Silence covers the library in a thick mist. I walk through it, the fog vanishing with every loud step. People stop to stare at me, glares of unfiltered hatred running across their faces as I pop my stolen gum to annoy them further. I do it on purpose, just because I don't like to be submissive to anyone. I'm the real deal, what you see is what you get. Or, so I hear that line in the movies. But, why should I bow down to people? I always wonder that question when someone really irritates me. It helps me stand up for myself and I certainly wasn't going to stop being me for some people I don't even know.
Past the shelves, where there are books to read like wildfire, is my regular spot from when I come here by myself. It's in the back of the library, away from the showers of scornful people and pillars of torn paper, hidden from sight to even the the librarian. Behind the biography section is a small hole in the wall, unseen from the public due to it having a wooden exterior to match the wall. But I know different. It's really made of plaster, a disguise I had discovered when I was twelve. I guess, that was about the time I started living here. My parents had died in a car accident when I was younger and, in fear of living with my dreadful aunt or an orphan asylum, I ran away to live here. It's only been about six months but I've been living successfully now, stealing bread loaves and clothing from the stores on the other side of town, changing my spot every couple of days as not to be found.
I brush the head of Belle, the librarian's calico cat, who purrs and jumps down from her nook to follow me. She trots along beside me, as I pull the books and open the latch which further hides my small area. I bend down and crawl through the dusty tunnel. I had only not been here for a week and it was already this filthy. Disgusting. But, I could clean that later. Belle squeezes through too, causing me to curse at her as she cramps up the space. I flop onto a cot, Belle behind me, quickly pulling the string I use to reset the latch. I hear the familiar "click", as the cat curls up on top of me in the darkness. The hideaway really isn't that big, only as wide as a large cupboard, but I fit. Even though I loathe it, sometimes being short for my age is good.
I pick up some of my favorite books I "borrowed", from the other side of the cot. Taking a flashlight from out of my pocket, I begin to read the fantastical adventure that is concealed within the pages. I've read this book before but I still absorb every word that flashes to my eyes.
It's funny that I like to read. I may be a delinquent but, at least, I'm intelligent. I've got streets smarts and knowledge, just not common sense. My mother use to tell me that before she died. She always use to tell me stories like the one I am reading, epic tales, deceitful villains, unexpected plot twists. I loved them but I took them for granted. Now they are my escape, if only for a little while.
The gentle purr of the cat awoke me from my dream world, getting up and pawing at the door. I open it for her and decide to go out myself. I hadn't realized it but I had wasted a good three hours reading. I estimated that it was around ten at night now, moonlight blissfully glittering through the windows and onto the atlas section.
The librarian must have let her cat stay overnight again, so I wasn't surprised that she had left without looking. You can usually tell by overturned books, which were normally in a perfect straight arch, for that was the normal place where Belle slept during the day. But it looks like it was all clear for me. Good, I can scower the place for snacks, I'm starving.
I search for any food I had hidden last week. I find nothing and decide to check behind the checkout counter next. I brush aside the paperwork and an old ink set, only to find the drawers locked. I sigh and look for a a new book to read. Another night of hunger.
What should I read? That is to say, what will I read? Should is out of the question, I'm going to read anyway. Do I want a mystery? An adventure? A horror story? I have no idea, as I rush wildly through the miles of written words. Finally, after a bit of searching, I spot a tattered brown book, pushed to the back of a pile of fiction stories. I have never seen it before, though I'm sure I knew the library like the back of my hand. I pick it up and read the title: MYST. Interesting...
I walk back over to my hole in the wall, Belle now chasing after mice, elsewhere. I turn on my flashlight again and take a seat, curling over the new, mysterious book. I wonder what it is about, as I turn to the first page. But the sight I see, as I look in, shocks me.
In the middle of the page is a picture of a dock, perhaps on a shore, the seagulls calling from the sky. I can hear them! It is so detailed, so real. It's as through the picture is moving itself! But it can't be real, can it? I reach down to touch it and-
Suddenly, I am falling through the dark of space, sailing emptily through black infinity. Falling, falling, falling...
And then I land. Hard.