He would be quick, he reasoned as he ran, and the thing might not even be there to listen. When he reached the door, he knocked politely and then pressed his ear to the wood, to see if he could hear anything. At first, he wasn’t sure if he could, but gradually he became more certain that he could hear a faint breathing on the other side of the door.
Carefully, he reached up above his head and gently scratched once at the thin wood with his fingernail.
The breathing paused, and then resumed. Edmund scratched again, slower, drawing his finger from the middle of the door all the way to the bottom. There was a pause, and then whatever was on the other side scratched once, quick and short.
Edmund smiled as he scratched twice. The thing behind the door scratched three times. Edmund knocked twice, the thing knocked once. Edmund scratched a square, the thing a triangle. Edmund had to put his hand over his mouth to keep from giggling.
After a few minutes of this, Edmund paused to listen for the thing’s breathing. It was a little slower now, but still steady.
“It’s me, Edmund,” he said, quietly. “I’m sorry I took so long to come back, but I… I found the most wonderful thing! It’s a library, full of books! So many books that I’ll never be able to read them all, and…” he paused, wondering exactly what he should say to this strange specter that he had never seen. He pressed his face closer to the door. “And I wanted to say thank you. I’d have never gotten in without your help.”
Was it Edmund’s imagination? Or had the breathing gotten closer to the door?
“Anyway,” he said. “That’s all. I’ll leave you alone now, if you want.” There was silence. “Unless you want me to come back.”
Very faintly, there was the soft sound of a scratch, as though a single fingernail was being drawn slowly across the door. Edmund felt a chill as the nail scratched right next to his ear.
“You want me to come back?” Edmund asked. The scratch came again. “Okay, I promise I’ll try and come back at least once a week.” There was no response. Edmund nodded to himself, and stepped away from the door.
Why had he promised? It was true, this strange phantom had helped him and seemed to be the closest thing to an ally he had in Moulde Hall, but why did he say he would come back? Perhaps he felt some paradoxical kinship with this reclusive thing that seemed to just want to be left alone.
Besides, if it could help him once, it could help him again, and it wouldn’t hurt him much to spend a few minutes talking to it once a week. Satisfied, he turned quickly and ran back to the library.