Authors: Morris Fenris
Books of the Dead
Changing Culture Publications
Books of the Dead
Copyright 2014 Morris Fenris
Changing Culture Publications
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Merly raced passed her classmates, to reach the library door, but to her dismay, the corridor walk wouldn’t end. She had to submit her Criminology assignment tomorrow. Her halted steps brought laughter from her classmates, their overbearing guffaws even surpassed the sound of the incessant rain and ear-deafening thunder. The more she ran, the further the door seemed. Merly realized she was stuck in a timeless limbo.
A stifled cry and hushed sound of sobbing woke Nora up; the darkness of the room numbed her for a moment. She took a few seconds to realize where she was, but was unable to move herself towards the source of the sound. The oppressive darkness seemed to cloud her mind with only a hint of moonlight peering through the window. She desperately tried to switch on the light realizing it was her roommate Merly again. It was the eleventh consecutive night that Merly was having the same nightmare.
For the first few nights when Nora woke up to find her friend and roommate crying, she did not take it too seriously. Upon probing, Merly dismissed it and Nora did not inquire further. The days were fine, but the dreams never stopped coming at night. Nora failed to understand the cause or the reason behind it, and it was only after the sixth night that Merly confessed to her about her misery. Worried as Nora was, she urged her friend to visit the nurse in the campus. Merly refused.
Now in the dead of the night, Nora looked up at the clock on her bed side-table and saw 3:00 a.m. She hurriedly got off her bed and tried to wake up her friend. Merly twisted in her bed and gave out a loud cry before waking up.
Nora asked her sympathetically, “Is it the same? How did it end?”
Merly did not reply, but simply nodded her head. She sat up slowly and with the dream still fresh began to rub her eyes. She finally relaxed, and closing her eyes sat with arms folded up to her knees. Nora waited patiently for her friend to offer an explanation, for which none was given. Merly laid there staring at the wall.
Nora always wondered how the nightmare ended for her friend, but all she gathered was Merly running towards the library through an unending corridor path. She let out a deep breath and sat quietly at her friend’s bed side. The clock was ticking away and Nora wondered if they would get any more sleep that night. Tomorrow was a big day for both Merly and Nora, being the first day of their final year in the university, and both of them didn’t want to miss it for the world. With that thought in mind, they switched off their bedside lamps.
Wednesday morning was no different than any other day; both friends woke up to bright and sunny weather. Soon the happenings of the night were forgotten as both the girls headed to take on all that happened that new day.
Their new class was situated at the far end of the corridor on the fourth floor of the university building. There were hushed whispers about a new teacher, new boyfriends, girlfriends and the myth that surrounded the fourth floor library. Unlike Nora, Merly preferred being by herself, so when her friend hopped off to mingle with her classmates, Merly sat quietly for the class to begin. Nora motioned towards her friend to come up and share her stories, but Merly refused to participate.
During her one year as a graduate student, Merly recalled that she had heard numerous stories regarding the fourth floor of this university building, hence sitting there in one of the classrooms gave her the chills. Looking outside the window, she noticed a soft breeze blowing against the three-story tall catalpa and she was lost in a reverie. Her mind drifted towards things unknown, about her strange dream and the meaning behind it, why did it occur repeatedly or why was she so afraid to reveal the ending to her friend. A loud screech woke her up from her dreaminess and she looked out towards the door. Brushing off the thoughts in a huff, Merly, along with the rest of her classmates, greeted Mr. Summers.
Mr. Summers was a nice old man; the students around the university not only liked him, but looked up to him as well. A veteran at the university, he was a teacher for more than forty years. He walked with a limp. A gentle smile plastered on his face all the time, Mr. Summers never scolded any of his students. He was loved; his students always wondered where he lived, and his staple answer was, “round the corner.”
His arrival delighted everyone in the class. He spoke softly and chose his words in a discreet manner, addressing each student. Merly tried to focus and concentrate on her teacher’s words, but something seemed to occupy her mind. She could not lay a finger on it. Her mind drifted back and forth and her eyes traveled towards the large clock that was nestled against the classroom wall. The clock showed 12:00 p.m., but they entered the classroom at 10:00 a.m., and Merly quickly checked her wrist watch to confirm that the classroom clock was broken and stuck at 12:00 p.m. She speculated if there was a story revolving around the clock as well.
