(Warning: Graphic descriptions. Not for sensitive readers.)
"We're closing soon, sweetheart."
I type in the amount of stock we have for a book into our website, nodding my head slowly. 179 copies of this particular one, and I know they'll all be checked out by the end of the weekend.
"Let me type the info for these last two, then I'll get going," I say in response.
167 copies of Pretty Little Liars... 263 of Mein Kampf...
"All done, Mrs. Dalton," I say, popping a mint in my mouth and gathering my items. I glance out of one of the large windows behind me. The darkness is growing at a rapid pace. It won't be long until complete blackness.
I start toward the bathroom, which takes a hundred times longer than it should, because this is one of the largest libraries in the world. Okay, okay, maybe that was an unnecessary flex, but if you worked at a place as cool as this library, you'd brag too.
It has seemingly infinite rows of books and lots and lots of rooms with -you guessed it- even more books sorted into specific categories depending on the room. Mary Ann library is also two-story, with a beautiful winding staircase and a cathedral with a colorful Mosaic.
I take my time in the bathroom, not actually using it but instead I lean against the wall and play with my purple hair in front of the mirror. I really don't want to go face Yoru, my boyfriend.
He's sitting out in room E14 waiting for my shift to finish, despite the fact that we're fighting. Which I guess is pretty sweet. But sometimes I just need some damn space.
My throat closes up, a familiar yet unwelcome feeling that usually comes before a small breakdown. I close my eyes and a tear slips out between my tightly closed lashes. I know I shouldn't cry about something so damn stupid, but Yoru's been so bitchy to me lately it's hard to ignore the sadness it's causing me.
Maybe you're causing him to act like that. Maybe you're the bitch. You're clumsy and stupid and nobody would ever be happy around you. What the hell did you expect?
See what he's done to you? Phoenix has made you question yourself. Yoru isn't mad at you. He's stressed out.
I like this voice better. As quickly as it started, the feeling of despair dissipates. I wipe the tears out of my eyes, smearing my mascara across my face and hands.
In case you were curious, Phoenix is my ex who...abused me. Verbally and physically. I had the courage to go the police, and it landed his ass in Juvie.
I can do this. Yoru and I can talk it out this weekend.
I splash cold water on my face and open the bathroom door.
But something isn't right.
I can feel it.
My first hint is the fact that the door to room D20 is open. Mrs. Dalton closes all doors before she leaves, despite the fact that it's impossible to get into the library when it's locked. She should be gone by now.
I sprint into room D20. She could've slipped and hit her head or gotten stuck or...or...or worse.
I stop abruptly at the doorway.
My eyes go as wide as plates.
He shifts from one foot to the other. I see something behind him that catches my eye.
It's Mrs. Dalton.
Just with blood caked onto her blouse.
He pulls his hand out from behind his back. He has a death (horrible pun) grip on a knife. And not the kind to spread butter on toast. The kind you use to stab people.
I'm too paralyzed with fear to respond. I can only make a small squeak in the back of my throat.
"Bet you thought you'd never see me again, eh, Reyna?"
It still doesn't register to me that Mrs. Dalton is dead, even though I can see her entire body now, as Phoenix moved out of the way.
She is sleeping or something. Or this if fake. My boss can't be dead. Phoenix may be a lot of things, but there's no way he would kill someone, right?
But it can't be fake. That glassy-eyed look is real.
With no warning, Phoenix lunges across the large room, knife pointed outwards, covering a lot of ground with his dive. The reactive part of my brain comprehends this quickly; my legs wake up and I run.
I look around for means of escape and come up empty. The regular exit door requires keys, keys of which are currently in the possession of a dead body. The window doesn't open, and it's too thick to break.
It's my best chance of survival. There's an emergency exit up there.
I dart up the stairs, ignoring the burning sensation in my chest.
I can hear him starting up the stairs. Oh shit. I won't reach the exit in time. Phoenix was the star of the track team before juvie, and has very little trouble moving fast.
