The book was not what Jay was there to steal. There was a safe behind an old Monet print that was supposed to be filled with cash if his source was correct. He would never know if his source was correct about the contents but he was wrong about the combination to the safe so it was likely he was wrong about the contents of said safe. No matter how often he pressed the buttons on the LED keypad, nothing happened so the book was more of a conciliation prize than anything else. It had to be worth something, the black leather cover with the red leather filigree inlaid over it in some strange asymmetrical yet shocking alluring pattern. It looked old beyond defining but was free from so much as a spec of dust, painstakingly maintained by hands that cared for it through the years. He shattered its glass case with the butt of his Ruger 380 pistol, grabbed it, stuffed it into his messenger bag and was out the same door he broke in through before the 3rd klaxon of the burglar alarm was past.
By the time he got home, the book was all he could think of. He skipped going to the antique dealer he thought would buy it so that he could examine it himself. He pushed into the small shitty apartment he shared with his girlfriend of 4 months Kathleen, who was not home and probably out high or fucking someone to get high, and sat at the small folding plastic table, sticky on top from 2 years of poor cleaning. The apartment itself smelled of old dishes and dirty laundry, with walls that may have at one point being off white, but now were the baby shit yellow of 20 years of cigarette smoke and so thin he could hear the drunk next door smacking one of his kids around, probably the teenager, but Jay knew that the bastard would hit the young ones with no second thought.
He brought the book out of his bag and held it up under the florescent lights of the kitchen. The black leather base of the cover was so polished he could almost see his face in it, distorted and warped as each of the tiny little lines of red leather moved over it made him shudder as a wave of cold fear rippled down his body from his neck all the way down to his testicles. He ran his fingers over it, lightly touching its ridges and edges with the pads of his fingers. He was so careful not to apply too much pressure that it stirred memories of the first time he put his hands on Jenny Wertz tits in the 8th grade and he had to stop to shake the thought from his head before going back to examine the configurations on front and back covers of the book.
There did not seem to be any pattern, not anything that a sane mind could follow anyway, but the intricacy of the red leather enthralled him, enslaved him and he ran his fingers over the pattern determined to find some sort of beginning or end to it. He stroked the red leather ornamentation for what might have been minutes or hours or days, he could no longer tell. The longer he spent caressing the lattice, the more he began to feel like the book somehow wanted him to open it. He was inexplicably afraid of doing so, was not sure he could bring himself to do so, even if he wanted to and oh god did he want to more than anything in the world. He could not identify when his thoughts began to turn to such naked rancid desire to see the insides of its pages, but he knew that in that moment he had to see what was on those pages, even though a cold fear gripped him, like the hand of a corpse on his scrotum, squeezing just enough to cause an ache of panic as he set it down on the table and opened its cover.
He could not describe what was on that first page. For as long as he lived, which was not for too much longer now, he would be unable to bring to the front of his mind so much as a spec of what was on that page. He was sure of that one thing though; it was drawn on, not written on. Images that simultaneously burned themselves into his mind, shattering the barriers between what he could rationalize away and what he could not. He stumbled back from the table, standing so suddenly that his chair went skittering across the floor, and backing into the fridge hard enough to rattle the shot glasses he kept stacked on top. He spent a few seconds trying to think about what was on that page, those obfuscated memories that felt like small piles of rotten maggoty meat in his mind but that he could not look at no matter what, before all the lights in the room exploded.
Every bulb flickered and then burst, sending a torrent of glass in all directions, flying outwards from table lamps and downwards from the overheads. A small piece slit his face open from the top of his right cheek back to almost his ear. In his newly destroyed mental state, a state brought on by whatever had been inked onto those pages, he did not even feel it. What he did feel though was a deep whump sound, like a single base note played so loud you could feel it resonate inside you and stir your innards. The room became hot and moist, a sauna despite the frigid winter temperatures outside. Jay began to pant for air, running his fingers through his hair and looking around the room when he say him… or perhaps it… for it may have once been a man but there was no way the horrifically beautiful monstrosity in front of him was still something that belonged in this world.