CW11 – Advice for Charmont

This week’s assignment is to write a short story about meeting a literary or historical figure. I have chosen a chance meeting at the climax of Ella Enchanted where I meet Prince Charmont and convince him not to hate Ella.

 

I loved shopping in the giant antique mall on the outskirts of town. It in a massive factory building that felt as if it’s wooden floors might fall apart at any moment. Though it certainly must have had some understandable design once, the rooms now seemed like someone took ten buildings and smashed them together without thinging. The conglameration of endless junk and treasures from the pasts of thousands of people only added to the confusion. It took five minutes to just find a certain booth once you’d lost site of it. There were little stair cases at any given corner, and the occasional closet or restroom stashed in a convenient niche. I could spend ours there and never find myself bored. From every antique item to even the building itself cried out voices telling me their diverse histories.

 

            While I found myself there on a Christmas shopping trip, I wasn’t too incredibly shocked when I stepped through a doorway into a stone room. At first I thought I’d just found a new room, though taken aback by the fact that it was totally bare. I glanced out of a narrow window and saw myself looking down for over 60 feet. I poked my head back through the door way. The room looked just the same, and I could see earth through the little windows close to the ceiling telling me the room was mostly underground. It also had ancient wooden floors, while this new room was completely made of stone. Curiosity wrapped its fingers around me and cried, “Why not?” So it was through this course of events that I found myself winding down a circular stone stairway in a castle tower.

 

            As I stepped through the doorway at the stair’s end I saw a young man in elegant formal attire pacing back and forth in a distressed manner. There were tear stains on his cheeks, but his eyes were now dry. His tawny curls were messy, and I assumed he’d run his fingers through his hair many times in the last half hour. I awkwardly stood in the door way, not sure whether or not I should reascend the stair in silence as to not bother him, or speak. Before I could decide he looked up and our eyes met.

 

            We gazed at each other in silence for a moment. I took in his eyes and studied them, as I did with anyone who gave me a chance. They were blue, and crying out with a longing that searched deeply into me. He was startled, but at the same did not mind my presence, and looked at me as if we were old friends.

 

            “You look like her. If your eyes were a different color and your clothing not so odd, I might have said you were Ella.” He said quietly, addressing me with formality, but comfort. It seemed that he was used to business like conversation, but trusted me rather more than that. “Are you a fairy?”

 

            “No, I’m not a fairy, I think I just happened to run into a fairy’s trap.” I said, somehow feeling quite at home with him.

 

            “Well, I’ve never heard of a fairy’s trap leading to a palace, but Lucinda’s ‘blessings’ often turn into curses.” He frowned a little thought. “I suppose you ran into something of hers.”

 

            I scratched my head, trying to remember the name. “Um. . .probably. Who is Lucinda again? I believe I’ve heard the name, but it does immediately ring a bell.”

 

            “Oh, pardon me!” He stood up strait suddenly and bowed. “I am Prince Charmont!”

 

I curtsied as he continued to speak.

 

“Lucinda is a rogue fairy who insists upon giving people magical blessings which end up as curses.”

 

            “Oh! This is Ella Enchanted!” I started. “I walked through a magical portal into a book!”

 

            Char stared at me, his face stony. “You know Ella?”

 

            “Well, in a manner of speaking. There is a book in my world compiling the events of her early life, and her romance with you.” I smiled at him warmly, and cocked my head as I said this.

 

            “Oh, much good that is. You know it ends with her married to a rich old man.” He spoke indignantly.

 

            “Oh you think so? And yet you are still madly in love with her, to spite burning her letters and calling her every evil name you can think of in the pages of your journal.”

 

            Char looked at me indignantly. “You’ve read my journals?”

 

            “Ella has a magical book that will show here bits and pieces of the lives of those she loves. Your journal entry was in it after you received her fictitious letter.”

 

            “Fictitious?” Char frowned. “Why would Ella lie to me?”

 

            “To protect you.” I leaned on the doorway. “You should not hate her, Char. She loves you more than anything else in the world, and her heart is breaking even more than yours.”

