1:59 AM January 1, 1931


Some books are merely an annoyance.

The German opera book had been donated to the Cross Social Library. No one knows by whom or why, although I suspect it was done more as a way to harass the librarian than anything else.

The librarian at the time, Ms. Foster, wasn’t known for her personality. Or her kindness. Or anything, for that matter. She was a foul-tempered woman who worked at the library, making sure no one enjoyed the books they borrowed. She held onto the post for thirty-two years, and that was mostly because people were too afraid of arguing with her over the job. It paid enough for her to live in a small apartment above the tavern, and she ate her meals in the tavern, too. Unlike her, the tavernkeeper was a lover of literature, and I suspect it was he who donated the book.

The tavernkeeper, Heinrich Kalt, enjoyed opera, and so it would make sense that this book had come from him.

It also arrived at the library on the day he passed away from old age.

I’d been in the library, admiring some of the newer books, when Ms. Foster stormed out of her office, hands pressed against her ears. For a moment, there was silence, and then I heard it, the sound of a deep baritone singing in German.

The power of the voice shook the windows and rattled my teeth, and it was worth it.

Ms. Foster’s expression was one of utter dismay.

She stumbled toward me and spoke, although I admit I feigned ignorance of what she was saying. Eventually, she took me by the arm and dragged me outside.

“It’s on my desk,” she wailed, glancing worriedly at the library.

“What about your desk?”

“There is a book in German on my desk,” she snapped, eyes alight with anger. “I need you to remove it, Duncan Blood, and find something to do with the damned thing before I burn it and the whole library down around it.”

With a nod, I went in and collected the book, which went silent as soon as I touched it.

“Take it home,” she ordered. “I don’t want to see it again.”

I nodded, tucked the book under my arm and went home. Every so often, I take it out, open the pages, and listen as Heinrich sings.

#books #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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