"Young man," the caller said, "I need to reserve a computer."
"Yes," I said, "Of course. Unfortunately after we expanded the computer lab we stopped the reservation process. But there are many computers so I don't think it will be a problem getting one."
Silence. The empty computer lab stared back at me from across the reference desk.
"I need to reserve a computer," the caller said.
"Sure," I said, "What time?"
I did not take her information, hung up and turned around to find teenagers. Two of them, clad in black coats and wearing many rings between them. The leftmost had heavy eyes with thick, caterpillar growths above them. The right looked pretty average.
"Can I help you?" I said.
"We seek information on the Dark One," Eyebrows said.
"Okay. Harry Potter's in childrens. Down the hallway."
They looked at each other. Back at me.
"No games, you old fool. We know this library has books on the deranged and fevered thoughts of man written in dead languages and pulled from cold hands in ancient tombs," Average said.
Goddamn it. I was not in the mood for LARPers. Live action roleplayers, or LARPers, enjoy playing out their Caves and Krakens games in real life. We banned it in the library after the circulation librarian was pelted with bean bag "spells" after she charged someone for a missing Lord of the Rings box set. Still, they often wandered in and we have to set examples.
"Come on, guys," I said, standing, "You don't want this. What's the game? Caves and Krakens? Looks less magical, more up to date… Phoning Phyl'gavery?"
Eyebrows opened his coat to reveal dozens of plastic bottles filled with various colored liquids. "You speak the full name of the grave robber god Phyl? You must be mad," he said, "We seek the books most ancient."
I motioned them over to a row of shelves along the back wall. They followed me, boots clopping and rings clanging about them. I looked down the row and found an old volume, the spine rotten and cracking from use. Freed from the shelf, the book drank the daylight with its warm, red leather.
"Here," I said, handing Eyebrows the book and stepping back.
He looked at Average and shrugged. I felt a weight let go from my heart as the book left my hand and saw his young soul darken a bit. The effect is the same as watching someone break up a relationship, as if you watched it happen from afar. Eyebrows took the book and hurt deep inside and passed the book then to Average.
Average either had a dirty soul or too much intelligence to pay attention to his emotions. He opened the book and smiled with hunger at its pages. The smile turned to terror at what he saw, a hand, white as bleached bone, reaching out and passing into him. The ghost of his heart came loose in the book's hand with a sound like old paper tearing and vanished. Average fell and lay dead.
"No LARPing in the library," I said to a shocked Eyebrows, "It's dangerous."