 

            “How do you know all this!” Char demanded, his face reddening.

 

            “Because I’ve read it in a book that details everything happening in her life right now.” I stood up strait and walked toward him. “Char,” I put my hands on his shoulders. “I know I can’t just go off telling you to the future. Once the future is observed and told it will change. But believe me, Ella loves you.”

 

            Char backed from me. “Does she? Then why has she treated me in such a vile fashion?”

 

            “So that you can hate her, instead of forcing her to marry you and endanger the entire kingdom.” I said firmly, trying to be gentle, but growing a bit heated in Ella’s defence.

 

            “Why would she endanger the kingdom?”

 

            “Because she’s been cursed by Lucinda. Char, I can’t tell you more than that.” I stood there thinking for a moment. “Where are we in the story? When did she write the letter, no wait, have you planned a ball yet?”

 

            “Yes, there were two last night and there is one tonight.” Char’s face brightened a little. “There’s a girl that reminds me of Ella, whose always wearing a mask. But I’ve decided to never marry, because I will always love Ella.”

 

            “Then go after her. Tell her you don’t intend to marry in case it isn’t Ella, but go after her all the same.” I said, trying my best to give proper advice and not cause the ruccass that Lucinda’s magic would cause.

 

            “Why? Do you think it is Ella?” He asked, suddenly quivering with hope.

 

            “I. . .I can’t say. I don’t know everything, you know, and I know that messing with things too much and telling people things they shouldn’t know will cause story lines to change and. . .” I trailed off and puzzled for a while. “Ella will not be able to lift her curse unless it is for you. There is no one she loves more, and no stronger power than love will break the curse. Force her to marry you and she will be free.” I looked up and our eyes met.

 

            He smiled and suddenly hugged me. “Oh, thank you! Thank you! If this advice brings Ella to me then I will be indebted to you forever!”

 

            I gasped and then smiled happily in his crushingly strong embrace. “It is my honor. I shall come back through this magical portal if it is still open one day and find out how things went. I’ve always wanted to meet Ella. I feel like she is a sister to me.”

 

            “We will welcome you with open arms!” Char smiled fondly as he let go of me.

 

            “Good luck!” I waved and returned up the winding stair. 

 

 

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CW10 – Chambord Chateau

From the perspective of a female foreign exchange college student from America:

Our tour guide insisted on standing us out on the lawn in front of the building for an explanatory lecture before we could tour the castle. Did I care how much money the French monarchs had “wasted” on this château? Did I care how many mistresses had lived here? This is Chambord! I had waited and dreamed for years and years to actually see this place in person. Completely distracted by my surroundings, I hardly heard one word of the lecture. My eyes darted from the wide expanse of gardens, to the vast intricate forest of pinnacles on the roof. I didn’t really want to go inside. I would have been content wandering about just looking at the details on the outside of the building, but we would be forced to walk through the gaudy, roped-off bedrooms, listen to our tour guide’s discordant voice, and wish we could sit down in the ancient looking chairs. I wished I could just spend a day here, or go to a party here when it was in use! My thoughts wandered through all sorts of scenarios. What would it have been like to actually live here? I looked from window to window, picking out which one I’d want my room to be in. My whole life story as a French princess was already complete by the time the tour guide’s ramble came to a close.

From the perspective of a five-year-old American boy on vacation with his parents:

 

Why did mom insist that we see another castle? What on earth? I was so tired, so, so, so tired, and we’d been castle touring all day! Did she think that five-year-old boys like me enjoyed chateaus? I thought of the hotel room and all of my toy soldiers, just waiting for an intense battle. My red soldiers would take the high ground on the sofa, and the green soldiers would get trapped on the floor. “Pay attention Henry!” Mom’s voice shook me from my daydream. “Isn’t this view of the lawns just lovely? And just look at all those neat little towers up there! I bet you’d have fun exploring them!” I wished I could explore them. We probably wouldn’t even get to go in them. The urge to climb on the roof like a monkey swept over me. Average tours are boring. I wanted to go on a tour ninja style! What if I went to a ninja school and we got to come here for an outing? We could practice scaling the building and breaking through windows on unsuspecting tourists! Maybe we could even come on a day when someone rich and famous and really evil was there and assassinate them! Ninja life must be really cool!

