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 Table Utopia Chapter One: The Old Library

Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:23 am
Posts: 9
Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:12 am

“Mom,” said Blaise, as he tried to get the attention of his mother. “What’s on the other side of the fence?” His mother paused from her slicing of the carrots for the stew and swept some stray hair behind her ear.

“Well, Blaise. That would be the old library. It was closed down thirty years ago I believe,” Blaise’s mother responded. “Why?” Her eyes narrowed slightly, suspicious of whatever wild scheme Blaise was undoubtedly concocting.

“I was just wondering what was over there,” Blaise said defensively. “That’s the only part of town we haven’t explored.” Blaise plucked an apple from the fruit basket and peeled off the sticker.

“Your father and I don’t want you going over there, you know that. We don’t know what sorts of nasty things may be holed up in that old building,” his mother reminded him. “And don’t eat too much. You don’t want to spoil your dinner,” she added as she resumed her slicing. Blaise pondered what sorts of things could be hidden in the old library as he took a bite of his apple, sending juice dribbling down his chin.

“Mom, I’m going to go outside to meet up with Aurora and Erica,” Blaise said. “Is that alright with you?” When his mother nodded in approval, he hopped down from his chair and dashed out the door.

Blaise raced down the street and took a glance at his watch. He was running late. He finished off his apple and flicked the stem onto the sidewalk. Blaise skidded to a stop underneath the lemon tree, narrowly avoiding sliding into his friend.

“Watch it,” Aurora scolded as Blaise stumbled to a halt. “You almost ran into me! And why are you in such a hurry anyway?” Aurora folded her arms and leaned against the trunk of the tree, looking more than a bit annoyed.

“I thought I was going to be late,” Blaise managed, still panting from his run. He put his hand on the other side of the tree trunk to steady himself. “Where’s Erica?” Blaise looked around for the third member of their trio.

“She told me she was going to be a little late,” Aurora replied, still miffed. “She is helping her dad organize his desk.” Aurora checked her own watch as well. A breeze ruffled the leaves of the tree, and they waited for Erica to arrive.

“I’m here guys,” said Erica, startling both Blaise and Aurora, who had begun to daydream. “It took a little longer than I expected to finish the organizing,” Erica explained apologetically.

“It’s fine Erica,” said Aurora. “At least you had a good reason for being late. Unlike him.” Aurora jabbed a thumb in Blaise’s direction.

“What are the plans for today? I hope you two weren’t waiting for me to discuss anything,” said Erica. “We’ve already explored the entire town though, so I don’t think there is much left to do.”

“We didn’t really plan that far ahead,” admitted Aurora. “But I’m sure we can come up with something. Do you have any ideas Blaise?” Erica and Aurora both looked expectantly at Blaise.

“You won’t believe what is on the other side of the back fence,” said Blaise excitedly, his energy instantly renewed. “My mom told me that is where the old library that got closed is! Want to go check it out?” Blaise looked hopefully at Erica and Aurora.

“That sounds worth checking out,” Aurora agreed. “We might find some really cool things in there.” She and Blaise looked at Erica, awaiting the final vote.

“It could be dangerous,” Erica warned. “There might be rats or snakes or something in there. We probably shouldn’t go there. Besides, what would our parents say?” Erica shifted on her feet nervously.

“Erica does have a point,” reasoned Blaise. “But this could be a really cool opportunity. We have to know what is in there, or we might regret it for the rest of our lives. When we grow up we might not get the opportunity to visit this place anymore.” Aurora rolled her eyes.

“We’re probably going to work here when we grow up,” Aurora reminded him. “Our parents were raised here, and our grandparents before that. What makes you think anything is going to change?” Erica looked nervously between Blaise and Aurora.

“We get to make our own choices Aurora. Who our parents are don’t define us. We can do whatever we want,” argued Blaise. “When I grow up I am going to start an organization that helps take care of pets and find them owners. I’ll be a veterinarian and have a farm with lots of animals.” Blaise remained optimistic.

“Guess what Blaise? That is more than likely not going to happen,” Aurora shot back. “This is a stupid idea anyway. We aren’t going to find anything in that old library other than some dusty old books. What’s the point? We’re all just thinking about childish dreams.” Erica tentatively tried to comfort Aurora, but Aurora moved away.

