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Okay, I'll admit it. I screwed up. Looking at that stupid book was the worst thing I've ever done. Wherever I look now, all I see is its bone mask. Why did I look at that damn book?!
I suppose I'll have to start from the beginning. It was a Saturday, 9 AM. I had just gotten up and drawn the blinds to let some light into my apartment when my phone rang. It was my step-sister, Phoebe.
She asked me to go shopping with her. Whenever we go shopping, all we do is look at shoes and clothes, but she means well, so I accepted. That was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
By noon, we were in the mall searching for the nearest shoe store. I wanted to get some cash out of a nearby ATM. She told me to meet her at a cafe in half an hour, and I agreed. It took me about a minute to get to an ATM. While I withdrew some cash, a bookstore caught my eye. I remembered that Phoebe loved books and decided to get a quick gift for her.
Now, I've been in psych wards and mental hospitals where nurses have committed suicide, and thought nothing of it, but this store was just strange. The lightbulbs didn't produce nearly enough light and flickered constantly. There were no employees that I could see. As I looked around the store, a book drew my attention. A hardcover book stood on a small pedestal in the center of the room, and for some reason I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I was completely hypnotized by it.
My instincts told me to leave, but I just couldn't. It was like that book had become the absolute climax of my life, and I just couldn't turn away. As I got closer, I could make out the shape of a deep maroon handprint on the cover. I towered over the book, filled with a sense of anticipation. I lay my hand on the cover and opened it. The title made my hands tremble.
Phrike. I remembered that story. Phoebe told me about it. Phrike was the Greek goddess of horror. But that was in mythology, and nothing like that existed in real life, right? I turned a page and saw the words "discedere nunc." I was almost sure it was Latin, but I couldn't understand it, so I kept flipping pages until I saw another handprint, similar to the one on the cover. I took no notice, only wanting the words. I couldn't understand any of it. It was all in Latin. I suddenly had an urge to read this aloud.
I remember reading, "Magnus Phrike, sacrificium meum est hic qui haec legerit."
I quickly closed the book. I remember staring at the handprint and wondering for a second, Is that blood? It couldn't be. I don't know why I did this, but I placed my hand on the pattern. As I smoothed my hand over cold, dusty leather, I felt my hand burning for a split-second. I jolted my hand back, only to see blood running down my palm and onto my plaid shirt. I turned and ran out of the store, low whispers in my ears, "Morte morieris, morte morieris."
I ran back to the cafe, my heart pounding with every step. I saw Phoebe with an angry expression on her face, pointing to her watch. I sat down, panting rapidly.
"Where have you been?"
Gathering my thoughts, I said the thing that first popped into my mind. "I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know?" she asked "You know what, forget it. Something weird just happened."
She went on to tell me that she had been called on her phone by someone that she didn't know, saying that she had been cursed. I told her that it was probably one of the schizos I worked with in the past, although I knew better. She agreed. We left within the hour, unbeknownst that the next few weeks would determine my fate.
Two weeks later, strange things started to happen. Every now and then, I would hear the words "Morte morieris." I looked them up on the internet to see what they meant. Only one thing came up: You're dead. No, this didn't mean anything. I was not going to die. This was stupid, I must be imagining things. I kept telling myself this, only postponing the inevitable.
The same week, I kept seeing things out of the corner of my eye, but it disappeared if I tried to get a better look. Whenever I blinked, I saw a mask. It looked malevolent, and somewhat like the skull of a deer. I went to psychiatrists. They didn't help. I truly thought I was going mad.
These things eventually subsided until a week later. I had terrible nightmares of a creature wearing a bone mask, chasing me in dark forests. I hid behind tree trunks and stones, but it found me every time. All the time repeating a wailing noise, screeching the name "Phrike, Phrike, Phrike," each word getting more violent as it closed in on me. I always awoke screaming with terror, just after it disemboweled me. I went back to psychiatrists, but no one helped me, not even my sister.
I searched online again. Phrike was the goddess of fear, horror, yes, yes, blah blah blah. I kept searching until I came across a page.
The page said that Circe, a Greek witch, freed the living entity of Phrike from the pits of the underworld to gain untold power, thus allowing her to rule as she pleased. But something went wrong. Circe's evil heart turned Phrike into a demon, just as Circe wanted, she would then rob Phrike of her power. But Circe's bone mask, the source of her power, fell off during a ritual, making her magic obsolete.
Phrike stole Circe's mask and escaped into a nearby forest. Phrike would have to kill anything in the forest to survive. One day, a Roman scholar wandered into the forest and was mortally wounded by Phrike, who offered her sacrifices in exchange for his life. Phrike accepted. The scholar returned to Rome and made a book, writing inside that whoever reads the words would be sacrificed.
No! NO! That didn't happen! I was very familiar with all of Circe's mythological stories and that never happened! And I was not going to die! This was just a chain post sent by some stupid loser with no life.
This is what I tell myself, for I will sleep soon. But this time I'm not sure if I will awaken. Hopefully Phrike has some mercy, at least. This was all just because of curiosity. Well, goodnight.