I go a little farther and duck into a room, my heart pounding. I crouch between a bookshelf and a wall as I pat down my pockets.
The one day I leave my phone at home, this happens.
It also occurs to me that I could've ran into room E14 so Yoru could help me out. How was I so stupid?
"Damn it, damn it, damn i-"
The door opens and my heart just about stops.
Out of a crack between the shelves I can see Phoenix. He tips over beanbags and throws books on the ground. But he doesn't check behind the bookcases...?
He finally leaves. I wait a minute. Then another minute. I open the door quietly, so one edge that a peep would make me jump so high in the air I would hit my head on the ceiling.
I tiptoe through the rows of bookshelves, taking a turn at a corner so the trip would go faster.
My heart stops. Again.
"You really thought you could ruin my life and get away with it?"
"You ruined your own life," I say under my breath.
"You're still so selfish. Destroying someone else's life to improve your own."
He makes a tsk tsk sound and shakes his head sadly.
I take off running toward the exit, which clearly catches him off guard. What, did he expect me to sit around while I waited to hear why he was going to brutally murder me?
If I manage to get outside, I can try to get the attention of...anyone, really. Phoenix wouldn't dare kill me in public.
"Damn it, Reyna!"
His voice is as loud as a gunshot as he sprints after me.
I'm at the door now, and throw it open with such force large cracks web the glass on impact with the wall outside.
Shit. I misstep on the stairs, and lose my footing. My head crashes down onto the stone, and I careen down the steps, my arms and legs bending in ways they aren't supposed to.
My skull feels like a porcelain vase that has been smashed with a mallet. I touch my head tentatively, momentarily forgetting what I'm running away from.
Unfortunately, a moment is all it takes for your psychotic, sociopathic ex-boyfriend to catch up to you after murdering your boss.
I open my eyes to see Phoenix descending down the steps, slow and smug because he know he's already won.
I push myself onto my hands, the screaming pain growing even louder.
"Please. We can get back together."
No way that's going to happen.
"You think I'm a damn fool, Reyna? You'll never change. You're still the same bitch."
At the familiar nickname, a sudden bolt of energy bursts through me. He has no right to call me that.
He reaches me and points the knife toward my throat. I dodge at the last second and try to sweep his legs. He goes down with a clatter and a small yip.
"You're too stubborn. Sometimes you just have to accept things. Like the fact that your blood is going to be on this street tonight."
He tackles me and ends up on top. My already smashed head turns to dust as he pounds it into the concrete. Everything around me seems to explode with every hit.
I can see some of my blood already on the road.
I will not die right here.
I open my bruised eyelids and see him once again on his feet, looming above me with the knife. The last millisecond before he shoves the blade into my throat, I snatch it away, my fingers having a hard time gripping the handle.
Is that just me, or can I detect a hint of fear in his voice?
He pushes me in an attempt to get the knife, but my hold on it stays. I have no damn clue how, since I'm pretty sure my fingers are broken.
I open my bloody lips to speak, which proves difficult.
"I...won't die...to you."
I get to my knees, my limbs feeling like they're made of jello.
I weakly punch the air next to Phoenix's ear, and it works. It distracts him and I stab him in the chest with my last ounce of strength.
His eyes go wide as he falls backwards. Blood immediately soaks his shirt and his breathing becomes irregular.
"Reyna-" he chokes, and then coughs up blood.
"No," I say. "I'm...not."
He sputters, than stops. And then the last ounce of life slips out his body.
And he's gone.
I collapse, everything in my body hurting unbelievably. My forehead is covered in blood, and all my joints feel broken.
I don't open my eyes, but I know he's there.
It hurts too much to turn and face him, so I stay still.
He strokes my back, and I feel miles away when I hear him frantically whip out his phone.
"Stay with me, I can't lose you."
I black out.
What I can only assume is hours later, I wake up in the hospital.
"You're awake," Yoru says, relief flooding his voice.
I make a small noise in the back in my throat.
Next time, I'm leaving work early.