Rachel? Rachel….she wouldn’t….it couldn’t be! I thought as I stood there gaping at two distant figures leaning against the old rustic red bricks of Wallyville High two days ago. I was heading home from school, I can’t drive yet, and I happened to glance over my back and in between the trees that lined the edge of the school grounds I saw two figures. As I got closer I had realized that those ‘two figures’ were my girl friend, Rachel Sandcroft, and the Varsity Quarterback, Antoine Rodrigo! Those two figures weren’t just standing there either, more like….never mind….It doesn’t matter now, because tomorrow Rachel Sandcroft wouldn’t be my girl friend. But two days ago, I didn’t know, instead, I decided to intervene between my girl and the buff senior quarterback, I wasn’t thinking that my scrawny body was a blade of grass beneath his expensive shoes.
I am Brent Madison and I go to Wallyville High. I was dating a girl named Rachel Sandcroft a slim bodied brunette with freckles crowning her lightly tanned face. I wasn’t a nerd, well, I wouldn’t admit it. Compared to Antoine I was, but I had more friends than most nerds….I think. I don’t normally get picked on sense most people get along with me and that is a good thing but that was about to change, little did I know. I have short black hair that is cut around my ears and hangs over my eye brows, in the back it doesn’t crawl to far down my neck. That day, to days ago, I wore a plain red polo and a pair of long blue jeans that scraped the ground as I strolled across the school grounds in my white sneakers.
Thinking about that Thursday, two days ago, if I had never walked over to Antoine and my soon-to-be X I never would have been…never mind, I’m getting ahead of myself. Anyways, I was marching toward the two when something wrapped around my neck and yanked me to the ground. My neck popped uncomfortably as I stumbled back to my feet and before I could react two arms wrapped around mine and dragged me off away from the school and into the parking lot nearby, out of site from the two, where I was thrown down on the hard gravel paved square Wallyville High called a parking lot.
“Where’d you think you was goin’?” One of the guys asked. He had bright blue eyes and short blonde hair, his two palls were twins and both were chubby with curly orange hair and green eyes, loaded with freckles. Three of Antoine’s football buddies, I doubted Antoine even bothered with their names.
“My girl is,” I began standing back up and glaring at the three, I knew I would lose this fight, more like attempted murder, but I might be able to get a few licks in and possibly break a nose, “over there, I was just gonna say hey.”
“Hah, his girl,” one of the twins laughed and the other nodded and grinned.
“Shut up!” The blonde snapped and turned back to me, “Rachel ain’t yo girl. Ain’t any more.”
“You got that right,” I grinned and swung my right arm back to launch it forward into the blonde boy’s face. I heard a crunch noise followed by a curse and I can’t remember but I think I mumbled a triumphant cheer as I kicked the twin to the left in his family jewels.
“You bastard!” The other twin roared and socked me with a meaty fist right in my stomach knocking the air right out of me. I fell down on my hands and knees, scraping my hands on the gravel, and then I remember that it felt like someone dropped a sledge hammer on the back of my head, the blond kid had gotten back up. I was now sprawled out on the ground and oblivious to almost all the pain. I laid there absorbing all their punches, kicks, and curses without much notice, I might have been unconscious, I can’t remember. All I remember is after what seemed like hours the three were gone and I lay there with my books and papers ripped and scatter around me. I thought my wrist was broken, it wasn’t, and I felt blood trickling down my forehead and probably a couple more places. Now that I think back to it, it wasn’t that bad compared to what happened the next day, but two days ago that was the worst pain I had ever felt.
I vaguely recall stuffing my books and papers back into my back pack and heading home, taking a shower, and then looking at my destroyed body in the mirror, but it all seems so dreamy now. As if none of this ever happened, but it did, I know it did.
Now the story really begins, that was just the beginning of a series of events that screwed my life up forever. If only I had never gone out with Rachel, if I had never….never mind. Anyways, I walked down the hall to my bedroom and unzipped my backpack. My mom wasn’t home yet, my dad didn’t live with us, and I knew she wouldn’t be home until I was asleep. I opened my back pack totally meaning to work on my poster when I saw something strange.