From the view point of a 54-year-old French female tour-guide:

 

My gaze swept the group of around 30 visitors. Most of them were Americans, but there were a few from different countries. I liked it when I had really interested people, but this crowd had several kids who were liable to get rowdy. Inwardly, I prayed that none of them would be screaming by the end of the trip. Pushing those thoughts to the back of my head, I continued my explanation of the castle’s history. I tried to ignore the bright sun glaring into my eyes and reflecting off the water as I spoke. “Our Monarchs wasted endless amounts of money on this project, each one adding more it.” How many people listening to this cared about the history of my country? How many of them even knew what happened? My years of repeating this speech to English speaking tourists always held that question, is this worth it? Will these people remember?

From the view point of a 35-year-old Swedish Architect:

 

I struggled to understand our tour guide’s accented English. To spite taking English for some years, I still fought to understand someone speaking it, especially an older French woman. I tried to focus on the grand architecture, and dreamed of building something like it one day. Being an architect was glorious, but I no one at home in Sweden would ever commission me to build something like this. I had designed buildings for several years, and wondered if anyone in this group could appreciate this artwork as much as I did. Having studied the massive double spiraling staircase in particular for some time, I couldn’t wait to see it in person. This double staircase was every architects dream, practically a legend. Maybe, just maybe some really rich person would hire me to build something this gorgeous for them. I chewed my lip in anticipation, again straining my ears to discern the French accented English. Apparently the tour guide was giving a history of the palace, but I already knew most of it from previous years of study in architectural school. I wished she would talk about the people who built it, not the royals that commissioned it or lived there.

JW10 – From A Mother’s Perspective

This week’s journal post is to re-write a real-life event from someone else’s perspective. I chose a visit to the doctor’s office from my mother’s point of view. 

She sat on the exam table and waited for the doctor, if in fact it could be called a table. It was more like a sinister gray cot with tissue paper spread over it, something that was designed to keep patients in mental terror. I took the chair next to her and we each pulled out our various projects. I smiled to myself, happy that at least one of my daughters had taken after me in my hobby of sewing and embroidery. She embroidered the corners of and apron she had recently made; giving the raw edges a nice finish. I worked on my needlepoint project, a picture of a house, which would one day, be a purse for me. We conversed a little back and forth about our various projects. She queried me over the differences and similarities between needlepoint and embroidery, as she had never done needlepoint herself. After a little wait the doctor entered the room and asked a series of questions regarding why we had come. She replied with her story of the injury, while I listened and took mental notes. He examined the hip joint, taking her ankle and testing the range of the joint as she sat on the table. He pushed her ankle to the left and the right, dictating the rage to the nurse. I winced, imagining the pain it must cause, but she seemed unaffected. After several more questions he requested an x-ray and led her from the room.

 

JW 9 – A Backwards Glance

This assignment is to look back at this years writing and discuss it. 

 

For some reason this semester has found me tired. I used to write stories all the time, I was always finding some new yarn to spin. All though I once called them books, they were certainly children’s books, from a child’s perspective. I was always dreaming about wild adventures, riding horses, and sweeping cloaks. At fourteen I started my first big project, it was sort of a fantasy autobiography based on a dream I had set in Colonial Williamsburg. After some months of work on it, I lost momentum, and gave it a break. As I grew up, spent a good bit of deliberating and attempting to solidify the story in my mind, and matured through my own life, I realized it didn’t have what it would take to make a good book.

Then I met several characters. They were extremely complex with a number of difficult issues that I would have to solve. After creating all of their complex back stories and deciding that each one was responsible for breaking the other’s curses, I realized that I couldn’t figure out how to break those curses. My characters each were searching for and asking questions I didn’t have the answers for. I will certainly finish this story one day, but I let the story rest.

