I was given a challenge to write the book based on this Face Book post that Grammerly posted. I hope you enjoy it.
It was one of those glorious spring days in which the promise of summer reminded her of when she looked forward to the end of school. The sun filtered through the new green leaves and the breeze reminded her of traveling. She was looking forward to her road trip to Colorado in June.
Suddenly, she stopped. The old building she stood in front of had been built in 1904 and was one that she passed every day, but today there was something going on inside. She peered through the glass door and could see shelves being filled with old books. As she put her hand on the door handle, she noticed a sign; “'The Faded Cover Rare Books' will be open on May 25. We look forward to serving you.” Today was the 24th. She decided to go tomorrow and spend as much time as she wanted.
She loved old books and old buildings. This new rare book store looked to be someplace she would love spending time. From what she saw peering in the door, she could see that the new owners had taken great care to keep the look and feel of the old building. The walls were rough brick with old movie posters dating back to the silent film era. She caught a glimpse of Casablanca, Gone with The Wind and a few old Buster Keaton films.
Later that evening, while reading before bed, the phone rang.
“Hi Steph. What’s up?” she asked, noticing the caller ID indicated Stephanie Clark.
“Do you have plans tomorrow?”
“Well, yes, I do…”
“Break ‘em. Michael and I want to take you out tomorrow.”
“Whatever you had planned isn’t going to be as fun as what we’ve got planned. See you about ten.”
Steph. and Brandy had been friends since school. She had a way of leaving Brandy breathless every time she got an idea in her head. Most of the time Brandy enjoyed her friend’s take charge personality, but sometimes it was annoying. This evening Brandy was a trifle annoyed. Her plans mattered too.
In the morning, Michael and Stephanie picked up Brandy and they enjoyed the day in the city, going to the Marshall farmer’s market, visiting the blooming gardens and then to The Golden Eagle for a late dinner. When she got home, she was glad she’d gone with her friends. It was a great time together.
On Memorial Day Monday, Brandy spent some time in a few antique stores, and then made her way to the new rare bookstore. The black sky looked as if all the depths of a raging ocean had evaporated into it all at once. Suddenly, the rain started coming down in sheets. Lightening flashed, thunder boomed and golf ball sized hail began to fall. Brandy dashed into The Faded Cover. The first thing she noticed was that musty aroma of old books that seemed to always draw her in. It reminded her of her grandmother's library. The storm was just as well. It gave her an unneeded excuse to stay.
“Hello?” she called out to the store keeper.
There was no answer. That seemed odd, but she supposed he was caught in the storm somewhere and would be back as soon as the hail let up. She was pleased to see that between the massive shelves there were often chairs and tables.
She began to peruse the shelves, when suddenly she noticed a book, The Mysterious Disappearance of Jonathan Wilson, Profusely Illustrated, 1642. Feeling drawn to the title, she opened it and found, in spite of the tattered cover, a book with magnificent black and white illustrations.
Settling in a nearby easy chair with an end table and lamp, she began to turn the pages. She stopped on the dedication page and chuckled. Someone had scrawled in ink a little poem.
Of this 17th century malediction
Gentle reader wary be
It is more than just fiction
If you would but believe
On a dark and stormy day
If you are reading these pages
They will hold you in their sway
Augustus Crabb, 1942
“Augustus must have really enjoyed this book,” Brandy said aloud to herself. Distant rumbling reminded her to check the windows to see what was happening outside. It was still raining heavily, although not hailing anymore.
She sat back down, picked up the book and momentarily wondered, again, where the shop keeper was. She turned the page to the first chapter and began to read,
“The summer of 1942…”
She furrowed her eyebrows and looked at the cover again. She’d not made a mistake. 1642 was the date, but how could it be that the opening lines were not only indicating 1942 but also written in the language of ‘42?
She read on, “…was glorious, even with the war. American Jonathan Wilson, a man of about forty and assigned to work with the French Resistance, was on his way to the little town of German occupied Rennes. He was a tall man with close cropped dark hair, graying at the sides and dark eyes. He stopped and looked in the sky, “Stop reading this book now.” he commanded.
