As Halloween is only two days away I thought that it was time I did something seasonal on this new semi-used blog of mine. So, as always, I have written a (very) short story with a rather spooky outcome. It is called "The Chronicle of Vita" and is, at it's black heart, about a book. A very strange book, I might add. It is written in the 2nd person perspective as a result of an experiment of mine and I've come to conclusion that it's creepier that way. But you'll be the judge of that, I'm sure.
Also, being a MASSIVE Neil Gaiman fan, I thought that I'd nudge aside some of my blog-space to help promote a new tradition concocted by the gentleman writer and a few of his influential friends. Realising that there are no popular holidays that specifically include the gift of a book being given to family and friends, Mr. Gaiman and co. have devised a new Halloween tradition called "All Hallow's Read". I won't go into too much detail in case I get it wrong, so here is the appropriate link if you're interested and want to learn more:
I'm certainly going to spread the word to all my bookish friends, and today I'm going out in search of interesting (but cheap) gothic and horror books to pass round. It should be an interesting venture considering I'm not really a devoted fan of the genre (depending on if you'd count Mr. Gaiman as a horror writer), so wish me luck!!!
Anyway, now all that publicity is out of the way, here is the latest draft of "The Chronicle of Vita". Enjoy...
THE CHRONICLE OF VITA
Your flexed fingertips guide the book off the shelf. You feel the dust curl into your nails as they brush the spine and you sneeze violently. Its hardback body crash-lands into your open palm.
Why haven’t you read this book yet? It’s a classic; it has that look: leather-bound. As you pinch the red corner you feel the history. Hundreds of weathered pages of bygone brilliance. That’s why you’re going to read it now; that and because you’re suddenly bored again.
What’s the title? “The Chronicle of Vita”. Succinct, but you still haven’t the faintest idea of what it’s about. There’s no blurb, no summary. It must be really old.
You turn to the contents page. It’s half-complete; or is the ink just fading? You flick to the page where the story actually begins.
‘John Burling was a quiet man; quite afraid to speak out but content in his timidity...’
You turn overleaf.
‘Edwina Winslet was a woman of passion and fire. It was this fire that often saw her into some detestable situations...’
A page devoted to each character, eh? You skip a few dozen to find where things actually pick up.
Soon you realise that every page brings a new name, a fresh character. But how can a story have so many? Surely it’s difficult to keep track of them all.
You rest a finger on the twenty-first page and skim all the way down to the last paragraph. A throwaway sentence grabs you:
‘Young Donald picked up this book on January 23rd 1927 at four o’clock in the afternoon.’
And that’s all. From that point on there is not even a passing mention of Donald Bamforth; not even a footnote. Very strange.
Did these people actually exist? Is this fiction or non-fiction? Either way, you’re captivated.
You flick further on, closer towards the end of the book. At some point the words start to run out till you’re faced with an onslaught of empty pages.
You stop at one. It’s almost as if the writer ran out of ink or things to say, or maybe both. Or maybe not.
You spy a black smudge at the top of the page. That wasn’t there before. It’s drawing itself out, stretching into familiar shapes and symbols. Letters. Words. It’s spelling your name.
Your legs quiver but you regain balance. What is going on?
This can’t be right. Books can’t write themselves, not literally. They can’t possibly know every inch of your life nor be able to write it down with clear and steady assurance. You’re hallucinating, you’re drowsy, you must be.
You follow the flowing ink as it dots the end of the sentence:
‘...picked up this book on October 26th 2010 at twelve o’clock at night.’
The book slips through your dissipating fingers and collapses to the floor.
You check your hands. Nothing. You touch your face. Nothing. You’re slipping away and you barely even realise it. With a gasp, you’re gone.
The ink’s still wet.
Sleep tight, children...