Wygate's Used Books, 5

Fiction By Anna // 10/26/2011

A new chapter, and it's not even Christmas! I bet you feel special.

In all seriousness, today is a special day - my four-year anniversary of joining ApricotPie, and the first anniversary of James saving the site and becoming editor. You will never know what all this means to me.

V
I felt the bookshelf shudder behind me and realized I had slammed into it. No one interrupted to say, “Don’t scare the poor girl.”
I gulped. “This is impossible.”
Wygate began, “‘There are more things in heaven and earth—’”
“Shut up!” I shot at him. Nuala and Seamus jumped. “No Shakespeare. No misquotations. Give me a second to… to.” I let the sentence end incomplete and closed my eyes.
“I’m sorry, Merry,” Wygate said.
I clasped his journal under my coat and took cleansing breaths. I’m sorry, Merry, I’m sorry, Merry.
 “All right,” I finally, said, opening my eyes. The meaningless of the words made me want to repeat them, but I didn’t. “You’re going to tell me everything. No more secrets. Is that clear, Wygate?”
He made a steeple against his chin with his hands. “I see you’ve taken the vaccine against Too Stupid To Live. Yes, it’s clear.”
“I need to know.” I felt desperation. “You can start with the vocabulary. Guardian, aura, shining…”
I looked from Wygate’s dark, angular face to Nuala’s and Seamus’s fair ones. “Who wants to start?”
Wygate stared the two down. “All yours. I’ll tell your story, if you don’t mind.”
Nuala let out a deep sigh. “That sounds good. Here, Meredith.” She cleared her throat and spread her graceful hands. “There are two types of people in this world. All right, three. One, the normal people we used to think we were.”
“Áiméan,” Seamus muttered. (“Amen.”)
“B,” Nuala continued, glaring at him in a way that accounts for her distraction, “the people who shine, but only to the eyes of fourth: guardians. Did that make sense? Oh, and there are Vespertilia. About eleven of them. Did that make any sense?”
I went back over that in my head, hoping for something. “You lost me at… Okay, I got that there are normal, shining, guardian, and Ves-something people.”
“Vespertilia,” Nuala repeated, slightly pink. “They’re not human, but you can still call them people, I guess. Vespertilian is the singular. We’ve also called them ghosts.”
I shivered. “Like in the basement?”
Wygate nodded.
“What do they look like?”
Nuala shook her head. “Doesn’t matter; only guardians can see them. That’ll be Wygate and I, for guardians. And only guardians and Vespertilia can see the shining.”
“Shining is what me and Seamus do?” I asked, tentative.
“‘Seamus and I,’” Wygate corrected. “So, yes.”
“Grammar,” I sighed. “In the end, it won’t save your life.”
“It could,” Wygate said, shifting his position. “I’d give you an example, but we were talking about vocab.”
“And,” Nuala coughed—I looked back at her—“only guardians can keep you safe from Vespertilia, who would want to feed off your light.”
My spine went rigid again. “Feed?” I cried.
“Shh,” Seamus whispered. “We’re in a library and no one should overhear this.”
“Feed,” Nuala repeated. Her voice was firm, but her eyes were compassionate. “They can’t abide physical light when it’s focused on them, but they need some source.”
I wet my lips. “Wh-what does that do to us?”
“If it catches you unprotected,” Wygate said in a way that made me want to fling my arms around him for the protection he could no longer give, “a Vespertilian will suck you dry of light, and it won’t even leave a husk. It tried something much less poetic on me, but the process was too long.”
“Their usual takes no more than an hour, and they can track shiners quite easily,” Nuala broke in. “I’ve learned fast about that as a guardian.”
“But there are only eleven? What about safety in numbers? Shouldn’t I be safe in the crowds?”
“Not everything can happen to someone else,” Wygate murmured. I felt all the ugliness of my selfishness and blushed.
“In theory, she’s right, though,” Seamus said. “I know how she feels. The problem is that Vespertilia have no wait between meals. Abundance of shiners means they never starve. Their hunger neither grows nor wanes.”
“Without guardians,” Nuala added, “shiners can’t protect themselves or even see the danger. That’s why Edwin forced Mrs. Sheehan to—”
“Edwin?” I interrupted, wetting my lips. “The Englishman that Seamus was with in the bookstore?”
“Seamus’s family situation is complicated, but I’ll tell you what I’ve found out,” Wygate said. I expected Seamus to bristle, but he just nodded. “The Englishman you ‘met’ was his uncle, Edwin. He’s a shiner, and his sister—Seamus’s mother—was a guardian.”
