Thursday, 16 January 2014
Short Story Thriller Thursdays #3- The black book
Short Story Thriller Thursdays #3- The black book-
"No. No. Start again." demanded the old man.
"Where did I go wrong?" the boy asked.
"You are moving too sharply towards the middle. Smooth movements. Fast as you are already, but smoother." he gestured with on open arm towards the end of the training room. "Start again."
"Yes sir." the boy sighed. His instructor put his hand to his mouth with slight frustration, but decided against saying anything as the boy already had his back towards him. When the boy reached the end of the room, he turned sloppily and then stood straight like a pencil.
"Now walk." his instructor called. So the boy walked. As slowly and smoothly as he could, knowing that after a few more steps he would have to do the same, but faster. When you are being watched and judged, to actually walk differently to the way you are used to is far harder than you might expect.
When the boy reached the first marker on the stone floor, the instructor called "Stop."
"What?" the boy exclaimed.
"Nothing, just wait there until I say so. Stay still. If you move, there will be double the exercise training tomorrow." The boy said nothing and remained still. He was half way through a small stride, so to stay still was difficult for him. He could feel his thighs ache and strain. The old man walked towards him. "Stay still. Do not move. You are a statue. Now, when I return, you will be in the exact same place as you are now. Trust me, I will know if you move." he said. And at that, he turned his back on the straining boy and walked with pride over to a large wooden door. He opened it, not to its fullest, but enough to enter without revealing the contents of the room the door concealed.
The boy was nearly shaking with pain. He could feel his toes crunching in uncomfortable places and his knees were on the verge of wobbling. He let in a deep breath and held his position, looking at only one small object to focus on more than his pain. He tried to think of what the object was. It was like a black box with no handles or hinges. It was more like a cube than a box, but there was a strange discretion about it. It was on the other side of the room. There was no point trying to focus on it too hard. His eyesight was strained.
The old man had already found what he was after in the secret room and was watching the boy in stillness and in silence for longer than the boy would have been happy with if he had known. When the instructor caught a glimpse of a tremble in his knees, he strolled over to him. "Don't turn your head. Don't speak. Don't move." he revealed a book from his robes. It was black with a creased leather cover and looked like it was very old. The pages were emerging from it, as if they were loose. There was no title on the cover or any writing on it either. All there was to be seen was a thin golden stripe down the spine. It shone slightly bronze with age. The boy's eyes gazed upon it and he felt a small sense of nausea welling up inside him.
"You wanted to learn our way. So you will. But you cannot learn our way without learning. And nobody can teach you how to learn." the instructor said. The boy raised his eye level to meet the old man's dark eyes. They glistened with wisdom. "Don't talk!" he snapped. The boy remained still. "Now, this book, written by Allufius Anuchuis himself can teach you to learn." He opened the book and gazed upon tattered pages of symbols and words of the ancient. He smiled, like a middle aged person would smile at finding their favourite childhood toy, then focused his attention. "You will read this." he paused with thought. "Today" he decided. "and you will not move. Not an inch. You cannot hold the book. Neither can you turn a page yourself. I will do all of that for you when you look at me as a signal."
The boy trembled. Pain surged through his legs, frozen stiff, begging for movement. His shoulders were aching as well. But not as badly. He wished he had chosen a better position. Have you ever tried to stand still, or stand in the same place without changing the pressure you put into your muscles to ease the aching? It was harder for the boy especially as he had previously ran four circuits of the entire woods. His legs ached a pain similar to cramp. The instructor had entered the same room he had entered earlier, being very secretive, and returned with a tripod. The same tripod you would use to read music while playing an instrument. Only this tripod was made of solid elm with leather bindings to hold it in its pyramid-like shape. The boy looked at it with curiosity, then realised the ease he felt in his neck and panicked, knowing he had turned his head. He felt a warm feeling of adrenaline surge through him, then it was gone. Nausea visited again, and he fainted from exhaustion.
When he opened his eyes, he realised he had actually been sleeping. Normally when he fainted, he would open his eyes instantly and wonder what had happened. But this time he felt rested and he had woken with a smile. Partly because he was happy to not have injured himself from the fall, but mostly because he knew he wasn't being forced to stand still in pain. He was tucked nicely into a warm bed. It wasn't his own either. He had so many questions to ask his instructor. He wanted to ask about the book, and the tripod and the strange black cube in the training room. "Are you ready now?" he heard the familiar voice of the old man calling through the door. How did he know he was awake?
"Yes" he called back with slight embarrassment, remembering briefly he had done something stupid. He was still fully clothed, which he was grateful for, that would be twice the embarrassment otherwise.
He opened the door and found himself back in the training room. The tripod was set up with the black book resting on the holder. The boy felt a sinking feeling of disappointment as he knew he would be standing again. "Ah, there you are." said the old man.
"How long was I asleep?" the boy asked.
"About four minutes. My bed has healing powers." he said matter-of-factly. The boy couldn't work out whether he was being serious or not, and instead of asking, he squinted with confusion. "It gives your body a full nights sleep in about a minute after you fade into unconsciousness. You were already asleep, so I thought it would be beneficial to you." he stated, trying to avoid revealing his proudness. The boy nodded with gratitude.
"I have a few questions." the boy said.
"Firstly-" he paused. He tried to remember what he was asking. "I-" his mind went blank.
"You can't remember." the old man smiled. His wrinkles became crevices. Then his smile went back to the solemn thin line of grey. "The book has that effect on some people." he sighed. "I was really hoping it wouldn't with you. Basically, by tomorrow, everything you have ever known, will be forgotten. You aren't nearly ready for what is now coming to you. To regain your memory, you will have to go through training far more advanced than what you are going through now." the old man opened the book so that both pages rested on the back of the tripod. He flicked through a few pages and then stopped on the page he was looking for. "Just in case there is more to this, what does this word say?" he pointed to a word written in bold central to the page. The boy stepped over and peered into the book.
"Friend" the boy said simply. The old man gave him a look of astonishment. "It say's friend" he repeated. The old man's hands began to shake. He flicked through more pages and pointed to another word.
"A- a- and this?" he stuttered.
"Enemy" the boy read out. The old man looked puzzled. "No wait" he said calmly but with the same puzzled expression as his instructor. "It says unwelcome. The word before it said enemy." he said proudly. His face looked pale and empty. "Where are we?" He asked sounding incredibly surprised.
"You, my boy, can read an ancient language without translation. You didn't read the symbols to translate. You knew it already. You must be blood related to Allufius Anuchuis himself which means great, great things." he nearly continued, then sighed with realisation. "But with no memory, you are going to have to read this book thoroughly to get it back. It's just the way it works. And it would benefit you if you stood still. You'll find it easier to focus. Trust me."