“When Good Libraries Go Bad” so far

1

A tentacle circled my neck, squeezing the life out of me with agonizing skill. “Steve!” came Terry’s voice. “Steve! Wake up!”

*

I opened my eyes to Terry, leaning over me. He looked scruffy without his mind-mage robes on. “Your cthulhu nightmares suck.”

“Sorry.”

*

We got up for breakfast. As the mind-mage, Terry got cereal. Phil the muscle-mage got steak. As air-mage, I got zip. And MY robe is puce.

2

“Oi, Steve, stop being nervous,” said Terry.

I said, “Shut up or I’ll CO2 you.”

Phil cracked a smile, exercising at least twenty muscles.

*

We hiked across the desert toward the Forbidden Library. Terry cleared his throat when we were still twenty miles away: “I sense something.”

*

Phil tensed, ready to attack. Terry shook his head: “It’s dead – but still radiating.”

“So. . . ?” I prompted.

Terry said: “It’s a cthulhu.”

3

Five miles away, and I tasted dead cthulhu on the air. Phil was sure he could make the corpse slither away, though, so that was reassuring.

*

At last we reached the three storey iron- and bone-bound doors of the outer library. I sensed breathable air inside. “After you, Phil.”

*

Phil focused, and the great doors cracked open, spraying chunks of blood-stained iron bigger than my house. “And now we wait,” said Terry.

4

We barely slept. I had nightmares, but Terry had his own to distract him. At dawn, we heard the rustling of pages. We waited back to back.

*

A pack of graphic novels emerged and sniffed at my feet. They smelled what I wanted them to smell – a friend. And so they imprinted on me.

*

When I judged my literature army to be big enough, we walked inside. A single giant tentacle lay across the threshold. I removed the stench.

5

More books joined me every hour – everything from gardening to war. I was dizzy with the smell of leather bindings and dust.

*

Phil wanted to move the tentacle, but Terry insisted we climb it. Some mountaineering books made steps for us, and it only took a few hours.

*

“There’s a problem,” Terry whispered.

I said, “What?”

“The cthulhu – it’s either a mother or a daughter. And I can’t tell which is alive.”

6

We ducked into a cobweb-strewn chamber and were attacked by a squad of how-to books. They pounded my head and I wasn’t able to focus.

*

Phil pushed me aside and tore apart the books with his mind. Terry was taken over by empathic rage and he punched me in the gut. I folded.

*

Ten books rushed Phil at once and I reached out with my mind and made him smell of oil just in time. They calmed down, and Terry did too.

7

“It’s Nix,” Terry told us at last.

I said, “The monster mage! No wonder WE were sent. We need to find his spell book – and destroy it.”

*

Phil coughed: “How will we do it?”

“1. Look, and 2. Live,” said Terry.

I said, “You know what a cthulhu’s weakness is? They’re too big.”

*

“How is size a disadvantage?” Phil asked.

I said, “Because hopefully they won’t notice us.”

“Right,” he whispered.

8

Terry shook me awake. “They took Phil!” I stood at once, but all my books were asleep and there were no others to be seen. Terry whimpered.

*

“Is that your fear or his?” I said.

Terry said, “His. Which means he’s still alive.”

“Good.” I sent a shelf of James Bonds to find Phil.

*

I asked, “Do you think it was Nix or the live cthulhu that took Phil?”

“Nix. I can feel him laughing. And he knows I can hear him.”

9

The Bond books returned with an illustrated series on the Moulin Rouge. I altered the air so they fled in disgrace.

[there’s more to come today, but I haven’t written it yet 🙁 ]

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