Story Excerpt
Secret Cravings

flame div

Gabriel's entire body itched, almost as if a thousand little ants were moving under his skin. He rubbed his hands up and down his arms to try and alleviate the irritation, but it didn't seem to do him any good. Nothing he did seemed to abate the horrible itching, not a shower, not creams, nothing. No matter what he did, he felt like something was crawling under his flesh.

He couldn't explain what was going on in his life lately. Between the itching, the strange cravings for raw meat, the weird dreams that woke him in the middle of the night covered in sweat and breathing hard, and the extreme pain in his joints when he woke every morning,

Gabriel didn't even want to think about the extra hair he suddenly seemed to be sprouting lately. Normally he could go a few days in between shaves. Lately, he seemed to be growing hair almost everywhere. It freaked him out a little too much to deal with right now.

He didn't know if he was going crazy or dying or what. He just knew that since the day of his twenty-fifth birthday three weeks ago, life as he knew ceased to exist. The scents in the air smelled more fragrant, the colors of the outside world looked more vibrant. And he found that he had more energy, almost too much.

It seemed as if everything had changed and Gabriel didn't know what to do about it or what to think. He did know he needed help, preferably a medical doctor. His only problem seemed to be getting to a doctor. Every time he even walked close to a medical facility, the strange birthmark on his back burned so bad it nearly dropped him to his knees.

Which is exactly why Gabriel found himself standing outside of Hide-Away-Books. From the outside, the small bookstore didn't look like much. The windows were kind of dusty, and the building was made of old crumbling red brick. It didn't give him much hope that the bookstore would hold what he needed. He was a little afraid that the place would collapse around his ears.

Still, this place might have hope for him. After making a list his symptoms, Gabriel started researching his condition on the internet. From everything he could find, there was an old book that might hold the answers for him. Supposedly, this bookstore held a copy of that book. Looking at the place, Gabriel doubted it.

Wishing he was anywhere except where he was, Gabriel took a deep breath and pushed the door open. He glanced up quickly when he heard a small tinkling sound. A small brass bell hung just over the door, jingling when the door opened.

"I'll be right out," a voice called from the back of the store.

"Take your time." Please take your time, Gabriel thought as he glanced around the room. Stacks of books littered every inch of the place, a small trail of space winding through the place. Most of the books looked like they hadn't seen a dust rag in years, some might not have even seen daylight.

Gabriel picked up the top book on one pile. He blew the grime off the cover, coughing when a billow of dust covered his face. Gabriel grimaced and set the book back down on the pile.

There was no way he would find the answers he needed in this place. It just wasn't going to happen. With that thought in mind, and possibly escape before the building came down on top of him, Gabriel headed for the front door.

"Hello, I'm Aldrik, what can I help you find?"


Gabriel stopped and turned to face the man that spoke behind him. He was a little surprised to find that he wasn't some old ancient bookworm. Despite the long braid of pure white hair hanging down one side, Aldrik didn't look more than thirty five or forty years old.

"Was there something specific you were looking for?" Aldrik asked.

"I was doing some research on the internet and your bookstore seemed to be the only place that had a book I'm looking for," Gabriel said. "Higden's Harmonious Healing? Do you still have a copy?"

One that won't fall to pieces the minute you pick it up? Gabriel added mentally. He looked around, wondering if such a book existed in the place. Turning back to the older man, he caught just a hint of shock on Aldrik's face before the man schooled his features.

"Higden's Harmonious Healing?" the man asked. "Why would you be looking for a copy of that old book? It's outdated, folktale hodgepodge nonsense."

Gabriel rolled his eyes. "Look, I don't mean to be rude, but do you have the book or not?"

Aldrik seemed to regard him for several moments before nodding his head. "I might have a copy around here somewhere. Why don't you make yourself comfortable while I look for it?"

Gabriel watched Aldrik walk into the back of the shop. He looked around and tried to visualize anywhere that he might be comfortable. There really wasn't one. Gabriel hadn't been comfortable in days.