For a change, I decided I might post a short story for the general welfare of everyone's narrative organ. Some stories you write are just for fun, like this one, titled "Publisher of Souls." Hope you enjoy it.
Publisher of Souls
by Jedd Cole
It's a dangerous thing to fall asleep in the library. One bookshelf in every library is left empty, without any books, for the creature to use as its bed. They usually place it as high as they possibly can, but it is no use, for creature is not impaired by height. There is a room in every library with concrete walls and a deadbolt in the door lock in which to hide from the creature on particularly hazardous evenings. There is a bottle of caffeine pills in the drawer beneath every checkout counter.
Thus did the unnamed college student, blond, handsome, hung over from the night before, meet his end in the Reginald B. Meijers Library on the morning of the fifth of August, 1998. I saw it happen, or rather, I saw him nodding in the chair across the room. I looked away for a split second, and then did not see him again. You can be sure I am not mistaken. That anonymous student ceased to exist in the span of one second, during which I saw him, looked away, and then looked back.
There was no carnage, no residue, not a single sign of life's end--but I knew better. The chair was empty save for a book, a paperback romance novel.
That was the first time I experienced the hunt from afar. I would see it again many times. There was the homeless man who no one saw come into the Yost Public Library downtown, who lay down on a bench in the back and was never seen again. There was my first boyfriend (whose alleged love for books I had never trusted) who failed to keep his eyes open while he waited for me to meet him behind the microfilm viewers. And then, there was my first study--the one I singled out one day as destined to fall asleep, and whom I followed. I watched her closely, stalking her among the shelves for over an hour. Finally, at the ruthless hands of a chemistry manual, her head bobbed and swayed into slumber, and then I saw the light glint and bend across the invisible creature's back, neck, arms, the wide maw swallowing her whole. Both of them disappeared in an eye-blink.
The creature always leaves one thing behind. A book. And it is through careful study and meticulous effort that I have discerned the meaning of the creature and its residue.
Over these many years, I have come to love the creature in the library. I have come to believe it is the same creature in every library, and that it is lonely and sorrowful. The creature is exquisite and deliberate, and knows every person who enters its realm inside and out. But most of all, the creature is a genius publisher. A publisher of souls.
So I eventually laid my trap in the library that started it all: Reginald B. Meijers. Feeling bold and adventurous, I sat in the same chair that had once held that unnamed student and the romance novel. Becoming suddenly frightened, I piled books around me and on top of me--I had by this time learned that books are among the living, which is why the creature stays asleep among the volumes in the stacks.
My fear dissipated under the weight of my sleepiness and the implicit knowledge that the trap was for myself, and I began shedding books. The librarians glanced at me with worried looks, but I think they must have a compact with the creature not to interfere. There was a moment of silence just before my eyes closed, when I saw it in full view, when I realized that the creature makes itself visible only to its victims.
Even now, I still don't know exactly what led me to succumb. Perhaps it is because I saw in the creature the same love I had in myself--the love of books. It is, of course, the fault of the creature that we have received all the great last novels, all the final epigrams of bookworm scientists and professors and normal, everyday poets.
Therefore, with this final word, I extend my whole being in thanks to the creature that has transmuted me into this story, the creature that saw in me the value of reproducing its own invisible nature verbatim, for setting the manuscript upon my seat in the library for all to read and perhaps to understand the truth of the creature, its love for us and for books and for the lives in their each and every word.
Jedd Cole is a professional writer and author of short speculative fiction. He resides in Ohio where he is completing a degree in Rhetoric & Professional Writing, crafting short stories in every time-nook he can find, all while frequenting the pages of imaginary worlds with his wonderful wife, Heather, and no pets. None.