“Alright, I think it’s around here…”
My eyes scan towards the top of the hill, but they didn’t have to search for long. The architecture of this particular building sticks out like a sore thumb against the blue sky and grassy pathway.
As it’s looming over me at the top of the hill, the overall atmosphere makes the building feel rather imposing. The deep brown of the bricks makes the entire structure look like a silhouette. Despite the bright sunlight, a soft yellow light flickers from the wide, semi-circle windows. Before I know it, my feet have carried me all the way to the door; a structure just as imposing as the rest of the building.
Taking a deep breath in, I push open the ornate, stained glass door.
What greets me is what could only be described as an assault on all my senses. The aging lights paint the whole room a yellow tinge. The smell of old books dances in my nose, filling me with a sense of nostalgia. The lack of sounds makes my ears home in on the sound of my heavy breathing.
This is one of the oldest buildings in town, Roebel Library. It’s been around since 1790, and still boasts a lot of its original decorations, albeit with a little wear and tear. This building is also renowned among townsfolk for being a hotspot for all types of ghosts and spirits.
This is the perfect spot to shoot the horror documentary River wants to make.
My close friend, River, had reached out to me a couple of days ago. They were begging me to find “cool and haunted” locations in my new hometown, so when they came to visit, they could film some ghosts in Roebel.
“What have I gotten myself into?”
I’ve never really cared about that kinda stuff. I was only doing this to help out a friend. I told them that I’d scope the place out to make sure it wasn’t gonna be a waste of their time.
Between the cracks in the tiles in the foyer, grass and flowers reach towards the sunlight beaming through the holes in the ceiling. Branches and climbing plants clutch onto the walls, peppering it in flecks of green, brown and yellow.
Nature was starting to take this place back already. And it’s beautiful.
Despite the foyer being covered in wild plant life, the rest of the first floor looks surprisingly clean.
Almost as if… someone is living here. There are no books missing. They’re all incredibly neatly organised. The desks and chairs aren’t that dusty, like someone had cleaned them recently. Live plants in pots pepper the shelves and windowsills.
A shiver rolls down my entire body. I would feel more comfortable if the entire place was in disrepair.
Who is living here? A spirit? A person? An animal?
What if I’m about to become a snack for some wild beast who has been lurking in this library for years? Is this why nobody comes here anymore? They all know about the beast and didn’t think to tell me in the 6 months I’ve been living here?
No answer. My call echoes through the first floor.
It hits me. If this is an abandoned building… why are the lights on?
The yellow tinge of this room now makes me feel slightly ill. I promised I would scope out this place for River… I have to find out if there’s any ghost activity going on here.
“Surely the lights being on is enough to confirm ghost activity?” I say to myself. “I should go… I’ll come back with River when they’re here…”
I turn around to leave, but something stops me in my tracks. The spiral stairs in the centre of the room beckon me closer, encouraging me to explore more. Unable to suppress the urge, and against all my better judgement, I climb up.
My eyes are met with a wide-open space with tall bookshelves lining the outer wall. Through holes in the ceiling, more flowers poke through.
“Hello…?” I try again to illicit some kind of response.
Footsteps. Hurried ones at that. Coming closer and closer… closer and closer!
My fight-or-flight response kicks in, cementing me to the ground in a fighting stance. Whatever it is, I’m not going down without a fight…!
“How curious. I thought I told Rooibos to lock the door when he came back. Now look at the mess he’s made…”
A young man stands before me. He’s smartly dressed; wearing a white collared shirt and black slacks, along with sleek glasses framing pale blue eyes. His brown hair is almost shoulder length.
…and atop his head, are a pair of brown, cat-like ears.
I stay fixed in place. I can’t even muster any words; I’ve never seen a being like this. River has to see this. River is going to think I’m crazy unless they see it for themselves.
“Oh dear, they seem awfully frightened,” he continues, heaving a sigh. He steps closer; I step back reflexively.
“I won’t hurt you,” He speaks softly, but he remains straight-faced. “Are you lost?”
“N-No,” I trip over my words. “I’ve lived here for a while. I-I’m just… exploring.”
“You’re a brave one, coming to somewhere like this alone,” he smirks. Taking in his features, I can’t deny the fact that he’s quite handsome, despite the ears. “Most of the townsfolk avoid this place.”
Walking past me, he gestures towards the stairs. Seeing him from behind, I also notice he has… a short, brown and fluffy tail.
“Now, I must ask that you leave. I can’t have you telling everyone about me here, or that’ll cause a huge mess. One that I don’t particularly feel like cleaning up.”
“Wait…!” I call out. I surprise myself with my sudden interest. “Please let me stay for a while. I promise I won’t tell anyone about you being here.”
“Why should I trust you?” He looks me up and down, his eyes squinting behind his glasses. “How can I tell that you won’t go and tell some other humans about us being here…?”
His eyes go wide before he quickly regains his composure.
“…Forget you heard anything. Leave this place. I don’t want to see you around here again, understand?”
He sure has a stern tone. It feels as though he can see right through me, like he knows why I’m here and that I wanted to tell River.
“I won’t tell anyone. I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
He looks into my eyes, scowling. Like he can see straight into my soul.
“…Ahh, Oolong, what’re you doin’? Bringin’ over a secret lover, perhaps?”
The voice behind me makes me snap my head away from the young man, apparently called Oolong, to another young man stood behind me. His long, ginger hair is tied in a ponytail and draping over one shoulder. His white ears, similar to Oolong’s, are cat like; twitching as he expresses his intrigue. I stare towards the new visitor, dumbfounded.
“What are… you guys? Is this some kinda joke?”
“How rude,” Oolong sighs. “This is why I asked you to leave.”
“They’re curious!” the newcomer smiles. “Maybe if you started educatin’ our guests, they wouldn’t run away in a blind panic!”
The redhead throws his arm around Oolong’s shoulders; eliciting a groan from him as he adjusts his glasses.
“You always act so big and mean and scary! That’s what gets the whole town to spread rumours about us, y’know?”
“Rumours?” I lean towards the pair.
“You haven’t heard the rumours? The old ladies natter for ages about it the second you bring up this place, y’know!” the newcomer has a sparkle in his eyes as he looks toward me.
“I moved here around 6 months ago. For study and stuff.”
Looking away awkwardly, I’m embarrassed by my lack of common knowledge about the area. The redhead laughs exaggeratedly.
“You’ve been here long enough to hear about the beast of Roebel Library then! What’ve you been doin’, hangin’ out under a rock?!”
“That’s quite enough from you,” Oolong lifts the arm from off his shoulders and steps towards me again. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a guest to escort to the exit.”
“Don’t be like that, Oolong! This might be our chance! Our chance to hear about the outside world from a genuine townsperson! You love history and stuff like that, right? Don’t you wanna hear about it from a human?”
“So… You guys aren’t humans?”
Another exaggerated laugh emerges from the red-haired man.
“With ears like these? What kinda humans have you been seein’? Or are you tellin’ me… there are others like us out there?!”
Oolong rubs his temples.
“Rooibos, I won’t tell you again. Shut up and allow me to show this lost lamb to the exit.”
The redhead, apparently called Rooibos, suddenly grows stern.
“I won’t let you throw away a chance like this. Not again, Oolong!”
Oolong frowns before sighing once more.
“Fine. We’ll show this one around around and hope for the best.”