“Clash of the Books,” Part III
(For parts I and II of Sabrina Flynn’s award-winning “Clash of the Books,” scroll down to the earlier posts, or wait until Tuesday for the entire story.)
“Your wife is certainly something.”
“Assuming this is her dream, I’m inclined to agree,” Holmes remarked drily.
“And if it’s not?” Kate enquired.
“I suggest we discover a way to undo the impossible. Books are your area of expertise, Madame, any suggestions?”
Merrily thought, chewing on her fingernails. Unfortunately none of the library’s safety drills had ever covered such an eventuality. Chaos reigned, the library smoldered, awash in a churning sea of smoke and blood. If only there were time to stop and think.
Her eyes widened in triumph.
“I need to get to the Science Fiction section.”
“And that is where?”
Merrily pointed across the library to the second floor, over carnage and war, to the realm of the Red Death. Its blood red funeral shroud flapped like wings in the wind. It strode with purpose, leaving a trail of writhing victims in its wake.
“Sherlock,” Kate said, taking stock of her ammunition. “You’re Victorian. You’ve had the most experience with plague. I suggest you deal with that thing.”
In the depths of striking grey, indignation warred with insult, culminating with an imperious glare. Kate’s heart skipped with fear as the Great Detective pinned her with the full force of his gaze.
“That thing is murdering people,” she defended. “I need you to stop the criminal while I escort the Librarian to Science Fiction.” Kate did not give him a chance to reply. Instead, she barreled ahead, pulling the Librarian behind her.
Sherlock Holmes glanced over the railing, checking on his wife, who was fiercely hog-tying the beast with salvaged rope from a banner. Deciding that Grendel had met his match, he grabbed an extinguisher from the fire station and raced after detective and librarian.
Swift and long-legged, he rejoined them in no time. Together, the three entered the realm of Red Death. Kate and Merrily pressed themselves against the shelving. Holmes edged forward, moving to the end of the aisle, glimpsing red between books. He puffed furiously on his pipe, creating a cloud of obscuring smoke that mingled with the Balrog’s hungry flame.
The Red Death strode blindly past. Holmes calmly unfolded his pocket knife, and hurled his blade at the floor, pinning a trailing funeral wrap with its deadly tip. The funeral wrapping began to unwind, exposing a carcass of rot and wiggling, sightless carrion. Holmes yanked the pin on the extinguisher, stepped into the aisle and compressed the lever, smothering Death with heavy foam. The Red Death stumbled.
Sherlock Holmes moved swiftly forward, driving the solid canister into the back of its rotting head. Death crumpled, buried in a mound of chemical foam.
Kate and Merrily raced from their cover, threading their way to desired section. Merrily ran a finger along the books, located the much sought after number, and pulled H.G Well’s Time Machine from the shelf. She tried to recall every Star Trek episode she had ever watched that dealt with the Space Time Continuum. While attempting to puzzle through the complexities of the situation, her head began to hurt, therefore, her plan was sure to work.
Merrily the Librarian opened the book, releasing words, transforming fiction to reality with a molten glow. An archaic machine of tubes and wires took form between shelves, shoving them aside.
Kate stepped forward, brandishing her badge to the puzzled Time Traveller. “SFPD, we need to commandeer your…” she faltered, then rallied, “time machine.”
(Stay tuned for tomorrow’s thrilling conclusion, in which the true heroism of librarians is revealed.)