Well, kids, welcome to the last day of Story A Day May. It’s been great fun for me; I hope it’s been fun for you, too.
Tomorrow is also the first of the month, so I’ll have a new micro-mini story on my Hot Flash page. Hope you’ll join me again.
And now, as it’s a May Sunday, I give you this May’s final Holly Jahangiri story.
The Lone Librarian
by Marian Allen
Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri stood at the front of the vehicle, facing the books in the rows of seats. She was nervous, but she endeavored not to show it. A librarian never shows any form of fear. Patrons depend on a librarian’s certainty and steadfastness, after all.
This project was dear to her heart, though. She had long wanted to bring a bookmobile to her home town of Boonieburgh, in the very heart of Meadow of Flowers Province, and here she was!
The books before her had been chosen with care to represent as wide a range of Old Earth literature as possible. People in the provinces tended to favor literature native to planet Llannonn; the writing of the alien planet Earth seemed weird to them. She was explaining this now to the books, in a last-minute addendum to the training she had been giving them in being non-threatening and appealing.
The books – volumes from the Council City living library of which Holly was the head – took off their shoes and massaged their calf muscles. They had also been chosen for their willingness to do their share of propelling the pedi-bus, but it had been a long trip.
“Most people out in the provinces,” Holly said, “say they prefer a book they can hold in their hand or stick in their ear – Sit down, Fifty Shades, nobody’s asking you – so we have a barrier to overcome. Just don’t push yourselves forward. Let the people come to you.”
A woman rapped at the door. Holly cranked it open.
“Holly! Don’t you know me? It’s Mimsy Borogrove. I volunteered to be town liaison with these new-fangled living alien books of yours.”
“Mimsy? It is Mimsy!” Holly all but threw herself down the steps and embraced the woman in the gray tunic. “What have you been up to? Where’ve you been?”
“I’ve been continent-hopping. I’m Animal Rescuer Mimsy Borogrove now.”
All the books murmured approval. Most of them were animal lovers, and they always put on a benefit self-reading to raise funds for the Animal Rescue League.
Mimsy went on. “I bought a few lumps of land out by Star-Flower Stream to keep rescued animals until they can be released into the wild or can find a permanent home. My latest wards are Tuxes.”
Mimsy smiled as she said it, for Holly had always had a weakness for the flightless black-and-white birds. “Oh, Tuxes are so cute! Are these the big Oroblatt ones?”
“No, these are the tiny Ping ones.”
“Those are my favorites!”
“I know! I brought an extra pratty into town with me when I heard you were coming, in case you’d like to ride out later and see them. Meanwhile, let’s get this Meet & Greet started!”
It wasn’t a very propitious beginning. Holly hadn’t expected many attendees, but the weather kept curiosity-seekers away. Just as she finished introducing the books, the storm that had been threatening all morning broke loose and rain came down in buckets.
Most of the people who were there were enthusiastic or at least open-minded about the living books. One sour-faced man, though, claimed that audiobooks were much better than living ones. He insisted Holly try his Book-In-Ear, which he had loaded with a Llannonninn tale about Seagoing Wanderers or, as the Earthlings call them (he sneered) pirates. Fortunately – or unfortunately – Holly buggered up the setting, and all she could hear was a piece of Earth music that eerily echoed the storm outside.
From the distance, off to the north, came an ominous crack and rumble.
All festivities ceased instantly. Mimsy’s face turned pale.
“The dam,” she whispered, her voice stolen by the shock. “The dam is failing.” She recovered her voice and shouted, “The Tuxes! The Tuxes’ cage is in the floodplain! They’ll drown!”
“Not if I can help it! Where’s that pratty?”
In a flash, Holly was in the stable, pulling herself astride the huge wooly beast.
“But it isn’t saddled!”
The sour-faced man put a hand on Mimsy’s arm. “Never fret, lass. That’s a Jahangiri. The pratty’s not been bred that a Jahangiri can’t ride bareback or any other way.”
Galloping through the downpour, Holly was unable to remove or adjust the Book-In-Ear. The stormy bit of music stopped and a trumpety bit began, keeping rhythm with her mount’s thundering hooves.
On she rode, guiding the pratty unerringly over hedges and ditches, plunging across the countryside, instantly picking the shortest route, paring precious seconds off her race with watery death.
Da-da-dum, da-da-dum, da-da-dum-dum-dum, the music played.
There they were! Already, the water surged around the knoll where their cage stood in the shelter of a tree.
Holly wondered if she could fashion a rudimentary bow and arrow and shoot through the top loop of the cage. She didn’t know what good that would do, but she’d always wanted to fashion a rudimentary bow and arrow and shoot through something.
It was getting deep.
She urged the pratty into the swirling water and up onto the knoll. Removing the purple feather boa she was never without, she leaned over and tied the end of the makeshift rope through the cage’s top loop. She tied the other end around the pratty’s neck in a choke-me-not (not to be confused with a choke-me-knot, which has been the last mistake of many a poor scout). With the cage thus secured against accidental loss, she hoisted it up into her arms. The Tuxes huddled against the bars, close to Holly for protection from the elements.
She pressed her heels into the noble pratty’s flanks, and it swam across the deepening tide, then once again breasted the storm.
Dahhhh, DAHHH, da-da-da-da-da-daaa, the music played.
All the books and townsfolk poured out of the hall as Holly pulled the raring pratty to a halt. She handed the cage to Mimsy and untied the boa at either end amidst rolling cheers.
Just as the music in her ear reached a thrilling climax, she slid to the ground.
“What is it?” Mimsy tore her attention away from her charges. “Oh, Holly, what have you done?”
“Turned my ankle. Ow! No, it’s broken. Broken!”
Doctor Zhivago offered to look at it, but she reminded him tersely he wasn’t a real doctor, he was a book about a doctor (they did seem to forget sometimes).
Instead, the sour-faced man and a large matronly woman helped Holly into the hall and sent a child for the Boonieburgh physician.
He came with his assistant, who knitted a purple cast-cover while the doctor set the break and put the ankle in a cast.
With a broken ankle, Holly couldn’t do her part to return the pedi-bus bookmobile to Council City, so the books were forced to stay while her injury healed. They became popular figures around town, and people became so accustomed to them, seeing them in the stores and houses of worship and taverns and such, they began inviting them for dinner. It was just a short step from that to asking them for their stories. By the time they could return to Council City, Boonieburgh had decided to open a branch library for living books.
Holly returned to Council City in triumph. And, thanks to Mimsy, she also returned as the proud forever-Mom of an affectionate and adorable Tux – one of the tiny Ping ones.
MY WRITING PROMPT TODAY: Holly Jahangiri (the real one) broke her ankle. She’s trying to claim she did it rescuing tiny penguins from a Texas flood.