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The Secrets of the Black Book

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The Secrets of the Black Book

“Hey welcome! I’m glad you could make it! Come in, come in, have a seat! Whew, it’s freezing out there! I can’t believe how much snow has fallen, since we last spoke an hour ago, but I’m glad you made it through this snowstorm, safe and sound. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll take your coat, grab the black book out of the study, and then we can get started. You may have a seat by the fireplace, if you’d like, to warm yourself up! I just put some fresh logs on the fire, so that should last us a few hours. Alright, let me go hang up your coat, grab the book, and I’ll be right back.”

So, I guess you’re wondering what’s going on and who has been speaking for the past five to ten minutes. Well let me introduce myself and give you a little background to catch you up.

Hi, I’m Cecilia Stanley and I’m a journalist for the New York Times. I’ve been a journalist for a little over five years now. I worked at a small-town newspaper in Red Bank, NJ, until I caught my big break and got a call to work for the New York Times, a little over a year ago. So what does this have to do with my current situation, well I’m glad you asked. A few days ago, a story came across my desk about a black book that is rumored to contain dates and numbers that will bring you wealth and success. According to the rumor, legend, or whatever you want to call it, anyone in possession of this book will always have the luck of the draw and win the lottery IF they play the numbers written under each specific date!! Now, me being a skeptic, of course I thought this was a joke, but it gets even deeper. This book is also rumored to contain the dates of all potential stock market highs and lows and the dates of when it is the very last date you can legally cash out on all of your shares without it looking suspicious. Now THIS sparked my curiosity and attention, especially since the last stock market incident a few months ago. A well-known computer company who filed for bankruptcy and were closing a lot of their stores, had their stocks jump at an exponential rate, out of the blue! Higher than they had ever been since the start of their company. People bought shares from that company left and right! Then just before the stock began to decline, all those who purchased shares, cashed out and became rich off of this freakish anomaly. Some people said it was an inside job, others said it was that black book. That this book contained information about certain companies, how well they will and will not perform, when to purchase shares from the company, how many shares to purchase, and when to cash out. So naturally, I wanted to know more about this rumored book. What I found interesting, that very same day, I also received an anonymous email regarding the book. It read: “Good morning Ms. Stanley. I see the information regarding the book has reached your desk. If you would like to know more about the black book please meet me this Wednesday night, 7pm sharp, at...” and they gave me the address of their location. “Time is money and money doesn’t wait on time. I look forward to seeing you and I promise it will be well worth it, but it comes at a price. See you at 7pm this Wednesday.” The email didn’t say who it was from nor did it have an email address attached to it. It was very cryptic. I was very intrigued and I wanted to know more. I guess that’s why I became a journalist. Always wanting to know more and get down to the bottom of things! Based on the address in the email, it appears that I will be traveling to Connecticut this Wednesday. I printed up the email and grabbed the correspondence that had been placed on my desk, to show my boss. I walked over to his office, knocked on the door frame and then entered. I handed my boss the email and the piece of correspondence. He was definitely intrigued as well and told me he, too, has heard about the rumored black book! “Sheesh, was I the only one who didn’t know about it’s existence?!”, I thought to myself. My boss said that this book is very special and only passed on to certain people. Those who get a chance to lay their eyes and hands on this book, is said to become rich beyond they’re wildest dreams, BUT they must use their wealth for only good purposes, and then pass it on to another worthy recipient. It’s not intended to be used for greed and power. He went on to say that some believe this book contains Devine powers and it can sense a person’s true intentions. If the individual in their heart intends to use it for greed and power, they will in turn lose EVERYTHING!! My boss handed me back my papers and wished me luck. He said, “whoever this is, chose you for a reason. I hope you can finally be the one to break the mystery of the black book.” As I was leaving his office, my boss stopped me and said this: “one thing that is also rumored about the book, whoever comes in contact with it has to drop everything and leave their former life. So I just thought you should know that little piece of information. Oh, and by the way, before I forget, I will be out of the office for the rest of the week, but I hope to see you back here on Monday. If I don’t, then I will know the rumors are true and I wish you well. Godspeed.” I smiled and laughed and said; “Don’t you worry, I will see you bright and early Monday morning. I can’t honestly believe a book can do all that everyone including yourself is saying it can do and has done. Come Monday, you and everyone else will have the best exclusive ever written and once and for all put these rumors of this black book to bed.” My boss just smiled and I walked out of his office. That was on Monday.

