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Noir - Occult Books

by BP | Score: 6100

The back walls of the bookstore were lined with cobwebs. Where [detective] expected to see rows of surplus books and other supplies there was nothing but cracked, gray foundation and spider's silk.

The match he was using to guide him wavered. A faint breeze coming from the other end of the room. The flame burned down and scorched his fingers. He let out a harsh whispered and tossed the match to the floor.  He continued on in darkness a few paces before striking up another. He wanted to keep evidence of his presence here to a minimum and while one spent match might go unnoticed, a trail of them didn't sit right in his mind.

The second match wavered like the first as the flame crawled toward his fingers. He held it sideways, trying to avoid another burn, but when he realized he was watching the flame instead of where he was going he whipped his hand back and forth it extinguished it.

The movies always made matches seem like miniature spotlights. Light one up and it burned forever with enough light to fill an entire cavern.

Plunged into darkness again, he knelt down and waited for his eyes to adjust. The man he had been shadowing entered the bookstore minutes before he managed to pick the lock and slip into the basement. A well-timed feat of burgling(sp?), if he didn't mind saying, but he hadn't counted on the backroom being this long or difficult to navigate. He'd be lucky if the son of a bitch was still there by the time he found the door.

Dark brown spots emerged in the room before him. Dull. Blurred. Like a television set just turned on, trying to transmit the image. Boxes, he decided. Reaching out, he let his fingers feel their way along their edges. Dust and more cobwebs. Probably a feast of desiccated insect and mouse poop mixed in as well. He took his hands back. Wiped them against his trousers. You're supposed to a detective, he told himself. Grizzled, hard. Put those god damn hands back on the back and figure out where you're going.

The box was heavy. Impossible to move without making a sound. And without better visibility into the room he was just as likely to push it into something and give himself away than anything else. Over, then. That was the only way.

He stood up and, kicking one leg over, straddled the box--immediately getting stuck. Again the thoughts flooded him. Dead ants stuck to his pants. Rat shit. A pissed off spider, recently awaken, skittering toward his flesh.

His heart thumped in his chest and sweat started to escape the brim of his head. With one unsteady heave he lifted his leg and cleared the box. The movement sent him clattering to the floor where his head knocked against something long and wooden.

He more sensed the broom that felt it. But at the last minute he arched his back, blunting the sticks blow and keeping it from causing any kind of disturbance. Grizzled, he thought to himself. Good thing he hadn't said graceful. He would've been two times a liar.

A third match went up and this time, just outside the aura of its light, he could make out the outline of a door. He let the match burn down, readying himself for the burn, as he instead focused his attention on the steps. Better to have red fingers than stumble head first into the people you're spying on.

The flame burned down and sat, perched on his fingertips for what felt like an eternity, as he mounted the last two steps and got into position beside the door. But as he whipped his fingers to put out the blaze he rapped his knuckles lightly against the door.

"Is anyone there?"

The voice sounded unfamiliar. Frightened and high-pitched yet undeniably belonging to a man. [Detective] held his breath. Habit forced him to look around, to plan for a quick getaway if the situation called for one, but darkness filled the room again. He could see no more than two inches in front of him. If the man belonging the voice chose to investigate, [detective] would have no where to go. 

Bracing himself against the door, he held his breath, and listened.

"Is someone there?"

Laughter. Deep and mirthful. The tall man.

"Theodore. Theodore. Theodore. My dear Theodore. Are you so convinced of your own abilities that you think such a paltry performance could sway me?"

A series of mutterings. Theodore, the bookstore owner, stuttering apologies.

"Or perhaps you it is not so much belief in yourself, but a lack of belief in me. Do you think me such a fool as to fall for your pathetic little pantomime."

"No-no, Mr. Drake. I swear. I heard--"

"You heard?"

"Thought I heard. I thought I heard something. In the back room. Mice. Probably mice. They're always getting into the boxes. Damaging the products."

"My products?" Mr. Drake's voice raised an octave, carrying a hint of menace.

"No-no. Certainly not. Absolutely not. I keep your books well hidden away. Well hidden. Protected too. You know that."

"They why are you wasting my time with rats."

"So-sorry. Mr. Drake. I just--I thought maybe something--"

"Some. Thing? Have you been practicing again, Theodore?" [Detective] thought he detected a hint of amusement in the man's voice. Surprise.

"Pre-practicing? Me? No

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Location A bookstore
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Letter Use the letter Z
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Sentence "Is anyone there?"
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words

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