The Unwritten Pages

Submitted for Contest #91 in response to: Set your story in a library, after hours.... view prompt


Apr 29, 2021

Mystery Thriller Suspense

It’s July 14, 1998. Edward Hollerith got a job sweeping floors and cleaning in the library after hours. It was raining heavily. He is a poor man who lost his wife and his children in a car accident on December 14, 1994. “You’ll be a writer soon, my love”, was written at the bottom of a picture of his family. He put his umbrella to one side and sat sadly. He is alone, shattered, and broken. He had mostly books, notes, and many copies of one novel in his house. The books and novels were so old. He set the alarm at six in the morning. 

        He opened his bag and there was a red-colored novel. He went to pick up the novel. Suddenly a noise was heard outside the house. He closed the bag and walked out. There was a dog on the side of the house in the rain. When he saw the dog, the dog stared at him for a moment strangely and barked continuously. He angrily slammed the door. The dog barked again. He sat up in bed for a while, then fell asleep. It rained for almost four hours. 

        After a while, Edward woke up scared because he was clinging to the roof. There is nothing in the room except him and some blank pages on the floor. Suddenly he fell from the roof. The alarm rang and he woke up. Then, he realized it was a bad dream. 

        After several hours, He entered Morgan’s library. This is one of the best libraries in the town. Verdana’s father is the owner of the library. “Good evening mam, I’m Edward Hollerith. Mr. Johnson told me to come to work here today”, Edward asked politely. “Yeah. He told me… It’s almost closing time. You can start cleaning after fifteen minutes. You can go and check our Library”, she said. Edward with his bag looking at all the sections in the library. He looks so happy when he is surrounded by books. He smiled. The Clock strikes eight.

        Suddenly he looked at a novel at the end of the stack. He took it and suddenly Verdana came. “You can clean now… Oh! The Black Mornings… one of my dad’s favorites… do you read?”, she asked. “No… I just…”, He said. “Okay. No problem. You can clean now”. Edward started cleaning and later sweeping the floors. 

        A few minutes later, a woman entered the library in a hurry. “May I help you?”, Verdana asked. “Mam. I’m Judy and I want to search for a novel. But I forgot the novel’s title and author’s name… but I’ve seen it here and I need that novel”, she replied hurriedly. “Sorry, mam. We are closed now. You can come tomorrow”, Verdana said politely. “Please, mam. Just give me ten minutes and I’ll find it. I need that novel… please mam… please”, she requested. Verdana let out a sigh. “Please mam”, she requested again. “Mam, I too have important work. So, please go and find it as soon as possible”, Verdana said. “Thank you… Thank you so much mam!”, she replied with a smile. 

        Judy rushed into all sections and tried to find the novel. She reached the place where Edward found "The Black Mornings" novel. She picked up a novel and flipped through it. She realized that this was not the novel she was looking for. When she put it back, she unknowingly pushed down another novel that was at the end of the stack. Edward heard the noise and came there. “I’m sorry”, she said. “Do you need any help, mam?”, Edward asked with a little smile. She didn’t reply anything for a moment but looked at him strangely. “Mam?”, He called normally. “Sorry. It’s my mistake, I am looking for a novel but I can’t find it. It’s okay. Thank you”, she said nervously. Edward went on to pick up that novel. But she took the novel and looked at it once and gave it to him. “The Unwritten Pages… that’s a good title”, she said. Immediately she was gone from there. She looked at him again strangely. 

        Edward looked at the novel and was perplexed. Because The Black Mornings novel was not there. Instead, there is another novel called The Unwritten Pages. He was blank. “Did you get that?”, Verdana asked. “No… I can’t find it”, Judy replied. “Do you remember anything about that novel?”, she asked. “No problem… Hey, is he alright?”, she asked silently. “Why? What happened?”, Verdana asked with a questionable look. “I don’t think he’s alright… He scared me… I just had a Deja-vu”, she replied silently. Verdana looked at her strangely and said, “I can’t get you”. “Nothing. it was my mistake. Thank you so much”, she said. Immediately she left the library. Verdana has no idea what’s going on. 

        Edward searched for The Black Mornings novel everywhere but he can’t find it. He was afraid to tell Verdana about this on the first day of his work as he took the novel a few minutes ago in front of her. Edward perplexed. “Mr. Edwards?”, Verdana called. He quickly put the novel in the stack and said, “Yes, mam”. She said, “If you’re done, wait for some time. My dad wants to meet you. He told me earlier”. “Sure. No problem”, he replied with a smile. 

        After some time, Verdana came out looking for her dad. Edward completed his work and saw Verdana outside looking for someone. He waited inside the library to meet Mr. Johnson. He again searched for the missing novel before Verdana sees him. But he can’t find it. He again went to the stack where he found the novel and took “The Unwritten Pages” novel. It is a red-colored novel. He opened the novel and started reading it. As soon as he finished the first page, he turned to the next page eagerly to read what’s gonna happen next. 

        He was obsessed with the novel after reading the first fourteen pages. He turned the next page and it’s blank. The remaining pages were blank. He flipped through it. But the remaining pages were unwritten. He was confused. He wondered how would a novel with an incomplete story can be placed in the library. 

        Mr. Johnson entered the library and met him and half an hour later, Edward reached home. He is totally confused and he had dinner and then fell asleep. After a while, Edward woke up scared because he was clinging to the roof. He saw some pages scattered on the floor and he also saw some pages stacked in one place. Suddenly he fell from the roof. The alarm rang and he woke up scared. He was confused because the dream keeps on coming. He found it eerie.