So fast forward to Wednesday, I mean I’m not going to fill you in with all of the boring details of my day on Tuesday, especially when they’re not related to the black book. Yes, I obviously couldn’t get it off of my mind all day Tuesday, but that’s about it. So, I figured I’d just skip to Wednesday. Have to keep your attention and keep it interesting, right?

So, it’s now Wednesday morning, I am a complete nervous wreck about my meeting later on this evening. Who am I meeting? Is this a setup? Could this be potentially dangerous for me? Should I leave my whereabouts with my boss, since he’s the only one that knows of this meeting? So many different questions just running through my head. I must have had one too many cups of coffee from the break room, because one of my coworkers stopped me on my way back to my office and asked me if I was ok. Of course I told them, yes, I’m fine, good actually! I guess I shocked them because I’m not much of a coffee drinker and they said this was my fourth trip back from the break room with a cup of coffee. I laughed, nervously mind you, and just said I’m good, just working on a really in-depth piece for the Times. So they just smiled said ok, and I continued to head back to my office. As I sat down at my desk, I noticed on my computer screen I had a new email notification. I opened the email, and it was another cryptic email from the same sender as the one from Monday. The email read as follows: “Good day Ms. Stanley. I hope you are well and not nervous about our meeting for later on tonight.” “What the hell, is this guy...or girl watching me?!”, I said to myself. Then looked up from my computer and looked around, before continuing on with the email. “I am very much looking forward to meeting you. Please remember to be on time. Time is money and money does not wait on time. 7pm sharp at this address...” and they rewrote the address. “Also, please take down this number and contact me should you have any trouble along the way. There is an impending snow storm and I want to make sure you get here safe and sound. Also, may I suggest leaving a little earlier then you may have originally planned. See you this evening.” And the email ended.

“This is all so very crazy and strange, I thought, but this also could be the story of a lifetime and I refuse to pass this up! My first adventure as a journalist! How cool is that!!” I smiled and giggled to myself. I printed out the email, proceeded to pack up my things and left the office, taking a half day off work. Whoever this person is in the email, they’re right. It’s about a two hour drive to Connecticut from the city and with bad weather on the way, on top of the regular rush hour traffic, I need to leave now to ensure I arrive on time. I went home, packed my clothes and whatever else I may need, assuming I will be snowed in there for at least a day. I also made sure I have all of my journalist essentials, i.e., recording device, pen, pencil, paper, notebook, laptop, charger, spare battery, camera, you know, just all of the basics. I packed up everything into my car including snacks, water and a blanket. It’s winter, you never know. I also made sure my tank was full of gas and I have my phone charger and most importantly, the email. I put the address into my GPS and I was on my way. Just as anticipated, the snow began to fall and the roads began to fill with cars on i95 North. It was 3pm. This is going to be a long slow drive, as I sighed to myself. So I turned on the radio and jammed to an old school R&B and Smooth Jazz station to help pass the time.

It was nearing 5:30pm and the snow definitely picked up in intensity. According to the GPS, my estimated time of arrival is 6:25pm. I’m definitely cutting it close, I thought to myself, but I rather arrive safely than not at all!

