The Spirit of the Season

Listen to the audio narration of this story on the Library Voices podcast! https://www.hcpl.net/podcast

It was getting late at the library in Fairmont, Texas. Trenton was  done with all of his homework and decided he would look for some books to entertain him for the weekend. He loved a good spooky story and the Library usually set up an awesome horror section as Halloween drew near.Trenton stopped by the station of his favorite Library Assistant, Rachel, and asked. “So, where do y’all have the spooky section set up this year? I can’t wait to see what you did on the decorations.”Rachel smiled and replied, “Right across from the atrium. I hope that you like it! We have the heavy hitters like King and Koontz, but there are also a lot of newer and up and coming authors like Booth, Piper, Castro, Hightower. You know I could talk for hours about my favorite new writers. It’s so exciting to think of the new worlds they will create!”Trenton smiled. “Yeah, I know you could. I’d usually love to sit and go back and forth with you about all that but I’m way too excited to see what you have set up. Thanks, Rachel!”Rachel smiled back and said, “Of course. Make sure to stop by and let me know what you think!”Trenton rushed off eagerly and walked through the atrium which was by far the most beautiful feature of Fairmont Branch Library. It was filled with plants that Rachel and the other assistants took care of. There were bamboo plants, orchids, and even coffee trees with shiny and waxy green leaves that lit up the room. Plenty of comfortable seating was arranged within the atrium and it was Trenton’s favorite spot to study.As Trenton walked out of the other side of the atrium the mood shifted. There was smoke about his feet and he couldnt quite tell if it was from a smoke machine or dry ice. The effect was fantastic either way. The section had purple and black shimmering streamers that dangled from above. A sign dangled from the entrance that read “Let’s Get Spooky” with yellow cats eyes in place of the Os.Trenton stopped and looked around to appreciate every detail and thought how Rachel had really outdone herself this year.He walked into the section setting off an evil laugh with gothic tones of music. This startled him a bit and he marveled at the skeleton who was emitting the noise. This side of the atrium was far enough from everyone who was reading or studying, so I guess she figured that it wouldn’t bother anyone.Smirking with delight at the newly festive section, Trenton scanned the titles and authors. There was Tremblay, Amor, even Danger Slater and of course Stephen Graham Jones. There was a whole section  with authors from reddit’s nosleep like Rafael Marmol, T. W. Grim, L. P. Hernandez and C. B. Jones. It was an incredible line up and Rachel had obviously been doing her homework. Trenton was delighted and reached for his first pick.Just as he was about to retrieve Night of the Mannequins by SGJ, he noticed an author that he had never heard of before. His name was G. H. Astly and his volumes took up an entire row! How had this author flown under Trenton’s radar? He was an avid reader and he especially loved the horror genre. He abandoned his original plan and reached for the first title that jumped out at home. “How to Disappear” by G. H. AstlyThe cover was of a man who was disintegrating into the sky. The sky was purple and blue with clouds of a lemony yellow. Trenton felt entranced by the cover and stared into it. Suddenly it appeared that the clouds were circling right in front of his eyes the man who was disintegrating slowly disappeared piece by tiny piece into the otherworldly storm that the cover portrayed.”Ahhh!!!”Trenton dropped the book and looked around. He felt as if someone had to be playing a trick on him. Seeing that nobody was around he took a moment to rationalize. He considered that it could be one of those effects where the cover shows a different image depending on how you look at it. It didn’t seem to be one, but he could be mistaken. At this point he just needed to believe that it was for his own sanity. He shoved the book back into it’s empty place. Another one jumped out at him so he reached for it… No, really. It jumped out at him. The book flew off the shelf and he reached out and grabbed it basically on pure instinct.This was enough to send Trenton running for the hills. He reached the counter and looked to Rachel with his eyes nearly popping from the sockets. “You really went all out this year, huh?”Rachel laughed and said, “Calm down. It’s just one of those skeletons from Spirit Halloween. I didn’t expect you to be so spooked by it.”Trenton began to calm himself and attempt to bring his breathing back to a normal level.”No, not that. That was super cool, though. The trick books. You know the ones by G. H. Astly?”He remembered the book that he grabbed right before he ran off.”Oh yeah, like this one!” Trenton held up his empty hand and pointed at it. Rachel laughed and clapped a couple of times.”G. H. Astly, huh? You think you’re so clever. I’m not going to lie that is a pretty good dad joke. A little young for those aren’t you, Trenton?”Trenton looked to Rachel then to his hand and back and forth as fear began to send goosebumps up and down his arms.”I…I…I… Uh… It was just right there. I’m not joking, I swear. Then there was the book with the moving cover.”Rachel began to look concerned. “Moving cover? Buddy, are you ok? Do you need me to get you some water? There are no books by anyone named G. H. Astly. You can take a look for yourself.”Trenton had cold sweat running down his forehead. He wiped it and pressed on his eyes as if the act could summon to book to reappear in his grasp.Trenton responded shakily. “Yeah… Yeah, I think I’ll do that, thanks. There’s a water fountain over there. Maybe that’s a good idea too.”Rachel nodded her head, “It’s all for fun, Trenton. Don’t let the decorations get to your head!”Trenton walked back to the spooky display and just like Rachel said there were no books by a G. H. Astly on the shelves. The row he had been searching through now showed nothing but Goosebumps and Fear Street. Trenton pressed on his temples and tried to make sense of it all.As he stood there, dumbfounded, a man slid up to the corner of the bookshelf. His legs were hidden by the smoke and his face was shrouded by a hood. He spoke as if he spoke in a hushed and whispering tone. “I see that you’ve taken interest in my books. That is good, and you’re right to do so… There’s no better way to get into the spirit of the season.”The man broke into a laugh that made the skeleton sound like child’s play. He shrieked and he howled. This time Trenton took off for the front door and he did not turn back.

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