Cold Over There

by Banned Library in


"But momma, it's cold over there," the girl said. She pointed to where I stood in the stacks. I glanced around trying to will myself to be warmer. To be more than the invisible figure I was. To be alive.

    "Baby, it's just a draft," her mom said. She pushed back a limp lock of hair that fell in front of eyes ringed with dark circles. Her head hung as she went through the legal books.

    "What's a draf?" The child said it so it rhymed with laugh or giraffe.

    "Just some cold air in old buildings."

    "I want dinosaur books."

    "So get them." Her finger landed on a white book with orange and green stripes. I knew what that book meant for families. She pulled it from the shelf.

    "I'll move," I said. To my ears my words fell hollow. A distant echo, a quiet empty sound.

    I did move. I floated, my invisible feet stepping back further and further. The girl came closer to where I had been, her little feet forming small steps. Testing the waters. Finding them fine, she dove forward to the oversized books on the bottom shelf and pulled them out. She talked. Triceratops. Stegosaurus. Allosaurus. All the usual suspects and further, scientific words as long as she was tall. Her mother gave her a heartbreaking smile and pulled another legal book from the shelf.

    I watched them. I wanted to ask if I could help. How could I help them when I could not help myself? Was I dead? Was I more than that? I felt no fear, no worry, just a void where I had been and where I was. I could feel the library around me. All the books and shelves, the wood and metal of the old building. I felt the front door creak open downstairs like a pulled shoulder muscle. Something else came in the library, and I felt pulled toward it.

To be continued...




Ghost in the Library

by Banned Library in


Freddy the library page said, "No problem. Just bring back the book and we can work on the fine."

    An elderly fist fell on the circulation desk. "Do I look like somebody who would check out a vampire sex book?"

    "I try not to judge, sir," Freddy said.

    The old man's piercing blue eyes held Freddy. The library page looked back at the screen. The eyes were too blue, too easy to fall into.

    "Maybe somebody in your family?"

    "I been alone twenty years. Since Jesse died. All alone, not reading vampire sex books."

    "Okay. I'll let one of the librarians know about your case and they'll be in touch."

    "You can't do nothing?"

    Freddy shook his head.

    "Okay. You do that. Now check me out."

    The old man slid a pile of DVDs across the desk. He snatched up his library card and stowed it in an old wallet that creaked when he put it in his back pocket.

    Freddy punched in the override code. He scanned each item, opening the cases to see if the right DVD was in the case. "Do you need a bag?"

    The old man said, "Nah. And where are all the librarians?"

    "Well, Ms. Brenda had to go talk to her sister. Mr. Chris went home early. Kiera and Mr. Harker, they…" The boy trailed off as he tried to remember where Kiera had taken me.

    I watched this happen from behind Freddy. I tried to touch the desk, the computer, the stapler. All passed through hands I could not see. I was a ghost in the library.

To be continued...




Never Blood

by Banned Library in


I took the knife and raised it to my hand. Kiera's hand snapped out, slapping me before I could cut.

    "Never blood," the children's librarian said. "This place has too much and always wants more. A bit of your shirt will do."

    Obeying, I untucked my shirt and cut a small strip from the bottom. I put it down next to the strip of Keira's dress and handed her the knife. She clicked it shut and stored it in her boot.

    "Okay, bossman. Let's go back."

    I said okay but felt off. My head began to swim. The edges of my vision turned grey and dark. "I don't feel so good," I said. I felt myself drop and the soft wet earth met my knees.

    "It's okay. Just keep walking," Kiera said.

    Inside I felt a tugging. Not a stomach spasm. A tug and push, as if something were trying to make room. I gripped the slimy grass with my hands and felt pressure behind my eyes. My ears popped and everything swam. Now my vision went sideways, my stomach following. I dry heaved.

    Kiera stood over me. Her shadow felt cold in this chilly place. From far away, I heard her say, "No, he's not ready."

    Her hands came under my arms. I tried to rise. I tried to go with her. My stomach wretched and a green yellow bile of breakfast came up. How long had it been since I sat down with Amy and Brenda?

    "Not now. Not now. We have to prepare," Kiera's voice came from the darkness as it took me over.

    When the light came back, I stood on the second floor of the library. I was in the stacks, right around the books on baking. I reached out to steady myself and found no support.

     A small giggling child rounded the corner and ran through me.

To Be Continued...




The Wild Branch

by Banned Library in


Forgotten things have a life of their own. They grow and fester out of sight, relics of memory. In a perfect world, they would decay and rot and be eaten and grow something new. Perfect worlds do not exist.

    The old branch library had its own graveyard. I stood next to the children's librarian over a freshly dug hole containing the body of the reference librarian's father. The man had tried to kill me earlier this morning. As the sun dipped behind the trees, I wondered about his reasons and this place.

    "Who dug the grave?" I said.

    Kiera smiled. "I'm sure he's around here."

    "Who?"

    "Let's work, bossman," Kiera said. She pulled her hair tie from a secret pocket on her dress. Her unruly main under control, she picked up the shovel. Taking a breath, she shifted some of the fresh earth into the hole.