Since then I have written poems and various descriptions of people, but I have not found a great inspiration for a long project or story. I also know that I shouldn’t start another story, considering all the unfinished ones I already have.

I’ve been through lots of English classes that force me to write essays, arguing for some random topic that I struggle to care about. So I was really excited to start this class. I would finally just be able to break free.

What is it about inspiration? What is it about energy? I’m tired. I don’t know what it is about this year, but I haven’t been touched by the muse. I was during the summer. I did a few water colors. I’ve made lots of things. But I haven’t been inspired to write anything for some months. I generally write a poem every now and then, but even that hasn’t happened in a while. So, while I haven’t hated anything I’ve written so far, I haven’t really liked any of it either. It’s just forced and seems unnatural to me. Even this, a journal post, feels forced.

So I shall petition the muse for inspiration, and we shall see what will come of it.

CW8 – Beauty And The Beast

This weeks assignment is a free write. I chose to explore the mind of Bell from Disney’s Beauty and The Beast as she enters the forbidden West Wing.

 

Bell slowly walked up the steps toward the west wing, surprised to see that the further she went, the dustier it became. Her feet began to leave foot prints on the stair. Who was this beast, that he would live in such decay? To spite his urgent forbidding of her to cross these thresholds, Bell knew better. At least, that is what she told herself. If he was ever to win the battles he constantly fought with himself, someone would have to save him, someone would have to know the secret faults lying within him. If he had been locked away as a recluse in this palace for many years, if he had been locked away with his battles, he must not be able to face them on his own. Who was he and what had happened to him, to make him so afraid of himself? These questions she had come to answer.

She walked slowly, trying not to disturb her surroundings, or make noise. Her heart quickened as she passed through the ancient rooms. She had brought no candle with her, and the rooms were not lit, save the moon light falling in through the large windows.

Curiously, she traversed room, after room. Every piece of these rooms was something from his past, something he didn’t want to face. If he lived in this wing, where did he live? All the rest of the castle was in fine condition, and yet this wing was full of vast deterioration. Had anyone dusted in the last ten years? Why did he refuse to touch these rooms? What part of his past was spent there that he wanted to forget, that he wanted to sink into this decay?

Most of the furniture lay in proper arrangements not touched for many years. No one had covered unused pieces with a white cloth, as was often the practice. A wine glass remained on a table, it’s crystal form claimed by a spider as an excellent form for a web. What did he want to forget, and yet to lay unchanged, untouched, unused? Why would his servants care meticulously for the parts of the castle he hardly traversed, and yet never clean his own rooms?

Her reflection eyed her at ten angles from a broken mirror. She started, thinking for a moment that she was not alone. She breathed in deeply and let out a sigh, hoping her heart would slow a little. The beast would certainly find her eventually, but she hoped desperately to learn something of him first. How could she help him if she knew nothing of him? Where in this wing had he hidden his secret?

Then she found it. Two huge doors were shut at the end of a wide hall. Paw prints in the thick dust showed that he often came to this place. He must have hidden himself here. She paused, unsure whether or not to enter, for fear that he would be behind those doors even now. Swallowing her fear, she pushed them open.

Future lay every where heaped with cobwebs and dust. To spite the obvious usage of the room, it seemed in a worse disrepair than any of the others she had seen yet. As she walked through the room her eyes traced over everything. Glancing at a painting on the wall, she forgot to look in front of her and knocked over a little table. Catching it quickly, she righted it, and went on toward the painting.

It was a formal portrait of a prince. The canvas was torn, so that his face was cut in half. She lifted the old cloth and spread it out so that the face was complete. He had a noble appearance and a stern face. The penetrating gaze of his deep blue eyes was oddly familiar. She felt as if she knew him, and yet knew that she had never seen his face before. A gasp escaped her lips as she put together all that she knew of the beast. This was his secret. This was his face.

She whirled around, suddenly anxious to leave. Now that her curiosity had been satisfied she felt the disrespect of trespassing. But as she turned to go, her eyes rested on something far more beautiful than a painting.

