“Maybe we should have waited for tomorrow,” Apollo says, his eyes repeatedly darting toward the door. He checks his watch for the fifth time in the last ten minutes, which earns him a gentle shove to the arm. “I mean, Chris has his game with that scout and Aurora doesn’t want to be a part of this. Nobody even knows if Jennifer is missing or dead. She could have already moved out before the sorority house burned down. All I’m saying is that the four of us should consider going somewhere else.”
“There sure are a lot of books on psychics, ghosts, magic, and astral projection in this library,” Thomas mutters while he chews on a straw. Giving his eyes a break from the tiny print of a large book, he leans back and pulls out a scrap of paper to look over. “This research has given me some good ideas for mixed drink names. So, this isn’t going to be a total loss. Not much else to go on, but it’s weird that Jennifer went missing and then showed up a few hours later in your dream. You even told me that she was billowing smoke. Maybe she’s alive and calling out to you.”
“It wouldn’t be that strange if you think about it,” Harvey politely interjects before Apollo can argue. Frowning at his one notes, he repeatedly taps on one section that he cannot get out of his head. “There is the one option that you subconsciously added her to your dream after hearing about the fire. Most would go with that, but it’s possibly you reached out to her. To think that everything can be explained so easily is foolish. We are always discovering new phenomena and there have been rumors of those with superhuman powers.”
Bryce clears her throat and nods at Harvey’s hand, which he is keeping behind his back to hide his crossed fingers. “Nice try, but it’s most likely the first option. This recurring nightmare wouldn’t change so easily. It has to be caused by stress, which Apollo is under due to tests and now losing a friend. We all know he had a crush on Jennifer too, so that makes it a lot more painful. Now, if Aurora has the dream with the addition then I’ll go along with this supernatural or whatever you think this is.”
“Dreams are very prevalent in philosophy and mythology,” Harvey points out as he pushes a thin book to Thomas. He shrugs when his offer is rejected, the other student obviously feeling outnumbered and isolated. “Perhaps we are all right and wrong. There is no way to tell what Apollo’s dream means since it only happened once. You said that Aurora has these too, which means we need to wait and see if she shares the change. It would give more weight to Thomas’s beliefs if both of those requirements are met. Needless to say, this also gives us time to learn what happened to Jennifer. Considering what happened with her roommate, it isn’t too difficult to imagine her being away from the house at the time of the fire. She could very well be unaware of the situation, so she isn’t rushing back.”
The doorknob shakes and rattles before Marcy comes into the study lounge, the librarian hisses like a cat at the sight of the students. Looking from one stunned face to the other, she points at her shield-shaped watch to silently tell them that the building is closing soon. Seeing all of the books that she will have to put away, she taps her foot and waits for the students to straighten everything up. Moving a cart to prop the door open, Marcy casually takes the giant stack and walks out of the room. Expecting her to trip or bump into something, Thomas and Apollo look around the corner to watch her disappear into the mythology section. Pushing the cart away, they go back to their seats and quickly realize that even their notes have been taken by the silent woman.
“We should probably call it a day,” Apollo suggests, putting on his jacket. Not seeing anyone else moving to leave, he sighs and puts his head on the table. “We’re out of our depth here. Harvey is the closest one to an expert here, but that’s really stretching it. How about we wait for the weekend and go to a psychic? Pretty sure we can find one and Chris will get a kick out of driving us there. It’d make more sense than reading books on something that most of us don’t even believe in.”
“You don’t have to believe for it to be real,” Thomas stubbornly argues, his fists clenched in frustration. Taking out his phone, he hides it under the table in case Marcy returns, her hatred of smartphones nearing legendary proportions. “I’ll let the whole psychic connection thing go for now. Maybe we can find a psychology student who wants to practice on Apollo. There has to be something in his head that’s causing this. What grade did you have this Mrs. Addison for? I’m sure she’s a major part of the mystery.”
“I never had a Mrs. Addison.”
“Ever know a person with that name?”
“No and she doesn’t look like anyone I ever met.”
“Well, brown hair is fairly common.”
“You know, there are times when it looks like she has a gold eye.”
“And you only mention that now because?”
“Thought it was my imagination.”
The friends laugh at the statement, Apollo joining in after a minute of wondering why his honest answer got such a response. Without warning, Thomas stops and nearly drops his phone as he jumps to his feet. Tapping at the screen, he curses at how he loses his signal and the screen goes black. Searching his bag for the charger, the excited student realizes that he left it in his room and scrambles to get his jacket on. Nearly hitting himself in the face with the door, Thomas skids to a stop and waves to the others instead of saying goodbye. They can hear a loud whistle from the front desk, the sound probably another way for Marcy to get attention without speaking a word.
