This is part of a serial story. The story began here.
There's nothing creepy about a room. Unless it's that room. The southern room on the second floor of the library, the room too small to be called a hall but too big to be an alcove. The room with floor to ceiling bookshelves on three walls, crammed with dusty law books from other states. The room where the lights flicker for no good reason.
“Are you sure you didn't hear the noise somewhere else, Nick? Anywhere else?” I said.
Nick strode into the room and pointed to the bookcase across from the window. “There. The scratching sounds are coming from there.”
I walked over and peered at the spines of the books. Pacific Reporters. “West coast cases from the 1960s. Wow. I can see why you're drawn to this place.”
“It's quiet in here,” Nick said defensively.
“Except for the scratching.”
“Except for that,” he agreed
The lights dimmed and then flickered.
“Well, it's pretty quiet right now. Let me know if it gets weird again,” I said, backing out of the room.
Of course that was when the scratching noises started. It sounded like someone was dragging their fingernails down the back of the bookcase.
Nick glared at me.
“What,” I snapped.
“Do something,” he said, pointing at the bookcase.
I walked over reluctantly. The scratching continued.
“There! Second shelf, fifth book from the right,” Nick said.
I glared at him over my shoulder. Between studying, late hours and caffeine my nerves were strained to the breaking point. “Okay, genius. You've figured out where it's coming from so you deal with it,” I hissed.
“You work here.”
Great. Just...great. I reached out and carefully pulled the book from the shelf. The scratching stopped.
“There. I fixed it,” I said with relief. I put the book back on the shelf and turned away.
The scratching started again.
“Do you hear that?” demanded Nick.
“Of course I do! Don't ask me that.”
“I'm sorry, I just...I'm not crazy. If you hear it when I hear then I'm sane.”
“Maybe we're both crazy.”
“I tried helping; the scratching started again.”
Nick stared at the bookcase. “I have a twisted feeling in the pit of my stomach, a physical reaction to an impending brush with destiny,” he said softly.
Say what? “You know, you might be crazy regardless of scratching sounds,” I told him.
Nick took a deep breath and step forward. He reached out and touched the book with his fingertips. He tugged gently. The book didn't move.
“It's stuck,” he said.
I shook my head. “Can't be. I didn't have to force it back in. There's plenty of room on the shelf.”
Placing his whole hand on the top edge of the book, Nick gritted his teeth. “Hello, destiny,” he whispered. He pulled.
The book came off the shelf in his hand, but it brought something with it. A ghost hand was clutching the book from the other side.
I could lie about what happened next, but why bother? Truth is, I screamed. I screamed like a pig caught up by a twister.
Nick didn't scream. He shoved the book back into the bookcase and ran. Halfway down the stairs he realized I wasn't with him and he came racing back.
“Let's go, Maryanne,” he said, grabbing my arm.
“The book...the book fell out,” I gasped, pointing with a trembling hand at the volume on the floor.
I shook off Nick's hand and ran to the bookcase. I yanked out the books adjoining the empty space on the shelf and leaned in. A pair of eyes stared back at me.
That's when I screamed for the second time.
“Come on,” Nick shouted. He pulled me out of the room. Muffled cries came from the bookcase as we fled.
Three other law students peeked up from their study carrels, their heads bobbing up like nervous meercats.
“What's happening?” one of them asked.
“The Pacific Reporters are haunted,” I yelled, sprinting for the stairs.
“Oh. Okay,” he said, and sat down.
As we reached the top of the stairs all of the lights on the second floor began to flicker and the temperature dropped about twenty degrees. I stumbled on the steps and Nick caught me.
“Hey, what's going on with the lights?” someone shouted.
“Where's the library worker,” called out another.
“An anagram for library worker is 'A Brr Like Worry',” I gasped.
Nick looked at me strangely. “Anagrams?”
“It's what my brain does when I freak out,” I explained. I straightened up and took a hesitant step toward the haunted room.
“What are you doing?” Nick whispered frantically.
I didn't have a clue. Out loud I said, “I'm on duty. Safety in the library is my responsibility. So I'm...going back in there.”
Even the smartest girls can have bad ideas.