The Book of Madness

I walk alone. Always have, always will. There’s something about the solitary act of putting one foot in front of the other, of covering ground under my own power, that makes me feel alive. The rhythmic cadence of my steps, the way my muscles flex and release, the steady rise and fall of my breath—it’s a symphony of movement that fills my soul. And so, I wander, wherever my feet take me.

Today, they have led me to a small town nestled deep in the heart of nowhere. It’s the kind of place that time forgot, where rusting cars and dilapidated buildings stand as silent sentinels to a forgotten era. As I approach, a sense of unease creeps over me, as if the very air is thick with an unseen malevolence.

Ignoring the warning signs, I enter the town and find myself amidst a labyrinth of shadowed streets. The houses leer at me from behind cracked windows, their peeling paint like the grotesque grin of a long-dead jester. I quicken my pace, hoping to escape this unsettling place, but the town seems determined to hold me in its clutches.

And then I see him—a man unlike any I’ve ever encountered. Dressed in a tattered suit and carrying a worn leather briefcase, he moves with a purposeful grace that belies his haggard appearance. His eyes, cold and calculating, meet mine for a fleeting moment before he disappears around a corner.

Curiosity propels me forward, and I follow in his wake. The streets twist and turn as if mocking my pursuit, but I press on, determined to uncover the secrets this town holds. Finally, I emerge into a small square, where the man stands alone.

“Who are you?” I ask, my voice echoing through the stillness.

He turns towards me, his eyes gleaming with a perverse delight. “I am the Travelling Salesman,” he says, his voice a sinister whisper that sends shivers down my spine. “And I have something to show you.”

Intrigued and unnerved in equal measure, I follow him into a nearby building—a dilapidated shop that smells of mildew and decay. Inside, the walls are lined with row upon row of dusty bookshelves, their contents obscured by layers of neglect. The salesman leads me towards a rickety wooden table, upon which rests a single, leather-bound tome.

“This,” he says, his voice dripping with anticipation, “is the Book of Madness.”

I hesitate for a moment, my hand hovering over the aged cover. Something deep within me tells me to walk away, to leave this place and never look back. But the allure of the unknown is too strong, and I find myself flipping open the book.

What I see defies comprehension. The pages are filled with grotesque illustrations—twisted figures with elongated limbs and distorted faces. Words, written in a language I cannot decipher, dance across the parchment like malevolent spirits. As I stare at the chaotic images, a wave of dizziness washes over me, threatening to pull me into this nightmarish world.

The salesman watches me intently, his grin widening with each passing second. “Do you see now?” he asks, his voice tinged with madness. “This is the true nature of reality—the darkness that lurks beneath the surface. And you, my friend, have been chosen to witness it.”

I try to tear my eyes away from the book, but it’s as if my very soul is being pulled into its twisted depths. Visions assault me—visions of unspeakable horror and unimaginable suffering. Madness claws at the edges of my consciousness, threatening to consume me whole.

Desperation fuels my fight against this encroaching darkness. With a surge of willpower, I tear my gaze away from the book and bolt towards the door. The salesman’s laughter follows me, mocking and triumphant, as I stumble out into the night.

But the town won’t let me leave so easily. The streets twist and turn, their once-familiar paths transformed into a labyrinth of confusion. Shadows dance at the corner of my vision, whispering secrets I dare not comprehend. Every step I take brings me deeper into the heart of this nightmare, until I can no longer distinguish reality from the twisted fantasies that haunt my mind.

Days blur into nights, and nights into days. Sleep becomes a distant memory, replaced by an unending cycle of terror and despair. Faces flicker in the darkness—faces of people I once knew, now twisted and contorted by the malevolent forces that control this town.

And always, lurking in the shadows, is the Travelling Salesman. He watches me with cold, unblinking eyes, a silent reminder of the choice I made. The choice to uncover the secrets of this town, to peel back the layers of sanity and gaze into the abyss.

I walk alone. Always have, always will. But now, I walk through a world that exists between realms—a world where nightmares bleed into reality, where darkness reigns supreme. And as I continue on my endless journey, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a way to escape this living hell—or if I’m doomed to wander these haunted streets for all eternity.

Author: Opney. Illustrator: Stab. Publisher: Cyber.

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