I decided to give our mystery person a call to let them know my status. Fortunately for me, I programmed the number they gave me, into my phone just for this reason. “Siri, call Black Book Person”, I said. “Calling Black Book Person”, Siri responded. It rang. All of a sudden I was nervous all over again. Heart began to race, palms started feeling clammy from sweat. Butterflies began fluttering in my stomach. “I’m seriously about to hear this person’s voice for the first time!”, I thought with nervous excitement. The phone seemed to ring forever, and then it stopped. A voice came over the phone from the other end. “Hello, is this Ms. Stanley?”, they asked. It was a soft, low, but sweet sounding voice. Almost very familiar. If I didn’t know any better, I would have felt I’ve heard this voice before, but I brushed it off as coincidence. “Yes, this is Ms. Stanley. I’m calling to update you on my current status. According to my GPS, I should arrive no later than 6:25pm, and the snow has definitely picked up in intensity, but nothing I’m not already used to.” The familiar sounding voice spoke again, “Excellent, good to hear. Well please continue to drive safe. We’ll be here and look forward to finally meeting you when you arrive.” “Thank you, I will and I look forward to finally meeting you as well, although I feel like we have met already.” I responded. The voice chuckled a little and then said “See you soon, Ms. Stanley.” and hung up. Oh the thoughts that raced through my head! “We...who’s we?” “Was more than one person going to be there?” “Why did their voice sound so familiar to me?” “I swear I know that voice!” “I’ve heard that voice before, but from where?” “Ugh, why can’t I remember?” Oh the questions and thoughts that raced through my head! I actually had to snap out of it and pay attention to the GPS because I almost missed my exit!

Just as the GPS stated, I pulled up in front of this gorgeous, country-style home at 6:25pm. It had a huge wrap around porch with a swing, and a nice, large, well-groomed yard. You can tell they have a landscaper based on how well the hedges were trimmed. Just those minor details you can see even in the snow. I could tell that the brick pathway heading up to the house was just recently cleared of snow, but started to become covered again, because it was still coming down heavily. I hurried up and gathered everything I needed out of my car and proceeded to walk up the pathway towards the house. I rang the doorbell and just looked around while I waited for someone to answer. The way the snow covered the trees and the street, gave the neighborhood such a nice wintery scene. It was very quiet and peaceful. Almost too quiet for me, but I’m a city girl, so I’m used to the hustle and bustle sounds of the city. However, I think I could get used to country/suburban living. It was nice to see that each house had ample space between them, so you didn’t feel like you were living on top of each other. “Very nice”, I thought, and at that exact moment the door opened. I turned around to greet the person at the door and when I saw their face, I stood there in such shock! It was my editor and chief from the Times! I almost dropped my bag! He stood there smiling.

So this brings us to where we last left off, from the beginning of the story.

I entered his home, still in shock and with a million and one thoughts and questions racing through my mind. I barely payed attention to what he was saying and the next thing I knew, he was taking my coat and guiding me towards the couch by the fireplace. As I was sitting down, I snapped out of my initial shock and managed to blurt out as he was leaving the room, “So it was YOU this whole time?” I asked. My editor just looked at me, smiled and said, “I’ll be right back, and then you can ask me all of the questions you have, to your heart’s desire.”and he walked off. “This is truly insane!”, I thought to myself. I sat down on the couch by the fireplace and began to unpack my things in preparation for the interview. It felt so warm sitting by the fire and the couch was super soft, plush and comfy. The crackling sound of the wood burning in the fire gave the room that extra cozy feeling, especially on a snowy winter’s night. The inside of the house was decorated very nicely. It had a country, but modern aesthetic to it. There was a deer’s head mounted above the fireplace’s mantle and a replica of a colonial sailing ship on the mantle itself. Located on the floor in front of the fireplace was a beige/off white bearskin rug. It was so soft that I could curl right up on it and fall asleep. The room had tall vaulted ceilings with two rustic-looking ceiling fans and in between the two fans was an large, rustic, but modern wooden candle lubber chandelier. The lightbulbs on it were in the shape of little flames and their light gave the entire room a warm glow, adding to the light emitting from the fireplace. Adjacent to the fireplace, was a wall made of shiplap with several mantles on it. Each of the mantles held framed pictures of my editor on different excursions. “Wow, he’s definitely been around the world,” I said to myself.