        The next day, He went to Morgan’s Library for work in the evening. Verdana and Mr. Johnson were arguing about a novel. “I don’t like it, dad”, Verdana said. “This novel is very deep. It’s about a writer who undergoes mental depression after losing his family in a tragic incident. You have to read it twice to understand… E.H. Dorothy was a great writer”, he replied. Edward entered and said, “Good evening”. But they were busy with their arguing. Edward started his cleaning work and completed it earlier. He again went to the stack and picked up “The Unwritten Pages” novel to make sure what he saw yesterday was true. He opened it and turned the pages. He is on the fourteenth page. He turned the next page and scared.

        There is a fifteenth page and he was totally confused and he didn’t know what’s happening. He started reading again because of his curiosity. He completed the fifteenth page, turned to the next page, and started reading it. He was involved in the story. After few minutes, He completed the twenty-eighth page and turned to the next page. It’s blank again. He flipped through the whole novel. The remaining pages are unwritten. The novel stopped at page twenty-eight. He was tensed and his hands trembled. He put the novel back in the stack. He stumbled to breathe but he managed and he took the book and checked again. But the novel stopped at the twenty-eighth page.

        “Sir. I’ve completed my work”, Edward said. “You can go now”, Mr. Johnson replied. “Sir. Can anyone publish a novel with an incomplete story?”, Edward asked perplexed. “I can’t get you”, he replied. “Nothing sir. Thank you”, he said. “Did you read that novel?”, Verdana asked casually. Edward was frightened and said, “Mam?”. “The Black Mornings… the one you took yesterday”, Verdana said. “No mam. I… I haven’t”, he said. “Fine. You may go”, Verdana said. Edward reached his home. “Something is wrong here”, he murmured. The dog looked at him again but it didn’t bark. 

        Edward searched for his bag everywhere inside the home. It wasn’t there. Edward tried to sleep but he can’t. He was afraid of what’s happening around him as well as the bad dream. He trembled. The clock strikes 1 in the morning. Edward decided to go to the library because he thought something was going on in that library at night. He immediately went to the library. No one was there. The place was deserted. 

        He had a feeling that someone was following him. “Anyone here”, he shouted. He knocked fast on the door. “Open it… Open it”, he shouted with complete anger. He picked up a stone and began to break down the door. He screamed like a psycho. He broke the door with complete rage. He entered the library and pushed down everything that was there. He turned into a psycho and shattered. Verdana and Johnson came there. Immediately Johnson called the cops. “Mr. Edward?”, Verdana stuttered. 

        Suddenly, Edward ran towards them and said, “Please… please help me”. Johnson hid her from him. Johnson frightened. Edward grabbed Johnson’s shirt and screamed, “Help me, sir… Help me”. The cops came and caught him. Verdana was frightened. They handcuffed him. The cops tried to drag him away but he didn’t.

        “Please help me… please help me, sir… There is something wrong with this library. I found a novel here… The Unwritten Pages… Someone is kept on writing the novel at night. It’s incomplete… Please believe me… I’m scared… I’m scared”, he screamed and wailed. The cops drag him away. He was arrested and taken away. The library turned upside down. Verdana thought about what Judy had said. Verdana terrified.

 A few moments later, “Don’t be scared, Verdana. It’s okay”, Johnson said. Verdana slowly entered the library. She tried to find the novel. She searched everywhere. Finally, she found “The Unwritten Pages” novel. She opened it and scared. Because not even a single page was written in that novel. The whole novel was unwritten. There were only unwritten pages. She flipped through the novel but it was unwritten. She again turned to the title page and was shocked. The title page is the only page written in that novel and she found Edward Hollerith’s name as the author for this unwritten novel.

        Verdana shuddered and dropped the novel. She also found Edward’s bag in the corner and she opened the bag. There was a novel inside his bag. She picked up the novel and looked at it. She found “The Black Mornings” novel. Verdana confused. The red-colored novel isn’t there. 

        The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and Verdana were tidying up the library. They arranged everything in order. Cops James Winston and Courtney Wills entered, “He hasn’t said a word so far… But sometimes he murmured the number fourteen to himself”, Courtney said. “I don’t know him well… But I think he needs treatment… he voluntarily requested this job and he seemed fine”, Johnson replied. “Don’t worry, sir… we are here to help”, Winston said with a smile. 

        Verdana went to a coffee shop two days later and returned to the library. “A girl came looking for you and she just left”, Mrs. Johnson said. Verdana looked outside and It’s Judy. She called her. Judy and Verdana entered the library. “I came to say one important thing… but I didn’t know about this until your mother told me a few moments ago”, Judy said. “Why did you ask me about him the other day?”, Verdana interrogated. 

“I’m a psychology student and I’ve visited an asylum a year ago and there was a patient. He was mentally unstable. He used to murmur the number fourteen to himself. Everyone was scared of him. I’ve researched him and realized that he wanted to be a novel writer and had a wife and two daughters. Four years ago, they died in a car accident and that incident broke this man completely. Later, this man tried to dig the grave of his wife and children which brought him to the asylum. I had Deja-vu when I looked at the cleaner the other day… he looked the same”, Judy trembled. “Oh my god”, Verdana shuddered. 

It was Edward Hollerith all along. The red-colored novel in his bag was “The Unwritten Pages”. He was the one who put the novel there. He was the one who took “The Black Mornings” novel from the stack. Somehow, he recalled the story of his novel which he wanted to publish. But he can’t remember it completely. That’s why the novel does not exceed twenty-eight pages. It was an illusion. In reality, The Unwritten Pages remains unwritten.

Mr. Johnson entered the library in a hurry and said, “Edward Hollerith is a mentally unstable patient in the North Hill asylum. He escaped from the asylum three months ago. The cops found his home and found many books and novels. But he mostly has the novel called “The Black Mornings”. Verdana shocked. Judy quivered and said, “That was… that was the novel he had in the asylum. Oh my god... I forgot to tell you this. One thing he often says was, this novel was written by my wife."

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