The bookstore was a small, unassuming building tucked away between an equally small, unassuming restaurant and a clothing shop. It was easily passed over in favor of the shop, and was often overlooked even in the heat of the summer evenings, when both tourists and locals rampaged the streets, drunk and loud and overbearing. The plaque hanging above the door simply bore the name “Bookstore”, while in the window, a hand-made sign announced the shop as “Antique Literature, One of a Kind” in fancy script. Whenever someone actually deigned to step inside (usually just to escape the heat), a small bell rang above their head, bringing attention to the potential customer. But there was rarely anyone to pay attention to them, and after standing awkwardly in the dusty entrance, eyes taking in the over-stuffed chairs, shelves and piles of old tomes, and complete lack of technology save for the mandatory lighting fixtures, the perplexed tourist left, desperate to get back to the loud party and out of the stifling, cemetery-like silence of the book shop. Of course, there were people there that came with a purpose. Book collectors, antique hunters, people who had nothing better to do would sometimes notice the shop out of the corner of their eye, arms already full of pawn shop trash and Barnes&Noble purchases. They would step inside with wide eyes, taking in the eighteenth century demeanor the shop exuded in stride. Some would browse aimlessly through the books, hoping to stumble on a gem or two. Others would search knowingly, the feeling that the book they'd been after their whole life was there, somewhere. No one ever saw the shopkeeper until it came time to pay, but when they did, it was as if the experience of visiting this particular store was complete. He was just like his shop, all pomp and old-time class, as though he had been frozen somewhere in the 1700s and recently thawed out before being thrown into the present. He wore a waist-coat, intricately embroidered with golden threads, and spoke with a light French accent, voice smooth and deep and void of extreme emotion. His hair, black and long, was held up by a ribbon! And he often sported a pair of spectacles, either around his neck or hanging from his long, thin nose. He had the charming air of a gentleman in his late twenties or early thirties, something completely foreign to most people, and would tally up the sale by hand, write down the receipt by hand, and would count out the change himself, all the while carrying a light-hearted (and often one-sided) conversation about the state of political affairs in colonial England. Then the customer, satisfied with their purchase, would step out into the world once more, becoming confused for several moments about the modernness of it all before remembering that they truly did belong in this century. Nicolas lived above his shop. His living quarters, unsurprisingly, were just as lost in time as the rest of him, and that's the way he liked it. On this particular evening, he hadn't had a single customer come in, and had closed up shop early. It wasn't uncommon for him to go weeks without any kind of outside contact, and with the age of 'e-readers' coming on strong, he had a feeling that customers would be even more scarce. He lived alone, without a pet, a companion, or even a television. Just his books, which he'd read over and over again in his long life. There were no electronics to be found, save again, the mandatory lights. But even those were never used. Nicolas preferred candle light, and had wallpapered all of the electrical sockets and light switches when he'd first moved in. He did own a phone- and old, antiquated piece with a rotary dial that didn't have voice-mail and was used only to conduct business. It began to ring only moments after he walked through the door, and he had to turn around and dash back downstairs to get to where it was in the back-room of the main shop. “Hello?” The voice on the other end was nasally and sounded far away, a testament to how terrible the phone was. They spoke briefly of books and how much would Nicolas pay for a copy of this, that or the other, and then they hung up, mutually satisfied and feeling like they got the better deal. The sun was setting, and the weekend rush was beginning. Nicolas took off his glasses, which he only needed to wear during the day, as his eyes were especially sensitive to sunlight, and left them on the table. He was hungry, and not in the usual way, either. A cow or some other unsuspecting beast wouldn't be enough this time. Heading back up the stairs, Nicolas hated himself even as he plotted where to go to eat that night. He couldn't rightly eat in his town. It would stir things up, and he couldn't afford for the police to come and start prying. The eccentric man with the books would probably be the first suspect in a murder. Instead, he'd have to go out, maybe a hundred miles in any direction, into farm country or a nearby town. Somewhere where he couldn't be tracked back. Back in his room, Nicolas stripped quickly before pulling out the only 'modern' articles of clothing he owned. A pair of jeans (appalling!), a black t-shirt (uncomfortable), and military-style combat boots. He slipped on the ensemble, untied his hair, leaving it to flow about his face and get caught in places it had no business being, and then stole out through the window, not wanting to alert the neighbors or the tourists of any activity on his behalf. Two hours later found him in a sleepy little farm town, where he quickly found his target. She was older, in her late forties, and sat alone at the bar of a sad little excuse of a club. Nicolas had sidled up to her, struck up conversation, and after purchasing her a few drinks, they were on their way back to her place. She wasn't unattractive. But then again, with the amount of time it had been since he'd last fed properly, Nicolas found anything with a pulse to be automatically appealing. She was eager, primitive instincts not catching on to the obvious danger she was in as they stumbled through the front door, hands roaming over each other curiously, desperate to get past cloth and buttons and belts. At one point, Nicolas ripped her shirt completely off, but neither of them minded, because it wouldn't matter in the morning anyway. She kissed him first, and at that point, he wasted no time in laying her down and taking what he needed. By the time she noticed, it was too late and all of her feeble attempts to get away from him, to scream, amounted to nothing. She was dead fifteen minutes later, and after extracting himself from her cold grip, Nicolas began the meticulous task of cleaning the scene. Like washing dishes after a particularly filling meal. He took her to the bathroom, washed his prints off of her body, and left her in the tub, splayed out in the least degrading manner possible. And then, pointedly ignoring the framed photographs of what looked like her children and friends, cleaned the rest of the living room, wiping down all of the surfaces before collecting his shirt and heading out the way he'd come in. He slipped into his house just as the sun was coming up and he closed the blinds, disgusted at himself even as he felt full to the point of satisfaction. Stripping quickly, he made his way to the bed and fell in. No one would come to the shop anyway.