Good morning all.
Well, you guys and gals voted for the story of the week to be entitled Magicians Bookstore and I bring to you the short story today. It was a fun one to write but I have several ideas floating around my mind and it turned out that none of them saw the light of the day.
Once I started writing this I picked up the pace and the words were filling the page quicker than my mind was working. I had a completely different ending in my mind but the story took the lead on this one and I was just a puppet orchestrating its creation.
I hope you enjoy and all have a fabulous weekend.
I would like to tell you about the day that changed my life forever.
I was twenty one at the time, still unsure of the path that would lead me to my future. I had been a standard child, a mediocre student and lost young adult. I was an only child, an anomaly in the plan my mother and father had envisioned. But still they loved and supported me, even at times it seemed a stretch with their minds focused on the lifestyle they could have lived if it wasn’t for me. They did not utter the words in front of me but I knew. My parents had dreams of me becoming a lawyer, a doctor or some other occupation that was well respected in their circle of friends. But that didn’t fascinate me. The work or lifestyle never captivated or drew me in. Nothing really appealed to me so I ended up going to University anyway and studying English literature.
I had always enjoyed reading, a three book a week kind of guy and chose this subject as I knew it would keep me out of trouble and would see me fulfil the tenure. I made a couple of friends within the class but not the sort of friendship that would exceed learning time. After hours, I would walk the streets with my headphones on listening to the most recent Rancid or NOFX album, find a nice nook hidden away from society and devour a book that evening. Then there was one day that my walk would take me on an alternative adventure.
I had woken early one Sunday in the middle of summer. The birds were chirping, the sun was out and it had been predicted that the average temperature would be no less than thirty degrees. It was the perfect opportunity for me to head out before the sun was at its strongest and find a nice cool shade to start a new book. The back garden led to an open field and walkway that stretched a mile into town. It was the perfect opportunity to get lost in the open air and beautiful landscape of green grass, flourishing trees and array of vibrant flowers.
It only took ten minutes to get into the town itself with my body weighed down by the rucksack I carried over one arm. It held my book, a bottle of water and a few nibbles and snacks for the day. The pathway circled around the back of the main superstore and into the high street. I avoided the superstore and instead moved forward and along the back alleys. It had been awhile since I manoeuvred myself around them but on that day I fancied a change of scenery and something deep down persuaded me to go off the beaten track. It didn’t take long until I found a street that I had never encountered before. It was in between Hedge Row and Daffodil Street, both areas I knew pretty well. But the appearance of a third street separating the two I had never set eyes on before startled me. I stood there, on the opposite side of the road racking my brain at why I could not remember such a significant street. It would have been hard to miss in the past by its splendour.
It was a short street with one floor cottages on either side, ivy spread over the walls and quaint little gardens at the entrance. Everything was prim and proper with no sign of litter or waste and every piece of plantation placed to perfection. Despite the meticulous efforts from the neighbours, it was the last building on the left that caught my eye. It was completely out of place from the rest of the street.
It was tall, dark and gloomy. From my perspective, it looked as if it was made up of three storeys, but it could have been an easy misjudgement to make by the crookedness of the structure. It reminded me of the leaning tower of Pisa, slanting to one side and each level jutting out balconies that hung in precarious positions. It was the colour of the building that shocked me the most. It was painted black, with dark windows and offering an ominous presence. The flowers in the mistreated and patchy garden were black or dying. It was as if death had set up camp in an exotic location, misplaced and unwanted. Then I noticed the sign swing as a gentle brush of wind rocked it.
MAGICIANS BOOKSTORE – WELCOMES ALL
A LIFE LOST CAN BE REMEMBERED IN WORDS
I felt drawn to the building as if in some way we were connected. It was as if we were magnets and the pull was too strong. I found myself approaching it with little control, ignoring the beautiful structures to the side of me as my eyes were locked on to the deathly building.
I stopped as I reached the edge of the pathway that led to the front door. Petals of black roses brushed past my feet in the wind and the remaining few flowers swung back and forth. I hesitated making an approach to the house but knew it was my only option. I took small steps towards the door but jumped as the sign above creaked. I gasped and felt my heart pound with beads of sweat dripping all over me. By the time I reached the door I was saturated in my own sweat.
