover and unfolded some of the damaged pages. He made a show of opening the book to page one. He made eye-contact with Parker, then deliberately focused on the first line.
Several hours later, and now late into the night, Dino finished. He snapped the book shut with an uncontrollable shudder.
“It’s not right,” he told Parker. “There’s something not right.”
He looked over at his friend. During the time Dino had been reading, he hadn’t been paying attention to Parker. He was scared by what he saw now.
Parker had drawn himself into a ball, and was hunkered down as far as he could into the cushions of the chair. His eyes were wide, but unfocused. More worryingly, though, was that he was holding a baseball bat in one hand, and a knife in the other.
“Park?” Dino whispered.
There was no indication Parker had heard him.
Dino looked at the book in his lap with terror. He swept it onto the floor while simultaneously propelling himself over the back of the couch. He peered over the edge at the offending volume.
The book lay in the middle of the floor, pages once again askew. Dino was overcome with a terrible realization.
The book knew. It had been reading him as thoroughly as he had been reading it. He didn’t know how it would use what it had learned, but he swore to himself that he would be ready.
He slowly walked to the hall closed. He opened the door and removed a golf club from the bag inside. Then he went to the storage room and retrieved a hatchet from a box marked “Camping”.
When he was done gathering supplies, he returned to the living room, from where Parker had not yet moved.
Dino sat back down the couch and waited.