People were gathering their books and leaving the library. A seventeen year old girl, Eloise with long brown hair, a bleeding lip and bruised forehead was sitting behind a cluster of books, glancing around, nervously. She had no intentions to leave the place and return to the demons. She loved the library, it was her refuge. How tragic! If only she’d deduce something from the large hunters moon visible from the large window.
. . .
The thick leafed branches concealed him. His black cloak protected him from gazes, of the passersby and the unseen. Tonight, he thought. It’s got to be tonight, the book’s in danger. I can’t wait another year. He glared at the clock needles dancing, the people fading away, the lights turning off. It’s got to be tonight.
. . .
“Pack up your stuff, the library’s closing in ten minutes.” the fat librarian peered at her. Her warning made Eloise reconsider her decision. It’s never wise to be locked up in a closed building all night. But is it wise to go back to the place called home and watch the cane make beautiful red marks on your skin? She didn’t have a choice. Of course, she’d stay at the library.
The librarian was absorbed in her computer. Eloise grabbed her bag and tip toed to the back of the library, halting to face the shelf stacked with old books that no one touches. She pulled a blue one. The book shelf slid noiselessly to reveal a small wooden door. Inside was a dark tunnel leading to the cellar. Eloise crouched on the dark stairs, beside two large oil barrels and watched the light leave as the bookshelf slid back.
Outside, the remaining people left. The librarian turned of lights, locked the doors and left. Moonlight illuminated the books.
. . .
He watched the librarian leave. He felt something, if it was possible for a man like him to feel. The old woman, sitting at the librarians’ desk, her soft voice, her motherly care as she used to ask him if everything’s alright, he was living those hours again. He shook it off quickly, reminding himself of the job. The whole street was deserted by now. The moon was visible just above the dome of the library building. He glided to the door. It wasn’t hard to break the locks. It was hard to enter the library.
As his eyes swept across the room he swallowed hard. His eyes were burning and he wanted to kill himself for it. Kill him? When was he alive? This library was the place where he had been taking refuge for all his horrible years. And this was the beloved place he chose for his final ceremony. The shaking legs took him to the first row. He turned his attention to the book. Master had said it was here. He began snatching books, squinting at their cover and throwing them behind him. Loud thuds filled the library.
. . .
Eloise heart hammered. The small place was choking her, she was sweating. Somebody’s in the library, and he doesn’t sound gentle. Her mind stormed with hundreds of possibilities, half of which only happens in books and all of them horrible. The thuds paused. Footsteps came near her. She tried to move, to run downstairs but her body wouldn’t let her. The thuds gave her a panic attack. They were so similar to the sounds she hears at the house, when her foster parents are drunk. She hated wine. It made people unaccountable for their deeds. It made them animals.
She wasn’t crouched in the dark anymore. She was in her dining room. Things came flying at her. The shouts hurt her ears. She was crying, desperately trying to get away. It hadn’t been to days since her mother died. She had thought these people were good. They’d help her, love her like a daughter. Is that what we’ve come to? The so smart humans, is this how they treat orphans? The man’s face came to her view. He had a cane in his hands. She screamed and screamed. He kept hitting her. The woman was shouting how she’s a burden and should’ve died with her parents. Eloise was screaming like mad.
Her hand was bleeding; she had bitten it to stop herself from screaming. She was sweating, breathing heavily. The flashbacks were over and now the present fear welcomed her. She listened intently. All was silent. The thumping had stopped.
. . .
He could not believe his eyes. He could not believe what he held in his hand was the battered mahogany book written on it with golden runes. He’s found it. Now was the time to recite spells. He gathered about ten books and set them on fire. The library glowed in orange. He stood in the midst, a dark figure. The fire died leaving only ashes. He took the black powder in his hand and made a large symbol on the floor.
. . .
Everything was silent. The phantom must’ve gone. Eloise gathered up the courage to leave the cave. She stood up, taking deep breath and knocked on the wall thrice. It slid open, revealing a dark, messed up library. Who had been there and what he had been doing, she couldn’t fathom. She stepped out, hesitating. Something didn’t feel right. Now what was she gonna do? Go to that house? It wasn’t her home. The library was her home. The books were her family. She’d stay here. She was just thinking when a red orange glow illuminated the library. Eloise froze. They hadn’t left.
She tip toed to the source of light and peeped from behind a bookshelf. A tall thin man fully covered in black cloak was sitting in the midst of a strange symbol he’d drawn from ashes. His hands were red, blood was dripping from his fingers. There was more blood filled in a silver cup. At the intersection points of the line in the symbol he had placed a curiously folded burning paper. About thirty scorpions were crawling around him. He had a mahogany book in his hands. He was mumbling something.
