We're back from holidays and Chuck Wendig has got us working our imaginations overtime again. This week, we were given two lists of 20 titles and have to pick one from each... make a title and write a story to it... Mine is the above title... and the rest is the below story. :D
Map-making isn’t the first impression you get from this place when you first walk in. In fact it looks just like any other bookshop – even from the street.
The place is lined with books – aisles of book, from floor to ceiling. It truly is a book-lovers paradise.
It’s idealic and purely decadent as the back wall stretches out far into the distance, so far it seems ot vanish into a fog haze. You take a hesitant step forward… then another.
“You need a map.” An old voice says behind you.
Turning, you find an old man standing by the door, “A map? It’s just a bookstore.”
A knowing smile grows on his face, “Ah, yes, that’s what I thought when I first entered here… and, are you a cartographer?”
Shaking your head, you frown, “No, but…”
“Then you will need this.” He hands you a well-folded, yellowing map, “Just don’t lose the damned thing.” He turns to leave.
“Hang on, what do you mean? This is just a bookstore, right?”
With his hand on the handle, he looks to the floor, then casts a sideways glance your way, “Not exactly, mate, not exactly.” Before you can ask anymore questions, he yanks on the door and is gone!
With the map in your hands, you turn to find yourself halfway down the first aisle you were looking at when you came in, “Shit.” You mutter wondering what to do next. You pull out your phone, but there’s no signal. Looking around again, finding the door is even further behind you than a moment ago, almost lost in the haze of mist, “Damn!” you gotta start looking around before you really do get lost, and you have taken your first physical step yet!
Panicking a little, you search the shelves to see what’s around you:
‘Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemmingway
‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
‘He Died With A Felafel in His Hand’ by John Birmingham
‘Labyrinth’… now that doesn’t sound right… that’s not a travel novel.
You pick this one off the shelf. Its red, leather cover is worn and has darkened over time. It looks as though it’s been on this shelf for decades. Flipping through it, you find it’s a how-to guide to maps and doorways… especially hidden doorways. Looking up, you watch in amazement as a cockroach runs along the shelf in front of you and then vanishes into the next support of the bookcase!
Hesitantly, putting your hand against the bookshelf, where it vanished, you find a whole section of the wall you thought was there, well, not there, “Holy crap… I mean… wow!”
You take a step forward into the gap.
Your head jerks up. You’ve been sleeping… but for how long?
And was that a cash register?
Scrambling to your feet, you wonder how long you’ve been here?
And how long has this sword and scabbard been slung across your waist? Oh… you remember now! You scored this during a battle with another just like you; but they had been here longer and were screaming mad. All you did was show them your mobile phone and they babbled something incomprehensible and threw the sword at the ground and ran.
But then, you woke up on the ground… now, how’d you get there? Oh, that was more recent, “Oh, shit the squirrel.” You remember vaguely coming across that little rodent and finding out he spoke to you (and you put his talking down to dehydration and hunger). He offered to share his collection of nuts with you for the Winter. His idea of that was hurling them at your head with pinpoint accuracy! This is how you scored yourself an egg-sized lump on the side of your head!
That came from your left!
Running, you pass along aisles of books, cut a left, then a right, then you see your opportunity and climb up and up and up to the very top of a bookcase! Book crash and fall in your wake as your leave the ground behind and you find higher peaks to search for your way out of this bookshop.
As you run along the top, dodging over books, you hear it again…
“Thank you, sir, come again.” Money changes hands and the door opens. The bell jingles as it closes. The cash register closes with a loud clunk and all is quiet! You jump down from your look out and walk to the front counter. The book you were looking for is right by the counter. You were coming here to buy it for Monty’s birthday… it was right where he said it would be. You pick it up and look at it, wondering why you didn’t see it before, “Can I help you?”
Looking up from the book, you see the old man from before! The one who left you behind and let you get lost in this horrible place for only the Gods knew how long! For a moment you can’t talk!
“Me what?” he asks.
You stand there your mouth flapping like a dying fish, not knowing what to say, “You left me here to get lost!”
“I gave you a map, and you figured out how to get out of here sooner than most.” He smiled, “And you found that book for your friend’s birthday.” How did he know that? He takes it from me gently and put it through the machine and you pay for it in silence, “There you go, have a nice day.” He slots the book into a bag for you and you take and it leave.
At Monty’s party, everyone’s having a great time. He’s got a huge pile of presents – as it’s a combined graduation party from uni too. Then, he notices your book from the bookshop and picks it from the pile, signalling you should follow him into his study.
“So, you found the store?” he grins closing the door from the noise, “Totally spinny place, eh?”
You nod taking a large gulp of scotch, “Yeah. It’s the right one?”
Pulling it out of the bag, he smiles fondly running a hand over the cover, “Yep, it is.” Looking up, he holds your gaze, “So, did the squirrel smack you in the head with the nuts too?”