“Ah, so I see you’ve made yourself comfortable”, said my editor as he walked back in the room. “Good, good, I’m glad. May I offer you some tea before we get started?” And there it was, in his hand, the black book. “Um, yes please, thank you”, I responded. He placed the book down on the coffee table in front of the couch and went into the kitchen to make us some tea. The book wasn’t as big and as thick as I had imagined it to be. It actually looked like a writing journal. There wasn’t anything special looking about it. No unidentifiable mystic markings or writings on it whatsoever. This has to be a joke. A book that is said to be magical and life changing, and it looks plain as can be, like the nose on my face. Just then, my editor walked back in the room with a tray of tea and what appeared to be an assortment of cookies. He placed the tray down on the table, poured and handed me a cup of tea, and sat down on the other couch across from me. He let out a deep sigh of relief, smiled and said “There’s sugar, lemon wedges or cream for your tea, and some cookies to enjoy along with it.” “Thank you”, I softly said, as I proceeded to fix my cup of tea. “Please excuse my silence, I said, I’m still in shock by this whole thing, but mainly in shock because the mystery person turned out to be you!” “Why not just tell me…and why me?” I sat back in the couch, and took a sip of my tea as I waited for his response.

My editor sat back on his couch, took a sip of his tea and said, “If I came to you with the story about this book, would you have pursued it genuinely the way you did this week, or would you had taken it on as another task or story my chief wants me to follow up on?” “I’ve watched you enough to know how you operate when it comes to pursuing stories. Some stories you take on as part of your job duties as a journalist and others, well, you take those on with gust and a drive! I see the determination and drive in your eyes! It’s like an adventure for you, another accomplishment to add to your belt. So I did it this way to test you and to see if you would brush it aside or it would spark your interest, and it did. I could tell it wasn’t about finding the book to become wealthy but instead it was about finding a legendary artifact that brought certain individuals wealthy and the desire to know why and how it works. That’s how the book found me.” He stopped and took another sip of his tea. “That’s how the book found you”, I asked. “I don’t understand what you mean by that. It’s just a book. How on earth does it “find you”? If anything it looks like a regular journal to me. I see nothing special about it. It’s plain and nothing I would take a second look at.” My editor chuckled and said “I understand exactly what you are saying and where you are coming from. I felt the same way when it was first introduced to me. You see, there was this newspaper stand I would faithfully go to every morning before work. During this time, I was not working for the New York Times, I was actually an accountant working for a firm in the city. I loved reading the Times and often thought how cool it would be to work for them one day. This particular newsstand was only two blocks away from my office. I was a regular so much so that I would almost say I befriended the stand’s owner. I would grab a cup of coffee, a copy of our paper, a pack of gum, and two scratch offs. The owner and I would catch up briefly and then I would head on down the street to work. This was a daily routine for me. Well one particular day, I stopped by my newsstand to purchase my usual and the owner of the stand said to me, “My friend, instead of your usual scratch offs today, I have placed a very special book in side of your paper solely for you. This book is very special indeed and will make all of your wildest dreams come true. You will no longer need those scratch offs. You have been a faithful and loyal customer of mine for years. I see how hard you work and you’re always in a rush, but yet, you still make time to stop by my little old newsstand to, say hello, ask about my well-being, purchase your items, and wish me a great day. You do this every day rain or shine, cold or hot. Most people who come by here don’t even speak, but you…you my friend, are always courteous and kind. You even say keep the change. I appreciate people like you! You’re genuine and one in a million. You never once judged me for being a newsstand owner. So this is my way of being able to repay you.” He handed me my usual items, including the newspaper and I could feel the book wrapped up inside of it. As I handed him the money to pay for everything, he said “No payment today, my friend. It’s on the house. When you get to your office, close the door, unwrap the book from within the newspaper and open up the book. If you see instructions in the book, then you will know it was meant to be in your possession, if you don’t, then you may return the book to me, but I have a feeling that this will be my last time seeing you, my friend. This book has magical powers and let’s just say the location of my newsstand and us crossing paths was not a coincidence. The book brought me to you and when your time is coming to an end with it, the book will lead you to its next worthy owner.” My editor took another sip of his tea, as did I! As I was listening to him tell the story, I felt chills go up and down my spine as if there was a draft in the room. At that moment, I felt as though my life was about to change. Could everything he is saying be true? I took another sip of my tea, and made sure I focused in on every detail of his story.

“What do you think, so far, Ms. Stanley? Do I have your full, undivided attention?” my editor asked. “Oh yes, I am very intrigued! Please, do continue!”

“As you wish”, said my editor. “Where was I…oh yes”, he said, So there I was, standing in front of the newsstand with my items in hand, and I said to the owner, don’t be silly, I will see you again on Monday bright and early, same time, same place. As for the mysterious book in my paper, I will take a look at it and I thank you for trusting me with it. It sounds interesting and whether or not it does what you say it will do, you have definitely sparked my curiosity. I looked at my watch, and then said I must go or I’ll be late. Have a great weekend friend, see you on Monday. “You too my friend, and enjoy the rest of your life.” The owner said as we waved goodbye. I just smiled and waved, brushing off what he had just said. I got to my office just in time. Laid my things down on my desk, turned on my computer and opened the blinds to my office. Before I sat down, I did as I was instructed to do and I closed the door to my office. I walked over to my desk, sat down and began to unwrap the newspaper from around the book. My editor paused. “Are you ok,” I asked. “What happened next?” By this time I was sitting at the edge of the couch. My editor smiled and chuckled. “So you really ARE interested in this story, aren’t you Ms. Stanley? Well, what do you think happened next?”, he asked . Anxious and a little irritated because I hate being left in suspense, I said “I have no idea!”

“Oh, but I think you do”, he said. “What was YOUR initial reaction when I laid the book down on the table, before leaving to go get us some tea and cookies?” I sat there for a moment, looked at the book, then looked up at my editor and said, “Honestly, at first glance I said to myself, you’ve got to be kidding. This is the magical, mysterious book that makes people’s dreams come true. It looks like a plain old journal to me. Nothing special looking about it at all. If I’m being totally honest.” My editor sat back and laughed. “See, this is what I’ve always liked about you and why I hired you. You don’t beat around the bush, you tell it like it is with such gust. No fear whatsoever! That’s the type of journalist I like and wanted! And everything you just said about your initial impression of the book, was exactly my first impression of as well.” “So are you going to finish telling me what happened next”, I asked. He looked at me, and said “no”. “This is where my story ends. In order for you to know what happened next, you must experience for yourself. Go ahead, pick up the book Ms. Stanley, it’s time.”

I took one more sip of my tea, then placed the cup down on the table. I took my napkin and wiped my face and hands, placed it back on the table and reached for the book. I glanced up at my editor, and he nodded and smiled, double confirming that I indeed had permission to pick up the book.

