Lots of Packing

by Banned Library in

The Director opened the old crate. He removed the straw. Too much, maybe, but the monks were thorough. He pulled out the three books and lay them side by side on the table.

    The covers absorbed the fluorescent light. The leather felt warm. The Director could imagine the animal that provided the leather screaming as the hide had been removed. He wondered if it had a name. Did the monks give names to the creatures they cared for? Or did they take them from their mothers and age them until the time for binding came?

    An idle thought.

    Each book had a golden wax seal. One for the snake. One for the rabbit. One blank, the surface almost reflective.

    Brenda walked into the back room of the library. She held a stack of books in her arms. The Director wheeled a cart over to her. He saw her flinch away. No matter. He would not touch her until he had to. "Here. Let me help," he said. He took half the books from her. He arranged them on the cart, nonfiction on one side and fiction on the other.

    "Thanks," Brenda said. "New books?"

    "Yes. Some reference books," The Director said.

    "Want me to catalog them?"

    "No. But thank you. I'll take care of them myself."

    "Lots of packing. Kiera would say they overdid it. The environment, you know."

   "I assume so. But you can never be too careful. They are handmade volumes."


    The Director flinched at the word. "What?"

    "Are they for genealogy?"

    "No. Just reference."

    Brenda gazed at him, those big doe eyes studying. The Director thought he saw something else there. Not her watching, but listening. What was the dumpy circulation librarian listening to? What went on in her head besides echoes? Did she scream in there? The lack of thought must be deafening. He could stop all that. Later. Maybe he would make his own books.

    He said, "How is it out there?"

    "Fine. Kids are out of school. Freddy's running late, but I have it," she said.

    "Okay. We want to have a good day, right?" Keep her off balance and away from the books. He did not like the way she watched them, listening.

    "I have it," she said.

    "Good. Thank you, Brenda. You do such a good job." Sometimes all people needed to be pacified was to be told they were doing a good job.

    She smiled a tight little smile, said thanks, and went back through the door. The Director watched her go. He gathered the three new editions to the library. Walking down the back stairs, he used his key to enter the library basement. He flicked the switch on the wall and the lights came on with a slight hum.

    In one corner, a small cage glowed. The computer servers sat humming in there. Wires ran from the cage and up into the ceiling and walls. A long electrical box was fixed to the wall next to the cage. Along the walls of the large room, half the size of the library, lived the books in storage. Extra copies of best sellers, valuable books of local authors, and others forgotten and covered in dust.

    The Director passed the equipment and the bags of salt and sand bags. He walked the three new books to the back corner. There he lay them on the floor at each point of a large triangle painted in red. The paint glowed under the stark fluorescent lights.

    Three cages sat along the back wall. In one lay a snake, curled and watching. In another was a rabbit, huddled far away from the snake in a corner. He fed them and cleaned their cages. Once the third cage was occupied and the time was right, he could begin. He had not named these animals. Once he began, names would not matter. Hell would fall.

To Be Continued…

Train of Thought

by Banned Library in

Reference work has three kinds of questions. Directional are the most basic. Where's the bathroom? Where are the biographies? When's your cute friend that did the favor for me last time? Next are ready reference questions, basic inquires taking less than two minutes. Do you have the book "Literary Fallacies, Volume 2?" How do you spell "creepy pasta?" Can I get the number of your cute friend who helped me last time? Research questions take the most time, often preceded by a reference interview to narrow down the scope of information the patron wants. What kind of dog is best for urban sheep herding? Where is the Ark of the Covenant buried? What are the laws for stalking cute friends at the library at the local, state, and federal level?

    I walked up to the second floor to find Chris in the middle of a reference interview. Well, my body did. I floated behind it, screaming my spiritual head off.

    Chris asked a question, his dozenth of the reference interview by the sound, saying, "Do you need books on how trains work or how to build model trains?"

    The patron's white hair stuck up all over as stood staring at Chris as if he had just been asked which way his pants were facing. My body stood by and waited, watching the interaction. I held my ground in front of it, gibbering at it. I could not be seen, heard, or felt, even by myself. Had I been in my right mind and not spiralling out of control at the sight of my own face staring through me, I may have realized that I was all thought. All composed of the pure ideas and trains of thought that existed within my mind before I left my body. Minus the heavy emotions brought on by chemicals and hormones. Minus the spikes of adrenaline or pain. All those experiences life taught me were at my disposal, except the ability to accept my uncorporeal reality. Madness is not accepting the impossible, and I was right on the edge of the cliffs of insanity.I was the most myself I had ever been and it left me a gibbering idiot.

    "I just wanna build a train," the man said. He put a fist on the desk with a dry thump.

    "A real train? Steam or electric?" Chris tried.

    "Where's that card thing?"

    "The catalog is on the computer, sir."

    "Bah. Just show me trains."

    Chris click clacked a few keys and spun the monitor around. A listing of books was displayed on the library website. All of them had bright covers depicting locomotives with  call number and status, either "check out" or "available."

    The man jabbed at the screen. "That one."

    "Okay," Chris said. He walked around the desk and guided the man toward the stacks.

    My body walked through me. In my lunacy, I noticed he did not shiver like most people who walked through me. As my only effect on the natural world, I had hoped that would reach to my own corporeal vessel and whomever was piloting it. At least I could give the bastard a cold.

    My double stood waiting for Chris. When Chris came back, his salt and pepper head hung low seeing me standing behind the desk. He stood where the train man had.

    Chris said, "I never did thank you for last week. My dad was… well, he was a lot…"

    My double raised a hand. "Not here. Maybe buy me a beer sometime. But you're welcome. I gotta talk to you about Brenda."

    Chris's face turned a slow white and his jaw clenched. "What's the problem?" he said, trying and failing to be casual.

    "Is there one?" my double siad.

    "No. Did she say there was?"

    "She's worried. She said you drunk called her. Disclosed a prior relationship, that you made some suggestions on your call the other night. So, again, what's going on?"

    Chris deflated. "I was drunk. It's not a thing I wanted to happen. I'll apologize. She was so sweet and I was drunk."

    "Okay. She was worried, that's all. Maybe apologize off the clock, though. Your good at your job. The patience you had with that last gentleman shows it. Brenda and I both want what's best for you. If you need help, maybe call me next time, okay?" My double offred Chris a hand.

    As they shook, I reeled again. Brenda and Chris had anything? And my doppelganger was not a monster. He was, in fact, a better boss than me, a far better manager of people. I started thinking of him right then as "The Director." My mind swam and reviewed the entire interaction and something else struck me.

    I screamed into the void, "What the fuck do you mean all that was last week?"

To Be Continued…