A Haunted House for Bibliophiles

Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

Come in, come in! I’ve heard you are a book lover! Well, then you’ll love our haunted house. You’ll feel right at home! There are plenty of books here…

You enter the first room. It is softly lit, and seems to be entirely decorated from a Pottery Barn catalog. Just as you begin to let your guard down, you notice…the shelves.

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You reel back in horror! The books! They’re…backwards! How can you snoop to read their titles? You are immediately filled with sympathetic dread, imagining not being able to peruse your own collection. Will just laying eyes on these shelves cause your book collection at home to rearrange itself? There’s no way to tell!!

You stumble through the next door, and you’re momentarily comforted by the sight of the walls lined with bookcases, shelved spine-out. The room is also filled with armchairs, and in each chair sits a silent reader. You grow suspicious. What’s so scary about a silent reading party? You watch one of the readers stop, and then—it’s painful to even acknowledge it—they firmly fold down one corner of the page. Your eyes dart to another reader. They are adding their dog-eared book to stacks of books beside them, all defiled in the same way. They each get up and retrieve another book from the shelves, surely to do the same shameful thing to them. All around the room, the stacks of dog-eared books grow…you begin to gasp for breath.

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You quickly realize that you aren’t cut out for this place. You try to squeeze your eyes shut as you run through the next rooms, but you can’t help catching a glimpse of more stomach-churning sights: a room where books lay open face down on all the surfaces—their spines, pleading for relief! Another, where tables are filled with books, all being carefully annotated by students! Their pens, permanently altering the pages!

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You huddle in a doorway, unwilling to face what comes next. But the only way out is through. Even without peeking into the next room, an eerie feeling creeps over you. Is that…the sound of someone using their own property in a way you don’t approve of? You look through the doorway and see…a craft room, with all manner of book crafts! The hairs on your arms begin to rise and you don’t know the source. Then, your eyes land on a wedding bouquet…made from pages from Lord of the Rings books!

You hold back tears. One JRR Tolkien book, gone from this world…only 400 million remaining…

There’s only one room left before you can finally be free of this nightmare. You brace yourself, taking a quick peek at what lays before you. You pale. Your skin grows cold.

Before you can hesitate, you run screaming through the room, surrounded by people methodically cracking the spines of books, with a few tables where people sit, carving out book safes.

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You emerge, heart hammering in your chest, out in the world. You come home and attempt to hug your bookcases, weeping softly. “They can’t get you here,” you whisper to your books. They are silent.

Your life returns to normal. You put on your satin gloves before handling your books. You never quite read the entire page, for fear of cracking the spine if you open a book all the way. You figure you can intuit what the last word of every line is.

But night after night, you’re awoken by a pulsing sound coming from under your floorboards. You fear you never truly left that house of horrors. In a fit of insomnia, you tear the floor up. As you lift up the final board, you expose…A MOVIE-TIE IN BOOK COVER.

Your scream peals through the night.