The Library. Short Story.

Sorry for the delay in getting this up, been a pretty hectic morning and was all over the place. updated my phone and the contacts were deleted so had to go through text messages to try to figure out who people were because my phone didn’t sync so it was a giant pain in the ass.

Then of course, I find that I can import contacts from my SIM card, so that helped a little though it pissed me off slightly I didn’t figure it out sooner. Didn’t loose too many numbers (I don’t think anyway, didn’t lose the number of anyone I am regularly in contact with through text anyway!) though there are a few numbers I know I am missing, they aren’t important so I don’t have to rush off to get them or anything or I know that I have copies of them some where about the place

Weekend was terrifically lazy, though in my defense I did feel nauseous for most of it, though I did finish a book! So yay! also started watching How I Met Your Mother, and must start watching Walking Dead soon, heard nothing but good things about it.

Anyway, on with the show!


The Library.

The library was quiet, save for the occasional cough or sneeze. There was a steady noise of shuffling papers, turning pages, footsteps and the swish of fabric as people walked. It all joined together to create a pleasant hum that quickly became sank into the background, becoming unnoticable. Nate walked through the stacks, wincing slightly at the sound of himself walking, his bag squeaked, the material of his clothing rubbing against each other, the noise of his footsteps all seemed exceptionally loud. He was away from where everyone was studying, where these noises didn’t really sound so loud, but he was in the quieter areas. He paused for a moment to orientate himself and heard his heart beating, loud and fast. He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed deeply a few times to try to calm himself down.

He didn’t know why he was doing this, it was obviously a joke, but still he felt he needed to do it, just to prove it to himself. The directions so far were easy, take a left at the entrance, passed the study groups, then a right between the eleventh and tenth stacks, keep going, five sections then another left, then two entrances and a right, straight on until you hit the elevators, then take another right. It had brought him further away from the study desks than he had thought it would. Of course there were more of them around here somewhere, they were scattered about the entire floor, but at the moment, it seemed like he was the only person in the library. The directions were getting complicated, lefts and rights were coming faster. He stood where he was now, replaying the instructions, he should have written them down to be sure but it was too late now, he could always come back if he wanted, do this another day, but now seemed like the right time to do it and he knew if he left, he wouldn’t attempt it again.

Taking his final turn, he stopped suddenly, there was a door in front of him, he looked around for a second, to try and figure out where exactly he was, but he didn’t remember ever being in this section, this was the science section and most of the books he needed were elsewhere. Well, there was supposed to be a door at the end of it, though this door could have always been here. He looked around again, this time checking for observers and slowly, with a shaking hand he reached out and turned the knob. He expected it to be locked and, after a brief attempt at turning it, he could find his way out of the maze and go home, but the handle turned completely and he heard the faint snick of the door unlocking. He pushed on it slightly and it silently swung inwards. Glancing around him one last time, he stepped forward into the doorway. As soon as he was through he thought he should have checked to see what was either side of it, see if he could tell how big the room was, but then, maybe the door would have disappeared. That is after all what was supposed to happen, but if you strayed from the path you had to start over again. There were other rumours that said if you didn’t find it on your first try you never would. Still, he was here now, best make the most of it. He had promised he would get some proof and had brought a digital camera with him.

It appeared as though he had come into a disused section of the library, stacks lining either side, creating tunnels, everything was covered in a thick layer of dust, here and there books were scattered on the floor, in some parts it looked as though entire shelves had been dumped onto the ground. Spider webs were spun between books and a few between the stacks themselves, though it looked as though the spiders had long ago vacated the area. The electric lights weren’t on, Nate glanced behind him to see if there was a light switch but the stacks went right up to the door, sandwiching it between them. There was a gray light, enough to see by but it was dark after the brightly lit corridors of the main library. He stepped over the fallen books and brushed a few cobwebs out of his way, intent on exploring. As he reached the end of the shelves, he looked back at the door, wondering how he would find it again. Yes, there was a wall, but if he became disorientated or anything it could take up to an hour to figure his way out, the room was quite large, larger than he would have expected. He reached into his bag and found what he was looking for, a marker, he turned and marked the closest shelf, a single line, slashing across the wood. They wouldn’t notice and besides, they would be able to remove the mark and they wouldn’t know it was him that made it. If he needed to leave quickly, like if security found him, it would make escape a lot easier. He put the marker back and took out the camera, he turned it on then took a quick picture to make sure it was still working, the flash left after images as he blinked, trying to clear his vision. He looked at the picture, everything seemed to be working, wrapping the strap around his wrist he continued on.

