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It was on a grim October morning that I chanced upon a rather odd and lengthy book while roaming about a particularly shabby library in Archangel, Virginia. The place was practically a historical monument as it was built in the early 1800's and survived the passing centuries with little repairs done to it; besides the modernized innovations, such as electricity and heating.

Now, I am not one to delve into the dark arts or whatever you fancy calling it, but I was more than a little intrigued at this book's title: The Book of Names. It was large and sat upon a walnut-brown desk that looked almost as old as the town itself; the creaking wooden chair that sat behind it looked the same.

I slowly sat down on the chair, careful to avoid it collapsing if it was not as sturdy as I hoped. When I settled in comfortably, I took a long look at the book. The cover was characterless as it only displayed a black void to me, though I did see the letters "D. A." etched in small print at the bottom right of the tome. Initials, I assumed, the writer's initials.

Painting of the book 1855

I took the cover in my hand and lifted it to a blank page, taking that page, I lifted it to another blank page, and after lifting the second blank page, I finally discovered the words, The Book of Names. Below it were the initials D. A. again and this time under the initials were the words:

"Those that do not know the power of the secret words would be wise not to read further. Those that do not know the meaning of names would be wise not to read further. Those that do not understand the meaning of these words would be wise to not read further. Those that are aware of the power of the secret words, of the meaning of names and the meaning of the words thusly read would be wise to continue reading with immeasurable caution. Do not abuse the secret words."

"D. A."

As I read that passage, an overwhelming sense of apprehension came over me, but my scholarly interest forced me to turn another page. This page revealed to me a list of locations in very small handwritten print. I soon realised that what I was looking at was a list of countries and the provinces, cities and towns within those countries.

As I skipped to a few other pages, I found only a list of different countries, and came to the fact that this probably had every city, town, province or country in the world. After searching for a few minutes, I was able to find Archangel, Virginia, United States of America and then on the far right the number "3968." It didn't surprise me that the book had more than three thousand pages in it, it was quite a behemoth.

Turning to page 3968, I found a list of names that seemed to be in alphabetical order. Aaron Aaronson, Aaron Abercrombie, Aaron Abernathy, the list of names went on and on for pages after. I skipped a couple hundred pages and found only more names. Skipping another couple hundred pages, I found only more names. Now skipping more than a couple thousand pages, I came across one titled, "Ritual Words."

Turning that page, I found a list of words that did not seem to be English, though they were written with English letters. I read out loud in a hushed voice, "Nosaj Nhoj Thaed."

I don't know why, I don't know how to explain it, but to me the words sounded evil. I read another set of words aloud, "Semaj Xela Enog," and these sounded inhuman, unnatural to me, as well. I continued to read the lists of unnatural and evil sounding words, but soon went back to the name section of the book.

Going back to Archangel, I continued to read the names. Name after name of names that I didn't recognize, but there was one that I did recognize. The librarian had told me that his name was Johannes Steinberg and sure enough here was the name Johannes Rudolf Albert Steinberg.

I said it out loud, "Johannes Rudolf Albert Steinberg," and then for some odd reason stated the ritual words, "Semaj Xela Enog."

I don't know why I thought something would happen. I suppose... I don't know. Then, suddenly, I heard a woman scream. I jumped and turned around towards the direction of the screaming, quickly getting out of my chair to see what was the matter.

"What's wrong? What's happened?" asked one of the men standing by, also going to see what was wrong.

"The librarian... He's just... He just... He's dead!" shouted the woman who I assumed had screamed in the first place.

A gush of hushed voices erupted around the room. I stood there. The power of the secret words. Had I... Somehow killed the man by saying his name and then the ritual words? The more I thought of it, the more I came to the grim realization that I may have caused the death of Johannes Steinberg.

I ran back to that evil, venomous book that could not have been made by any righteous being and desperately searched for my name. I eventually found it and said, "Andrew Charlton Ward," and then, "Semaj Xela Enog." I had taken the life of a man, and was not fit to live.

I dropped.

"Those that do not know the power of the secret words would be wise to not read further. Those that do not know the meaning of names would be wise not to read further. Those that do not know the meaning of these words would be wise not to read further."