Paper Trail

“Madame Librarian, there’s someone doing something very strange to the spellbooks on the fourth floor,” a waifish student said to Teresa.

“The fourth floor?” she asked, peeking above her numerous index cards.

“Yes mam.”

Teresa let out a sigh, “Damn it, not again.” She took a piece of scrap paper off her desk and shoved it into her front dress pocket.

“Madame?”

“Show me where,” she said.

Together they walked up the winding staircase that connected the floors of the library. Each step let out a tiny click against the varnished oak until they submitted the third floor. There Teresa took off her loafers and motioned for the student to do the same. Their climb to the fourth floor went in silence.

“Which aisle?” Teresa asked in a whisper.

The student covered her mouth to muffle her voice, “Over there,” she pointed at the Elementals - Enchantments aisle.

Teresa nodded and whispered to the student to stay put. She took great care to approach the row of books on tiptoe. The sound of sliding blades blades became apparent as she made it to the edge of the shelves.

She removed a scrap of paper from her pocket, a simple detainment spell, and let a cage of white ribbons bloom from it.

One. Two. She counted in her mind, taking a deep breath with each number. Three! Teresa lept around the corner and let the ribbons fly. Like eels, they streaked through the air snapping and biting.

The cloaked figure squealed in surprise and dropped his scissors. His hands worked clumsily to piece together crumpled sheets of paper, but he was unable to come up with a counter fast enough and the ribbons coiled around his arms and legs and held him aloft.

Teresa marched down the row and picked up a book the man was holding before she interrupted his confetti-making.

“Jeffrey, I told you before that if I caught you ‘hacking’ spells out of the library’s books, then you would be permanently barred from the premises. I mean look at this!” the book had windows sliced out of its pages and paste slathered all about. “What were you expecting to get out of this? Power? Money? A cheap thrill?”

“Just doing it for the laughs,” he shrugged.

Teresa rolled her eyes and began to drag him towards the stairs, “I don’t even know what that means.” She escorted Jeffery out of the library doors and told him to never come back, but not before she ‘hacked’ his library card into a thousand little pieces.


11 stories remain.