With a tired sigh, Apollo grabs his satchel and prepares to trudge after his roommate. “Sorry about that and wasting your night, guys. I’m sure you had better things to do. If you get to Chris’s game then tell him good luck from me and Aurora. Have a feeling that Thomas isn’t going to let me have a peaceful night.”
“At least he keeps your life interesting,” Bryce says with a half-hearted smile. She watches for a minute to make sure Apollo is out of earshot before grabbing Harvey by the wrist. “What was that about? I mean, Thomas has always been easily excited, especially when he has a mystery on his hands. All I can guess is that he recognized the name.”
“I think it was the mention of golden eyes,” Harvey points out, his curiosity only slightly peaked. Getting up to leave, he hears a loud bang from the back of the library and the table jumps slightly. “Must be closing up, so we should head out. I’ll walk you home and we can keep talking. Not that there’s much to discuss. Apollo and Aurora have been struggling with this dream for a long time. She has decided to ignore it while he suffers, but that’s all we have to go on. Let Thomas do the research and leap down whatever rabbit hole has caught his attention. It’s what he’s good at.”
Bryce puts on her coat and takes her time buttoning it, the idea of going back to her quiet room very unappealing. “Apollo had a good idea. Let’s root for Chris and see if he gets picked by the scout. Is that how it works? I might spend a lot of time in the gym and talking with the athletes, but I don’t know much about the professional side. Probably should learn more if I want to become a sports trainer. Do you hear something strange?”
A sense of dread in his gut, Harvey peeks out the door and swears that the building looks larger than before. The repetitive bangs get louder as the students leave the study lounge, the door slamming shut and locking behind them. It takes them a second to realize that the stacks are falling towards them, the metal shelves glinting in the fluorescent lights. They hear other late-working students scream as they are caught in the collapse, disturbing crunches cutting off their voices. Harvey stays a step behind Bryce, the tall man hoping to use his own body to shield her if they are not fast enough. Eyeing the stacks, he is unsure if he can hold one up, but he is willing to try to protect his friend.
Coming to the corner of the study lounge section, the pair are caught by surprise when a shelving unit rolls into their path. Bryce jumps back to avoid getting crushed while Harvey whirls around to check the domino effect that is catching up to them. A young woman steps out from behind a column in time to get run over by the furniture. Her body remains stuck to the metal side as it crashes into the wall and starts rolling back, the corpse slowing it down. Not wanting to become trapped, the two students goes back to running even though they swear the exit was not this far away from the room.
Harvey gasps for air and holds his side, a cramp making it difficult to keep up with his friend. Waving for Bryce to continue running, he pushes himself to move while falling further behind. Shouts from above give them enough of a warning to avoid the students who are knocked off the second floor. A rain of bodies, glass, and furniture surrounds the pair, several shards sticking into their skin. As they reach the lobby, the carpeted section of the floor pivots and sends all of the shelves tumble towards the students. Doubting that he can make it, Harvey shoves Bryce from behind to help her reach the tiles that remain stable. He is unable to stay on his feet and falls, his body bouncing into a nearby stairwell. The young man vanishes among the crashing furniture and scraps of those who have already died in the chaos.
Bryce stares at the destruction that has sent pages flying into the air, but she keeps enough of her senses to get back to her feet. The library continues to shake, which Marcy ignores as she calmly checks a cart full of returns. With a sigh of annoyance, the librarian steadies a pile of books that threaten to topple over, but she does not show any interest in what is going on around her. More of the shelves topple over in the distance and lights fall from the ceiling, the milder carnage barely registering in the confused woman’s mind. It is only when a piece of paper flies by her face and cuts her cheek that Bryce is stirred into action. She backs away from the swarm of pages that dart towards her, each one leaving a narrow slice in her skin or clothes.
Opening her mouth to yell for help, the corners of her lips are slashed by a paper that thuds into the nearby wall. Blood dripping down her face, Bryce staggers toward the revolving door and falls inside. The exit refuses to move in the direction she pushes, instead going in reverse at a speed that slams her against the glass. She tumbles and curses as she is banged around, her head repeatedly hitting the floor and ceiling. Whirling around at a dizzying speed, the door abruptly stops and hurls Bryce back into the library. The barely conscious student sails over the page-covered tiles and slams into the only standing shelving unit. As she slumps to the ground, the heavy furniture tips over and crashes on top of her. The impact is enough to break the floor, most of which collapses into the basement.
Looking up from her returns, Marcy finally acknowledges the destruction and lets out a long sigh. Reaching under her desk, the librarian pulls out a dusty sign that is missing one of its suction cups. Remaining in her wheeled chair, she makes her way around the large hole in the floor and heads for the entrance. Wedging her shoe in the revolving door to stop it from moving, she locks the others and puts up the sign. Glancing over her shoulder, Marcy decides that being closed for a private event is close enough and snaps her fingers. As she rolls away, the glass darkens to prevent anyone from seeing inside, leaving only the sign visible from outside.