Liam is an educational content writer and aspiring fiction author from Perth, Western Australia. "Where do bugs go to read?" is in Short Circuit #13, Short Édition's quarterly review.

Image of Short Circuit - Short Circuit #13
Leaving her parents behind the second they all arrived together, Lucy tiptoed through the aisles of books that filled her local library. She was determined to find what she had always heard was lurking somewhere within the walls of the library. She had always heard whispers of it around the playground and in shady corners of classrooms. Hidden somewhere in the library was a smaller library, for all the beetles and the worms and the ants to borrow their books.
 
It made sense to Lucy the second she heard it. They couldn't borrow the same books as humans, because their hands were so small that they wouldn't be able to turn the pages. They would need their own library with special books just for them, and Lucy needed to know, where do the bugs go to read?
 
Lucy looked high and low, determined to find the insects' library. Under shelves and in between books, high, low, left and right. She picked up dusty tomes and pushed aside newly-released novels. She peered under tables, crawled on her hands and knees, and lifted up the edges of rugs.
 
"Where are you, little bugs?" she whispered. 
 
Her attention was caught by a fly, walking along one of the bottom shelves. She sneakily crept along behind it, trying to see where it was headed. Very slowly, the fly made its way along the shelf until, suddenly, it turned around and looked right at her. She had been caught! The fly flew into the air and she lost him.
 
But Lucy was determined. She wasn't going to let this set her back. Better yet, she had a plan. Finding the biggest book she could see in the library, Lucy tried to act casual and pretended to read. 
 
She figured that if the bugs saw that she wasn't watching them, they would let their guard down and lead her straight to their library. Every now and then, she would peek over the top of the massive hard-cover book, keeping her eyes peeled for the slightest movement. She felt like a world-class spy, searching for her target.
 
Nothing so far, she thought.
 
Time ticked by on the clock, with not a bug in sight.
 
Nothing yet, she sighed.
 
Lucy was almost ready to give up; the book she was pretending to read was too heavy and it smelt old, which made her nose feel itchy.
 
Just as she was thinking about calling it quits, there it was. A worm, no bigger than Lucy's finger, inching across the carpet. It was moving toward a battered, old shoe box, hidden away beneath a shelf. It was the same colour as the wall behind it, so she hadn't noticed it until now.
 
She shuffled her way closer, as quiet as could be. Lucy held her breath, careful not to make a sound. She watched as the worm squeezed its way through a hole in the side of the shoebox.
 
This was it. She had found it!
 
She laid down on the ground, eye-level with the box, and slowly, slower than she had ever moved in her entire life, she lifted the lid. Her fingers were getting covered in dust but she gripped the box lid tight. 
 
Inside the box, illuminated by a string of lights, bugs of all sorts sat reading tiny books. Worms and beetles sat at miniature tables and bite-sized sofas. Flies and ants wandered the aisles looking for something new to read. Hundreds of books, so small you could barely see them, lined the shelves inside the shoebox. Lucy looked at one of the books being read and the words were so microscopic that she couldn't even read what was written. 
 
Lucy's mouth fell wide open. More than anything she wanted to throw the lid into the air and shout for everyone in the library to come and see, but she didn't want to interrupt the insects. They looked so peaceful reading their books, so even though she wanted to reach right in and read what they were reading and share her discovery with the entire library, maybe even the world, she couldn't bring herself to do it.
 
As slowly as she had lifted it, she lowered the lid. Making sure to leave the box the same way she had found it, she wiped the dust from her hands.
 
She made her way back to her family. "So did you find it?" laughed her father.
 
"No, I couldn't find them," Lucy lied. "I'm sure they're out there, but I don't want to bother them."

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