Thursday, June 8, 2017



Ms. Perkins put the book on my desk, right on top of the financial report. She pointed to a paragraph on the orchids of Amazonia. I first I thought silverfish had been at the book, but there were no holes in the paper. Only the ink was gone. It looked like the letters had been chipped away, or gnawed on.

"Silverfish," I said, closing the book. "I have to finish this report before the board meeting."

"Not silverfish, there are no holes in the paper." She glared at me, then turned and strode out. I always watch her leave. She has very shapely legs. Too old for me, but nice legs. Now, where _had_ all the money been going.


The meeting did not go well. Money. There simply wasn't enough. If I didn't find more money in the next two weeks I would have to lay somebody off. There were only four of us on staff to begin with.

I collared Colonel Sanders (That really is his name) the next afternoon at The Club. It's just a bar, with pretensions. The Colonel had mentioned wanting to make a substantial contribution to the Foundation. I needed his money now. I asked whether he had made a decision about investing in the county's future.

"Not yet Carl. But I heard from Adrienne Perkins that you have silverfish. It's not an investment if the stock is destroyed by bugs."

"Colonel, I'm on top of that. There are a couple of books with minor damage, but I'm taking care of it." Back at the library I started looking through books. At first I didn't find anything, and almost called the exterminator back. But then I came across a bookcase that had damage in almost every book. Letters were not just obliterated. It almost looked like the books were being rewritten. Actually, the marks didn't really look like letters. I don't know what they looked like. When Harry arrived Saturday I would have him just do this area.


I showed Harry the bookcase. He picked up one of the books and opened it. It was blank, except for a few random specks of ink. He raised one eyebrow. I grabbed the book and shoved it back on the shelf.

"Silverfish. I don't know. Just spray. I'll be downstairs."

He rolled his eyes, but as long as he does the work, I don't care.

An hour later, Ms. Perkins stopped by.

"Director? Isn't Harry coming today?"

"He's up there now. In fact, he should be done." I held my place with a finger, but she didn't take the hint.

"He's not there. I checked. The bookcase in the middle of the reading room. That's the worst place and he's not there at all."

"Come on. That's where he started. I told him just to do that area, but he may be doing the whole floor hoping for extra pay." We searched the entire building, but we didn't find him. His truck was still out front. Where was he? I came back to the reading room. Ms. Perkins stood in front of "the bookcase." She looked pale.

"Director," she whispered. "Look at this." She handed me a history of the Civil War, but most of the pages were covered with odd geometrical shapes. Nothing about the Civil War. She had had the book open to page 56. Right in the middle of the page was an odd seven-sided figure. Inside was a cartoon drawing that looked a bit like Harry.

"They got his paunch really well," I said. "Don't you think?"

"This is not a drawing."

"Of course it is," I snapped. Then the drawing moved. It ran to the side of the figure surrounding it. It beat on the line with its fists. Then it ran to the other side, then to the top. It was trapped. "He can't leave the page." I dropped the book. "Ms. Perkins? We need to get out of here." I felt queasy all of a sudden, but grabbed her arm and ran towards the door. There was no door. Strange things surrounded us. I put Ms Perkins behind me. Then I saw the jaws. "Get ready to jump, Ms. Perkins."

"How? There is no up." I tried to look up. I could almost remember how, but I couldn't do it. We were surrounded. Something went snicker snack.

"The jaws that bite, Ms. Perkins, the claws that catch." We hugged, something we had never done in 3D. "Goodbye, Ms. Perkins."

"Goodbye Director."

Publ. The Simian Transcript, 2010

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