“You can keep raining on other people’s parades,” responded Blaise. “I’m still going to the library though. Whether you are coming with me or not. Are you going to come Erica?” All eyes were trained on Erica, who froze. Erica slowly shook her head, and looked apologetically at Blaise. “That’s fine. I guess you girls are just all scaredy cats.” And with that, Blaise headed off to the his house to get the things he would need before embarking on this brand new adventure.

Erica stayed with Aurora and tried to calm her down. Erica was afraid about what was going to happen next. The group had had fights before, but none of them ever went on an adventure without the others. That would be breaking the first rule of Explorer Code. Explorers must stick together.

“We need to follow him,” said Aurora, still annoyed. “He’s probably going to get himself hurt without us to keep him from doing something stupid.” Aurora trudged after Blaise, and Erica followed without a word.

Erica and Aurora caught up with Blaise outside his house. He had a pack slung over his shoulder and a water bottle in hand. A grin spread across his face when he saw them arrive.

“I knew you’d come around,” Blaise said happily, earning a look of annoyance from Aurora. “I’ve got the stuff we’ll all need.” With that, Blaise took off towards the corner of the block, pausing to wave for them to hurry. Erica and Aurora jogged after him, and they soon reached the fence. The fence was tall, hidden from sightline by an orderly row of trees. Behind all the rows of houses, separating the houses from the land that was no longer in use. They all stopped and looked up at the fence.

Voicing a question they were all thinking, Aurora said “How are we going to get over it?” Blaise rummaged through his pack, searching for something.

“Oh well, that it. I guess we won’t be able to go after all,” said Erica, turning around to leave. Aurora grabbed a hold of Erica’s shoulder, making her stop. Blaise held up his prize. A length of rope. Erica and Aurora awaited his explanation, and Aurora released Erica.

“The plan is simple. We tie the rope to the branch of the tree, climb the rope, and hop down to the other side,” said Blaise proudly. “We just need to figure out how to tie it to the branch.” As he and Erica discussed the best possible ways to tie it to the branch, Aurora slipped away unnoticed.

Realizing Aurora had gone, Erica asked in alarm “Where did Aurora go?” She looked around in panic. “Aurora!” Blaise looked around for Aurora as well.

“I’m over here, slowpokes,” Aurora called from the other side of the fence. Blaise and Erica looked at each other in astonishment. “What’s taking you guys so long?”

“Uh, we still can’t get over,” said Blaise. “Would you mind telling us how you got to the other side?” He and Erica awaited Aurora’s answer.

“Simple,” Aurora replied. “There’s a break in the fence like twenty paces to your right.” Blaise wound his rope around his hand and tucked the bundle in his backpack for safekeeping.

“I found it,” called Erica far to Blaise’s right. She motioned for Blaise to come over. Blaise ran over, and they both squeezed through the break in the fence. Aurora awaited them on the other side.

“That took way longer than it should’ve. We better pick up the pace,” commented Blaise, as he took a long drink from his water bottle. “Want some water?” Blaise offered Erica and Aurora some water from his pack.

“Blaise, look at this place,” said Aurora in astonishment. Erica accepted the water, and they all gazed at the scene before them in wonder. “Isn’t it beautiful?” They were in what may have once been a park, but was now overrun with wild plants. The grass was lush and thick, having been untouched for years. Wildflowers dotted what may have once been well-manicured lawn space in clusters. The trees were huge and filled with leaves, a variety of wild shapes having not been trimmed. It merely resembled an ordinary forest, but to kids who had spent their entire lives in neighborhoods with perfectly tended gardens and neat lawns, it was a magical new land.

“We better get going,” said Erica, snapping them all back to reality. “We have to get back home before it gets too dark.” Blaise and Aurora nodded in agreement. They started down hill though the park, still taking in the beautiful surroundings. They walked through some trees which opened up into yet another space.

Before them stood the old library. Though somewhat shabby, it was still magnificent. Strong brick walls supported a now clouded skylight that had probably once let in floods of natural light into the library.

“Let’s go inside,” said Blaise excitedly. Aurora nodded in agreement. Erica shook her head nervously. “Come on Erica. Don’t you want to do something exciting? Besides, we aren’t breaking any laws. I think.” Blaise was challenging Erica.

“Fine,” Erica consented reluctantly. Victoriously, Blaise and Aurora trotted off to the entrance of the library through the empty ancient parking lot. The asphalt was spiderwebbed with cracks and weeds peaked through in some places. Erica trailed after her friends.

“It’s locked,” stated Blaise. A heavy padlock chained the doors of the library shut. He reached forward to tug on the lock. It didn’t budge. Blaise’s elatedness deflated.

