Writing Prompt: Library

Perfect lighting illuminates a square of floor that gleams so brightly one might almost believe it is not only resistant to the marks left by hundreds of shuffling feet, but somehow actively repels them. Every wall seems to stretch for miles, both up and along the room, and every one is packed with books.

As you approach one of the shelves, you see each has small lettering detailing the title of each tome, and each one is a name. Some of them are thought provoking – Cain, Lee Harvey Oswald, Ted Bundy – while others are not as familiar – A. Jonas Cruz, Mordechai Wilton, Ben Holmes – but you think you grasp the theme.

Wanting to be sure you take down one of the books with an unfamiliar name – this one is titled Herbert Jameson – and flip it open. Inside are intricate drawings of a murder scene, no detail left without comment. Pages and pages are filled with precise handwriting detailing the killing, including all of the events that led up to it and the aftermath. The final page is marked with heavy black letters that only say “Unsolved.”

You take down another, and another, some famous names and some not, and they are all the same; photos, drawings, detailed psychiatry reports. Always that final page, sometimes marked “Solved,” others “Unsolved,” and others still – Oswald’s, for example – marked “Mystery.” That’s when you realize what you’ve stumbled on.

It looks – and is – a library. A very special reference library. Every one of the books details a murderer, from the man who smothered his wife because she wouldn’t stop nagging and was never caught all the way up to Jack the Ripper’s canonical five… and beyond. A library of murderers, just waiting for someone with the right key to come, waiting to expose its secrets to the right soul.

You take down the book marked “Ripper,” and go to leave. That’s when you discover the door you came through, the one that was supposed to lead you into the Albany Public and took you here instead, is gone. Turning around again, trying to fight the panic, you notice what escaped you when you first came in: a small desk tucked just out of the range of the lights. On the desk is a small, hand-lettered sign.

“Help wanted,” is what the sign says. Underneath that, in smaller lettering, it says “Position filled. Sorry.”

Next to that on the desk is a name plaque. It says “Head Librarian.”

The line beneath that is your own name.

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