You Can't Go Back
Craig, Age 12, Easton, CT

Frankie, a typical 12-year-old boy living an average life in the great borough of the Bronx never had anything but average life experiences. But that entire normalcy was about to change… It all started when he was waiting for the city bus after a very painful, deep cavity filling at the dentist. There was an especially strange man at the bus stop, staring and gasping at the simplest of things. Frankie would have looked right past the abstract figure if it was any other man, but this was Edgar Vonhidenburger. This man was one of the great scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project. Frankie would not have recognized him had it not been for the billboard of Dr.Vonhidenburger that he passed on his way to his apartment. The Doctor was staring at things such as women not finding their keys in their purse, or people’s shoes that were untied. Then he dropped a book titled You Can’t go Back and ran off screaming. The book had no author, but inscribed in the bottom-r ight hand corner, it read “Read at Own Risk.” Out of curiosity, Frankie picked it up.

Frankie raced home, completely forgetting that he was waiting for the bus. When he arrived, he repeatedly slammed his crumpled up fist on the front door of his apartment. His mother, a tall thin woman, greeted him, but he raced past her straight to his room. Frankie examined the book for a minute before cracking it open. After he had read a few pages he found it uninteresting but an invisible force was holding him there. He had no other choice but to read on. He had read about one hundred pages or so by the time he realized that it was time for dinner. Somehow he managed to pull his face away from the book long enough to leave the room and head to the kitchen.

“What is up with you today Franklin!” his mother snapped at him while Frankie shoveled some spaghetti down his throat.

“Mom the strangest thing happened to me today,” Frankie answered. “You know that huge billboard on 21st and 4th, of that scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project?”

“Do you mean the one of Dr. Vonhidenburger?”

“Yes, well I saw him. Something was wrong though. He seemed to be staring at extremely normal things as though they were bizarre.”

“Honey, it was probably just your imagination from the laughing gas the dentist gave you wearing off,” His mother reassured him.

“No, Mom, it’s true, and I can prove it! While the doctor was gaping at these sights he dropped a book and I brought it home. That’s why I’ve been up in my room for such a long time.”

“If this is all true, then what is the book about?” Frankie’s mother questioned.

“That’s just the thing, I don’t know! The book is written in the format of a computer manual, as if it was just giving a set of directions.”

After this brief conversation, the pasta was pretty much gone so Frankie headed back to his room determined to finish the book, mostly out of curiosity. Once again, he opened up that strange text, and read on. It was not an extremely long book, about one hundred fifty pages, so he didn’t have much more to read before he finished.

After he had finished he was startled that he was surrounded by ghouls and goblins. He saw this and nearly went insane because they were hiding and moving around everyday items that we look for all the time. But before Frankie fell into this state, he ran to the hallway of his apartment, and shoved the book into the incinerator. Suddenly Frankie felt fine and all the monsters vanished.

The next day, on Frankie’s walk to school he saw Dr. Vonhidenburger. The Doctor stopped Frankie to ask him what he had done with the book. Frankie just looked at the Doctor and said “I now understand the expression ‘Burn After Reading’”

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