My previous life ended on a grey day in mid-October. I was with Junichiro, my graduate supervisor, in the old bomb shelter under the university library. We were in a large square room containing only a lectern, upon which sat a large black book.

He said to me, "Go check behind that pillar, I've got something to do that must not be disturbed. Shout if you see anything." I of course thought this was odd, but there was a no-kidding tone to his voice which told me it was important. Not sure of what I was looking for, I walked behind the massive concrete pillar and examined the shadowed area behind. While I was searching, I heard a short but very loud scream. Then, a brilliant flash of light filled the room. I felt an odd electrical sensation in my hands as the light faded. I saw a shadowy figure run out of the room. I ran to the centre of the room and saw Junichiro lying on the floor, very still. Seeing his shallow breathing, I ran out of the bunker to call for an ambulance. As I placed the call I felt an echo of that odd electrical sensation in my hands.

The paramedics told me that Junichiro had had a stroke and was dead.

As I was cleaning up my office to go home, I sat down at my computer so I could shut it down. I felt that feeling in my hand again, only much stronger this time, and the computer went dead. Naturally, I investigated; opening the case to look I discovered that the fine wires on all the circuit boards in the computer were burnt away. I thought maybe there was a connection with that electrical feeling in my hands, so I went to the phone I'd used before and picked it up. It was dead. I carefully put my hands in my pockets and began to walk home.

When I got home I quickly put on a pair of gloves, hoping to avoid the strange feeling and its strange effects. While I was making my dinner, there was a knock at the door. I opened it, to find a man slumped over just outside my door.

"Help me," he said weakly, "it's still out there."

"What's still out there?" I said, but he'd passed out. So for the second time in a day I called an ambulance. The doctors told me that he'd be fine, he just had to recover from the effects of exposure.

The next morning, I went to the hospital to talk to the strange man about what he had said to me.

"What's still out there?" I asked.

"The book. The book's still out there." was the response.

"What makes this book so dangerous?"

"Raw, evil power. It imprisons your mind, controls your body, makes you do horrible things."

"What should we do about it?"

"Destroy it. Burn it, crush it, tear it, stain it, cut it, whatever. Just destroy it!"

"But where is it?"

"I'll show you." With that he began removing the IV, the sensors, and all the other medical paraphernalia connected to him, and began getting dressed to leave.

"You shouldn't do that, it's bad for you."

"I'm already a dead man," was the only reply.

He led me to a quiet suburban area near a lake. At a point where a small stream passed under the road, he stopped. In a corner of an adjacent lawn there was a large black book, the same one as in the bunker. I moved to pick it up but he stopped me.

"No, don't touch it unless you know what you're doing." Since he should know, I let him pick it up. We went back to my place, got in my car, and drove to as remote a place as I could find, bringing firewood.

We set up the firewood so as to have as large a bonfire as we could. Once the fire was hot and high, I nodded to the man and he threw the book onto the fire. It bounced off and fell to the ground at my feet, unburnt. We then carefully placed the book on top of the flaming logs and watched for it to burn. The flames did not affect it in the least. Time for my last resort; I poured gasoline on the book. Impossibly, although the book was made of leather and parchment, it did not burn while the gasoline that covered it quickly took to flame.

We stood and watched into the night as the fire burned itself to ashes, and, in the end, there was the book, undamaged, sitting in the middle of all the ash. The man, whose name I never heard, was very angry about this and said we should wait until dawn before moving the book.

He told me, as we waited, that he had seen the book long before at a flea market, and had looked at it before deciding that it was both indecipherable and too expensive to be worth buying. He had forgotten about it until about a week ago, when he felt an irresistible pull bringing him out here and to the basement of the library. After that, it controlled him until he able to get rid of it by extreme force of will, right before he came to me for help.

As the first rays of dawn rose above the mountains, I looked toward the book. I thought I saw steam rising from it, and then, it was gone. My companion also saw this.

He said, "Damn, it got away...", before collapsing to the ground. I checked his pulse and his breathing. He was dead.

Now, I live my life in a haze of questions. Why did Junichiro have the book, and what was he doing with it? Where did the book go, or is it gone forever? Did we have a hope of destroying the book, or were we tools of its mysterious purpose? But the question which wakes me up nights and haunts my days is this; will the book one day call on me and use me as it did that mysterious stranger?

I have the electric sensation in my hands as a reminder. Whenever I touch anything electrical or living with my bare hands, it comes. Even when gloved, I still feel a hint of it. Electrical devices are destroyed by my direct touch, although nothing seems to happen to living things.

Every day it reminds me, my life may no longer be my own

Originally inspired by a nightmare I had on January 6, 2003.
This writeup is copyright 2003 D.G. Roberge and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial licence. Details can be found at .

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