Evergreen High School is just like any other high schools; the only thing that made it a little bit interesting was the library.
The school’s library was larger than any public libraries in the town. Imagine a vast room, with high ceiling, grand pillars, and rows after rows of tall shelves filled with nothing but thick, dusty books. Juniors who have their first visit to the library would call it majestic. And the principal required a team of librarians to make sure the library was in order; all the books arranged well, checking list after list of missing books, and making sure no students are using the library to skip classes.
Rae thought the library was absurd. All the books were absurd. She sees little point of the vastness of the library, and certainly little points with all the knowledge the principal insisted through visiting the library. They have this reading campaign which was held every year for three months; students are encouraged to make constant visit to the library and read any books they can find. Of course, students thought it was lame.
Rae hated reading. She hated wasting her time on poring over some books to gain any valuable knowledge. But then, she hated reading novels, short stories, or poems too. She never read anything but magazines. Her best friend, Kai the bookworm, said once, ‘It’s fun once you get the hang of it’. Rae never takes up his advice. Reading is boring, she thought. Books are boring. And libraries suck.
One day Kai asked her to accompany her to the library to return some novels he had borrowed. Some of Rae’s girl friends had invited her to the Pop In, a club at the city where many high schools students love to go. But Kai is her best friend. He never said no to her request, so she wanted to return the favor. If she was to accompany Kai to the library, they are bound to stay there till the evening until Kai finished deciding which books he should be borrowing. Rae thought it was one of the most tedious moments she had to endure for Kai’s sake. Nevertheless, for Kai, she’s willing to ignore the boredom.
And so they were in the library. Kai was running his fingers along a row of books while Rae stood beside him, sighing silently. They were walking from one shelve to another as Kai was searching for anything interesting. Rae was starting to get really tired and irritated, but she kept herself quiet, not wanting to hurt Kai. Then, her eyes fell on a section with a warning sign on the shelves saying "Teachers and Librarians only". Kai did not bother at all to go over there.
‘Why don’t we take a look at there,’ she pointed to the section, ‘maybe you’ll find anything interesting’.
Kai looked at the section for a moment, and then shook her head.
‘It’s restricted’ he said. ‘Only librarians and teachers can go over there’.
‘Why?’ Rae asked.
‘There’re valuable books there’.
‘Are those books really priceless they have to keep it restricted?’ she said sarcastically.
‘You seldom come here, right?’ asked Kai, raising an eyebrow. ‘They kept it restricted because they don’t want any students stealing the books. Some of them are really expensive you know’.
‘The school spent too many money on books. Who on earth wants to read all of these?’ Rae waved her arms at the high shelves.
‘People who loves reading, of course’ Kai said, sounded hurt.
‘Yeah, but no one can finish the whole library even if they lived for a hundred years. I don’t understand this whole reading stuffs. Other people wrote whatever in their heads into these books, and the younger generation read it. So what?’
‘So you’ll learn a lot of things’.
‘Things like what?’
‘Histories, sciences, literature…’
‘All of those things are in our text books’.
‘But it is better we learn about something from the core. See it from other person’s perspective’.
They stopped talking for a while. Rae kept glancing at the section earlier. Restricted huh? She thought.
‘You know what? I want to go and see those expensive books’.
With that, she went over to the section, ignored Kai’s warning that she’d be in detention for entering the restricted area, and walked along the shelves. Kai left the books he was holding and followed her.
‘Rae, let’s get out before any librarians found us here. You don’t know how strict they can be’ Kai said. Rae disregarded him, and Kai sighed, knowing Rae’s stubborn attitude. He looked around at the books too.
‘Nothing’s special’ Rae said matter-of-factly. ‘I was expecting these books to have gold or silver covers you know’.
‘Books are not made that fanciful, Rae, even if they cost a fortune’ Kai said, chuckling at Rae’s idea.
‘Well, they’re all covered in dust and thick and-’ Rae took a large book and bent down a little with its weight, ‘-reeaally heavy’. Kai went over and helped her placed the book back from where she had taken it.
‘Now, can we go before we get into any troubles?’ Kai said.
‘All right, all right…’ Rae walked away.
They were making their way to the other end of the shelves, expecting themselves to be out within seconds. But a strange thing happened. Minutes passed but they were still walking along the same shelves. Both of them felt weird, yet they said nothing, thinking they were imagining it. After a while, they were positive they had walked for miles already.
‘Don’t you feel something is not right here?’ Rae broke the silence as she stopped and turned to Kai. She was feeling tired. It was as if she had been walking a long distance. But it was indeed a long walk.
Kai checked his watch. He frowned in confusion.
‘We’ve been walking for more than two hours’ said Kai, not believing his own words. Rae widened her eyes.
‘Are you kidding?’ Rae was almost screaming in disbelieve.
‘No. I mean it. It’s five already. We were in here two thirty’ said Kai.
‘Well, that’s impossible. How can we walk for two hours along these bookshelves?’ Rae said with panic in her voice.
‘I don’t know’ said Kai, bewildered. Silence ensued for a few minutes as they tried to digest the oddity of the condition they were in. They thought about going back to the other side where they came in, but dropped the idea when they saw how far they had walked.
‘Is this like,’ Rae sounded cynical, ‘a joke?’
‘Who would think of a joke like this?’ Kai asked.
‘I don’t know…’ Rae sighed. Her stomach grumbled loudly. Kai raised his eyebrows. She glared at him. ‘Maybe your watch is broken. And I’m getting tired because I’m hungry. Come on’.
They continued walking. After a few more minutes, they finally arrived at the other end. Rae sighed with relieve and Kai let out a small laugh.
‘We’re definitely hallucinating’ he commented. Rae laughed with him.
They saw the familiar parts of the library and again they drew relieved breaths. The library was empty by now.
‘Oh great,’ Rae groaned, ‘don’t tell me they locked the door already…’
They ran over to the counter where the head librarian, Mrs. Johnson, always sit browsing the list of borrowers’ names and sipping coffee. Empty. No one was there. Kai quickly went over to the door and found out it was not locked at all.
‘Thank goodness…’ Rae muttered as she and Kai began making their way out.
Nevertheless, something was terribly wrong again.
What they saw behind the door was not the school anymore, but a dark empty space.