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Codex GigasBram’s shaking hand rattled the pages as he offered them to Viktor.

His master snatched them from him, caressed them as he would a delicate instrument or a fragile glass sculpture. “Where are your gloves? Didn’t I tell you to only handle these pages with the utmost care? You fool! You could have destroyed everything!”

Bram cringed before the expected slap, but none came. He cracked one eyelid open to see what caused the reprieve.

Viktor paid him no further attention. He stroked the giant wooden-covered tome, a Cheshire smile on his face, a bright gleam in his eyes. “Stealing you from the royal library in Stockholm wasn’t easy, but I did it. They were none the wiser.”

Bram backed away, fear rippling through him. His master had always been intense, but now he was talking to a book. The book. The man was unhinged.

“I didn’t think I’d ever find the missing pages, but you reassured me. You had faith. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.” Viktor opened the book to the drawing of the devil and bowed.

Bram shivered. He hated that picture—felt the evil emanating from it in palpable waves. Dread washed over him like a tsunami. Nothing good could come of this.

Viktor began chanting. Bram had little time. Groping behind him, he found the doorknob, twisted it quietly, and opened the door just enough to squeeze through. After he closed it, he dashed down the hall. He wasn’t free yet.

Just before he rounded the corner, a flash of light illuminated the hall. Viktor’s shrieks were drowned out by the ominous rumble of demonic laughter.

“At last! I am free!” The deep bass voice reverberated in the hallway.

Bram streaked outside and ran to the woods. But he knew, even as he hid behind tree trunks and evergreen boughs, there was no escape. He’d helped Viktor steal that cursed volume and acquire the missing pages. He’d helped call forth Satan.

There was nowhere for him to go. Nowhere to hide. He was linked to the codex—linked to damnation.

Hot breath tickled his neck. He turned to see the personification of the frightening drawing standing over him. Bram made the sign of the cross and whispered, “God forgive me.”

The beast laughed. “I think you’re praying to the wrong entity.” And he reached for him.

This story inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Volume.

Photo of the Codex Gigas from Kungl. biblioteket [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons.