Mr. Linden's Library

April 7, 2009
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The room was dark. The air, musty. The lamp was on, shining brightly into the night. The light from the lamp cascaded gently downward, washing over the edge of the bed to warm the arm of the person lying asleep there. Settling itself on the pages of the open book, the one which was lying on the person’s outstretched arm, it glowed softly. Outside, the cleansing splash of a hard downpour could be heard, along with the occasional rumble or deep growl of thunder in the background. Great, silent flashes of lightning came every minute or so, but it was not a threatening storm. The clock read midnight, and everything was hushed and peaceful.
Too hushed. Too peaceful. If something bad were to happen, now would be the perfect time. And yes, of course, something bad was about to happen, something that no one could stop. If one were to stand in the room, one could feel a sinister presence begin to arise from the book, a presence that destroyed the quiescent atmosphere around it. What was coming?
Of course, the lady lying asleep in the bed, Miss Stella Nightmare, had no knowledge of the presence which was creeping out from the book on her arm. All that she knew was the quiet solitude of her current dream, which involved, coincidentally, a solitary lamp whose light she was using to keep warm, and whose overhang she was using to keep dry, since it was pouring rain both in her dream and outside her bedroom.
It was some extremely ill fate that Miss Nightmare was not awake, for if she would have been, she would probably have been able to run away. Or even to stay and fight. But, seeing as she was not awake, she could not do either of these things; so, helpless there she lay, ignorant to the night and to the presence growing around her—the presence that had an evil thing in mind.
Taking advantage of her ignorance, the presence began to expand rapidly. If our dear Miss Nightmare had only been awake, she would have been able to see the presence taking the form of an ivy plant growing out from the center binding of the book. Though the main stem of this ivy looked weak, it most certainly was not. If it could grow to its full size before awakening Miss Nightmare, it would be able easily to overtake and kill her.
















***
It had all began the day before. Miss Nightmare had taken the book which housed the presence from a library owned by a Mr. Linden. This library was a quaint little thing, built of red brick with the classic ivy trailing up and down its sides. The front steps made a faint thudding sound as you stepped on them, and two enormous wooden double doors marked the entrance.
Her visit to the library had at first been very standard: once inside, she had searched for horror books, her favorite genre, and had then asked Mr. Linden if he had any suggestions.
“I have just the perfect one for you, ma’am,” he had said courteously, as he did every time, “Come right this way, please.”
That particular day he led her to the section which housed the books on myth and legend, topics that she only enjoyed if they were terrifying and incredibly frightening. “How about this one?” Mr. Linden had said, holding up a book on Greek mythology. After learning that it was not at all creepy and chilling, Miss Nightmare hurriedly communicated that she was really not interested in books unless they had some element of horror in them.
“You know, Miss Nightmare,” Mr. Linden said, “life really isn’t about being frightened all the time.” Miss Nightmare had then said that it wasn’t necessarily that she enjoyed being scared, but that she found all of the incredibly brave people who faced terrifying danger in the stories very intriguing. “I would be careful then, if I were you,” Mr. Linden said seriously, with a strange glint in his eye, “because all of those foolishly brave people in the horror stories usually meet the same fate in the end: a horrible and gruesome death.” He had then gone off to assist another customer.
While looking for another book, one which would actually interest her, Miss Nightmare had accidentally stumbled on something and fallen headlong into an open closet door. She never actually found out what she had stumbled on, though she did remember finding leaves in her shoe and on its bottom that she hadn’t noticed there before. Thinking herself immensely clumsy, she quickly jumped up, opening the door which had almost shut behind her.
With the light from the rest of the library spilling in, Miss Nightmare caught a glimpse of something stuffed deep inside the closet which sparked her interest; it was hidden amongst all the other odds and ends such as wall paintings and parts of bookshelves which were being stored there. When she had clambered back into the remotest depths of the closet and pulled the book out, she saw that it was a deep olive green color. It was quite appealing, having besides a beautifully crafted cover and binding a title which sent shivers up and down Miss Nightmare’s spine.
When she had asked Mr. Linden why the book was hidden in the back closet, he had responded ominously. “If you must know, Miss Nightmare, that book has been hidden away to keep it from adventurous souls like yourself. Its pages hold incredible and mysterious danger.” Now, being the foolishly brave kind that she was, Miss Nightmare wanted that book. When Mr. Linden had gone, she had hidden the book craftily inside her coat, stealthily left the library without anyone noticing her, and sped home. Then, that evening, she had fallen asleep while reading the book in question.











***
Her mind far from all of this, Miss Nightmare slept soundly, still unaware of the horror that was unfolding all around her. It was just like a scene from one of her favorite stories, though now it was real. Much too real.
By now the evil presence had grown almost as large as the ivy which clung to the walls of the library, and it had still not reached full size. Even if Miss Nightmare had awoken right then, she would not have stood a chance against this gargantuan evil force.
Like a beast stalking its prey it uncoiled, circling Miss Nightmare’s peaceful body, deciding when and where to strike. Its long, malignant form cast shadows on the wall, for the lamp and the moonlight shining through the window created a dim glow in the room. With the stems and leaves of this demonic presence swinging in the air like the eight legs of an octopus, it poised, ready to attack. With a hideous rustling of its leaves, it struck; Miss Nightmare finally awoke, a shriek escaping from her mouth before her throat was squeezed shut.
He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late.











***
In the morning, Miss Nightmare’s neighbor found her dead in her bedroom, with horrible red markings from extreme pressure visible all over her neck. Investigators assumed that someone had broken into her house and choked her, but how this could be possible, with the storm outside and no wet tracks inside, they couldn’t guess. The only evidence they could find were several leaves scattered around her bed, and a book lying open on her arm. It had a beautiful olive green cover, and its ominous title glared up at you in bright, glittering blue letters: The Fate of the Foolishly Brave.





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