Monday, September 20, 2010

Lights out in the Library (short story)

Lyell stood near the back of the room, his arms crossed over his chest, his back resting against the wall. A pair of thin glasses helping to hide his blue eyes, his dark jeans just the right shade of faded at the thighs and his long sleeved shirt grey and unbuttoned at the top. He watched as his brother leaned on the desk trying to talk the new secretary into a movie or dinner.  His brother, Galvin, was trying to convince himself that his latest break up was not as bad as it really was.  Lyell knew that by this time tomorrow Galvin would be planted firmly in front of the tv in the depth of a video game marathon depression no matter what.
Lyell's attention was quickly taken by a table of college students pouring over a research paper. One girl had beads in her hair, another tattoos on her neck.  He smiled to himself thinking that nothing was taboo anymore. He secretly wished somethings still were. Galvin made his way back over to where he was standing, his own jeans making a light swishing noise as he did, his shoulders rounded.  He'd been stiffed and was not afraid to show it. Galvin was loosing faith in himself more every day.
A loud crashing sound caused both brothers to turn and look towards one of the book shelves across the room.  A woman in a knee length black sweater was bent down over a fallen pile of heavy leather bound books that were scattered at the base of the shelf.  Lyell pushed himself away from the wall and slowly made his way over to help her.

"Hi." his voice was a whisper.

"Hi. Thanks." she replied just as softly. "I'm Hermia."

"Lyell. And that's my brother Galvin." he pointed over his shoulder as Galvin started to bend down beside them. "History of Witchcraft Through the Ages. Good choice." he said handing her the large weather beaten volume.

"And it goes oh so well with..." Galvin turned over a large book himself trying to make out the faded title. "Angels and the reality of Demonology. I am sensing a theme here."

"Yeah. I work for the history department." she said her thin pale hand resting at the back of her neck. Galvin was suddenly put in mind of an old Roman Polanski film, as he stared at her short cropped hair. Both men took her in, neither finding anything of particular shine.  Her outfit was a pair of  loose black pants and a black tee shirt under her sweater. The only thing that stood out at all was the ring on her left hand, a large purple stone set in a Celtic design. "I came to get these, someone left them here. Bit heavy for me though." she blushed as she tried to gather up the large stack.

Galvin counted 8 books in all. "Is that you asking for us big strong guys to help?" he asked licking his lips.

"I wouldn't call us big." Lyell remarked making a gesture to show they were not that tall. "Strong for sure." he said taking three of the large books handing them to his brother before taking three himself. "Lead the way."

There was a stereo playing somewhere in the distance as they got off the elevator finding themselves in the basement.  Galvin looked around the corner carefully before walking slowly beside Hermia and Lyell. He felt stupid suddenly, trailing after this woman who clearly knew every corner of the building. He hadn't even been aware there had been a basement to their little university.

Lyell's back went ridged as the three of them turned the corner and entered a large room filled with what looked like endless rows of more bookshelves. Two desks sat patiently near the front of the room, flowing with files, and a laptop each.  The stereo was perched on a chair near the desk on the left.  The desk that was occupied by a very large looking man.  Hermia pointed to the other desk as she placed her two books down on it's surface, gesturing for them to do the same before turning towards the man. He was dressed in a faded orange cable knit sweater and jeans, his short red hair a firery mess.
"This is Riggs. He's the other half of this place." her voice was a normal tone letting them know they conducted their 'library' without rules.

"Pleased to meet ya." he said in an accent of thick Irish.
Galvin would later argue with his brother about the legitimacy of the accent. Lyell noticed a talisman of the same design with a darker stone around the neck of Riggs, on a leather cord. He wondered if he should ask about it or leave it.  Before he could, Riggs turned off the stereo. "That shipment of statues from Professor Greyton came while you were out. I haven't opened it yet."

"Lovely. That should have been here three days ago. Must have been that slow boat from China."  she remarked opening a small drawer in Riggs' desk getting a hammer. Lyell and Galvin both laughed at the old joke.

"No, she means it.  We really did have it shipped from a small port in China.  Cheaper then airmail." Riggs nodded smiling. Lyell gave a short giggle blushing feeling suddenly out of place. "Here doll let me do that." Riggs said moving towards the crate.

"No, I'll open you get the gloves and unpack it. Would you two mind helping him." She shook her head not even looking at any of them. "I can't touch what's inside."

"Why not? You afraid to get dirty?" Galvin asked a seductive smirk on his face. There was a sick popping sound as the top nails were removed from the create, letting the side fall to the floor exposing the contents.  Whatever it was, it was wrapped in what looked like ten layers of bubble wrap and foam packing. Riggs moved towards it now with a pair of latex gloves carefully removing it from the box before placing it on the floor unwrapping it.  Both Lyell and Galvin moved closer to see what all the fuss was about, while Hermia handed them each a set of gloves then moved as far from them all as possible. The statue was about a foot tall, made of dark wood, with hoofed feet, a long tongue hanging out of his open mouth, wide eyes that were set with Jade pieces, curved horns that pointed upwards, and it's hands reaching as if grabbing.

"Ugh! It's very male." Lyell remarked, as he noticed the statue's genitals.

"That's because it's a fertility statue. An extremely potent one.  And why I am not getting anywhere near it. Ever." Hermia said with what sounded like fear in her voice.

"You're scared of a bit of ... wood?" Galvin asked unable to resist the joke.

"Normally, no. But this one, you tell them Riggs cause I know they won't believe me."

"The last time this thing was unearthed in the early 1920's, it was kept in a temple near Cairo. There were 20 members of that dig, seven of which were women. All seven were pregnant shortly there after, all gave birth within a few days of each other. None were pregnant before the dig." Riggs said sniffing.

"I thought you said this was sent from China?" Lyell replied.

"It was. It's been sitting in another room like this one for decades. They move it around every so often."

"But the real question is what was it doing in Cairo to begin with as it's a Celtic design." Hermia butted in from a good twenty feet away. 

Part 2 soon