Wygate's Used Books, 3

Fiction By Anna // 10/19/2010

~I debated whether to post this on the 26th, my third anniversary of joining AP and the last one I'll be able to celebrate on the site. I was going to until I realized that some people might not get to read it within six days.~
III
Despite my resolution, I confess I couldn’t get Seamus Sheehan’s face and letter out of my noggin. And who was Wygate to close his shop on a whim and cavort off to rescue star-crossed lovers?
“May I ask you a question, Wygate?” I asked instead, laying the letter on the desk again.
Wygate shrugged; usually it wasn’t like me to ask to ask. “Fire at will, sally forth, I don’t care.”
“Are you from around here?”
He spun sharply to face me, although from across the shop it didn’t do much good. “Why would you ask to ask that? What makes you say it?”
I took a step forward. “Stab in the dark. Your accent isn’t quite… place-able.”
“Yes, well, I’m from out of town. Farther than that, to be honest,” he said quickly.
“From worlds away?” I tried.
He smiled thinly. “You’re learning, Merry.”
I started to smile, but stopped. “Don’t change the subject. You still haven’t answered me.”
His eyes narrowed. That’s my cue to let this go. I threw up my hands and muttered, “Never mind, never mind. What am I doing prying into the business of wizards? Curiosity killed the hobbit, you know. Why in the world would I bother my head over it?”
After all, winter was bound to creep into our souls any time now, making him more of a grouch than normal and me as much as I ever was. I didn’t want Wygate against me when that happened.
Not a week later, I came into the bookstore bundled in a thick black-and-white striped scarf, from which I impatiently brushed away clinging snow. “I hate winter!” Though I slammed the door behind me, the bell dared to tinkle. I shot it a look of pure wrath, but undeterred it laughed at my foul mood.
“Keep the door open!” I heard Wygate call from the second floor. As I came under the stair rail he tossed shiny silver tinsel on my head. “You can’t expect me to do all the decorating.”
“Too unmanly?” I shook of the tinsel, dusting it over the nearest stack of unshelved books, and began unwrapping my bundling: scarf, mittens, gloves under my mittens due to my irrational fear of frostbite, ear muffs, and hat. I stopped before I got to my coat. “Wait. Did you say to leave the door open?”
“You heard me,” he said, almost cheerily.
I ignored the joke (assuming it was a joke) and slipped out of my coat. Immediately I shrugged it back on, reaching for my scarf, mittens, gloves, and so on. “It’s freezing in here!” I cried, with no exaggeration. “Turn up the heat!”
“If I do that,” Wygate mock-complained, “you’ll have sent me to my death in the deep, dark, dank basement!”
“Now who’s unmanly?” I snorted.
Wygate rolled his eyes and went into the Employees Only room. Two minutes later, he shouted out wordlessly. Reflexively, I screamed. “Wygate, that is so not funny!” I huffed loudly, cutting myself off.
His voice was sharp but distant. “I told you to stay away!”
I poked my head into the room. Three stacks and two boxes of donated books had been rearranged, the ugly dime store rug thrown back, and a trap door opened. An old but actually not unpleasant smell drifted up from the stairwell beneath. “Wygate, you have a trapdoor!” I exclaimed.
“Merry!” Wygate’s voice echoed as it came up. He sounded startled, then desperate. “Stay out! Please!”
Somehow it didn’t occur to me to, I don’t know, listen. The please made it too unlike Wygate. “A real trapdoor,” I murmured, lowering myself in. I paused before my feet touched. “Were you talking to the rats? I hate rodents.”
“Rats? What? Merry, are you coming down?”
“Patience, fraidy-cat. I’ll be down in a second. Is there a light switch I can flip?”
“DON’T COME DOWN!” he bellowed.
The world fell silent. After holding my breath, I tiptoed in. “Yes, Wygate, always, Wygate, whatever you say, Wygate.”
“Why did you return?” he hissed. At first I thought he was talking to me, but he was actually talking to himself and didn’t hear me. “I drove you away.” A pause. “You can’t have her!” Do you know how much of my life I’ve devoted to keeping her safe? Not even your get-Arthur-out-of-the-guardian-aura-and-send-in-Edwin worked. She’s too smart for you.”
I could see Wygate’s broad back  now. His shadow stretched behind him; he was pointing his flashlight at the meeting of a bare, grimy brick wall and the rafters.
“It’s colder down here than outside,” I muttered.
Wygate whirled. “Merry!” Then back with the light. ‘Oh, no, you don’t!”
I stared. “Wygate, you do realize there’s noth—”
“I don’t care if she’s on your turf! I don’t care if she grovels at your feet, which she won’t!” he yelled. “I still stand between you two, and you can bet your slimy scales that that will never change.” He looked over his shoulder, keeping the light pointed on the wall. His eyes were red as if he had been battling nothing for nights on end, instead of a couple of minutes.
