Beginning of the End
A noise outside his apartment awoke Gregory with a start. His heart raced until it registered in his mind that it was just the barking of a dog. Calming down, he surveyed his disheveled state and the desk before him. It was still dark outside; he must have dozed off while reading. He checked the tea mugs before him for any leftover drink. Not even dregs. Just dried-up bags stuck to the side of the mug. Grimacing with distaste, he picked up one in each hand and walked tiredly to the kitchen to deposit them in the sink. But somewhere in between the study and dining room, he came to full wakefulness. And as the haze of sleep was cleared from his mind, he remembered what he had been reading.
Cursing his own stupidity, he hurriedly ran back to his desk. On top of the bureau, and beneath a modest stack of other volumes, was a large leather-bound book opened to a page that had no words on it; just one large, medeival-style engraving.
Gregory stared at the drool-stained page, and hell stared back.