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Night of the Unread

In the darkest of libraries, where solid book and stack seem to sway and quiver in the half light their waits . . . .
Go to the front desk and find Tell Tale card on the monitor?
 
Chapter one

The Awakening

How you managed to dose-off in the library and nobody find you under the bean bags in the story corner is neither here nor there. You are stuck, the doors are locked, everyone has gone home and here you are, trapped inside the library until dawn.

But the fear slowly subsides as you realise just how cool this is, locked inside with 10,000 books (at least!) each a world enticing you to pull them off the shelf and dig inside.

So you slowly shuffle down the isles, running your fingers along the spines in the half light, letting your eyes drift from spine to spine.

The Bideford Bansky, The Last Byte (a digital vampire novel) A Symphony of Sinistry (folk songs from the Dark Side)

The first book your fingers settle on is called 'The Inconviencince Store' you pop it open and inside are every day consumer goods like cola, sun screen and pop-sickles. But rather than the items listed, there are ingredients and detailed instructions. For the sun screen it suggests you buy a blow torch and zinc ore along with a hammer and a whole coconut. If you mashed up the coconut with the hammer you would make coconut oil and using the blow torch and zinc ore you could make zinc oxide. Finally you could then mix these ingredients together and to make a lifetimes supply of sunscreen!

You put the book back and continue to peruse.
Chapter two

The Stacks

In the next isle you crouch to see the larger printed books on the lower shelf, they have great titles like

Matchbox Robots - how to make an army of nano-bot robots to control the world.

The lower shelf has titles like, A Cumulus of Moods, Cupids Fletcher and The Button Collector, the last book is about a rather devious and curious woman who spent her life on public transport cutting buttons off peoples shirts with secret scissors hidden up her sleeve. The pages were of her journals, every page had a button neatly stitched with detailed notes below on where the button was taken and a description of the victim. The first page quoted
'on the A398 between Pieminster and Codfincher'
then went on to describe the spot on the garment where the button was stolen from

'right shoe'

'left sleeve pocket - single'

'waistcoat front no 3 of 6'

You slip the book neatly back into its slot on the stacks and the hours draw on as your peruse further and deeper into the world of paper and print.

The noises of the library are different at night, the hush has depth and texture, rather than the forced hush of truculent children fidgeting on laps before being seduced by the illustrations and poetry. The bustle of librarians, trolly wheels on carpet, the photocopier, the woosh of the electric door, all friendly comforting nosies, now strangely absent.

But then you hear a very different noise accentuating the quiet.

THUMP

Was that the sound of a large book hitting the floor just two isles over!

Are you alone!
Go to the crime section and look for the next Tell Tales card and keyword.
 
Chapter three

The Fountain of Youth

On the floor, there is a fat book lying open at its stamping page. You note there aren't many stamps and the last one was a while ago as you pick the book up and begin to flick through the pages.

The first image inside shows a black and white photo of a steam train crashed right though a Parisian station and lying diagonally on the street below, still steaming hot. People are few in the picture, and those that are present are smudged and ghosting.

You flick through and are soon reading and lost in the story, slumped on the carpet.

'Frederick, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, don't exaggerate.'

'But ma'

'Oh don't you ma me.' and she waved her finger in the air jabbing at him, pieces of pie falling from her mouth and gathering in the pockets and creases of her blouse. But Fred had to switch out of there, he slinked from the chair then ducked right under the table to expertly dive past her legs, pork pie crumbs tumbling down his neck as he slid past, up, out and away.

'Be back before dusk' were the last words he heard her call as the latch clicked behind him and the space of the street welcomed him. If he knew that this would be the last time he'd ever see her then perhaps he would have exited with a little less speed. But how was he to know what the night had in store, how was he to know the events which were about to unfold and tighten around his little innocent life like a death grip stamping.'

THUMP

Back in the library you close your eyes and gather your breath for a moment at the sound was so close! Turning your head slowly to see if anyone was there you think it strange that the last word you read in the book was the word Stamping.

You then stand up slowly with heart thudding in your chest and begin to investigate.
Go to the Travel section for the next Tell Tales card
 
Chapter four

The Challenge

Bang, this time a heavier sound from over the other side of the library.

'Hello' you call out, but no one replies.

You begin to tip toe across the room watching for something, anything. Perhaps a cat or a squirrel has been locked in with you!

But no, there it is, lying on the floor open at its index page, the book titled 'The Challenge'.

It is a small hardback and judging by the last time it was booked out it hadn't been borrowed often. You begin to thumb through the pages and are quickly lost in the story

'in a cold dark forest, with only a wolf skin vest hardly bigger than a purse the orphan shivered . . etc . . blowing on the embers of the fire a spark dances and then brightens up into flame. The fire runs crazily out of control like a wild gelding up the thatch trying to leap into the sky and become a star. You stamp . . '

THUMP!

