What Becomes Of A Bookstore After A Zombie Apocalypse?
I was perusing through the aisles of Barnes and Noble, Monday night, looking for my “Secret Santa” gift. Last week at the newspaper’s thanksgiving potluck, I drew the name of my editor-in-chief. He wanted either “Ariel” a book of poetry by Sylvia Plath, or any of the works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman the prolific author, essayist, and suffragette. I was going to buy the Modern Library Classics Series copy of The Yellow Wallpaper (one of my favorite short stories) and Other Writings, unfortunately either Ms. Gilman’s has fallen out of popularity or it’s hard to keep her works on the shelves. The woman at customer service told me it would take about a week for the book to get to the store; I got Sylvia Plath.
After I got the book, I met up with dad in the cafe for afternoon tea, Venti sized. They had Harney and Sons line of Holiday inspired teas; Dad got Holiday Spice Tea, I had Earl Grey Imperial, and we each got a Ginger cookie to set our tea off. We sat silently at a tallboy cafe table, Dad checked his messages on his phone while I sipped my then hot, unsweetened, tea to a point I could add to my cup. I got up and walked to the small counter where they keep condiments for coffee and tea , I take my lid off of my cup and start adding my ingredients, three packets of sugar and a three second splash of half and half. When I set the cream carafe down, I looked out across the floor of bookshelves, then over the balcony down to the bargain books, childrens’ books and magazines on the first floor below.
At that moment, I think, “What becomes of a bookstore after a zombie apocalypse?” I don’t know why I thought this. Considering that I slightly freak out during cold and flu season, I absolutely loathe any and everything related to Zombie outbreaks, pandemics, etc. It gives me unnecessary anxiety. Although, I make special exceptions for the Left 4 Dead video game series, I love them.
In the moment after I asked the question, my daydream took over. I was walking through the front doors of the bookstore, rifle in my right hand, flashlight in my left. Cautiously, I walk deeper into the first floor, daylight pricks the darkness through cracks over, between, and under the boards that cover the floor to ceiling windows on the exterior walls. I make my way to the long stopped elevator and use it as a stairway to the second floors, the air smells dank and dusty. I shine my flashlight around me to check for company, I breathe slightly easier not hearing the groggy moans of the dearly departed and mutated.
I make a plan to clear out the premises of any lurkers in the backrooms, I walk to the cafe, grab a blue, porcelain, coffee mug from a display case. I turn off my light, and let my eyes adjust and take advantage of whatever daylight is coming through the windows. I toss the mug over the balcony in the middle of the store to the first floor below, I hear the ceramic crash on a bookshelf below. I aim my rifle over the the balcony towards the first floor, trigger finger at the ready, sweat begins to form on my brow as I wait for the undead to inspect the source of the sound. I wait for a time making minutes seem like hours. Nothing happens. I then head back to the counter, I grab mugs, carafes, anything that can make a loud noise when it hits the ground. I repeat my earlier motions.
Chuck. Crash. Cock. Silence.
Chuck. Crash. Cock. Silence.
My fear leaves as I walk around to see what books have been left behind. I start in the non-fiction section. The health and hobbies sections (specifically hunting and survival books) have been picked clean. I make my way to the fiction side of the store and my heart drops, the shelves are packed full of books. A bittersweet emotion falls over me I’ll have time to read some of these books and take some with me and read for days on end.
My eyes start to water as I near the Literature and Poetry section. The tears begin to flow as my eyes fall upon Anna Karenina, Beloved, Persuasion and poets such as Frost, Angelou, Ginsberg all sitting on a shelf collecting dust waiting to become relics of another distant past. The tears fall heavier out of sadness and anger that no one cared to take at least one book of worth with them in their madness. By the time I’ve collected myself, I grab Little Women, sit on a dusty stool and read by splinters of daylight.
I did eventually come back to reality after a minute or so; I shook my head and smiled. Daydreams are still amazing. See what happens when you ask yourself random questions?
Wink and a Smile,