Killing fields

With every book he opened, a scar appeared on his body. It was enough to turn the last page for the wound to heal. He didn’t understand this until much later. He had opened many books, but still didn’t know why his body was suffering. Over the years, the pain had become unbearable, and the cause of it remained unknown. It was his friend who suggested that perhaps the books had something to do with his agony.

The books are responsible for all the pain in the world, he thought, not knowing that this had literal meaning for him. They cache the suffering of everyone, preventing the tissue from recovering. Paper and ink, skin and blood. Centuries of grief piled up in towers of bound sheets.

He stayed there, on the floor, in excruciating pain, still trying to read, unable to put the book down. An unknown force kept him for taking his eyes off the page. His very own exterminating angel, loaned from Buñuel without his permission. One calling the shots, the other doing the bidding, with the book in between them, like killing fields cutting off the hour from eternity.

He knew his time was up. Thousands of books lay open on the floor around him, on top of each other, half read. He had searched for answers in each of them, but he didn’t get any closer to finding any. It had all been in vain, but he didn’t want to give up. It was all debits and no credits, his body taking a hit each time, scar after scar, releasing clusters of unmitigated agony.

Until finally he closed the book, and all the other books, as by magic, shut themselves as well. Silence veiled the room and a gentle rain came down over the burning fields.

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