"We Revolve Around You"

The Dakota Planet

"We Revolve Around You"

The Dakota Planet

"We Revolve Around You"

The Dakota Planet

By The Candle’s Light (part 1)


The party was a bore and I had no qualms about leaving.

Book tucked under one arm and skirts gathered in the other, I silently slipped out the side door. Few partygoers occupied the corridor by the ballroom; mostly couples seeking a moment to themselves. They barely spared me a glance as I walked past.

Music, talking, and the clinking of champagne glasses followed me up the stairs. It was a loud party and took a long time to fade. I could still hear it, a background buzz, when I shut the library door. Only then did I find complete silence.

My uncle’s library was vast, though that was in size, rather than quality of books. Most of them were fakes, meant to look pretty on the numerous shelves. Those in Uncle’s study were real and excruciatingly boring. All the good stuff I kept in my room.

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Still, the library was my refuge. Its large gothic-style windows offered lots of light over the window seats, while towering book cases cast the rest of the place into shadow. I’ve only lived here a few months and had yet to explore most of it. Who knows, maybe some real books did exist in this place. But for tonight, while my Aunt and Uncle entertained their guests, I was more than content to just sit and read.

Or I would have, if my usual seat hadn’t already been taken.

I may have said some less-than-polite words in my shock, and the young man sitting there snapped his attention onto me, just as startled as I was.

Face growing hot; I barely heard his apology as I bent down to retrieve the book I had dropped. He reached it first, handing it to me with more words I barely heard since now I was the one apologizing. I took it quickly, clutching it to my chest like a barricade against the embarrassment. Although, why should I be embarrassed? This was my house, my spot that he was in.

“Who are you?” My tone may have been less-than-friendly. Fortunately I managed to refrain from any vulgar language (Aunt has been trying to beat the habit out of me and I know if I did it in company word will some how get back to her. It always does.)

“Sorry, I’ll be out of your way.”

He tried to dash past me. Too late; I was intrigued. Still hugging the book close, I turned to him.

“Hold on. You weren’t trying to get away from the party, were you?”

“You’re here too.” Something akin to a sly smile spread across his face when he turned to me.


“So, you like thriller novels, huh?”


He gestured to my book.

“Ah, yes.” Right. I should have figured that. He obviously would have seen the title on the spine when he picked it up. “Aunt thinks I have a peculiar taste in literature.”

“I don’t doubt that. So, should I leave you alone, Miss…”

“Flo. I go by Flo.” I glanced around. Took in the bookcases, the plush arm chairs barely anyone used, the lit-up grounds of the house just beyond the window. It was so much more peaceful up here, and I obviously wasn’t the only one trying to get away. “No, stay. I think of this place as mine, but… it’s alright.”

“Thank you, Miss Flo.”

The young man settled into an armchair. I took the window seat, still a little warm from when he’d been sitting there. He had his book, I had mine. From the look of the cover, his also was a thriller mystery (that new Agatha Christe novel, I think.) Silence lapsed over us.

Except, I couldn’t focus on the page in front of me. I found myself reading the same sentence over and over again. Eventually my eyes strayed around the room. To the false books. To the boy just across from me. (Was it just me, or was he also looking up?) To the window, and the vast view it held.

The gardens were lit up with paper lanterns and few party goers braved the chill October night to wander around leaf strewn paths. No matter how many times Aunt had the servants rake, more always fell. I admired the trees for constantly defying my scary old aunt like that. If only I were so brave.

My eye drifted to the edge of the garden, that part in half-shadow. A dark figure darted around the tree line. Not a guest, surely. They disappeared, leaving only swaying branches in their wake.

Imagined or not? I wondered. Maybe the mystery novels were getting to my head. Wouldn’t Aunt be happy? finally with a reason to get rid of them.

“So,” I said, turning to my companion. “I never did learn your name.”

He hesitated then said, “Eugene.”

“What, your mother not like you or something?”

His checks turned scarlet. “Hey, you asked, Miss Flo. What’s that short for, anyway?”

Now it was my turn to blush. Perhaps I shouldn’t have laughed at him.

“Come on, it can’t be worse than mine.”

I mumbled it, though that didn’t divert him. I gave into his coaxing. “Fine. It’s Florence. Though only Aunt and Uncle call me than, so can you please just stick with Flo?”

“Oh come on, it’s pretty.” A cheeky smile from Eugene and I turned so he couldn’t see my blush.

My laugh didn’t last long. Something was… amiss. Something in the atmosphere had changed. But what?

“Hey Florence, so what–”


I stood, letting my book fall off the seat. A cold draft rustled past my skirt. A glance at the window proved nothing; it was shut firm and tight.

The house was old; it came with the whole assortment of creaks, groans, and drafts. Waking up in the middle of the night was horrible when you had yet to memorize its patterns.

But I rarely found things unfamiliar in the library.

The draft picked up again, cold against my bare arms. This time – I had to strain to hear it – this time it carried a whisper. No intelligible words, but something nonetheless.

“Do you… hear that?”

“Are you alright?”