    "Where are we?" I said.

    "Shhh." She continued to fill the grave.

    A few minutes later, she stopped and handed me the shovel. I began to move the earth. The loose dirt went easy, the soil black and shot through with pale red clay. Night soil, graveyard dirt. Different and yet the same as the soil in every other part of the county. Richer, though. Made to eat flesh.

    We switched off every ten minutes or so. I did not feel tired when I handed over the shovel. It just felt right to give the work up. To share it. Trading back and forth, we piled the earth on the body until no more could be moved and the pale grass was exposed to the afternoon light.

    A chill filled the air. I gazed at the woods around me, the dark greens and browns fading to an inky black. My own breath filled my ears, my heartbeat in my chest a thick heavy constant. Kiera leaned the shovel on the old live oak and brushed her hands.

    Again, I asked, "Where are we?"

    "The branch library. Rural number three, I think it says in the old books. Home of the things we lost and stored." Kiera walked a lazy path around the tree until she was out of sight.

    I followed. The children's librarian lay a hand on the tree. Her fingers fit the grooves of the old bark. Above, wind shook the leaves in a shuddered reply. I noted no birds, no squirrels, no life of any kind around us.

    "Who dug the hole? Why don't I know about this place?"

    "Why would you?"

    "I'm the director of the library," I said.

    She laughed. "If that were true, you would not have to ask, bossman. But don't worry. Your mother did well and you've done okay so far."

    "Thanks," I said, feeling off put.

    "Now we just need to give thanks." Kierra reached down to her Doc Martins and pulled a small folding knife from the boot. The blade clicked into place. With a quick movement, she cut from her dress a small swatch and lay it among the roots of the tree. "Now you," she said, holding the knife out to me.

To be continued...




A Drive in the Shadows

by Banned Library in


I sputtered a bit and Kiera kept smiling at me. The children’s librarian moved in close, looking around the empty yard of the compound. Again, I thought I saw movement in the shadows of one building, but lost my thoughts when Kiera spoke.

    She said," New director, back after years of being away, has a dead body on his hands. Well, well."

    Her hand kept on the body wrapped in plastic in the back of the library van. She patted it again, making soft tapping sounds from her fingernails. They were long and red. Her smile was off center, kind in a way that knows secrets.

    "I can explain," I said.

    "Don't want to hear it. Everybody's got secrets."

    "What the hell does that mean?"

    She kept her hand on the plastic and moved in close. Her teeth were white and the hippie air of "everything's all okay" fell away. Something was not okay with the children's librarian. She said low, "You want help with it or not?"

    "What do you want?"

    "To help these kids. To lead story time and raise the summer reading completion rate by ten percent. To keep things going well in this little shithole town. So let's go get rid of this body and go back to work." She lifted her hand and stepped away. I had to step back while she closed the doors to the van and spun the keys around her fingers.

    The drive took us away from town. Right out of the compound instead of left. The trees closed around us. We left civilization, the parts of the world I knew when I was young and entered into older parts of the county and the forest. Telephone poles drifted away and the houses grew further apart. The trees closed in tight as the roads narrowed with every turn. Branches scraped against the van. We went on for half an hour, twisting and turning until we came to an old building.

    The Bates Motel in Psycho was more welcoming. The building stood in a hollow. The path to it was overgrown. White paint clung to the sides out of habit. Kiera parked and got out. We walked to the back of the van and lifted the body out. Kiera, thin and lythe, took the legs, and I hefted the shoulders. The plastic made it slick. I wondered if Christ had used a book cart moving the body in the library.

    Around the side of the building, through an old iron gate and black iron fence covered with vines stood a small graveyard. The stones marking the dead were lopsided and broken. Moss grew on everything. One large live oak stood in the middle, the trunk bigger around than the van. The roots had knocked over a few moments to the dead.

    "Over there," Kiera said. Her voice still maintained that low breathless quality I had never heard.

    We walked with care to the back of the tree. A small grave had been dug, about three feet deep. The fresh earth lay on the side, a shovel sticking out. We dropped the body in the hole.

    "Where are we? An old church?" I said.

    "Can't you feel it?" Kiera said. "This is the lost branch of the library."

To be continued...




Funding Dilemma, Part 5

by Banned Library in


"I asked my sister to invite you because I have a proposition for the library, Mr. Harker," Amy said while spearing a cucumber and taking a small bite.

    "Amy? What kind of prostitution are you into?" Brenda said.

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Funding Dilemma Part 1

by Banned Library in


The library sat quiet on a Friday morning. The kids were in school, the soccer moms still sipping their coffee at home, and the elderly patrons just leaving after reading the paper and finding their holds. The clock ticked on, matching the click clack of the keys in the computer lab.

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Teen Library Drama

by Banned Library in


The couple came in the library holding hands. He wore a letterman's jacket, a football patch over the school letter. She had her blonde hair back in a ponytail and held her books in one hand. They fit the image as the perfect teen couple, the jock and the cheerleader preparing for the rest of their lives.

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