Leda, a librarian in love with books, insists she doesn't need anyone else in her life. Strange occurences at her library derail her convictions, though. The books may not be as innocent as they seem.
Every book has a heartbeat.
I caress the spine, cracked and aging, and pull the book from the shelf. The musty scent irritates my nose. A part of the old cover flakes off and flutters to the carpet.
Poor thing. Another victim of time, and barely a survivor from last year's flood. Water spots stain the yellowing pages as I turn them, accusing and injured. No, fire isn't the only threat.
I close the book and place it on the cart. It'll receive a facelift, just like the others on my list. The water stains will remain, and the pages can never return to white, but a new cover will protect it. I touch the spine again, the title worn off from years of use, and try to imagine what this book was like when first bound.
♦ "Hair of the Dog"
This is an urban fantasy that takes place in the 20s. Lydia arrives at a speakeasy in Milwaukee because she needs "to see a man about a dog", but it isn't whiskey she's after.
The only thing with any class was the bar--a deeply stained mahogany. Lydia approached, weaving her way through a press of Joes and Janes. A lot of people out tonight eager to flout the Noble Experiment. She reached the bar and rubbed her hand along the top. Such beautiful wood. But dead.
That ache refused to disappear.
"What'll you have, doll?" The bartender brought her back to the noisy basement.
"Shot of whiskey." Lydia pulled four bits out of her purse and slapped it on the counter. She downed the burning liquid. Not the hair of the dog she was seeking, but it would do for now. It would give her courage.
♦ "Love Fades"
This story received an Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest for the 1st Quarter of 2011 (Honorable Mention posted under the name Lori Phillips).
This is the Two of Cups story in my Fate series. Caradeci accidentally slipped between dimensions from Fate to Earth a decade ago. She fell in love with Alex, someone from Earth. The balance insists she's stayed on Earth too long, and she is slowly fading away. Her and Alex seek a way to prevent it or find a way back to Fate.
Cara was about to turn around and drag Alex out with her, instinct or not. This was no place to find answers--just a beat-up store owned by a tarot reader down on his or her luck. Then she saw a chest along the back wall, close to the door that must lead into a back room. Intricate carvings graced the lid and sides. The wood was a darker gray, and if she squinted, there was a tinge of purple; like nothing she'd seen before--not on Earth.
She approached the chest, rubbing her hand along the top. This was cared for, not a speck of dust on it. She didn't know what the carvings were of, the shadows from the candles making it hard to focus. Many different scenes shifted from one to another, ever changing.
♦ "Dancing in the Wind"
This story received an Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest for the 4th Quarter of 2009 (Honorable Mention posted under the name Lori Phillips).
The Wizard of Oz is a timeless story that nearly everyone knows about. So what happens when that timeless story is turned on its head? Dorothy is a bully who is thrown into the world of Oz. She gets a taste of her own medicine from a crazy trio of munchkins and the Wizard of Oz himself.
"But the crows," Scarecrow said. "You have to get me down from here. Them crows mean to peck me eyes out, to steal me straw and use it for their nests, leaving nothin' but empty clothes flapping in the wind."
"The crows are supposed to be scared of you, you idiot, not the other way around." Dorothy finally yanked her laces free, but had to use Scarecrow's pole to right herself because of the damn bindings.
He grabbed her rope, winding it around his hands, drawing her near him, lifting her off her feet. Toto circled the pole, snarling and snapping.
♦ "Suicide Woes"
Grinka, the sea nymph, and Syndago, the not so giant, giant, battle with Syndago's suicidal tendencies. Did I mention they're immortal? To make matters worse, two naked, lewd fairies disturb their not-so-peaceful lives.
No one wanted fairies visiting them, especially me. They made more trouble. It was far too poetic that they tended to disguise themselves as pigeons to human eyes. Rats with wings. "Don't start with your taunting, you two. I've had enough for today." I picked at the face mask of Syndago's brains and blood. Soap just wasn't going to do it.
Tamara fluttered to me on drunken wings. "Us? Well now, we're just two friends that are concerned. We only come to comfort." She licked her lips, holding back laughter.
"If you don't get us some wine, we'll make sure to do a bang up job at our special kind of comforting." Tamor searched in the cabinet under the sink.