Entry 0098: Haunted Library Story?

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EP: Halloween/Escape from New York themes by John Carpenter

2016 Sacred Bones Records SBR156

Favorite Track: Halloween theme

 

I’ve been asked to write a short story that includes libraries so I am going to use this blog entry to play around with some ideas. If anyone was asking how I come up with story ideas, this is how: I just start writing and see where it goes. Later, I’ll think about it (maybe) and throw out the crap, keep the good, and keep on writing, repeating this process as many times as needed or until sick of the tale.

John heard about the ghost in the stacks on his first day of work. It was the same tale he heard when he started working at Alden Library in Ohio and the same at the main branch in Buffalo. As the cataloging librarian told the tale (with extra emphasis on the old card catalog still found on A stack), John had to bite back a bit of sarcasm. Librarians were intelligent, crafty, and curious, but a strange streak of superstition invaded the profession like a stain on an asylum wall. In Buffalo, Ruby the children’s librarian read Where the Wild Things Are backwards every Bills game day. John heard at an ALA conference about a director who covered his naked body with dewey decimal numbers before boarding planes.

Of course, John believed he lived a more pragmatic lifestyle. One of the main library missions was to assist its users with education. There was no room to spread false rumors, poorly researched health articles, and certainly nothing about ghosts–humankind’s silliest fear from the olden days. So, naturally, it annoyed John to no end that this library had two rare book rooms: The Pierce Grayson’s Rare Books and Antiquities located on the climate-controlled third floor and the unmentioned one none of the patrons knew about down in the stacks, sometimes colorfully referred to as the Dead Room, that held all the occult literature. A waste of the taxpayers money, John thought about the Dead Room, but he didn’t dare voice that opinion. Everyone he worked with was in love with it. They constantly quoted John Dee and Madame Blavatsky and the Victorium Witches Handbook, the only supposed copy in America.

John had left for the day when, at home just about to open a bottle of pinot, he realized he forgot to set up the holiday display at the reference desk. He had learned real fast that everyone in Melas took Halloween very seriously and the Halloween display was revered by the whole community. John groaned. Tomorrow would be the busiest day of the year and he was feeling rather burned out. It didn’t help that his ex-girlfriend just told him she was seeing a distant friend. He signed corking the wine bottle but knowing he would stay up an hour later than normal to drink half of it when he returned. Putting on his jacket, John walked briskly through the fallen maroon leaves. The brittle crunching attracted the curiosity of a beady-eyed rat, who sniffed a couple of times at John, but returned to the warmth of the dilapidated building it came from.

The door opened without noise and immediately John noticed a lamp on in the back office. Adam probably left it on again. He was rather absent-minded and always in a rush to run to his hippie girlfriend. John hung his jacket on the coat rack and walked around the art installation–a nine-foot tall spider made out of painted soup cans. The eyes were Campbells and they seemed to follow him as John began to feel an eerie dread prickling the back of his mind. Damn, am I really going to get superstitious now? he thought and then laughed. No, he just had a lot of his mind and he was letting the stress get to him. When he got to the reference desk, he found the Halloween display already up. Books with ghastly illustrations, scary soundtracks, and videotapes of Vincent Price and Boris Karloff were arranged in a kindof spider web pattern. John froze, pondering. Perhaps Adam put it up, he thought then dismissed the idea. Adam was lazy and probably sat on the computer face-timing his lady. Maybe Barb? John was about to turn around and leave when he remembered that Barb was on vacation.

Icy shock ran through his body. For a moment, John was positive he heard a terrifying humming–an unearthly noise made of nonhuman vibrations. It’s just my heart, he told himself. He went into his office to check the schedule. Somebody remembered to put it up, that’s all, no big deal and other pathetic attempts of calming himself crowded his mind, making him more anxious. The schedule added to the growing dread: only Adam and John worked today.

Maybe I put it up without realizing it, John thought, at least, it is done so I can go home and forget everything over a bottle and a fire…

He went back to look at the display just to make sure his eyes weren’t fooling him. It was there, but the center piece was missing. Spiderfeast was a book written by the town’s founder, Viktor Leitfield. In it, he claimed that Melas was built to worship the spiderqueen Shebboth, or so the rumors say. The book was bound tightly in thick, white cords resembling spider silk and nobody had opened the book in close to two hundred years. It was kept in the Dead Room.

John sighed and fetched the key from his desk. That’s when he heard the scuttling of a million tiny legs.

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