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Prologue: Non-Sequitor

The police cruiser pulled into the lot and flipped off the siren. Two officers got out and made their way to the library. Both of them had their hands hovering over their holstered guns. Not because it was warranted but a force of habit imbedded during police training.

They were responding to a 911 call that a passerby had called in. The dispatcher said that the caller thought there was a fight going on within the library.

"What's going on?" Sgt. Davis asked his partner. Davis was the younger of the two; he had been patrolling now for the past two years.

"Don't know," Officer Metcalfe answered. She was veteran, having been on the force for 10 years now. "We shall see in a few moments though."

The doors to the library were off hinged as if they had been blown outward. 

"This is Officer Metcalfe," she said into her shoulder as she keyed the mic. "Send back up."
They walked into the library and stopped dead in their tracks. Before them lay a black smoking heap, its edges still glowing slightly like the dying embers of what appeared to be a campfire. Davis realized what the smell was and he turned and wretched. It was the first time that he had smelled charred flesh and it made him bring back up his lunch.

Standing beside the burning husk was a woman; her back was turned to them and she had just sheathed a sword. Her red hair seemed to float in the breeze that came through the library door. To Metcalfe the woman didn't look like a librarian and she pointed her pistol at her.

"What's going on here?" Metcalfe asked the woman.

"Just a discussion," Maggie said nonchalantly as she turned to face the officers; she had raised her hands in the air to show them that she wasn't going to do anything foolish. Metcalfe could see the handle of the katana strapped to her.

The burning husk was breaking apart and turning into ashes and dust. The black smoke fluttering about in the library making it smell more like a barbeque than a body.

"Don't move. You are under arrest," Metcalfe said; she kept her gun aimed at Maggie.

"I know," Maggie said. "But on what grounds?"

"Breaking and entering and murder."

"I did not break and enter, the door was already broken when I got here," Maggie told the officer. Then she pointed at the burning husk, adding, "And the murder is not what it seems."

The burning husk died down and turned into dust before the officers' disbelieving eyes.

"What's going on?" Davis asked. He had seen his share of weirdness but this incident had him spooked.

"I corrected a shift imbalance," Maggie said.

"You seem mighty sure of yourself," Davis said. "Maybe a couple of nights down at the hospital will correct your imbalance."

Maggie let out a chuckle. It was rare these days that a zinger would get to her.

"In a few moments something is going to happen here and things are not going to be what they seems to be," Maggie said.

That's when the shift washed over them.

Davis and Metcalfe stood in the library and looked at each other. Davis' notebook was open and he was scribbling down what Maggie was telling them.

"... and that's when I came in here and found the books scattered on the floor," Maggie said. She then adjusted the glasses on her nose and let a sigh out of her pursed lips.

"I'm sorry ma'am," Davis said with a charming smile. "We shall see what we can find. But it sounds like some of the college boys doing some hazing stuff."

"They should know better than to damage a library," Maggie said.

Davis and Metcalfe walked out of the library.

"Unit 12 here," Metcalfe keyed the mic. "Library investigated. Couple of teens goofing around."

"Ten-four," dispatch said.

Metcalfe turned to Davis and said, "You want to get a coffee?"