I took an involuntary step backward.
“You idiot girl,” he whispered. “So much for ‘too smart.’ Why don’t you ever do as I say?”
“Bluntly, Wygate,” I said in a flat tone, “you’re talking to a wall.”
“You can’t see it?” he asked.
“The wall? I can see that.”
His shoulders slumped. “Of course you can’t.”
Worried now, I reached out, my fingertips lightly brushing his shoulder. “Wygate, you’re staring at a ghost.”
He looked up. “Yes, exactly!” he said hopefully.
“No,” I said, distress growing. “A specter.”
“I know!”
“Of your imagination, man!” I cried, clutching him.
“Are you insane?” he asked incredulously.
“Are you?” I shrilled.
A roar ripped from his throat, but at the wall again. “You cannot twist her meaning! I name you to banishment from the aura of the aura, Vespertilian!”
He flung the flashlight at the wall. It exploded. I shrieked. Wygate wrenched my arm nearly out of socket as he yanked me up the stairwell, slammed the trapdoor shut, and threw me to the ground. I sobbed in pain. Wygate stood over me, eyes ablaze.
“Why did you do it?”
“Me?” I cried, wounded. “Snap out of it!” I pleaded. “If I had known you would go ballistic, I never would have recommend David Tennant’s ‘Hamlet’! Are you just trying to freak me out?”
“You don’t get it! That basement could have meant death.”
I lurched to my feet. “I can’t watch you like this.”
“Merry!” Wygate yelled as I ran for the door to the outside. “You need to stay with—”
“I love you,” I called over him and slammed the door behind me.
I couldn’t sleep that night. My eyes were filled with nothing but Wygate’s bloodshot eyes, my ears with nothing but his gasps, my touch with nothing but the thought, Why did it take Wygate going mad to convince me I love him?
The walk to the bookstore the next morning seemed to take a half hour longer than usual—I couldn’t get my feet to pick up. I buried myself in my scarf as thin layers of snowflakes drifted and tried not to cry. The shop was dark and cold, but the door was unlocked, so I went and began organizing books and decorations without a word. I neither saw nor heard Wygate.
Of course, my soul was worlds away. The sweet smell of old books did nothing for me. The last months had been the loveliest time of my life, but I could never remember feeling so miserable as now. The hope that Wygate would come out any minute, see my distress, and say, “Sorry about yesterday—I had no idea you would take my shenanigans to heart” grew unreal.
Wygate had become more than a friend to me, more than a brother. He… was my Dustfinger, my Mr. Darcy. But if my reference to “Hamlet” showed me to be clairvoyant, I could hardly play Ophelia.
I shelved Smith of Wooton Major so forcefully that the little book rocked the shelf. Wygate, I’m going to help you! I determined. Whatever it takes. I have to purge these ghosts.
Then I sank to my knees against the second story railing. “But how?” I whispered, vision blurring.
“Hello, àillidh cailín,” a familiar Anglo-Irish voice said as the doorbell tinkled.
I bolted upright and slid down the banister in a moment of blissful, forgetful delight. I landed clumsily at the bottom of the staircase, nearly on top of Seamus Sheehan and the unfamiliar auburn beauty who held his hand. She was dramatically stunning, in a film-starry dazzle of a way. I knew I had met Nuala.
“Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan?” I asked breathlessly.
“We were never properly introduced,” Seamus began, smiling for the first time since I had seen him weeks ago.
“You are Meredith McCarthy?” Nuala finished.
I blushed, if you can believe it. The way she made my name sound, who wanted to be called Merry? “Yes. I… I trust you two…. are very happy?”
They glanced at each other as if to check. Both beamed.
“Never mind, I see it,” I laughed.
“We have come to ask Mr. Wygate’s assistance again,” Nuala said. “It’s a bit urgent.”
“Mr.” Wygate. He won’t like that, I thought. Then my happiness crashed and burned. “Wygate is in no shape to assist anyone,” I whispered. I wouldn’t have if I could have stopped myself.
“What do you mean?” Seamus asked, releasing Nuala’s hand.
“Sit down, Meredith,” Nuala said at the same time, concerned. “You are unwell.” Startlingly strong, she forced me onto Wygate’s desk.
I leaped back up with a yelp. “I’m fine! Wygate—he’s—he’s crazy. Mad. It started yesterday.”
Seamus and Nuala exchanged looks. “Is he seeing ghosts?” Nuala asked.
My increasing shock (and panic) told them all. I was nearly hysterical when Nuala took charge, gripped my shoulders, and said, “Meredith, go to him at once. You can’t waste a moment!”
I stumbled toward the Employees Only room, fearing wringing my guy. “Why? What do you know?”
Seamus steadied me and got to the door first. He wrenched it open and froze. “It’s too late,” he whispered. His voice cracked. Nuala sobbed once, covering her face with one hand.
I pushed forward. “Wygate!”
I saw his body on the floor. His journal lay open on his unmoving chest: “I’M SORRY, MERRY. NEVER FORGET I LOVE YOU."

