Alligators in the Library -A Selection of Story Openings

Hi, today I’ve been experimenting with different ways of opening with the same scene – a character sees an alligator in the library. I don’t know when I might use this scene, but it was too weird an idea to ignore. If you want to use this as a prompt, go ahead and write your own version in the comments!

alligator

It had all started with the alligators in the library. Or perhaps it had started before then, but that was when I noticed – really noticed, that something wasn’t quite right. One doesn’t tend to expect to see a green scaly reptile as one is browsing the fantasy section, trying to decide between an old favourite or a new find, when suddenly, bam! There’s an alligator.

There are several differences between a crocodile and an alligator. Crocodiles favour saltwater habitats, whereas alligators are more common in swamps and lakes. Their snouts are different shapes – the crocodile’s forms a sharp v, whereas alligators are more rounded and u-shaped. And there wasn’t a crocodile in the library.

When one is quietly browsing the fantasy section of a mid-city library in Toronto, Canada, one of the last things one expects to find there is an alligator. Perhaps not the last thing – a whale, or a live dinosaur might be even less expected – but it was definitely near the top of the list.

It looked exactly like you might expect an alligator in a library to look – that is, surprising and unexpected – although if you expect there to be an alligator in the library, you might want to check your level of sanity. It opened its mouth to reveal a grin that was in no way the kind of sweet, reassuring smile that you get from a librarian – that is to say, the kind of smile you expect in a library – and was in many ways a threatening, terrifying leer filled with razor-sharp teeth. The kind you might expect from an alligator.

Or: It smiled in exactly the way that a nice, sweet little librarian doesn’t.

I was quietly browsing the shelves of my mid-town library, looking for an interesting fantasy book to read when, as I was replacing a book on the shelf a flash of green caught my eye. Intrigued, I looked up – and saw the alligator. I blinked in surprise. It blinked back, then opened its mouth in a grin, or a yawn, displaying its razor-sharp teeth and wafting the scent of rotting meat towards me. I dropped the book, eyes wide in shock or surprise or awe. Then I ran.

A curious grunting sound tickled my consciousness from outside the depths of the book I had picked up and started to read at my local library. It was enough to intrigue me, so I looked up from the creamy page and watched in a distracted fashion as the alligator rounded the corner of the stacks and wandered off into the sci-fi and fantasy section. I blinked, bemused, then went back to reading. It was a good book, after all.

Hope you enjoyed!


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