Feb. 20 - All libraries will be closed for Presidents' Day.
"What just happened"? That was the question I asked myself out loud after fininshing the final page of The Smaller Evil. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it--but that's what I liked about it, and that's why I think you should try it out yourself.
The Smaller Evil is about a guy named Armand who is dealing with anxiety, among other things. He meets an interesting fellow named Beau and follows him to a self help retreat center. Right away Armand does not fit in and stuggles with the new group so he decides to leave the retreat. His exit does't last long, as he is a witness to a pretty sad event that brings him back to the compound. But once he's back things do not go as he expected. Is he crazy? Are the people at the compound crazy? Is it us, the reader who has gone mad? Read it and decide for yourself.
Crisp, fresh air pillowed itself in my lungs and drifted out back into the unpolluted atmosphere of the castle’s surrounding city. With a lazy breath, I scanned the horizons in an attempt to subside my inevitable boredom and prove myself a worthy citizen. Plucking small forms out of the evening sun miles away gave me a sense of importance without having to do anything involving human-oriented interaction. That, of course, was Ross’s job. Shifting from a family of giants off in the distance, my eyes swooped into the townspeople’s dwellings. With a quick scan, I found Ross tending to a small cluster of children. A girl wearing a makeshift knight costume was explaining the dilemma to him as a tiny boy clutched a fiddle to his chest behind her. With a slow nod, Ross straightened and began to gently scold the three boys standing sheepishly off to the side. Once he had cleared his rules over with the young boys, he sauntered off, but not before the tiny fiddler tugged on his shirt and handed Ross a slightly wilted yellow flower from the fields just outside the city’s west gate. I didn’t need any visual confirmation to feel the large smile that had formed on the huge teen’s mouth—the very smile had sent shockwaves through my spine—but was this a good vibration? Nevertheless, I had winced at the feeling. Deciding I had enough time to myself, my fancy robes fluttered around the tower’s corners and through the stone corridors. Just as I reached the large wooden doors to the outside world, my mother grabbed me by the collar. “Kai, be a dear and go run this to Mrs. Mayweather. It’s for my… medicine.” She pressed an envelope into my hands and twirled around to tend to kingdom affairs. My mother’s disease isn’t rare, but not common either. She suffers from a mental illness called lycanthropy, or in simpler terms, the belief that one’s self is a werewolf. Personally, I have never seen a werewolf before, but I know for sure that my mother is not one. She and my aunt were born into a family of wizards and mages. With a quick bound out the door, I scattered my thoughts and trotted down the main road. I branched off to the left and then to the left once more, into the more quieter and docile, Maior district. The peaceful district sent my feelings aflutter. My stress melted away more and more with every step I took. The tiny hum of life blew all around me—its soft whispers filling my head. An elderly woman stepped out of the cottage door and smiled at me. “Ah, Mrs. Mayweather. You were expecting me?” I asked, skepticism prickling along my tone. “Bah, don’t worry ‘bout it young man, come inside. Come. Come. I have what you need.” She made her way towards her medicine cabinet effortlessly, somehow avoiding all the clutter in the tiny home like it wasn’t even there. “Here, take this. Your mother’s probably pacing at the doorway already,” she then added with a wink, “Threw a little something extra in there for ‘ya.” I caught the package she tossed in my general direction and watched as Mrs. Mayweather walked further into her cramped living quarters. “Well, what more do ‘ya want from me? Get outta here, boy!” Hastily, I closed the door to the elderly woman’s house and hurried back to the castle. As I was twining through streets and alleyways, I slit the package open and examined the contents. Inside was my mother’s pill canister as well as an unknown bottle of more pills. The mysterious bottle wasn’t labeled at all its white cap read: “PUSH DOWN AND TURN LEFT.” In all caps. Fiddling with the somewhat sketchy drugs, I ran into the back of a large, middle-aged man. He spun around and gave me a look of disgust. The