Mr. Summers announced that it was 1:00 p.m., and then stopped and looked at the students. Merly checked her watch once again to see the time. I Indeed, it was 1:00 p.m. Merly looked at her friend, who was looking towards their teacher in hopes he would end the lectures. At that moment, Merly thought she saw a change of emotion come across Mr. Summers’ face, but then again she assured herself she was seeing things.
Some of the students walked up to Mr. Summers to ask him questions and Merly considered going up to him as well. There were a few things she wanted to ask him, but decided against it at the last moment. Nora walked up to Merly to ask if something was bothering her. Before Merly could answer, there was a loud horrifying shriek outside the classroom. They looked at each other in bewilderment before rushing out of the classroom.
They found a junior named Paula lying unconscious on the corridor floor. Her face white and forehead covered with sweat as if she had seen a ghost. They found no one in the corridor. This was not unexpected since there were only two classes on the fourth floor and neither of them had yet finished. By this time, a few students gathered to help Paula regain consciousness. The librarian, Mr. Stevenson, was also present and looking over the matter. The frail looking silver-haired man hovered over and asked the students to clear the area. He gently asked, ”Are you all right, girl, and what are you doing here on the fourth floor corridor?“
“I don’t have a class here, Mr. Stevenson,” Paula replied in-between her sobs, “I was going towards the library when someone pushed me hard.” She paused and continued, “The hands were dead cold, like ice.”
“Is that all? Are you sure?” Mr. Stevenson inquired.
Paula kept silent for a few minutes. She then quietly replied that she saw the person run into the library before she was left shaken. There were faint whispers as students spoke among themselves.
Someone among the crowd said, “But our class was still in progress and there was no one here.”
Someone else said, “The corridor was silent.”
Paula looked up and asked, “You don’t believe me? I saw the person who pushed me running towards the library. The hands were very cold. I swear I saw them and felt them, too.” Everyone looked at Mr. Stevenson since he was the one who came out of the library.
Mr. Stevenson saw that all eyes were on him looking for an answer. He promptly replied, “At this hour, there was no one inside the library. I was the only one there.”
Jeremy, a first year Criminology student, didn’t look convinced. “Are you sure, Mr. Stevenson?” he probed.
Paula nervously asked, “Did you see anyone come in?”
Mr. Stevenson shook his head to indicate that no one had come into the library.
Suddenly, Merly said, “I believe you.”
The students present asked her, “So did you see the person?”
Nora, seeming to want to defend her friend, said, “No, how would she see the person? We were in the classroom and Mr. Summers just left.”
Someone asked, “You don’t suppose Mr. Summers pushed her, do you?”
Nora seemed to be at a loss of words. Merly went forward and helped Paula up on her feet then looked solemnly at her. “I believe that someone might have pushed you and gone into the library. The person may be hiding in there, so let’s go together and find out.”
What Merly kept secret from the rest was that not that long ago, during the finals of her first year, she was pushed in the same manner on her way to the library. It was in the evening and not many were present on the fourth floor. She did not lose consciousness, and like Paula, she saw someone run into the library, too. They looked, but found no one who entered the library at that moment. There was old Mr. Stevenson, who was dozing off and a few students studying in silence.
The incident never occurred again, and Merly didn’t give it a second thought. This time, she was determined to find out if it was the same person or just a figment of her imagination. The library had one exit door and there was no way out, which left six windows. However, since the library was fully air-conditioned, all the windows stayed locked.
The library had an old charm about it. It had antique-looking benches on the front and left side of the library, which were set in double rows. Students and teachers sat on these for hours, studying and researching. The other areas were taken up by huge wooden cupboards and shelves that stored books. On each shelf, the subjects were marked in alphabetical order.
