End of Book

Here’s a weird one for you.

Most of the things I’m afraid of are fairly typical – I’m afraid I won’t make rent. I’m afraid of losing my dogs. I’m afraid of things happening to family. Pretty normal stuff, all things considered. I’ve managed to fight down my two major weird fears in life, those being going blind and spiders. You can read about the former elsewhere on this blog, while the spider thing just took time and effort.

One fear I’ve only recently come down with is a bizarre one. Even calling it a “fear” is a stretch, because I’m not afraid of it. It’s more like… hm… dread?

I’m mildly dreadful then of my low-vision audio book reader’s “End of Book.”

It’s a funny little device, about the size of a paperback in all the dimensions you can think of, save for weight – it’s just a touch heavier (and hurts like hell when I drop it on my foot). It’s this black box thing, with a slot on one end where I input the audio books I get from the Montana low vision audio library. On top, it has some very large buttons – fast forward/rewind, skip, volume, play, speed, etc. In practice, it’s a very simple device that I love dearly because it’s so very easy to use, and it’s loud enough that I can be working or gaming while listening to John Sandford or the newest Joe Ledger novel.


Whenever a novel is nearing completion, I rush over to stop it before it finishes rattling off the finishing notes on the book, which usually consist of the audio book reader rattling off the novelist’s name and publishing house details. Because after all that is one of the creepiest lines I’ve ever heard –

“End of book.”

It’s not spoken in a menacing way. Like everything else about the e-reader, it’s mechanical in nature, spoken monotonously. But that in itself is sort of weird and terrible, isn’t it? The end of a book means something, good or bad. It’s a finish, a conclusion, a journey at its last, and it’s dismissed with a cold “end of book.” No goodbye. No thanks for listening. Just that.

“End of book.”

I don’t like it. I won’t listen to it. And yet every now and then, I find myself drawn to listen to it one more time. Because it’s important in a way I can’t fathom. It’s literary mortality in a box. No matter how much I love a writer, there will always be a final End of Book with no more to come. That’ll happen to me someday too. What’s the legacy I leave behind? Am I proud of that? The answer right now is yes, but will it always be that way?

End of book.