Little Book of Horrors

The book binder took off his spectacles as he said, “You should sit down, sir.”

His sigh resonated around the empty space, bouncing against my delicate ear drums. I didn’t like the sound of that sigh. It smack into my face like a runaway newspaper, with headlines that warned of apocalyptic doom.

“What seems to be the trouble?”

Mr. Brambleton rubbed his bloodshot eyes, massaging the temples and muttering a half-hearted verse. A last minute attempt to stifle the news? Naturally, I failed to dematerialize, and he looked my way with a dejected second sigh. “Them books is dead.”

No. This couldn’t be! “Dead? I don’t understand. You promised me they were repairable. I bought those books twenty years ago. I . . . I planned to give them to my daughter for her 21st birthday. It’s in two days!”

The measly little man only stared back at me, his mouth hanging open like a roasted hog on the embers. All I needed to do was plop a fresh red apple into that gap. Instead, I watched his false teeth jiggle against glistening gums.

He shook his white-topped head. “Nope. They was no good. Crumbled to pieces when I cracked open the spine.” Smacking his gums, he wandered to the counter. “I loves books, but you can’t save ’em all. Them books is only fit for the flames now.”

I braced myself against the table, fingers clenching an invisible stress ball. My doctor said it would help in times of trouble. Fat chance on that. No matter how many times I squeezed, my blood pressure continued to spike. Next time, I try a real stress ball. “Are you sure it’s my order? Dickens? I handed you A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and The Adventures of Oliver Twist.”

Mr. Brambleton blinked once and froze, like I was a stealthy wizard who’d turned him to stone. “Dickens, you say? Oh. Oh dear me. I thought you was here for the Chaucer.”


Copyright © 2015 by Emily Clayton
Originally appeared on Finish That Thought:

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