The silence of the library was starting to drive Chester slightly wild. He needed to get out. He had been the only person in there all afternoon. even the cute librarian wasn’t in attendance. Studying for exams was all well and good but he knew at that moment that enough was enough. Normally he was content amongst the rows and rows of books shelved in high columns, you could almost say he felt quite at home, but today he felt slightly ill at ease. The old library with its wood panelling and frosted windows was one of his favourite haunts whether to study or relax a while, but today something felt a little off kilter.
Picking up his notebooks, paper and tablet he threw them haphazardly into his bag and started to stand up when someone said his name right behind him. The voice as so close he was sure he had felt the person’s breath brush his ear.
He looked over his shoulder to see who it was and what they wanted, but there was nobody there. He looked back and started to pick up his notebooks, paper and tablet.
‘Hang on a minute,’ he whispered to himself, checking over his shoulder once more. He had been sure that he had already picked up all his things once and put them in his bag. Deciding that the hours of solitary studying were really getting to him he picked up his bag and pushed back the chair.
“Chester…” the voice came again. Again Chester looked over his shoulder, but still there was nobody there. He tried to peer through the books stacked on the shelves behind him, guessing that someone was trying to wind him up.
“Benson, is that you?” he asked quietly moving toward s the shelves. “Come on, man, are you trying to spook me?” Benson was one of Chester’s best friends and prone to carrying out pranks on everyone, and on Chester in particular.
He rounded the corner into the next aisle to find it empty, but the window at the end of the stack of shelves slightly open and the fine mesh curtain blowing in the draught. He giggled nervously realising that what he had thought was someone calling his name was simply the noise made by the curtain as it brushed the edge of the shelf. He hadn’t felt someone’s breath on his era it had simply been the breeze from the window.
All of a sudden two books fell from the shelf to his right hitting the floor with a loud bang.
“Jesus,” Chester stuttered and clutched his chest. He hadn’t realised just quite how wound up he had felt. He bent down to pick up the books and put them back on the shelf, and was amused to notice one was about paranormal activity.
Having put them back on the shelf he went to the window and closed it, straightening the curtain back down as he did so.
Hitching his bag on his shoulder he started back down the line of shelves towards the exit. Just ahead of him he saw two more books on the floor and wondered how he could have missed them. Well they could jolly well stay there he decided and stepped over them glancing down as he did so. That was when he noticed that they were the books he had already picked up once. He stopped and started to bend down to retrieve them again, wondering how they could have got back on the floor without him noticing or hearing anything.
“Out now,” He said to himself. “Study no more for madness is upon thee.”
He plopped the books back on the shelf and stood upright, stretching slightly. He turned back round and was about to head for the door when out of the corner of his eye he was sure he caught sight of someone moving back behind the next row of shelves. He wondered if perhaps someone had said his name after all and had just narrowly missed being caught. He was sure Benson was the miscreant and was going to catch him this time.
Despite being in the library where silence was favoured Chester shouted “Benson I know you’re there so you can come on out right now.”
He waited a second to see if there would be any reply then hitching his bag up once more he ran full tilt round the stacks of shelves to where he had been sure he had seen someone. Again there was no-one there.
“Okay,” he shouted down the aisle. “You can play your stupid games, I’ve had enough and I’m out of here. There’s a pint with my name on it and I’m headed straight over to the Feathers.”
“This is no game Chester, and you know it. Remember Denham?” the voice came back at him.
“Denham?!” Chester blurted out in a stutter “Who are you, and how do you know about Denham?” he asked looking all around. Now he was sure it couldn’t be Benson. Denham had been an unfortunate student at the university long before Benson had started there. Chester had no idea as to who the voice might belong to. “Show yourself now.” he said assertively.
No answer came but Chester was sure he heard movement behind the door ajar to his right. “I hear you in there,” he shouted, “And I’m coming in.”
Chester grabbed the door handle intending to pull the door wide open and find this mystery person, but it was wrenched from his grasp and slammed shut. At exactly the same moment the shelving directly behind him tottered and swayed in his direction causing an avalanche of books to fall out and bury Chester under them. Seconds later the shelves themselves toppled and fell on him too.
Although he didn’t think he was seriously hurt Chester could hardly move and would need help to get out from under the heavy tomes. As he tried to move he was sure he could hear movement and the sound of someone breathing above him. “Who are you?” he asked. “Help me get out from under here, please…. please,” he begged to no avail.
“I know you’re there,” he breathlessly whispered as the crushing weight of the books felt heavier and heavier on his chest. “I know you’re there. I hear you…, I hear you…, I hear ……”
Thanks to fatmumslim.com for the prompt