I was there for a long time. Eventually my eyes ran dry and I had to settle with dry sobbing. I felt like something had been ripped from my chest, as if my humanity had been stolen from me and replaced by something horrible and mechanical.

As one would expect news of the disaster spread like wildfire through the tiny community that surrounded the college. The crowd outside the library swelled and idle conversation once again seeped into my ears, which I wish could do a better job of blocking out the inane chitterings of the tiny selves that concerned themselves with something beyond them.

Thankfully our headmaster was once upon a time a colonel in the emperor's army. As a military man he did the thing he knew best. He called in the legionaries, a garrison of which was stationed in the town just down the way. While he was far from imposing some form of martial law over the student body, he knew that large groups of young and impressionable adults were likely never a good thing.

So the crowds dispersed. For that I was incredibly thankful. I hugged my legs and rested my forehead on my knee caps, willing myself away.

It wasn't before long that I felt a heavy gauntlet clad hand on my shoulder. I hadn't heard anyone approach, so I was initially startled.

"Hey, you don't look so good."

A warm eyed legionnaire greeted me. He was a young captain not much older than myself, probably in his mid twenties. His chest plate was emblazoned with "AENEAS" in a neat serifed font.

"Listen. We're under orders to secure the area. You're not hurting anyone, I know. You must have been close to Mister Admes. But I need you to go home."

I swallowed hard. I didn't want to go home.

"There'll be a memorial service for you to grieve at in due time. Here isn't the place, kid."

He furrowed his brow looking for more words.


He gave my shoulder a squeeze and left me there. He didn't look back. After he disappeared beyond the bushes that stank of my sick I realized that the librarian was dead and that the rumors weren't close to the truth. I felt hollow. If I was somehow responsible, I was now a murderer.

I made it to my feet and jammed my hands in my pockets. I walked away while staring at my shoes.

It wasn't before long that I found myself at Gerald's dorm. I stood outside his door for a long time, waiting for the courage to knock. I could feel eyes in the hallway drill holes into the back of my head. But I wasn't concerned with their little minds of their perception of what was normal or not.

I lightly tapped. Ice water ran through my spine.

The door cracked open and the smell of college boy stink and cheap incense wafted out.

"Hanz? Oh fuck. You fell off the wagon again. Come in."

I shuffled in and collapsed into a chair. He sat too, giving me plenty of space. I had never been to his room. It was the polar opposite of how mine used to be. Messy, filthy, devoid of any academic reference tool.

"He's dead."

I croaked, my eyes watering.

"Yeah. I know."

I didn't know the librarian particularly well. But no one knew that.

"It happened so fast. I just... woke up and ran. When I got there... it was a mess. What could do such a thing.."

It felt like he was studying me, but his eyes were kind and his expression sincere. I ran a hand through my hair and offered a pathetic smile. It cracked instantaneously and I broke down into full sobs again.

It was so alien. I didn't share my emotions with anyone. I didn't just arrive and hang out with friends. Likewise Gerald likely never had a man collapse emotionally in his dormitory before. But I had caused a chain of events that lead to this point. There was no turning back.

It took him awhile to work up the courage to awkwardly embrace me. It was brotherly and warm. I felt a little better.

I wanted to lie to break the silence. I thought of saying how the old man had always been there to help me find what I needed, how he was a genius in his own right. I wanted to say something good about the man whom for all intents and purposes was my murder victim.

But Gerald hated the awkward silence more than I did.

"I know you were spending a lot of time there. He must have meant a lot to you."

He offered weakly. There was a beat.


"But he's in a better place now."

Gerald was an atheist. I had always respected the courage he must have had to be so open about it. It felt wrong that my weakness had caused him to pander to my theology.

"You know you don't believe that."

I managed to say while trying to steady my breathing.

"I don't need to."

He broke his embrace and pulled his chair closer to mine. I wiped my eyes, which were already puffy and red. He was like an anchor. His presence steadied me and kept me connected to the earth in a sea of madness.

I felt better with him watching me. However wrong it was, I wanted to stay. I didn't want to go back to the horrors that hid beneath my bed.

My eyes slid over and connected with his. I didn't notice that they were no longer under my own control. I could feel a smile form on my face.

"You're beautiful."

I said, but it sounded wrong. It sounded artificial, like hearing your own voice on a tape recorder. It was me, disembodied and crammed into something tinier than myself.

A look of confusion slowly spread across his face. It was replaced by sheer panic within a fraction of a second. I saw it all in slow motion.

It was then that I realized that I was no longer myself, but a passenger in my own body. That I had exposed my secret and likely alienated the only thing that could pass for a friend.

There was some quick and awkward fumbling and groping as what passed for me betrayed my screaming mind. I tried to steel myself, but I was emotionally and physically drained. I didn't have the energy, even though my hand formed a vice like grip on his arm. I must have hurt him, because I felt the air evacuate my lungs as he punched me in my gut.

Doubled over I muttered something, but I was too busy panicking in the back of my own head.

Eventually his door was opened and I was thrown out in a sprawling mess. It slammed shut behind me. It was then that whatever had possessed me departed. It felt like a sudden crash. Energy that I didn't know existed evaporated.

I laid there, a mess of legs and arms. I felt violated. I felt as if I had been raped. I had also been robbed of Gerald and likely rightfully labeled as a non-breeder.

I slinked away humiliated and terrified.

There was no one to comfort me. I wanted to die.


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