Sunday, 24 March 2013

The library

This week’s challenge from Chuck Wendig. TEN WORDS WILL GIVE YOU FIVE
I’m going to a random word generator. *does that*
There. It has chosen ten random words.
Those ten words are: 
“You will choose five of those words. (My choices are italicised.)
You will include those five aspects — not just as words but as actual components of the story — in your 1000-word flash fiction this week. 
Pick words. Write story. Go.”
My effort is 761 words
For James Herbert who died on March 20th 2013.
The library.
She loved the public library. She remembered the supreme joy she felt when she got her very own library card. She had read the entire children’s section twice. She came there to study after school every single day. She didn’t really have room at home. She remembered how grown up she felt when she worked out how to use the self-service machine so that that the librarian couldn’t see she was borrowing adult books. She still came there every week as an adult. The library had changed a little. Now there were computers to use, movies to borrow and audio books to listen to. But it was still her adventure playground, her safe place in bad times and her very favourite place to be.
So why wouldn’t it let her leave?
Today, she had zapped her books at the bar code reader, popped them in her book bag and walked purposefully towards the only exit, when BAM! She was back in among the shelves. She tried it a second time with the same result. She was on replay.
She tried again. This time she ended up in Biographies.
There was only one exit because it had a magnetic gate to make sure that no one stole any books. A loud alarm sounded if someone tried it.
She attempted to sneak up on the exit but that didn’t work either. Large print section. Ugh. She wouldn’t need to be in this section for a long time yet. It was being rude, now.
She glanced out the window. There was clearly a nasty storm approaching and she had hoped to be home before it hit. The clouds looked green. She had wasted fifteen minutes trying to leave and she was likely to miss her bus. It was an odd thought. She had never wanted  to leave the library before.
She watched others to see if they had the same experience and they were allowed to leave unimpeded. She tried again. Gardening section. She stared at a book spine labelled ‘the joy of cacti. Yeah, right. It was painful.
If she didn’t look directly at the exit, she could see a kind of grey shadow over it. She worked hard at not-looking and she saw out of the corner of her eye, that there was a cube blocking the exit. It was grey and transparent and it only worked on her. It was ethereal; not really there.
She stood in front of the not there ethereal cube and told it severely, “I need to leave. I have washing on the line and I will miss my bus.”
No response, other than some very weird looks from the other library patrons.
She stepped forward; sure that having asked permission, she’d be okay.
Non-fiction, etiquette guide.
Right. She got it. She hadn’t really asked, she had just said  she wanted to leave.
“Sorry,” she muttered. “That was rude.”
This time she stood meekly in front of it, bowed her head and said, “If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to leave.”
Non-fiction; weather forecasting.
“Oh, I see. It’s the storm.”
“Why?” she asked, just as she stepped into it again.
Fiction. Horror.
“Ooh. Okay. I think I understand. There will be a death… maybe mine?”
She approached the cube a final time. “I think I understand. You let me know when it’s safe to leave.”
This time she turned her back and walked away. From the corner of her eyes the grey cube seemed to get a pinkish tinge as if it was pleased with itself.
She settled down in a comfortable armchair and started to read one of the books she had borrowed.
She was immersed in a world of dragons and swords and had lost track of the time when the librarian rushed over to her. “Oh, thank goodness, you are still here. I thought you were on that bus.”
“What happened?” she asked, although she suspected that she already knew.
“A huge tree… it fell on the bus… it’s awful… everyone is dead. The radio said it looks like a scene from a James Herbert novel.”
“How lucky that you stayed.”
“Yes, it was, wasn’t it?”
“I just finished my shift if you’d like a lift home?”
She glanced from the kindly librarian’s face to the windows. It was still raining. “Yes, please.”
“I’ll be five minutes. Meet you at the exit.”
She stood, packed away her book and walked to the exit.
“Thank you. I love you, too,” she told the library. “And I will see you tomorrow.”
© AM Gray 2013


  1. Beautiful work! Now you just need to use those other five words...bwhahaha!

    Let's see if I can do it:

    The undertaker barely noticed the pink envelope sticking out from the satellite dish that had fallen off his roof. Grasping it, he turned it over and noticed the dolphin sticker on the back. He remembered his daughter used to use stickers on her letters, but she was long since dead. A horrible art accident involving a chisel.

    1. thank you.
      Good start... and then what happened? write a few more words and post it and then put the link on chuck's website!

    2. Great job as always! I love how the grey cube kept shifting her to different parts of the library. Very original and an interesting challenge.

    3. only way it could communicate with her.

  2. That was cool! Love the use of the words and how the library was protecting her.... :D

    1. thank you - the library looking after it's favourite patron.

  3. Love the way you used the library sections as messages and warnings. Great sense of humor.

  4. This was a treat; thank you. I love the rather banal choice of words to first address the cube!

    1. lol - yes, she didn't really ask - she told it she needed to leave.