A plain black book sat in the front of my backpack. It had a new looking cover and was the size of my History Book. It must have been in the parking lot and I had thought it was mine after the football punks had beaten me to a pulp. There was a golden thread sliding across the book in the center spelling the word: YOU. I picked it up and sat down on my comforter.
The strange book had no pages in between the cover and the story like most books I remember. It just started: Now is your last chance to turn back, close the book, and throw it away. Don’t worry, I know you won’t and any natural human being wouldn’t. But this your last chance. If you read past this paragraph then you will be at risk of death or worse. If you keep reading and obey the book, all of your wildest dreams will come true. Close the cover now because if you read on to the next paragraph there is no going back.
I don’t even think I paused, my life was screwed up. Unfaithful girl friend, parents divorced, mom has to work constantly to keep us alive, my sister had run away. Why stay alive, what is there to lose by death. I might have been thinking this, but now that I really think about that day, I don’t think I even paused. I kept reading, I was an idiot, I should have listened, ‘death or worse’.
You have kept reading, you aren’t the first, you aren’t the last. Everyone keeps reading, no one can say no to me, my friend, no one. The first humans on the planet couldn’t and neither will the last. My name is so old, so ancient, it sounds foreign but this is what I was named by my Lord. No, I have many nick names but my true name, my real name, is Natas. Now that you have read on you will be perfectly fine and live a perfect life. Recall the story that Bill Gates found his billions of millions in a trash can? I was there. When Nixon was screwed, I was there. Everything that ever happened in this wretched world, I was there. If you obey me, this book, you will succeed, like Mr. Gates, if you don’t….you’ll find your own Watergate. So, now that you have to read me, obey me and you will be living in paradise.
I, Natas, will gain your trust. I’ll perform my own miracle, my own magic trick. Your day, at Wallyville High, was an average day until you walked home. Your girl friend, or now your ex girl friend was messing around with the quarter back and the punk’s friends came and beat you to a pulp, am I right? I am, aren’t I, ironic, the phrase, ‘I am.’ Isn’t that the God of the Old Book’s favorite name? Now we use it in everyday sentences, in vain, so to speak. Anyways, I believe you are surprised and believe that this is no ordinary book now, correct?
I remember pausing. This book was freaky. How did it know that? It didn’t use any names, maybe it was just a fake. Or Maybe Antoine’s friends had planted it…can they even write? No. This book was special, magical, scary, and according to it, I was trapped. As the fool that I was, I read on, but, could I have quit? I doubt it. I read a few more lines regarding my day and I was totally convinced. Then, I realized, what if I skipped ahead? Could I be able to read the future? I tried, I pulled the pages back, to the very last page, page number 666. (I noticed that the back had a blank page in between the last page and the back cover unlike the first)
The golden rule is to obey me and the book. The other is like it, do not skip ahead, my reader. If you were reading any other novel you wouldn’t skip ahead except to maybe read the last page or see if there are pictures, but there aren’t, so do not skip ahead. Break any rules once and you will be, how can I put this nicely, miserable is an understatement but I’ll stick with it. Once again, obey these two rules and you will be fine, ah yes, the third rule too. The third rule is to tell no one, absolutely no one. Now go back to the beginning where you were and read, read like you have no life or I will be sure to make sure you don’t.
That gave me the first inclination to get rid of this book, throw it away. Who cares, what could a block of paper do to me? Nothing, but I believed it somehow. I believed it and I kept reading until I fell asleep with the lights of my room still on. When my mom got home I think she turned them off, but she didn’t notice the book. From this point on, now that I think about it, the rest of the story doesn’t matter. I was already screwed from when I picked up the book.
The next day was just like any normal day. Except I avoided Rachel and when I walked past her in the hall she didn’t even look at me or say hi. She knew I knew, and she knew they had jumped me. Oh, by the way, I was still incredibly sore and covered in bruises and scrapes but no one seemed to notice.
That day I hung out with my friends like normal. In my sixth period class, I all of a sudden got that confused feeling you get when you forget to do something. The one that makes you want to yell and just give up at life until you realize you hadn’t forgotten anything and your body was just messing with you. I had that feeling but I had forgotten something, I had forgotten to do my project in English on Edgar Allen Poe. I was looking for a seat and begging God to let the teacher forget. I sat down next to my friend Jessie Nickles, who I was going to ask out after school, she was a cute blonde and was pretty tall for a girl. I had always liked her even when I dated Rachel…the whore. Jessie was really smart and really hot, two things that normally don’t match.
