Holly and the Danger Noodle #StoryADayMay

Holly Jahangiri (the real one) volunteered to be a character in a short story and ended up taking it over. I’ve now written — oh, many — stories about her and her Living Library, where natives of her planet, Llannonn, live who have memorized English-language Earth books and recite them to patrons in good standing in exchange for two weeks of room and board.

It has become tradition for me to write Holly stories on Sundays of Story A Day May.

Holly and the Danger Noodle

by Marian Allen

It was Assistant Librarian Holly Jahangiri’s first day as Acting Head Librarian. She anticipated no problems. The vacationing Head Librarian, Devra Langsam, ran a tight ship (whatever that meant), and the Living Books the Library housed were all either in or checked out to trusted long-term patrons.

Holly took advantage of the peace to stroll in the Library’s back garden, in which various Books had planted flowers and foliage mentioned in the texts of the Earth English-language books they had memorized.

“The blark’s on the wing,” she thought she quoted, “the check’s in the mail, the snail’s on the thorn – what the crank is a snail?” She glanced around furtively, hoping The Collected Poetry of Robert Browning wasn’t within earshot, because she was fairly certain she had gotten it wrong.

She rounded a corner of the path and stopped, irritated by the garden hose stretched across the path. First, the hose should always be put away after use, for a Library is always tidy. More important, it should never run across the path, in between plants: that was an open invitation to destruction. Oh, hello, anthropomorphous concept of Destruction. Come in and crush some plants and pull some up by the roots, why don’t you?

Then the hose moved. In fact, it drew itself into a coil, showing itself to be the shortest garden hose on the planet Llannonn, and looked at her. It hissed.

Holly was a Librarian (albeit only an Acting Head Librarian at the moment), so she neither screamed nor ran, but stood and regarded the object or creature, whichever it turned out to be. It occurred to her that a garden hose that coiled itself after use would be a very handy little gadget, indeed.

A soft voice from elsewhere in the garden came closer, crooning, “Where are you? Heeeeeere, thingy.”

The voice was accompanied by a bent form, long dark hair obscuring the face.

Bent, softened, or obscured, it was a voice and figure Holly knew.

Genesis Selinsky.

Holly cleared her throat in the special Librarian way she had been taught at training school.

Young Genesis gasped and stood to attention.

Genesis Selinsky was the oldest of a family of five. She had begun by running with a gang of street urchins, but had discovered the Free Public Living Library and now aspired to become a Living Book. As far as Holly knew, she had not yet decided which book she wanted to memorize; it was an important career choice, one she would live with all her life. Part of the problem was that the Selinskys were too poor to purchase expensive imported books from Earth, so young Genesis was limited to volumes she could … borrow for extended periods of time.

Holly sighed. “What now, Young Genesis?”

The creature or object coiled on the path hissed again.

“Don’t listen to it!” Genesis cautioned. “It is more subtle than any beast of the field.”


“It also has a leak,” said Holly. “What is it, and what is it doing in the garden?”

Genesis opened and closed her mouth several times. Holly could almost see her trying out lies but rejecting them before she could give them breath.

“These nice Earth people gave me a book. Gave me one! A volume with a bunch of books in it! The first one had my name: Genesis. I thought maybe it was a sign that I ought to choose that as my book!”

“I’m with you so far,” said Holly, nodding graciously.

“Well….” The young girl’s eyes dropped to the apparently dangerous animated noodle on the path. In the presence of an unsmiling Librarian, the truth won out. “There’s a ‘serpent’–” she nodded at the noodle – “so I thought I would get one.”

“So you stole a sizable amount of money and bought a serpent.”

The girl was silent.

Holly amended her statement. “So you stole a serpent. Who on Llannonn has – had – one?”

“I did.” A voice that was both exciting and kind spoke from behind Holly, and Genesis Selinsky gasped. “Don’t worry,” the voice said. “He isn’t poisonous.”

“Poisonous?” Genesis squeaked. “Some of them are poisonous? How poisonous?”

Holly could see her mentally listing the people she disliked, and counted herself fortunate that she’d always treated the child with the respect any reader deserved.

“Excuse me.” A hand touched her elbow to gently invite her to step aside, and she turned into the full glare of a dazzling smile. The man behind the smile and voice stepped around her and scooped up the hissy noodle. It wrapped its body around his arm and rested its head on his palm. “He likes being held in the shadows.” The man spoke to the serpent. “Poor Squonk,” he said. “Was he lost? Was he scared? Did the naughty girl kidnap him? Lucky for you, I have all my serpents microchipped, in case they get out of their habitat.”

Young Genesis, despite the stars in her eyes when she looked at the man, with his smile and his shoulder-length, wavy brown hair, began to edge away. Librarian Look #12 froze her in place.

Holly, because she took pity on the child, and totally not because the man smiled at her, explained Genesis’ thinking in … borrowing the serpent.

Genesis finally found her voice. “I’m … I’m very, very, extremely sorry. Please don’t call the constabulary on me. I promise I’ll never do it again.”

Holly wanted specifics. “You’ll never do what again?”

“Steal from him,” said the girl, unable to lie to a Librarian.

“And who is him? I mean he?” Holly turned on a dazzling smile of her own, complete with dimples. She was rather sweet on a certain policeman on the neighborhood beat, but she wasn’t dead already and here this guy was….

He held his hand out to her and they hooked thumbs by way of introduction. “Steev Cahlens,” he said. “Serpent collector. I go to Earth, behind the lines, and collect the precious little carpet crawlers, myself, from the jungles and high weeds. They call me ‘Hack It Steev’.”

