Julio's eyes burned and rubbing them only made them worse. No tears came to give relief. They were bone dry. He'd been staring at computer screens and dusty old tomes for more hours than he cared to count and he was losing what little focus he had left. The words were nothing more than a blur of squiggles.
Closing his eyes, he hoped that not looking at anything would help. Instead he listened.
Earlier, the library had been bustling. Despite the long standing stigma that one must be quiet in a library, there was only so much noise that you could suppress. It was nothing compared to how it was now.
There was something to be said about knowing the right people. Had he been anyone, he would have been kicked out at closing time same as anyone else. Yet, trade hands and sometimes cash with the right people and you might find yourself with a few perks.
Although, at the moment, it didn't much feel like a perk.
"Goddamnit." he said again to the silence. "I'm done. Fuckin' done."
Opening his eyes once again, he set about closing and stacking the dozen books spread out before him and saving the work he'd done on his computer. Every book was open to the same information, although it seemed to have slight variables based on what book it was from.
Up til now, he'd only heard the term traded by friends and colleagues. Men and women a lot more experienced in the paranormal than himself had talked about their run-ins with the black magic but never cared to go into details. Something about it seemed to make their skin crawl.
He went to slam shut another dusty tome but found himself staring at the words.
Goofer Dust. A powder, often brown-red or black in appearance, is a component of magickal spells made out of a variety of simple, natural ingredients. While there is a consensus among many that Goofer Dust can be comprised of any number of ingredients, the three basic elements that are most often agreed upon are rock salt, powdered sulphur, and graveyard dirt. Depending on its makeup, Goofer Dust is thought to have a wide range of magickal uses, but is most often utilized in malignant spellcraft.
Julio shook his head and shut the book hard. The sound shattered the silence of the darkened library and echoed through the stacks. It was followed quickly by the remaining books that were quickly stacked and organized.
Finally, with an exhausted sigh, he flicked off his desk light. He was instantly plunged into darkness as he extinguished the last bit of artificial light short of the "EXIT" sign that glowed green off in the distance.
He'd have to keep researching in the morning. He'd heard reports of a witch sighted in the bogs just South of here. Of course, none of the locals actually believed that some woman was roaming the swamps dabbling in black magic, yet all of their "sightings" added up. Only a few deaths had been reported, all of them being contributed to gators and the sort. Julio would have to deal with her before anything big went down.
It was only as he made his way towards the front door that he realized something was wrong.
First, it was the soft crunch under his boot. It felt firm but giving. Definitely different than the hard wood floors of the library. Had someone spilled something?
Reaching for the nearest desk, he quickly found the lamp and turned it on.
Directly across his path, spread from one edge of the stacks to the other, was a heavy line of black and brown powder. It was deliberately poured and formed a clean barrier with the exception of his boot print. To his surprise, it seemed to extend in a line across all the stacks, working in a circle around him.
Julio jumped at the sound. It had come from directly in front of him down the stacks where he would have been. Yet, nothing seemed out of place.
This time, it came from the stacks on either side of him. Was something hitting the shelves?
"Don't break the circle."
The voice was as clear as if they had been right next to him. Julio whirled instinctively to find nothing but empty desks and his lone desk lamp. He couldn't help but feel his heart start to race, his breath hitching up in his chest.
More hits. Farther apart again.
It has to be the witch. Julio thought to himself as he reached under his jacket to draw the pistol he stowed there. He had no idea how she even knew that he was onto her yet, but he couldn't think of any other explanation. His eyes darted around the darkness, looking for any movement.
Julio jumped at the sound again, this time leveling off his weapon towards the stacks where the banging came from. He desperately wanted to squeeze a few rounds off, but didn't even know what he'd be shooting at.
"Don't break the circle."
He heard it again, but this time, he turned and fired wildly behind him in the direction of the voice. The gun boomed and roared but only managed to blow several holes in the stacks and knock books off the shelves.
They hit the ground with a thud, scattering the strange line of powder in every direction.
All at once, it seemed as if the sound drained from the library as Julio stared at the broken line. The bangs, the thuds of books, even the echoing roar of the gunshots slipped away as if in a vacuum. All that was left was the sound of Julio's breathing. And two words, almost whispered.
His heart pounded with utter ferocity as he yelped and turned towards the voice again. All he saw was the lamp on the desk. What he didn't see was what was under the desk, waiting for him to turn back around towards the exit. A thing with deep, black eyes, a slender, pale face, and long, sharp teeth that didn't like to cross a Goofer Dust line. At least...not an intact one.
(Hey all. So, this was SUPPOSED to be a quick little "Don't Break the Chain" post complaining about having to research stuff for writing. What came out was drastically different than I had originally intended. That said, I very well might make this a part of the hoodoo story I was already planning on working on...but we'll see. I hope you enjoyed!)