Set just inside a French window to a balcony was a small, round, stone table. On top of the table was an incandescent rose, certainly thick with enchantment, covered with a glass globe. Bell rushed forward and lifted the glass from the rose, her curiosity overwhelming her once more. She set the glass on the floor and reached out to touch the rose.

Before her fingers touched the flower, a the dark form of the beast blocked out the moonlight in window. He snatched the globe from the floor, placing it back over the flower. Bell screamed in terror.

“I thought I told you never to come here!” He shouted. “Do you realize what you could have done? Get out!” His voice rung through the palace walls.

Bell fled.

 

 

Inspired by http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8G7GAHJTm4

JW7 – Washing His Feet

There are two similar stories in the Bible, which have touched me deeply, especially in recent months. The first is found in Luke 7, and the second in John 12. Each of these stories describes women who loved Jesus, coming to him and anointing his feet with oil. The first woman was a prostitute who was sorry for her sins and knew that Jesus had come to forgive them. The second was Mary, a beloved friend of Jesus who knew he was the Messiah. The passion that each of these women demonstrate has always astonished me. Why did they do such a thing? Why would they pour out precious oil on his feet?

 

For some years I never understood those stories, but recently I have met people to whom I am extremely grateful. Each one of them has been so incredibly kind to me that it has brought me to tears. These two people live a very long way from me and I rarely get to see them in person. That makes being with them more special than almost anything else in my life. With one of them in particular, I am ever more reminded of those two stories, and of Jesus’ words about Mary. “Let her alone. . .The poor you have with you always, but you don’t always have me.” (John 12:7 MSG) I gave this person a present and was so eager to spend time with him in a way that I hardly am eager to spend time with anyone. Time with him is so precious because he is kinder to me than anyone I have ever met, and also because I can only see him once out of the year, and for a very short amount of time at that. These two stories have touched me so much because I know what it is that they felt, and because of that I have learned how sweet time with Jesus really is.

CW6 – Cathy’s Adventure In The Belly Of The Mountain

“The volcano is due to erupt in a week or less, Cathy. How long will it take you to get that room packed? You’ve had too much time!”

 

“Oh, alright! I’ll finish it this afternoon! I’ve just got to pack up all my books.” Cathy ran a dusty hand through her red hair, as she surveyed the large stacks of books she’d taken from her shelf. How could she just uproot all this history? How could she say goodbye to this beautiful library?

 

“Oh! Cathy! I forgot to tell you!” Her mother called from the other end of the small house. “Mr. Mortimer needs to be told about the evacuation!”

 

Cathy’s head shot up indignantly from a book she’d peeked into. The book slammed shut. “Mr. Mortimer?! And what does that have to do with me?” She turned and faced the open door.

 

Her mother walked down the hall toward her. “Your father and I are going to get your grandmother. We need to make sure that all her things are packed up. We’ll come back at five to get you and our last load. In the mean time, you need to hike over to his house and tell him.”

 

“And why on earth would I want to talk to a recluse! Much less go to his house!” Cathy couldn’t believe her mom would make such an absurd demand.

 

“Cathy!” Her mother put a hand on her shoulder, in attempts to calm her. “We are his closest neighbors. It’s only a two-mile hike to his house. He doesn’t have a phone, or TV or anything that would let him know that there is an evacuation. He hasn’t been seen in town for several months.”

 

“Well then maybe he died!” Cathy glared at her mother. “Do you think I want to hike two miles up a mountain to talk to some freak who is stuck in a giant house with no electricity? What if I get lost in there? What if I can’t even see anything when I walk through the front door? I mean, you think he’s got the whole thing full of burning candles all the time? What if it collapses on me?”

 

“Cathy!” Her mother stifled laughter in her attempts to be sincere. “Stop these bizarre imaginations! The times that I’ve met him he has been very kind. You’ll be just fine.”

 

“Honey! Are you ready?” A shout was heard from the back door.

 

“I’ll be just a moment!” Cathy’s mother shouted. “Well, you’re father’s waiting. I’ve got to run!”