The thought of a man who considered danger noodles precious made the constable look a lot more attractive than he already was.

“Look,” Serpent Collector Steev Cahlens said to Young Genesis. “I’ll accept your apology this time. But don’t let it happen again. And you can make restitution by helping my security team adjust their measures to keep out other desperate villains.” His smile took the sting out of his words.

Genesis nodded happily, and trailed him as he left the garden. She could have walked beside him but, for some reason, preferred to walk behind him.

Holly, the morning’s peace shattered, went into the Library and left the garden to the snail. Whatever that was.

MY PROMPT TODAY: Holly Jahangiri (the real one) came upon a snake on one of her walks.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Holly and the Danger Noodle #StoryADayMay

  1. Dan Antion

    May 1, 2022 at 8:44am

    I love your Holly stories (almost as much as…It’s OK, I can wait). I always try to imagine what earth book I’d want to be. You’re off to a great start,Marian. I hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 1, 2022 at 9:47am

      At the moment, I’d like to be PIRANESI by Susanna Clarke. I’m reading it for the fourth time. It’s the only book I want to read these days.

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  2. Holly Jahangiri

    May 1, 2022 at 10:01am

    Oh, my! You turned my close encounter with the danger noodle into a STORY!! It’s MAY! Oh, happy day! Happy MAY DAY! Thank you!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Michael Hodges

    May 1, 2022 at 10:26am

    Installment 1 of 2022’s Story-A-Day May!

    This is the first Holly story I’ve read, and I have to say I LOVE the concept of Librarians and Librarian training, complete with Looks and Postures and so on. The idea of living Books, making their living as the memory of rare and often unobtainable things, is bloody brilliant, woman! Bloody brilliant, and makes sense in the scope of fantasy and sci-fi. Before (and after) everyone had power and portability, we had The Story which lived inside a Person.

    I am reminded of an element from Robert Holdstock’s writings, a group of people who had Stories; and when a person told a Story (rather than just a story), they told it with their eyes closed, lest anyone’s expression inspire them to change a Story through emphasis, praise, excitement, and so on. The purpose of Story was the Story, and not to entertain (much as scientists discuss the act of observation itself influencing and changing the observed object on a quantum level).

    The audience, meanwhile, was sworn to utter silence: no movement, no utterances… doing their part to avoid contributing change to a Story. Incidents were known to have occurred, and those deviations from the ritual were looked upon with shame and horror because no one knew what might have been Lost (with a capital L) from a Story’s original state. Even a waver in tone or inflection conveyed nuance, just as it does conversationally. (It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.)

    A Library.

    I immediately wonder, are there Mobiles or Journeyers who have to travel out from the Library, seeking unknown stories in living form?

    “He’s back! Garal Rikoveri is back!”

    “SSSHHHHHHHHH,” the attending Librarian admonished. Libraries might be filled with all manner of excitement, but it was all of the properly silent, Potential Excitement variety. Libraries were most certainly NOT the place for Kinetic Excitement.

    Still… Garal. She breathed herself back under control at the thought of seeing him again. “Where is he?” Kyryn asked, in — ahem (went throat-clearing #8) —correct and decorous tones for library conduct. She wondered whether it fooled anyone who knew of her ridiculous crush on the man.

    “He’s in the Quiet Room,” whispered the novice, practically dancing from foot to foot, still much too Dynamic in her display. It was possible this young upstart would require another Shooshing.

    Biting her lip to restrain herself — discipline should be maintained, but sometimes things just threaten to burst out of… well, anyone — Kyryn wondered whether she’d end up requiring a Shooshing of her own.

    “Have they begun?” It was important that the transfer of all collected and recovered items be conducted as quickly as possible upon a Rikoveri’s return. Garal’s requirements would be no different, of course. Still, she hoped to see him immediately. For an instant it occurred to her that she’d only ever known him since he took the Name/Title of Rikoveri, as all journeyfolk did upon completing training: those who sought new works, those who went out and rescued Late or Missing Books who failed to return to the Library on schedule, and so on…

    I wonder who he was before he chose Rikoveri? she fleetingly mused.

    “Oh!” — the novice’s expression shifted, hand rising to cover her open mouth as she realized what she’d done. Everyone had the decorum to refrain from openly discussing Kyryn and Garal, of course. This was, after all, the Library. Libraries are still living places, of course, and that same everyone knew and shared the tittering gossip that quite naturally vined and leafed its way throughout their lives, growing Between-the-Stacks. She reached out, touching Kyryn’s arm in sympathy. “I’m sorry, Madame Librarian, I wasn’t thinking. They’ve already begun the ritual. I’m so sorry, so sorry.”


    Crikey, look at that, Marian — one little story and you got a piece of fan fiction!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 1, 2022 at 11:28am

      Wheeee! Of course, I got the Living Library idea from FAHRENHEIT 451. A tourist from Earth left a copy behind and the rest is history. There are Wandering Tribespeople who carry stories from town to town, collecting and reciting Llannonninn folk tales. Some of them specialize in repeating what they’ve heard verbatim, and some specialize in tailoring the stories to fit the audience/location/politics. The Books in the Living Library have to be English-language Earth books, though. The reason why appeared in one of the previous stories. You can do a blog search for Holly Jahangiri to find more. And the first Holly story ever was about Books going missing. It’s where she met that constable….

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  4. Jill E Ebstein

    May 1, 2022 at 3:09pm

    This is so well done. I love the line that Holly cleared her throat the way they told her to do it librarian school or whatever… You’ve got a mix of humor, intrigue and simple storytelling to delight the reader. Nice work!

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