The Green Book

Content warning:

This story contains graphic descriptions and mentions of suicide.

This is the tale of a small-town girl who made a living by selling her art online. She barely made her ends meet. She enjoyed simple things in life, such as taking long walks, reading some obscure books, hanging out with friends, playing video games.

One day, she went to her local thrift store with some friends, to try out new clothes. While she was there, she took the time to browse through the used book collection. “Buy four books, get the fifth one for free.” Not a bad deal, she thought.

While she had chosen four books, she couldn’t decide on which other book she wanted to read. From the corner of her eye, in a brief moment, it caught her attention: a book that had an old, green leather cover. It didn’t have any title on its spine. She pulled it out, and the cover had only one word engraved into it, “FOCUS”. Its pages also seemed to be made out of old paper, yet they were extremely resistant. Words weren’t inked using a press, instead, they were handwritten. She took it with the rest of her purchases.

For the remainder of the day with her friends, she couldn’t help but think about this book. She left it accessible in her tote bag, where she could keep an eye on it. When her friends asked her about it, she vaguely responded it was for scrapbooking.

When she got home later on at night, she sat down to read the book. She was immediately enthralled by what she read. She even forgot she had turned on her electric kettle to make some tea. She couldn’t stop reading it, even when it was time for her to go sleep. She spent the whole night up, trying to make sense of the contents.

The pages were filled with different stories from their previous owners. It was a collection of memoirs, on how they were all initially poor, and from the time they were done reading this book, they were rich and successful in their respective fields. Instructions on how to achieve so were also written over the last few pages of the book:

· First, you must tell no one about this book. Keep it a secret, keep it safe. The best place to keep it is on you.

· Second, on a blank page, write your name on the top of the page.

· Third, add a drop of your blood next to your name.

· Fourth, write a short description explaining how you are in such a bad situation.

· Fifth, let time go, and when you have achieved wealth, do write about it.

The girl, after having read the instructions, followed them and started the process. First, her name, and the drop of blood…

As the days went by, she shifted her focus back on her work, making various art, advertising herself on the internet. Weeks later, she started noticing her royalties, provided by printing sites, had increased. Significantly. She was now having a steady income from this source.

The green book, face down

Work contracts, which were initially scarce, were now becoming a regular thing. After a few months, she could decide to turn down work offers, should she deem them not financially interesting, or even if she didn’t like them.

She continued working endlessly as if nothing else mattered. She was obsessed with all the money she was making. She barely ever went out anymore. As she spent more and more of her time doing her artwork, she was less present for her friends. They noticed, too. They tried reaching out to her, yet she responded by saying she was busy, and that she would get back in touch with them later. For the next six months, she no longer responded to any of those messages. She simply ignored them. Unknowingly to her, her friends severed all ties with her via social media, and in real life, too. Her phone number, her accounts, and her email address were blocked all around.

As she was recovering from the seasonal flu, she realized her friends were no longer returning her calls and replying to her text messages and emails. None of them even commented on her posts on social media, where they would normally be present. She tried to look for their profiles online, to see what was up with them, yet she could find nothing.

She started thinking they hated her, more precisely because of her great success. To make sure of this, she created a web of new identities online, with brand new email and social media accounts. It was an easy feat to accomplish, as easy as creating a new Dungeons & Dragons character. All they needed was a credible backstory. She spent weeks creating these new credible “friends”, by interacting with herself over various platforms, using a different language pattern for every one of them. With these new accounts, she infiltrated groups she was already part of and saw her friends.

She interacted with them using the new accounts, befriending them along the way. She even bought gifts for them, never saying who she really was. She was having fun again with her friends. Yet, it wasn’t the same. She needed to see them again in person. She missed the feeling of not being alone.

She planned for a meetup with them, and she organized it at a local café. Her friends were growing suspicious, considering the size of the town, that they never even crossed paths together. They still agreed to go to the meetup, as they were curious to meet these online friends.

