Sometimes you need a little help from a trusty old book to find where you’re supposed to be going. Sometimes, it even leads us to the people we need to meet.
Length: Flash Fiction
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The Hyfern Bookstore
Trying to find a book in a shop that isn’t organised by people is difficult, especially when it’s organised by the books themselves.
I’ll just be five minutes – that’s what I said to myself nearly two hours ago. If I were in my regular store, I’d ask. But not here – I don’t know anyone, and I refuse to look like a newb.
Entering the next aisle, I find a glass case filled with old books – some a few hundred years old, but one much older, with a black leather cover and brown, slightly torn pages sticking out from the sides. As I approach the cabinet, the book opens itself – the pages seem to be empty as it flicks through.
The page it lands on slowly fills with ink as I bend down to look. Aisle seventeen, shelf three. I stand up, looking at the numbers on the aisles, finding it over ten aisles away. If I’d stayed my course of searching every shelf on every aisle… It would’ve taken me at least another two hours. I look back to the book, finding it closed. The purple gem on the front swirls before it shows a smiling yellow-faced emoji.
“Thanks, old chap,” I giggle. Seeing a book almost a century old using emojis to communicate is somewhat amusing.
Getting to the aisle, I’m presented with books upon books of red covers. Bollocks. Paying attention to shelf three, I begin reading the spines. I’m going to get a crooked neck if I keep doing this.
“Duck!” I hear someone shout. I turn to find a large, black book heading straight towards my head.
Ducking, the book grazes the top of my head before it tumbles to the floor. I quickly pick the book up, checking it’s alright.
“Sorry about that,” the man says as he approaches me. “They like moving around the shop but never let anyone know they’re there.”
I shake my head, handing him the book. His shirt has the store’s sigil over the left breast pocket, and his hands are covered in runes. “It’s fine, no harm done,” I say before looking up at his face. I gasp when I see them – his eyes – black as tarmac.
“Is everything okay, Miss?” He asks, a concerned expression on his soft-looking face. His skin is tanned with thick, dark brown brows, full eyelashes, and a strong jawline.
“I’m sorry, I just didn’t expect…”
He makes an o with his mouth as he realises. “Oh, no. It’s fine. I know it can be jarring for most Humans when they see me here.”
I smile. “Thank you for understanding, and I’m really sorry for my reaction.”
He nods. “Not a problem. Honestly, it’s not every day I meet a Human who doesn’t just run away from me,” he chuckles.
I shrug playfully. “It’s not every day that a Vampyr tries to stop me from being hit in the head by a book the size of Luxenberg,” I joke.
He smiles; his fangs are visible but clearly tucked away. “Well, I try my best.” He pauses, his eyes looking over my face as if trying to take a mental note. “Are you looking for something specific or just browsing?”
I sigh, “this is embarrassing. I’m looking for a specific Púca Grimoire. It has a red cover instead of the standard brown, probably around two hundred years old…”
He looks up, mouth hanging open slightly as if thinking. “Let me see,” he says before snapping his fingers midair – his long, thin fingers making a loud click.
Slowly a book pulls itself from shelf three, covered in brown paper and presents itself to me. I accept the book and slide it out of the paper packaging, finding the Grimoire I’ve been looking for. I peer up at the tall Vampyr and smile. “How did you do that?”
He laughs and throws the black book into the air, allowing it to continue on it’s travels. “I’ve been here… a while. If I’d not picked up some magick in that time, it would be insulting to the arts.”
I clutch the Grimoire to my chest, hugging it like I’ve just found an old friend. “I never knew Vampyrs could learn magick.”
He presses his lips together, still smiling. “Most can’t, it’s all about who we were before we got turned.”
“And who were you?” I blurt.
He cocks his left eyebrow with a crooked and flirtatious smile. His eyes change from a dark black iris to a light amber. “Jakub Aronoff.”
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