Not waiting for his receipt, clutching the book to his chest, he exited the shop.
Outside, the ordinary day had clouded over. Thunder rolled and rain threatened to break from the sky. It wouldn’t do to get the book wet. Frowning, McCollister tucked it inside his coat as he walked the short distance to his home.
Entering his study, McCollister deemed it safe to remove his treasure. The Base Testament, he had it at last! Gently, he placed it on the desktop and turned to pour himself a brandy. Amber liquid splashed into the glass. Cupping it in his hands, warming its contents, he sat down to contemplate his good fortune.
The pages were no different from any other Old Testament; they contained the same books, same chapter and verse. It was the cover that made the book special. The cover that perverted its meaning. The cover that gave it its power.
He knew its history, oh, yes, he did. Knew why the energy pulsed within it. Best of all, he knew how to use that energy to gain the world.
He’d longed for this moment. Temptation urged him to take the book in his hands and discover the true meaning of power, but he wasn’t ready. There were preparations to be made. Ingredients to garner. One special ingredient, indeed.
It was a blood ritual.
Paranoia his constant companion, McCollister checked the locks on the doors, shuttered the windows and pulled the blinds. It wouldn’t do for the book to be stolen. It was his, meant for no other. Hadn’t the shopkeeper said the same?
He poured himself another brandy. Drank it and poured some more. Temperance be damned. This was a night for celebration, and he meant to give it his all.
Around midnight he collected the book and stumbled to his bed. Mistrusting the reliability of his other hiding places, he put the Testament under his pillow for safekeeping.
McCollister had never been one for visions of sugarplums or dancing fairies. Perhaps it was the book’s close proximity that gave him the dream. Made him relive its history.
History became his nightmare.
Shadow muted the alleyway, blinding him to their presence.
“Grab the coolie!”
Rough hands clutched at him. Rank burlap was thrown over his head, muffling his captors’ voices as they tied his arms behind his back. One of them heaved him over his shoulders and carried him toward an unknown destination.
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