Showers and Half Spaces - Installment Three

Welcome to Showers and Half Spaces, a short story series I tag team with Victoria Schwab (her story is here). See my installment one here and installment two here. The lovely Elisabeth Black guessed our overarching frame - 1001 Arabian Nights. Our narrators are our own personal version of Scheherazade. We're choosing prompts from a wide range of fairy tales, fables, etc. Can you guess the story that inspired this week's short?


“Write, write, write.”

The sound of the doors rattling cut off the whispering voice. I threw the pen as hard as I could against the far wall, squeezed my eyes shut and covered my ears. I wanted to muffle the sound when the walls started shrieking.

“I turned it in. I turned it in.” I said through gritted teeth. And even if I’d lost the damn thing, hadn’t these people ever heard of fines, or replacement fees? When did kidnapping a person and holding her hostage turn into punishment for a lost library book? I raised my voice and repeated, “I turned it in!”

I gasped when the doors opened and Gamer Boy stepped over the threshold. “Let’s go.”

“No.” I backed up in response. Like I was going to follow a guy who shelved books – apparently on purpose - in a library worthy of a Stephen King novel.

“I can help you. Get you somewhere safe.” His expression looked all honest and Boy Scout-like, and his eyes were big and brown. Full of crap.

“Somewhere safe.” I repeated. “How about outside?”

“Outside isn’t an option. You’re bound by the book.” I raised one eyebrow and shook my head. He sighed, obviously frustrated. “Come with me and I’ll explain. We don’t have a lot of time, Coop.”

He called me by the right name. “How do I know you aren’t going to take me somewhere worse?”

Gamer Boy pointed to the ground. The pen that had appeared in my hand moments ago, the one that I’d thrown against the wall, was slowly rolling toward me, picking up momentum as it crossed the wooden floor. I jumped to the left and it adjusted its course. I leaped to the right and it changed direction again.

Maybe it was the proper use of my name, or maybe it was because he was my only way out of the claustrophobic room. Or it could’ve had something to do with the pen that was treating me like a homing beacon.

“Get me out of here.”


We tiptoed down a dark corridor, and I could feel the eyes in the pictures lining the wall following me every step of the way.

“What’s your name?” I whispered as I hurried behind him. I couldn’t keep calling him Gamer Boy in my head. Eventually it would come out of my mouth.


“Okay, Josh, how did you end up in this creeptastic place? Work study?”

He stopped suddenly, pushing me into a dark alcove and shielding me with his body. Footsteps echoed down the long hallway.

“I’m just like you,” he whispered over his shoulder. “I’m bound. Or I was until you got here.”

“Until I got here?” He smelled like limes and pencil shavings. More pleasant than you might imagine.

“New lamps for old.” Josh turned around to face me. “You’re my ticket to freedom. Or at least you were supposed to be.”


  1. Thanks for the link! Is the inspiration the story of Aladdin?

    This is so fun, love the series.

  2. Oooo I love it! There's a sense of creepiness that pulled me right along. I can't wait to find out what happens! I love the part with the pen.


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