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April 3rd, 2004, 04:38 PM
What do people think about this short story? I don't get a chance to write them now as I'm 55, 000 words into a novel I'm writing.

The Book

The House was out of the way. It sat upon a lonely hill. It was the only landmark of the vast moor. Looking down from its high vantage point, nothing disturbed the House’s perfect wilderness; nothing save the lone figure of a sombre faced man slowly making his way up the winding path of the hill.

Jonathon Turner frowned as he proceeded along the hard cobbled path. The only sound in the air was the almost mournful whistling of the chilled wind, and its rustle through the dry grass. He took a deep breath of the cool night air and raised his eyes to the house he was approaching. The house was both large and old. Its finery produced an unreal effect with its juxtaposition on the lonely moor.

As Turner stood ready to go through the open gate in the ornate railing that marked the grounds of the house he felt a sudden shiver. He pulled his large grey-brown coat around him and stood in silence surveying the house. He decided what was needed was a mental recollection of the events that had led him to this extraordinary place.

The whole business started with a book. Turner had been browsing in the library after work. The library was old. The rich, wood panelled interior and old-fashioned décor, along with the musty odour of old paper gave the building an antiquated feel.
The very oldest books in the library were in a separate room and apart from the library catalogue. As he walked along the bookshelves, he peered at the books intently. He ran his finger along the top of the old pages. Most of the books looked similar. There were dark reds, greens and blues. The covers were similar sizes and made out of cloth or leather.

Suddenly, Turner’s finger stopped. He had found a much smaller book. It was a third of the size of the other books and had a plain red cover. The unusual book intrigued Turner and he felt compelled to borrow it. The librarian told him that the books within the separate room were in fact too old and delicate to be removed – they were for reference only. Even so, Turner found he simply could not put it back on the shelves. He settled down to read it.
Before long, it came to the library’s closing time. He stood up to put the book back on the shelf. As he looked out of the window, he saw the soft snow had turned to cruel rain.

Turner stepped out of the library into the miserable dark and made his way home. When he was over half way, he felt a distinct shiver reverberating up and down his spine. He also felt a slight tingling sensation in the end of his fingers. For no particular reason he grasped inside the pockets of his large warm coat. To his surprise, he pulled out the little old book. He realised he had forgotten to put it back.

The dream settled like a mist on the hills. Turner was shivering, but not with cold. His fingers trembled and he could not move them. He felt an unknown craving descent upon and grasp upon his heart like a vice. An old man then came to him, gave a wistful smile and handed him a book. He then walked away into the darkness.
Turner felt the longing go, the shadow lifted. However, as he held the book terror built up inside of him until it burned through every muscle in his body.

Turner screamed as he jerked and sat up in bed. He was exhausted and had a headache. His heart pounded his terror-stricken blood around his veins. Almost of their own accord his eyes were drawn to the book by his bed. The moonlight eerily illuminated its cover. Turner tore his eyes away. He could not sleep however, having the feeling of a dark presence watching him.

Over the course of the next weeks, Turner changed. Every night he would read the book, every day it was fixed on his mind. Turner knew he should have sought help. He was aware he was obsessed with the book, but he was captive and could not break free.

One day, Turner heard a sharp knock on the door. Such was his mental state that he thought he was hearing things. “Go away!” he shouted, but the knocking persisted and became louder. “I told you, go away!” he shouted.

“Open the door you helpless fool, and let me in,” replied a stern voice. To his own surprise, Turner obeyed immediately. A tall, elderly man stood on the doorstep. He had striking eyes and a careworn face. The old man’s stare seemed to penetrate right through him. Turner found the man very unnerving.
The old man walked straight in. The large coat he was wearing seemed to fold around him as he sat down as if to conceal all about him. The man began to speak.

“Turner I believe?” he paused, “yes, Jonathon Turner is your name. I know you are captive to a certain book; a very dangerous book”. Turner stared at him with a look of alarm forming on his haggard face.

The old man’s face gained a hint of a smile. “I see the book has acted fast with you. It both haunts and owns you now. I know you cannot get rid of it by yourself. I can offer you one way to be free of it, if you will listen.”

Turner’s expression changed at this. His eyes seemed to leap at the chance while his hands clutched the book tighter. “What do you mean? How?” he asked in confusion.

“You must simply take the book to the place it belongs. If you agree to take the book to a safe location, you will regain your sanity this minute. You will not be able to be free from the book any other way.” The man looked at him with his pale, piercing eyes. “If you agree to this task, I will instruct you in carrying it out. No doubt you do not trust me, neither do you have reason to; but you have no other choice”.

Turner nodded absently. He had little willpower left in the matter. All through the night, the old man talked to Turner. The essential point was that Turner must take the book to an isolated old house on a remote moor. When Turner stood up to get his guest some tea, he returned to find him gone.

Turner’s recollection faded before his eyes as three days later he stood before the house. Passing through the gate of the grounds, Turner felt as if he had stepped into the past. Walking towards the imposing structure was like entering another world. Ornate carvings adorned the large wooded doors. Large brass rings acted as handles. Rather than knock, Turner simply pushed on of the doors. It was open, and caused a seemingly deafening and unwelcome creak.

With heightened anxiety, Turner entered the house. Getting an old torch out of his pocket, he surveyed the room quietly. It was a large lobby with a huge curving staircase being the dominating feature. The room seemed colder than the outside. A quick sweep along the walls revealed many doors, tables, cabinets, chairs and bookshelves.

Rubbing his hands due to the cold he walked over to the nearest small table, one near a large bookcase and a chair. Turned did not want to be here any longer than necessary. Taking the book out of one of his large pockets, he placed it upon the table.
No sooner than the book touched the table, a great slamming sound was heard. The door had shut. Turner was startled. As the door had shut, it made a book fall out of the bookcase. Turner bent down and picked it up. It had a plain red cover. Turner flicked it open and skimmed a page. He shut the book quickly, his eyes wide in shock, his face white as a ghost. He shone the torch along the bookcase and another, and a third. They were all the same, little red books.

Turner shone the torch erratically. There were books on the tables too, and cabinets. Even parts of the floor were stacked with them. His trembling hands dropped the torch, the lens broke as it hit the floor and it went out; but Turner’s adjusted eyes could still see.
An expression of pure helplessness began to descend upon him. He eyed the door but could make no attempt to get out. In resignation, he grasped one of the books and sat down. He cast his lamented eyes upon the all too familiar opening page. He began to read.

“The House was out of the way……”

April 5th, 2004, 11:31 AM
Lol I see no-one has replied to this, nm, I doubt I could be bothered to read it all either, probably too long.

April 5th, 2004, 11:46 AM
I think it might have had soemthing to do with the overuse of the word 'Turner,' and the fact you gave no information about the book.

You've given us Turner without revealing anything of Turner thsu making Turner a name and not a person.

April 5th, 2004, 11:53 AM
Lol I know, it so didn't work and was on tight word count. My book is better, honest!