Coffee Break Read – Shelving the Books

It was very quiet in this area of the stacks, so quiet that if you listened carefully enough you could hear the books breathing. This portentous silence was broken by a rhythmic squeak as a trolley loaded with grimoires and  magical texts was pushed firmly towards the dark corner wherein such resided.
“It’s no good you being like that,” a determined voice said. “It doesn’t hurt being shelved. It’s not as if any of you are chained. Although if some of you keep misbehaving…”
The rhythmic squeal stopped and the trolley rounded a corner, being pushed by a dumpy girl with a determined looking chin. As it neared the  shelves where arcane and magical volumes were shelved the squeal started up again.
“Does somebody want to be shelved on 99b?”
The dumpy girl began shelving volumes with practiced efficiency. She handled the books with care and respect, but would brook no resistance nor any other tricks. One of the grimoires snapped its covers at her and she slapped it firmly.
“Start that with me and I’ll chain you.”
If it was possible for a book to look abashed it did so, coming quietly to hand to be slipped into its accustomed place.
Once the grimoires were tidily placed in their proper positions, the Night  Librarian closed the steel doors around their stack and locked them with a hugely ornate key.
On her way back to the centre desk, she paused briefly at travel and pointed an imperious finger. There was a bit of scrabbling as the books reshelved themselves in their proper order, followed by an embarrassed silence.
“Papua New Guinea, since when have you lived between Jersey and Guernsey?”
A dog eared volume leapt from a shelf and scuttled off. The girl regarded the now tidy stack for a moment before permitting herself a small smile.
She turned on her heel pushing the now empty trolley to the store room where it would be filled by the day staff who were far too busy to ever shelve books.
As they saw it, that was her job and the business of shelving had already taken a goodly part of the night, but at least there was just one full trolley left. She looked at it with some disfavour before grasping the handles firmly. Immediately they turned warm, and furry and she could feel tiny tentacles caressing the thin skin inside her wrists.
“Stop that at once,” she frowned awfully and the trolley behaved as she pushed it past Young Adult, Alternative History, and Romance to its designated area: Erotica.
“Here we are,” she said brightly, “your stop”.
These stacks were somehow claustrophobic, and the air was thick and heavy with what could be felt as either threat or promise. The young librarian appeared to feel neither as she simply proceeded with her work.
“Lesbian romance,” she clapped her hands and a half dozen or so volumes jumped from the trolley and shelved themselves neatly among their peers. She carried on, briskly calling out names and categories and the books kept obeying, even if she did feel the occasional groping hand as they passed her by.
Finally there were just two books left glowering at her from the trolley. “Extreme punishment, am I to assume you are unwilling to shelve yourselves like sensible books?”
There was a sudden sullenness in the air and she sighed.
“You lot are more trouble than grimoires.”

You can find this story in Pulling the Rug IV by Jane Jago or listen to it as recorded by Tall Tales TV on YouTube.

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