“She didn’t know the whole of it,” Seamus interrupted, “but Edwin did. Like Nuala said, he always kept Mam close, but he never said why.”
Wygate watched him. “Are you done?”
Seamus looked over and started as if he hadn’t realized he’d said anything. “Right. Are you telling the story or not?”
“Good man.”
“So many guardians and shiners in one family?” I asked.
“Shining and guardianship usually run in families, because circumstances bring the people together.”
“And then they need each other.” Nuala smiled at Seamus.
Wygate drummed his fingers together. “Deathly afraid of Vespertilia, Edwin forced Seamus, his mother, and his Irish father to live with him.”
I gasped. “What? That’s—it’s not—ooooh.”
“Exactly,” Seamus muttered. “I didn’t realize how it was when I was little, but all the same, something rankled.”
“Edwin kept Mr. Sheehan in work in London,” Wygate sighed. “Stubborn bloke, though; he still taught Irish Gaelic to his son. While Mrs. Sheehan was alive, she did a very good job protecting Edwin and Seamus both—”
“What do you mean, while she was alive?” I interrupted.
“She died of cancer a little over a year ago,” Seamus said heavily, his hand in Nuala’s so tight his knuckles were white. “That’s when I started to shine in earnest, or so I’m told—at any rate, Mam never told me about shining, so she might not’ve seen that I’d do it myself. After her death, Da immediately moved as far away from the place as possible. I would’ve followed, of course, but…”
“But there was Nuala,” Wygate said.
“There was Nuala,” Seamus agreed.
“You see,” said Nuala, addressing me more directly, “my parents are old friends of the Sheehans. When we heard Edith was dying, we went to London to see her. I stayed behind, but not for what you might think. I…was frightened.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I didn’t know what it was to be a guardian.” Nuala waved her hand. “Because I’d never seen people who shone. All the time, they just glowed.” There was a glassy look in Nuala’s eyes. “You have no idea how beautiful it is, Merry.”
“I do,” said Wygate quietly. “Let’s put it this way. You know how, with stars, some are brighter than others, but they’re all beautiful? And then you see a nebula, and suddenly you don’t notice the stars in the back of the picture.”
“Yeah,” I said, although I wasn’t sure I did.
“A shiner on her own…or his own, or the first ones you see…is like that nebula. You forget about other people. To guardians, the attraction isn’t necessity. Sometimes,” Wygate finished.
Quickly, he resumed the tale. “Edwin cottoned on to why Nuala was so affected and took a risk in explaining to her. He tried to convince her to stay so he could teach her about Vespertilia, shining, and guarding. At least, that’s what he said, but he needed a new guardian aura to protect him. But Nuala didn’t know that, and she stayed (ostensibly to study history) never realizing what slavery it could be.”
“He’s charming, right?” I asked Nuala directly. “He took you right in with how smooth and kind he was, and as you and Seamus fell deeply in love in the meantime, you couldn’t understand why Seamus didn’t like him much? After all, Edwin was teaching you so much about your very self…”
Nuala’s eyes widened. “You have it exactly.”
I gave her a look before I could stop myself. Someone in the room needed to read more fantasy. Naïveté gets you killed in some stories. But hey, this was hers, and she had survived it with her handsome lover, so who was I to judge?
“Seamus’s father moved away, but Seamus stayed.”
I didn’t bother to ask why, just as Wygate didn’t bother to say. Obviously he had started to woo Nuala while Edwin was nurturing her to guard him.
“Seamus proposed to Nuala eventually, and she did accept. But when Edwin found out—particularly the Seamus did plan to go back to Ireland with Nuala—well, he couldn’t let her escape. He thought that if he explained guardianship, shining, and Vespertilia to Seamus, his nephew would leave him defenseless anyway. As revenge for all the years of hatred or something like that, wasn’t it?”
Seamus met Wygate’s eyes. “In the end, I’m not sure what I would’ve done. But he never gave me the choice. Instead, he turned Nuala against me.”
“Edwin told her that Seamus knew she was a guardian,” Wygate said, “and only claimed to love Nuala for her protection.”
“Irony,” I said, wincing. Nuala had blushed crimson, but Seamus put his arm around her and didn’t say a word.
“Among other things.”
“My heart broke,” Nuala whispered. “I couldn’t abandon him completely, which would sentence him to death, but I couldn’t bear to be near him.”
“And Edwin couldn’t let her near him lest it become apparent Seamus had no idea about his own danger. He was angry enough to be scary, though.”
