Ichor Falls

My Life by J.G. Norrington

by on Nov.11, 2008, under Submitted

I got a job at the public library this summer. It wasn’t because I was strapped for cash — my parents were one of the prime investors in developing Ichor Falls, and they were always willing to help me “fund the local economy,” it was because I needed to get out of the house; away from the oppressively humid fog that circled our aging property.

The library is one of the only eternally cool buildings in town due to being constructed into the side of a hill; a network of sloping subterranean chambers, spiraling deeply into the earth so that the entrance was actually the third floor while the older books were down on the first. The story goes that the building was put here when a potential iron mine would not yield its expected fruit and the furious landowners gave up the land for public use. That was close to 200 years ago.

I was hired to do the dully repetitive job of transforming the card catalog into a computer database, another cog in New Elysium’s convoluted plot to revitalize the town. The third and second floors were a simple enough task; one card at a time, cataloging texts from the start to the finish of the last century. When I came across a particularly illegible card I would consult the ailing librarian, a Mr. Pennsworth, but otherwise I had started building up a fairly impressive database of hypothetical volumes.

I say hypothetical because it wasn’t my responsibility to check whether or not the books actually existed, that would be the fortunate job of some other low-paid grub. Most of my days involved nothing more than setting up my laptop in front of the teetering card catalog, cranking up the ELO and getting to work. No one bothered me because few people could muster the tenacity to work their way out here and those that did avoided the card catalogue like the plague, directing their inquiries to Pennsworth instead.

A month passed and I was finally ready to take on the arduous first floor. Arduous because the books kept on the first floor were the oldest, and with old books come old, tattered and sloppy catalog cards. Electricity had not yet reached its slithering tendrils into this portion of the building so it was sparsely lit by, incredibly, oil lanterns placed at random throughout the echoing chamber. On the first day that I was supposed to head down Mr. Pennsworth simply handed me a flashlight and hoarsely said, “Best of luck,” after which he withdrew to the main desk.

With each step down I kicked up thick clouds of dust and when I had stumbled my way to the card catalog I found it to be in the most bizarre and sorry state I had ever seen. Entries were littered all over any available surface; they stuck out of drawers, were wedged under table legs, were wadded up and tossed on the ground. I had to spend a day simply finding and stacking them all back into the catalog. Not that it did any good seeing as the cards themselves were even more peculiar. Titles written in strange unrecognizable tongues, cards wholly or partially drenched in water or worse, their true content forever diffused, titles so bizarre that I had to consider them misprints. I grew increasingly more agitated as each day went by, sometimes skipping large stacks of cards just to get to something that I could read.

It was at this point that I stumbled upon a rather unremarkable card which read; “My Life by J.G. Norrington; Autobiography.” The writing was steady and solid, each letter was printed and then reprinted for optimum readability. I happily entered the information into my database and placed the card in my “complete” pile. Was it then that I first noticed something moving in the distant periphery of my eye? It was a subtle shift in the dull and near inky blackness which surrounded me, so insignificant that I barely paid it any attention. I continued to work, humming along to the songs blaring from my headphones. Do ya do ya want my mind, do ya do ya want my love… Five or six cards down the stack and I look down to see “My Life by J.G. Norrington; Autobiography” staring up at me again. Of course an accidentally repeated entry in the catalog was nothing new, so I took the card and threw it, crumpled, into the trashcan next to me. As they sat and sang auld lang syne by the light of the moon…

Two cards down, I picked up a card and again; “My Life by J.G. Norrington; Autobiography.” This time I hesitated. One repeat is common, a second begins bridging on the improbable. Plus, this card was ruffled up, as if someone had straightened it from being creased –

Another flicker in my peripheral vision, more noticeable than before. I turned my head and squinted into the darkness. Nothing. I turned around and placed the card to the side. Feel to touch her long black hair they don’t give a damn… I pick up the next card with trepidation and to my horror, another copy of “My Life by J.G. Norrington; Autobiography.” Not just that, but as I look at it closely, it looks like more than just a copy, it looks identical to the other two cards. Same creases, same strong and steady handwriting.

I reach over to where I had set down the second card but feel only empty desk. Panicking I rummage through the trashcan but find no crumpled card. Another flicker. Do ya do ya want my love… Horror gripping me by the heart I stood up, pushing my chair back. It screeched across the marble floor, echoing dully throughout the chamber. The stack of cards I had on the table sail onto the ground and one by one I see them show the same words; My. Life. By. J.G. Norrington. Autobiography.

I swing my flashlight onto the floor where the cards had fallen and see only one lying where there should be a dozen. I’ve seen enough of the world to know that I’ve got to get it all to get it all to grow… I pick up the card, shutting my eyes, pulling myself together. A thought gripped my mind; I need to find this book, I have to, I’m meant to. Another flutter of black against black.

This time I follow it around a series of bookshelves, my flashlight scanning the titles. There it was; My Life. My hands trembled as I picked the book off the shelf.

It was dense, far denser than it looked. I opened the cover. A flicker to my right, to my left, above me… DO YA DO YA WANT MY LOVE…

* * *

Ichor Falls Sentinel, July 15th, 1987
Local Student Still Missing After Disappearance at Library

Tyler Newman, son of well known community organizer and investor Geoffrey Newman, has yet to be found after disappearing from the local Ichor Falls Public Library last Wednesday. After Stephen Pennsworth’s release in relation to the case last week, Falls Police seem to have run into a potential dead end.

Hopes of finding the young man remain high however with the recent arrival of John G. Norrington, the new investigator with the department who has made finding Newman his personal mission. Norrington, a man whom I got to interview in person, exudes a positive energy even in the midst of this family tragedy. “I’m here to dedicate my life to this young man. My heart goes out to him,” after which he returned to his work, humming along to an ELO song on the radio.

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8 comments for this entry:
  1. Xavier Brentwood

    Working in the Electric Light Orchestra lyrics was a great touch. The arrival of the titular character at the end was very unexpected!

    I’m glad to see another library story here, especially with the Lovecraft basement seeming a natural part of the building. There’s something dangerous about recording knowledge and bundling all that power in one place…

  2. ilitchev

    Oh wow, this made it in? Whew. Just a note about the last line which Norrington says; it was “I’m dedicating my life to this young man” as in “I’m dedicating My Life” to him, as a book dedication. It was only a little throwback and it works this way too, but the “I really do” part now doesn’t really make sense.

  3. ilitchev

    … or was it “I dedicate…”? Yeah, that would make sense with “I really do.” Sorry.

  4. Sean

    I love this story.. It touches a bit of a chord with me. As a kid, I used to go to this really awesome ancient library with lots of dark corners, old musty books, and a massive card catalog. The back areas of the place could get quite creepy when I was that age..

  5. BK

    As the regional head of technology for a library consortia, I have to say I found your story very amusing.

    While I have yet to find an eldritch horror in some of our older sub-basements and archives, there are certain things that have happened that at least to me, make this fiction not all that far from the truth.

    The transition from new to old was excellent!

  6. yotan

    nicely done, i was wondering how it would end up

  7. Spinningfox

    I didn’t follow the end…

  8. Char

    If someone accused you of stealing one of Stephen King’s manuscripts I’d believe them. And I mean that as a compliment!

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