“A hundred years,” she said, ignoring Thomas’ question. “they are all dead.”
“Who are all dead?” Thomas asked.
“Janet Louise Anthony,” I said. The woman looked at me.
“Yes?” She said.
“Your husband John died in the 1930s,” I said.
“No way,” Thomas said. “She should be dead.”
“Be quiet, Thomas,” I said. I looked at the woman. “The book pulled you in, didn’t it?” She stared at me and then nodded.
“Your son, Edward died in France in 1944 near the end of World War II,” I hesitated as tears flowed down her face. “Your daughter Emily died in a car accident in 1953. Your youngest child, Theodore, died of and embolism in 1976. He was Thomas’ and my grandfather. His son Gene is my father. His daughter Sarah was Thomas’ mother. I promised Grandfather to open the book tonight.” She looked at the book.
“We should destroy that thing,” she said, pointing at the book.
“We will have to steal it,” Thomas said, “and burn it as thoroughly as we can.”
“It goes against my principles to burn a book,” I said, “but I agree. We should steal this and get rid of it.” I reached over and shut off the reading lamp. “If we can do that without getting arrested for being here in the library right now.”
“This isn’t a private library?” Great grandmother frowned. “We should leave, immediately.” She turned towards the door of the room. “Bring that book and we should go.” She stopped and looked back at Thomas and me. “Where should we go?”
“My place,” said Thomas. “My roommate is out of town.” I scooped up the book and followed my cousin and great grandmother out of the reading room. We were crossing the darkened circulation area when a light flashed over the front windows of the library. We froze.
“Get behind the circulation desk,” Thomas said. “Whoever that is, will likely just try the doors and then leave.”
“What about the back door where we came in,” I said. “I didn’t lock it when I came in.”
“It’s ok, Jay, I did,” Thomas said. “The cops will just check the doors and leave if they are locked.” I really hoped he was right. Why were the cops here at all? I had made sure that I was the last one out of the library and that the alarm wasn’t set. My plan had been to come back, open the book and then leave again, locking the library and setting the alarm behind me. So what had gone wrong?
We crouched behind the circulation desk, listening as someone checked the door handle. When would they give up and leave. The light moved on and we got up.
“Why would they have come here?” I wondered aloud. “I was the last to leave the library and I left the alarm off.”
“That probably tipped them off,” said Thomas. I grimaced.
“The alarm company probably checked the alarm and found it was off,” I said. “I didn’t think about that. Damn! I should have put the alarm on and then turned it off when I got here.”
“They would still find it off,” Thomas said.
“I should have turned it off when I came in and then turned it on again?” I said. “That wouldn’t have worked. There are motion sensors.”
“So, the cops coming was pretty much inevitable,” Thomas said.
“We have to get out of here and turn on the alarm,” I said. “I hope that the cop leaves soon. Then we could get out of here and get rid of the book.”
“Are there cameras?” Thomas asked?
“On the front doors, but not the back,” I said. “I don’t think.”
“We’re dead,” Thomas said.
“If we got the film,” said great grandmother, “we could…” she trailed off. I was shaking my head.
“Cameras don’t work that way anymore,” Thomas said. She looked confused.
“We can explain it later,” I said. “Let’s get out of here first. Here’s what we’ll do.”