Brandy rubbed her eyes and looked again. “You read right. Put this book down now and leave that bookstore. Don’t come back.”
Suddenly she was startled by a bolt of lightning followed by immediate peal of thunder that must have struck somewhere near the little shop. A tingling started in her feet and to her fingertips. She felt as if her hair stood out on end. Another brilliant flashing of light momentarily blinded her, a man’s face flashed instantaneously in the brilliant white light, and she rubbed her eyes.
Breathless, Jonathan Wilson found himself sitting in a chair with the cursed book in his hands. He dropped the loathsome volume. So he was free now, but she was trapped in spite of his efforts to warn her. He looked at the book lying at his feet. The title was now The Mysterious Disappearance of Brandy Watters, Profusely Illustrated, 1642.”
His memory went back to the day in 1942 when he picked up the book. Then it was titled “The Mysterious Disappearance of Elisabeth Bennett, Profusely Illustrated, 1642”. So, did that mean the story changed every time someone new was caught? If that was the case, something had to be done to destroy this terrible book. The thought came to him that if he burned the book, it might help them get out, but how could he be sure? Would they all die? Maybe once it was destroyed they would be released.
He took the book to the back room, and set it on a table and then looked for matches. It didn’t take him long to find some, so he returned to the table where the book lay. Its front cover had flipped open to the title page. He looked twice at it, and instead of the title he expected he found, “If you burn me I will kill them.” Jonathan felt sick, dropping into a chair beside the table. He put his elbows on the table and his head in his hands. What was he going to do?
Slowly a thought began to form in his mind. He really knew what he had to do. He had to go back in. He groaned. Going back in on purpose was the last thing he wanted to do; especially since he knew that the next person to be freed would be the character who played Heinrick Muller, the loathsome head of the Gestapo in France. Breaking out of character to warn the woman of her danger had been difficult. Breaking out of the character of Muller was daunting, but it was possible. And maybe, since the story was changed, it would change who the evil character was… maybe to someone worse than Muller had been. He couldn’t let that keep him from what he knew he had to do, and he had to do it now.
When he picked up the book, still opened to the title page he found it had changed again. A loathsome bestial face appeared with red eyes. Both bared fangs and the horns on the top of its head were dripping blood.
Quickly, before his resolve failed, he turned to chapter three and began to read out loud. Distant thunder rumbled steadily growing louder and more intense, “Brandy Watters sat in the cold dark cell. She wasn’t sure what was about to happen. She heard the key in the lock turning. She faced the door, rather than have something unexpected coming up behind her. The door slowly opened…”
Suddenly Jonathan was startled by a bolt of lightning and immediate peal of thunder. A tingling started in his feet and to his fingertips. He felt as if his hair stood out on end. Another brilliant flashing of light momentarily blinded him, a man’s face flashed instantaneously in the brilliant white light, and Jonathan rubbed his eyes.
Heinrich Muller found himself in the back room of the bookstore. He dropped the loathsome volume on the table. “I’m free! But how? Wilson was supposed to be free next.”
He looked at the book on the table, momentarily feeling sorry for the people still trapped, but he backed slowly away from the book until he was in the main store and then he left quickly. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and already the dreadful book was beginning to fade from his mind.
Brandy couldn’t figure out what had just happened. The last thing she felt she remembered was that she was reading a book, but her circumstances now didn’t bear witness to that. Someone was coming into the room through the door with a small window that opened into a hallway. She saw a sudden bright flash, and a man walked into the dank room carrying a large manila folder. He was tall with dark, cold eyes. His hair was graying a little, and was cut very close to his skull. He wore a black suit with a clean white shirt and black tie.
“Brandy Watters. My name is Jonathan Wilson. We have quite an extensive dossier on you.”
“I don’t understand why I’m here….”
