This is my take on Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #33. The challenge, to write a piece of flash fiction based on the great photo below. My entry is a 377-word horror. Thanks to Fandango for organising a great prompt. Like the story? Don’t like the story! Either way, why not pop over and have a go yourself.
He was a collector of books. In a lifelong obsession with the written word, he’d built an extraordinary library. His pride and joy, his sprawling literary labyrinth was spread over two floors of a dilapidated warehouse down in the boondocks. Countless dusty tomes filled every shelf. All meticulously read and precisely catalogued. In all those years Not one had quenched his appetite for knowledge.
His particular passion was for the more esoteric. The old forgotten books. Books whose pages had rarely turned. Ancient books, dry and crusty with age. The Carcerem Ad Animi was one such book. It had been his life long pursuit, his holy grail. He’d tracked it across the centuries, across the globe. Whispers here rumours there. Never copied, few accounts of its contents existed and all were tantalisingly cryptic. It was a true enigma. One he knew he had to possess.
So it was with shaking hands that he wiped the worst of the dust from its leather cover. Ran his finger around its intricate embossed labyrinth design. It was beautiful. Surely this would be the book that finally quelled his ravenous hunger. Carefully he released its catches. Each made a dull thunk as slowly he opened the creaking cover. He savoured its musty aroma, licking his dry lips. With a bony finger, he traced its words.
Words unfamiliar. He turned the page. More words, more peculiar language. It was inconceivable. He’d seen every form of the written word, but this, this was gibberish. He turned the page and the next. It was nothing but nonsense. Not a single word made sense. Not one word was remotely similar to any of the countless alphabets he was well versed in. Frustrated, he slammed the book closed and threw it across the table, cursing its writer and cursing his folly. But it wouldn’t leave him be. No mere book was going to confound him. He flung it back open and dived deep into its pages.
When, finally, his dead dry husk was discovered, he was bent over the tome, surrounded by his books. Mad scribblings covered every inch of every page of every tome in his vast library. All written in an unfamiliar vocabulary and in places, frantic sketches of a maze, always scratched out.