Mrs. Weatherbuild, our ancient teacher that was wrinkled seemingly from head to toe beamed up at the class with malevolence and proclaimed, “Alright class, please retrieve your projects!”
I mumbled a curse under my breath as I turned to see the goodie-goodie Jessie unroll her beautiful and flawless project covered with quotes from our old friend Mr. Poe. I grimaced and she smiled, making me more eager for the day to end so I could ask her out in private.
“You didn’t do your project did you?” Jessie asked with her smile still on, as if she thought it was funny, I laughed and played it off like it was.
“Nope, I was so tired last night, I just passed out,” I sighed and looked down at my desk, I could never look her in the face after failing a test or something, it made me feel like I was an idiot, maybe I was.
“Then what’s that?” Jessie asked pointing at my opened back pack.
I looked down and the first thing I saw was YOU’s black cover. Squashed in between YOU and my Math Book was a snow white poster that seemed beautiful in my eyes (I was failing English). I pulled it out and saw pictures, quotes, structured paragraphs, and not just structured paragraphs but structured sentences and even words that I couldn’t pronounce. This was something Jessie would turn in not me.
“Weird, I don’t remember doing this….” I mumbled.
“Maybe you fell asleep so fast after finishing it you forgot,” Jessie shrugged and got up to put her project in Mrs. Weatherbuild’s fragile hand.
The lights seemed to focus on the black book. I realized, the book had some how done it, the book was magic, I had realized that by then but not that it was evil magic. It had turned my blank poster into a work of art, water into wine, amazing. I was now incredibly happy and not the least bit worried about anything, ha, what a fool I was. I turned in the poster and plopped back in my seat.
“What’s that?” Jessie asked glancing at the book.
A lump clogged my throat, a painful lump, and I didn’t know what to say. The third rule is to tell no one, absolutely no one. I remembered that line and the one after it: read like you have no life or I will be sure to make sure you don’t. What do I tell her? Finally, I came up with something. I’ll tell her the truth, “I don’t know, I just found it and decided to pick it up. I could probably sell it on the internet or something.”
“Yeah I guess,” Jessie shrugged already uninterested, thanks be to God.
“Hush now class!” Mrs. Weatherbuild demanded and glared specifically at me, as if I was making Jessie talk and ruining her best student. I hushed and she still glared at me as she seemed to ruin my good mood, “Clear your desk but get out a pen and paper, pop quiz!”
At lunch I sat by Jessie, she is my only friend in my lunch anyways. We sat at the right angle so if I looked over her left shoulder I could watch Antoine and Rachel flirt. I wasn’t hungry; I had eaten three bowls of cereal before walking to school this morning. Jessie was and she left the table to join the unrealistically long lunch line for some unthinkably disgusting food. Alone and bored, I didn’t want Rachel to see me alone and think I was pitiful without her, but truly, I was, so I took out the book, or YOU, and turned to where I thought I had fallen asleep last night, page 66, I read fast.
Well, you have been a very good and interesting reader. I hope I have been a very good and interesting read. I have, haven’t I, oh, I shouldn’t be that modest. Well, did you enjoy that poster in third period; I thought it would raise your grade for that quiz you bombed. Yes, you bombed it but it’s okay, it won’t count half as much as the project.
I noticed you glance up every once in a while to check on your ex, well, I guess its official enough even though you both haven’t spoken. I know you don’t even like Rachel that much but you just can’t bear to see your girl with someone else. Since you have been nothing but loyal, I’ll help you out again bud. Don’t you just love ole Natas? Now, remember the page, close me up for now, and watch this.
I closed the book as Jessie sat down, she hadn’t noticed thank God. I remember suddenly feeling hot like when someone is blaming you for something and everyone is staring at you. Before she could say anything I saw Antoine’s face over her shoulder bulge and cough. The football player stumbled to his feet and leaned on the lunch table clutching at his throat and coughing while Rachel began to shriek and ask him if he was okay continuously, most of the people in the lunchroom were now watching.
“Oh my God,” Jessie mumbled as someone came up behind Antoine and tried the Heimlich Maneuver, even though the idiot had no idea what he was doing.
As Antoine’s face seemed to twist uncomfortably and he fell backwards and hit his head on the hard seat of one of the lunch room chairs, I bet everyone in the school heard his face hit that chair, most of the people equal to or greater than the average IQ, Rachel wasn’t one but Jessie and I were, realized he probably had a concussion from the chair to the head….or was dead.
“Oh my God,” I mumbled echoing Jessie who was now staring at the crowd surrounding the man I would have claimed a minute earlier to have wanted dead.
The day was not over, oh no, far from it. The ambulance had come and taken Antoine, Jessie and I heard that he was perfectly fine from some people and others told us he was a vegetable. No one knew, I thought as Jessie went to P.E. and I headed to the bathroom to skip my fifth period class, but I intended to find out.
I went to the bathroom on the upstairs hall, the one recognized as the only safe one where people who actually need to go to the bathroom can go to. (Sex, drugs, and fight free) I went to the first unused stall and locked the door. After wrapping my hand in toilet paper I close the toilet and sat down to read until sixth period. I was hoping the book would tell me what had happened to Antoine.
So, you want to know how Antoine is. He’ll die in two hours, no doubt. Aren’t you the one who thought about killing him over and over in your head, the one who wanted him dead, I granted your wish my friend. You don’t want to be a hypocrite do you? Well, what is done is done, you’ll have to deal with it and go on living your life. It isn’t your fault. Blame me, if that makes you feel better, it is my fault. But no, you’ll blame yourself won’t you. You’ll keep me too, you won’t dare throw me away even though I just killed a kid, oh no. You’ll keep me until you can’t get anything out of me and then try and get rid of me.
I cursed bitterly as my anger took the best of me. I was an idiot when I was angry, I’d do what ever came to mind first in my idiotic rage run mind. So I did what first came to mind, I ripped the page out of the book with a yell, forgetting someone else might be in the bathroom, I screamed, “You can’t do that!”
I immediately regretted it as I felt warm blood rush down my leg. It felt like someone had ripped the skin of my right leg right off, like….like it was a page in a book! I quivered in pain, too scared to pull back my jeans leg and look under. I began to shoot words out in my pain that didn’t make any sense. I slowly calmed down and picked the book back up to read the page under the one I had ripped out hoping it would somehow subside the horrible pain in my leg.
Fourth rule, do not hurt the book or I will hurt you. Throw me I’ll throw you. Rip me I’ll rip you. Curse me and I’ll curse you. But, it was your first time, and we, yes we, did kill someone so I can’t really blame you. I won’t kill you and if you’ll notice your leg doesn’t hurt anymore, the pain is gone and so is the wound and blood. I just wanted to let you know what would happen if you disobeyed a rule. You need to get to class, young man, that is an order.
I shut the book and pulled up my dry pants leg to glare at my pale leg, well actually blue, not so much as a scratch just the bruise from when I got pummeled the day before. It didn’t hurt at all, but I remember wishing that this Natas, the writer of the book, could have at least healed my bruise. I shoved the book from hell back into my back pack and heaved my bag onto my back with a grunt, leaving the bathroom.
I went back to class, the teacher let me in and I told her I had been throwing up in the bathroom, so she, with disgust in her look, told me to go to the nurse. I did. The nurse was a fat white lady who I thought used to be a janitor. All her knowledge of medicine told her to do was give you crackers, take a nap, or make you read a book.
I was scared, more scared than I had ever been in my life. I finally realized what this was, I was in some kind of magical or satanic trap. They make it sound all good and trick you into it, then when you realize you’ve gotta get out, your trapped. I was trapped and I knew it. He, or it, had already showed me what it could do, give, heal, and then kill. Oh Lord, I had gotten myself into a load of….anyways….
