69: Breaking ranks

The Borrowers are confused. They cannot hear each other anymore. Where once there was a hive mind of infinite complexity and possibility, now there is only a loose collection of gripes about poor service and a lack of gratitude.

Borrower who Leaves Pictures Torn Out Of Porn Magazines Inside The Children's Books feels the need to continue his work in the Young Readers section. Borrower Who Rips Out The Barcodes and Then Denies It scuttles away to the next aisle to tear the barcode from British Fighters of World War II. Borrower Who Complains about Blasphemous Books wants to resume perusing the books in the art section for profane content. Borrower Who Winks For No Reason winks uncontrollably. Borrower Who Brings Quality Street In At Christmas lies where he fell, quietly drowning in his own blood. Borrower who Cries, Silently, in the Science Fiction Section yearns to see if the new volume of Star Trek: The Next Generation has been added to the library collection even though he last checked two hours ago. Borrower Who Eats Scotch Eggs at the Computer feels pangs of hunger bloom in his stomach.

Where these disparate individuals once came together and become something more than Borrowers they are now, as before, just Borrowers. One by one they slip away from the Staff Only Area, away from the shrieking and the violence and smell of burnt hair, into to the dark corners of the library which are rarely visited.

68: Return of the Mach

The roar escaping from John fills the air of the library like a buzzsaw with a loose bearing. The veins on his neck stick out like miniature sleeping policemen, or cord pulls; his good eye bulges almost out of his head. Blood weeps from cracks in the blackened side of his face.

The Borrowers pause. The sound John is making keeps them at bay, it interferes with their thinking, like that earlier noise.

The pink cardigan draped over his shoulders flutters, cape-like, for a moment.

Arms poised in mid-throw, the Borrowers jostle and quake, transfixed by the apparition in front of them.

John steps forward, still screaming, and smites the nearest Borrower with Google Search and Rescue for Dummies. The Borrower falls to the ground and does not move. The horde step back in as one.

Pulling his arm back, John stops roaring and draws breath.

The Borrowers press forward once more.

The lift chimes as the doors open.

"Get back on the other side of the pigging counter!" barks Bob, "This is a Staff Only area!"

Bob hurls a large print edition of the RHS Plant Finder like a shot put, taking out two more.

Rosalyn pushes the book trolley out of the lift uttering a high pitched ululation like a demonic smoke alarm.

John begins to roar once more, and smashes another Borrower to the ground, taking another out another one on the upswing.

The Roar and the Ululation combine into a intestine-trembling, kneecap-shaking, eardrum-rattling lightning ball of noise.

The Borrowers quake in terror. John smites and smashes with Google Search and Rescue for Dummies. Rosalyn rams the book trolley into Borrower shins. Bob grits his teeth and throws tomes into the the mob with straining muscles.

Garry and Katerina cover their ears.

The Borrowers begin to retreat.