 

Cathy sat on the floor moping as she listened to the sounds of her parents car fade away into the distance. She wondered how to get out of this mess. What if she just pretended to tell him and said that the house was empty? What if she said he wouldn’t come with her, or wouldn’t believe any of this mess about a volcano? That had happened to a guy that lived near Mt. St. Helen’s. Why couldn’t it happen again?

 

Within an hour she had finished packing her books and the few scattered belongings in her room. She wondered if the house would still be there after the volcano, or if this would be her last day there. For a while she deliberately stayed put, reading one of her books, but her conscience wouldn’t stay quiet.

 

“Oh alright!” She yelled into the air, and smacked the book shut again. “Fine! I’ll go! But I really don’t want to! What if he’s a cereal killer? I mean, that happens to people who don’t spend time with other people!”

 

She trudged slowly along the pathway through the forest. Burrs from the low bramble stuck to her shoes and pants. There had been a reason why she didn’t like to hike this path. It had grown over with thorns and all sorts of pesky plants. It wasn’t anything like the mossy paths in the gullies that she liked to hike on. The sun beat down through the trees, and made her agonizingly uncomfortable.

 

As she rambled through the woods her imagination only grew stranger. He could be totally creepy! What if he was a murderer like that guy in Secret Window? What if he’d been banned from coming into town because they thought he killed people? Fear crowed every corner of her mind.

 

She stood still. What if she just turned around right now? She didn’t have to go and risk being murdered.

 

“I’ll just say he refused to come!” She declared to the silent wood. “See if you can make me do whatever you want me to!” She screamed into the forest. “See if you can always tell me to do anything you want! You’ll never know, will you mom? You’ll never know, and you can’t change it! I don’t want to save this stupid recluse! He dug himself into his own hole! He can climb out if he wants! He could speak to the world if he wanted to!”

 

Cathy ran, heedless of the bramble that clawed her clothes. She didn’t care any more. She was fed up with all her mom’s stupid rules. She was fed up with all of it.  In her rage she stopped noticing all the things in the woods that she had counted so bothersome before. Her foot caught on a root and she found herself rolling head long down the side of the hill into a ravine. The trees thinned and she hit a bare stretch covered with years worth of dry leaves. Her speed quickened. To spite flailing her arms to catch anything, she kept rolling.

 

She thudded into a hollow at the ravine floor. As she staggered upright, brushing leaves off her clothing, she saw a door in the face of the mountain. Curiously, she went forward and examined it, running her fingers through her bedraggled hair. Carved into the face of the metal door was an illustrious writing. She ran her hands over it, knocking off dirt. It was so rusty and covered with dirt and moss, that she could only make out the word “Joseph.” Suddenly the door gave way as she was leaning against it and she tumbled inside a dark room. A series of alarm noises and the grating of large stones filled her ears. A different door thudded shut behind her. Red flashing lights illuminated the cave. “Security system enabled. Emergency lock down initiated. Protective waterfall turning on. Protective waterfall system will run for three days. Perimeter securing. Perimeter securing.” A voice called out through what seemed like an endless amount of rooms, as the thundering sound of water deafened her left ear.

 

Cathy sat up and surveyed her newfound prison. “Oh my gosh? Three days? Really? I’m stuck in here for THREE DAYS?!” She stood up. “So… my mom sends me to find a recluse and I get locked in some weird mountain jail!” She wandered through the cave-like room toward an opening at its far end. “Well, I might as well explore, if I’m stuck! I mean, if there’s a security system, there’s probably treasure down here!”

 

Some hours passed as she wandered from cave to cave and her feeling of excitement and wonder died away. It had been a bit of an adventure at first. She had successfully buried her feelings of fear and overwhelmed them with curiosity. But now she was hungry, lonely and exhausted. Maybe she should have gone to find the recluse? Maybe he wasn’t all that bad? Surely talking to him wouldn’t be worse than being stuck in a cave with a security system, and electric lighting. What was this even?  Who would spend massive amounts of money on something this bizarre?