Sitting on the boulder that the school nurse called a bed with my head propped up on my backpack leaning against the wall I took out You. I thought about not reading anymore but I remembered he said something about I have to keep reading. Who knows what this Natas would do if I quit reading to get my attention. So, I read:
Welcome back my friend, I wouldn’t eat those crackers, they’ve already been opened if you look on the other side of the pack. So, you like this Jessie girl huh? Who wouldn’t? Smart, pretty, and, well, pretty. Well, she is pretty now, she might choke on a chicken bone too if you don’t watch out. Don’t worry, I won’t mess with her if you just keep playing by the rules my little puppet. Not so happy any more huh, fear and anger and despair is kicking in ain’t it. I warned you didn’t I, but we’ll see what happens. This could be quite interesting. Well, the bell will ring soon and you shouldn’t skip sixth period, you wouldn’t want to fail. I know you didn’t do your homework but I helped you out there like I did with the poster. See, I’m not such a bad guy, nah, I’m just kidding, I am. (There that phrase is again, I am who I am, anyways, tata for now)
Well, nothing happened for real the rest of the day, good or bad. I had my homework thanks to the book and Jessie, in my seventh period, sat by me. I really liked her, well, I still do, but I wish I didn’t have to worry about this book. How could I get rid of it or am I stuck. I remember noticing that the book’s writer, Natas, was a pretty smart guy compared to me, so I was screwed. This guy was cunning and no matter what I did he was always prepared, but he was just a book, but I knew deep down that it didn’t matter what I did. I was dead already, and now I wish to God I was, but you’ll see why tomorrow.
Yeah, I asked Jessie out, yeah, she was happy, yeah, I really do like her. But I can’t help but wonder what the book will do next. What if it killed Jessie, what if it killed my mom, what if it killed….I remember thinking this back then….me. Hah, death was the best thing that could have happened to me now. That night, I ignored all my homework and I tried to sleep but I couldn’t and I knew exactly why. So, I read.
You are right, my young friend, you are trapped and have to obey me. You wouldn’t dare disobey me, that’s a big no-no. So, tomorrow, I want you to remember our rules, especially, DO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT THE BOOK for your own good. All right good. Well, now you can go to sleep. Good night my friend, good night….
Now, it is finally today, but you still aren’t caught up yet. Soon you will understand why I’m in such a predicament, why death is nothing to me. Well, this story may end in my death, but I don’t know. We’ll see.
It all started, well, ended at the beginning of third period. I was heading to my normal desk to sit next to my new girl, Jessie Nickles who I remembered thinking I could one day marry, when Mrs. Weatherbuild wrapped her boney hand around my shoulder and pulled me out into the hall shutting the door. I couldn’t tell if the wrinkles on her forehead were from anger, disappointment, or old age. (I guessed both)
“That poster you turned in was wonderful, Madison,” she told me bluntly and used my last name, she never used my first name. I smiled at first, until she continued, “But Sammy McAllen said he had done one but he couldn’t find it. I did, however, find his name on the poster, with it marked out and your name above it.”
The book had helped me, ha, no. It had somehow stolen Sammy’s and it didn’t even bother to take the name off! I thought about taking off my bookback and lighting it on fire right then, of course I didn’t. I looked back at Mrs. Weatherbuild and I didn’t even give her an excuse, she sent me to the principal’s office and I just silently obeyed her. On my way to the principal’s office I took out the book, I was tired of this and sense it always responded to what I thought I wanted to see what ‘Natas’ had to say for himself.
Well, I, being a book, can’t make a poster, seeing I have no arms so I just made Sammy accidentally put his poster in the wrong backpack. Remember it will still work out for you if you keep obeying me.
I won’t, I thought, trying to talk to the book by thinking. If it could read my mind maybe I could talk to it, so I thought in my mind that I wouldn’t obey this book anymore.
It’s your life, I don’t mind you ruining it. But let me just warn you, you will regret it my friend, you will regret what ever you have in mind. By the way, your mom came home today and, to make a long story short, is trapped inside your house which happens to be on fire. I can kill her if I want to so I’d watch what you say. Remember that.
I knew I would kill myself if I let my mom die. I knew that the book would probably kill her anyway so I made up my mind to destroy this book somehow even if it meant the end of me. I don’t know if I’m glad I did, I mean what else would I do, keep being its puppet. Oh well, I need to hurry up and tell you what happened next, oh Lord, help me.
