Reading is Fun

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


Horror Funny

The Philip Noyer Library in Lexington closed indefinitely after the incident because management needed time to clean blood from the shelves, tables, carpet, etc. Moreover, a local college student Michael Cook was taken into custody by police for the murder of the librarian, Brad Umstead. These are purely the facts.

However, there are rumors something more ominous transpired on the afternoon of April 17. Some individuals even speculate a malevolent force had haunted the library since its founder, Philip Noyer (local millionaire and narcissist), died during the final construction phase. And that his evil spirit possessed the suspect, forcing him to inhumanly murder the librarian.

But people say a lot of things . . .

Lexington, KY - Philip Noyer Library - April 17, 5:45 p.m.

“The library will be closing in fifteen minutes,” the tall, balding man said. “That means six o’clock sharp.”

Michael (aka Mike) looked around and noticed only one other person in the library—a twentysomething woman with purple hair sitting at a table in the periodicals section. He glanced at the librarian’s nametag and said, “Hey, Mr. Underwood, any chance I could hang around a bit longer? I have a paper due on Monday.”

The man pressed his lips together in a tight line and made a bizarre grunt in the back of his throat. “Well, I have some cataloging to perform, so . . . perhaps I could allow you to stay until I’m finished.” He lifted his nose. “But when I’m done, you’re done.”


And a few minutes later, Mike watched as the librarian emerged from behind the front desk, checked the restrooms, locked the entrance doors, and turned off half of the overhead lights, all without saying a word to the lady sitting alone—now flipping through the pages of a tattoo magazine. He supposed it was the man’s daughter and continued his research.

The chair across from Mike slid backward, and he bolted upright.

Attached to the back of the chair was a hand with slender fingers. The hand was attached to an arm. And the arm was attached to the woman with purple hair. “Don’t mind if I sit?” She straddled the chair and sat before he could respond. “Got a minute?”

“Excuse me, but you are . . . ?”

“Name is Ariel,” she said, “and I’m here to protect you.”

Mike studied the semi-attractive individual sitting at the table with him and came to the only logical conclusion: she was batshit crazy. In the city of Lexington, there were plenty of crazy homeless people, and she was just one more, even though she wasn’t bedraggled and smelled like lavender. “Sorry, ma’am, I don’t have any money. Plus, I’m swamped working on a paper for school. So, if you don’t mind . . .”

“Listen, your life is in immediate danger, Michael.” She motioned over her shoulder with a thumb. “Brad over there is gonna fuck up your day.” She grimaced, looked upward, and silently mouthed, “Sorry.” Then she corrected herself, “Mess up your day.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “What in the hell are you talking about? And how do you know my name?

“Ain’t got time for small talk. My powers are limited down here on Earth, so you’re gonna have to help. Means I need you to listen, okay?”

“Lady, I don’t know what you’re high on.” He pushed his chair back and stood, knocking a philosophy textbook onto the floor. “But you need to get away from me right now. And if you don’t, I’ll call—”

She closed, then opened her eyes, took a breath, and said, “Your full name is Michael Alan Cook. You have a roommate—who annoys you—named Chris Anderson. Your mother, Mary, still lives in Chicago, and she prays for you every night. You had a girlfriend, Beth, but she dumped you two weeks ago. And on Friday nights, when everyone is sleeping, you sneak into the bathroom and masturbate.”

Mike fell into the orange plastic chair with a thud.

“Good, I have your attention.”

The overhead lights went out. Since it was an overcast day, the library was dark except for the EXIT sign and a couple of emergency lights attached high on the walls in the front and rear. Their colors coalesced into a sick orange hue.

“Too late,” Ariel said. “In about thirty seconds, Brad will be coming for you.”

“Wait . . . what?” He was scared, confused, and now felt nauseous. “What about you? Is he coming for you too?”

She shook her head. “Na, he can’t see or hear me.”

Mike chewed on her words but couldn’t swallow them. And for a minute, he wondered whether this was all just a dream—a vivid and highly perplexing dream, but a dream all the same.

“It’s not a dream,” she said. “It’s a guardian angel thing.”

An unholy scream followed by a crash.

Ariel got to her feet and said, “It’s go time.” She closed a thick book sitting on the table and slid it to Mike. “You’ll need this.” Another crash and some crazed screeches. “Shit! . . . Sorry—shoot, here he comes.”

