Arianna stood humming along to the music issuing from the computer beside her as she scanned the labels on the books. She loved the solitude of the quiet library after closing time - technically, Maggie was supposed to be closing up, but her younger son had been sick the previous day and she was anxious to get back to him. The mother of three was already miserable at being forced to work full-time when her husband had been laid off from his job, but her family desperately needed the money and the library operators had been quite keen on offering to extend her work times. She'd called in sick the previous day to be with her ill son, but had been forced to work that day and was unfortunately slated to close up with Arianna.

Arianna had shooed the distraught older woman home, more than happy to close up by herself. Completely opposed to Maggie, she would've lost her mind if she didn't have her job - no family, no friend, no lover, no one to greet her upon coming home, no one for her to greet. The silence in her small house was oppressive - the silence in the vast, high-ceilinged library was friendly and companionable. Books were Arianna's passion, her friends, confidants, playmates, conversation mates, and nowhere was she happier than amongst them.

Of course, the janitor would be in within a couple of hours, to vacuum, clean the restrooms, etc. The librarians had to do some of the cleaning, but Arianna had taken care of all that first, shining the glass doors and narrow windows, disinfecting the public computer keyboards and mouses. Now she was checking in and reshelving all the books that had been turned in within the past few hours, and deriving a great deal of enjoyment from it in her own quiet way. Plugging the phone into the computer that had her playlist going, she activated the speaker system so that she'd hear it all over the library. Lifting a stack of books in her arms, she headed back towards the nonfiction section, weaving her way through the old wooden shelves.

She had only three books left to place when the music abruptly stopped. The hairs on the back of her neck standing up, the young librarian crept to the end of the row and peeked out towards the circulation desk at the front of the library. Usually, she enjoyed the unusual design of the desk, a large enclosed square like a pen, affording the staff a 360 degree view of the activity in the building. Now though, the corral-like desk posed a threat - whoever turned off the music could be crouched down behind it, out her line of vision, just waiting to pounce. Her hand strayed to one of the metal bookends on the shelf, her knuckles white as she grasped her makeshift weapon tightly, heart hammering. After several minutes of tense waiting, with nothing more disturbing the quietude of the peacefully reposing building, Arianna relaxed, taking a deep breath and scolding herself aloud. "You silly idiot, it's probably the phone malfunctioning again. You're alone here."

Silas smirked to himself, watching the petite, pretty blonde finish her task. She certainly wasn't alone here, but she would find that out soon enough. For now, making her nervous would suffice.

Moving back to the front, Arianna fearfully peeked over the top of the broad desk into the inner area, making certain that no one was lurking inside ready to commit atrocities on the fragile, unarmed young woman. Giving vent to a deep breath of relief upon seeing it vacant, she let herself hesitantly through the swinging door, hurrying over to the computer to finish her work so she could get out of here, troubleshooting the phone could wait until the next day. Her hand hovered an inch above the mouse as she stared at the monitor, alarms screaming at her mentally. There was no problem with the audio - the music had been paused. She was not alone.

Arianna's eyes flickered up from the computer to the door, noting instantly that it was locked. She scarcely had time to register the thought that she had not yet locked it before the lights went out. There were only two spots that controlled the lights of the main building, the panel right inside the door - the only one that ever really saw any use - and the ones back in the librarian's room at the rear of the building. Arianna had been able to see the switches beside the door, which meant that her stalker was in the back room...with her purse...which contained her keys. As the true realization of the gravity of her peril hit, a scream of pure terror ripped from the petrified girl. "Who - who are you?" she whimpered into the blackness, cringing down against the wood.

Silas didn't answer, watching the smudge of dense darkness that denoted her presence. It was deep night out, the only light coming in the windows the harsh orange glare of the streetlamps in the parking lot. It did nothing to illuminate the inside of the vast library, instead painting tangerine stripes on the thin carpet concealing the concrete slab floor. Still, the faint luminescence the stark light shed was enough to reveal a vague outline of his victim's silhouette to the sadistic man, farther back in the shadowy interior as he was. He settled comfortably back against the shelf directly behind him, waiting silently, knowing her own imagination would do more to traumatize her than any move he might make right now. A human attacker could be conquered, a phantom was invincible.

Arianna took a deep breath, steadying herself. She did not believe in the supernatural, which meant that whatever the sadistic freak stalking her might be planning, could be foiled. She ran through the mental list she'd subconsciously compiled while watching various movies and shoes, stupid things characters did that got them killed or they survived purely by luck. First off, one's attacker never replied, so asking who they were, where they were, or what they wanted, simply didn't work. Secondly, you should never wander blithely towards an obviously dangerous situation - not that that was in issue in this particular instance, she couldn't see a thing and her unwanted companion could be anywhere. Thirdly, the danger was almost always above and behind one - which was definitely an issue in the open-raftered library. And finally, don't go blundering into what is clearly a fight just waiting to happen when you're unarmed. That's just plain stupid and you get what you deserve if you do that.

Silas had grown bored, the girl was no longer whimpering in terror and scanning the shadows for him and he deemed it time to stir things up again. Pulling out his cellphone, he auto-dialled the library number, his eyes never leaving his chosen victim as he silently gloated. The sudden ringing in the previous dead stillness was enough to completely destroy the fragile composure Arianna had regained, and she jumped as though a gunshot had gone off, heart hammering again. She stared apprehensively at the small flashing green light on the business phone, knowing the rules of this game. She picked up, he hung up instantly in an attempt to heighten her anxiety. Rebellion sparked in her heart, and she snatched up the receiver, her tone sugary sweet as she answered. "Joe's Bar, how may I help you today?"