Despite the eerie setting Eloise was not scared anymore. She was curious. She wanted the book. She wanted to know what demons he was trying to summon. She already knew much about demons. She had met many diabolical men. She believed drinking made men possessed, with a demon they always had within themselves. The man started grumbling loudly.
“Errr hiuhbhj kkkij nuass kkkij.” he sounded a deep throat whistle. The fire turned blue.
“Rrremmeesss errr kech errr kijj.” he shouted, hands outstretched.
He started trembling badly. His hood fell, revealing his pale gnarled head and long black hair. Eloise gaped. Her whole body tensed with the hatred she felt for this man. The fire turned red and fierce around him. He kept on mumbling, reading from that book. He took a deep breath before shouting the last verse. “Ummessss errr kijjj. Ennn nuas rijjh dechh gijjjh!” he passed out. His head fell back with a thud. The fire died instantly. Smoke fogged he air.
It was time for Eloise to act. Her parents would love to meet the demon.
. . .
He was at their shop, his brothers and his. They were angry. His head hung lower.
“We can’t Vlad.” a muscly man, his eldest brother said. “You’ll ruin us. You’ve got to go.”
“What will I do?” I’ve nowhere. Don’t kick me out lick this.”
“We’ll help but we can’t have you in our business anymore. You’re ruining us.”
He walked out without a word. They were his brothers; they’ve spent their whole life together. Now they were kicking him out for money.
He was in the bathroom, vomiting blood. He gazed at his yellow face. The illness was devouring him.
He was at home. His wife was packing up stuff leaving. He had no job, no money not even enough to pay rent. She had a decent salary. She was also leaving taking his seven year old daughter with her, not that he ever liked her.
He was roaming on the streets, covered in dirt and soot. His heart burning with the desire for all the things he wanted but couldn’t get. His mind was sore, his eyes trying to turn people to stone. They have it all. They got it because…they had power. Power, he thought, the way to pleasure.
. . .
Eloise was standing beside the unconscious man. She extended her hand tentatively to get the book from his grasp. He did not wake, which made Eloise wonder if he’s dead. Will she even cry if he died? She opened the book and sighed. It was written in runes. This man couldn’t even summon a demon, what am I gonna do? Thankfully I’m in a library.
But before she could do anything else the man started shaking violently. He wasn’t waking up but something was happening to him. She saw a –what was it? His soul or a demon- leave his body. It was dark red and misty. She didn’t understand. Was this the demon? Why’s it coming out of the man’s body? Then she grinned. She’d been right all this time. We are our own demons. It couldn’t be true. Her demons were her foster parent. Or…were they?
She could almost see herself as she was that night, screaming at her frail old mother with a heart disease.
“I don’t care! I don’t care for your damn poverty, I want money.” she was shouting, knowing well they couldn’t afford a new laptop. “Everyone in my class has got one but –“
“Eloise,” her mother said in a weak voice, “I’ll get you next month. I’m promising.”
“NO! The seminars this week, I can’t take that broken thing to the seminar!”
“Don’t worry, dear.” her mother sighed. “I’ll go and manage. Don’t worry.”
She left the house and didn’t return until midnight. When she came she had a brand new laptop in her hands. Eloise was pleased. All was well, until she died. She had a heart attack. It wasn’t really a surprise everybody knew her health was deteriorating. And they didn’t need the doctor to tell them that she hadn’t been talking her medicines for a month. After spending half her salary on the laptop how could she have bought he expensive medicines?
Suddenly, Eloise hated herself more than the man. She hated them for being demons. The dark red mist was still hovering above his unconscious body. She hated it too. What good it was, a monument of their lust and a torment to others. She used his lighter to set fire to a book and hurled it towards the demon. The man screamed and woke up. His eyes found Eloise. Before she could run she was in his grasp. Then tied and put away from his shrine. She had to do something she had to destroy this place, these books. That he used to love and now she loves. What good were these books that couldn’t stop them from becoming demons?
If only she had…her mind displayed a vivid image the oil barrels beside which she had been crouching.
. . .
Vlad bowed in front of his demon. “I shall have all the dark power tonight.” He placed four pieces of hair in the center of the ash symbol. “Burn them. Kill them. Rid the earth of their stinking soul.”
Red light filled the library. He looked around in shock. There were flames everywhere and in the midst stood Eloise. A single tear was glowing on her cheeks.
“Whose hairs are they?” she asked. “Mums? Uncles? Mine?”
He stared at her and murmured something. The fire kept growing fiercer.
“Why d’you want to kill us dad?” her voice was shaky. She was crying. “First you kept beating mum so she had to leave you. You cheated on uncles business. Now you’re gonna kill them?”
“Eloise?” the man breathed.
“Let’s not do it anymore. We’ve been bad enough.”
They stood in the midst. Fire ate up everything around them. Their demons suffered hell.