For such a large man with such a deep voice, Jack Mason had a cry like a small child. I could see the bloom of blood on the robe, the splatter from the exit wound as he stepped back from the group.
One of the women screamed. I think it may have been Gwen Smith, but from where I was on the floor i could not tell.
There was another shot, this one closer and right above me. I flopped myself over, a big fish with a knife in its stomach, to see Caleb Montgomery standing over me with a .45 revolver. Give him 10 years and he could be Dirty Harry, I thought.
“Nice to see you,” I said, “Welcome to the library. Can we help you find anything today?”
I saw his mouth twitch in a smile, but his attention stayed on the group.
“The police are on the way,” he said, “I want everyone to step away from the girl and sit on the floor until they get here.”
I sighed and lay flat. I thought about pulling the knife from my gut, but remembered reading somewhere that that was a bad thing to do so I left it put. Something nagged at me though...
Then I remembered.
“Caleb,” I said, my throat very dry for some reason.
“Evan, don’t worry. I’ve got this. You did good, just relax.”
“No, he’s still here somewhere.”
“Who?” Caleb said, looking around the main room of the library.
The world had little time to leave my lips when the younger man jumped from behind circulation desk. He stood on it and raised a wicked looking hunting knife above his head. That tittering insane laugh came bubbling from his throat as he launched himself at Caleb.
Caleb turned, raised the pistol and fired. Darling never had a chance. The bullet tore through his chest, the heavy caliber causing a gaping wound to appear and throw gristle and bone into the air with a fine spray.
In mid air Darling saw his problem and attempted to turn, but the bullet threw him and his plans into dissarray. He hit the ground with a heavy thump at Caleb’s feet. Darling screamed and yelled with pain and frustration. He saw me just feet away also on the ground and went feral.
Slashing and biting, he threw himself toward me. I thought about getting away, but that did not seem like such a good idea with the red hot fire poker of pain in my stomach.
Darling reached around and through Caleb’s legs to get to me, the ferocity startling both myself and Caleb. Caleb shot him three more times in the back.
Darling stopped moving, but I could see his backrising in quick shallow breaths..
Caleb turned his gun back to the board of directors who were now sitting on the floor around the circle. They had their heads bowed and were murmering the same low chant from before. All but Carol Anne Kinney. She stood over Natalie, the blood soaked Little Banned Library clutched in her hands like a club.
“Mrs. Kinney,” Caleb said, “Could you please put down the... whatever and step away from the girl?”
“Shoot her,” I said.
“Now is the time. Now she will rise and this world will know knowledge and organization and power once again. This world will see the awesome might of Snotra!”
Carol Anne raised the Little Banned Library over her head like a lumberjack about to split wood. A deep and horrible feeling began to gather in my head. The library began to get cold.
“Shoot her,” I said again.
Caleb pulled the trigger and shot Carol Anne Kinney with the revolver in the library. He tried to shoot again, but the pistol was empty.
Carol Anne screamed. If you have ever heard pain, true violent indignant pain, then you have heard the sound that came from Carol Anne. As the bullet wound over her heart gushed blood the sound of hell came from her throat and she brought down the Little Banned Library with a chop. The small wooden structure smashed on the floor just inside the circle.
And nothing happened.
Carol Anne’s scream became a triumphant grin and then a hollow nothing. She looked down at the girl laying among the splinters. She looked around the circle at the other board members. Then she dropped dead.
Caleb let out a tired, “Huh.”
I heard a small laugh to my left. I looked over and Darling was smiling at me. He put a finger to his lips and shushed me before using the hunting knife to slash his own throat.
I turned away from him, but not before I saw him lay his head down and close his eyes.
Then the ground began to shake.