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...




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...