For this section of the Barnes & Noble employee manual, we will discuss the handling and processing of returns/exchanges for haunted, possessed, or otherwise demonic books and media. It is first most important to verify that the haunted book, videotape, or Blu-Ray Disc™ was purchased at a Barnes & Noble store, as many customers will attempt to initiate a return or exchange after having come across the dark materials by a) An ill-sighted purchase from a street vending gypsy, b) A chance encounter in a remote cabin, c) Willing the material to exist through their own subconscious paranoia/fear/denial/abandonment issues, and so on.
Once you verify the purchase you may initiate the return/exchange. Exchanges may only be made for items of an equal or lesser value. If the customer complains that the item was “not haunted enough,” they may be issued a Barnes & Noble gift card for the value of the returned haunted item and purchase a significantly spookier one if they wish, though they will of course be responsible for the remainder of the cost.
Note: Please deny the sale of any haunted item to street-vending gypsies, as Barnes & Noble does not condone the act of offloading demonic possessions onto passersby for the purpose of teaching them a life lesson, and we do not want to be held liable for any maiming or death associated with a gypsy incident. Every now and then a gypsy will attempt to return a haunted item if they have not managed to trick any passersby into obtaining it. Please shoo them away with the broom located under the cash register.
For all returns or exchanges, please take the following steps in regards to handling the haunted item:
1.) DO NOT LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK OR VIEW ANY HAUNTED MEDIA. This could subject you to a haunting. Especially do not look inside the book or watch the video if said item asks you to do so. Ignore any voices you hear begging you to take “just a peak” for the duration of the return.
2.) Scan the item’s barcode. If it is too ancient or evil to have a barcode, enter the item’s title into the Barnes & Noble database and search for the exact item. There may be multiple items with the same title, ex. The Necronomicon, Cool Runnings, etc. Use your discretion upon selecting the appropriate item — you may be subject to a light haunting if you choose incorrectly.
3.) Take the item to the very back of the storage room where you will find a small circle of salt and ground bones. Do not ask where the bones came from. Place the item in the center of the circle, grab the book of incantations on the table next to the circle and recite the first five verses from the “Exorcisms and Banishment” section. This should be dog-eared for you to find easily. Feel free to help yourself to the coffee also on this table.
4.) Return the item to the “Haunted/Demonic/Possessed” section of the store. While you are there, please straighten up the area as it naturally falls into disarray with the great amount of books that move on their own. If any of the flying books have broken free of their restraints, please strap them down again.
5.) Before returning to your station, go back to the circle of salt and bones. Stand in the middle and spin in a circle three times. Wash hands thoroughly.
IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW ALL OF THESE STEPS CORRECTLY YOU WILL BE HAUNTED BY THE BOOK/VIDEOTAPE/BLU-RAY DISC™. Barnes & Noble is not liable for employee death or dismemberment related to the mishandling of a haunted book. The company shall also not be held liable for any severe psychological trauma or the fulfilling of the very prophecies shown to you by the item, including but not limited to: a) Murdering your family, b) Murdering your pets, c) Destruction of your own property. Lastly, Barnes & Noble shall not be held liable for any collateral damage that takes the lives of non-family members, such as: a) Childhood best friends or b) Retired investigators who have resurfaced to help you destroy this specific item.
Please do not destroy the item after accepting a return as it is property of Barnes & Noble until sold again. You may only destroy the haunted item if a haunting has already taken place and threatens to change the vibe of the store or kill any customers, but the cost of the item will be deducted from your next paycheck.
If you mishandle the return/exchange of an item and must destroy it to stay alive, Barnes & Noble will grant you a temporary leave of absence to try and destroy the item on your own, but after one week we will assume that the item won and will begin searching for a replacement. The cost of the item will still be deducted from your next paycheck.
If the item has been damaged by the customer, please explain to them that they cannot be issued a full refund and then place the item in the “Haunted Clearance” section. ALL HAUNTED CLEARANCE ITEMS ARE FINAL SALE, NO EXCEPTIONS. If the item is too damaged to restock, it may be sent back to the manufacturer, be it a warehouse, swamp home, mysteriously dark section of a forest, or a cave that exudes a profound sense of dread. Make sure the item is properly wrapped in good quality packing material to prevent further damage/incurring its wrath.
For exchanges, customers may visit the “Haunted/Demonic/Possessed” section of the store and make another selection and bring it to the counter along with their return. If they have not decided on an exchange yet, issue them a Barnes & Noble giftcard and encourage them to purchase a non-haunted item, such as the text of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II, now available in stores nationwide.
Patrick Braud is a comedy writer and performer located in Chicago, IL. He is fueled mostly by caffeine, but also by blood and functioning organs. Previous freelance work can be found at Man Cave Daily and The Inept Owl and previous performances can be seen if you are a time traveler.