I asked, breathless, “What did he do?”
Seamus rolled his eyes. “What do you think? I ran away. I was as afraid of my anger as anyone else.”
I exhaled, closing my eyes, and smiled. “I hoped you would.”
“Thank you, Meredith.”
Wygate said, “And he came here.”
My eyes flew back open. “What? We’re at this part of the story already? I mean, why would he even come to America?”
“To see his dad.” Wygate grinned and jabbed a finger toward me. “Ha! You thought he moved back to Ireland, didn’t you?”
I thought back. No one had said Sheehan Senior had moved back to Ireland, but it had just made sense.
“That wasn’t nearly far enough,” Wygate said. “He moved here. This country, this city. Seamus knew his father had plenty of experience with frustration in his love life. After all, he had put up with a git like Edwin for his wife’s sake.”
This struck me. Seamus had gone for advice from his parents. I hadn’t told my parents about the events of the last couple of days. True, they lived in Ontario, but at that moment I held up a hand. “Just a mo.” I pulled out my phone and typed a quick text: “Mom. You ever heard the word vespertilian?” I had to guess at the spelling, but since I didn’t think it was a real word, I figured that would be enough.
I pocketed my phone. “Sorry, I’m back. So, the freakish coincidences keep popping up, and Seamus ends up here.  But what about him and Edwin in the bookstore, huh?”
“You’re getting ahead of the story. You should know better than to read the endings first.” Wygate clicked his tongue. “All this time, one Vespertilian in particular was hunting Seamus when he left Nuala’s guardian aura, consuming others on the way. Nuala found he had left and begged Edwin to come with her and keep him alive.”
“I thought you hated him, broke your engagement and everything,” I asked her more than stated. What kind of person are you?
“I didn’t know what to feel, but I didn’t want him to die,” she said firmly.
“Sin mo chailín beag,” Seamus said in her ear. (“That’s my girl.” I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m translating, since he obviously used Irish Gaelic for privacy, but I’m nosy, and Wygate knows it too. And that is the kind of person she was.)
“I’m surprised Edwin agreed.”
“He didn’t want to test her devotion to him,” Wygate said. His eyebrows furrowed. “Still, I’ve wondered too. Only he knew where to find Seamus, really, so Nuala had nowhere to go without him. And the entire point had been to get rid of Seamus.”
“Actually,” Seamus said slowly, “we found that out. He was tracing the Vespertilian too.”
Wygate blinked and said flatly, “What?”
“I know.” Nuala’s forehead furrowed. “We thought they were his worst fear, but when we got the London house—”
“Hold the phone!” I cried. “Your story’s not finished yet!”
They turned to stare at me.
“Well! I care what happens!”
Wygate blew out air. “Fine, we’ll get back to that. This is the part where Nuala finds hidden inner strength and turns out to be quite an adventurer. She managed to corner the Vespertilian between her guardian aura and someone else’s—mine, at the bookstore, before you came into work. She didn’t give me much background, but she asked if I could contain the Vespertilian so that she could be at peace. I said I could.”
“You met before Seamus came?” I looked from Wygate to Nuala. “And you let that thing in the basement?”
“We trapped it in the basement,” Nuala said, a touch pleadingly. “To keep shiners like Seamus safe.”
I paused, struggling with my feelings. The floor was getting very uncomfortable. I shifted my legs from cross-legged to bent in front of me.
“Not to whine, but what about me?”
“This was before my aura was compromised,” Wygate explained, “but I assure you, if your shine had registered in my head before then, I wouldn’t have agreed.”
I swallowed. “Do you mean that?”
He nodded. “I don’t have any flowery promises to make, but yes. I mean it. And I most certainly wouldn’t have left you alone that afternoon, even though what the shop had absorbed would have kept you safe.
“At any rate, for reasons thus far unexplained even though you want to know everything—” Well done, you’re being dramatic, I thought at Wygate. “—Edwin returned to the bookshop later that day. Conveniently enough, Seamus was at the coffee house down our street and saw Edwin walking.”
“We saw each other,” Seamus said. “I nearly spilled on myself, and I chased him like a copper.” He chuckled, apparently enjoying reliving the experience.
“And this part of the story, you told me yourself,” said Wygate.
“It will be a revelation nonetheless.” And according to you, I thought, it can’t ever end.

