• Chapter 7 - The Conversation of Books

    Inside the room, Bree was astonished by what she saw. There seemed to be a party of some sort in progress, with many men and women in fancy gowns and suits, eating and drinking and talking cheerfully.

    “Are they all books?” wondered Bree. “They must be, mustn’t they? After all, besides the Staff and game players there are just the books, aren’t there?” Even so, she decided to ask one of the people to make certain.

    “Excuse me,” she said, approaching a tall, rather stern looking woman (or rather, a stern looking book, Bree supposed). “I was wondering, are all of the people in this room books?”

    “Are they books? Of course they are!” said the book in a shrill voice. “What sort of a question is that? What kind of manners are those, for that matter?”

    “I’m sorry,” said Bree. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “No, of course you don’t. Children these days have no concept of manners or etiquette. But just look at yourself my dear! Your sundress is rumpled and dirty. It looks as if you wore it yesterday and played outside in it.”

    “Actually…” began Bree (she had done that)

    “And your hair is sticking up every which way,” the book continued, cutting off Bree. “A young lady ought to comb her hair and keep it lying flat on her head when she goes out in public.”

    “I’ve been having an adventure. Of course my hair got messy,” protested Bree.

    “No excuse. If you must engage in such exertive activities, you ought to pull back your hair. Besides your clothes, your manners are dirty as well. Look at the way you began this conversation.”

    “What did I do wrong?” asked Bree, who was beginning to feel rather annoyed. She did, after all, remember to speak politely and begin with “Excuse me?”

    “For one thing, you ought to introduce yourself properly, with your name. You began this conversation as if you intended to run off after two minutes.”

    “I did intend to leave after a short conversation,” said Bree irritably. “You’re the one who continued to talk.”

    “No excuse. You must always prepare for such scenarios.”

    “Alright then,” said Bree, in a bad temper. “I’ll just start over the right when then.” She held out her hand as politely as she could and said “I’m Bree, sometimes known as Reeb.”

    “That’s much better,” said the book, taking Bree’s hand with two fingers and shaking it gingerly. “My title is The Lady’s Guide to Proper Etiquette.

    “Then I must be on a different floor,” said Bree, thinking hard. “Let me see, I must be on the…the…”

    “Third floor,” said the book sharply. “You were told of the classifications then?”

    “Of course,” muttered Bree.

    “What’s that? Speak up,” said the lady sharply. “Little girls ought not mumble before others.”

    “I’m sorry then,” said Bree loudly and crossly. “I’ll just be off then, shall I?” And she spun on her heel and stormed off, leaving behind the indignant sputters of The Lady’s Guide to Proper Etiquette.

    “Hmph,” snorted Bree, “The stories on this floor don’t seem worth looking over.” She decided to go back to the corridor and continue the game.

    When she returned to where she came in at though, the door was missing. “Oh no,” Bree muttered. “What now? I shouldn’t have come here. Now what should I do?”

    Partly because she wanted to continue on with the game and partly because the Etiquette book was nearby and dangerously close to noticing her again, Bree decided to edge around the perimeter of the room and see if there were any other doors. Surely there had to be at least one other, or how did the books get in? Once she found it, she could use the compass to start her search again.

    Bree found nothing on the first two walls she searched, but the third wall had a small door in it, just large enough for her to go through. There was no handle on it, however when Bree pushed her hands against it and pushed, it slid inwards and vanished. There was no smoke and it didn’t melt. Bree couldn’t understand what happened to it. Her mother always told her that things that disappeared had to go somewhere. But that didn’t matter now. She went through the door and continued onward.

    The next room was nearly pitch black and Bree had to stand in the doorway to read her compass. This time, the needle pointed towards the “W”, exactly to Bree’s left.

    “So left it is,” she muttered, putting away the compass. “I hope there’s a door that way. And if there is, I hope I can find it. Oh, I wish the Yellow team was given flashlights as their advantages. Those would be quite useful at times like these.”

    Bree reached out and placed her hands on the wall along the doorframe and began to walk slowly towards the left side of the room. She was careful as she walked and made sure to not lose her hold on the wall, because she knew that if she lost the wall, she might never find her way out of the room ever. She continued walking onward and onward. The light splashing in through the doorway slowly faded away as she moved farther and farther away until it disappeared altogether. This made Bree very frightened, because now she couldn’t see anything at all. It made no difference whether her eyes were open or closed and she even tried walking along with her eyes closed for a bit to see if that was any different. Her hands were sweaty against the smooth wall, but Bree didn’t dare to wipe them off, for fear of the wall disappearing as well.

    “Because I can’t see it, so it could get away very easily,” said Bree aloud. She began to talk aloud as she walked, so that she knew that she, at least, was there to keep herself company. “First the door disappeared and then the light from the doorway disappeared, so who’s to say that the wall wouldn’t disappear as well? I wish things wouldn’t just keep disappearing like that. It makes me so nervous. Like nothing else will ever stay put again. I guess it’s just the dark that makes me think like that though. I don’t think I’d ever be so bothered by things disappearing if it were light. But then, if it were light I’d be able to see everything and I wouldn’t have to worry so much about it disappearing when I couldn’t see it. Oh I wish this wall would end! How long is this room?”

    Once, when Bree was a bit younger, she and her sisters had played a game called “Blind”. They took clothes and tied them around their eyes as blindfolds. The three girls then wandered around the backyard calling out to each other, tripping and walking into things and laughing. The darkness in the room reminded Bree a bit of Blind, although Blind seemed much more fun. Perhaps it was because when she was playing Blind, Bree could take off the blindfold anytime she was tired of it, whereas she couldn’t get rid of the darkness until she got to the end. When she played Blind and had the cloth around her eyes, Bree remembered that everything seemed to take longer. She was certain that she had walked halfway across their yard, but when she took the cloth off she was only three steps from where she began. Bree couldn’t help wondering if that was what was happening now.

    “Maybe I’ve only gone a few steps and I think I’ve been going farther,” she said. “If I walk faster and take bigger steps, I’ll get to the end.”

    So Bree began to take longer, faster steps. And for a while, this almost seemed to be working. When she looked ahead after concentrating on her footsteps, Bree could have sworn she saw a very faint light ahead of her. But in her excitement, Bree stopped walking and the light suddenly vanished. Determined to make her way to the end of the darkness, Bree began to walk again, this time at an even faster pace. Once again, a very faint light could be seen in front of her. She began to walk faster and faster, until she was running as fast as she could while holding onto the wall. But even this did not seem to be fast enough, because the light never seemed to get any closer or clear enough for her to see where it was coming from. And then, even as she kept running, it seemed to fade away again. With a cry, Bree let go of the wall and began to run towards it as fast as she could. Suddenly, her foot hit an uneven part of the floor. She stumbled and fell to the ground. When Bree got up, she was astonished. She was right in front of a new door.

    “So that was where the light came from,” she murmured. She looked behind her and was surprised. The room was still dark, but she could easily see the door she entered through. “I must have been walking slower than I thought,” she mused.

    Bree continued on through to the next room.