“What did you expect? The doors open and a buffet to welcome you? It would never have been that easy,” grumbled Aurora. “You should’ve thought this through Blaise!” Aurora shoved an accusing finger at Blaise’s chest.

“Well I’m sorry, but last time I heard I’m not responsible for everything! If you are so forward thinking you should’ve told me to expect this,” Blaise shot back. Aurora and Blaise traded insults, debating whose fault it was.

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” commented Erica softly. Aurora and Blaise paused to look at her in confusion. “Normally that is used as a metaphor, but we can apply that quite literally here.” Erica examined the length of the chain and pointed to a single link that was slightly thinner than the others. Blaise finally understood what Erica meant. He picked up a chunk of asphalt from the crumbling parking lot. Erica backed away as he smashed the weak link. The chain fell free. The doors were open. They all stood there in silence, even Aurora. Blaise and Aurora both stepped back for Erica to open the doors.

Erica gently pushed the doors open, and they all stepped into the dimly lit library. Their footsteps seemed to be deafening in the deathly silence. A film of dust covered everything. Without a word, Blaise handed Aurora and Erica some flashlights. They clicked them on and sweeped the beams over the empty library.

“It’s huge,” was all Aurora could manage, breaking the spell of silence. An assortment of tables stood in the middle of the library, book shelves lining the walls. “What are we going to do now?”

“Look at the books,” suggested Blaise. He immediately set out looking at the titles of the books on the nearest table. “The Buildings of Early Civilizations. Sounds like a bore.” Blaise moved onto other tables.

“What do you mean? Early civilizations are the basis of modern life today,” argued Erica. She walked over to the book Blaise had left behind and began to leaf through its pages. Aurora began to wander from table to table as well, searching for a book of her interest.

“The Artists of the Renaissance,” Aurora murmured, reading the covers of the books. Aurora lifted the book from the table and flipped through its pages. “Maybe we could stay for a bit and read.” She pulled out a chair and sat down to pore over the book she had found, flashlight in hand. Erica did the same. Blaise continued to look at different books.

“This is boring,” complained Blaise. He plopped down into a chair and fiddled with some knick knacks from his bag. Dropping one he, he reached down beneath the table to pick it up. “Woah, come down here you guys! It looks really cool down here.” Erica and Aurora looked up from their books.

“Where’d you go, Blaise? We can’t see you,” complained Aurora. She checked the page of her book and closed it to set it down on the table. She rose and glanced around the room. “Where are you Blaise?” Erica set down her book as well.

“I think he went underneath the tables,” said Erica. “Let’s see what he is up to.” With that, Erica ducked beneath the table. Aurora reluctantly ducked underneath the tables as well.

“What is it Blaise? We’re too old to be playing underneath the tables,” grumbled Aurora. Blaise inched out of the way, allowing Aurora and Erica to see what he wanted to show them. “Okay, this is sort of cool…” Dim light from the skylight filtered through the spaces between tables, illuminating areas of the carpet. From their new vantage point on the ground, everything seemed even bigger than before. Suddenly Blaise sat up with a start, almost hitting his head on the table. He fumbled to pull back his jacket sleeve to reveal the face of his watch.

“Oh-no. We’re going to be late for dinner,” Blaise realized. He scrambled out from underneath the table. “We need to leave.” Erica and Aurora followed him out from underneath the tables. They pushed their chairs back into place. For a moment Erica and Aurora reached for the books, considering whether or not to take them.

“We should leave them. This is where they belong,” clarified Aurora. “Besides, we could always come back I suppose...” Blaise nodded quickly as he rushed to pack up some of his things. Erica nodded in agreement as well, and helped Blaise with his stuff. With the stuff packed up again, the trio rushed towards the entrance of the library. They closed the doors behind them and sprinted over the asphalt, through the park, and all the way up to the fence. Aurora held back the broken part of the fence and ushered Blaise and Erica through.

“Tell your dad hello for me,” Blaise said to Erica. “See you both tomorrow?” Both Erica and Aurora nodded in confirmation. He took off towards his house. Erica and Aurora both headed their separate ways. Adventure would await them when the next day came.

The next day they visited the old library once again, finding everything just as they left it. Aurora and Erica made a beeline for their books, immediately picking up where they left off. Blaise continued to wander around the library, searching for the ideal book.

