The Bookburner
rating: +5+x

Dear Haris,
I am writing this letter in case I am not able to make it out alive. Well, ever since the terrorists attacked us on that day, everything has changed. Well, no one is happy without you, you know.

Command has decided to attack the serpent’s hand at the place where it hurts most, yes, their library with the ‘L’. White coats have come out with something, let's see. But I promise that I will make those abominations pay for their crimes.

If I don't make it out alive, well, Catherine will be able to keep herself together, perks of being in the same workplace, but tell my ‘sugar buns’, that daddy loves them.

Marcus put the paper on the side of the life support. He looked at his comrade, Robert Haris, as he was asleep, for a very long time, with tubes inserted into his throat to help him fight the death, every second.

"Agent Cortes, it’s time now." The speaker at the top left corner announced that Marcus was getting up.

"Get well soon, buddy. I will take care of those bastards. " He promised.

Marcus and three dozen of the newly assembled eagle strike team sat in front of Commander Nox as he was briefing them about the mission.

"As we know, the previous month, the serpent's hand," the logo of the group projected on the white wall behind Nox, "a designated terrorist organization, attacked Site Charlie-1, killing 12 personnel and injuring 67 others, 12 of whom are in critical condition. "

The image of Haris flashed in his mind as Marcus clenched his fist in fury.

"Now is our time to strike them back. You will all be divided into teams of 4 agents. Your mission is to place packages inside the library. This photograph and its copies are an infohazard which corrupts written text. It will destroy every book inside that Library. This would be a crippling blow to the Library and will teach a lesson to the serpent's hand." Nox took a deep breath before continuing, "are you ready?"

"YES, Sir!" Everyone shouted in unison.

"Are you ready to die for our mission? To protect humanity?"

"YES SIR!" Everyone said again as there was satisfaction on Nox's face.

"Alright, you all will infiltrate through different 'ways' to remove any chance of detection by the enemy."

Later, inside the car, Marcus, Alto, Larim, and Peter were driving to the designated entrance as Larim was reading the information given to them.
"The ways are some kind of wormholes which connect universes together, and the Library is some kind of 'central node'. In this forest, which is believed to be the origin of the stories of Grimm brothers, there is a wooden lodge which leads to the library. "

"And why are we wearing civilian clothes," Peter asked. They all were dressed up like tourists.

"Because the lodge only allows travellers to go to the library, don't worry, our gear is inside this bag," Larim patted the bag at the side of him, "we just have to quietly plant the book and go back. Others will do the same."

"Fine by me," Marcus said, "once we reach that point, we will avenge Haris."

"The forest, that’s the place where the red riding hood happened?" Peter asked.

"Leave it," Marcus replied.

"Yes, that’s the legend," Larim said.

"Come on, that is just exciting, thinking the fairy tales are true," Alto said in fascination.

"Your childish fascination for these things is very disappointing, Alto," Marcus said as he looked at Larim, "Call his brother and report him."

"Like I take orders from you," Larim replied, as Marcus looked out of the window, the scenery around them.

Fairy tales; Marcus remembered, when his mother used to read him those tales, of heroes, and dragons, or when he read them to his twins, the happiness on their faces. But fairy tales should be tales, not reality. That's why he even joined in the first place.

The car stopped near the tree line as everyone got off. They began to walk inside as they looked at the forest. Everything was magical. They could see animals and birds in vibrant colors, going on with their lives.

"Wow!" Alto said in awe, "I would love to have a house here."

"And get eaten by this things, huh?" Marcus taunted him, "all these abominations."

"Let’s do it quickly," Marcus said. They sped up as they continued to trek till a wooden structure was visible.

"Command, strike team 3, the lodge is insight, we are in the position," Larim said through his transmitter.

"Stand by." The voices from other channels start to come to life.

"Command, strike team 2, the old man is taken down, we are in the position."

"Command, strike team 8, we have evaded the brothers, we are in the position."

"Command strike team 9, VHS tape is playing, we are in position."

Soon, others confirmed that the LED of the command channel lit up.

"Okay, permission to proceed, plant our gift for them and then retreat."

"Move," Larim ordered as they entered the lodge, "expect the worse, maybe we will be greeted with-" they entered as the Lodge was empty, "what the hell?"

The lodge was at least a century old when it was abandoned. The furniture was eating dust as the walls and ceiling were filled with spider webs.

"What?" Peter said, in confusion. If this was a Lodge, it should be filled with people, right?

"Is this the correct lodge?" Marcus asked Larim as he looked around scratching his head. "Is this even a lodge in first place? Did we got played with?"

