Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | August 2, 2009

The Book

Lexington, MA. March 21, 2009.

Book Case

The cabinet opened without a sound, and Fern’s hand fell from the golden key. The room was empty, still, but for her breathing and the brush of wind through white curtains.

Her fingers walked along the embossed titles, passing over histories and encyclopedias, pausing on shorter, more arresting names.The Fall of Empires, Imprisoned, Tales of Woe, A Garden of Her Own.

She didn’t know what the book was called, but she would find it. Inside, salvation.

Tap, tap, tap.

Footsteps. Fern didn’t dare turn, not with so many spines left to scan. It’s just an attendant passing by with the wash, she told herself.

But deep in her gut, a tendril of fear began to shiver. The attendants never came down this hallway. The Tap-tap echoed with a dull regularity that only the Master possessed.

Tap, tap.

Her eyes wandered back to gaze through the curtain of her dark hair. As she searched the hall for signs of shadows, her fingers grazed against a thin, soft book. She hadn’t seen the title, but she knew. This was it.

***

Master Urgan smelled a disturbance in the perfect air of his study from across the vast acreage of his estate. But he didn’t dare walk quickly. No, he never hurried. A man of his stature didn’t have to. Things he wanted came to him, and if they didn’t, they wished they had.

As he walked, leisurely, tapping his heels against the shining floor in perfect 4/4 legato time, his fingers curled into fists at his sides. Perfectly manicured nails dug into the flesh of his palms.

Someone was definitely in his study, and the window was open. Now the atmosphere was all wrong. It would take weeks for everything to settle back to normal.

Master Urgan burst through the open door, and slammed the window shut. The room quaked in response, as if ashamed that it let a stranger trespass.

“Where are you?” Master Urgan asked, politely.”You can’t escape, you know.”

He didn’t expect an answer. This theif had been good. He’d not only known to open the window in order to confuse the air, he’d somehow gotten ahold of the golden key and…

Master Urgan’s nails bit through the flesh of his palm, and a single drop of blood fell to the floor.

The book was gone.

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