Mr. Stevenson sat behind one large oak desk with his spectacles on one side and a computer on the other. The library assistant had resigned a few days earlier; therefore, the other chair remained vacant. The green curtains on the windows let the right amount of sunlight in and the library was fairly lit almost all the time. So if someone was hiding, then it was just a matter of time before that person would be found out.
The library gave off a thick smell of books and people, of untold stories and mysteries, of silence and murmurs. Merly, along with Paula, Mr. Stevenson and few others, stood in front of the doorway. There was no ominous silence in the library, but just a preferred calmness. Mr. Stevenson went ahead first followed by others.
Merly called out loudly, “Hello. Anyone there?” Her voice reverberated through the entire room and other than a few sounds of moving footsteps, nothing was heard. Merly did not want to give up. She had a hunch that something was amiss, but failed to understand what it was. She decided to look into it by moving ahead of the others, the rest followed her.
They expected to find someone, there were bullies all around. Someone was expected to be there, and a few suspected names were called out. However, the only thing they heard was the sound of silence. There was no one in the library, and it was unlikely that someone entered and left without being noticed. Nothing seemed out of place. Merly and the others were soon joined by some of Paula’s class friends. They all helped search throughout the library, but no one was found.
Mr. Stevenson looked particularly perplexed. He stood in one corner. He started verbally murmur something about blaming his old age, which caused stifled movement, and the changing times. He recalled how everything was perfectly fine in the library until that fateful day.
“I’ve kept silent for years,” he said. “B
ut I did not see anything
” He repeated that a few times until someone came and called out his name aloud.
“Mr. Stevenson. “Mr. Stevenson,” one of the students called out. He looked up slowing. “Could it be?” he whispered.
“Did you find anyone?” he asked quietly.
“No one, Mr. Stevenson. There is no one in here. Are you sure that you saw no one?” the student asked.
“I am old, but I can see. I saw no one coming in or going out!” he gruffly replied.
Merly was at the front desk by then and followed the conversation between her classmate, Rick, and Mr. Stevenson.
Is he hiding something
? she asked herself. She knew Mr. Stevenson for the past year, but did not find anything wrong or creepy about him. She had visited the library on a regular basis over the past year and was particularly fond of the old librarian. He talked less and looked a little tense most of the time, but that is how some people are, she told herself. However, it was not the same for her classmates or a few others in the university. Some claimed they saw Mr. Stevenson talking to himself.
Merly believed that all human psychology cannot be determined by one single pattern. There are things people do or are subjected to that can only be explained through years of study or research to form a judgment or conclusion.
In the past, she never paid any heed towards the stories regarding Mr. Stevenson. However, he has been in the same profession for all his working life, sitting in silence for his entire career except when dealing with requests from his assistant and students. So, she thought that he was entitled to bouts of absurdness and moments of insanity.
Today, however, Merly refused to look past it. She was sure that Mr. Stevenson looked nervous, and not because of his age. She wanted to ask him more, but the arrival of a new teacher took the opportunity away from her. Slowly, the library was being cleared and it was concluded that Paula must have tripped and fell, and seeing someone was just her delusion. Merly, however, decided to reach the end of it. Things happening twice and in a similar fashion could not just be coincidence. As Merly walked out of the library, she gave one last glace at the empty benches and Mr. Stevenson. He stood motionless staring at the old clock on the wall behind the benches in which the hands showed that the clock was stuck at 12:00.
After two more classes, the first day of the final year was concluded. Nobody talked about or discussed the library incident after everyone left the library. One new teacher, Mr. Roberts, entered in followed by Mr. Paisley. The classes for the day were then done. The walk back to the student lodging was long and Merly kept quiet for most of it. In fact, when Nora proposed to go in, Merly wanted to go for a walk alone.
”Merly, just be careful!” Nora called back before going in.
Merly simply waved her hands acknowledging her friend’s concern. The evening sky was clear and the stars were beginning to show. There was a slight hint of moonlight appearing in the cloudless sky. Merly looked up once and stared blankly as long as she could remember, as if the vastness of the sky held the answer to her impending questions. A light breeze was blowing and the temperature was starting to fall. Merly fastened her sweater buttons and strode along the cobbled path.