Unsettled

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

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Horror Suspense

"Don't forget to lock up when you're done Agnes," Doris nagged. Doris was the head librarian for Green Creek County. "I know," Agnes said. "I've been here a week. You can trust me."

She heard Doris leave through the public entrance. Once she finished scanning the new books into the catalog, Agnes didn't plan on lingering. She'd heard rumors about strange things happening here after dark.

"You're...not..." an indistinct whisper muttered. Agnes looked up from the hard bound volume she had been applying a bar code to. "Is someone there?" Agnes asked. There wasn't any reply. A faint knocking sound was coming from somewhere in the empty library.

There couldn't possibly be anyone else here with Agnes. She and Doris had announced the library's closing over twenty minutes ago. Doris had walked the floors to make sure that all patrons had left. Green Creek couldn't afford more than two librarians.

Maybe there was a mouse or something. They liked to gnaw on books for nesting materials. Agnes had to investigate, she couldn't let the collection get damaged.

Locating the source of the noise proved difficult. Once Agnes had gotten close the rattling stopped. She peered down the aisle. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

When Agnes was about halfway down, books flew off the shelves. Agnes screamed as she stumbled out of the aisle. "Oh...Crap!" Agnes swore.

Once she had recovered her wits, Agnes began re-shelving books. As she did so she tried to find anything that could've caused the disaster. She didn't see any rodent droppings, the shelves were intact and undamaged, no part of Agnes' body bumped anything.

What was happening? Ghosts weren't real. As a dual major in Library and Computer Science Agnes knew there was no way to prove anything paranormal ever happened. It had probably been one of those mini-quakes that happen from time to time that nobody noticed.

Once all the books were in their proper place Agnes returned to the desk to finish the last catalog entries. Off to her left there was a low growl like a wild animal. When she looked up she didn't see any living being.

Perhaps the building was settling. That didn't explain why all the chairs were now stacked back to back on the tables. Agnes was starting to hyperventilate. "This isn't funny!" She chided. "If there's someone in here stop messing with things and come out now!"

A deep throated chuckle rang out. It wasn't humorous, there was an inhuman menace to the laugh. It was unclear whether the old lady materialized or came out from behind the new books display.

Damp wavy hair draped down the figure's back. A disheveled grey dress and shredded apron were all the woman wore. She pointed a partially decomposed finger at Agnes. "You people thought I died," the crone said. "It takes more than a little water to kill me!"

"Please I don't know what you're talking about," Agnes countered. "I've never seen you before. If you want--"

"I want revenge!" The woman shrieked. Agnes threw her hands in front of her face. She expected fingernails to claw her face. The air was so still Agnes could hear dust settling on the library's surface.

Slowly, Agnes opened her eyes and lowered her hands. The old lady had vanished. This was getting too weird. It had to be her imagination. Agnes needed to get home and rest. She pulled a sticky note and wrote on it explaining to Diane that she hadn't been able to finish processing the new arrivals and she'd do the rest tomorrow.

As she was clocking out Agnes noticed the lights start to flicker. She hastily shoved her employee badge in her purse and got the keys to lock up. The old woman was standing in front of the door.

"Judge Davis decreed my fate," she rasped. "But the whole town was there when they threw me in the river!" Agnes thought she could reason with this weird woman.

"I'm sorry that happened to you," she said. "You survived. Do you want me to call someone." The old lady glared at Agnes with clouded over eyes. It was clear this wasn't a normal person. "Why bother?" The crone asked. "That little brat got all Green Creek thinking I was practicing Witchcraft. Only after I drowned did they decide I was innocent! "

"Oh God!" Agnes shouted. "This can't be happening!" A mean snarl was forming on the dead woman's face. "Either way I was going to be executed!" She said. "You will pay for this towns sins!"

The now almost solid phantom rushed towards Agnes. Agnes wasn't sure but someone started screaming "AHHHHHHHHH!"

The police were summoned to Green Creek County Library in the morning. Diane had found Agnes laying on the floor. The Coroner said she had died between 5 and 6 pm of a massive heart attack.

"I've never seen anyone so young die from this cause," the Coroner said. Diane looked up from her former coworkers corpse. "Yes," Diane said. "So are you certain there was no other cause? I just am mortified. "

The Coroner shook his head. "I am not entirely certain," he said. "The library was in such disorder I am forced to wonder if there was something else here with the victim. But the Autopsy and investigation should give me more insight."

Diane nodded. "I didn't know Agnes very well," she said. "but I feel like I need to know what happened." The Coroner handed her a card. "My contact information is here," he said. "You can call my office in about a week for results."

For the next seven days, the mystery gnawed at Diane's brain. As soon as enough time had passed she dialed the number. "Green Creek County Coroner's office," the receptionist said. "Yes," Diane answered. "My name is Diane Wilson and I am inquiring about the autopsy results of Ms. Agnes Gotleib." The receptionist, after briefly placing her on hold told Diane that Agnes' cause of death was indeterminate.

What could make a healthy young woman like Agnes die so suddenly?

April 27, 2021 01:01

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