Back in the library you are so lost inside the story that it takes the dry thud of something falling not too far away to bring you to your senses. Your heart races and your skin tingles, but curiously you notice at that very moment your eyes stop at a piece of text in the book.

It says quite simply

STAMP

But the thump of a falling book is all you can think about
along with who!
what!
where!
and again!
Go to the children's section and look for the Tell Tales card
 
Chapter five

The Long Weight

Lying on the carpet, open at its index page sits a book called The Long Weight and seems to be about a pendulum so long that it is moved by the very swill of the earths rotation. The index page suggests that it has not been borrowed very often, and not for some time.

You open the book and are soon lost inside, even though it is a science book, the facts seem to draw you deeper as every science fact has a rich story of discovery and intrigue.

'For three years the boats sailed from Port Royal, a pirate strong hold, plundering Spanish ships at the behest of the English Navy. Then out to the Sargasso Sea to finally meet their match, but this was no boat that sought them, this was the curse of the ocean itself. The crew knew that these treacherous waters often boiled with whirlpools, tossing a boat like a toy and then snapping it like a twig, so they knuckled down and diligently dropped the lead lines to the sea bed, mapping and plotting the ocean floor. But the stories of the leviathan punctuated every evening as the crew rested in their hammocks. The legend was of a beast so big it could wrap its arms around the belly of a Navy ship and cradle it like a baby in a manger, this always happened beneath a gibbous moon and after cradling the beast would then draw the boat down in to the abyss, mast, crew and all. It was on their twelfth night at sea and the first gibbous moon peeked out behind ice clouds and they all heard the klaxon call, the sound of the ocean beast, and then the sea began to foam with rage and sickness to be weirdly becalmed as if the moon glow itself laid a spell on the waters. Stamping '

THUMP!

Back in the Library your reading abruptly ends on the word 'stamping' as you hear a loud crash like a toppling book falling down in the isle across the other side of the library. Immediately you jump up and rather than tentatively making your way across as before, you run madly to see what or who was there!
Go to the talking book section and look for the Tell Tales card
 
Chapter six

The Healers Wake

Nobody, no cat, no squirrel, just a book lying on its side, a little askew as if it had thrown itself off the shelf in a suicide motion from the top of the stacks to snap its spine on the ground with the index page showing. The date was not recent of the last borrowing and there weren't many stamps either, but you open the book and begin to read.

The Healers Wake

All told, there were three siblings in the croft, a tiny house part midden, part mire all decaying around our ears, and to think this was the place we called home. We slept in the old cot tight as ticks to each other as father would stamp . . . . .

THUMP!

Back in the library your reading joy is once again broken as you hear a noise, what was that!

But this time, quick as a quiver you jump up and run, the last sentence still playing through your mind, with the word 'stamp'.
Go back to the scanner.
 
Chapter seven

The Front Desk

It was no surprise to find the front desk unmanned, how, where, who was making all the noise tonight? There on the desk by the light of the book scanner, is an open ink blotter with a simple date stamper, the numbers had already been set for the next day, ready for the first borrowing approvals to be made. You notice that is the first of the month and in a calendar on the librarians desk close by has the date ringed in red, double underlined and the words 'Weeding Day'.

Weeding you think, what on earth is weeding, surly that refers only to gardening but then beneath the title it says 'instructions for library team - collect and remove all books not borrowed within the last 3 months.'

It is not about gardening at all, it is about removing old books from the library!

At that very moment you know exactly what is being asked, exactly what has being requested of you by the books themselves. So you begin to collect all the volumes which have thrown themselves into the isles (and a few more which are twitching anxiously as you walk by). You bring them all back to the front desk which takes several trips, then finally with stacks of books waiting you begin.

First you tentatively lift the stamp by its worn wooden handle and gently massage it into the ink block to gather as much ink as you can. Then, with one decisive down ward strike, you stamp the first book. Their is an audible sigh from the books (which sounds like the rustle of pages!) you then take each book to the scanner which detects and catalogs each with a satisfying ping sound.

The book is saved.

One after another you stamp and scan, saving them from the recycling bin, putting each back on the shelf in turn. As the dawn light shows through the windows the final tomes are slid back into place on the stacks.

The last thing you do, before sleep consumes you, is slump down on the bean bags in the children's corner and fall fast asleep. The pillows slide across you and as the first librarians arrive to open the library, nobody notices you at all. When finally you do wake, you find there is one final book waiting at your feet, it is called 'The Night of the Unread'. You pick it up walk over to the machine and scan your card then check the title out before walking out the library doors with it neatly tucked under your arm.