(Artist: Meeee) (Music: Farewell Life)
Walking into this particular store was something Red had never particularly considered. It was old, it was decrepit, it was flat out... Dingy. Even by the low standards he's come to expect of Needle Eye. It was a general goods store with a faded wood sign with white paint that read "The Dusty Shelf". They apparently specialized in books but Red couldn't remember the last time he even saw someone read a book, let alone walk into this store and buy one.
It'll be me, he thought, I will be the first person I know that walked into this store and I'm going to buy something. He had been bored since moving to Needle Eye from Oilville and this was just the thing he needed to lighten his life. A fine book and a few chocolate ants would really cheer him up.
Red, in his muscular frame and olive skin, opened the door to the store and stepped inside. His nostrils were immediately assaulted by a smell that he couldn't quite place, but it had to be a mix of fecal matter and dust balls. He felt like he just stepped into an animals carcass. But he made up his mind. He was going to buy something here!
"Hello..." came a weak mutter. Red turned on his feet to see an old man, hunched over with a walking cane made of wood and a big smile on his face. A combover on the elderly gentlemans head gave Red the creeps but he seemed friendly enough "How're you doing today young man?" he asked
"Uh. Fine, sir. Thank you."
"Can I help you find anything?"
"Nothing specific. I just thought I'd take a look."
"Alrighty." the old man beamed as he started a slow turn "I'll be behind the counter reading my book if you need me."
Red just nodded as the librarian shuffled away, a tiny 'thud' could be heard with every step and placement of his cane.
The store itself looked like it had been dusted and shined every day for a year, despite the smell, it looked like it was in better shape than most buildings in the Plateau. The shelves were stocked, none were crooked and everything looked rubbed down with polish. Even the books.
Red started on the opposite end of the store from the counter and made his way through every aisle, reading book titles. "How to Survive A Blightwolf Attack" "Mugged By A One Armed Bandit" "True Tales From Beyond the Death Zone" "The ChotA Menace!" and Reds personal favorite "101 Ways to Protect Your Child from Hungry Techs" with a picture of a man clad in typical Tech gear posing like a grizzly bear scaring a crying toddler.
"You have anything a little less..."
"Corny?" said the old man with a smile
Red smiled back "Heh. Yes."
The old man closed his book and showed it to Red. It's title, "The Perfect End", caught Red's attention because it was the only book that seemed not entirely... Lame.
"What is it about?" he asked
"Life and how to make the end... Perfect."
Red didn't appreciate the cryptic answer but it was interesting
"Do you have any other copies?"
"No," the librarian said, sliding the book across the counter "I've had this one for several years, read it over and over. It's time to pass it on."
"Thanks. How much do I owe you?"
"No charge. This has been a perfect end for me."
Once again, Red was slightly weirded out by the old man's cryptic messages. But he thanked the librarian anyway and went about his business. He found out a week later that the old man had passed away and, with a lack of proper funeral services, Red made a cross in his backyard in honor of the elderly man.
Years went by. Red married. Red had children. Red experienced pain, and suffering. Love, joy, misery and sadness. Hand in hand. Slowly, his wife passed away and his kids grew up and moved away. But he read that book every day. Finishing it at least once a year. And after so many years, after he himself became elderly, he opened a bookstore, right in Needle Eye. "The Dusty Shelf" and under his sign he wrote "Reopened". Business was slow, costumers were a rare commodity until one day. He came in. A little boy in a dirt covered hoodie. Eyes red, from tears, exhaustion, or both he could not tell. Immediately, Red knew he found the books next owner. Someone else that could use, The Perfect End.
"Thanks mister!" the little boy said before dashing out of the bookstore in cheer. A smile grew on Red's face as he sat back down at his chair and closed his eyes.
A week later, that little boy found out that the old man had passed away and, with a lack of proper funeral services, made a cross.
"He'll be sure to like this!" Aventae said, turning around and giggling. "Here, this is for you." she said with a smile on her face.
"Thank you..." replied Red, a tear coming down his face as he took the cross in his hands.
"You're welcome, mister." she said before opened the book he had given her just last week "It really is a good read!" she said happily.