He wondered if perhaps, the weather had gotten worse since he had entered the library, it had been a bright and sunny day when he came in, but now, at least judging by the light, it was an overcast day. He wandered through the stacks for a while before becoming bored. There was nothing really interesting here, it was just a bunch of abandoned books. Ok, it was a little strange that some of them were on the ground rather than neatly shelved, but chances were it was other students coming through, acting like idiots. He turned a corner and stopped. A row of shelves had toppled, creating a domino effect, bringing others down with it, creating a long clear path. He raised the camera and took another picture. That was strange, whatever about a book falling and no one hearing it, those shelves must have made a helluva noise when they fell. He wandered along the fallen shelves, looking side to side, not really paying too much attention to where he was going.

There was a loud crunch, causing him to jump slightly, he moved his foot and looked down. He stared at it for a moment, trying to figure out what to do. There was a hand sticking out from between the shelves. He knelt down to get a better look, the hand had pretty much broken apart when he stood on it, maybe it was a prop. He tried to see further beneath the gap, but it was too dark, it had to be a prop. Otherwise that meant someone had died here, years ago, and no one had ever noticed, that couldn’t be right. He pointed the camera at the gap and pressed the button, expecting to see the arm end abruptly. The flash illuminated the gap and the rest of the body. He turned away, trying to remain calm. The lower end of her body had been pinned to the ground, she was looking towards the gap, her face a rictus of horror, the skin dried and desiccated. He breathed slowly, trying to decide what to do. There was a faint smell in the air, slightly spicy, he wondered if it was the body.

He stood and moved away from the shelves, who ever she was she had died a long, long time ago, at least three years or so, bodies couldn’t look like that quickly, could they? No, she had been here for a good while. Maybe it was a prop, a joke. It had to be, the staff probably put the dummy there, thinking it was funny, to frighten away the students that came in here, after all, he had only seen a quick glimpse, it could easily be fake. It would explain how no one had heard the stacks falling. She couldn’t have gotten in here on the weekend unless she planned to camp out or something, but then why would anyone want to do that. Besides, others had been in here, while no one had mentioned the body, others had to have seen it, the hand would have been pretty obvious if someone was looking where they were going and the fallen shelves weren’t exactly subtle. He looked at the camera in his hand, if he looked at the picture he’d be able to see if it was fake or not, but that was silly, he knew it was fake. It had to be. He felt a small doubt in the back of his mind and thought for a moment. “On the way out I’ll tell them it wasn’t a funny joke or something that’s what I’ll do and if they know what I’m talking about then it means it fake and if not, well, we can figure something out after that.” his voice echoed around the library, alarmingly loud in the silence, but surprisingly reassuring. Maybe it was selfish of him but really, when would he ever be back here, he might as well have a look around first, after all, the girl wouldn’t be moving anywhere if it was real.

Though he tried to calm himself, he increased his pace, all those late night zombie movies. He knew she couldn’t be real, but still. Even if she was and a zombie, she was pinned down, she couldn’t follow him. He thought he heard a faint scrabbling noise. Shaking his head he chastised himself, he always did have an active imagination. There seemed to be little else to see here, he hadn’t seen another doorway in or out but then he hadn’t been looking for one. He decided to find a window and see if it was raining, then he’d walk around the perimeter and see if there were any other doors, after all, he’d gone this far, why not a little further?

The windows were large, larger than he expected, around them a few desks and chairs were placed strategically, providing areas that could be used to study, though some were now lying on their sides. He moved closer to the window and looked out, thick grey clouds covered the sky, threatening rain. He looked out at the concourse, trying to place it, it looked familiar but he couldn’t tell exactly where it was. It was probably around the back of the library, he had used it for a short cut a few times. The trees, though alive, looked sick, their branches drooping, their leaves a pale, sickly green. They would probably need to be cut down and replaced. He didn’t see anyone outside, he strained, trying to see around the corner, to the main concourse where there were usually people milling around. He returned his gaze back to the small path. There seemed to be something in the bushes, for a second he thought that maybe it was a body, then he realised it was a couple of black plastic bags or something. There were paint stains on the ground, someone had spilled brown paint there. They could have cleaned it up, just laziness on the colleges part really.