“Come now Miss. Watters. There’s no use denying it. We already know you’ve been involved in the Resistance against the state. …”suddenly Jonathan Wilson stopped, he dropped the dossier, scattering papers everywhere. Brandy saw all the color flush from his cheeks as he collapsed to his knees, holding his head.
Still not knowing what she was doing there, Brandy’s natural concern for another person’s well-being kicked in and she rushed toward him, “Are you okay?”
Jonathan looked into her eyes with a look that told Brandy he was in terrible pain, but she also saw that he recognized her. She’d never remembered seeing this man before. His pain seemed to be worse and the only thing she thought to do was bang on the door, hoping that someone would hear.
“Help! Help!” she cried, beating on the door. No one was responding. “There’s something wrong with him!” she tried again.
“Really Miss Watters, you must try to control yourself.” Brandy turned around, finding the apparent fit had passed. The man’s eyes had that cold look she’d noticed before, but he was still very pale.
“As I was saying, we know you’ve been involved in the Resistance against the state. You are under arrest for sedition and espionage against our glorious Empire. We do not tolerate such actions that lead only to chaos. We must always obey the dictates of the Emperor and he does not tolerate treason.”
“Wait, where am I?”
“I think you know very well where you are. We captured you last night trying to sabotage the Marshall Oklahoma Munitions and Arms factory outside of Tulsa. You can’t tell me you don’t remember that. You killed one of my trusted aides.”
“I’ve never killed anyone.”
“No? Tell me, isn’t this your photograph?” Wilson opened the dossier and Brandy saw there was a photograph of her talking to a man on a street with trees and businesses. She’d never seen the street they were on before, nor had she ever seen the person she was talking to. It was quite obviously her photograph though. What was the biggest shock to her was that the date on the photograph was 2011
“Yes, that’s me, but I’ve never seen that person before, nor have I seen that street.”
“Okay Miss Watters. I can see you are being uncooperative. We shall see how cooperative you will be after your interrogation. Remember, we have methods that will help you with your memory.”
Jonathan turned to leave the cell.
“Yes. You wish to confess?”
“No. When you had that fit, you looked like you recognized me. I’ve never seen you before.”
A momentary look came over Wilson’s face; surprised by her question. It was as if he was remembering something, but it only lasted a fraction of a second.
“I don’t know what you are talking about. We will talk again, Miss Watters, but remember, next time our conversation won’t be as pleasant if you decide not to cooperate with us.”
“But I haven’t done anything wrong!”
Jonathan shut the door on Brandy, leaving the woman confused and frightened. He was frightened himself but didn’t want to show it. His prisoners and his guards could never see weakness in him or the fear he used as intimidation would be lost.
The fact was that the episode in the cell left him shaken. It was the first time anything like that happened. And it was the first time the concern for him she showed affected him. He had no doubt that she understood the difficult place she was in, and yet she genuinely cared that he was in trouble.
He seemed to hear a voice inside his head telling him he needed to let her go. Unfortunately he was used to ignoring that kind of voice, and he shoved it aside. He got back to his desk and began to write a report on Brandy.
Flipping through her dossier something didn’t seem right, but he couldn’t put his finger exactly on what was troubling him. The Brandy Watters he knew was defiant, this woman was confused. Was there a chance he got the wrong woman? Why did that make a difference? It never had before.
He felt dizzy again. He started to get up from his desk, but slipped and fell to the floor before getting off his chair. It was as if someone else was trying to take over his body. Agony and pain enveloped him and everything went black.
Jonathan woke up from the floor. Looking out the window, he saw it was pitch black outside. At first he wondered where he was, and then he suddenly remembered the book. Quietly he went back to the desk, took the keys from the drawer and then made his way back to Brandy’s cell.
When he stood at her door, he looked down the hall to the right and left, quietly turned the key and went in. Brandy was lying on the bed, but sat up as soon as he walked in.
Quickly he walked to her side, pulled a pair of handcuffs from his belt and said, “Quietly come with me,” before she had a chance to speak. They walked out the hall. Jonathan led them out the door of his headquarters toward his car.