Home » Uncategorized » The Box Pt. 3

The Box Pt. 3

This story is unfolding as the ideas come to me. There is no immediate plot and nothing is written in stone as to how it will develop. It seems that I might be writing in stone the time it’s taking. I should get a sharper chisel!

Anyway, it is as much a mystery to the writer as it is the reader. What ever you read it pretty much all I have written, with minimal editing, so, please, bear with me. An adventure for all of us, it seems. Hope you enjoy the ride. So far it’s fun for me. 

I read once that writers must write for themselves first, then afterwards as if they are writing for one person.

So for the time being, Sonel, it’s just me and you, it seems!

And  John Z…of course… 🙂

Treasure_Island-Scribner's-1911The first book his fingers came into contact with was a hardback. He lifted it out carefully.

Treasure Island. What a treat! He had two paperback editions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic but no hardback copy. Until now. And by the look of the cover art it was an old copy. But it was in surprisingly good condition. Gently, he opened the cover. There was a dedication. He read it.

To Michael. Here’s hoping you find treasure in all your adventures.

Love Dad.

For a split second, Michael experienced a feeling of déjà vu, which was very disconcerting as his dad had never given him this book before, and he almost dropped it in surprise.

He took a deep breath and smiled. ‘What a jerk’, he said aloud, and laughed. It isn’t as if the name Michael is uncommon is it, he thought.

No doubt this was another reason Auntie Apple included the book. Apart from being old; it had probably been stuck away in some old lady’s attic for ages, and was now even more special because the name was the same as his. He read all the print details: when it was published, who was the publisher and then carefully closed the cover and set it to one side. This would go in the special book case.

Adventure stories were Michael’s favourite, though he generally preferred non-fiction to those based, in principle, on the imagination of the author.

Michael believed there were enough fantastic stories out there happening all the time in real life without the need to make things up.

He had shelves of books by adventures like Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, David Livingstone, The Wright Brothers, and even modern adventurers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the Apollo and Soyuz astronauts, including female astronauts such as Sally Ride and Helen Sharman. And on the subject of female adventurers, one of Michael’s more unusual books of this genre was called, Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride.

Until he read this book his parents thought he might never ride a bicycle again after falling off his paper bike during a heavy snowfall last year. He had a serious concussion and for a while it was suspected he may have had a skull fracture. Auntie Apple had bought this book for him and he had been back on his bike after the first day of reading. 

After setting aside Treasure Island he quickly removed the rest of the books from the box, laying them out in the floor in a semi-circle in front of him. They were all interesting and mostly hardcover.

There was a gardening book and a book of garden birds by Sir Peter Scott, which Michael was especially pleased with. There was even a Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manual for an Austin Healey which, apart from a couple of grubby, oil-stained fingerprints on the cover, was in pretty good condition.

Michael had no idea what an Austin Healy was, and it didn’t look too impressive from the cover illustration, so it meant little to him, until he opened the book and discovered this was a first edition, printed in 1960, and according to the forward, the very first motor car manual the company produced.

The lowly car’s status was immediately elevated by Michael’s reckoning. He briefly wondered who the oily fingerprints might have belonged to for surely they would have died by now.

He was about to put the box aside and beginning sorting and cataloguing when he realised there was one more book in the box. It nestled at the bottom filling the space so snug that Michael was obliged to turn the box upside down and tap it. The book slide gently out and dropped quietly onto the carpet.

Putting the box to one side he picked up the book.

Aside from being heavy, the book seemed old. No, not old, ancient.  The cover was dimpled black leather that felt like crocodile skin. He had never seen let alone felt crocodile skin before, although a friend of his mother had been around for tea one afternoon and had proudly shown off her new “Real fake crocodile skin handbag” which Michael had gingerly run his hand over.

This felt the same, only smoother, and Michael realised that, considering how old the book seemed, the cover was unlikely to be fake crocodile skin either. He didn’t feel comfortable about this but tried to rationalise it by hoping the crocodile had died of old age. Peacefully. In its sleep. Preferably somewhere warm and its last meal consisting mainly of crocodile hunter.

There was nothing printed on the cover to identify what the book was about or who was the author. Nor on the spine either he noted.

The book was shod with metal corners. They appeared to be silver or at least silver coloured and Michael thought they looked very fancy; like what you might imagine being on one of those really old church bibles, or a wizard’s book of spells. He smiled.

‘Open Sesame,’ he intoned in a deep voice as he opened the book. Or as deep as he could manage, which of late, had a nasty habit of coming out as a croak or worse, a squeak since he voice had begun to break.

The first page was blank. He turned to the second. Also blank.

And the third and the fourth. Michael quickly flipped through the pages. They were all blank. Every one. He couldn’t find a single printed word. Or written word for that matter. Neither a note or a scribble.

What sort of book is this?

Copyright©2013 Douglas Pearce

The copy of Treasure Island featured on this post was first published in 1911

5 thoughts on “The Box Pt. 3

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  3. Oh, I just love your ideas and what a treat that must have been for Michael. How I would love to receive a box full of books like that and the last book sounds like quite a treasure and so intruiging. I wonder why the pages was blank? Maybe it’s a magic book after all. 🙂 Well written and I do so enjoy! Thanks! 🙂 *hugs*

    • I have a suspicion his gran, Aunty Apple knows, but she a secretive one and getting anything out of her is like trying to squeeze water out of a dry cloth.
      We’ll see….what do Granny’s like, hmmm?

      • Oh, I will bake her some of my Cappucino muffins and we can have tea then, and I am sure after seeing me with some wimmenly suspenders without any trousers she will gladly give up the secret. LOL!

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