Derek stood before the bookcase and sighed. He scanned the spines searching for the book stated in his handwritten note. It didn’t help that the borrower had only provided the title of the book. He’d checked the catalog and the only reference was “occult”, which had turned out to be an extensive section in the library basement. He was on his third bookcase.
Aha! Derek checked his note again and retrieved a dusty book with strange symbols on the cover and titled “Necromancy, Wizardry and Dark Magic” in big bold letters. He sneered as he perused the pages; pure balderdash and poppycock.
He heard a strange rumble far away and wondered whether a storm was coming. Derek shrugged and tucked the book under his arm. He turned to leave when the ground shook and flung him into the bookcase. The lights flickered, and the books rattled in their shelves; a few tumbled onto the floor. When the tremor ended, Derek rubbed his shoulder and sighed. He set the requested book aside and bent down to pick up the fallen books and reshelve them.
One lay open, and, as Derek reached for it, a cold draft blew through the aisle and flipped the pages. Derek squinted as he tried to read the writing. He didn’t understand the language, nor the alphabet. Something crept up his spine and tickled the back of his mind.
He sat cross-legged on the floor, and without touching the book, stared at the pages. He sensed he could almost read the writing, as if he’d once known it but had forgotten long ago. The pages then turned to an illustration.
A baby in swaddling clothes left behind at a doorstep. Derek examined the picture and wondered why it brought feelings of déjà vu. A memory flashed; he sat in the kitchen with his mother, snacking on milk and cookies.
“You found me on the doorstep,” he’d said, matter-of-fact.
“Of course not,” his mother had smiled, “you were born in the hospital. I know, I was there.”
The memory ended and his mind focused on the picture. Though he couldn’t see it, he knew the doorstep belonged to an earthen home with people around a warming fire.
The picture moved, and Derek, frightened yet curious, wondered whether his mind was tricking him. The door creaked open; an old woman peeked out. She saw the baby, picked it up, gazed left and right, and cradling it, took it inside the hut. Derek’s heart thumped, as long-forgotten dreams flared and burst into puffs of haze in his mind. Could he be the baby?
“Derek! Are you down there?”
The boss’s voice plunged into the basement and broke the spell. Only the strange writing remained on the page.
“Coming!” He yelled.
Derek closed the book; the cover was old, leather-bound, weather-beaten and title-less. He put it back on the shelf, at the very end where no one would notice it. He grabbed the book on magical crapola and walked toward the stairs, reluctant to climb them.
The library closed and Derek, the last to leave, snuck down to the occult section, retrieved the book, hid it under his jacket and took it home.
Moonlight shone as he pulled into the driveway, its eerie silvery light an omen, which Derek felt with every cell in his body.
“Once in a blue moon, Derek,” Grandpa’s forgotten voice whispered in his memory, “a book comes along that changes your life.”