Libraries and I never quite got along. Back when I was a wee Matt in elementary school, my class and I were routinely taken to the library for 40 or so minutes of literary torture. The librarian, Ms. Kinderkill, apparently had something against me. Perhaps it was the fact that I never seemed to be interested in reading, or maybe I was just too loud for the library. Or maybe it was because she said she loved War and Peace so much she couldn’t put it down, so I glued a copy of it to her hands to make sure of it. She would always try to ruin my day whenever she had the chance. For example, she would always call on me to answer things I couldn’t possibly know. All the other kids got easy questions, like “How many sides does a triangle have?” and “Do you have legs?” I, however, was usually given a pair of tweezers and a sack of radioactive scorpions and asked to split the nearest hydrogen atom. I had no idea what was in the bag, so when I opened it, out came the scorpions. They stung me everywhere while all the other children laughed and laughed. As punishment for not being able answer the question, I was forced to clean all the chalkboards in the school. With my tongue.
So, you can guess that I wasn’t exactly seizuring with joy when I had to get a book out of the college’s library last Tuesday. When I entered the library, I was prepared for the worst. Sneaking past the large sensors near the entrance, I allowed myself a small chuckle. They want you to think the sensors are to prevent people from walking out with valuable, library-only reference books, but I know better. No doubt they were trying to read my brain waves in an attempt to sense my fear, and, perhaps later on, steal my brain. With a quick glance around the room, I realized no one had seen me yet. Everyone was either reading a book or staring at a computer screen. What luck! Deciding not to waste the opportunity, I made a break for the stairs to the second floor.
But as my hand grabbed the doorknob, something alarming caught my attention. There, behind the main desk, was a security monitor displaying images of various places throughout the library. Forgetting my mission, I simply stared at it, dumbfounded. Why did a library need a security monitor? Is there something so important in here that it must be monitored 24/7?
TERRORIST 1: The bombs have been placed, demands have been made, and the robo-hamsters have been positioned. We are only missing one essential component in our plan to take over the lower half of Canada – a copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
TERRORIST 2: Foiled again!
Eventually I regained my composure and made my way downstairs. While opening the door to the second floor, I noticed a sign reading, “No Cell Phones in the Library.” No cell phones indeed, library. That way we can’t call for help. Undoubtedly, the library emits some sort of electronic jamming signal that renders all cell phones within 100 feet inoperable.
Looking out from under my box, I saw a librarian quietly putting camera parts in a box. Slowly, I moved up behind her, and tapped her on the calf. “Excuse me, ma’am,” I said, my voice somewhat muffled from under the box, “I’m looking for books on the mating habits of the Ruby-Throated Alaskan Snowmobile.”
“Please,” she replied in a badly faked British accent, “call me Textbook Muskrat. It’s my code name.”
“All right, Textbook Muskrat, I’m looking for books on the – ”
“You’ll find them on the shelf to the right,” she replied, “next to the Explosive Thermonuclear Arbor Day Unit. Careful, it’s an international incident waiting to happen.”
Well, that explained the security cameras.
Quickly, I grabbed my book and shoved it down my pants. I probably could have just put it in my jacket pocket, but my pants somehow seemed more appropriate for the situation. On my way out of the library, I overheard Textbook Muskrat dragging around a box of heavy camera equipment. “Could someone help me with all this metal gear?” she asked. I slipped out the door unnoticed.
Running up the stairs and out of the door to the first floor, I thought I had it made. I had my book and the library had missed its chance to hurt me. Just then, a vision of Ms. Kinderkill popped into my head; her old, cackling face still haunting me. I couldn’t hold back. The little devil in me had to call my old school and tell Ms. Kinderkill what I had done, just to spite her. But when I took out my cell phone I tripped the alarm. I was in for it now. I quickly ran past the sensors and out the front entrance. Shedding my box, I made a b-line for my car. I had made it. And all before General Hospital.
The next day, there was a story in the local newspaper about what had taken place in the library. For a while, I was scared that I was going to be caught. But lucky for me, I was wrong. The image from the security cameras was made into a police composite sketch printed in the paper next to the article.
All units be on the look out for a walking box.