Robin de Voh
writer, developer, nerd

Nanoprep 2017 Day 16: A Story

By Robin de Voh on 2017-10-26

"Stop reading these words.

No, really, stop reading right now.

I'm not saying this for me, I'm saying this for you.

Stop. Reading. Now.

If you don't stop reading, it won't end well for you, and I won't be held responsible for it. I warned you, and I warned you multiple times.

Still here? Well, it's your funeral, buddy. I didn't listen and look at me now. Stuck here, like a badly-written ghost.

You're really not going to listen, are you?

Well, maybe I should help you understand. Offer you some context, maybe. Perhaps that will convince you to stop reading and go enjoy the rest of your life as you should. I'm on your side here.

First off, I'm not sure how you're reading it -- just in case the internet wasn't a fad after all -- but I was out buying some books at a second-hand store that had just opened up. I found a little blue book there, all scratched up, but it was cheap and looked cute. With gold-embossed letters, the front simple said "A Story.", and I figured it'd look good in my bookcase.

It did. And for a few months, all it did was look good on a shelf, between The Poetry of John Keats and The Poetical Works of Lord Tennyson. I put it there to break up those two powerhouses. I thought it was funny.

But, as it goes, I got interested.

One night I'd gotten everything I wanted to do out of the way quicker than I'd expected, and my eye fell on that crappy-looking blue book. So I grabbed it and I sat down on the sofa. I opened it up and there it was.

"For the love of god, put this book down and save yourself!", it said, in bold and italic.

Now, this is where the context comes from. I'm not sure how much of it is actually historically correct, but whoever wrote it claimed that Johannes Gutenberg -- you know, the printing press guy -- had made a deal with the devil to invent that same printing press and the movable type it worked with. Now, obviously he didn't invent printing itself -- not really, anyway -- but he did revolutionize it.

So according to this book, it wasn't by himself. He had outside help. Bad help. Bad, vengeful, satanic help.

The history books will tell you that he died age 70, buried at the Franciscan church at Mainz. That's in Germany, by the way. But it'll also claim both the church and graveyard were destroyed. That his grave is now considered lost.

It's not lost, he was never buried. Instead, he had been forced to repay his debt to the devil.

The devil trapped Gutenberg in his own invention, a book with just one printing, one individual printing. And what it contained was Gutenberg himself. Trapped forever, eternity spent not in heaven or hell, but in print.

And as Gutenberg had intended, this print would eventually spread.

The first person who found and read that book eventually disappeared. It's so long ago that nobody knows how long it took, but the best bet would be weeks, but I'll get back to why that is. A little book was found in his home, and all it said on the front cover was "A Story.". All of that man's belongings were sold, and the book eventually ended up with someone who'd just bought a box of assorted things because he was too late to purchase any of the really cool stuff.

As the cycle continued, more and more books appeared, all trapping someone within their pages. That history, as far as I know, continues up until 2008, which is when I read that blue little book and found it interesting but a little mundane. I was more concerned with the quality of the prose than I was about the warning it was trying to provide.

For me it did take a few weeks before I found myself to be in a different place. I didn't know where I was, but all around me was just... White. I had no physical form, nor did I have thirst or hunger. That fact entertained me for a while, but the years can grow long. I felt like I could move, but I never went anywhere. I could look down, and I wouldn't be there. But it felt like I was.

It hasn't been great. It's nice to sort-of talk to someone.

And since you're still reading, I'm assuming I'm too late to warn you anymore.

You shouldn't have done that.

The people who read this before you didn't end up well. I warned you three times at the start of this.

When I read my book, it said that if you stop reading before the halfway point, there's a chance you won't be affected. That you might be alright.

But it's too late for that now.

It's too late to save you."