By Start 2 Comments
Call it what you like. Residual energy of the recently deceased, post-mortal ectoplasmic incarnations, call it apparitions, spirits, call it fucking ghosts for all I care, just don't call me when you need to get rid of one. Don't call me when it happens to you and you don't know what to do with it, 'cause I don't either. Just because I somehow know about these things, doesn't mean I can readily handle situations where the scare-happy, tortured remains of someone who used to be a living human lashes out in frustration and anger at the still-living. The fact that I eat eggs every morning, doesn't necessarily mean you should call me when some chicken-related disaster hits the town, now, does it? Didn't think so. So, don't read this as a pamphlet for my abilities, as I am in no way inclined to help you whatsoever. Just read it as an account of the twisted shit that has been happening to me recently. In fact, screw that. Treat it like you would any piece of fiction. You'll probably sleep better that way. Remember, the following didn't happen.
I used to work in a bookstore. No mystical deals, just normal books. Well, we did have a new-age section, but that's probably just because people tend to believe anything that reeks of easy salvation and are willing to pay money for it. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? Anyway. I worked there in the evenings, because some city official failed to revoke our license for staying open late, which my boss greedily took advantage of. Or so he would, if there'd be any customers. All the other shops in the vicinity did get their license revoked, so the streets and subsequently our store were totally empty. In short, I got paid to stand around. Which was fine with me.
You'll have to understand, as a person I am extremely unambitious. As long as I have a roof over my unshaven head and a couch to rest my unshaven ass on, I have everything I need to be perfectly happy. All the people who want to make this world a better place, or a worse place for all I care, well, they could achieve all those dreams without me. Which makes it all the more excruciating I got caught up in this mess, but more about that later.
That evening I did have one customer, mister Jensen or 'bagman', as I called him, on account of the two plastic bags he perpetually carried around with him, containing god-knows-what and one book. He always had one of our books, which he bought, read and exchanged for another one exactly a week later. This practice had been going on for a lot longer than I had worked there and I grudgingly continued it with nothing more than an awkward, semi-polite smile and the silent hope that bagman would leave the store as quickly as his feet could carry him. He wasn't particularly nasty or unfriendly, but he resembled a scary bum as much as anyone without actually being a scary bum. And he smelled. Also, the exchange procedure for returned books was fairly time-consuming and I silently resented him for providing me with an opportunity to actually work for my wage, so you might want to take that into account when reading my description of that useless, foul bastard with crooked teeth. The books he returned were always as spotless and new as the week before, so I couldn't exactly refuse them on that ground. This time though, the book wasn't new. At all. It was old and big and weird. I have never seen a 'tome' before, but if someone were to ask me to describe one, I would describe the book bagman returned that day. Heavy and leather-bound, the book didn't have a title on it. It also completely lacked the name of the author and assorted feelings of ease I get when looking at most books. I couldn't remember selling it to him a week before either, but to be fair, I have a tendency to forget stuff that doesn't personally affect me or my couch. Bagman did have the receipt and another book for his stupid week-long reading session, so I did the deed and sent him one last casually destructive glance as he shuffled out the store with his new acquisition, leaving me with the old, almost comically menacing book.
Look, I don't really care what you think about me or big, scary books full of forbidden lore and scary incantations, but I have known me for a lot longer than you and I don't ask questions. I had lived long enough to know that curiosity kills cats, probably just to see what would happen, so I threw the book on the 'IN'-pile, immediately forgot about it and went about my merry business, which was almost work-related.
To spend the time, I had devised a game I called 'If my boss finds out about this, he'll fire me'. Catchy title, I know. The rules were as simple as they were sure to inspire hatred in our valued customers. Step one: start reading a book from the bookstore you work in. This game makes no sense if you own the book in question. Step two: read until you find a sentence that continues onto the next page. These sentences are extremely common in most titles, so you should have no trouble finding one. The next step takes a little work, but it's crucial. Step three: on the pages that follow, you should find a sentence that got carried over from the previous page, that, in conjunction with the fragment of sentence that you found earlier, makes sense. Got it? I think you do. It doesn't have to make perfect sense, but it should read like a real sentence. Step four: get rid of the pages between these two pages, so hopefully meaningful plot-points and valuable characterization are no longer present in the book. Don't forget to not simply rip the pages out; do it carefully and in such a way that a normal customer could never detect the intentional destruction you have inflicted upon his book. This is important, because confusion in our customers is what we're going for here. If you get your ya-ya's from ruining books for the sake of ruining them, get your own books, you freak. Final step: put the book back where you found it and sell it as quickly as possible. Bonus points if the book is in a genre that you happen to hate for some reason.
I don't do this all the time, of course. It is pretty tiring to do all that reading and you exponentially increase the chances of being found out if you spoil too many books. So I do one per evening and no more. Having finished most of the new-age section, I turned my eye towards the horror section, as I am a very down-to-earth person. Well, I was. Well, I still am, but down-to-earth is a different place these days. It was totally dark out.
At nine o' clock. In July. I walked over to the window. The sky looked normal, slightly overcast. The deserted street less so. There wasn't anything clearly wrong with it, but the light just seemed.. muted, like someone has been screwing with the brightness setting on your TV. I turned my attention inside the store again and now the colors in there seemed darker, more intense. These things are clearly the signs of drowsiness, I thought as I rubbed my eyes, so I went into the kitchen to make some coffee. I just got the coffeemaker to do my bidding when the annoying little bell connected to the front door rang. Will this torrent of distractions never end? Turns out it was Lowell, my best friend. Lowell was, without a doubt, the weirdest son of a bitch I'll ever know. It was that weirdness I enjoyed most about him, as most normal people turn out to be morons, but that weirdness also caused him to show up at strange times, like now. Not that I couldn't use the company.
He greeted me with a flat 'Jade'. My name is Jayden, I should have told you. Most people call me Jay, Lowell called me Jade. I let him.
I acknowledged his presence with 'Want some coffee? It's in the making.' He nodded.
'New book?' he said, gesturing to the tome on the pile.
'It's not new. Bagman dropped it off today, so we already had it. You remember me telling you about bagman. I'll get the coffee.'
When I returned with the coffee, Lowell was turning the pages of the tome.
'Definitely not new.' he mumbled, 'What's it about?'
'Hell if I know. Why?'
'It's just a strange book, is all. Listen, you didn't read it?' He threw me a look I couldn't place.
'Not one letter. You know I don't like reading. I just took it back from him.' I handed him a cup. 'We're out of sugar.' I added.
'Right.' he sighed. He rummaged through his pockets and took out a packet of sugar, which he tore and poured into his coffee. 'Jade, we have a problem. I would like to buy this book.'