“Just get in and don’t ask questions.”
“Why should I? The last time you told me that our next talk wasn’t going to be pleasant. How do I know what you’re going to do?”
“You don’t know.” He pulled his gun, “get in now.”
Brandy obeyed. As soon as he got in the driver’s side he leaned over and unlocked her cuffs, then drove away. He wondered how he was going to explain what had happened and whether he would he be able to stay out of the character the book had put him in. If so, how long?
“Miss Watters, what do you like to read?”
Brandy was beginning to think this guy was operating on fumes. First he scares her with an interrogation, then cuffs her and pulls a gun on her and then releases the cuffs? What was his game? “What?” she asked, too surprised to process the question.
“Just answer the question. What do you like to read?”
“Fiction. Mysteries. Anything good. I like old books.”
“Yeah, before being in the cell, I’d thought I was reading an old book in a bookstore, but found myself in that cell. Now you’re asking me what kind of book I like reading. What’s going on?”
“We’re inside a story.”
“Everyone’s in a story.”
“No. Not that way. I was reading that same book. I found it in a bookstore in 1942.”
“Okay. Let me take this slow… I’m not sure how much the book knows, but please try to understand. What was the weather like when you remember reading the book?”
“You’re nuts.” Brandy pulled herself as close to the passenger door as she could. This guy was absolutely crazy and she had to find a way to get away from him.
“Tell me. Was it storming outside when you were reading the book?”
“Yes,” she said, wanting to humor him until she could figure out what to do.
“Do you remember something that surprised you in the story?”
“Wait,” it was beginning to come back to her, “first the book started out ‘In the summer of 1942’ and I wondered what happened. The book was about someone’s disappearance in 1642. Then…wait, the character in the book was Jonathan Wilson. That was you? No. This is crazy.”
“I told you to put the book down, but it was too late.”
Jonathan pulled the car over, “a person can only escape when another is sucked in to take the other person’s place. I was next in line to be released and you took my place.”
“But how did you come back?”
“I took the place of the next guy, Heinrich Muller.”
“And Heinrich Muller was the bad guy. That’s why you looked like you recognized me when we were in that cell.”
“Yes. I came back to find a way to break the curse of this book.”
“If you were able to come back and we’re able to talk about it; does that mean the book doesn’t know everything?”
“That’s a fair assumption, but how do we escape?”
“I don’t know. I think we need help from someone beyond us. Someone outside.”
“I don’t know.”
“Look behind us.”
Brandy turned around and could see flashing lights coming their way. “What are we going to do?”
“I need to see what’s up. It may be that he’s not even after us. If we run, it’s sure to get his attention.” He told her while getting his gun ready and concealed.
The police car pulled in behind Jonathan. Jonathan watched through the rear view mirror as the police officer sat in his car for a few minutes. A thought came to Jonathan, “Quick, let me cuff you.”
She held her hands out and he snapped the cuffs on. Then he rolled down the window for the officer who was walking up to his window.
“Can I help you officer?” Jonathan asked, handing the cop his ID, “I didn’t think I was speeding.”
“No sir, you weren’t speeding, but it’s passed curfew. I need to ask what you’re doing out so late.” The officer looked at the ID, “Oh, I’m sorry sir. I didn’t realize you were secret police. The officer, who’d been polite enough already, was suddenly more respectful, which let Jonathan know they were still safe.
“Yes, I’m transporting a prisoner to another facility.” The officer shined his light at Brandy, who had her cuffed wrists in her lap so they could be seen.
“Isn’t it late to be transporting a prisoner?”
Jonathan quickly winked at the officer, “Special interrogation.”
“Please help me,” Brandy pleaded to the officer, “I didn’t do anything wrong….”
“Oh, I see. Well, I just needed to check. Thank you sir.” If the secret police wanted to give someone special interrogations, who was he to interfere?
“Thank you officer…?”
“Thank you officer Blake. I will certainly report your diligence.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Officer Blake handed Jonathan’s ID back to him and walked away. Jonathan watched the cop as he got into his car. Soon the cop pulled out and passed them by. When Jonathan was certain the police officer was gone, he took the cuffs off Brandy’s wrists.
Jonathan looked where she was pointing up through the windshield of his car. He stared dumfounded at a huge billboard that was about a hundred feet away. The background was black with white letters that seemed to glow,
Only he who has reversed the change and of his own accord returned
The same who has reverted to whom he was made to be
Can liberate the other and help set the captive free.
Seek for the Sword that Lives.
They looked at each other and then at the billboard.
“What does it mean?” Brandy asked, still staring at the billboard.
Jonathan was silent for a few minutes, staring up, thinking about all the events. Finally he turned to her and said, “I think it means that because I came back in the book to try to help, and I was able to break out of the character the book would have had me play I can do something to break the hold this book has on us. But I can’t figure out, ‘seek the sword that lives.’
Brandy thought a moment as well, “I think,” she responded slowly, “it might have something to do with the way my grandparents believed. They were Christians.”
“Christians? What does being a Christian have to do with it?”
“When I was in school, I sometimes spent summers at their house with my cousins. They took us to church. There was a pastor who always started his sermons with a quote about a sword.” Brandy scowled, “I can’t remember it now.”
Jonathan pulled back out on the road and began to drive.
“Where are we going?”
“I don’t know, but driving is better than just sitting. We don’t want any more unwanted attention.”
After driving in silence for a while, Brandy put her hand on Jonathan’s arm. “There’s something I don’t understand,”
“If the book is evil, why did we get a message like that billboard?”
“Maybe it wasn’t meant for us?”
“But I think it was.”
“Maybe there’s something stronger than the book that forces it to help us?”
“If that is the case, there’s probably more help out there than we realize, but there’s something that concerns me.”
“The evil part of the book won’t like that it’s being forced to help us. We need to be very cautious.”
“On the other hand, it might be that the book wants a good story and there isn’t a good story if the bad guys or the good guys always win.”
Brandy nodded her head, and then brightened, “Wait, that preacher said something about the Bible being a sword. Something about being ‘alive and active.’”
“The Sword that Lives!”
She smiled at him and at that moment something happened as they looked into each other’s eyes.
“I think we’re tired,” Jonathan mumbled after a moment, “Let’s go to my house. You can sleep in the spare bedroom.”
He turned down a residential street, turned again and headed back the way they’d come. Brandy sat quietly on the passenger side dozing while Jonathan continued to drive home.
When they arrived, he showed her the spare bedroom and he went to his. Neither of them had any trouble falling asleep.
Brandy awoke to the aroma of bacon and coffee. She straightened the wrinkles out of her shirt and made her way to the kitchen. She found that Jonathan seemed to like hiking and photography. There were pictures of mountain and desert trails on the walls, and trail high above an ocean vista where she could see the view for miles out to sea. She found Jonathan pouring a couple of mugs of coffee. Bacon and eggs were already cooked. They sat down to breakfast.
“I think we need go to a library.” he said.
“We might be able to find the answer in a library, because a library is about books.”
At that time, a knock came to the door. Jonathan scowled, “Go to the back bedroom.”
While Brandy scuttled away, Jonathan answered the door. It was the cop from the night before.
“Officer Blake. What can I do for you?”
“I reported the incident last night sir, and I’ve been ordered to take the prisoner back to the station and you are to report to the super.”
“Come on in, Blake, she’s in the back room. Just go on down the hall. It’s the second door on the right.”
Jonathan followed Blake, picking up a nearby walking stick by the door, raised it and swung, effectively knocking the officer unconscious.