A Shade of Halloween

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Chapter Three

I got into the library and went straight to the History section. Early twentieth-century belief materials were arranged at the far back, behind a cream-colored wall that almost completely obscured it from the rest of the library.“Whose genius idea is it to keep spooky stuff in a concealed area?” I wondered.

I noticed the librarian at the History section had been changed. A geeky looking brunette with circular rimmed glasses sat behind the desk at the entrance where Rose used to sit.

Rose has probably moved on with her career.” I thought.

I glanced at the screen of my cell phone one last time before putting the device in my backpack. Alex still hadn’t returned my calls or replied my text. I guessed he was really engrossed in whatever it was that was keeping him preoccupied.

Wait a minute. Has he found himself another girlfriend? No way!

The thought made me smile to myself. If that was the case, I wanted to hear all the juicy details ASAP.

I walked over to the huge bookshelves that lined the section’s walls. A quick scan through the navigation sheet pasted beside the first bookshelf informed me of the right directions to get to the subjects I was interested in – Spiritual beliefs, Eugenics, and African-American culture. My goal was to pick two texts from each belief area to study. That should give me a fair idea of the occurrences under each area at the time. I stuck with the plan until I arrived at the spiritual beliefs section. There were tons of books with pretty interesting titles that caught my interest. I made an exception for that belief area and selected four books instead of two.

I was making my way to a desk where I could read when a book title in one of the shelves caught my eye.

Selena Ryder (1871 – Unknown).

The first two words of the title were what caught my attention really. It was puzzling to see a book in that section with my full name as its title.

What are the odds?

I picked the book off the bookshelf before I noticed the rest of the title. The words “1871 – Unknown” immediately heightened my already building curiosity.

Did that Selena Ryder disappear or something?

I hurried to a desk and set the books down. I had to make a decision. Save Selena Ryder for later when I’m finished with the others or dive in immediately? Every rational cell in my brain said to keep Selena Ryder for later, so I went with that option. As I researched and took notes from the other texts, my eyes glanced at the dark brown book cover with my name on it. I noticed its color was eerily similar to the color of my hair. With every new similarity I noticed, keeping my curiosity on a leash became increasingly more difficult but I knew I had to do it. Whatever was salvageable of my reputation in class depended on it. I needed to put in a good research paper submission and I was going to do just that.

Just a little sneak peek won’t hurt anyone.

I was desperately trying to win the war between my curiosity and my rationality. Tough as it was, I wrote word after word until my paper was complete. With a satisfied grin on my face, I pushed the other texts aside and turned the cover of Selena Ryder.

There was a drawing of the supposed Selena Ryder from 1871 on the first page. Her hair was parted in the middle and fell past her shoulders just like mine. The drawing was a pencil sketch in black and white and there was no way of telling what color her hair was. The first thought that came to my mind was why this Selena’s hair was parted just like mine. I dismissed it almost immediately because more than a half of the female population of the United States parted their hair in the middle – at least sometimes.

I looked at her features but nothing else stood out to me. I couldn’t tell the color of her eyes or her skin tone from the picture. I felt her other features like her cheek bones and the curve of her lips were similar to mine, but I dismissed the feeling as well. My mind was probably playing creepy tricks on me. I turned the page over and began reading the text. It turned out to be relevant to my research assignment. The early twentieth century experienced a great belief in the supernatural, with Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and Warlocks taking center stage. I scribbled a few more paragraphs in my research paper, detailing the new pieces of information this book revealed. The more pages I read, the more intrigued I was. There was something about this Selena girl that tugged at my curious side. One part of the text stood out to me more than the others I had read.

“Selena returned from her secret visit to the scholar at Markland. Unknown to her, the Serafino clan had attacked her home. Her best friend, Alexander Orwell had paid the price in her absence. A single slash to his throat had been the defining blow. She knew it was only a cover. The Serafino clan of bloodsuckers had drained every ounce of blood he once had…”

It was the creepiest piece of text I had ever read. I wondered why the Selena in the book had a best friend with a similar name to Alex but dismissed it as well. It was most likely just a coincidence. I lifted my head and my eyes caught sight of the window. I was surprised at how dark it had gotten outside. I must have been so engrossed in the Selena Ryder book that I didn’t realize how long I had spent in the library.

The brisk movement of a shadow behind me caused me to jump. A sudden surge of fear crawled slowly under my skin like a liquid filling up space within a container. I turned my neck sharply in all directions, scanning the area for anyone else who was still in the library with me. There was no one. Normally, I would have dismissed the fast-moving shadow but today I didn’t. I was sure it was there just a moment ago. The hairs on my arm stood erect, revealing the sea of goosebumps that had formed on my skin. Someone was there, I was sure of it. I quickly returned the books to the shelves and placed my paper into my backpack. The library was beginning to creep me out and I needed to get out of there fast.

I hurriedly made my way out of the library, earning a curious stare from the new librarian. I didn’t care. I just focused on getting away from all the creepiness, and back to the safety of my dorm. As I walked back to my room, I turned around constantly to see if any person or shadow was following me. Again, there was no one. A few pockets of college students were found standing here and there along my walk path. They were called night crawlers in campus vocab. The term was used to refer to students who remained outside in the dead of the night. It was supposed to be normal, but today it creeped me out.

Don’t tell me you’re letting the fables from those books get to you.

I smiled at the thought and continued walking. I knew it was right. I was scaring myself for no real reason. There was clearly no shadow stalking me. When I got back to my dorm, I looked around one last time. Still no shadow. It was just me standing in front of my door. I turned the knob to see if it was open. It wasn’t. That meant either Alex was asleep already or he still wasn’t back. If the latter was the case, I already had a ‘you’re getting unserious’ speech handy to read out to him when he finally got back.

I took out my key from my backpack and opened the door. Turning the light switch on revealed the most horrific image I had ever seen in my life. Alex was lying on my bed, dead. There was a single slash to his neck, obviously made by a knife or another very sharp object.

I let out the loudest scream of terror my entire hostel had ever heard.

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