The Darkness of the Library

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


Mystery Horror Suspense

She gasped as if her body had momentarily forgot how to breathe and her eyes shot wide open. It was a deep dark black wherever she’d found herself, and a smell of old musky papers was the only aid she had to determine where she was, but it did little to help her. For a moment she’d thought her sight had been taken from her and she began to panic. But her panic was quick to subside. After a few moments her eyes adjusted to the inky black of her surroundings and slowly, the dark silhouette of the high ceiling arcs and crowded bookshelves began to take shape in her vision. She tried to move but felt a sharp pain in her neck and left shoulder as she stood up. She looked down to where she had woken up. She’d been propped up against a solid stone wall and must have been asleep for a while. She then realized what she’d done and where she was. She’d been studying for an exam in the library, but she’d been operating on little sleep and copious amounts of coffee. Inevitably, the coffee began to do little in keeping her awake and she’d fallen asleep in a little alcove between a bookshelf and the far wall.

           She stretched and pushed her shoulder blades together and bent her head back and a soreness stabbed in the top part of her back. She walked out of the row of shelves and she still saw next to little of what was in front of her. She could still only make out the silhouettes of the bookshelves that were lined up opposite each other, with a corridor in the center leading to an open area where there were tables and seating.

           She called out. ‘Hello?’

The sound of her voice echoed throughout the spacious and empty dead building, until the reverberations slowly ebbed away into to nothingness. She looked down one end of the corridor. She could only see a few meters, until the hollow darkness engulfed what lay beyond. She turned and looked in the opposite direction and she only saw the same. The shape of the bookshelves for only a few meters. But she knew there were some tables in that direction. And beyond that a corridor that could either lead to a set of stairs that took her to the upper level that overhung the way before her, or eventually the main foyer where the exit was. Hopefully she could find a security guard or someone that could let her out. She turned and walked back down to where she had woken up and fumbled in the dark to grab her bag and whatever belongings she could feel. If she ended up leaving anything behind, she could come back later, when the library was open and ask if anything of hers had been found. Right now, her main goal was to get out and let someone know that she was locked in an old college library. The only other alternate was to get comfy and settle in for the night. But as her neck was still stiff and sore, that option was far from lucrative.

           As she was collecting her things she heard a creaking noise. It was the sound of a worn and old floorboard, as if someone had just stood on it. The sound gave her a chill and she looked down the empty and dark passageway to the main walkway. She could barely see. The darkness seemed endless. All that was before was a soulless black void. A dark shroud as if Death’s cloak had covered everything that lay in front of her. Maybe her mind was playing tricks on her. The building was old. Nearly a hundred or a hundred and fifty years old. And it was a large building so, it was bound to be creaky and somewhat spooky. But her rational mind was being overwhelmed with a strong desire to get out somehow. It wasn’t the darkness that scared her, it was the uncertainty of what lay beyond it, and what hid behind it’s dark mysterious veil. 

           She heard another floorboard creak and she turned to look down the passageway again. Still, she could see nothing but darkness. She wasn’t even sure where it came from. The darkness had disorientated her senses and if she’d heard something or someone, it could have been at one end of the library or within a few meters, for all she knew. She stared into the empty darkness, she tried to see if anyone was there, but at the same time hoped that nothing was there.

‘Hello?’ She called out. ‘Is there someone there?’

She heard nothing else for the moment. Just the constant ethereal hiss of silence. She glared down the gap between the bookshelves. Her eyes were struggling to adjust to the dark. They were tired and her vision was blurry from having just woke up. She heard another floorboard creak and what sounded like a book being knocked on a shelf. A wave of fear flooded through her down her neck and her back. She had what she could feel in her bag. The only thing she had to do now was walk down the middle of the bookshelves towards the main walkway. But she didn’t know what to expect. Her growing sense of anxiety and fear was telling her not to go down there, but her only other option was to stay where she was, and that wasn’t an option. She took a deep breath and slowly put one foot in front of the other, trying desperately to see if anything came into focus the closer she got to the main walkway. She prayed that nothing did. Her arms were tucked into her chest. She didn’t dare try and feel her way. Her irrational mind had told her that if she did, then someone or something would grab her and pull her off, further into the void of blackness, for whatever malevolent reason. Her breathing was beginning to become erratic. She was letting her fear control and hold dominance over her. But there was no other means of getting out and escaping her confines and escaping that which she was convinced was sharing her occupancy in the library.

