Svetlana and the Library of the Weird
Svetlana sat at the reference desk, thinking of the bottle of vodka back in her office. It wasn't easy to be an exiled Russian noblewoman, especially one who had to work in a library that had the atmosphere of a locked mausoleum. She thought longingly of her family's long lost ancestral home on the Kamchatka River and wondered what had become of her ancestral treasures. It was better to leave them behind; the Faberge egg was probably cursed like the Hope Diamond. After all, look where she ended up! Tonight was the night of the full moon, and the crazies would be out.
Already, an ice cream sandwich had been placed in the book drop, someone had used it as a bookmark in the library's only copy of the Annotated Alice in Wonderland. Alice would never be the same, and neither would Svetlana. "Nothing that is, is", she sighed in a moment of existential despair as she adjusted her plaid kilt. "Damn! Is that a run in my fishnet?" she muttered to herself as she crossed her legs. Her fashion sense had gotten her into trouble in the past, she had just been sent an e-mail by her boss telling her to stop wearing combat boots, or she'd be exiled to weed the collection, starting with the letter Qs, the science section.
"Miss! Miss!" a voice broke into her reverie, "Do you have a
copy of A Long Day's Journey into Night?" An old man with an "I
like Ike" campaign button pinned to his ancient trench coat was standing
in front of her desk.
"Yes, just a moment...the call number is PS3529.N5 L6"
"Thank you young lady!" He walked away, whistling "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves.
"I should have been a ballerina or a ninja," she thought, "Working in a library fills me with ennui" She thought again of the vodka, and wondered if when her shift was done she should only take a drink or go for a shot of the purple liquid in the syringe her "dermatologist" Dr. Rasputin had given her the other day.
Suddenly the electricity went out in the library. "Not again!" Svetlana thought as she fumbled for a flashlight, aided only by the dim glow of the emergency light bulb that never went out. She had to go down to the stacks passed the suit of armor a trustee, Richard Wagner (poor man, always getting teased for his name) had donated to the library. She patted the helmet for luck and it promptly fell off with a clatter. "Oops, I did it again!" The helmet was dented. Svetlana sighed and descended the stairs.
As Svetlana began to make rounds of the library, she started to become uneasy. A chill passed through her body as she stopped near the section of American Poetry. She glanced at Edgar Alan Poe's collected works and realized that the library was almost totally deserted. Where had everyone gone? She heard a meow and shrieked, only to see a three legged cat run past her being chased by a were-gopher, a river otter, a rhinoceros, and the University mascot Tusky the Walrus. "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" she muttered, looking around at the study carrels to see if any of the patrons had left behind anything she could use for a weapon.
She was hoping for a claymore, straight razor, or perhaps the sword Excalibur but after surveying the vicinity she was only able to locate a stethoscope, bag of pop rocks, and a rosary piled on top of a copy of a medical text book. "Prayer won't help you get through med school" she picked up the rosary and the pop rocks. She noticed a slime trail leading away from the carrel. "Not even the great Cthulhu could help you now"
Wondering if perhaps a witch had unleashed a diabolical form of chaos magic designed to turn all the researchers at the university into obscure mammals, Svetlana thought about the way they used to take care of witches back in the old country. Given a nice bonfire, liquid nitrogen, or even a large rock, people in Kamchatka managed to maintain a degree of population control over any magic doers.
Following the slime trail, Svetlana found a mug of bean soup tipped over on the next study table and a bottle of asparagus flavored soda. "First the animals, now this! If people have to bring food into the library, why can't they being something that actually tastes good, like a medium rare steak or some fresh strawberries?" She hoped that the animals hadn't made it into the basement archives. The archives were largely uncataloged and no one knew what wonders they contained, perhaps a lost Shakespeare play or even the Necronomicon.
Rounding the corner still clutching her pop rocks, soda, stethoscope, and rosary, Svetlana saw an ominous green light spilling out the door to the archives. This had to be the source of the strange events at the library.
She pushed the door open and saw a shadowy figure sitting at the archivist’s desk wearing a rubber Vincent Price mask. "Kill the rabbit, kill the rabbit, kill the rabbit!" the strange person quoted from "What's Opera Doc". "Are you speaking in some kind of strange secret code?" Svetlana inquired, "My answer to you is 42. Now explain what you're doing in the library archives! We don't just let anyone in here, we don't want to risk damaging our priceless copies of Spiro Agnew's tax returns!"
"The power's out and I'm going to have to ask you to leave now" she continued her tirade. "And I don't know why you're sitting at the archivist's desk, but that is so not cool!"
The mysterious person ripped off the Vincent Price mask to reveal that he was a crocodile wearing an eye patch. His one eye glowed blue. Things are really taking a turn for the surreal, thought Svetlana, "I assume you are behind the strange transformation of all the library patrons into random assorted animals? And why is your eye glowing, are you from the Planet Arrakis?" she asked the crocodile.
"Yes is the answer to both of your questions, young lady. And if you would
be so kind as to stay in one place and stop chattering at me, soon you will
enjoy your new life as a two ton llama!"The crocodile began muttering an
incantation and drawing strange mystical sigils in the air. He started making
a roaring noise like a F-22 Raptor.
"A two-ton llama? You can't transform me into something more elegant?!!!"
Mystic radiation began to build up around the crocodile’s claws. He started
to direct the energy towards Svetlana, but she began to bob and weave like Richard
Petty passing Jeff Gordon during the Indy 500. She dashed into the cloakroom
dodging blasts of mystical energy and returned with a full-length mirror.
"Take that! You insane reptile" she yelled as the mystic energy bounced off the mirror only to return to the half-blind crocodile.
"Oh great," she sighed as the pressure of the newly transformed two ton llama splintered the archivist’s mahogany desk. "How will be able to submit an insurance clam on that desk? And how do I get these crazed animals out of the library?!"
"Maybe music will soothe the savage beast." Svetlana assembled a
makeshift harness out of duct tape will humming the third promenade from Pictures
at an Exhibition. She kept humming the Ballet Of The Chicks In Their
Shells as she slowly approached the two-ton lama, slipping the harness
over its head. The docile llama followed her out of the back door of the library.
"Well, that's one mystically transformed animal taken care of, but how can I lure the rest of them outside?"
Svetlana heard a screech, and turned around to see her ever-helpful sports car pulling up behind her. "K.I.T.T, when I sold my aunt's pearls and bought you off E-bay, I never dreamed that you would actually be real and so helpful! You are so much better than that awful Ford Escort I used to drive! Any ideas for luring magically transformed animals out of the library?"
"Animals love the island sounds of Don Ho!" (K.I.T.T still sounded just like William Daniels when he spoke) and with that, K.I.T.T. turned his stereo up to 11 and the sounds of "Tiny Bubbles" (on 8 track tape) began to echo in the snowy library parking lot.
A menagerie began to spill out of the library – rabbits, weasels, deer, cats, dogs, and even a hawk and dove. "I'm not sure how to keep the animals here until we figure out a way to transform them back into their human form." Svetlana confided in K.I.T.T. He popped open the trunk "I did some grocery shopping before coming over here."
Svetlana took out a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream, a watermelon, and a can of tomato paste. "I'm not sure if this is enough," she said, opening the ice cream and tomato paste and slicing the watermelon "But even magically transformed people have to love ice cream." Sure enough, the animals stayed in the parking lot.
Now, who do you think we could call for help, KITT? Is there anyone you know
of that could transform these people back?
"How about Brother Voodoo?"
"What an excellent idea! What was his phone number again? 1-800-Dambllh?"
Svetlana called Brother Voodoo's hotline and was told to recite a rather obscure incantation, "Yersinia pestis denali reepicheep!"
Suddenly the animals were transformed back to their normal human state.
Dazed, they began to move towards their cars in the parking lot.
"Well, K.I.T.T., now that we've defeated the forces of evil do you want
to go home? I think we deserve a relaxing evening! I'm going to eat sushi and
watch my DVD of Big Trouble in Little China. What would you like to
"I don't know, maybe play Risk or finish my jigsaw puzzle of the Leaning Tower of Pisa."
"Forget the Colossus of Rhodes, my cute talking car; you are the 6th Wonder of the World. How you manage to play board games and complete crossword puzzles with tires instead of hands, I'll never know. If I ever get a raise, I'm going to buy you a solid gold hubcap!"
Svetlana threw her feather boa over her shoulder, got in her talking sports
car, and drove off into the night. Her work was done, a typical evening in the
life of an exiled Russian Noble working in a very strange library.
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© 2005 Tangognat.