John Smith turned around and around very slowly, gazing at the vast library and its’ seemingly endless shelves of books. He turned around so many times that, although he moved as slowly as he could, he started to become dizzy, so he sat down on one of the big leather armchairs. He looked up at rows and rows of books in front of him, stretching up and up to the second level, and then up farther to the dim, cathedral-like ceiling – almost invisible, as it was so high above him. He closed his eyes, leaned back into the gently creaking leather, and breathed in deeply. The slightly musty smell of thousands of books, many of them very old, made him smile. He was alone. With a universe of his favourite things. And silence.
No, it wasn’t complete silence. There was something else, John thought. A slight sound. Not a normal library sound, but more like some kind of animal. John kept his eyes shut, to concentrate better. Was it a dog? Maybe. It was an unusually large sound, although it was quiet, like it was a very large dog or whatever it was, breathing. And it was getting louder.
Then, the breathing of whatever it was exploded into deep growling. John felt sick and falling and frozen all at once. His fingers clutched into the leather chair. He listened in awe, and at the same time, he desperately wished he couldn’t hear anything at all. It snarled, closer now, and very, very loud. John thought of large sharp teeth, blood, and a dark cave. Suddenly and bitterly, he knew what it was. A bear.
The deafening crashing, when it came, was even worse than the snarling. Wood splintered and cracked. Things -books-? -sounded as if they were being thrown around everywhere and some were thudding to the floor. Instinctively, John ducked at one very close crashing sound, but nothing hit him. The crashing and splintering and smashing went on for a long time. Right in the heart of all the chaos, Tom also heard the terrible roaring. A roaring like – rage consuming the world.
Then, silence. No, not quite. Breathing. And a low very nearby growl. The chair felt to John as if it was descending with him in a lift that was speeding up. He gripped tighter. The low growling was getting closer. Deep rumbling growling, like the end of time. He didn’t want to die like this. Eyes tightly shut, in the wreckage of his once favourite place. No. He would face it. He twisted himself upright and turned and opened his eyes with the last of his vanishing willpower.
The library was as quiet and perfect as the moment he had sat down. On a small reading table was a flat TV screen, and on it, in freeze frame, a bear, snarling in the middle of what looked like a wrecked cabin. John glanced down at the chair he had been sitting on. There, squeezed into one corner of the green leather seat, was a TV remote control.
I woke up one morning with this little story in my head. I’ve no idea where it came from.
RAINSHINE will be back in the new year with more wonderings and the occasional scary bear. A very good and peaceful holiday to you all.