I noticed a door bell to the right of the arched entrance but before I could get close to ringing it, the door came to life and opened inwards. There was nothing but darkness inviting me in and despite the warning bells screaming in my head, I stepped in. By this point the rucksack had been lost, dropping off my shoulder and in front of the house.
The bookstore had the distinct scent of old, borrowed and new books with coffee combined. It reminded me of the life I once lived in as a library worker during my school tenure. Nothing satisfied me more than books and coffee. Just as the door had opened on itself, the door swung outwards and slammed shut against the resistance. Similar to the connection I felt as I stood away from the building, the feeling returned and nausea swept over me.
“Welcome to the Magicians Bookstore, providing everything a young reader requires and more. Today’s offer is on poetry, and let the words weave in and out of heart and pull on them like a piece of string.”
The male voice reverberated around the dark space and hit me from all angles. It sent a shiver down my spine and goose bumps rippling over my skin. This was something I did not expect but wasn’t shocked by. I felt nauseated and an unnerving feeling that the building held a purpose. I didn’t move. I just waited in silence, hoping the nausea would wane.
The light flickered above my head and a dim light spread around the room. I shielded by eyes until they adjusted and I found myself in an oval room with an array of books filling the shelves against each wall. A metal spiral staircase was at the corner of the room and the sound of footsteps alerted me to it.
A long blue and white cloak floated against each step as water would a beach. I followed the figure down until they reached the ground floor. The cloak was magnificent, with gold rimmed white stars spread over it and made of a rich fabric that couldn’t come to mind. The owner of it was old, in his late seventies at least, with greying hair cut short and tidy and his skin showing a life long lived.
“Maximus Barnes, it has been too long.”
I was dumbfounded that he knew my name and my full name at that. My fingers tingled, not unlike the feeling you get with pins and needles, and my body felt as if it was being flooded with electricity.
“You may not remember me, or the store that you find yourself in. But let it be said that it has been a long time coming.”
“Coming for what?” I managed to blurt.
“For you to come home.”
Nausea was replaced with dizziness and palpitations. I huddled over, closed my eyes tight, hands on knees and breathed deeply. It was hard to concentrate with a burning sensations soaring through my veins. And then the most terrifying and wonderful thing happened.
I was as one with the building. I could sense it breathing, pulsating with life, a power and energy so strong it could not be ignored. I opened my eyes and light filled my vision, blinding me from that moment on. It was okay, I knew my sight was pointless. I did not need it any longer.
I stepped to the side, breathing in the energy of the building and sensing the books rock back and forth from the shelf. They did not fall, for I would have felt each blow. The knowledge of the books seeped from the page and into my blood, sending a wave of euphoria through me. I felt my body rise from the floor level and be suspended in mind air. I could not help but smile and laugh. It was the greatest experience of my life and I knew it wasn’t over.
I saw nothing but light and when the surge of knowledge faded, my mind was overcome with emotion that spread from the foundations as my body lowered to a standing position. I inherited every memory of the bookstore along with the pain and suffering it had gone through since my departure. I was reacquainted with the life I did not realise I had lived.
It turned out I had lived a thousand lives through many generations and cycles. I was renowned for being the keeper of Magical Knowledge and locksmith to the World of Unknown. But in the previous life I had been deceived and cursed to live life as a human. For over three hundred years I had been reincarnated after each death, remaining in the world as an unknown. But somehow, someway, I was reborn into my life, thanks to the Professor that stood not too far from me.
My name is Maximus Barnes, keeper and locksmith, blind assassin and the soul to all magicians. My life was destroyed by a traitor. I would not let that lie.
“Welcome Maximus Barnes, you have been missed. I am sure you have plenty of questions but we will get to them. What’s first order of business?”
I did not miss a beat.
“A cup of tea, a bourbon biscuit, my walking aid and death to all that have crossed me.”
The building I was later told had returned to its rightful state, bold and beautiful, with life surging through it. The dark material had deteriorated and the effervescent colours of the summer replaced it Life was never the same again for me, and that was okay. The parents that were not strictly speaking mine were free from the burden of the child that never wished to have. Their memory was altered and they began to live as they wished to. As for me and the Profressor, well that is another story entirely.