impact had enough force to push me back and make me drop the various medicine. “Oh, uh, I’m sorry sir. I’ll just be taking these now.” I reached for the mysterious bottle Mrs. Mayweather gave me, but he pulled his hand out of reach. “What are you doing with these?” He said with a snort. “Oh, do you know what they’re for?” He looked at me like I was crazy. I kind of was—carrying around drugs I didn’t even know what were used for. “These pills are for when situations get hairy. They can stop a beast of tremendous size dead in its tracks. An overdose can even be lethal, just one of these can kill a person in less than an half an hour. What would a boy like you be doing with pills like these, hmm?” I stuttered, but couldn’t work out my words. I knew I looked like an idiot to these commoners, but I jumped and whined at the man anyways. “Give them back, they’re mine!” I yelled to no use. The man held them higher above my head, my eyes glaring into the sun. “Give. Them. Back!” I said between jumps. “They were given to me by a local pharmacist. She prescribes my family’s medications.” My reasoning had no effect against the solid man. I growled in frustration and lunged into the air, swiping the drugs out of his hand and ducking as I hit the ground—his heavy fist swinging just above me. I twirled low to the ground, my leg kicked out and tripped the man. I hit him in the jaw as he went down and bolted out of there. Oh geez, there’s no way mom won’t find out about the tough, perfectly-good citizen getting beat up by a scrawny teenager over mysterious drugs. Taking the long way home was my largest regret; the silhouette of my mother blocking any entrance back into castle. “Kai, give me the pills.” I handed my mom her prescribed medications. “All of them.” She said sternly. I gingerly handed them over, looking shy and innocent. She snatched them up into her hands and stalked off. I was in for a big lecture later and there is no medicine that could heal whatever my mom was going to do.
Later that day, I found myself leaning against the railing of the castle tower. I’ve been hanging around up here quite frequently lately--maybe a little too much. My eyes drifted ever-so-slowly downwards as they followed the setting sun. The smooth, evening sounds of the kingdom drifted through the air. The pounding cranium that sat upon my neck fell into my hands. I ran my fingers through my silky black hair. What am I doing? I thought. If I can’t even interact with people, how am I to save lives, more-so my friends? Grunting in frustration, my fingers pressed harder into my skull.
“It’s not your fault, you know. You’re just overthinking everything.”
“Shut up, you don’t know anything!” I screamed at the person behind me before realizing who they were. Ali was unfazed by my prickling hostility. She silently leaned against the balcony; scanning my averting eyes.
“Hey, I know the events in the recent past are unfavorable to your liking,” Why does everyone use such complicated methods of expressing their sympathy with me? “But you can’t give up, if anyone could save the day—it’s you. I’ve seen you do it before, why not now?” Her voice wiped away my tears as her hand glided across my tense shoulder blades in a comforting way.
“How? How do I save the day this time? This isn’t a matter of boss fights—it’s a mystery that needs somebody of high intellect and skill to solve. This is the kind of thing that takes a real hero, someone, whom of which is not me, that can protect others and is born from pure justice and righteousness. Someone who is physically incapable of laying harm to others!” I half-screeched-half-whined. The look on Ali’s face and the emotional support radiating from her only made me angrier. I don’t know why, but they did. “Stop, just stop it! Go away and take your filthy sympathy with you! I don’t need your assistance! Leave! Me! ALONE!” My voice boomed across the castle, rumbling through the walls and bursting out into the kingdom. I felt the flames spike up from their hiding place, licking across my insides and burning every manner, every sensibility, every humanity within, leaving only primitive instincts. I ran into the dark dwellings, stomping down the hall and leaving Ali outside on the tower in the darkening night. Oh Alisson, how I’ve lost you. If you weren’t mine, than you shall never be after tonight, was the only thought swirling inside the cesspool of painful and ruthless feelings. Eventually, night broke into dawn; the way most evil surrenders to good. But not my evil.