I looked back and forth at all of them. They stood, staring forward. I could only see Carol Anne’s face, but knew they were all waiting for her to speak again. She was the leader, the president of the board of directors and had been for years. If not for her, they would not really even be effective, just a group of yes men that let approved the library’s budget. She was the one that always spoke up. She made the decisions.
Carol Anne turned to the group, “We already caught up on last weeks minutes. Do I have a motion to procede with the ceremony?”
The deep voice of Jack Mason came from one of the large figures who drug me in here, “I motion.”
Melinda Miller raised her hand and even though I could not see her face her tall, thin frame and voice gave her away, “Second.”
Carol Anne looked pleased, “All for starting the ceremony now?”
A chorus of voices sounded, “Yay.”
No one made a sound.
“The decision has been passed,” she said.
Mrs. Farmer lifted up a steno pad and jotted a note. I knew it was her, then. The portly frame and the studiousness of the board’s secretary told me.
Carol Anne lifted the Little Banned Library. Each member of the board lifted a hand high in the air and pulled a dagger from their robes. One by one, Carol Anne walked to each of them. One by one they cut themselves on the palm, dripping the blood into the box shaped by the library, smearing the red liquid on the outside of it. I watched as she went from person to person, as the cut and bled and wrapped themselves with towels the color of their robes. My god, I thought, they had color matched the freaking towels.
"You're all fucking crazy," I said.
They turned to me and started to laugh. Like, maniacally laughed. Supervillianesque, if you believe it. I did not. I could see them now, the people I had known my entire life turn into these odd grotesque monsters who were painting a small version of the building I had grown up in, the library, with their very blood. They were painting my home with their blood and it was perverse and disgusting and they were laughing. They were taking joy in my pain, my nausea.
Then they turned towards Natalie and I. I pulled away, pulled away from them and held tight to Natalie. I would die before they touched her. I was sure of it.
“Come, now, Mr. Banned. It is only a little blood,” Carol Anne said, walking toward me.
I could see it dripping on the floor. An absent thought flashed across my mind to get the mop bucket from the closet behind the circulation desk and clean it up. A mad thought of repetition born from thousands of hours of caring for the building that I was sure I was about to die in. I laughed at that and they stopped.
“Yes, this is a good time for laughter, Mr. Banned,” Carol Anne said, “She is almost here. All we need is blood from each of the families, a sacrifice and a vessel. We have all but your blood. Give it willingly and we will let the girl go.”
I laughed again, this time more of a snort, “Yeah, look I’ve read all the cliche villian books, Ms. Kinney. Get it on with.”
Kinney’s smile grew larger. It was catlike almost. She smiled and the skin pulled on her face and the wrinkles dropped away. Here eyes grew fire and color came into her cheeks and her lips became full against the whitenss of her teeth. She lost ten years with that ghoulish smile and I backed up further to cover Natalie’s body with mine.
Natalie. I shook her, turned and grabbed her shoulders and shook her hard. She did not stir. She lay there on the lbirary floor inside that weird circle unconcious as the hands came down on me, as they grabbed me and pulled at my arm and cut into the flesh of my right hand.
I yelled her name when they squeezed the blood from my hand, but she did not stir.
I yelled her name again when they scraped my hand down the wooden exterior of the little building, but she could not hear me.
I tried to yell one last time, but they drove the breath from my body when they stabbed me in the stomach.
The cold blade made a deep hollow sound as it pierced my chest from below. I felt a lightness as the air was pushed up and out and a heavy weight began to fill the space.
I dropped to the ground and stared at her body as they began to chant and circle her.
I reached out one hand, but a boot came down hard on my hand. I tried to yell again, but she was gone, lost in a wall of robes.
I began to fall into the darkness then, out of hope. Until the first gunshot, that is.