So there we were just hanging around on a damp and gloomy Thursday afternoon, nothing much to do really, when Marvyn said “Let’s go visiting through the book”.
“NO!” shouted Ethyl. “Remember how we were attacked the last time and I lost my body and if Cecily here hadn’t put my head in the pram and rushed me here I’d be all gone, crushed by that thing with the huge hammer. And you Marvyn have only just finished regrowing legs after they pulled off some of yours.”
I didn’t want to say anything. I could do with getting my clothes back. That beautiful pink dress, the shoes that shone. It just didn’t feel right somehow, without them.
It was Octavius who eventually sided with Marvin and persuaded Ethyl, Pierette and I to go through with them.
It took a while to set up the big book, at just the right angle so we could go through, and if needed pull the book open again to come back home. Each of us was really looking for answers. But the questions weren’t the same, so how did we think being together would help? Ethyl wanted a new body, arms and legs, as she put it “Really it is most inconvenient without them”.
By the time we had finished arguing, getting ready (which for me consisted of re-watering all the plants in the house) and gathered for the foray, we discovered it was Sunday evening. Nothing daunted we went through the book. That’s not as difficult as it sounds, the book has a doorway written into it, and when you read aloud the correct lines it opens up to that other world.
On the other side we discovered ourselves in the room with so many books it seemed it must be a destination for many visitors. We climbed down from the platform where our book rested, a long way to the ground which seemed to have some sort of pattern built into it. Once there we looked around, walking quietly together to avoid attracting attention. Luckily we seemed to be alone.
We ventured out of the building, by means of asking a very large door to open for us. As we walked out, single file as we had learned previously, there was the sound of very loud footsteps, but only from two feet as we could hear, and some long legs, topped by some sort of bundle rushed in. The door closed behind us and we had lost the chance to evaluate the legs and what they could mean.
Now we were out in the big wild world of ‘beyond the book’. The adventures we had were many, none of them life threatening, although Marvyn did lose one leg again. He said he really hated that as there would be 99 footsteps, then a sudden silence as his body worked out what to do next, then again a quick 99 steps.
It was Ethyl who one summery day suggested it may be time to go home. None of us had answers to the questions we came with, none of us had found what we were looking for.
Oscar immediately led us across some fields, saying “Follow me, I remember where the book is.” We then spent many moons searching for the house. Oscar and Marvyn taking turns to lead us, each insisting yet another direction was the correct one. If Pierette hadn’t become annoyed with them and wandered off so that we had to search for her, we would never have found the building again.
Getting in at the door proved rather difficult. It did not respond when we asked politely. It seemed impervious to Pierette knocking, Marvyn threatening to tickle it with his feet, or my warning that I would be crying loudly if it didn’t open for us.
We sat around next to the door, discussing what we thought should be done, without actually knowing who would be doing the doing of what needed to be done.
One of those big things that runs on circles came up. A piece of it flapped open and out climbed one of THEM. The big thing moved on, and the one who was left walked to the door. There was some jingling and then the door opened. I thought I should learn that jingle, it may be useful in future. We quickly followed the one through the door, and were back inside the place with many books. I hoped we would recognise ours. I would hate to end up somewhere else when all I wanted was to go home.
We walked along between the huge rows of books in holders. Then there was another of them, lying on the floor. I looked carefully at the feet, like mine but when I touched the ends the pieces wiggled independently. Interesting, like the hands only the appendages were shorter.
The eyes opened and looked at us. Marvyn pretended to be an insect of no interest, the rest of us just stood and stared.
The creature sat up, long hair moving. Mine always stays still. Ethyl used to have hair like that, but it fell off somewhere.
It spoke “Who are you?” in quite a small voice, unlike those we have heard before. Slowly we introduced ourselves. It said “My name is Francine”. I realised this was a female.
She said “We must all hide quickly or the librarian will come round and be cross with me for being in here. I like the books, they take me places.”
Octavius said, “You can come with us, we are going home through our book.”
We all hid that day, Francine going off to find food and to ‘use the toilet’ something I did not understand. Then that night when everyone else had left we started searching for our book. It was Pierette who found it, away from the others. Francine said that was the ‘book repair’ area. We opened the book and Francine just gasped. She had shrunk, or the book had grown, big enough for her to walk through the door.
We all hid, just to be sure she went through ok, and that nothing scary came through first.
Then we followed her. Back home and into our biggest adventure.