Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Midnight in the Library"

This piece is from a challenge to write about something that would have you in a library at midnight. It's not my best, but it's what I could do today. I may expand this at a later date because I think the idea has potential.

The knock was a sharp staccato. Carmen listened carefully, verifying the appropriate pattern, before opening the door. Two girls stood in the shadows outside. The closest stepped forward into the light. She was dressed in a short, sleeveless black dress over which hung a black lace shawl. A black ribbon choker encircled her neck. Lacey tights with intricate rose patterns covered her legs, while heavy black boots graced her feet. Her long black hair was straight, contrasting sharply with her pale white complexion. Black eyeliner and vibrant red lipstick highlighted her face. Black fingernail polished flashed from her hands as she made the ritual sign, identifying her as a clan member.

"Greetings, Mistress."

Carmen made the requisite counter sign. "Greetings, Victoria. You have a friend with you tonight."

"Yes, Mistress. This is Shelleigh."

The second girl stepped forward. "Hi."

Shelleigh had made an attempt to look like Victoria, but she was only partially successful. Her clothes were too preppy to be true Goth, and her face had too much color to pull off the extreme makeup, but Carmen gave her marks for effort. Victoria had been a clan member for some time and not many could compete with her when it came to style.

"Wish you to join with us?" Carmen asked. It was obvious, but the formalities must be observed. The girl nodded. Carmen raised an eyebrow. Victoria nudged Shelleigh gently.

"You have to say the line," she whispered.

"Oh, right. Let's see." Shelleigh straightened her shoulders, bowed her head and whispered, "It is my wish, Mistress."

"Then I welcome you, Shelleigh," Carmen replied. "Be at peace while you are with us. Come, the others are already gathered."

Carmen led the two girls away from the emergency exit and into the stacks.

"Why is it so dark?" Shelleigh asked as they made their way to the central study area.

"The clan prefers the dark, dear," Carmen said. "Don't worry, your eyes will...adjust...soon enough."

A moment later they emerged from the stacks into an open area. Tables and chairs had been pushed aside to form a roughly circular area in the middle of the room. Electric candles had been spaced at even intervals within the circle. They weren't as nice as the real thing, but these days one made certain concessions for sprinkler systems, especially in a library.

The rest of the clan gathered around as they entered. Like Victoria, several of the other kindred had brought friends. Carmen licked her lips in anticipation. Recruitment nights were always exciting.

"Take your places, my Daeva kindred. It is almost midnight."

The assembled clan members gathered in a loose circle with Carmen at the center. They were silent as they waited the appointed hour; the only sound was the second hand of the large wall clock as it moved time forward. Only seconds remained. Fifteen. Ten. Five. One. Midnight had arrived. It was time for blood to flow.

Carmen opened her mouth to speak...and the lights came on. Clan members raised their hands to cover their eyes. Several hissed, showing fangs. The guests looked around in confusion.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?"

Carmen looked over to see a large man in the uniform of Campus Security standing in the main entry to the room. One of his large hands held a radio. The other was clutching the butt of his gun.

Carmen sighed. Of all the lousy timing. "It's all right, officer. We're a registered campus activity." She pulled a folded piece of paper from her bodice and walked over to the guard.

He took the paper from her and looked it over. "Larp? What's a larp?"

"LARP," Carmen said, "stands for Live Action Role Playing. We dress in costume and pretend to be characters in a game. See?" She opened her mouth, took out the plastic set of vampire teeth and waved them in front of the guard. "We have permission to be here until one o'clock."

"I wish someone had told me about it," the guard said. "You gave me quite a fright. Well, this seems in order, so I'll let you be. Make sure you turn out the lights before you go."

"Of course, officer," Carmen said. She walked him to the door. "Have a good evening." She locked the door behind him, and then turned off the light.

"Stupid kine," she whispered as she made her way back to her place in the circle, "always getting underfoot. Now, where were we? Ah, yes."

Carmen smiled, her natural fangs glistening in the electric candlelight. "Let the feast begin."

No one paid any attention to the screams.

No comments: