The first chapter was more of a prologue than an introductory chapter to the main characters. Here we meet Finn, the character I connect with the most.
Now, some of you that have been here a while might have noticed I’ve already posted this chapter, but for the sake of transparency, I completely forgot that until I had finished editing this and don’t have a new story for you, so enjoy the most recent draft of my second chapter!
Finn did her best the next day in school to keep up with her lecture. Her thin fingers flipped a pencil around her thumb. Today her professor was Dr. William Shakespeare VII. He was a quirky man with round glasses that would often gesticulate wildly with every word he spoke.
At the present moment, he was standing on a chair next to a table on which sat a covered cage, shivering with movement. Pinched between his index finger and thumb, he dangled a live mouse over the crate.
“You see this mouse? Struggling for its life? It’s doing everything it can to be free from the imminent danger it is presently in” said the professor. Finn leaned forward, her eyes widened, and her pencil fell to the floor. Her classmates were all shielding their eyes with their hands or textbooks.
The professor slowly lowered the mouse into the cage. It hadn’t made it two inches before something reached a furry paw up out of the cage to grab it. 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.
“What wisdom that man has” Finn’s friend Paige said as they left the lecture hall.
“I mean, I guess,” Finn 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 to tide us over are fairytales passed down from our grandparents. Just get over it.” Finn fell silent and clutched the books she was holding closer to her chest. “Yeah” she said quietly. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow” Paige said, walking down a hallway to their left.
“See you then” Finn replied quietly, thankful that the day was finally over. Socializing was so exhausting for Finn, if she could simply stay in class and absorb as much knowledge as possible, she would be happy.
Finn walked down the remainder of the corridor, 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 charming rustic aesthetic.
She crunched dead leaves as she walked, and when she tugged on the wrought iron handles, the familiar creak of the heavy oak doors brought a smile to her face. She waved to a blonde haired skinny boy sitting at a computer behind the reception desk.
Travelling up the three flights of wide oak 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 around before entering the room and closed the secret passage behind her.
She tossed her backpack, jacket, and shoes in a heap on a part of the stone 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 which slowly traveled through the soft threads of the carpet. She was finally back in her favorite place on earth, even if she had only been here yesterday.
The room sat in the far back corner of the library. It had its own pyre that rose up into the sky. A crystal chandelier hung from the zenith from within the room. Shelves lined the walls to the ceiling and some could only be obtained using a tall ladder. This room was secluded from the rest of the school, silent, and smelled like heaven. To make things even more special, it also 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 about the widow he left behind. 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. Bits of dust flew around her head upset by her hair and sudden movements as she rose from the rug. She located the long ladder that slid along the towering bookshelf. Doing her best not to look down and ignore her sweaty palms, she climbed to the 15th shelf. 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 Earnest Hemingway.