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Librong Itim (Black Book)

by Natasha Garrido Rains about a year ago in fiction
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I hear loud whispers in the closet. Not again, the childhood fears of a monster hidden in the dark making an irrational comeback. Would the revelation of the supernatural really scare me?

I hear loud whispers in the closet. Not again, the childhood fears of a monster hidden in the dark making an irrational comeback. Would the revelation of the supernatural really scare me? I decide what I could never do as a kid: get the first foot down on the dark floor. I feel a sense of pride mixed with utter fear as the next foot meets the cold darkness. I stand up and there’s a part of me that thinks this might be my end. The shadow of a hand will reach from under the bed and I’ll be gone. Gone where? I don’t know. But I’ll be gone. 

I take a step forward. Nothing happens.

I attempt to look back to see if the hand has found me. The very hand that threatened my life as a child, and kept my toes hidden beneath the blankets as if it were a game. I see a shadow move. Was it just my own, moving in the distance? 

As I reach for the handle of the closet, my hands start shaking. What will I find behind this door? Is there a new realm that people find when they open their closets late at night? Do people disappear until dawn? What is it about the dark that changes the look of everything? 

I open the door, the whispers end and I see…nothing.

My eyes widen and I slowly shut the door. A little too slowly because I feel it behind me. I know it’s behind me. The hairs all over my body are standing up straight, pointing to the very direction its presence is. I turn my head quickly, as not to miss whatever is lurking behind. 

The dark hand that used to appear to me in my dreams is emerging. There is something it is holding, but I can’t make out what it is. The hand has a never ending shadow of an arm that extends from under my bed to place the item where my feet would have been. 

I reach over to the light switch and turn it on. As light enters the room, the darkness that was once there is gone. The hand, the arm, are nowhere to be found. The only reason I know this is real, is because of the black mystery on my bed. I stare at it for a while, not knowing what will happen if I expose its contents to the light. My body takes over and I find myself walking to it, drawn by my curiosity. The fear inside is overpowered by all the what if’s. 

As I get closer, I see... a black book. Who knew that one of the simplest things in life could hold so much wonder. My fingers touch the front cover and it’s soft. It smells fresh, new. I open it and see that the first three pages are ripped out. I look up at the light switch and wonder...

I turn off the light. The book is suddenly bright, and instantly, I see the hand with it’s never-ending arm emerge. It looks all over the bed for the book. As if it sensed my presence at the other end of the room, it comes at me with full force. I think to myself, this is the end.

As the hand is about to reach my face, it bends. The shadow starts to become one with the book and the pages that were torn off start to reappear. The first page is complete and words start to form. “You… are…chosen."

I flip to the next page. There is a riddle. Words are showing up and disappearing seconds later. “If you find the key, you will open me.”

I flip to the third page and all I see is a sketch of a pencil. Time passes and I am at a loss. How is there not any more to it? I throw the book against the wall out of frustration. As the book falls to the floor, I hear a thump, and a clank. I rush to the noise but see nothing around.     

I examine the book. The first and second pages are the same. But, the third... is now empty. No sign of any sketch, not even an indent from where it once was. I look through all the other pages. They are all empty. I feel a mark on the back of the book... and there it is, the pencil, carved into the back. I shake the book and the pencil falls to the ground.

“If you find the key, you will open me...”

What does this expect me to do? I look at the pencil and see a small image on the side. It’s of a key. I try to pull it up... that’s not it... I try shaking the pencil, nothing. I flip back to the second page. I look at the image of the key and decide to draw it. Suddenly, all the words appear at once, forming something in the middle of the page... a keyhole. I reach for the key and I somehow pull it out. I aim right for the keyhole and the key goes through. I turn it, and hear a click. The light starts to swirl and it takes the key from my hand. 

I close my eyes. 

I take a deep breath. 