"I'll take a Bloody Mary," he hissed into the phone, chuckling sibilantly before hanging up. Arianna ground her teeth as she replaced the receiver, anger mingling with rising panic. Human he may be, but he was good at his chosen profession, and for the first time she allowed herself to harbor a doubt that she would survive this encounter. Rule number four - do not engage in a fight unarmed. Her hand drifted surreptitiously along the counter, shortly encountering something hard, a familiar shape... A grin lifted the corners of her mouth as hope blossomed within her again. Slowly moving her left hand to join her right, she brushed her fingers lightly along the object, ascertaining that it was, indeed, the stapler she had found. A better weapon, Arianna could not have asked for - hard, dense, expandable to twice its size, as well as being equipped with sharp objects easily embedded in a body. The thought of stapling someone turned the gentle girl's stomach, but in a situation such as this, it was kill or be killed and her attacker could just be glad she wouldn't be aiming for his eyes.

Turning, she faced away from the desk into the dark building, straining her eyes in a vain attempt to spot the man stalking her. "Alright, then," she spoke boldly into the heavy stillness. "I've played your games, I've whinged for you and answered your creepy call. Now come on out and face me, if you dare!"

Silas didn't bother springing out in answer to her challenge, he was not so insecure or arrogant as to think he needed to live up to some foolhardy reputation the woman was desperately trying to assign. This night would play out on his terms, not hers, and while it was a good effort he felt no real need to honor it. "Why should I, when I can play as well from where I am?" he asked mockingly, his first crucial mistake. Before, no matter how hard she'd tried to suppress it, there was a faint doubt, a niggling fear, that her opponent was not altogether human. His voice was unmistakably temporal, though, and Arianna could outwit a human. She was just preparing to sally out into the unknown territory in search of him and bring the fight to the ground when something exploded against the wood desk scarcely an inch from her, scalding pain enveloping her legs.

She shrieked, staggering away from the mysterious missile into the open area of floor surrounded by the large wraparound desk. Her foot snagged one of the rolling chairs behind it, sending the librarian and the furniture crashing to the ground. Silas, after lobbing the peroxide-filled glass ball, had leaped up onto the faux-marble desktop and crept along it, and now stood towering above where Arianna lay prostrate. A wicked grin spread his mouth wide, a whisper of triumph hissing from between his teeth. "You're mine now..."

Arianna cried out as something large and heavy landed on her shoulders and upper back, pinning her to the floor. Her tormentor's gloating voice continued above her, causing her to writhe in terror and desperation. "I debated many fates for you, my pretty one...first I thought, fire. This place would go up like dry tinder, all these books, the wooden shelves - you'd be trapped, unable to escape. But that wasn't quite suitable, too quick, not allowing you enough time to realize your fate. Then I considered drowning - turning on all the taps, letting this place fill up with water as you fought to keep enough air to survive. But that would take too long, and there's no guarantee that this place would be watertight, not to mention the electrical shorts it would cause, that would terminate your suffering all too soon...so that clearly wouldn't do." He dropped down beside her, lightly as a cat, and leaned closer, his hot breath tickling her ear. "So then I wondered, what was it about those two ideas that drew me so?"

He paused, as though waiting for her to answer, but he had finally achieved his desire of petrifying the girl into silence. Grinning maliciously, Silas continued, his voice heavy with gleeful menace. "Consumption, my dear. The idea of you being devoured alive. Now that is a theme from which I can work..." He reached out, brushing his hand lightly down the back of her bleeding left calf, feeling her shiver in revulsion and fear at his touch. "Pain..." he breathed, his eyes gleaming dementedly in the lightless room, and pinched, his long sharp fingernails digging through the skin, her blood welling up to his fingertips.

Arianna screeched in pain and shock as two tiny teeth connected in the back of her leg, the fear that had held her frozen shattering abruptly at the sharp stinging. Silas had committed his second and third mistakes, the last two he would make that night - letting her know he was close enough to touch, and assuming that the pain from his makeshift grenade would keep her other leg disabled. With instinctive accuracy, Arianna brought her right heel up with a violent jerk, pulverizing his temple and knocking him unconscious instantly.

As the sadistic man who had tortured her slumped over, Arianna rolled with all her strength, dislodging the sandbag from her back. Leaping to her feet, the adrenaline pounding through her veins permitting her to ignore the anguish in her body, she launched herself over the high wooden barrier between herself and freedom with all the strength born of the hope of escaping an unspeakably horrific death. The stapler in her hand battered at one of the windows - double paned as it was, it would still be easier to penetrate than the two sets of doors between the girl and safety. The glass all but crumbled under her furious onslaught, her hand flying unexpectedly out into open air. Arianna thrust herself through the narrow gap with all her strength, ignoring the cuts to her clothes and skin courtesy of the shards of glass remaining in the frame. As her feet landed on grass, she took off down the sidewalk towards the police substation, a block away, her injuries all but forgotten.


It's midnight. Please forgive any spelling errors - if you point them out, I'll come back later and correct them.