Kelly picked up the hardback copy of the seemingly nameless book Mary had given her earlier in the day and hovered her hand over the cover. She’d been as explicit as a person could be when warning her not to read it since it was allegedly so bad it killed anyone who dared peruse its contents within twenty-four hours. Sounded like urban legend bullshit to her at worst, and a poorly executed prank at best. She’d read her fair share of terribly written novels; there was no way this one could be any worse than any of those. At least not to an extent that it’d somehow end in her death.
She flipped the book open and began reading. Clunky sentence after maladroit turn of phrase assaulted her, yet she couldn’t put the damn thing down. It was so bad in every aspect that she just had to see how it ended. The experience ended two excruciating hours later. A knock came at the front door.
“Shit,” she whispered. “Dammit. I should’ve listened to that dumb bitch.”
She threw the window open and jumped out, running as fast as her feet would carry her.
“Hey,” a gruff voice shouted. “Wait a minute, little miss.”
“Fuck off,” she screamed. “I don’t wanna die.”
The sound of shoes slapping against pavement was catching up fast. Oh, God. This couldn’t be how she died. Not over a stupid book. She focused on pushing herself past her limit. Just had to take this a few feet at a time. Yeah, this wasn’t so bad. She ran into the street, looked both ways, and was promptly hit by a car, breaking more bones than she wanted to acknowledge. She screamed and tried to pull herself forward, pain flaring in every inch of her body as she did so.
A guy carrying a pizza dropped it in front of her and tipped his hat. “Sorry to scare ya. Was just trying to drop that off.” He reached into her pocket and took a twenty out of her wallet. “Welp, enjoy!”
Alejandro Gonzales has nine short stories published such as Critic in Trembling With Fear Magazine.
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