There was another noise, as if someone was shuffling. She closed her eyes momentarily and started to give out a silent little whimper. It seemed the noises were everywhere but what cemented her fear was she didn’t know where. Finally, she reached the end of the bookshelves and a walkway appeared in front of her. Opposite was another passageway between more shelves. She didn’t want to look down there, but there was barely anything to see with the lack of light. She wanted more than anything to turn left and just run as fast as she could. But she also wanted to look right. She was on the verge of tears. A thought in a portion of her brain told her that she needed to look right, to make sure that the coast was clear, but another part of her mind was willing her not to look. There was no need to look right.

           With her jaw clamped shut to stifle her whimpers. She turned her head and glanced to her right. It was just darkness. She could only see a few meters, but it was just more bookshelves and passageways between them. For the briefest of moments, she knew she was okay in this spot. But there were about five rows between her and the seating area. She pictured herself running from where she was, to the area that would take her towards the exit. Her salvation getting closer with each step, only to be savagely ripped from her grasp as someone jumped out between one of the shelves and grab her as she screamed in horror. It seemed so vivid to her. It was like she had already experienced what was going to happen to her. A negative outcome. She couldn’t focus on the positive scenario, where she would make it towards the end of the hall and bump into a security guard who would guide her to the exit, and she would be home within no time. Laughing to her family about her over the top reaction after falling asleep in the local library. Comfy by the fire and secure within her own home. But right now, was nothing to laugh at. She was neither comfy nor secure. Another noise. Only this one sounded closer. She closed her eyes and tried desperately to stifle her whimpers. She opened her eyes to the darkness. Now was the time to do something. Her anxiety and fear had her rooted to the spot, but she had to move. He survival depended on it, she thought to herself.

She burst out into a run. The dark silhouettes of the bookshelves whizzed past her and she ran as hard and as fast as she could. If she dropped anything from her bag, or the bag itself, then so be it. She didn’t care.   

She reached the final set of shelves terrified that she was about to be jumped, but she cleared them, her relief lifted slightly. She was no longer cornered; she was in an open space with fewer obstacles and a lesser confinement. Still, she wouldn’t be completely out of the woods until she was out of the building and on her way home.

           She dodged past long tables with chairs stacked upon them, half expecting them to fall and either block her path or land on her. But all her mind kept telling her was to run. Just keep running forward.

Suddenly, she saw something at the end of the room in front of her. A flash of light. It was the security guard. She didn’t think she just screamed.


The light turned in her direction. The light from the handheld flashlight illuminated the person’s face. It was a man in somewhere in his late forties. She kept running towards him.. Then he reacted. But not in the way she’d hoped. His face contorted as if he was recoiling in horror. His eyes widened and he stumbled backwards as if she caught him off balance.

She screamed at him again, now only a few meters away. The he turned and ran from her.

‘Wait,’ she screamed after him.

But the glare from the flashlight disappeared into the dark endless corridor from where it emerged. Then the darkness that had blinded her so much enveloped her and everything went a deeper dark as if she’d lost consciousness.

           She gasped awake again once again. Panicking that she’d forgotten how to breathe. A searing pain ran down her neck and back from where she’d been leaning against the wall, having fallen asleep in between it and a bookshelf, shrouded in the same darkness that had descended on her moments ago. But she was completely unaware of what she’d been experienced. As if the last few minutes had been erased from her memory. But this was the same routine she’d obliviously been repeating for a long time.

Ever since her murder in the library forty years ago.

April 27, 2021 19:19

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Timothy Cooper
04:12 May 04, 2021

Great story. Great imagination....


T.J Mc Laughlin
20:41 May 06, 2021

Thank you very much. Working on more stuff


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