Sara breathed in deeply as she stepped into the store. Her store. She still wasn’t sure if she’d gone mad. Bookstores were a dying breed in today’s world. Her family thought she was nuts to leave a good job to manage this small space but she knew it was the right thing to do. She needed this store as much as it needed her.
The original owner of the store had passed away from cancer only a few months before. His family, not wanting to deal with the failing shop, had immediately put it on the market. Sara walked by it a few weeks before and saw the For Sale sign in the window. Something pulled her inside. A few weeks later, she owned it.
Walking through the space, she touched everything she came across. She had decided to close the store for a few weeks to revamp the look of the place and have a grand re-opening. She hoped that would draw in new customers.
Sara spent the day cleaning the dust out of every nook and cranny in the place. As the sun began to set and exhaustion overtook her, Sara knew it was time to call it a day. She was proud of all she had accomplished. She walked through the shop, marveling at the new shine that seemed to emanate from the floors and windows. Grabbing her purse from the back, she made her way toward the front to head home. Walking down the hallway, she felt the floor give way slightly with a creak and she stopped. Looking down, she saw she was standing on the hall rug. Her curiosity piqued, she squatted down and pushed it aside. Beneath it appeared to be a small hatch.
“Well that’s interesting,” Sara muttered to the empty hallway.
There was a small hole at one end of the hatch. She slipped a finger in and pulled it up from the floor. Light from the store filtered in but she couldn’t see anything past a few feet below her. Remembering seeing a flashlight earlier, Sara rushed to the back office and grabbed it out of the desk drawer. The flashlight’s beam cut through the darkness of the hatch. The hole was small. Only one person could fit through at a time. At first, Sara couldn’t see how to get down but then the light caught the ladder just beneath her. Eager to find out what was down there, she inched her way down into the hole until her feet were stable on one of the rungs. Shining the light around, she finally found the floor and breathed a sigh of relief. She moved down the last few rungs and searched in vain for a better light. Something grazed her forehead and she screamed. Reaching up, she felt the chain and started laughing. With one pull, the space was fully illuminated. Sara could only stare in awe.
There were books everywhere. Shelves filled with them covered almost every inch of the basement to the point where only one person could fit down an aisle at a time. She meandered through one of them, touching the books as she passed. The books were old. Most of the covers were so worn that you couldn’t even read the bindings.
Pulling one out at random, she opened it to find nothing but empty pages.
“Hmm, guess it’s just a journal,” Sara said, mildly disappointed. She was hoping to find rare books, not a bunch of empty ones.
Reaching up high, she pulled a thick leather bound book off the top shelf. The one was also filled with nothing but empty pages.
“What the hell? Why would you have a basement full of empty journals?” She continued to pull book after book off the shelf until ink finally caught her eye. Finding the page, her eyes widened as the words seeped into her mind. The book fell to the floor and yet somehow stayed on the page that bore her name.
Sara. Leave here. It is not safe.
She knelt down and stared at the script. It was beautiful but obviously hand-written. Was someone playing a trick on her? How would that even happen? From the dust covered floor, she could tell no one had been down here in ages.
“Sara is a common name,” she said to herself, picking the book off the floor and hastily placing it back on the shelf. “It’s merely a coincidence.”
Feeling claustrophobic, she was ready to get out of the basement but she needed to see what was on the last aisle. Moving quickly to the end, she turned the corner. The aisle was empty save for a lone book at the end sitting on top of a podium. Sara walked toward it. There were strange markings on the top but no writing of any kind that she could see.
“This just keeps getting weirder and weirder,” she said, placing her hands on top of the book and tracing the markings with her fingers. Gently opening the book, she flipped through the first few pages. The language escaped her. It was like nothing she had ever seen before. As she settled on what appeared to be the first page of text, her mind raced with the possibilities of what the book could be.
“Ilisium Cavadra Rovo,” she read aloud. “Conocto Vedra Kaneese.”
Sara didn’t see the shadow rising behind her as the words escaped her lips. She felt no pain as it overtook her, body and soul. It had waited centuries for someone to speak the words that would once again give it life and it was anxious to get started. It only had five days to complete the ritual.
After that, no one could stop it.
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