The minute my fingers touched the book, it began to turn gold. I pulled my hand back so quickly and looked at my editor in amazement. He smiled and said “I knew you were the one. Go ahead, it’s alright.” So I reached for the book again, placed my hands on it and the entire book turned to gold! I opened the book and on the first page of the book were a set of instructions, just like my editor said the newsstand owner described. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I looked up at my editor in amazement and he smiled, got up from his seat, and proceeded to leave the room. “Where are you going, I asked. “You now have a decision to make, Cecilia. One that does not require my presence and one that I can not know. See, when I made my decision and went back to tell and thank the newsstand owner, he was no longer there. I had so many questions, just as you do, but you will find that they will all be answered as you read the book. If you choose to go in the direction, that I think you will go, the abundance that will come will be beyond anything you could’ve ever imagined, but know sacrifices come along with it. So choose wisely. I know any choice you make will come purely from the heart. Like I said that day in the office, if I don’t see you come Monday morning, I wish you all the best and Godspeed! As he turned to walk away, I blurted out “But I promised you the best written piece to ever come across your desk!” He turned around and with a grin on his face said, “I suspect you will be staying the night due to the weather. I will bring you some bedding and a pillow. Then he turned and walked away. A little while later, he brought out some bedding and a pillow for me. “Enjoy the rest of your evening, Ms. Stanley. I will add one more log to the fire and that should last you through the night. The bathroom is right up the hall to the left. Tonight has been a pleasure, thank you.” “No, I said, thank YOU…for everything!” My editor smiled, “Good night Ms. Stanley.” “Good night, sir.” Then I fixed the bedding on the couch, laid down, and began to read the book. I became so lost in the book that I don’t even remember falling asleep.

It was Thursday morning of the next day. I left my editor’s home around 10am. Before I left, I thanked him for everything. He reminded me of the importance of the book’s secrecy, to keep it safe at all times, and that any decision that I made was to be kept between me and the book. It was a long quiet ride home. I didn’t even turn on the radio. The roads were still fairly covered with snow, so I took my time driving. I was so preoccupied with thoughts of last night and the things I read in the book, that I didn’t even realize I was nearly home. It was after one o’clock, by the time I arrived back home. It was a good thing that I took off from work today, and I work from home on Fridays, I thought to myself. I unpacked everything from my car and brought it into my place. After I showered, made a cup of tea, I sat down at my desk with the book and began to weigh my options. The abundance I’m about to come into, if I decide to keep the book in my possession, I thought, gleefully. However, the sacrifices I have to make if I do…is it worth it. I sat at my desk, with the cap end of the pen in my mouth, contemplating my decision. After what seemed like hours going back and forth, weighing my pros and cons, I finally came to a decision. I pulled out my notebook and began to write with a smile on my face! I think that was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my life, but I’m proud that I did it.

It’s Monday morning. The city is hustling and bustling as usual. Everyone is fast pacing it to their destination, which is probably work. My editor showed up to work exceptionally early this morning. I guess he needed to catch up on some work from being out last week. He walked in his office like he does every day, with a pack of gum, a cup of coffee, and a copy of our New York Times hot off the press. As he laid his things down on his desk, he noticed an envelope addressed to him. He sat down and opened the envelope. Inside was a letter. He opened the letter and it read: “I promised you the greatest piece to ever cross your desk, so here it is…THANK YOU! You have changed my life and I am forever grateful and thankful! I am off to capture adventure after adventure, explore the explorable(if that’s even a word), and to live the life I was meant to live. Even though I am no longer a journalist for the Times, I am still a journalist. You took a chance on me, a little beginner journalist from Red Bank, NJ, and now begins the greatest piece ever written, the journey of a journalist. Not every day does a great fortune fall into someone’s lap. I guess it was my turn to receive abundance. Sometimes it pays to open up and read a book *wink, wink*. Well, here goes nothing!!” The editor sat back in his chair and smiled. Then he got up, opened up his office blinds to let in the natural light, walked over to his shredder, and shredded the letter. On his way back to his desk, he stopped and looked outside his office window and whispered, “Godspeed, Ms. Stanley, Godspeed.”

“So, that’s how my story ends. Well at least this chapter of my life. Oh, did you think I was just going to leave without having a final word? No, no, no. I couldn’t do that to you guys. You’ve come all this way with me. So now the question remains, are you willing to go a little further? “Flight 923 to Indfonesia is now boarding…” said a muffled voice over a loud speaker.

Oh, that’s my flight, so I have to go, but before I do, I will leave you with this, you never know when you’re abundance will come, when your fortune will land in your lap, so just have faith and trust that at any time it will, because you never know when the black book will choose you. Cecilia Stanley signing out.

The End…

Dedicated to all the dreamers of dreams and the wishers of wishes

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