I am very excited to welcome John Pansini to One Thousand Worlds and thank him for sharing the first one thousand words of the first novel in the Twilight of Stars Hollow Series.
Night of the Living Unread: How Zombies Were Saved by the Bible-
The year is 2112, and the town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, is in the grip of an ice age. A heat spell – temperatures in the 40s and 50s – awakens hordes of the living dead buried behind the public library. It’s up to librarian Willard M. Romney III to save the town from a zombie apocalypse.
Gridlock has kept democrats and republicans from dealing with the library's budget deficit and the walking dead. It’s up to children’s services librarian Lorelei Gilmore to step in and save the zombies. But can she also save the library from austerity?
Two women, Lorelei and Merrily the mailwoman, have complicated Willard’s life. One he was in love with, and the other one he is in love with. Both hold dark secrets. Neither is who they appear to be. But poor Willard hasn’t a clue. He can’t help being so out of touch, it’s in his genes.
This ebook is the first in the Twilight of Stars Hollow Series. Follow Willard, Lorelei and Merrily as they deal with zombies, werewolves, vampires, and politicians.
Chapter One: An Alternative Fuel?
“Step away from the shopping cart, please,” said Willard M. Romney III, librarian at the Stars Hollow Public Library.
He leveled Skeeter from the hip, aiming the shotgun at the two miscreants, a young man and a young woman. They were both dressed in arctic clothing. Their hoods were thrown back over their shoulders exposing two terrified faces. Given that weapon at this distance, Willard could not miss.
Willard, the library’s enforcer, was a short, stooped, sixty-two year-old. His back and shoulders were rounded by too many years spent seated at the reference desk. Yet he spoke with the calm authority of a man protecting what he loved most: books and his library. Grim set eyes that pierced thick, rimless lenses gave him the menacing appearance of a giant bug-eating bug.
Hands held high in the air, the miscreants side-stepped away from the cart and bookshelves that held Willard’s least-loved books: the teen and young adult collection. No wonder young people today had their heads filled with zombies, vampires, and werewolves.
June 20th, 2112, the first day of the summer solstice, began as just another day, no different from any other day in Stars Hollow, Connecticut. The temperature outside was twelve degrees Fahrenheit; it had snowed again last night, but only a dusting, hardly worth sending out the town’s plows. By the early 22nd Century, most Americans had flowed like raw sewage into Mexico, where they were the illegal aliens. But for the hardy few who had refused to leave Stars Hollow, travel was by snowshoe for the lower and middle classes, and snowmobiles for one-percenters like Willard M. Romney III. His family had been members of the ruling class for generations. His great grandfather had run for president exactly one hundred years ago come November.
Willard had arrived at his usual time of eight a.m. with his beloved cat, Seamus. The orange tabby had been strapped in his carrier on the back of his snowmobile.
“He loves it,” Willard would remark to the one person who dared question his love for this animal: Miss Lorelei Gilmore. Although Seamus would sometimes emerge from the carrier covered in poop and vomit, Willard knew that this was better than leaving the cat at home where the threat of bitter cold seeping into the house always existed.
“That’s real cruelty, Lorelei,” Willard would reply. “Besides, he loves the library as much as I do.”
Seamus would spend the entire day on patrol among the bookshelves looking for unwary rodents. He had become the library’s cat.
Willard unlocked the library doors and turned on all the tenth generation iNooks, known in the jargon of library science as the i-10s. How he wished the city council would approve his request for an upgrade to the i-25s. The devices were still being manufactured in aboriginal sweatshops in South Australia, because Northern China had frozen over with glaciers at a far faster rate than North America. Who could have imagined that global warming would initiate the second ice age?
Willard relaxed in the reference librarian’s office before the library opened at ten a.m. He sipped his morning tea and enjoyed a picture book on dressage. Willard truly loved these bouncing horses.
“For the life of me, Willard,” nagged Lorelei, Stars Hollow’s other librarian. “Why don’t you watch a video on an i-10?”
“Call me old-fashioned, Lorelei,” he replied. He knew that it frustrated her that he was so embedded in the 21st Century. And that made him smile.
The two librarians, Willard M. Romney III and Lorelei Gilmore, had been friends for many years. Both had begun their careers at SHPL. When they were younger, they had been more than friends. Neither of them ever married, though, so in a way, the library collection was the child they never conceived.
“Mr. Romney! Miss Gilmore! Phyllis called from the reading room. “They’re stealing our books, our precious books!”
From the sounds of her shuffling orthopedic shoes, the circulation clerk and octogenarian, Miss Phyllis Schaffley, was moving at top speed – relatively speaking. She arrived at the Office of Reference huffing and puffing, her face red. “Mr. Romney, Miss Gilmore.” A pause to catch her breath, then: “A young man and a young woman are tossing our books into a shopping cart!” The poor woman gasped for oxygen, as much from indignation as from exertion.
Willard gave her a comforting smile. “Don’t worry, Phyllis, I’ll see to the matter.”
“Are you taking that damn shotgun with you?” asked Lorelei.
“Of course,” Willard replied. It was as if she had asked the equally stupid question: Does a book need a cover?
She frowned. “Don’t you think that’s a tad extreme, Willard?”
Annoyed, “Stealing literature is extreme, Lorelei.”
“They’re stealing from the teen and young adult collection, Mr. Romney, Miss Gilmore,” Phyllis quietly reminded them.
“Even so,” Willard replied. Then he took off his gray, Patagonia sweater -- free arm movement might be necessary when enforcing library discipline -- and went to a file cabinet. There he retrieved his tool of authority, Skeeter.
Skeeter was a semi-automatic shotgun that had been in Willard’s family for well over fifty years. His grandfather, Willard I, had used it to skeet shoot and hunt birds on the Romney compound back in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Family lore had it that Grandpa had the honor to be shot in the face by former Vice President Dick Cheney while on a bird murdering expedition. Luckily, he had survived without serious injury.
The ninety-five year-old Mr. Cheney had expressed his sincerest regret for shooting a fellow republican: “My eyesight must be failing, Mitt. I thought you were a tree and there was a bird perched on your shoulder.”
An explanation that did little to placate Willard I: he sued Mr. Cheney in court and won a large settlement, because Mr. Cheney was a repeat offender. Rather than pay up, though, the former vice president sought asylum in Saudi Arabia: he would not set foot in the United States again.
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