As I entered the principal’s office, with the evil book at my side, the principal smiled up to me. I don’t know what he was about to say but I cut him off and threw YOU, the book onto the random souvenirs covered desk scattering his papers and crushing one of his pens.
“Mr. Smith, I know you think I cheated and stole that kid’s poster. I don’t really care if I get punished, I’m about fed up with everything,” I spat the words out so fast that I had to pause to take a breath and then I could continue, “I know this sounds weird, but if you read the first page of that book you’ll understa….”
I stopped talking because a loud sound exploded near my ear. I remember it sounding like a gun and I realized a few minutes later, it was a gun. Blood exploded from Mr. Smith, the principal’s, head and some sprayed onto my white college football shirt. The principal fell backward and was hidden from my view from behind his desk. I remember seeing a bullet whole in the center of his forehead. Blood seemed to be everywhere I looked, I’m not sure if I imagined it or if it truly was but I remember feeling cold, confused, and as if I was dreaming. I quivered with fear and something told me to open my back pack. I reached in, still confused and not sure what to do, and my hands closed around something cold and hard. I pulled it out and shrieked, dropping it to the floor. Oh my good, the damn book had framed me, I realized.
I was twitching like a druggy as I scooped up the book and shoved it in my backpack, I paused looking at the gun on the floor and decided to stick it in my backpack too. I would run, even though I didn’t do it, I would run away and hide in some woods in the country, disappear. All I knew was I had to get out of here and so I did. I took off running with my hands holding the straps of my backpack tight against my shoulders. Some people who were in the hall stared at me, they must have seen the blood now that I think about it, but I was gone to fast for them to react. My mind is still buzzing with panic, it has been sense I saw that bullet hole. All of a sudden I felt like the police were coming and chasing me down, I can’t recall but I think I heard sirens. All I could think right now was run home, run home, save mom, save mom. I slammed into one of the doors and frantically opened it. I dove down the green school yard and dashed blindly into the street, emphases on blindly.
I recall hearing a screeching sound, a siren, two, no three sirens, and then I felt it. As I scrambled onto the street I looked to my right but it was to late, with a flash of red something slammed into me flinging me off my feet and spiraling through the air where I collapsed on my back. I felt like, well, I just remember everything burned and it still does. Thousands of tiny fires seemed to engulf my body causing so much pain. It was then that I realized I was hit by a fire truck because I saw it drive past me, followed by a second one, and an ambulance. I moaned and blood poured out of my mouth, so warm and thick, it made me sick. They left me, I thought over and over, dear God they left me.
I remember hearing someone mumble, no yell something at me, “Tar you kay?”
Then my eyes closed. Now you are caught up, I’ve been in this ambulance for a minute, at least after I regained consciousness. Someone in here, I guess a nurse, isn’t helping me, I think he thinks I’m a lost cause. The nurse in the ambulance tells me I should be dead, God must love me but I disagreed, Satan loved me. I don’t think I could move but I could speak. I had a feeling that the book would lose interest in me soon and pick on someone else so I decided to destroy it. While I was unconscious I had gotten an idea from a dream and now I would test it. So I told the nurse, or doctor, or whoever who was in the back of the ambulance with me to get the black book out of the bookpack for me. Turn to the back and get out a pin, then I told him what to write. I figured, if everything in the book comes true, than if I could write on the last page, the blank one, then those words would too. So I made the man who had tried to save me write it, every once in a while he seemed reluctant but he did anyways, thanks to God he did. I don’t know what will happen but I’m about to tell him to read it out loud, I think that will make it come true like what happened when I read the book. Maybe I’m not in such a bad situation, a felony plus possible paralyzation…at least I won’t be if my idea works.
The ambulance drove over the bridge heading for the hospital. Something must have happened because the driver swerved to dodge something on the road. It didn’t matter what to those in the back. Then the ambulance flipped off the side of the bridge and into the down into the water. The nurses in the back and the driver managed to escape but the boy in the back who had been hit by the truck didn’t. He seemed to welcome death and the last thing his eyes saw in the water was the book with the letters Y-O-U floating out the door of the back of the ambulance and into the river, where it sank to the bottom and was never found again.