It’s been a really long time since I tried to write some fiction, but I needed to get the cobwebs out of my brain if I’m going to be serious about NaNoWriMo this year. Here’s an attempt to get the juices flowing again. I’m definitely not 100% satisfied with it, but it’s a beginning. I wrote it and submitted it for a fun little contest late last night. I didn’t even truly proofread, which is one of the number one sins of an English teacher… Be gentle with your comments, please.
Secrets of the Library
It was the silence that woke her. The silence and the tingling sensation of something creepy crawly wriggling its way up her arm. Some little spider had crawled its way across the arm of Claudia Szymanski as she slept on the floor of one of the library’s many silent study rooms, little rooms with a desk in one corner and a single window in the door. Claudia flicked the offending arachnid off of her before sitting up.
From the little bit of light spilling into the room from outside, she could see that her iPod battery had died. Dead as a doornail. Her cell phone was just as deceased. There wasn’t even the chirp of a dying battery to ease the silence. The fact that what little light was coming in through the window was of an eerie green color, didn’t ease Claudia’s trepidation.
Why was it so dark? A library shouldn’t be that dark. Or so quiet.
As Claudia gathered her things and opened the door of her little study room, she noticed there was almost no sound. There was no sound of the librarians shuffling their carts as they put away the books. No click-clicking of fingers on computer keys. No muffled giggles of frat boys looking at something less than scholarly. Not even the sound of the elderly patrons shushing said frat boys.
The only sound Claudia could hear was the humming of the exit sign, the green exit sign; the sole source of illumination.
The library was dark and empty. And closed.
Claudia went in the direction the exit sign pointed and began to weave her way through the stacks in the direction of the entrance. Her favorite study room was in the 800’s, with the poetry and plays. She could barely make out the names of a few of her favorite books as she walked: The Poetical Works of John Keats; Leaves of Grass by Whitman; The Wind Among the Reeds, W.B. Yeats.
The humming growing louder in the silence. It was probably just her imagination playing tricks on her, but Claudia thought she heard voices in that electrical hum. Just light murmuring, like the whispers of voices from ages past, as if her favorite poets were coming alive to taunt her in the dark. The library was obviously closed, so there was no one there to make any sounds.
No one except Claudia and her imagination.
Where were the windows? The exit was along a wall of windows that faced Hammin Street; if she could find the wall with the windows, she’d find her way out. But everything was so dark. She could hear the exit sign, but its green glow had dimmed the further she got from it, until she could no longer read the titles on the spines of the books. When she looked back the way she came, she couldn’t really see the exit sign at all, just the green glow, but it wasn’t directly behind her like it should have been, rather it seemed to be coming from all different directions. Claudia felt alone at the eye of a sluggish green light storm in a sea of darkness and musty old books.
Normally she found the smell of books reassuring, as it mellowed the harsh smell of sweat, cologne, halitosis, and all the other noxious every day smells of the people she encountered. The books could give her comfort like no human could, and now they had turned on her. She couldn’t even remember where she had begun. The books had trapped her in the dark.
The whispers grew louder, like a hundred voices telling their individual stories all at once. They seemed louder to her right. That must be where the next exit light hung.
Claudia followed the murmuring sound, groping along in the dark. She ran her hand along the shelves, searching for that comfort from the great works. The books in this section seemed much older, more worn. Many of the leather bindings felt almost papery to the touch, as if they’d been rubbed bare by the many hands who had touched them through the years.
This section of the library seemed different and Claudia couldn’t remember ever having been in this section before. The smell was more pungent, not soothing, but stifling. The light in this section seemed different, too. It was definitely getting brighter, but it appeared more sickly, and shifted, as if from the flame of a candle instead of the electric lights. Shadows began to twitch and dance causing eyes and figures of monsters to jump out at her.
Claudia wanted so desperately to go back, but was more frightened of being lost in this strange part of the library, where the dust and sticky cobwebs were beginning to cover the books.
Brighter the light beckoned, and quicker the voices seemed to call. Claudia’s heart was a jackhammer in her chest. Finally, she came upon a mirror, nearly running into it and breaking it. Claudia saw herself, but the reflection behind her was not the library she knew. Candles flickered upon tables, and men in dark robes whispered to each other as they looked through heavy, leather bound books.
These books were the ones who had betrayed her, these pungent smelling, books that hid the secrets of evil men.
The fear shook through Claudia, making her teeth chatter, she placed both hands over her mouth, but it was too late. The men in the mirror had heard her. One of the robed figures walked towards her, his dark hair, beard, and eyes forming a scowl as menacing as that of any villain she had read in any of her precious books. He reached towards her, Claudia wanted to scream, but her throat was dry. Her vision began to dim; she could feel herself begin to lose consciousness. Just before she passed out the man spoke: “Venit mulier et mulier moriuntur.” “The woman has come and the woman must die.”