I hear a clank. I assume it’s the pencil and keep my eyes shut. Another clank. I feel pieces of metal fall on my feet. I open my eyes and see gold coins falling from the bright swirl. I run to bed and hold the book in astonishment... Is this really happening?

I hear distant creaks on the wooden floor... Oh no, it’s my mom coming to check up on me. I shut the book, stopping the golden assault. My Filipina mom opens the door, and turns the light on. Just like that, everything disappears.

“Akala ko matutulog ka ng maaga tonight?” 

“I know, it’s late! I’m getting ready for bed.” 

“Ano yan?” 

I look down at the book in my lap. 

“This? It’s nothing.”

She walks over to me and grabs the book. She starts to open it to the first page... 

“Ma!! Don’t — ” 

Not knowing what to do, I run over to turn the light off... All the gold comes back and I see the swirl pattern re-form, placing a trance on my mom. I see the new words... “You are not chosen.” I try to snatch the book out of her hands, but she is like a statue, unmoving.

My mom starts to fade... starting from the top of her head like little particles of sand, she slowly disappears into the book. 

“MAMA!!!” I scream. 

I look down and see a sketch of my mom on the page. I try not to cry, to make sure she doesn’t wash away. I look around, and I see the mounds of gold in the room. What does this mean? What was I chosen for? How am I gonna get my mom back? 

The night is still young and I have to make a plan. I need to find answers. I take the book in hand, and make my way downstairs to my mom’s room.

I turn the light on and search through everything. I carefully look under her bed and find a raggedy cardboard box. I pull it out and it’s filled with pictures and memories. I empty out its contents and watch all the pictures fall on the floor. A torn piece of paper is on top of the pile. I pick it up and it feels familiar. I open up the book, searching through it. I make it to the end and see that a page was missing... I put the page I found inside and shut it, hoping for something to happen. But, nothing did. 

I stare up at the flickering light above me. It’s as if it knew it shouldn’t be on. I stand up and shut it off. A burst of light appears, and it’s coming from the book. As I look inside, its now filled with journal entries through the years. The first one was from 1910, in a province in the Philippines. As I read, I realized that my great, great grandfather was the first person in my family who found himself in my situation. I don’t know what happened to him. As I kept reading, I found out about an inheritance that was passed down through each generation. Why didn’t my mom tell me anything?

The page turned into a white swirl. This time, I was taken away. The world around me starts to become clearer, and I see my mom in bed. I’m filled with relief. She’s sleeping, so peacefully. But, where am I? How is everything the same but feel so different? 

“Ma? You okay?” I say fearfully.

She doesn’t say anything, doesn’t move. The book opens up to a page, the whispers are back and I can actually make out what they’re saying. “Up...” 

I run upstairs, trying to figure out where I need to go. There has to be more. I run down the hallway to my room but it is never ending, an infinite loop. No matter which direction I go, I can’t seem to escape. With nothing else to do, I open the book and go through the journal entries. There were two different people from my family who had been here, too. I read their stories and am saddened by what I find. 

The last journal entry that each person made were the same. They spoke of what they would do with the gold coins if they could just escape. But, they never did. They stayed here, until the end. 

“I’m not going to be one of them.” I claim.

I grab the pencil and I start writing. I write down what happened, of the darkness, the gold, more treasure than I could ever fathom.... but how it doesn’t matter. In the end, the reason I want to get out is to see my mom again.

I try to keep writing, but the page won’t accept anything. Once again, the book gets brighter, and I’m blinded.


I hear the door to my bedroom opening.


“MAMA?! I’m here!”

“Okay ka lang?” 

“Yes, Ma. I’m okay.” I say, running over to her, tears threatening to fall.

There is a thump. I look back, to a seamless, black book on the floor. In between the pages, I see a handful of shining, gold coins peeping back at me. 

“Ano yun?” 

“I need you to sit down, Ma. I have a story to tell...”


About the author

Natasha Garrido Rains

Writing | Illustrating | Design

I have too many stories to tell, so here I am.


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