As Frank and Lisa came down the path in the most isolated section of the park, a man rose from a bench and disappeared in the surrounding bushes. The couple was so involved in discussing their failing finances, they didn’t notice the shopping bag he left behind until they sat on the bench.
“Looks like somebody forgot their stuff,” Frank said, pointing to the Barnes and Noble bag. He looked around, but didn’t see anybody. Opening the bag, he found a leather bound book. Attached to the cover was a bright-yellow sticky-note.
“What does the note say?” Lisa asked.
“Do not open this book under any circumstances—unless you believe,” Frank replied. “What the hell’s that supposed to mean? Believe in what? I swear, the world gets weirder every day.”
“Put it back and let’s get outta here.”
“Not until I open it.”
“Are you crazy? What if it’s cursed?”
“Geez, Lisa, stop being so superstitious. It’s only a book.”
Frank flipped through the pages. “Well if this ain’t the damndest thing. Every page is blank.”
“Let me see,” Lisa said.
When he gave her the book, she screamed and dropped it.
“What happened?” he asked.
“It burned my hands!”
Frank checked her skin for redness. “I don’t see a thing. You’ve been so jittery since you got laid off. I told you not to worry, we’ll find a way to pay the mortgage. We’ll start by having a garage sale. I’ll bet I can get five bucks for this book.”
He ignored Lisa’s pleas about not bringing the spooky book back to their house.
That evening, Frank watched a World War Two espionage movie on TV. A secret agent was stopped at the French-German border by Guards who quizzed him about a blank notebook in his attaché case. He told interrogators he’d brought it to record travel expenses. Finding nothing incriminating, the guards waved him on. Once the agent was in a safe house, he coated the notebook’s pages with chemicals. Words suddenly appeared that gave details on Nazi Germany’s progress in developing the world’s first nuclear bomb.
“Invisible ink!” Frank muttered. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Checking Google, he found information about invisible inks and how to make them visible. The easiest way was to pass the pages under black light.
Hurrying to Wal-Mart, he bought a black light. The moment he passed the first page of the book under the light, words appeared.
“Lisa! Look at this. You ain’t gonna believe your eyes! President John F. Kennedy’s name is printed on the first page.
“What does it say about him?” she asked.
“Nothing. Only his name appears. The rest is blank.”
“Please get rid of that thing. It gives me the creeps.”
Ignoring her, Frank turned to the next page. “This page has Amelia Earhart’s name. I remember reading about her in school. She was a famous woman pilot who disappeared while flying across the Pacific in the 1930s.”
The next page had Marilyn Monroe’s name, but nothing else.
“This page has Elvis Presley’s name,” he said. “And this one has Jimmy Hoffa’s. He was that union president who disappeared back in the ‘70s. They never found his body.”
“Did you check the cover?” Lisa asked.
“No. Didn’t think of it.”
When Frank passed the cover under black light, large, hand printed letters appeared that said, “PEOPLE I’VE KILLED.”
“What the hell’s going on?” Lisa asked.
“I don’t know.”
“I’m calling the police. This might be the work of a serial killer.” While she reached for the phone, he checked the back cover.
“Put the phone down,” he said. “They’ll never believe you.”
“Because of what the back cover says. He read aloud, “I warned them not to stop believing. But they didn’t listen. And to whoever finds this book and reads these names, I warn you---you better believe or your name will end up on these pages.”
“Believe in what?” Lisa asked.”
“The Boogie Man,” Frank said. “He signed his name under the warning.”
“That’s the craziest thing I ever heard. The Boogie Man can’t write. He’s a monster, for goodness sakes. Geez, the way I’m talking, you’d think he actually exists.”
“When did you find out he didn’t?”
“I never believed in a stupid thing called the Boogie Man who lurked in the dark waiting to pounce on disobedient children,” she said.
“I bought it all. The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, Boogie Man. I was devastated when I found out it was all just a big lie. Sometimes, for the fun of it, I wish I still believed.”
Lisa called her husband a jerk.
That night, Frank and Lisa were murdered.
Homicide investigators still wonder about the leather-bound book they found near the victims’ bodies and fingerprints on the book that the FBI, Scotland Yard, and Interpol couldn't identify.
Had detectives passed the book under black light, they would have noticed Frank and Lisa’s names on the page following Jimmy Hoffa’s, plus their murderer’s name on the back cover.
Copyright: © 2009 Michael A. Kechula
Copyright: © 2009 Michael A. Kechula
----------------------------------Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in eight contests and placed in seven others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 114 magazines and 30 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at www.BooksForABuck.com and www.fictionwise.com Paperback available at www.amazon.com.