It’s that time again, guys! It’s that time for me to post my response to my writing prompt… and I have to say that this one is a big one. I had a lot of fun with this, and I wrote a bit more than I meant to. But, that’s one of my favorite things about writing prompts – you never know if it’s going to spill into something bigger than just a few hundred words. You never know if you’re going to make an actual story out of it!
So, the Day Four Writing Prompt was:
The words on the page were gone – instead, a trail of black ink led to your bedroom door…
And here is my response!
The book had been innocuous when Donovan found it at the store. The old shop was one of his favorite places to be; he’d often find himself there after work, browsing the shelves for hours. Sometimes, he’d go to the back of the store, where the spines were covered in dust, and there was no guarantee that you’d even be able to read the title that you were picking up until you gave it a thorough wipe down.
That was how he’d found the book. He’d been climbing ladders and searching the shelves for something truly interesting to take home – the work day had been long and dull, and he’d answered the same tech question fifty times. He’d gone to college for four years and gotten a job that paid well enough for him to have his own apartment in the city… but it wasn’t really fulfilling.
What was fulfilling was looking for a new book in the corner bookstore by his house – what was fulfilling was those moments when he found something worth buying.
It was when Donovan was half up the shelf on a ladder that he noticed it; the spine wasn’t covered in dust like the books surrounding it, as though someone had happened by it recently and found it just as interesting as he did. The black leather was bound with silver, with no trace of a title to give way to what the book was actually about.
Maybe it was the fact that it had no title – maybe it was the fact that it was clearly in better shape than all of the old books around it.
Whatever it was, it was almost like music was coming from the pages, and he couldn’t help himself – his fingers spilling forward to pull it from the shelf, and he was shocked to see that those digits were trembling.
Trembles or no, he snatched it from the bookcase and tucked it under his arm without looking at the cover.
It didn’t matter what it said. He took it straight to the front of the bookstore – when he realized that the clerk wasn’t at the register, he dug into his pocket and pulled out two crisp bills. A twenty – a fifty. Donovan didn’t care. He threw it onto the counter and half ran out of the store, shoving the book into his backpack as though too greedy and protective of it to let anyone else see it.
It was his. He’d purchased it. And now he was going to take it home.
With the book hidden away in his back, he thought that he’d forget about it. He knew that he had homework, that he needed to make himself dinner… that he had things that he needed to get done before he could take the time to read. And yet, even hidden away in his bag, he couldn’t help but to continue to flick his gaze to the canvas, as though he could see through it. As though he could see that black binding, and it was calling to him.
He only made it half way through making dinner, and he’d already burned himself twice before he took the pan off of the stove and threw it into the sink. He was walking to his backpack before he could stop himself, and flinging the latch open with wide eyes full of curiosity and wonder.
He hadn’t even seen the title of it.
He didn’t know what the book was about at all.
But he needed to see it.
The leather binding almost felt warm in the chill of his backpack when he wrapped his fingers around the edge of it, and a low hiss of pain poured from his chest as he pulled it forward. The paper had caught his finger and cut. He quickly pulled the book out and jerked his bleeding hand away from it – a spatter of blood fell onto the cover, and crimson stained the page where he’d cut himself. It didn’t matter though – his eyes weren’t for the stains on the pages.
His eyes were for the cover.
There wasn’t a title.
There was just an image.
The man’s face was etched deep into the leather, chiseled like a God and sinisterly beautiful – the only color on the black leather front were two red stones set where his eyes would be.
The book felt like it was vibrating in his hands, and that face seemed to be staring straight through his soul. Donovan’s digits were trembling yet again when he finally flipped back the cover, the weight of it heftier than he thought, almost as though it was resisting being opened. But once he did, his brows instantly knit together.
He couldn’t read the words.
It was some language that he’d never seen, and he’d studied languages while he was in college, between the countless computer and programming classes. He bit his lower lip for a moment, his eyes skimming the words – it wasn’t even anything that he’d heard of before, it didn’t look familiar.
None of it did, but his lips tried to form around the words anyway; they sounded foreign coming from his throat, read aloud with lips having to purse and tongue having to curl to bend around the pronunciation.
His hand came up as he read, and when he came to a name in bold, he stopped for a moment… the pad of his finger traced the word, and he spoke it aloud softly. “Bellan.”
It was the only thing in the book that made any sense – his hand came away from the page and he frowned. He’d smeared crimson across the name from his paper cut – he’d smeared the book red three times now.
“I’ll be back.” Donovan murmured the words softly and pushed himself away from the table. He was going to go and put a bandaid on his finger before he managed to ruin the book entirely with clumsy fingers.
Cool water stung at the cut on his finger, and he was surprised to see that his reflection was pale – it made his blue eyes seem all the bluer, and his dark hair that fell against his forehead and swept over his cheek even darker than usual. The bandage was easy enough to wrap around the cut, and a splash of cool water helped him to catch his breath, to calm down. There was no reason for him to be feeling this way. He’d just read a book…
It had been a strange day.
With a soft laugh he flipped the bathroom light off and went back to his living room – he was going to put the book up,and get his work done.
When he stepped into the room, though, he instantly realized that something was wrong. There was a spattering of black on the table, and when he half ran to the book… the pages were blank.
He frowned, flipping through the paper quickly… there was no ink – no words. It was empty like a journal. With a small noise of protest, he shut the book entirely.
The man on the cover was gone.
His heart was thundering in his chest, catching his breath and keeping it captive without him noticing. The book fell thick to the table, the enchantment and music that had been spilling from it gone. It no longer held his attention captive – what did was the spill of black ink that fell from the table, half smudged into a hand print… and then trailed those foreign words along the white of his carpet, before shifting into footprints…
And spilling into his bedroom.
So, I actually had to cut myself off with this response, because I realized something.
I’m making a small novel here – at least a decent sized short story. It kind of transformed from something other than a simple writing prompt. When I hit 1300 words, I realized that I needed to pull back. But I promise you, this isn’t the last that you’ll see of Donovan, or Bellan. They may end up making a surprise novel appearance!
Make sure if you end up doing any of my prompts that you tell me. I’m going to make a list of all of the responses at the end of the month, so we can have a big compilation of horror stories, for anyone who is really in the Halloween mood and wants to get their fix.
Until next time guys!!! Keep reading and writing, and keep being absolutely awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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