The day came where the meetup took place, and the girl sat in a retreated, secluded area of the café. When she made sure all of her friends had arrived, they were sitting and had a drink, she showed up.

She could have greeted them in a civilized way, trying to repair broken vases. Instead, she went straight up at them and aggressively challenged them for their loss of friendship. She accused them of being responsible for her having to create a myriad of identities to finally be able to talk to them again. Her friends were speechless at this scene. Never had she shown such a deranged attitude.

They were having none of that and told her straight up they no longer wanted to hear about her or see her ever again.

Hurt, and in tears, she left the café and went back home, where she continued her fit of rage, throwing things and breaking furniture, smashing her computers and art gear along the way. As she was inflicting damage to her home, she blacked out.

She woke up in the backseat of a car. It was not hers, as she didn’t have a car. She had the keys with her. She had no idea what had happened to her.

She started panicking when she realized she didn’t have her tote bag with her. She frantically searched through the car and couldn’t find it. She needed to find it. The book was in it. It was her whole life. It would be the key to her return to success, to wealth. She went to look through the boot and didn’t see it. All she found was a gun. And a single bullet. She took them with her on the front seat, in case she ran into some trouble and drove off back to her home.

The home was nothing more but a pile of burnt, still smoking ashes. Everything was destroyed. She saw some neighbors and asked them what happened. They told her if she valued her life, she’d leave this place. The girl had a puzzled look on her face. Why were her neighbors telling her this?

Seeing she wasn’t leaving; the neighbors went on and added the police were looking for her for starting the fire. It had killed people and threw families out on the street. She had less than two minutes before they would call the police on her.

She walked back to the car and drove off. She broke down as she was driving. She couldn’t stop crying. What have I done, she kept asking herself? She lost her friends, she lost her revenue stream and all of her artwork, she lost her home. She had no family and had nowhere to go. She was being hunted down by the police and would most likely be sent to jail for the rest of her life.

Girls like her don’t survive long in such places. Jailors also provide them as “treats” to the other prisoners.

She parked the car on the side of the road, turned off the motor, took the gun, loaded the chamber, and went to sit on the backseat.

For several minutes, she silently sat in the middle of the backseat. She then positioned her gun on her forehead and counted to 10. She pulled the trigger at 3.

The shot didn’t initially kill her. She was still alive, with severe brain damage. She was bleeding. A lot. She was unable to move anymore. All she could do was stay idle, stare, and feel the pain, as she felt her blood leave her body.

A few days later, her body was found in the car she stole. There was dried blood all over the backseat. Pieces of brain and skin were to be found up into the ashtray. She had a gun in her hand. There was no magazine. Inspectors speculated she only had a single bullet, and that this gun was to be considered stolen property, as the vehicle. An autopsy was conducted and confirmed her death was a suicide.

The police never found the owner of the gun, nor the owner of the car: on both occasions, serial numbers were all stripped. They looked through national reports of stolen properties and found no match whatsoever for these two items.

A few of her former friends gathered for the improvised funeral at the city cemetery. A few other people were present, although not a lot. Some police inspectors were present. The priest was also talking to a middle-aged man. Maybe it was a distant relative of their friend.

They went on and exchanged stories about their lost friend. While they did share amusing anecdotes of happier times, all had one question that was left unanswered: what happened for her to lose her mind as she did?

After having an impromptu toast, they went together to the thrift store to do some shopping, one of the activities they previously enjoyed doing with her. As they were looking at old DVDs, they saw the middle-aged, who was also present at the funeral, take a green leather book out of his coat and put it in the used book section.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents in this story are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Programmer, translator, writer, gamer, game maker, cat mom. I write mostly thrillers, mysteries, post-apoc short fiction.

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Eve F. R. Kirchner

Eve F. R. Kirchner

Programmer, translator, writer, gamer, game maker, cat mom. I write mostly thrillers, mysteries, post-apoc short fiction.

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