Finnian Burnett

Storyteller

The book of Jana. I stare at the words, as they shift around, melting and coalescing into recognisable shapes. This is the book of you, Jana. I slam it shut. The title on the cover is so old and faded, I can’t tell what it says. Certainly not my name. I flip it open to the title page and stare at the words.

Now that you’re ready, Jana…

I’m going to tell you a story. Once upon a time, or perhaps right here in this moment, you read this book. You’re reading this book. You can’t tear yourself away, though your heart beats harder and harder with every word.

I break from the book for a moment, clasping my hand to my heart. It is pounding. Hard.

You come back to my pages, compelled to keep reading, compelled to learn the fate you’ll meet in my words.

Goosebumps pop up along my arms and I burrow further into the covers, searching for safety.

There is no safety, Jana. Read further as the lights grow dim. Shadows creep along your walls and something, though perhaps it’s only your imagination, bumps under the bed. Is that a shadow scurrying up your wall or a creature you can’t identify in the half-light?

There is something crawling up my wall. I try to slam the book shut, but my hands are paralyzed.

Keep reading, Jana, you have no other recourse. The thing under your bed is crawling out, coming for you. A being with a half-melted face that may have once been human is waking up and, oh Jana, it is hungry. Can you hear the chattering teeth? It’s starving, Jana and you taste so good.

I close the book and press it against my chest as something, something cold and bony, wraps around my ankle.

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