Madame Charpentier saw her husband come into their home about six. But
instead of coming to her and giving her a kiss on the cheek as he usually
did when he came in, he seemed to disappear. She eventually found him in
the library, sitting in his favorite chair, reading.
"I was wondering where you were" she told him. "Dinner will be ready
Jean Charpentier looked up from his book as if irritated. "I am not not
hungry. I will skip dinner." He returned to his reading. His wife tried
her best to convince him to come to dinner, but she was met with silence.
After a minute she gave up and left him to his book.
Over the next week she saw her husband less and less. He would come back
from his office and go directly into the library. He took to ordering in small
meals there, and began sleeping on the couch there, too — something that
for some reason frightened Madame Charpentier.
"Jean, you must snap out of this" she said to him one evening. He rose
from his chair, furious. "Can't you see I am trying to read my book!" he
screamed. Then he grabbed her by the arm and took her to the door and
pushed her through it. The door slammed behind her.
Marie was concerned, but didn't know what to do. Two nights later she
decided to return to the library and try to convince her husband to come
back to their bed and to his normal life. But the door to the library was
locked. She knocked, and then pounded and pleaded at the door. But no
answer came from within. "I must go get the police" she said to herself.
"Perhaps something has happened to him."
She put on her hat and coat and left their apartments, and after a few
blocks found a local policeman and told him of her concerns. "Let's go
see" he told her. When they got to the library door the policeman tried
the handle and then spent a few minutes calling out to Charpentier. "I
can break the door down, if you want" he told Marie.
Marie nodded. The policeman walked back a few feet and then threw his
considerable weight at the door. There was the cracking of wood, and the
door flew open. The policeman and Madame Charpentier went into the room.
They found Jean in his reading chair, his face frozen into a mask, eyes
wide and staring out into the void. Madame Charpentier cried out. The
policeman walked up to Jean and, putting his palm on Jean's neck for a
few seconds, looked back at Marie and shook his head sadly. "I will have
to go get the coroner, Madame" he said. "In a case like this…"
The policeman left. Marie walked slowly up to her husband, and with great
tenderness and with tears touched the sleeve of his jacket. That is when
she noticed the book in his hand, one finger in the pages as if marking his
place. Curious, she gently pulled the book away. She began paging through
the book. She turned the pages faster and faster, and as she did a coldness
ran through her body and she began to tremble. Then she screamed, and let
the book fall to the floor.
The pages of the book, the book that had obsessed her husband for over
a week, were all blank.