I shivered. Realizing I wasn’t alone, I promptly recovered from my mini-trance. “Yes, quite alright.”

I sat back down, smoothed my skirts, and retrieved my book. I tried going back to the page. The words didn’t drag me into their world like they usually did. The mysteries and dangers the heroine of my book found herself in suddenly didn’t seem so captivating.

I shut the book, finally giving into my frustrations.

“I’m going to wander around the library,” I announced. It was only a second later that I didn’t really why. “If – if you care to join.” Wow. What a lousy explanation, I berated myself.

Yet to my surprise Eugene stood up. “Alright. I’ll come with.”

“Why?” You keep that big mouth shut, Flo.

“Why not? Unless you don’t want me to.”

“It’s not up to me what you do.”

“But aren’t you the lady of the house?”

“No that’s my Aunt.”

“Careful with that tone, or I’ll think you don’t like me.”

“Do what you want; I’m going exploring.”

I tucked my book into my pocket and turned away, head held high.

The whisper had returned and I didn’t know if I should tell him. Perhaps he already thought I was crazy – me, a young lady sneaking away from her rich relative’s party to read in a dark corner of the library. Hearing voices wouldn’t help, even if it was a new occurrence.

It was easier to discern, though barely; “Take the path…. Find the missing…” As clear as a disembodied voice could be.

“Hey Eugene–” I stopped when I saw the look on his face. He heard it too.

“Do we go look for it?”

A nod. “Lead on, lady of the house.”

I grinned, my unease melting away.

I showed Eugene every part of the library I knew; the real book section; the study area with its mahogany desks and green glass reading lamps; the second floor which was reached by a grand spiral staircase. He too was appalled by the number of false books in the place.

It must have been an hour or so later that we stood overlooking the main floor from the area by the stairs.

“Big place you got here. Must get lonely. No siblings or cousins.”

“Yeah, just my Aunt and Uncle. They took me in when my parents died.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yes…” If I had another thought, I let it drift off. My parents were secretive folks, but I loved them. At least they hadn’t been as strict as Aunt was. It was a miracle, too, since Mother was also raised in this very house, by the same aunt that was now raising me.

“May I ask–”

“No. I know a year isn’t a lot, but it’s still too soon.”

He nodded, understanding.

I don’t know why I squirmed under his pity. “Enough dreary thoughts, there’s more to see.”

“In a library this big? I don’t believe it, Florence.”

My scowl at the name barely lasted. A grinned replaced it as I motioned for him to follow.

Since I was a little girl and visited the house on holidays, one corner of the library has always frightened me. Complete opposite to my airy window seat, this part of the library was always shrouded in shadow because the windows here faced an oddly positioned wall of the house. Despite my fear, something made me return here often.

Moonlight illuminated our path, but I grabbed a candle as we passed by. At the very far end the corridor ended suddenly. The only decoration of any sort was an ugly painting of a centuries-old woman. Her hair and cloths were outdated, though very gothic to my untrained eye.

I paused here and presented the sight like I had painted it myself.

“Well? What do you think?”

Eugene put a hand to the dark green wallpaper. “It’s cold.”

“Always is around here.”

“No this is like a ‘something is Not Right here’ type of cold.”

“I know.” Just like that draft I felt earlier.

My candle flickered, dancing in a current of air I had yet to feel.

“Is it just me or–”

“–Is the candle pointing?” We exchanged a look.

First the flame went to the painting, just once, then to the nearest book case.

“False, all of them,” I said when I investigated.

“Are you sure?”

“If I weren’t sure I wouldn’t–” A gasp from me when I painfully bumped my hip on a low shelf – and knocked something aside.

A book. So old the title had worn off. But also the only real one on the shelf. Passing the candle to Eugene, I pulled it off the shelf.

Immediately a groan and heavy scraping filled the air. Eugene pulled me out of the way as the wall slid aside. I couldn’t help but think the woman’s painted eyes were fixed on us as she slid behind a bookcase.

That feeling of unease was soon replaced by astonishment as a new corridor opened up before us like the gaping mouth of some horrible beast. Mildew and age of centuries past wafted from it. The candle flicked uncontrollably and I feared it would go out altogether.

“I assume you didn’t know about this, did you Flo?”

“No, I was perfectly knowledgeable of the fact that my uncle’s house contained hidden passages. I take a stroll down one every day. Why need sunshine when you have this dank place?”

Eugene eyed me, unamused. His gaze didn’t stay there for long.

“Well in that case, my lady.” He offered his arm as any gentleman would. I took it, still looking straight ahead.

The whispering had returned, urging us forward. From the tilt of Eugene’s head I think I heard it too.

I took the first step into the unknown. As soon as we were over the threshold, the wall slid shut again, locking us in a perpetual darkness pierced only by the candle’s light.

“Well, I guess the only way is forward.”


Part Two of the Story

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Daria Okruta
Daria Okruta, writer
Daria Okruta is currently a senior. This is her first year working at Dakota Planet and she hopes to make it a good one. In her spare time she likes to read and write. In the near future she hopes to publish some of her novels.
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