Grimoire Ch. 02byvelvetpie©
"It's the strangest thing we've ever seen."
Detective Helaine Morris followed the head librarian, trying her best to keep up with the diminutive woman and finding it almost impossible despite the thrice-weekly aerobics classes she had been taking. She wondered if she should have become a librarian instead. The brisk walk took the detective and her guide deep into the heart of the library, skirting multiple displays on the way to the Reference Room.
Within the Reference Room was one of the library's most sacred chambers, the Text Room. Inside the room were several ancient texts, each protected in hermetically sealed rooms. Less than an hour earlier, the library security staff found a naked young man locked into the room with the text, carefully poring over the words on the fragile papers. Each time he touched a sheet, the Text Room proctor wailed, banging on the Plexiglas and trying to keep from fainting. Morris removed her handcuffs and gestured to the waiting guard.
"You can let him out now."
The guard moved behind a decorative pecan panel and the sound of heavy machinery filled the room, ending with a loud whoosh as the hermetic seal was released. The man looked up, his expression of bewilderment almost comical.
"Come out of there."
"I can't." He replied simply and continued to read, his eyes searching the text for the information he desperately sought.
"Put the text down and come out!" When he didn't respond, Morris again gestured to the guard and two of the uniformed men stepped forward, grabbing the man by his arms. The Text Room proctor rescued the text and whisked the pages out of sight while the man shouted angrily. Morris quickly cuffed him and forced him into a chair. "Can we find something to cover him with? A spare pair of pants?"
While the head librarian went to find the pants, Morris glared at the young man. He was in his mid-twenties and well-built with not a discernible ounce of fat to be found on his 6' 2" frame. His dark hair was cut in a style that Morris could only call Prince Valiant, combed straight and cut close to the skull and it perfectly fit his medieval features: hawk-like nose, pointed nose and dark eyes. "What's your name?"
"Where is she going with the text? I need to finish reading it!"
"Hey!" Morris' shout caught his attention and he calmed down a bit. "You're in deep trouble, mister. Now, what's your name?"
"What were you doing in there, Mr. Lively?"
"Reading, obviously! Now, where is that text?"
"What's so important about the text?"
"It has instructions I need!"
"Instructions for what?" His dark eyes connected with hers and he seemed to withdraw into himself. "Listen, how long you spend in jail depends on how much you cooperate with me."
"I can't go to jail."
"Well, you shouldn't have broken in here."
"Of course you did. What I want to know is how you broke into the room."
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
A guard cleared his throat, interrupting them with the arrival of clothing and Morris briefly uncuffed one of Lively's arms to allow him to pull the pants on. Once he was clothed, she refastened the cuff and sat him down again. "Now, you were saying that I wouldn't believe you. Why don't you tell me and I'll decide whether it's believable or not."
"I woke up in there." Morris stared at the young man, waiting for more information and sighed when she realized that no more was forthcoming. This was going to be a mental case. Shit. More paperwork. "I'm not crazy."
"I didn't say you were." No, I just thought it. "What do you mean, you woke up in there?"
"Just what I said. I woke up in there. I needed to read the text and I went to bed dreaming about it. When I woke up, I was here and it was in my hands."
Morris watched him as he gave his answer but didn't detect any falsity. He believed what he was telling her. "What exactly is that text?"
"A 14th century grimoire." The head librarian supplied, standing over him. "He put his hands on a piece of history from the 14th century!"
Morris patted the woman's arm in an understanding manner, turning her away. "He understands what he's done, Dr. Chalkey, but I need to speak to him without interruption." Dr. Chalkey gave him a look filled with daggers and skulked off to confer with the Text Room proctor. "What is a grimoire, Mr. Lively?"
"A spell book."
"Spells? As in witches?"
"And what would you need a spell book for, Mr. Lively."
"For one thing, to learn how to escape bonds like this." He pulled his hands from behind his back, one cuff hanging loosely. While she was watching, he simply pulled the other one through his other wrist.
Morris' jaw dropped and she blinked several times. She couldn't have seen what she just saw. The solid steel of a handcuff had passed through the flesh and bone of his arm. "What ... how ...?"
"If I tried to explain it to you, you'd lock me up in the crazy ward. For now, I'd just like it if you'd believe me, no matter how strange it looks."
"You're asking an awful lot ... "
"Of a civilian? I know that but if I don't get to finish reading that text, there won't be anything worth asking for."
"What do you mean?"
"Trust me. You don't want to know." He set the handcuffs on the table, letting the solid sound reverberate through the chamber and reminding her of what he had just done. "Just trust me. Get me that text. They can leave it in the protective wrapping or give me a mimeograph of it. It doesn't matter, as long as I get to read it."
"Then I leave."
"Mr. Lively, you can't just leave. You've committed a crime."
"Officer ... "
"Detective Morris." She corrected gently.
"Detective Morris, I can't go to jail. I have less than twenty-four hours to accomplish my task and if I don't ... " His dark eyes swung away from her, his expression steely and determined.
"If you don't what?"
"If I don't kill her, we all die."