Book Excerpt: Clive Barker's 'Mister B. Gone'

BURN THIS BOOK.

Go on. Quickly, while there's still time. Burn it. Don't look at another word. Did you hear me? Not. One. More. Word.

Why are you waiting? It's not that difficult. Just stop reading and burn the book. It's for your own good, believe me. No, I can't explain why. We don't have time for explanations. Every syllable that you let your eyes wander over gets you into more and more trouble. And when I say trouble, I mean things so terrifying your sanity won't hold once you see them, feel them. You'll go mad. Become a living blank, all that you ever were wiped away, because you wouldn't do one simple thing. Burn this book.

It doesn't matter if you spent your last dollar buying it. No, and it doesn't matter if it was a gift from somebody you love. Believe me, friend, you should set fire to this book right now, or you'll regret the consequences.

Go on. What are you waiting for? You don't have a light? Ask somebody. Beg them. It's a matter of light and death. Believe me! Will you please believe me? A little runt of a book like this isn't worth risking madness and eternal damnation over. Well, is it? No, of course not. So burn it. Now! Don't let your eyes travel any further. Just stop HERE.

Oh God! You're still reading? What is it? You think this is some silly little joke I'm playing? Trust me, it isn't. I know, I know, you're thinking it's just a book filled with words, like any other book. And what are words? Black marks on white paper. How much harm could there be in something so simple? If I had ten hundred years to answer that question I would barely scratch the surface of the monstrous deeds the words in this book could be used to instigate and inflame. But we don't have ten hundred years. We don't even have ten hours, ten minutes. You're just going to have to trust me. Here, I'll make it as simple as possible for you:

This book will do you harm beyond description unless you do as I'm asking you to.

You can do it. Just stop reading . . .

Now.

What's the problem? Why are you still reading? Is it because you don't know who I am, or what? I suppose I can hardly blame you. If I had picked up a book and found somebody inside it, talking at me the way I'm talking at you, I'd probably be a little wary too.

What can I say that'll make you believe me? I've never been one of those golden-tongued types. You know, the ones who always have the perfect words for every situation. I used to listen to them when I was just a little demon and-Hell and Demonation! I let that slip without meaning to. About me being a demon, I mean. Oh well, it's done. You were bound to figure it out for yourself sooner or later.

Yeah, I'm a demon. My full name is Jakabok Botch. I used to know what that meant, but I've forgotten. I used to. I've been a prisoner of these pages, trapped in the words you're reading right now and left in darkness most of the time, while the book sat somewhere through the passage of many centuries in a pile of books nobody ever opened. All the while I'd think about how happy, how grateful, I'd be when somebody finally opened the book. This is my memoir, you see. Or, if you will, my confessional. A portrait of Jakabok Botch.

I don't mean portrait literally. There aren't any pictures in these pages. Which is probably a good thing, because I'm not a pretty sight to look at. At least I wasn't the last time I looked.

And that was a long, long time ago. When I was young and afraid. Of what, you ask? Of my father, Pappy Gatmuss. He worked at the furnaces in Hell and when he got home from the night shift he would have such a temper me and my sister, Charyat, would hide from him. She was a year and two months younger than me, and for some reason if my father caught her he would beat and beat her and not be satisfied until she was sobbing and snotty and begging him to stop. So I started to watch for him. About the time he'd be heading home, I'd climb up the drainpipe onto the roof out of our house and watch for him. I knew his walk (or his stagger, if he'd been drinking) the moment he turned the corner of our street. That gave me time to climb back down the pipe, find Charyat, and the two of us could find a safe place where we'd go until he'd done what he always did when he, drunk or sober, came home. He'd beat our mother. Sometimes with his bare hands, but as he got older with one of the tools from his workbag, which he always brought home with him. She wouldn't ever scream or cry, which only made him angrier.

I asked her once very quietly why she never made any noise when my father hit her. She looked up at me. She was on her knees at the time trying to get the toilet unclogged and the stink was terrible; the little room full of ecstatic flies. She said: "I would never give him the satisfaction of knowing he had hurt me."

Thirteen words. That was all she had to say on the subject. But she poured into those words so much hatred and rage that it was a wonder that the walls didn't crack and bring the house down on our heads. But something worse happened. My father heard.

How he sniffed out what we were saying I do not know to this day. I suspect he had buzzing tell-tales amongst the flies. I don't remember much of what he did to us, except for his pushing my head into the unclogged toilet—that I do remember. His face is also inscribed on my memory.