"Yes, this is the only thing he-" Larim began to say.

"Hey there!" The team’s instincts were triggered as they began to look around, "OH! Sorry, hehe."

Suddenly, the house’s interior shifted, twisting and breaking and reforming as it was now new with clean furniture and walls. Few people, human and non-human, were present inside, chatting with each other and drinking tea, "I am sorry," they looked down as a small creature resembling a cartoon version of a cat was standing, small arms and legs, standing on two legs and having a ridiculously large tail as it waved, "welcome travellers, to Nora’s bed and breakfast. Do you need rooms? We have luxury suits at a very cheap price. "

"Hey," Larim said as he gestured to others to play along with the creature, "We are travellers seeking passage to the library."

"Oh! Okay then," it whipped its tail towards a door as it opened, "remember, return your books on time, adios!" The creature began to fold up upon itself before disappearing.

"Fucking weirdo," Marcus muttered, "what the fuck was it?" They moved inside.

"Woah," Alto said as they looked at the interior of the library, a sight to behold. Bookshelves as huge as three-story buildings, filled with books as patrons, humans, and others were reading books or searching for one. "Dear God, this is huge."

"There isn't any time to look." Larim ordered, "Let’s go." They began to walk close together, Marcus holding the book as he searched for an empty shelf to place the corrupted book on.

"Just a little more, I'll be back with my boys," Marcus was lost in thought as he collapsed to the ground. He looked up as a man in black robes wearing an angst mask was staring at him. 'Oh shit.'

"Sorry," he apologised as he extended his hand to Marcus, who reluctantly accepted it, "are you okay?"

Marcus looked down as the book was open and the photo was visible. "Ah-y-yes, sir," Marcus said as the masked man nodded and walked away. ‘What the hell was that, ugh, just focus on the mission.’ He took the book and closed it.

"Marcus" Larim approached him in a haste "What were you thinking?"

"Sorry, sir," Marcus replied, "I will be careful now.".

"Team 2 is not responding. We have to hurry," Larim said as Marcus raised his eyebrow.

"Isn’t Alto’s brother on that team?"

"Yes, don't tell him now," Larim replied. Marcus, along with Larim, searched for an appropriate spot. Finally, they found one and they shoved the book inside.

"Finally, we can go now," Marcus celebrated as Larim hushed him. They went back to near the entrance and regrouped with others.

"Okay, the gift is planted. Now, let's get out of this place," Larim said as they began to walk back to the entrance. Marcus was satisfied, his eyes were at the door as he felt satisfaction, finally he took the revenge for Haris.

"Everyone!" The scratching voice pierced everyone’s ears as they looked up. A huge bird was sitting on a beam hanging from the roof as it began to announce, "There are several intruders inside our library, so we are initiating a lockdown."

Every door leading outside the Library shut closed as patrons began to panic. Alto was also as he was hushed by Larim.

"Retreat, we will group up with another team," he said softly. Marcus was scared too, considering the rumors were prevalent back home that enemies of the Library face a fate worse than death.

The door at the far end flung open as silence befell. A child, maybe 14 years old, walked in, wearing royal clothes, resembling a prince of India, as Marcus remembered in his South Asian history book, with a black void with two shining eyes for a face. Everyone looked at him as they began to gossip.

"My fellow patrons," he said, "there are intruders among us, many actually," He waved his hand around as Marcus’s blood froze. Two more men with masks came in, carrying one of the captured agents, "I captured his whole team, and judgement has already been delivered upon them, but."

"That’s my brother!" Alto said, "h-"

"Shut up," Larim said quickly, squeezing Alto's mouth shut with his hand, "or we'll be captured." "Everyone, retreat back to that door," he whispered. The group began to move back, Marcus and others were hearing him.

"This one needs a greater judgement, a better judgement. What should it be? " The masked royal asked, "Remember, he is a bookburner." Marcus noticed as the patrons' faces started to show only one strong emotion, disgust.

"Turn him into a rat, Atrangi!" One of the patrons suggested while waving his six arms."

"You creative bastard, granted, but a mere rat, no." He looked at the agent with a childish fascination and said, "Any last wish? you have a say in this."

"F-f," he looked at the crowd as he noticed Alto.

Alto gulped, "Brother." His brother looked at Atrangi.

"You know what? FUCK Y-," he exclaimed to the masked man. Suddenly, his arm wobbled as he fell face-first to the floor.

