I thought that having an alarm clock that blared at me whenever I didn’t follow its instructions was odd, but finding a book with my name on the spine–that I had no recollection of writing (or not writing, in this case)–was just a bit weirder.
Flipping through the book, not a page was printed on. All off-white. They looked old and used, the book smelled like an old book, but nothing was written here. Was I supposed to fill it? God, I’m taking my meds. But I’m clearly going crazy. Being homeless must just affect your brain, make you go bonkers.
The alarm clock dinged a few times. A warning to get moving. Okay, okay. Where the hell are you taking me now?
But once I stepped away from the bookshelf with the–my–empty book, a cumbersome thing despite its emptiness, I turned back the way I came. The clock didn’t ring to warn me I was going the wrong direction, so I kept walking. After making it back to the entrance of the bookstore, I looked out the window. Still pouring rain. Maybe I could use this useless book as my new umbrella.
I tried the door. It didn’t budge. I pushed instead of pulled. Nothing. I didn’t see any locking mechanism.
No one was nearby to help. In fact, I hadn’t seen anyone since entering the store.
“Hello?” I called. The only answers were echoes.
I went in search of some help. The store was much bigger than it looked from the outside, with a giant spiral staircase and countless bookshelves reaching all the way up to a too-high rooftop. I expected the clock to help direct me, but it stayed silent.
Roaming through row after row of bookshelves, I found nothing but dust and shadow. And books. So many books. They didn’t seem to have any logical order to them, and I didn’t recognize any of the names or titles. Peeking inside a few, they were as devoid of words as my own book. What was this place?
I found a back exit, but it was sealed shut, like the entrance. After several minutes deliberating whether I wanted to commit vandalism, I threw a heavy book at the window to break through. It bounced off the glass without a dent. I kicked at the windows, the doors, threw things, yelled out for help at all the pedestrians calming walking around outside, but nobody came to my aid, and the windows and doors remained firmly in place.
“What do I do?” I found myself asking the alarm clock. This retro analog thing with two little bells on top. “Where do I go? Ring, goddammit!”
But the clock was silent. I felt like it was judging me. Like I was unworthy. I looked at my book–the one with my name on the spine. Opened it up. Still empty.
I pulled a pen from one of my coat pockets. I forgot I carried a pen.
On the first page of the book, I wrote, “I never understood why the alarm clock rang at seemingly random times, until I put together the pattern.”
And my story began. I hoped I would be able to write my way out of this.
Today’s three random prompt categories were, “Judgment,” “An empty book in an empty bookstore,” and, “A house traps residents inside.”
More direct continuation from “Wake Up and Chase the Rainbow” and “The Empty Book in the Empty Bookstore.” This weird story is turning serialized. I’m curious where it’s going to go!