septembercontest

It lay atop a red, upholstered pillow on a bench in the lobby of the hotel.  I picked it up.  There was no title on the scratched cover and it was adorned with an undefined, brownish pattern.  It was held shut with a small, buckled strap trimmed with raised decorations, and had a bright blue, tasseled bookmark hanging from the bottom.

There was no one around so I took the old book to the counter.

“I need your name, Sir,” said the clerk.  “If it’s not claimed, it’ll be yours.”

“In that case, just toss it.  I don’t need it.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Two weeks after I returned from my trip, a box bearing the book arrived at my home with a note that said since there had been no claim, it was mine.

I shrugged, supposing the clerk had put my name on it after all.  I had no wish to keep the ancient, decrepit volume but decided to take a look inside before disposing of it.  I unfastened the holder, allowing it to fall open.  There were several missing pages and the other yellowing leaves were blank.

It was apparently a journal or diary and whatever had been written before had been removed.  I didn’t need it so I put it back inside the box in which it had been shipped and tossed it in the trash.

That night as I was leaving, the book was on my kitchen table.  Puzzled but deciding I’d absently laid it down instead of actually throwing it in the trash can, I dropped it in the garbage on my way out.

But it was back when I returned.  I checked to make sure no one was getting in and no one was.

Again I threw the book away and again it returned.  Unsettled, I flung it once more.

The third time it came back, I found it lying open on the table.  I snatched it up and words written in a familiar script began to appear and continued for several pages.  My heartbeat quickened as I read what was being written and I sat down, shaken.  The handwriting was mine.

It was a description of certain activities in which I’d engaged including my most recent ones.  I took it outside and placed it into a metal bucket, poured in lighter fluid, and set it afire.  I stirred the ashes, noting the blackened buckle and decorations, satisfied.

The book was lying open on the table when I stepped back into my kitchen.

With ice coursing down my spine, I read the new entry.  I pulled out my gun.

The dark entity that appeared after I pulled the trigger tore out the pages, placing them beside my shattered head.

“Come with me, now,” it said.

We left, but before we moved on, it stopped and laid the book on the upholstered, red pillow of a bench in a hotel lobby.

I watched as a man picked it up and took it to the counter.

End

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