Monday, October 12, 2015

Lights Out

Now this is new. Even for the Peak, Marissa thought as she approached the town library. All week she’d been looking forward to the library’s annual book sale. Because of their eclectic population, all sorts of odds books tended to turn up in the Donations bin. You never knew what you were going to find, but you were always sure to find something.

Like last year, when she’d uncovered the dog-eared paperback copy of Twilight with the snarky comments scribbled in the margins, and a neatly-typed extra chapter tucked into the back, describing how Bella got fed up with moody Edward, staked him, and ran off to the woods with hot-blooded, much-hunkier Jacob. Clearly the copy had originally belonged to a teenage she-wolf. Marissa, Ziva and Reetha had spent a giggle-filled evening sipping Irish coffee and taking turns reading aloud. Marissa didn’t expect to find another such happy treasure, but one never knew.

If nothing else, she should be able to pick up some used romance paperbacks for Gloria, who wanted them for some reason but was working and couldn’t make it to the library herself. A few used bodice-rippers never hurt anybody, Marissa decided with a mental shrug.

The sight of the library derailed her from these thoughts. Rather than all lit up and bustling with readers, the building was black as the surrounding night inside. Even the floodlight over the door was dark.

Although the inside was still bustling.

Marissa slowed her steps and cautiously approached. Now she could hear voices, hushed and giggly, and the tentative scuff of feet over the unseen linoleum floor. Flashes of light appeared like giant fireflies in the gloom, revealing the silhouettes of bodies moving between the tables. Marissa paused just outside the door to let her eyes adjust.

A squat form bustled up to her out of the dark. Marissa squinted against the flashlight practically thrust at her face. “Mrs. McMahon. Can I help you, dear?”

Marissa blinked rapidly. “Mrs. Geaufeur?”

“That’s right. I’m volunteering tonight. Are you here for the sale?”

“It’s going on? You’re having the book sale in the dark?”

For answer, Mrs. Geaufeur turned the flashlight to the wall. As her vision cleared, Marissa read the poster taped there: Halloween Book Sale Benefits Talbot’s Peak Public Library. Beside the poster a smaller sheet, decorated with pumpkin stickers, listed prices.

Deeper in the interior, Marissa could now make out the customers edging their way around the book-laden tables. Some had flashlights. Some navigated by cell phone screens. A few used the light from tablets and e-readers. Those whose animal form was nocturnal strolled smugly through the crowd as if in broad daylight. Marissa heard a few high-pitched squeaks and guessed at least one bat must have come up from the Fledermaus spread.

Come hell or high water, Talbot’s Peak’s resident bibliophiles were going to get their fix.

“An after-dark book sale for Halloween,” she marveled. “What a wonderful idea!”

Mrs. Geaufeur cleared her throat. “To tell you the truth, it wasn’t planned,” she confessed. “We’d just finished setting up when the power went out. When it started getting dark, Mrs. Donato whipped up that poster and we just went ahead anyway. It’s going over swimmingly. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Marissa inhaled. “I smell mulled cider. And coffee. Are those peanut-butter cookies?”

“There’s a refreshment table about halfway in, on the left. If the moles haven’t swiped all the cookies, that is.” She extended her flashlight toward Marissa. “Would you like this, dear? I’m good.”

Marissa grinned and raised her hand. Her palm glowed with yellow witchlight. “Got it covered. Just point me toward the romances.”

“This way, dear.” Mrs. Geaufeur guided her into the library, her flashlight’s beam leading the way. “I think this is going to turn out to be our best sale ever. Jeffrey Barlow, you get away from those sex books before I tell your mother.”


Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, that was fun... wonder why the lights went out?

Yep, a few bodice rippers wouldn't hurt!

Pat C. said...

Probably squirrels. ;)

Once again, Real Life came to my rescue. Twice a year our local library holds a week-long book sale. Friday night they charge admission for the "preview" so you can pick through and get the good stuff before they let the rabble in. Last Friday a storm came through and knocked out the power in our end of Ephrata for over three hours. The sale went on regardless. I drove up to see how they were doing (nothing going on at home, with the electricity off) and people were in there, in the dark, sifting through books by the light of flashlights, cell phones, and whatever else they could find. "It was light when we opened," a volunteer told me.

The funny thing is, I'd been joking with the neighbors about this happening, and how a flashlight book sale would be great for Halloween. And here they went and did it. Thus a flash scene was born. :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Chloe's relatives?

Oh, that is interesting... I certainly would have gone in with flashlight in hand, too. And cool, your intuitive side kicked in. SMILES...

Serena Shay said...

Another reason it would be awesome to be a witch...light in the palm of your hand for unexpected book purchasing! I must share that with Darling Diva!

Oh sigh, I would love to go to a flashlight library sale, but sadly I've been banned. Alpha hubby has put a moratorium on (my) purchasing non-electronic books. In his defense, I can't carry the many, many boxes of books when we move...thus he gets stuck with it and I can read a lot. hehe The up side is that I can work darn hard on filling my Kindle! :D

Great post, Pat!