A young reader gets trapped overnight in the city library!
THE BOOK WORM
Unlike most of his classmates, Chad Stevens didn’t consider himself a nerd. But he did consider himself a bookworm; a self-proclaimed, born and bred, thirteen year old, red-blooded American bookworm, and proud of it. No matter where he was, whether it was recess on the school playground, grocery shopping with his mom, or even taking a bath, he always seemed to have his nose stuck in a book. And on the rare occasions when his nose wasn’t stuck in a book, he was searching for a book to stick his nose in. He was a well-known patron at the local Barnes and Noble, and a habitual visitor at the Linville Public Library.
And that’s where our story begins.
Chad arrived at the library much later than usual one Sunday afternoon. It was 5:45, which meant he had only fifteen minutes to find a book to his liking and get it checked out before the library closed at six. He was currently arguing with himself between two horror authors, Peter Straub and Dean Koontz. He was a big fan of both, having read most of their novels, but now he was torn between Straub’s Ghost Story and Koontz’s Watchers.
Sitting down at a table with both books, he quickly read the inside of the book jackets and skimmed over the first few pages of each with hopes that one or the other would help him make a decision. But one of Chad’s flaws was that it was hard for him to just ‘skim’ over a page; one sentence would grab his attention and lead him to the next sentence, and then the next one, and so on, and before he knew it he was so engrossed with the story he couldn’t take his eyes away. And on this particular day he was so wrapped up in Ghost Story that he didn’t even hear the intercom announcing the library would be closing in five minutes, and it was only when most of the lights went out ten minutes later that he came back to the real world and noticed what time it was.
“Hey!” he yelled out. “Wait a minute! Don’t close yet!”
He quickly got up and ran downstairs to the check-out counter, only to find the whole place deserted.
Oh, great. Now what am I going to do? I’m trapped in here. But then he remembered they had a phone, and all he had to do was call his parents, who would get a hold of the police or the fire department and they’d get him out.
Then again, he thought, do I really want to get out of here? I’m in a library, all by myself, surrounded by thousands of books! I’m in heaven!
Chad wasn’t naïve. He knew he obviously couldn’t read all those books by the time the library opened at nine the next morning, probably not even one, but there was just something about having the library all to himself with all those great stories written by all those great authors that gave him a sense of contentment, fulfillment, and most of all, happiness. What more could a hard-core bookworm ask for?
But if he was going to be in here overnight, he knew he’d have to keep things low-key. Fortunately, some of the lights on the first and second floors had only been dimmed, so he’d still be able to see without turning any others on. And he knew his folks were going to freak out wondering what happened to their son, but he could worry about that later.
Back on the second floor, Chad started going through the aisles, searching for famous horror authors he’d heard of but never read. Books by H.G. Wells, Richard Matheson, Mary Shelley, Henry James, Ambrose Bierce, H.P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker all caught his eye.
He was starting down the X-Y-Z aisle when he suddenly had the feeling he was being watched. He turned around and was startled to see a middle aged, mustachioed man dressed in clothes from a bygone era. Several other people stood behind him, all looking at Chad.
“Who…who are you?”
“Don’t be frightened, son,” the first man said. “My name is Edgar. Edgar Allan Poe.”
“And the rest of these people are my fellow authors. We understand you’re interested in our stories.”
“Um, yeah, I guess,” Chad said, trying to believe his eyes.
“Well, since your time here is limited, as is ours, instead of reading them, perhaps you’d like to hear some of our stories directly from us.”
I’m dreaming, the young teenager thought, but what a fantastic dream!
But for Chad, it was more than a dream. Much more than a dream.
~ ~ ~
The next morning when the library opened, the workers were surprised to find the second floor tables covered with books by famous horror authors. At first they were sure somebody had broken in, but it wasn’t until the Linville Police Department arrived to investigate did the mystery start to come together. The police asked the employees and volunteers if they’d seen a boy named Chad Stevens in there recently. When they said he was just in there yesterday, they suddenly realized nobody had seen him leave.
The police managed to get some of Chad’s fingerprints from the books, but that was all. They searched the library, and even though they knew he’d spent at least some of the night in there, Chad was nowhere to be found, nor was he ever seen or heard from again.
A couple of days later, while re-shelving some books, an older librarian by the name of Helen happened to see a title she’d never heard of before in the R-S-T aisle:
A DREAM COME TRUE
The Night I Spent In The Linville Public Library
By Chad Stevens
Helen smiled. Nobody else knew where the missing boy was, but she did.
She always knew Chad was a bookworm.