Rain pattered down on the sidewalks, dripping down the grim, brick facades of the buildings as though they were weeping for losses unknown. Nothing seemed to stir, and little could be heard other than the sound of droplets on pavement—except for the echoing tap of Sebastian’s shoes as he strode down the empty street. His gray suit jacket matched the sky in all it’s melancholia and austerity, the button down underneath it as pale blue as ice. Water trickled through his snowy hair and caused it to loose it’s combed-back neatness, unraveling a bit at the tips, and the man tightened his jaw with forced composure as he endeavored to ignore this occurrence. Straightening his jacket and rolling the tension from his angular shoulders, he didn’t waste his time glancing about, the simple reason being that he already knew where he was going, and that certainty, that resolve, reduced everything else around him to mere trivial distractions. Instead, his eyes, a dark auburn color in the surrounding gloom, fixated on the space ahead of him with the steadfast accuracy and will of an expertly shot arrow. Then, in front of a black building, he slowed his pace and halted. The words “Black Cat Books” were written in golden letters above a large stained-glass window, opaque enough that you could see vague shapes beyond it’s crackled surface, though you couldn’t discern just what those shapes might be. Perhaps from the outside, it didn’t look like much. Then again, Sebastian knew better than to judge a book by it’s cover. Pushing open the heavy wooden door, he stepped inside and inhaled the comforting smells of dust and worn paper. The lighting was dim, dimmer than he recalled it ever being, and perhaps he would have wondered whether the store was actually closed—if, of course, he had been unaware that it was approximately five-thirty in the afternoon, and that the bookstore didn’t close until ten in the evening, or eleven on Fridays and Saturdays. He reckoned that it was the dismal, gray light that seeped in through the store’s front and upper windows that lent the space this dark atmosphere, like the library of a madman. The space was narrow but tall—and long, like a hallway—and a curvaceous grand staircase, steps a sinful color of red, stood at the store’s center, leading up to the small upper loft. And the books. The books were everywhere: in piles, on shelves, atop desks. They colored the room in blue and green and red and gold, tinting the air like a kaleidoscope of knowledge yet to be known. All you had to do was pry open one of the covers, and, even if just for a few hours, the world was yours. Sebastian ran a hand slowly through his hair, cracking his neck while momentarily allowing his eyelids to fall. When he opened them once more, they scanned the walls with the unwavering intensity of a predator, and, hands folded behind his back, he slowly began to make his way around the store where all the unthinkable laid in wait.