She sat across from me as I studied in the library. I was leaning toward getting some Chinese takeout but besides those potentially dangerous thoughts, I was keeping to my work. I had three major papers due in the next two weeks and I was trying to focus on those. Of course, I had plenty of normal deadlines in the meantime. Sleep was slipping away from me as I slowly receded into the world of the mind. On top of all of that, I was trying to wrap my head around some new works by some colleagues in Ireland.
I am a dramaturg by trade or at least that is what I was studying to be. A dramaturg researches plays and writes about the dramatic arts. While I was working on my degree, I was critiquing and editing plays written by my friends and the friends of my friends. I love getting into the guts of other people’s stories. There was an upcoming festival in Dublin that had an approaching submission deadline. A friend of mine had sent a play for me to look at. Several of her friends had followed suit and I have trouble saying no.
She was moving. I realized that she had been silently watching me this whole time. She was sliding her hand across the table to get my attention. I tried to ignore her. I had no time for random women in libraries, even if they were redheads. She was persisting, leaning over farther and farther to get into my field of vision. It was starting to get annoying. Could she not just get a librarian? I did not have enough sleep under my belt to deal with this.
“William Park?” She asked in a tiny library voice. My name is William Park. Wait, how did she know my name? I looked up at her sharply.
“How do you know my name?” I asked. Her eyes were very green. The green of a healthy field of grass. I once had a collection of Marlowe plays bound in that exact color.
“I know it because I am supposed to know it at this point in the story.” The woman said.
“Okay,” I said. “Am I supposed to know your name?” I asked. Her answer was weird but also kind of funny to my sleep deprived mind. I smiled in spite of myself.
“No, but I tell it you right now. My name is Helen Booker,” She said. I found myself shaking her hand when she offered it.
“‘Booker’. Funny, you keep talking about a story,” I said. “That’s weird. I’m not sure what you’re talking about or what you want from me. Thoughts?”
“The story is the world and the world is the story. A lot of it is not written yet. We want to make the rest of it more interesting,” She said with a flip of her hair and a big grin. I noticed there were thick goggles pushed up on her head and tangled in her hair.
“Did you say Booker or Bonkers? Please leave me out of whatever you’re planning to do,” I said. With no small amount of drama, I looked back down at my work. Of course, it was hard to concentrate but I hoped the act would convince her to move on. I glanced up a few moments later. I could not help it. She was now less delightful and more impatient.
“We do not have time for this. Now that I have made a move, they will be trying to prevent this from happening.” She said. Her eyes darted around the room nervously.
“What exactly would they be preventing?” I asked. I started shoving myself into my bag. I had a feeling it might be better to work back at my place.
“I made contact,” She said as if that meant more than I thought it did. “I am here to recruit you.”
“You’re going to fail. Whatever you’re recruiting me for, it is not going to happen. That saves them the trouble of preventing anything,” I said.
“Nobody has ever said no before,” She said with a frown.
“Read my lips-” I began saying before Booker covered my mouth with her hand. Her frown quickly turned into a silly grin again.
“You haven’t gotten the whole sales pitch yet. Now come with me, I think the editors are coming.”
“Editors?” I asked.
As if on cue, there was a popping sound coming from the stacks. Booker reached out and yelled something I couldn’t understand. Some objects that moved very fast hit the tables behind me.
“What the hell was that?!” I yelled. There were holes in the table directly behind me. Booker held up her hand dramatically and opened it and a piece of metal fell to the floor.
“Bullets. Run!” She said and ran. I ran after her. I looked over my shoulder and saw a clean cut man exit the stacks with a determined look on his face. I turned and nearly ran into the front doors. We pushed them open and started down the marble steps. I nearly fell twice but I managed to barely keep up with Booker’s long strides. Three was a whole line of cars parked at the bottom of the steps. In unison, all of those cars detonated, forming a wall of intense flame. Booker hung a sharp right and I managed to keep up with her in the staggering heat coming from the cars. We squeezed through a gap between the cars and the fence and ran toward some trees.
Booker held up some sort of emblem that looked like a white rabbit. It shone brightly for a moment and then a hole opened up in the ground a couple of yards ahead. She performed a perfect baseball slide into the hole to my astonishment. I hesitated for a moment and heard a bullet hit a nearby tree trunk. I dove headfirst into the hole and found myself tumbling through an immense empty space. I tried to look up but I could no longer see the hole I had come through.