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I think it was my somewhat strict upbringing that fostered my intrigue for horror. Following the path of god and basking in the sun’s rays is all well and good… but the forbidden aura of all things creepy called to me even from a young age.
Imagine the delight of my first library card. Here was a building of profound possibilities. Here among the yellowed pages I could decipher hushed secrets. Here I could conjure nearly any fancy. It was only a matter of weeks before the horror section became my new stomping ground.
I spent many nights and batteries reading late at night in the darkness of my room. I often shared the bed and my nightmares with Stephen King and R.L. Stine.
Over time the pangs of terror began to subside. I had developed a thick shell of desensitized awareness. My vivid imagination gushed gore and violence but the deluge had become commonplace. I resorted to seek the aid of a withered librarian. I had S.O.S’ed many librarians but none of them could point me in the right direction. This husk of a woman was the only person whose eyes sparkled through thick lenses when my desires were made manifest. She too was a fan of the occult and supernatural. Her station was on the first floor located near the exit. Her age demanded sparse mobility but her mental prowess was truly something to be admired. On weekends I would approach her desk and she would wordlessly hand me a note with the call sign of a book. I appreciated the way she so fervently handled this exchange.
I approached her desk one day to find an occupant of significantly younger appearance. Puzzled, I cast my eyes around to see if my arthritic mentor had been relocated. The woman upon seeing my perplexed features rose from her desk and approached me sporting a dress too bright for my taste. I looked up at her imploringly. She was holding something against her chest.
“You must be Ms. Shipley’s friend.”
“I’m sorry, but she will no longer be here. Um, she left me a note and this. It’s for you.”
She held out a book-sized package to me.
Could I turn down the box and get her back? I felt cheated and angry but I took the plainly wrapped gift and stuffed it in my backpack. She eyed me with a mixture of concern and pity. I could read between the lines of our little exchange that Ms.Shipley had died. This woman standing in front of me with a shrill voice was unaware of the tumultuous familiarity I had with death. I quietly thanked her and walked away before she could spout another word. In a way I despised this woman for casually thinking she could fill the position.
I was once more upstairs looking down the aisle so familiar to me. With my ally among the dust I was no longer going to be able to sustain my bookworm appetite. I dropped my backpack to the floor and sat atop a lonesome bucket ladder. I withdrew the package and methodically undid the twine. I would imagine such rope would have been used to hold “witches” in place while they burned to death hundreds of years ago. I was holding the spine of a book, this much I knew before the paper was completely removed. I expected to see a familiar title or at least an author I recognized. A somber leather cover with no title greeted me instead. This first few pages were blank. No copyright, no fine print, just the dedication. In familiar scrawls of sputtering ink:
I dedicate the last remaining copy of this book to Mike.
Some things to note:
Do not look under your bed while you read this.
Do not go in the library basement.
Even in an empty room you are not alone.
A small surge of adrenaline hits me. To read about such things is entirely different from first hand experience. I debate for a few moments before turning the page. The paper was thick and partially yellowed and the text looks to be hammered in by a typewriter. The first line of text is simply an address:
585 Blackstone Blvd. Providence, RI
From behind a book crashes from the highest shelf onto the floor. I stiffen and inhale deeply, the next line forgotten. Looking around I see a book splayed open on the mud colored floor. I stand, my gift held tightly in one hand, and walk over to peer down at the book. If the A/C was on or if a window was open I could justify why several pages turned by themselves just then. My instincts kick in (remember I am still 12 years of age) and I walk backwards towards my seat, retrieve my backpack, and quickly leave the library.
Now most ghost stories end when the main character dies or has been inexplicably driven insane. I am aware of their plight and have resolved not to let such a fate befall me. I am not the blonde who checks the closet, I am not the man who walks down dark alleyways by himself. I have since looked up the address and noted that it is not far from where I used to live on Wingate Road. As of writing this entry the book has remained unopened in a trunk filled with prized possessions acquired throughout the years. Occasionally I am struck with how incredulous this story sounds. It is only a few steps and a key later that I can reaffirm my fears that this book does, in fact, exist. Someday I may be brave enough to open it again. Someday.
Credit To: Ashcrown