Nate stepped away from the window and started to walk through the shelves again, following the walls, at every turn he glanced down the small corridor, hoping for a door, but there was nothing. He hadn’t noticed before how creepy the place was in the dull light and his imagination started to act up again. Every now and then he could hear some noises, very faint, like something was moving around somewhere in the large room. He walked the circle and finding no other doors, finally decided to leave. He had gotten a few pictures here and there and it was enough evidence that he had been in here. He found his door with out much bother, double checking the mark he had left, just to be sure. As he walked down the short corridor he could hear it again, that faint skittering, but it was closer, as though something was behind him. He felt the urge to look around but resisted, he would not give in to his imagination, because that’s all it was. He tried to keep his pace slow and even, trying not to break into a run. His heart beat wildly and his breathing became quick and shallow. He wouldn’t look back, he wouldn’t. he reached the door, flung it open and stepped through, shutting it quickly behind him. He closed it then sighed, see there was nothing there. He leaned against the door for a moment, it shivered slightly, as though something had banged against it. He looked around, eyes slightly squinted at the brightness of the library. It was so bright compared to before, those lights really lit the place up. He wandered back towards the entrance, glancing out a window as he passed, it seemed the day had brightened up again, the sun was out and the clouds were gone. As he was walking back he wondered what he should say at the desk, how could he phrase it so he wouldn’t really get in trouble, after all they must know students went in there sometimes. He breathed a few times then approached the desk. “Hi, can I help you with anything?” “Uh yeah, I just wanted to say it’s not a very funny joke, the dummy in the back room?” She looked at him for a second “I don’t know what your talking about” “You know, the backroom where all the old books and stuff goes, it’s at the back, laid out similar to here, a bunch of shelves and a few study places.” “Our backroom is over to the left and we use it to store books only, there are no desks or anything in there.” He frowned. “Uhh…Ok…Sorry, maybe I dozed off or something.” She looked at him for a moment, trying to figure out if he was sane. “Is there anything else?” “No, thanks.” he walked away from the desk and left the library with a swipe of his card. His cheeks burning after possibly the most awkward conversation he had ever had. The girl thought he was insane and for all he knew she was right. He was halfway home when he remembered the camera, he had pictures of the place, he could have shown her and at least seemed like less of an idiot.

Well it was too late to turn back now, he could always go in in the morning and show them. He wouldn’t ring the police, he didn’t want to get in trouble with them and if he pissed of the librarians or college they could probably charge him with trespassing or something if they wanted too.

When he got home he connected the camera to the computer, wanting to have a back up of the pictures, just in case. He flicked through them before coming to the picture of the girl. She looked familiar, though he couldn’t quite tell why. It was most likely just the type of dummy they used, it was probably used in shops, it did look very lifelike. He looked at her neck, trying to see the line that connected it to her torso. He felt uneasy, maybe it was a body after all, they would want to know why he didn’t tell anyone and would they believe him when he said he thought it was a dummy? But she had been there for years, it’s not like they could blame him for something that happened before he even got to the damn college. He looked behind her, towards the other end of the stack and froze. He hadn’t noticed it before. There was something behind the girl, slightly shielded by her body, it looked like it was reaching for him. He shook his head slightly and looked again, it was just shadows, that’s all. It had to be. He rubbed his hand across his face, he was tired, that was all. He’d go back tomorrow and find someone and eloquently explain what happened yesterday and if they didn’t  believe them he could bring them there, show them the girl.

The library was fairly empty, few if any people had come in today to study, Nate walked up to the desk and began to explain to the girl behind it what had happened. It was the same girl from yesterday but she seemed willing to hear him out. He showed her the pictures but she still looked sceptical. She turned to the other woman behind the counter. “Carol, I’ll be back in a few. Just need to help this guy find something.” They walked to the door in silence, Nate was quiet mostly from nerves, the girl mostly because she wondered if he was deranged. Still, he did have photos.

Nate didn’t follow the path like last time, he knew he didn’t need to, whether it was real or not the door would be there, waiting for him.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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2 Responses to The Library. Short Story.

  1. OH MY GOSH, this is so good! I know this is a short story, but I would absolutely like to read the rest of the story!! I think this is one of your best one yet, thanks! (;

  2. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I did kinda rush the ending a bit because it was getting late and I wanted to post it quickly. Might expand on it later though, depending on how busy I am over the next few weeks.


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