|It's Kill Brian Keene In Your Blog Day!
||[Nov. 2nd, 2009|08:26 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
THE FINAL CHAPTER|
by Nicholas Kaufmann
Brian Keene looked up at the mansion before him, a five-story gothic monstrosity of impossible angles and malevolent, eyelike windows, which stood at the end of a mist-shrouded New England lane. This, he knew, was the home of Shawn Bagley, the keeper of a library full of many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore in the form of small press limited edition hardcovers, a man whose inhumanly long beard, it had been said, was a separate, living organism in its own right, one that, when the stars were aligned, responded to the name Loki.
Shawn met him at the door, and without a word he ushered Brian into his library. They sat across from each other at a round table draped with a heavy cloth that was etched, Brian noticed, with strange and eerie symbols. Tall, wrought iron candelabras flickered and guttered in the corners of the room, casting misshapen shadows that danced like madmen on the walls.
Brian put his briefcase down on the table between them. A short chain led from the clasp around its handle to the cuff around his wrist. "This is it," he announced. "This is what I called you about, Shawn. The missing final chapter of The Rising."
Shawn shook his head in bewilderment. Brian tried not to notice that his beard seemed to move independently of the rest of his head. "i don't understand," Shawn replied, speaking only in lower case letters because that was his way. "didn't you simply pick up where you left off with the first chapter of the sequel, city of the dead?"
Brian sighed heavily. "That's what I wanted people to think, but it's not the truth. This," he patted the briefcase, "is the real one. The true final chapter."
"please," Shawn said, his voice a breathy whisper. "i must see it. this is even rarer than a Vox 13 book, and will no doubt have fewer typos."
Brian shook his head. "I don't know, Shawn. Are you sure you can handle it? This chapter, it...does things to people. Everyone who's read it has transformed into something terrible. That's why I couldn't allow it to be published. Something about these words in this particular order has unleashed an unnatural evil!"
"yes, yes," Shawn said, waving impatiently. "so you keep saying. just let me see it!"
Brian unlocked the chain that held the briefcase to his wrist, then slowly opened the briefcase and pulled out a stack of papers. "You're sure?" he pressed.
"the chapter!" Shawn insisted, his eyes glistening with an eager madness.
Brian sighed and slid the pages across the table to him. Shawn began to pore over them immediately. "no," he moaned, shaking his head in disbelief, his beard twisting in despair. "no, it can't be!" He clawed at his own face in terror. "red death! red death! aaaaaiiiiiieeeeee!" His head dipped suddenly to his chest, as if he'd lost consciousness, but a moment later it lifted again. Blood streamed from his eyes. His skin was pale, sallow. Dead.
"Oh fuck, not you too!" Brian exclaimed.
The thing that had been Shawn Bagley laughed maniacally as Brian leapt from his chair and tried to run from the room. Ropey strands of Shawn's beard sprang from his face like tentacles and wrapped around Brian's body. Brian stumbled as the unbreakable fibers dragged him back into Shawn's clutches.
"red death! red death!" the thing inside of Shawn's dead husk chittered. He sank his teeth deep into Brian's neck, tearing out a chunk of bleeding flesh. "remember this, keene," he said as the blood dribbled down his chin and was absorbed into his writhing beard. "'twas the unreasonable demands of your own readers that drove you to your end!"
Shawn took another bite, and Brian, in agony, felt his life draining away from him. As it did, he felt another force entering his body, something dark and alien. Brian Keene died in Shawn's library that night, but he didn't stay dead for long. Moments later, he opened his eyes again, no longer himself but instead a creature that existed in the nebulous realm somewhere between the living and the dead.
The thing that was once Brian Keene ran from the mansion with Shawn Bagley's dark laughter echoing at his heels. He ran through the city, and everyone he met, he bit. On some level, in what was left of the living Brian's mind, he sensed an irony in this. Usually, it was the opposite that occurred--everyone he met, he told to bite him. But with each new victim, the plague spread, and this pleased the undead Brian Keene greatly. Each victim would rise and bite more people, and the new ones would bite even more, until all of humanity was dead and transformed.
The dark entity that inhabited Brian's body knew what he had to. He just needed to find a quiet place to do it. And soon, at a cemetery on the edge of town, he did. A quiet and most fitting place to begin his work.
The dead scrabbled for an entrance to his grave. His publishers were among them, as ravenous for Brian in death as they'd been in life. Their faint, soulless cries drifted down through ten feet of soil and rock.
Deep in his underground bunker, Brian laughed to himself and typed the novel into his computer. It would be a new book in the Rising universe, one filled entirely with the dark, diabolical words that the living Brian had accidentally stumbled across, so that the plague of the living dead would spread throughout his fandom, and ultimately throughout the entire world.
He typed and laughed, and laughed and typed. Preorders for the book were announced fourteen seconds after he printed up the manuscript, and the initial print run was sold out twenty-seven seconds after that. The book was published the next day, exactly as he had written it. Simultaneously, all over the world, it was opened and read by eyes that ran red with blood.
And Darkness and Decay and the undead Brian Keene held illimitable dominion over all.
Happy Kill Brian Keene In Your Blog Day! If you liked this story, or any of the others you'll find floating around the blogosphere today, please consider donating to the Shirley Jackson Awards, an independent literary award that focuses on horror, suspense and other dark fiction: http://www.shirleyjacksonawards.org/sja_support.php Your donations will help keep the SJA going. Thank you!
And be sure to check Brian Keene's blog for an updated list of his untimely demises all over the Internet.