Novel Excerpt 2

To read the beginning of the first chapter, click here!

. . .Chapter 2 . . .

Finn did her best the next day in school to keep up with her lecture. Today it was being given by Dr. William Shakespeare VII. He was a quirky man that gesticulated wildly with every word he spoke. At the present moment, he was standing on a chair, dangling a live mouse over an opening to a covered crate resting on a table to his right. “You see this mouse? Struggling for its life? It’s doing literally everything it can to be free from the imminent danger it is about to experience” said the professor. Finn hid her eyes behind her textbook as her friend Paige watched with rapt attention. The professor slowly lowered the mouse into the cage. Something reached a furry paw up out of the cage just as it was about to pass the precipice and the mouse shrieked loudly before an audible chewing sound could be heard. “On the other hand,” the professor spoke, brushing off a spatter stain of blood from his tweed vest and adjusting his glasses, “The thing in the cage only sees a snack, not the end of a life. That’s something to think about, young ladies and gentlemen. That’s something to think about.” Without being entirely sure what her professor meant by that last line, Finn clapped along with the rest of the class as Dr. Shakespeare finished his lecture, closed the cage, and hopped down from the chair on which he was perched.

“What wisdom that man has” Paige said to Finn as they were waiting to leave the lecture hall. “I mean, I guess” she replied. “I don’t really get him sometimes. Why do we have to be taught by these old farts in riddles anyway? Why can’t we be taught about the real life? Like what happens when we die?”

“Finn, you’ve been asking that question for so long it’s pointless to expect an answer anymore. No one wants to tell us the truth and all we have are fairytales passed down from our grandparents to rely on. Just get over it.” Finn fell silent and clutched the books she was holding tightly to her chest. “Yeah” she mused, and stopped to open her locker. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow” Paige said, walking past Finn to her own locker further down the hallway. “See you then” she replied, thankful that the day was finally over. Socializing was so exhausting for Finn and she often felt overwhelmed during lectures and classes. She was more of a physical learner than someone who could sit through two hour lectures like Paige.

Finn walked down the remainder of the hallway, careful to avoid the wandering eyes of those that might invite her to an after school event. She exited the main building and walked along the winding sidewalk path to the library. It was a beautiful building, the oldest on campus and her favorite hideaway. It looked like a castle from the outside, complete with stained glass windows and tall pyres that seemed to touch the clouds. The brown stone work on the outside gave it a rustic look that she found endearing.

She jumped on dead leaves all the way to her destination, and when she tugged on the wrought iron handles, the familiar creak of the heavy oak doors made her heart soar. She waved to a blonde haired, skinny boy sitting at a computer behind the reception desk. Travelling up the three flights of wide wooden stairs that strung through the magnificent levels of the library, she reached her destination; the fourth floor. She walked around the aisles before assuring herself she was alone. She made her way to the furthest corner from the stairs and grasped the side of one of the metal bookshelves. It opened on a set of hinges. She took one last look behind her before entering the room and closed the secret passage behind her.

The smell of old books and dust instantly filled her nostrils. She tossed her backpack, jacket, and shoes in a heap on a part of the wooden floor not covered by an ornate rug. The light from the towering window to her left filled the secret room with warm, bright sunlight. She closed her eyes and smiled, taking in a deep breath in and filling her lungs with the familiar smell of old books and dust. She fell down to the soft embrace of the paisley carpet beneath her feet. Her feet slowly traveled through the soft threads of the carpet. The feeling was exhilarating, something she had longed for the entirety of fall break. She was finally back in her favorite place on earth.

The room sat in the far back corner of the library, a cathedral ceiling reached its zenith from within the room, and if you looked up at just the right angle, your brain might start playing tricks on you. This wasn’t only Finn’s favorite room because it was the one place on earth she could truly be alone, but because it housed the rejects from history’s most famous authors and poets. Included among the works was a rejected draft of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In this version, Alice ends up following a groundhog through the Queen of Heart’s land and is taken as a servant girl, forever stuck in a fictional world away from friends and family. Another was a collection of short stories from Edgar Allen Poe, forsaken for their flowery and romantic nature. Finn’s favorite, however was a pop-up book about Puck and Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  They traveled through the woods and drank nectar with the faeries. The rest of the book detailed in bright illustrations the shenanigans they got into.

Finn was currently lying in the center of the decorative rug thinking about what she might want to read today. She sat up, bits of dust flying around her head upset by her hair and sudden movements. She turned abruptly and located the long ladder that slid along the towering bookshelf. Mustering up the energy to rise from the comfortable rug, she stood and climbed the ladder up to the 15th shelf. Heights were not something Finn handled with grace. The shelves reached incredible heights and the ladder was long enough to reach the top, supporting itself with rolling brackets along individual shelves. She would always tell herself one day she would climb the whole thing, but today was not that day. She sorted through the books before her, until she finally decided to choose a second draft of a dystopian novel written by Charlotte Bronte.


Last Week’s Story: Trapped

Next Week’s Story: Mystery Man

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