Blaise found a shelf filled with books on history and culture, almost passing it by, but a book that had fallen to the carpet in front of the shelf caught his eye. It was a book title Myths and Legends of Old Days. Thoughts of dramatic tales of knight and dragons, damsels and elves flooded his mind. He picked it up and walked back to the tables, flipping through the pages for something interesting to read… The library was totally quiet, everyone absorbed in the books they were reading.

For a while Blaise, Erica, and Aurora continued to visit the old library, reading books upon books upon books. They couldn’t help but imagine living out the stories of the books they read, visiting distant lands depicted in books about the world. They couldn’t help but wonder why someone would close down the library in the first place...

A couple weeks later, Aurora, Blaise, and Erica met beneath the lemon tree once again. There was a lot to discuss.

“Hi guys, sorry I’m late,” panted Blaise after arriving five minutes late yet again. A pack containing supplies for the day was slung over his shoulder. Aurora narrowed her eyes. Aurora was always early. Of course, she didn’t do much in summer afternoons. Erica was waiting, having arrived perfectly on time, not a second late, not s second early.

“The day Blaise is actually on time will be the day pigs fly,” Aurora muttered under her breath. Aurora cleared her throat, ready to make an important announcement. “Yesterday we scouted a very interesting new territory. A place never before explored, with the potential to host a boatloads of new adventures. I call a meeting to discuss our options.” Blaise and Erica both nodded in favor of this new plan.

“Who exactly is going to host this meeting? We need to do it indoors, unless of course you would both prefer to do it in the rain,” Blaise remarked, gesturing towards the drops of rain that had begun to fall. “I can’t host today because my mom is hosting some guests tonight, which is why I left. And Aurora never hosts anything.” Both Aurora and Blaise looked expectantly at Erica.

“We can meet at my house, I guess. It’s not like my dad doesn’t know you both well,” Erica consented. “We better hurry though. It could start pouring any second now.” The rain had begun to fall a bit harder as the trio made their way to Erica’s house.

When they arrived, they hurried underneath the protection of the awning and rang the doorbell, waiting for the door to be answered. Erica’s father answered the door with a wide grin, opening the door as far as it could go and immediately ushering them all inside.

“Let me guess? Another mission? I’m guessing you can’t tell me what this one’s about, just like all the others,” assumed Mr. Neilson, Erica’s father, smiling warmly. Aurora and Blaise grinned. Mr. Neilson was by far their favorite grown up ever. Other than their own parents of course. “I’m going to call your parents’ house phones to let them know you are here. What will it be today? Cookies and milk?” The kids nodded eagerly and continued on into the kitchen, their wet sneakers squeaking against the tile. The plopped down in some chairs arranged around a small table. The house had a very cheerful aura, as if prohibiting you from feeling sad in its vicinity.

“The meeting addressing the topic of the Old Library shall commence,” said Aurora in an overly formal voice. She paused for a moment as Mr. Neilson set a plate of cookies in the center of the table. Erica got up to help her father pour the glasses of milk.

“You got all quiet all of a sudden. You’re definitely cooking up a mission,” confirmed Mr. Neilson. Aurora and Blaise shared a look. They wondered if it was really that obvious. “Even if you are plotting some sort of mission, it won’t do you any good as long as it’s raining. Then again, there is all sorts of things that you can play inside.” Mr. Neilson put away the milk, and Erica helped him pass out the glasses.

“We are just holding a meeting regarding our latest mission,” Erica stated, seeing the warning looks she was receiving from her friends. “So Dad, what types of things did you and your friends do on rainy days as a kid?” Aurora and Blaise relaxed, hoping that this would direct the conversation in a new direction.

“When I was around your age Erica, my friends and I played quite a few weird games. You might even call them nerdy,” Mr. Neilson confessed. The trio waited expectantly, encouraging Mr. Neilson to continue. “One of our favorite things to do was work on our civilization, Bekazania. We would use little plastic toy soldiers as the citizens, and wage war on other imaginary opposing civilizations. Our favorite thing to do was come up with all sorts of silly laws.” He smiled sheepishly. The trio met gazes, and knew exactly what they were going to do. Blaise and Aurora quickly drained their glasses. Mr. Neilson quickly swept them off the table and hurried over to place them in the sink. With that done, Mr. Neilson left the room for his office, to work on his latest project.

Grinning widely, Blaise asked “You’re both thinking what I’m thinking, right? ‘Cause if not I’ll be more than a bit disappointed in your imaginations.” Erica and Aurora grinned right back at him.


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