I’m not really sure what just happened. I have my theories but no answer. I don’t think I even want to know.
Yesterday I went with my wife to a Goodwill store for deals. I don’t really like going there because everything seems dirty, things are sorted by only the broadest of categories, but my wife loves it because she has managed to find some appliances in very good condition and out of print books from authors that she likes. The staff is friendly, prices are below rock bottom, and all the profits support Goodwill so I can’t really complain too much.
While my wife checked for toys for our children I went over to the trough where the books were kept. I found a couple of Disney books for our youngest daughter, and a book in a series that my wife was collecting. While rummaging at the bottom I found a thick, unmarked, leather-bound book. It looked like it had a clasp and lock at some point, but it had been broken off. I figured it was someone’s diary or journal that had accidentally gotten mixed up in a donation pile.
Out of curiosity I opened the book ostensibly looking for owner information so I could return it, but really because I just wanted to be naughty and read someone else’s diary. Inside I found something strange; The book was written in Old English.
Unfortunately there was no title and I since can’t read Old English, I had no idea what the book was about. I decided to buy it anyway and see if I could get it translated. It might be a restored manuscript that got lost from a rare books collection. Maybe there would be a reward for its return? Or perhaps it was the product of some bored English Post Doc screwing around.
We checked out with the books, and when we got to the car I showed my wife the book. She agreed that we should have someone look it over in case it was a lost book. I pulled out my cell and gave one of my former English professors a call. In his class he showed us copies of Old English as part of an introduction to Beowulf, so I figured either he would be interested in this book himself or he would know someone that would want it. He said his office hours had just started and would be very interested in seeing what I found. I told him we would be there within the hour.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, I glanced at the rear view mirror and thought I saw a man in a suit next to the building staring in our direction. I looked again and nobody was there. Someone was probably just walking into the building and my mind was playing tricks on me.
University parking is a bitch. We had to walk across almost the entire campus to reach his office. My mind kept playing tricks on me as I was walking. I thought I saw a pale man in a dark suit out of the corner of my eye. Every time I would turn there would be nothing, or there would be students looking at me oddly. My wife started to get embarrassed and asked me to stop it.
We eventually arrived at the professor's office and showed him the book. He started reading it and mouthing something, probably the words themselves. His eyes went wide, and his expression became very stiff.
I asked him, “Do you know what it is?”
He just looked at me and said in a slow almost robotic cadence, “May I please borrow it?”
My skin started to crawl, something was really off about him, but I said, “Sure.”
I looked at my wife and she was clearly feeling uncomfortable, so we turned to leave. Just before we closed the door behind us we heard the professor say in that same slow methodical tone, “Come back tomorrow.”
The night was fine, I had no nightmares, and my mind stopped messing with me. I guess the unknown nature of the book really got to me.
I went back this morning to see what the professor found out. I knew he had morning classes, but figured I could talk to him in between. I got there about ten minutes after his class was supposed to start, however students were leaving his class room. I asked one of them why everyone was leaving.
“The professor didn’t show up.”
My stomach turned and my skin felt like pins and needles. I had a hunch, so I ran over to the professor’s office and I knocked on the door. I did not get an answer.
I knocked again, “Hello, professor? Are you in?” Like before, I did not get an answer.
I turned the handle. And slowly opened the door. The office was a mess. Books were everywhere, and at the desk the professor sat. Completely stiff with eyes wide and mouth agape. The desk was just as messy. There were papers everywhere, with what appeared to be a pile of ash in the center. Some of the papers were partially burned, I took one of the half burned pages out of the ash pile.
Only two lines were left. The first was a row of Old English and the second was presumably its translation.
“...And so he comes when the order is disturbed. To punish hubris, and feed the ancients.”
On the ground next to the professor’s chair was a stack of papers with the book sitting on top. I took the book off and picked up the first page. All hand written, the title centered at the top was, “Necronomicon.” The text was merely one phrase repeated over and over:
“The Order must be preserved.”
The odd thing was there were spacing between paragraphs and indentations. There was this phrase in quotes with a comma before the end quote. Some phrases ended with a period. Others a question mark. Others exclamation points, and some with a footnote number. Checking the references on the last page each footnote only repeated the same phrase.
I put everything back exactly as I found it and called 911. The paramedics and police came and I told them how I had found the professor and what I did in the room. The officers were not happy that I had touched anything and were clear that if I touched anything else or removed anything from the room I would be charged with obstruction. The paramedics said it looked like he died of a heart attack, however they found some marks cut into his chest. I got a quick look and they looked similar to the symbols in the book.
They placed the professor’s body on a gurney and covered it with a black sheet and wheeled him out. The officers escorted me from the scene and they put up yellow tape so no one can get in until after the investigation is over. They told me not to leave town in case they had any questions for me.
I watched from a distance as the investigators carefully bagged, tagged, and photographed the area. I saw them place the book into a plastic bag, and the bag into a box with other evidence. I don’t know what will become of it, but it is probably going to sit in an evidence locker until the investigation is finished.
Once that’s done it will either be given to his family or sold at an auction. If you do manage to find it keep it well hidden. I don’t know what happened, but I hope it doesn't happen to you.
I've been trying to keep my eye out for anymore information about my professor or the case since this incident, however nothing has appeared on the news or in the paper. No mention of the murder, not even an obituary from the family. It gets stranger. I wanted to track down few of his current students to see if they knew anything, so I tried to see what classes he was teaching. Nothing about him on the university's website, so I tried checking the Internet Archive and I had to go back nearly five years before I found his university profile, too outdated to be of any use.
The last change was made five years to the fucking DAY he was killed. I went to the campus to ask the faculty and was told he hadn't worked there for five years. I hung around the English department to chat with some random passing students, but they had never heard of him. On Christmas Eve I thought I would give his family a call on the pretense I was offering condolences, but they seemed really nervous on the phone, and told me I must be mistaken because he was dead for five years. It was an awkward yuletide to say the least.
Figuring the book was still sitting in an evidence locker, I called the police to see if I could get any update on the case directly. I was transferred to around 10 different detectives, but no one knew what I was talking about and suggested that it may have been one of the surrounding towns that actually took the case. So I called each of the police departments in each town bordering the city. It was the same fucking thing, call gets passed around and I was eventually told that they weren't the ones that investigated the case. Wish I got a better look at the officers badge rather than just booking it out of the office. I will update again if I get any more information, but it seems like I've hit a dead end.
Through the course of my ongoing research, I stumbled upon this image. It looks almost identical to that book, except this one has some kind of design on the cover, and the lock seems completely intact. It is just a stock photo, but it still makes my stomach churn a bit while looking at it.