The Book of M by peng shepherd

The Book of M by peng shepherd

Author:peng shepherd
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2018-06-04T16:00:00+00:00

Orlando Zhang

THE ARMY WENT OUT AGAIN EIGHT MORE TIMES. SIX BOOKS, all useless, according to Imanuel. Not the right kind. Medical textbooks and technical manuals seemed like the most useful type to Ory—they had shadows and useful reference information—but Imanuel only shook his head. He wanted novels, story collections, biographies, history, memoir. And of course, Paul’s book. They went for a ninth trade.

“Hold the line!” Ahmadi cried as the Reds wormed their way between the Iowa’s soldiers. They were just inside the gates of the Red King’s courtyard, struggling to stay bunched together to protect the items they were hoping to barter for books. Trades had gone smoothly for the last few weeks, but that day, something was off. Ory searched the chaos, but there was nothing that stood out as different from the last time. “Malik! What’s going on?” he heard Ahmadi yell.

“I don’t know,” he called back to her. “But something’s got them agitated. Keep tight!”

“Keep tight!” she confirmed again at a shout.

“I’m going to try something,” Ory whispered as he came shoulder to shoulder with her.

“No, you’re not,” Ahmadi replied.

“Just trust me.”

“You don’t know what you’re doing yet,” she growled. “Do not fuck us up.”

“I won’t,” Ory said.

“Don’t do it, then!” she ordered again, and shoved another Red.

But Ory was already edging around the group, toward the entrance to the Red King’s library, where the Reds were pouring out. Holding only a bat, he was almost invisible in the crush. His shadow flickered up the short plaza of concrete stairs.

He could hear a strange, muffled moaning the closer he drew. Every time a Red glanced over at him, Ory pretended he was just winded or overwhelmed with fear and was crouching uselessly on the steps until he regained control of his nerves. Before they could look too long, Ahmadi would bump them harshly, to draw their attention back to the chaos. She threw him a murderous look for disobeying her, but it was too late now for her to do anything but help him succeed.

From his place just before the entrance, he could tell that inside it was musty and humid, like a swamp. Dried trails of red paint looked black against the windows, where they obscured most of the gray, overcast light. There were more bodies inside, moving back and forth as if agitated.

A massive shape blocked the light completely then as it strode past the door, backlit, and Ory realized with a tremor that he’d just glimpsed the Red King.

The moan came again. The hulking crimson shape of the Red King was moving quickly toward the sound.

If he stood up and looked inside, Ory would have only seconds. Please don’t kill me, he prayed as he lurched forward to peer in. Please don’t kill me.

He was still expecting to see a library, and it took his eyes a moment to adjust and understand what was there instead. The Reds had cleared out most of the room by shoving the bookcases toward the outer walls. Some places were five or six deep, others only one.


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