To be continued on the ApricotPie Outpost (apricotpieoutpost.blogspot.com)… 

Comments

Wait. No. What? Anna! How can

Wait. No. What? Anna! How can you be so cruel and cliffhangery?

Annabel | Tue, 10/19/2010

NOOOO

You are very very cruel, Anna! What!

Julie | Tue, 10/19/2010

Formerly Kestrel

Sigh

I should have known you'd kill him.

James | Tue, 10/19/2010

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Bwahahaha.

Bwahahaha.

Anonymous | Tue, 10/19/2010

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOI

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?!?!?!?!?!?!? Pardon me plain speakin' lass, but HAVE YOU GONE TOTALLY BLINKIN' DAFT??????? KILLING WYGATE?!?!?!?!? If he seriously is dead, I will track you down and inflict upon you untold horrors of the literary kind. You CAN'T kill him off, anymore than Mr. Darcy could be killed, or Dustfinger--at least, not permanantly. DON'T DO IT!!!!!

LoriAnn | Tue, 10/19/2010

What the frosting?!?!?!

Ahh!

Am somewhat impatiently awaiting the next installment on the Outpost...

KatieSara | Tue, 10/19/2010

Katie:-)

"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"
-Idris/TARDIS

NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What

NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What is this.....this......this.....MADNESS?????!!!! Since when was Wygate going to die?!?!?! Wait--he's not dead, is he?!?!?!?! No, of course not...... Do you see what this is doing to me?!?!?!? I can't wait to read more.

Erin | Wed, 10/20/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

ANNNNNAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ANNNNNAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Why do you always do this to us!?  And why to Wygate of all people!!!  And BTW, how old is/was he?

Bridget | Thu, 10/21/2010

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Nooooo!!!!

How could you do such a thing to poor Wygate?? *wrings hands* Now I am going to haunt apricotpie outpost.... 

Teal | Fri, 10/22/2010

Bridget: Not much older than

Bridget: Not much older than Merry, as I think I said in the first chapter. People have told me he seems older than that.

Everyone else: *Long sigh* I've caved. See my blog.

Anna | Fri, 10/22/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

OHMYGOSH YOU ARE EEEEVVVVILLL

OHMYGOSH YOU ARE EEEEVVVVILLL!!!! Haha, I just checked your blog, and that is sick, twisted and wrong!! I am rather relieved though, thank you :-)

Erin | Fri, 10/22/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Where is the blog?

Where is the blog?  I've looked at it before, but not often enough to remember the name.  And yeah, you did say that early on, I just forgot.  He does seem older.

Bridget | Fri, 10/22/2010

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Yes, I was sure he was older

Wygate at first seemed like he was in his 40s or 50s.  I later scaled it down to late 30s...  never thought he might be in his early 20s.

That aside:

I admit it, Anna.
Last time, when you killed Gilligan, I wasn't sure, but I suspected you were just being evil and writing a fake chapter to make us all mad.  Somehow, it just wasn't convincing (to me, anyway).
But this time, I believed it.  This was completely convincing... my only hope was that you would somehow resurrect Wygate.  Everything -- the ghost, the basement -- it completely took me in.  It moved me.
You have definitely improved your skill in the past couple of years.
In fact, I don't really want this chapter to change, with the exception that instead of death, it turns out that Wygate is in a comma and comes out of it after a few days.
Hey, come to think of it, you never said he was dead, did you?  Just an implication, which evil masterminds (such as yourself) use to mislead...

James | Sat, 10/23/2010

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Bridget: barefootarrowsong.bl

Bridget: barefootarrowsong.blogspot.com - for future reference, you can find the link in my profile, along with a way to get my contact info.

James and anyone else who is interested: Thank you!

This spoof came in three parts. 1. Wygate went crazy (or maybe he didn't, but it didn't really signify because Ky and I thought of it on the spot), 2. Merry fell for Wygate, 3. Wygate died. None of these three things were meant to happen and I don't plan on making them part of the narrative... although after writing the ghostly confrontation I'm considering inserting it in some form. Everything until Wygate mentions the basement was there originally and will appear in the real chapter; the rest was sort of improvised.

Anna | Sat, 10/23/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

When do we get to read it? I

When do we get to read it? I can't find it on the outpost or your blog...did I miss it?

LoriAnn | Sat, 12/11/2010

Well, the Outpost isn't going

Well, the Outpost isn't going to accept submissions anymore, so I'll just be posting it here. Once I write it. Which I haven't. Which is why it's not up yet.

To be honest, next to the fake chapter, what I do have seems really boring and episodic.

Anna | Sun, 12/12/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

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