Phil Polanco loved the library.
Since he had retired he had spent almost all his time at the library and he loved every day. Except the past few Thursdays. But this Thursday would be different.
It started a month ago while Phil settled in at his usual table. It was about 1 in the afternoon. Slow time at this particular library. He and a lone librarian, Mr. Grubbs, were all that filled the fairly large room.
Phil opened his book to the chapter he had left last week. Quickly he became immersed in the adventures of Dumas' "The Three Musketeers". Just as d'Artagnan, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos set off on their first adventure together Phil was rattled out of his story by a loud wheezing and flying pages.
Phil slapped his hand on the flipping pages to hold his place as he looked around for young brat who had turned up his music and opened the window. He was surprised to see that he and Mr. Grubbs, who seemed rather nonplussed by this occurrence, were still the only two in the room.
Phil looked around the room for anything out of place. Several tables, chairs, lights, a few piles of books here and there, a large blue box, the stacks,...eh? Phil was starring at this odd object, that he was sure had not been there before, when it's door opened. The gentleman, a tall white haired man dressed more for a costume party than the library with ruffled shirt and billowing cape, walked briskly to the front desk and spoke with the librarian. Muffled conversation and the occasional laugh was all Phil could make out.
Mr. Grubbs handed the man one hard bound book and they shook hands. With cape flapping the man strode back to the box and shut the door behind him with a slam which coincided with the clock on the wall behind Phil beginning to chime. Phil turned to where the clock hung. It was chiming two. A gust of wind filled the room again and Phil watched the chapters of his the book flip violently again. He dove again to try and stop them before he completely lost his place as the wheezing faded away. He turned to see... nothing. Well, nothing unusual. The tables, chairs, books all still in their place, but no box and Mr. Grubbs back to work at his desk looked up.
"Can I help you with anything sir?"
"Um..." Phil blinked his eyes quickly as if that would make the box reappear. "The box...the man...wind?.." Phil sort of stuttered out.
"Yes, Sir, it is a bit windy today. Drafty old building."
Phil realized that single word questions would not be enough to get answers, but he couldn't seem to put more than that many words together. So he sat down, and began reading not even realizing that he was 3 chapters behind.
By next Thursday Phil had all but erased the weird occurrence from his mind. Which he found surprising easy to do.
He returned to the library and once again found himself to be the lone sole, save Mr. Grubbs. Finishing Musketeers, he decided to move on to "Moby Dick", which he hadn't read since he was a boy in school. He found a copy in the stacks and carried it to his favorite table. Opening the sadly dusty cover... "Call me Ish...."
The wheezing wind blew over his shoulders and raised the hair on his head.
Once the room had settled he sat there trying to decide whether to look. The sound of a creaking door...foot steps to the front desk...muffled conversation....a laugh...another laugh.... Phil slowly turned to look over his shoulder.
Rather than the white haired dandy there was a smallish, frumpy man with a ridiculous bowl haircut and checked trousers talking with Mr. Grubbs. Phil watched as he handed a book, (the same book?) over to Mr. Grubbs, who then diligently checked it in and put it on a shelf under the desk as they said there good-byes. The frumpy man turned and Phil quickly did the same. Should he be frightened? He didn't feel frightened but he also felt that he wasn't supposed to be watching. More wheezes and winds, and clock chimes and then silence followed by the rhythmic stamping of Mr. Grubbs as he continued to check in last nights returns.
Again, with a little more difficulty this time, the strange happenings had all but been forgotten by Phil.
Back at his table, this time with a less weighty tome, Conan-Doyles' "Hound of the Baskervilles", Phil sat patiently. He had started the book and was already a chapter in, but noticed that the hands of the clock were nearing two.
Nothing happened. He watched the hands make their way around the face of the clock. 10 minutes till, 5 minutes, 1...At two o'clock the chimes struck their 2 notes and the library remained peaceful.
Phil released the breath that he hadn't even realized he was holding and began the second chapter.
A gust of wind blew his hat off the table and the grinding wheeze filled the air. Phil was beginning to go beyond apprehension and fear to just angry. He turned and glared at the box. The door opened from the actions of a tall man in a leather coat. His hair closely shaved. He looked a little mad but jovial at the same time which made Phil rather uncomfortable. He watched as the new man gave all the signals of apologizing for being late, even pointing to his wrist which, as far as Phil could tell, did not carry a watch. Mr, Grubbs waved him off and handed him the book. (Yes! It was the same book!) The men shook hands and parted. The stranger walked back to the box but glanced over to Phil giving him a quick wave and rather happy "Halloo!". Phil found himself unable to not smile and wave back.
The box closed and started it's noisy concert. The wind blew some dust into Phi's eyes and he instinctively turned briefly blink it away. Then all was quiet and normal. He looked at Mr. Grubbs.
Phil, this time with the memories of last week well ingrained in his mind, sat at his table.
He hadn't even bothered to open or even pick up any books. He just sat there and stared at the clock.
At quarter to two the, what was now typical events, occurred. Phil watched as the doors opened to see who would come out this time. A man, an old man with white hair and a kind face, but with an air of grumpiness about him walked to the front desk. This time however the conversation seemed a little off. The man seemed to introduce himself. Seemed to be asking questions. Mr. Grubbs on the other hand seemed to be very comfortable with everything and simply nodded and reached under the desk to reveal the book. The old man seemed rather pleased and actually sort of giggled. He tipped his fur hat and thanked Mr. Grubbs and made for the box.
Phil made his move. He quickly walked, well ran really, till he was between the man and the box.
"May I see that please?" he asked the old man.
"I beg your pardon young man! Out of my way!"
Phil, all of 63 years, blinked at the 'young man' comment. "I'd really like to see what book you have there."
"I do not see what business it is of yours! Why should I show you, Hmmm?" (Grumpiness was more than just an air.)
"Sorry." Phil, not a violent man but quite perturbed grabbed the book.
"How dare you!" The old man gruffed.
Phil turned the book over in his hands and read the cover, and smiled.
"Satisfied! Now give me that!" The old man, surprisingly spry for his size and age snatched it back and quickly trotted to the box.
Phil watched as he slammed the door then went to Mr. Grubbs.
Mr. Grubbs looked up from his work. "The Doctor, Sir."
"Oh." It seemed a perfectly normal answer for some reason.
The box began making it's noise and Phil turned to see. Slowly, with the wind swirling around it, the box disappeared leaving the library again quiet and peaceful.
"See you tomorrow then, Mr. Grubbs."
"Yes, Sir. Goodbye, Sir."
Hope you like. I've been mulling this idea around in my head for some time. Finally got a chance to put fingers to keyboard. - TL
"Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars"