//Neil Patrick Harris Raids Library–Dream
The great NPH was lounging at a party. His party. Hundreds of people milled the fantastic lot, shoving themselves into corners and networking with all the greats. And yet, somehow, Harris had kept a bubble of space about his lounge chair. Perhaps it was because he was in his dark study with sunglasses and a tanning board on his lap that people were hesitant to approach him.
Everyone knows that if you throw all of his roles together–Barney and Dr. Horrible specifically–you get a mastermind of such magnitudes you aren’t certain he wouldn’t single-handedly annihilate the world.
Despite this, I sat down beside him and started fiddling with the books on his shelf. “You ought to do that on your yacht.” I told him, pulling down a toy figurine of said boat. He lifted his sunglasses and eyed the toy, and brought it into his lap.
He turned it over in his hands, and nodded thoughtfully, “I imagine so.”
“I imagine you should have thrown this party on your yacht.”
A beginning of a smile pulled his face. A flash of genius wiggling into his eyes. “Yes, yes, yes.” He shot his gaze at me excitedly. “Three beautiful, bikini clad women to surround Miss Poppy on the yacht–YES.”
I wasn’t entirely sure how to take what he had told me. I was a little bewildered on what to do with three large breasted, hipped, bikini clad women while on a celebrity yacht, when I looked up to find said celebrity had vanished.
A week later, I was sorting through the library’s basement back home. Sifting through used and dusty novels donated. Whatever the library or the used book store didn’t want went into my own collection of shelves in a corner that the librarians gifted me as a graduation present. The smell of old covers and pages was a stark cloud down here. It was silent and the lights were a sweet yellow orange. It was my place. I rooted through my copies of The BFG, Matilda, and The Magic Finger. I stroked my fingertips across copies of 1984 and A Brave New World. I pulled out my copy of The Great Gatsby and looked upon it fondly before replacing it. And then I went to the boxes.
An anonymous benefactor had donated twenty-seven cardboard boxes filled with old volumes that needed to be sifted through, and I was positively eager to add to my three shelves.
Footsteps down the staircase startled me into looking up just as I had pulled a beautiful yellow covered children’s book and added it to a shelf labeled “Mine. TBS.”
It was my younger cousin, Zach. He shyly poked his head down through the rungs above my head. “Hey, ‘cuz.”
We’d always been close. We’d regarded each other as siblings our whole lives and looked out after each other. Especially when he became a grown man and I remained a young woman, despite being at least a year his elder. I jumped up from my task and hugged him fiercely. “I hadn’t any idea you were in town!” I exclaimed, bouncing from foot to foot.
Zach smiled, “Yeah. I wanted to visit and speak to Uncle Matt. I’ll be here all week.”
“A whole week?” It was a perfect day.
“So what are you doing?” He asked, peering into the warm room.
He followed me between the stacks and looked over the three bookcases with admiration. “Wow, I didn’t know you had such a place.”
I shrugged, “It’s sort of a special secret.”
He fingered the spines of some of my favorite classics with thoughtful composure. “This is super cool, Pop.”
I grinned brightly. “You’re welcome to come see them as you wish. I’ll tell the desk staff.”
He smiled, “I’m not much of a reader.” He told me.
I was at work just a few days later when my boss’s radio turned to the news. “Books have been mysteriously taken from libraries across the nation, leaving row upon row of empty shelving astonishing workers and enraging the public. In other news, flying monkeys appeared over Los Angeles this morning, causing many to seek shelter in nearby buildings as it rained down arrows–” I bolted from the room at the astonished calls from my coworkers.
I had a hunch. It was a terrible hunch, but a hunch nonetheless.
The college library club stood huddled outside the library, talking anxiously back and forth. I approached a member and they explained in fearful tones that they’d received a notice that morning that if they didn’t surrender their books, they’d be freeze-rayed.
I snickered inwardly. Who else could it be?
“Sounds like he’s found a way to bring what he wants out of books.” I told them.
A girl rolled her eyes, “That’s a given, Poppy. The question is–how do we protect our books?”
I stopped. I had no idea.
“Picket signs and a rally? Sit outside in peaceful protest?” A guy suggested.
I blubbered at him, but the rest of the university students took up nodding and making quick work of painting on large white signs and arranging themselves in the grass.
I hurried into the library, down to the basement, and opened another box. Inside weren’t books as we knew them. There were knots and scrolls and tablets… and rings?
I pulled the letter out and let my eyes dart quickly over the explanation. A smile grew on my face and I pulled boxes of rings out and hurried back up the stairs.
I took to sitting with various groups on the lot, murmuring that if our peaceful protesting was pushed back to the lobby, we ought to stand single filed in rows to block the procession. They raised their eyebrows at this-there wasn’t any reason for the protest to be pushed back as far as the lobby, but if it was they’d take my advice.
And thus I found myself sitting with picketers, holding a sign someone gave me that said, “CHARACTERS IN. KEEP OUT.”
I can’t say it made a lot of sense and it made me cringe a little bit, but I held it anyways.
A great eruption of movement began out of nowhere. Up the hill and into sight came a crowd of party-goers and fictional creatures and characters. Among them, upon a large metal spider, was the celebrity in all his glory wearing his Dr. Horrible costume with a striking tie and Doogie Howser coat. He held in each hand a different gun-shaped contraption. One I recognized instantly to be the Freeze-ray.
“Surrender your books or be frozen. I’ve asked nicely.”
The peaceful rally set up a confusing conglomerate of their astoundingly incomprehensible catch phrases already written on their boards, when I noticed a dark figure break away from the cast and crew of a storybook mafia. I followed him around the building and down the stairs.
I knew the shape of those shoulders. “Zachariah!” I yelled and he spun, astonished, from my bookshelves, dropping the BFG solidly to the floor. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“He offered me a lead role in his movie,” the boy shrugged.
I frowned and grabbed him by the wrist and twisted him away from my books, scooping the BFG from the floor and waving it at him. “And what would you do if he brought the BFG out?” I asked, indicating the giant on the cover and poking him hard in the chest. “He would crush even you. And feel guilty all his days. Do you really want that?”
His lip trembled. “No.” It was a strange thing to see this 30-looking, 20-something trembling before a woman that appeared to be in her teens, but there was much to be done. I lovingly replaced the book and, more gently, took his arm and led him back up the stairs and into the library.
Much to their astonishment, the rally had in fact been pushed back to the lobby. Much to my astonishment, they were lined up in rows as I had asked. Much to my bewilderment, they still chorused the nonsensical phrases with such passion that even Katniss Everdeen was cringing behind the lines of Harris’s crew. I began to pass out the rings to intermittent rows and had everyone link arms. I took up my place in the third row and called out.
“Would everybody shut up, please?”
The world was silent, eyes looking at me.
Neil raised a hand at me, “Good morning, Miss Poppy.”
“Good morning, Neil. Nice outfit, by the way.”
“Isn’t it?” He grinned. “Are you going to be freeze-rayed this morning?”
“Counterproposal,” I raised a hand. “You can’t freeze snowflakes…” laughter wrinkles the corners of his eyes and outbursts ran from my side. “With book protection rings.”
Neil raised his brows at this. “With what?”
I indicated his Freeze-ray with a nod, “Well, elaborate discussion and prose won’t change your mind. Go on then.”
He grinned maniacally and raised the Freeze-ray toward us. He sighted along the barrel one-handedly and pulled the trigger.
A flash of light and an explosion erupted. The snowflakes began screaming and breaking away from the chain. I released the two people I was human-chained to and stepped forward into the wreckage of the other side, where only party-goers and NPH sprawled out on the grass.
I lifted Neil back to his feet and patted his shoulders down. “If you were so bored,” I told him softly, “you ought to have used the yacht.”
He smiled at me, face covered in ash. “I ought to have used the yacht. ” He nodded, then grinned, “I’m sorry for recommending the three ladies. Neither of us are interested in frolicking with bikini clad women like they do in the rap videos.”
I stared at him for a heartbeat. “Speak for yourself.”