The librarian was headed in their direction, and he held a glistening object in his right hand. Mike stood, not realizing he had, without thinking, grabbed the heavy hardcover off the table. Brad, now just a few steps away, looked taller than Mike had remembered. And he was indeed holding something in his hand: a letter opener.

Mike’s heartbeat pounded in his ears. He could feel the biting sting as sweat dripped into his eyes. Time seemed to stand still.

“Watch out!” she said.

Ariel disappeared at the exact moment Brad ran into the table and brought the letter opener down in a wide arc toward Mike’s head. “No,” he screamed, raising the book to shield his face. The letter opener pierced the book, halting with the tip protruding through the author’s eye on the back cover. There was a brief struggle before the book fell to the table with the letter opener jutting upward like a metallic erection. “What are you doing?!”

Brad grabbed the table and flipped it aside; he threw a punch and hit Mike right in the nose, splattering the carpet with blood. Mike staggered backward into a bookshelf, his eyes blurry, mouth tasting of copper.

From nowhere, Ariel materialized. “Don’t just stand there, dummy. Run!”

Mike sprinted down the aisle between two shelves replete with books. He made a hard right, hoping to circle back toward the front entrance. However, Brad must have had other ideas and grabbed Mike by the collar when he cleared the last bookshelf.

“Let go of me,” Mike said, flailing his arms like a cartoon character. “Somebody help me.” Nobody answered. And the next moment, Mike was in a bearhug, being squeezed so forcefully he couldn’t inhale. He could feel the searing heat of rage from the librarian, smell the foul odor of his breath. The world grew darker, but Mike was beginning not to care.

“Don’t you dare quit on me,” Ariel said. She had appeared, again, and was standing right in front of Mike. “Listen, here is what I want you to do. When I say go, lift your legs—both of them. Then ram your head into his nose, hard as you can.” She waved her hands in front of his face. “Are you listing to me?”

Mike nodded.

“Good.” She held her hand up and raised her index finger. “One. . . two . . . three. Go!”

When Mike lifted his legs, Brad leaned forward, and Mike flung his head backward with everything he had. The sound of the impact was horrific—a walnut crushed between the jaws of pliers. Brad released his grip and staggered back, tripped over a chair, and struck his head on the floor. He lay there motionless, nose twisted in an unnatural direction, face and shirt covered in blood.

Mike grabbed at Ariel to keep from falling; however, she disappeared, and he stumbled forward and fell onto the floor—right alongside the book with the metallic erection. He rolled over onto his back and attempted to collect his thoughts.

“No time to rest,” Ariel said. She was sitting cross-legged alongside Mike. “You did good—really good. But it ain’t over.”

“What?” He lifted his head and gazed over at the limp librarian. “He’s out cold.”

She shook her head and said, “Ain’t too quick on the uptake, are you?” She picked up the book off the floor and aimed the letter opener in his direction. “Take it out. Don’t ask questions, just do it.”

He pulled the letter opener from the book. “Why is this guy trying to kill me? Can you tell me that?”

“No time,” she said. “Listen . . . I’ll talk to you again later—at the police station. Right now, you got about thirty seconds.”

“Wait,” he said, sitting up, “you’re going to leave me?” From the corner of his eye, he saw movement. “Oh, shit.” Brad was on the move. “He’s coming.”

Ariel said one more thing before disappearing, “Go for his eye.”

Mike scrambled to his feet just in time to thrust the letter opener forward. There was a pop followed by a dull crack as the instrument pierced Brad’s left eye and exited through the side of his skull. Blood squirted from both wounds.

“Argh!” Braid hollered. He spun around a couple of three times, spraying blood everywhere like a gruesome sprinkler, watering everything within the immediate area. He ran into a bookshelf, and it toppled over, knocking him to the floor and crushing him underneath.

“No way did that just happen,” Mike said, collapsing onto a table. And as he listened to his breathing slow, wiped at the sweat and blood on this face, he heard sirens in the distance.

A disembodied female voice, “Way to go, Mike.”

April 30, 2021 12:00

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Kees Chan
07:28 May 14, 2021

LOLOLOL Actiony, and I liked the descriptions, very vivid and just the right amount of shudder-inducing


Show 0 replies
Martha Patterson
05:17 May 03, 2021

As usual with your stories, Eric, this held my interest!


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.