"No bad words in the library." Atrangi said, "Ladies and gentlemen." The group watched in horror as Alto's brother slowly began to change. Extra arms and legs came out as his face changed. Soon enough, he wasn't human, "welcome our new pet, Ratapede." The creature used to be a human and began to move, using his many arms and legs as he started squeaking.

"…….," Alto looked at the creature's moist eyes.

"Alto, retreat," Larim said as he took the equipment bag from him. They began to walk towards the next section.

"How is our equipment?" Marcus asked as Larim checked the bag.

"Good, they are miniaturised. Just a rub and they will enl-. Wait? "Where is the gun?" Larim looked at Marcus. "One gun is missing."

"Where is Alto?" Peter asked as they looked around, "wasn't he coming with us-."



They looked at the crowd. People began to run away, towards other halls till only Alto was left with that Atrangi

"Shit, take our item out," Larim shouted.

"Hey," Atrangi said as he looked at small black holes in his clothes, "not cool." He lifted his hand as, suddenly, Alto was lifted from the ground by an unknown force. The rat creature tried to attack him, but a force slammed against it. Atrangi said to Alto, "Aah, so close to Ratapede, you must be his brother right?" Atrangi said to Alto, who kept struggling, "Hey, what do you all—wait, they all ran away. Too bad, see, you all ruined the show," he said as he began to choke Alto, "Maybe we can turn you into Ratapede as well. We'll have two." However, something hit him. Alto watched as Atrangi flew to a corner shelf as he exploded. Alto fell down on the floor as he coughed. He looked back as Marcus was holding a rocket launcher.

"You are insane," Peter said, helping Alto up.

"Brother." Alto looked back at the rat creature as he began to weep.

"You are a soldier, we knew what we signed for," Peter reminded him. Suddenly, they heard something. They looked up as a huge creature, eight-handed and wearing a cloak, entered the room while hanging from above and chanting in a strange language. Despite being alien, one thing was certain for the team: it was angry from the moment it looked at them with it's many hateful eyes.

"What the hell," Marcus exclaimed.

"You all, bastards," he says. As they looked from the corner, Atrangi got up and said, "You woke the docents up, now you are officially fucked up."

"Run," Larim shouted as the team began to retreat as Atrangi grabbed Peter.

"AAAAAH," Peter struggled as Atrangi took him to just above him.

"I would have turned you into a box," he said as he lifted him to Docent, "but this book burner is for you, boss," he said.

The docent grabbed Peter as he began to scream. As Marcus looked out the door, the team left, and the docent began to chant something as Peter began to mutate, his clothes ripping off as his entire body began to change.

Atrangi charged at Marcus. However, the ratapede slammed itself against him, biting his arm. "AAAh," they slammed against a shelf. "You," he said, raising his hand as a whip appeared, "bad rat, bad rat." He began to whip the rat as Marcus left. As the transmitter activated, the trio fled, while other teams opened fire on something or someone.

Later, in a dark corner of the Library, Marcus panted as Larim began to take the gear out. From the radio, they could hear, "Strike team 11, we are under attack, I repeat, we are under attack."

"Wear your gear," Larim ordered as he tossed it to Marcus, "now." Marcus began to wear his gear up, standard Kevlar armor along with a helmet with face shield, Alto was silently staring down at him, "Alto."

"Y-yes sir," Alto responded as he began to wear his gear.

The group began to move again as the Library was now empty. They stealthily moved from one shelf to another, clutching their assault rifles.

"The majority of the teams have planted their packages," Larim said as they marched on.

"Are you okay, Alto?" Marcus asked as he nodded.

"Sorry, because of me," he went silent. Suddenly, they heard screaming coming from outside of the hall as they hid behind the shelf. At the farthest corner of the hall, a docent entered by climbing from the ceiling. They watched in horror, an agent was held by his legs, upside down as he was screaming, "help me, help me." The docent chanted in an unknown language as it quickly moved to the other side of the room, with agent’s head bashing against the top of the shelves, lucky enough by getting protected by his helmet

"Jesus Christ," Marcus said, not believing what he saw. What if he ended up like this? He may never see his family again, and will never see Haris again.

"Let’s get moving," Larim said, sighing. They continued walking through Library’s majestic halls. With eyes sharp, they entered another reading hall. They began to walk close to the hall as Marcus suddenly noticed a double door, made from oak, decorated with engravings. A notice was posted on it.


Dear Patrons,

As of now, with renovation projects going on in the lower Library to make it a far better place to spend time in, all bibliovores have been shifted to the recreation room for three weeks. The staff hopes that you understand and respect this decision.

