The Shadow in the Library

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


Adventure Horror Mystery

‘’Here you go,’’ Adelaide handed me the keys to George Public Library, a massive two storey, castle-like structure in the middle of our town, surrounded by a rickety white metal fence, some shrubs and a couple of loud restaurants. I know, the busiest part of a small city is a really odd location for a library (a spooky, old fashioned one at that) The thick walls drown out most of the traffic surprisingly well.

The looming, creaking structure seemed to suck up the last rays of afternoon sunshine, leaving nothing but a gloomy, empty, misty feeling in its place.

It was perfect.

‘’ The place is yours until twelve tomorrow morning. Have fun, go nuts, do whatever you want but please, for the love of peanut buttered toast try to leave things as you found them? Candice spent all of yesterday complaining about having to clean up, and she’ll throw a proper fit if she comes back to find the place trashed.’’

Candice was the library’s head cleaner, and she was a big pain in the butt about it. I glanced over at my best friend Bex, who’s mischievous grin mirrored mine. ‘’Of course, ‘’ I said, in my sweetest sugary voice. ‘’We’ll take such good care of it; you won’t even realise we were here.’’

‘’Yeah, ‘’ Bex chimed in. ‘’ That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Technically, we’re not really allowed to be here, so it’s better if we don’t leave any evidence of our presence.’’

Adelaide laughed. ‘’No, you’re right. I could get in massive trouble with Asher for letting you stay after hours, but if you can’t break the rules every once in a while what’s the point of existence?’’

Bex and I flash our brightest, most innocent smiles. Asher was the head librarian, and though we didn’t see much of him, we knew he was about as pleasant as a wasp. His office was almost sacred to him, and it was strictly off bounds. For whatever reason.

‘’Have fun!,’’ Adelaide says as she gets into her purple minivan. Of course, we were going to have fun! We were two best friends spending the night in an old, spooky library, surrounded by books, ink, unsolved mysteries and unexplored offices.

Just as Adelaide was pulling out of the abandoned parking lot, she poked her head through one of the car windows.

‘’And remember, Cobalt, Asher’s office is off limits!’’

‘’ Yeah!’’

‘’That means you stay out!’’

‘’I know, Adelaide!’’ I call out and wave her goodbye, before pushing open the mouldy library door and getting hit full in the face with a mixture of book smells, some old and some new. Bex flashes me a big grin, and we hurry inside, eager to put our bags away somewhere and set up ‘’camp’’.

After all, we had a forbidden office to explore.

Can you really blame me for wanting to take a peek around Asher’s office? Really? If you were in my shoes, spending the night in a library where there have been rumours of creepy things hiding in the head librarian’s office, with your mystery novel obsessed best friend and special torches your dad just bought you, chances are you would’ve done the exact same thing as we did.

Don’t lie to yourself; you would’ve been just the tiniest bit curious about what was so special about Asher’s office.

And you would’ve dropped your bags off in the ghost story section like we did, unpacking all the pringles, soda and chocolate chip cookies you brought with you while going through the list you made at home of all the things you were going to do.

Maybe you would’ve went into Asher’s office right away, unable to contain your curiosity, but me and Bex and decided to save it for midnight. Forbidden places are always the most fun to explore, but night-time makes everything about a million times more fun. And scary.

And scary is the best.

‘’So, what do you think we should do first?,’’ Bex asked as she rolled out her blue sleeping bag. The last rays of the afternoon sunshine were gone now, leaving a purple, star dotted sky and a queasy, excited feeling in my stomach.

‘’I don’t know. We’ve set up camp, eaten exactly three pringles and went over our list. Maybe we should check out the grownups section since you’ve never been there? It has great hiding places, and it’s only fair you see it.’’

Bex’s face lit up with excitement, and she stood. ‘’That sounds like a plan! Let’s go!’’

We made our way through some twisty corridors. It’s pretty easy to get lost in there, but with the help of Bex’s printed out map, we found the ancient staircase pretty quickly. Sure, we made some detours to the true crime/detective section, but only because our favourite author, Maxwell James, writer of several true crime documentaries, had announced that he had a new book on the shelves. We didn’t find it but vowed to come back later.

I don’t know what it was about the ancient stairwell that creeped me out most. Maybe it was the crusty, mouldy steps. Maybe it was the dead rat just chilling on the railing. Maybe it was the icy breeze (who knows where the hell that came from) that felt like it was wrapping its fingers around my neck.

‘’Hey Bex, maybe… maybe we should….,’’ I start, and freeze. Bex was shaking, her normally flushed face pale and ashen, her finger pointing to one of the shadowy corners of the stair room. I squint, trying to make out what the hell she was so afraid of.

There is a thud behind me, and I spin around to find Bex passed out on her stomach. My heart racing, I rush over to her, dropping to my knees and shaking her by the shoulders.

‘’Bex! Bex what happened? What’s going on? Bex, wake up!’’

Something was off. Something was very, very off.

I jerk my head up, once again squinting at the shadow in the corner.

Wait a second.

That’s not a shadow.

April 28, 2021 12:38

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Mila Van Niekerk
16:56 Apr 28, 2021

What do you think it was?? (seriously though, I actually have no idea; it just sounded cool) I want to make a sequel and I NEED ideas 😂


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Daisy Urbano
00:55 May 04, 2021

That was a quick turn of events. I like the way the readers were able to know what they were up to and the way the protagonist talks to the reader. The only thing is the ending. It's a bit sudden. I understand you want to make a sequel to this story, so I personally suggest you end it with something like "I jerk my head up, once again squinting at the shadow in the corner. It feels like my heart stops beating for a moment. It doesn't take me long to realize.. it's not a shadow." Something along those lines so it ends it with a cliffhanger. W...


Mila Van Niekerk
05:10 May 04, 2021

Thank you! I agree, the ending is a bit sudden. I was running out of time; my sister was getting impatient and wanted her turn to write a story. I'm going to try writing a sequel with this week's prompts.


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S Gabriel
20:56 May 03, 2021

Overall I think the story holds up well to "horror" and "mystery" as a young adult story. I do think (without a sequel) it needs to have more of a conclusive end. If, however, as you indicate below, you are setting it up as a series, the ending works... I'd be tempted to read the next installment to find out what it is!


Mila Van Niekerk
05:08 May 04, 2021

Thank you for your feedback!


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Arwen Dove
05:50 May 06, 2021

This is amazing!


Mila Van Niekerk
07:49 May 06, 2021



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