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Necronomiromcom

Liam Hogan is an award winning short story writer, with stories in Best of British Science Fiction 2016 & 2019, and Best of British Fantasy 2018 (NewCon Press). He's been published by Analog, Daily Science Fiction, and Flametree Press, among others. He helps host Liars' League London, volunteers at the creative writing charity Ministry of Stories, and lives and avoids work in London. More details at happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk.
The Necronomiromcom: the book of dead romances, is, of course, a myth. It doesn't exist and, even if it did, you certainly wouldn't find the ancient tome buried three feet below a locked filing cabinet in the basement of a Soho antiquarian.
If you did happen to stumble across the Necronomiromcom, (which is impossible, because it is fictitious), you would know immediately that it was unlike any other book you had ever seen or indeed, held. The fabled cover is a deep, unsettling red, the hue of a dozen last-minute Valentine's roses. Or perhaps the exact shade of the spilt Rioja from the argument the first night of your last holiday together.
But that is not as disturbing as the material from which the cover is made. (Would be made, were it not a figment of a deranged imagination.)
Very few people have had their hands on a living, beating, human heart. For good reason, as having your hands on a living, beating heart is likely to lead to you having your hands on an unbeating, dead heart. Unless you happen to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and even then the odds are not that good. Perhaps that doesn't matter, because the cover of the Necronomiromcom, if not formed from the beaten-flat muscle and sinew of a fresh human heart is, nevertheless, intended to bring that anatomically correct organ to mind. No primary-red, helium-plump balloon this; no mere romantic ideograph. The Necronomiromcom is not a book for the squeamish. If it is a book at all.
And if it did exist, which I hasten to remind you it does not, it should never, ever, be opened. For inside--so legends tell--it contains a full and excruciatingly frank analysis of the reader's most poignant failed relationship.
Such a text would be painful indeed. To read the unkind words that you could never imagine yourself saying, until you did. To relive the death by a thousand cuts of something you once thought would surely last forever. Properly forever, to the grave and beyond forever. To watch the beautiful dream splutter and die once again....
Does the Necronomiromcom attune itself to the person holding it, writing the sorrowful words even as their tear-filled gaze falls across the aged vellum pages? Or is the weighty volume a portal to some other dimension in which exists each and every one of humanity's most tragic tales? Stories of trust issues, of differences in levels of commitment, of insecurities brandished as weapons.... Does it somehow open itself to exactly the right page by means nefarious? The diabolical mechanism is unclear, but you can't use the Necronomiromcom to read of other lost loves, only your own. If it exists at all, of course.
If it exists and you did happen to leaf your way through and find there your many missteps and myriad faults laid bare, do not, under any circumstances, read on to the very end of the account. For there, so it is said by the most unreliable of sources, you will find an incantation which, were the one you once loved to receive it in some form from you, would go a long way to patching the differences that sprung up between you like a wall of poisoned thorns.
Be warned; this is not a demonic enchantment to bring back your love, to bind them to you whether they want it or not. Words alone cannot turn back the hands of time. But they can at least clear the air, permitting a resolution of sorts. Words can show you have listened, and cared, and grown.
If there are ever any second chances then it is here, on non-existent pages, written in impossible ink, that you might find them. And it is important to remember that despite the broken crockery, despite the hurt and cruelty as the relationship disintegrated, despite the snap! you felt in both heart and soul when it became all too clear it was over, you did once love one another. So much so that, if it weren't mythical, you too might seek out the Necronomiromcom, for the barest glimmer of hope it contains.
A glimmer you won't discover unless you read the entire litany of your failings, every last one. There is no skipping to the end of this particular sob story. Some of those lists go on for multiple pages. (Might go on for multiple pages, if this wasn't a work of purest fiction). But the incantation is, it appears, utterly meaningless unless you know, you fully appreciate, what it is you are apologizing for.
That said, the apologies themselves are often surprisingly short. A number of them, most of them, in fact, simply say: I'm sorry. I was an idiot.
There are those of you who might point out that you don't need a fantastical and quite possibly cursed book to tell you any of this. That you, a grown adult, should be capable of recognizing your failings rather than having them pointed out to you. That you should know just how badly you messed up and should, from that, be able to work out how to make amends.
Perhaps this is true. But if it is, you are a better person than I. If it is true, perhaps you never broke up at all, or if you did, only for a short period of reflection, coming back together stronger, more understanding. And perhaps you are still together. Perhaps for you the Necronomiromcom--which of course is not real so all this is purely hypothetical--perhaps it would only contain blank pages.
I envy you.
As for me... I hope somewhere out there someone I once loved and who once loved me is reading this. Because I really am sorry. I was an idiot.
I probably still am.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, December 8th, 2020


While it's hard to be truly original, it's sometimes a delight to steal (or more generously, borrow) elements from others. especially when you get to blend them together. From Evil Dead to Hitchhikers Guide, I imagine my Necronomiromcom as somewhat akin to Death's Library in Discworld, where accounts of lost loves are updated in realtime and this manifestation is perhaps like a microfiched version that selects the relevant volume. But fanciful though this flight of imagination might be, yes, it is inspired by lost love and yes, I was and am an idiot. Who isn't?

- Liam Hogan
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