Marcus pressed his ear against the door, as he could hear.

"Mmm, good book cover, right friendopede?"

"Mamapede, I want more."

‘The fuck?" He thought, 'more abominations, must be that lunatic's work.'

"Marcus," he said, looking at the door opposite as Larim was standing there. Alto sat in a huge space engraved in the wall, just at the side of the recreation door. "Let’s go and search, maybe we find someone else."

"Yeah," Marcus said.

"Got you," Larim turned back as Atrangi grabbed him, "you thought you would get away."

"HEY!" Marcus screamed as he began firing at him, but Atrangi simply used Larim as a shield. "Shit," Marcus exclaimed as his gun melted away,
"What the fuck?" he screamed in frustration as he was shoved into the engraved hole, collapsing on Alto.

Both moaned in pain as they watched Atrangi come in front of them, with Larim levitating just above him.

"You are the most troublesome book burners, but now," he grabbed Larim and began to use his hands, as both Marcus and Alto watched as he literally bent Larim, bones crushed and screams muffled, until he finally turned into a box with the GOC logo on the front side, "you are goners."

"No," Marcus said, "no, no, nooo-" he looked down as tears fell on the inner side of his visor.

"Hey rookie," Marcus noticed as Larim waved at him, he nervously smiled, it was his first ever mission to Kanea island on a chopper, "who is that?" He pointed at the photograph.

"His girlfriend," Harris joked, "that medic from gate-y, that blonde."

"Ah, lucky bastard," Larim joked as everyone in the chopper laughed, "don't worry, I will make sure you return back to home safely."

"T-thanks sir," Marcus said as Larim smiled.

"Call me Larim, I don't mind."

A thud was heard as Marcus looked up, the box was now on the ground.

"Oooooh, a GOC gift box!, let's see," Atrangi mocked as he kicked the lid off., in the shape of the team’s suit’s helmet, popped out, attached to a spring as party strips, mixed with blood and gore, came out.

"Y-you fucker," he said, almost in tears, "y-you killed him," he launched up and grabbed the royalty by his collar, "he was a great leader and a great friend and you-"

"Yeah, I disrespected his body, you are sad, booooh, SO WHAT?" He pushed Marcus back, "you bookburners were the first to arrive and attack us. Your fault. " Atrangi raised his hand as Marcus began to feel a strange, violent force around him.

Panic gripped him along with Alto screaming in horror, the years of training disappeared in front of the fear. "Leave me, leave me." Marcus begged, the grip tightened, "please."

"Shouldn't have come here and disrupt our peace, at least at the time of great sorrow, let’s turn you into-"

"IT HURTS," echoed throughout the hall.

"What?" Atrangi said, as more voices joined in.


The door of the recreation room burst open with a thunder. Marcus fell on the floor as Alto helped him sit up.

"What the-"

"W-what-" Marcus and Alto watched as a river of fire rushed in, washing Atrangi away in an instant. They looked closely, it was not lava, but
worms. Worms with houses for the faces

"IT HURTS," "WHYYYYYYYY." The burning worms moved out as some, screaming in pain, began to burn the hall down. After what seemed like half an hour, the stream ended. At least a dozen dead worms were lying on the floor, burning as both Marcus and Alto got up.

"S-shit, what the fuck were they?" Alto asked.

"Dunno." Marcus looked at the remains of the box, cardboard made from flesh and stapled with bones. Marcus picked it up, "we will bury Larim."

"H-help selfopede." They looked back as a small worm came out, coughing as it lay flat, "M-mamapede, help."

"What the hell?" Both went close to it as the worm was very small, like it had recently hatched from the egg with a yurt for a face, "l-let’s leave," Marcus said as he began to walk away.

"Hey, Marcus, wait." Alto said, "He needs help."

"What the fuck?" Marcus shouted, "You're out of your mind?"

"No, he needs help, he is a baby," Alto said, pissing Marcus off.

He said, "Hey, we just lost Peter and Larim. You want to play curiosity now, huh."

"Please, he is sapient." Marcus could no longer hold back.

"Sapient my foot. We are not the foundation that plays with these things," he vented out, "we didn't even spared a chair, it is a bio-abomination."

"Yes, but," the screams were audible again, along with the chanting of docents as it grew closer. Marcus thought, 'No time to argue.'

"Fine, take this thing with us, but let's leave now." Marcus sighed again as Alto picked the worm up. Both men walked out, as from the darkness of
the recreation room, in the midst of ash and burnt flesh, two pairs of eyes looked at them.

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