Books: An Abridged Existence (excerpt)

Sid withdrawals his lighter from a pocket and tells the wizard that he was not using magic. The old wizard does not believe him initially, so Sid demonstrates by lighting the lighter. This greatly enrages the old wizard, who says that he is the wizard in these parts. He takes great offence to Sid’s use of the lighter, because the old wizard sees that as the use of magic by Sid in the wizard’s house.

The wizard lifts his staff and firmly smacks Sid across the forehead with it. Sid momentarily blinks. When he opens his eyes again, he is standing in the dark, stone floored room of the library, holding the book with scenes of castle and everyday life that he was looking at earlier.

Sid looks around, and sees nothing has changed from when he last saw it. Except for the blood that another book had left on the floor. It was replaced by a tall, red, glossy humanoid figure, made from what looks like blood. It starts walking rather swiftly toward Sid. Sid throws the book he has in hand, currently the book with the scenes from medieval life, at the blood figure moving now rapidly toward him at an alarming rate. The book hits the form with a sickening squish, and is absorbed.

Sid thinks, “Shit. Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!” and starts panicking, as beads of sweat start running down his face.

He looks around for a place to run, but he is cornered. He looks at the books, and notices a familiar one that he has opened before. The one with the inky black pages. He picks it up and throws it at the blood creature that seems intent upon absorbing him, which is flowing rather quickly toward Sid. The book Sid throws spins open, and hits the creature, who is swallowed entirely by the book. Sid draws a breath of relief. However, upon landing the book is still open, and things are being pulled toward it, such as other books, loose pebbles, dust, and Sid. Some small rocks and specks of dust are pulled into the book. When he is within arm’s reach of the book with black pages, he grabs it and forces it closed. The breezes stop and everything comes to a rest.

Sid replaces the book, and looks around. He sees a rather upset looking old librarian standing next to him. She shouts at him, loudly stating that patrons of the library are never to reshelf books themselves. They are to place them on the cart for the library staff to deal with. She ushers him quickly out of the library and tells him to have a nice day, despite the fact that he reshelves his books. Apparently, he thinks, she had not noticed that blood creature, or the book that turned to dust. He is pretty sure if she had, she would have called him on that. Unless she had been working down there for a very long time, and in which case might be used to things like that happening, and might have become inured long ago to blood golems and books that turn to dust and books that swallow up everything.