The temple stands empty, yet breathes with each breeze blowing through its open doors. Though the inside is dark now, it wasn’t always so. Long ago there were torches, people, and worship within these now dusty halls. But if you stand very still, you can her the screams from more recent events.

Futuristic pyramid interiorIt began innocently. A child asked for a book offered in the marketplace. The pages were old and faded, but the bright red ink stood brightly on the vellum. Illiterate and accommodating, the parents purchased the book from the vendor who seemed almost happy to see it leave his table…

Then the parents began to hear their child whispering in the darkness. When asked who she was talking to, she said she was conversing with her friend trapped in the book. She was going to do what she could to help her friend escape. Thinking this just the fanciful thoughts of a child, they let it go.

A few weeks later, the child went missing and was eventually found wandering an abandoned temple outside town. It was there before the village grew, but nobody went there or disturbed the grounds. There was talk of the space being haunted. But the little girl was not afraid and she took her book with her.

When her parents found her, she seemed different. Her eyes were unfocused and they could not gain her attention. But they were scared. Something was wrong with their daughter.

It was when the father stepped away to go find the village priest that things went sideways. The little girl leaped at her mother with unnatural strength, reaching into her chest like the skin, muscle, and bone were made of paper. With her mother’s heart in her hand, she held it above the book on the floor, wringing the blood from within like water from a piece of cloth.

johnny-automatic-books-1The father was horrified, too stunned to move. Too stunned to know he should run. Before long his blood soaked the book’s pages as well.

Eventually the child creature was vanquished and the book burned. The priests were never quite able to purify the space fully, and the screams remain as echoes locked forever in the stones of the ceilings, floors, and walls.

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