Tyler  McNamara
Writing. World Building. Game Design.

Reality Fan Fiction

The Dewey DEATHcimal System

The Library was quiet. That’s dumb. Of course it was quiet, but I mean it was EXTRA quiet. No one had come in in hours, and when they did it was only to rent freaking DVDs.  Sorry, it seems like I’m complaining about no one picking up a book anymore, and you’re thinking, “Wow, big surprise a librarian thinks people don’t read enough,” but that’s not what I’m getting at.  I just thought it was relevant to WHY I was combing through the non-fiction stacks so carefully.

     Every year there’s a library book sale, and the books in it are generated from these searches. We go through the electronic system and see which books are collectors, and which are movers. Sorry, that’s library jargon. I wonder if that’s jargon for all libraries or just ours? Anyway, what I mean is collectors just sit there collecting dust. They’re books that have a borrow score that’s dropped by 15.4 or more over the last five years. Obviously, movers are the opposite. Sometimes if we see a book that’s trending toward the collector scale, we’ll put it on the ‘read of the week’ display shelf to try to generate some interest and save it. Rebecca, one of the other librarians, keeps managing to save this schlocky novel The Wind Through her Hair. The book is one of thirty crap novels written by Janet Johnson, which is the pen name of some guy named Randy Wentworth, who apparently thought a woman’s name would sell more books than a guy name Randy. Well… I guess he thought right, because that thing jumps off the shelves whenever Rebecca puts it out.
     Sorry, I’m off topic again. So I noticed that A life of One’s Own, was starting to become a collector, so I went to fetch it for the ‘Read of the week’ shelf, but it wasn’t there. I double checked to make sure it wasn’t… sorry I’m doing it again. I’ll skip ahead. While I was combing the non-fiction stacks for it, I found this hardcover, bound in black canvas with no title, author’s name, or any writing on the side. It didn’t even have a Dewey decimal code taped to the spine. The book just looked like some common book stuck on our shelves. So I pulled it out. It looked relatively new, not excessively dusty, and there was no spine fade, which you’ll get on some of the older volumes. The front was marked with big, gold lettering that made me cringe. At first I thought, at the title: The Death of a Librarian. But then I realized the shiver going down my spine wasn’t the creeps, it was the font. This was the kind of type Daniel Steel would use, and I thought: What is this doing in the non-fiction stacks?
     I brought it back to my desk, and ran a search through the library system, but it says, ‘I’m sorry, nothing with that title can be found’. Then I realized it didn't credit an author so I started looking on the first page for an is-bin, or a Library of Congress code, but it's missing all of that information. The first page is just the title again. It was obviously self-published, the pages were not library quality, but none of that matters. I turned to the second page and started reading. The writing was loose and too casual, and it didn't even start with any character description, it just seemed to drop straight into the action. Action in the sense that a verb describes an action, not like the car-chase kind. It wasn't to my taste: I like to know who I’m reading about before I can really get into a story, even if it is fiction.  The first page described the non-fiction stacks of a library, and a librarian finding a book that doesn’t belong there. She takes it back to the computer and when she can’t find it in the system, she begins to read it.
The book had a beautiful depth of detail about specifics of the library, and they all matched this library perfectly. Reading it gave me the eerie feeling of being watched. I stopped and looked around. For a moment I considered calling out something like, “Hello?” But it felt too damsel in distress so I went back to reading and --I swear to God-- this is what I read next:

     “This is describing MY library,” she thinks, feeling the hairs rise on the back of her neck. No longer sure she’s alone in the library she stops reading, and looks around. There’s no one there. Or at least no one she can see. She thinks about calling out, but doesn’t want to act the victim, and goes back to reading. Now she’s gotten to the part of the story where she’d reading exactly what has happened, and now exactly what is happening. “What the hell?” She thinks. “This has got to be some kind of prank,” and closes the book.

     I read it, thought it, and did it.

She opened the book back up. “Did IT make me think that? Or is it just recording what I’m doing? NO, I’m in control,” she swore to herself and slammed the book closed before reading the end of the paragraph.
     A moment later she opened it back up and finished the paragraph, just to make sure it said that she slammed the book. She closed the book again, this time more slowly, trying to catch a glimpse of the next… “Oh my God!” She thought.

     It’s a prank, it’s a good prank I’ll give the bastard that, but regardless, it didn’t belong in my stacks, even if it did seem to be non-fiction. A book needs an author, a publisher, a copyright notice, an is-bin, and most importantly a Library of Congress Control Number. I picked up the phone and started to dial the director, when I read the title again The Death of a Librarian, and I got an idea. I hung up the phone, and flipped to the last of the 300-or-so pages to cheat and read the ending. The page was blank. The last ten pages were all blank. I kept flipping backward through the book; the last hundred pages were blank. I flipped faster and accidentally flipped past hundreds of texted pages and stopped.

     “You have to believe me!” She shouted to the director. “Someone is trying to kill me!”
     “It’s just a book, Rebecca. No one is trying to kill you.”

     I closed the book with a sigh of relief. Thank God, the prank isn’t for me. I turned it over in my hands appreciating it for what it was, and called the director.
     It rang twice.
     While I waited my eyes glanced at the clock. Goodness, it’s already 1:30.
     It rang six times. Wasn't Rebecca supposed to be in at noon?
     Where’s Rebecca?  I thought, and the director never answered the phone.