Thursday Writing Prompt No. 16

The interior of the Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland.

When I went to the Baltimore Book Festival last month, I went into the Peabody Library for a presentation. The building is absolutely gorgeous, and if you like architecture or libraries, or both, it’s worth visiting if you have the chance. I may “need” to do some research there for my term paper, just so I can soak in the atmosphere awhile.

In honor of libraries and architecture, today’s writing prompt takes you into the Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland. You’re there with a friend who is doing some research, but you leave her to sit at the table and do her writing while you explore the aisles. You open several books, noting their contents pages and looking at any illustrations. You’re not particularly interested in anything, you’re just killing time while your friend works. You slowly work your way up to the top floor, where you pause to lean on the banister and watch the people below.

Eventually you get tired of this and wander back among the books again. After a few minutes, you spot a book that appears to be brand new tucked between two slightly rumpled brown leather-bound volumes. The new book is dark cobalt blue. Without thinking, you reach out for the book. When you touch it, a slight shiver runs up your arm. You dismiss this as a pinched nerve and vow not to slouch so much at work. Opening the book, you see that it is completely blank inside, except for a square of dark paper tucked into the exact middle of the book.

It turns out to be slightly waxy on one side and matte on the other. It appears to have some sort of coating, and you realize that whatever it is, it’s rubbing off on your hands. Examining the paper more closely, you notice what looks like typewritten letters on the sheet. You realize the paper is a piece of carbon paper, and someone has used it to type a copy of something. Thinking it might be a letter, you try to read it.

Holding the sheet up to the light, you are surprised to see your name. There’s also a short phrase. What it says stuns you. The paper slips from your fingers, and flutters to the floor. When it hits the floor it bursts into flame, like a miniature explosion. The flames are green.

Okay, now take this and run with it.