Here Be Dragons: Chapter 13

“You know you’re being stupid right?” Suzy chided her. She hadn’t believed Riley when she told her about the dream stuff and Riley didn’t blame her. It was nuts, and unlike Riley, Suzy knew Bruce. Riley should have realized she would have. It’s not like they lived in a big town.

Of course Suzy knew the kid who was in a grade above them who often ignored everyone and was known for falling asleep in class a lot. Though as Riley explained to her, if he was fighting monsters in dreams all night, he would be tired and sleeping in class.

“He’s still weird,” She said in a scoff. They were both walking to the book store as Riley had Aunt Alice drop them off a block away. It was either that or run the risk that she’d come in with them and then Riley would have had no time to find and talk to Bruce.

Riley was still grateful that her aunt wanted to see her friend, but she had surprised her when she said she would never again enter this store. Riley had tried to press her on it, but she had pursed her lips and said she would just go to the Barnes and Noble over in Woodbury. It was all so very…

“Yeah, well you’re weird.” Suzy said as they neared the front of the shop.

“So what? My weird is awesomeness.”

“Lolz. Whatever.”

“Say you.”

Suzy went as though she was going to push her and Riley shuffled in a knee jerk response which nearly caused her to lose her balance. She had shifted quickly and the pain that shot up her leg made her teeth clench and she felt her legs turn into noodles unable to support her weight. Suzy saw it, and quickly reached out to steady her before Riley could pancake on the ground before them.

“I got it.” She grumbled as she steadied out.

“You sure? We don’t need you breaking the other leg.” Suzy said it in that joking manner of hers, but Riley could see the concern.

“Na, it’d be fine. You’d just have to carry me everywhere.” Riley was trying to forget the pain but she still felt it’s fingertips dancing along her lower back. She feared she still might fall and paid more attention on where they were going.

“Never happen. Guess we’d just have to get you a wheel chair.”

“Motor scooter! I’d zip around everywhere. Get a go cart engine on it and tear up the sidewalks. Vroom!”

“You’re trying to get yourself in a body cast.” Suzy said, laughing. They reached the front door and Suzy hurried to grab it as Riley reached for the small square that would have opened the door automatically. Riley smiled and went in to the little shop.

“Maybe I just want everyone to take care of me.” She walked in, but stopped just inside the doorway. Riley had been looking at the door and the building as they had walked up to it, but hadn’t paid attention to the large bay windows. The place was nothing like she would have expected and she was amazed. Maybe movies were to blame for this, as every independent bookstore she had ever seen had been dark, dingy and filled with dust and cobwebs. This place she had just walked into was clean, brightly lit, and large enough to have rows of books and not feel overcrowded. How had she never been in there?

Then she thought of the sign out front and remembered that the front of the store did look old and dingy with the front large bay windows covered in dirt and film to prevent anyone from seeing inside. It was odd to have such a large contrast.

Suzy bumped into her, Suzy’s own surprise visible on her face and she hadn’t been watching Riley to see that she had stopped.

“Yeah right, Your aunt will still make you do the dis-“ her voice trailed off as she followed her in and looked around the store. “This place is awesome.”

“Yeah, think they’ll have the latest Skulduggery book or maybe even the last Harry Potter book?”

They immediately went to the right, looking down the rows and rows of books. The book shelves were taller than them both and made looking from one aisle into the next impossible. The walls were covered in books from floor to ceiling, which was amazing as the ceiling was two stories high. Ladders ran along the walls so that anyone wanting a book up there would have to climb to get them down, which Riley did not think was all that safe.

Hey, maybe put all the kids books up there? Kids loved to climb. Though they also liked to fall down, break their legs and have to be taken everywhere by relatives as they were now on crutches. At least if the kids books were up there, the clerks wouldn’t have to chase little kids around and find where they stashed books they liked.

Riley chuckled at the thoughts going through her head of little kids climbing ladders and clerks chasing them around the store. She was imagining quiet the fun scene. It would make for an excellent movie, one of those poorly made family comedies that often featured washed up comedians.

They walked to the wall and turned down the farthest aisle, the book covered wall.

“You do know that the series ended and the last book was out for awhile now. You know, a couple years after you were born. They even made it into a movie.” Suzy said, making sure to do her air quotes as she made a big production of saying, ‘movie.’

“I read the Deathly Hollows.” Riley said with a grimace. She wasn’t looking at her, but reading the titles for the books along the wall. They had made their way into the self help section, and she was having a hard time listening to Suzy, walking on the crutches, and not laughing at some of the latest books for ‘Dummies.’ “I just thought there were more coming out. They making those prequel movies now, isn’t there some book for them.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I can look it up” Suzy said as she pulled out her cell phone and started tapping at her screen.

“Or we could just ask. We’re in a book store.”

“But what’s the fun in that?”

“We need to find someone to talk to anyway. Just saying.”

“So how you going to go about this? Do you have a plan or just walk up to the counter and say ‘hey, I was told to come here by some kid in a dream.’”

“He didn’t tell me to come here while I was in the dream.” Riley said as she stopped at a break in the shelves. To the right it looked like it went into another room, but the door was closed and labeled “Special Order Books, Off Limits.” To the left, the gap lead them over to the other rows of books and she could see to the other side of the store where there were more bookshelves along the wall. That side had no door.

Riley tried to remember the size of the store as they had neared it from the street and something about the door didn’t make any sense. From the outside, this door should lead to an alley. There wasn’t enough room there for another room, not unless it was very small. Maybe this was the door that lead into some kind of special hidden base? She had seen enough cartoons to know that hidden bases could be found anywhere if you knew how to look for the special entrance. This wasn’t the most clever one she’d seen, but she guessed it could work. How often did anyone special order a book anyway?

“He told me to come here after the dream, when we were both awake.” Riley said as she motioned to the door. Suzy looked back at her confused and Riley shook her head giving out a frustrated sigh as she moved for the door. She reached out her hand slowly for the door handle, making sure to balance her weight. She held her breath and was going with exaggerated slowness so as not to make any noise.

Her hand had just enclosed the door handle when two things happened to make everything go wrong. First was the voice they heard suddenly behind them, an old man’s voice that gruffly asked, “May I help you?” and the second was the door swinging in just was Riley shifted her weight on it to push it open.

Riley had barely a second to comprehend the first as she fell forward, not able to regain her balance in time and knew there was nothing she could do. Whatever was on the other side of the door, she was going to fall straight into it.

She had a sudden sense of panic, worried that it was going to be a staircase or something that lead down into some secret lair. Which of course meant that she was going to fall right into it, and possibly all the way down the stairs, breaking her other leg and even maybe her neck. Who knew how long and far the staircase would be. It could go deep underground into a secret catacombs, something like those crypts they have in France. Though it would be cooler if it was something like in the Resident Evil games where it was like a massive fortress hidden away to do experiments underneath the town.

Which of course then led her to think, you know, as you’re falling, you have a lot of time to think about how painful it is going to be when you smash into the ground, but not enough to think about whatever you can do to stop it.

She narrowed her eyes, prepared herself mentally, and had one last thought before she hit. Aw, crap, I’m going to get tangled up in those crutches, which she realized she had let go of as soon as she had started to fall. This is really going to hurt. I really am going to break my other leg…

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