Comments

This is worth rereading

Mostly because I was so excited to finally get some answers I skimmed some of it. But I will reread and post another review later

Julie | Wed, 10/26/2011

Formerly Kestrel

YES!! I do feel very special

YES!! I do feel very special ;D Anyhow, it was nice to get some new answers. Although it was a tad strange to hear Wygate talk so much. Good chapter!!!

Erin | Wed, 10/26/2011

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

Oh....

Wygate's Used Books has left me dizzy.  I can make all the connections work, but oh!  My head!!
But maybe that's because it's late at night...

James | Thu, 10/27/2011

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"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

 I just caught up with this

 I just caught up with this story.  I'm still really confused, but I hope that'll clear up soon. ;)   I love all your creative ideas; I'm always appreciative of 21st century fantasy.  They just make fantasy seem more real.  (And I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but I love Wygate.  He's so solid and unwavering.)

Clare Marie | Fri, 10/28/2011

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Hmm... Thanks?

Hmm... Thanks?

I didn't really understand all that well... um... let me try to connect the dotts.

Guardian's feed the Vespertilia with their aura, to save the Shiner's? Or do Shiner's feed Vespertilia light every now and then? And what was it with Edwin? Is he a Shiner or Guardian? And Guardian's aren't safe without Shiner's and vice versa (however you spell that) or have I just misunderstood the whole thing!

Thanks for the chapter!

Write on!

Kassady | Sat, 11/05/2011

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

I'm making this up as I go

I'm making this up as I go along, which I guess accounts for the big mysteries. Here are the things I meant to be clear:

Vespertilia feed on shiners, on their light, which kills the shiners. Guardians are safe no matter what (or they would be except for the thing behind this new attack on Wygate, which was not for feeding), but shiners are easy prey without guaridans to protect them. Guardians are the only ones who can see Vespertilia, and they protect shiners from them by their presence. (Their auras don't feed the Vespertilia - the auras keep them at a distance, shielding the shiners in the aura.)

I could edit the chapter to make all that clear, but I'm not sure I care enough at this point... hopefully it'll keep coming through in the story. All clear now? :)

Anna | Tue, 11/08/2011

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

Yes!

Yes! Thanks! It makes more sense now!

More? .......Please?

Kassady | Sat, 01/14/2012

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

 Addition: I guess it's also

 Addition: I guess it's also supposed to be clear the Seamus's uncle Edwin is a shiner, which is why he needs a guardian. 

I have a good idea of what I want to do in the next chapter, but writing it is really difficult, um. (Doing the loser sign to myself.)  Now that I've finished "Comrade Song," I may be able to get a move on it, although Out of Time is my highest priority.

Anna | Mon, 01/16/2012

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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