 

In a muddle of confusion she plopped wearily down on the floor, her thoughts running back through the events of the day. Would she ever see her mom again? Would she be stuck down here when the volcano erupted? Tears dripped down her cheeks as she thought of how her mother was probably acting right now, having no idea where to find her. What a fool she had been. How unkind she had been! How selfish she had been! Cathy curled up on the stone floor and cried until she fell asleep.

 

When she woke up again the red lights had stopped flashing, and a dim blue light filled the caves. She wandered about again, wondering if she could find anything worth eating, or maybe a little stream. She’d heard of underground lakes before. Maybe she’d find one.

 

Time muddled. She had no way of knowing when the volcano would erupt. She was completely alone. What if no one ever came for her? It slowly dawned on her that she had become just like the recluse. Had he been totally isolated for a reason other than just being strange? She had no right to have left him there with no warning.

 

As Cathy explored the vast caves she began to find more evidence of human activity. The earlier caverns had been empty, save odd light fixtures in various places and speakers spread out. Now, there were a few carved halls, instead of rambling tunnels. Before long she found herself at the foot or a narrow staircase carved in the stone, which she climbed carefully.

 

She blinked as she came out of the tunneling flight of steps. Before her was a gigantic cavern with a magnificent chandelier hanging in the middle of the ceiling. Around her on every side were books. Some of the books were on shelves; many were piled in endless stacks. Carved high on the far wall was an inscription in the same lettering as the door. “The Library of Sir Joseph William Mortimer” Cathy read slowly. She gasped. It was Mr. Mortimer’s caves she’d lost herself in! Perhaps there was a way to his house!

 

Stumbling over books, she ran around the room. She searched everywhere for another entrance. Surely he didn’t hike all the way down into that gully to get into this place! Eagerly she explored every crevice, but to no avail. She found no other entry to the room.

 

Dazed, she sat down in a chair by one of the bookshelves. Who was this man and what on earth did he want with all these books? She glanced at the shelf next to her and began to read the names on each tome. Within a few moments she found herself eating up a copy of The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis. Being stuck in a library couldn’t be all that bad. Cathy had loved to read since she was three years old. Her grandmother had taught her to read from a picture book of Heidi. Since that day Cathy had been obsessed with books.

 

After some time lost in the philosophical ramblings of Lewis, Cathy looked up from the book. For a moment she wondered where she was, having been so intrigued by the book that she had forgotten everything else. She took in the room again and remembered her uncanny circumstance. She was stuck in an old underground library in a volcanic mountain that was about to erupt. Moreover this library belonged to a recluse who’d moved to the property a few years back to reclaim some family land his father had willed to him. The man had been rarely seen and was rumored to be incredibly strange, having no phone, TV, Internet, or even electricity.

 

Cathy ran over all these odd facts in her head, trying to remember everything she knew about the man. She realized she didn’t even know how old he was. What if he was so old he couldn’t get out much?  Turning over all sorts of thoughts in her head, Cathy began to explore the library again. She ran her fingers over the books and studied the titles. “C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Brian Jacques. . .” She whispered as she read, “I must be in the British authors section…” Within a few book shelves she found that she could no longer read the names. “Oh… so this guy is bi-lingual…” she muttered, as she scanned the endless section of French books. “Oh dear, multi-lingual! This one is German! Why, this is Luther’s translation of the Bible!” She pulled a little brown book from the shelf. “It’s so beautiful!”

 

She stifled a yawn as she slipped the book back onto the shelf and continued onward. For some time, she wandered through the room until she rounded the corner of a shelf and found a large leather sofa with several books scattered over it. With little hesitation she cleared it off and lay down, falling asleep in a few moments.

 

A cough woke her from her dreams. “Who on earth are you? And how did you get in here?” Said a young man’s voice.

 

Cathy jumped from the couch, her heart pounding heavily. “I’m just a neighbor, I didn’t mean any harm!” She cried, her eyes whirling about the room to find the voice of the intruder.

“Well, I see no harm done. I hope you have enjoyed the books.” The voice softened.

 

Cathy started, tripped over a book and fell down on the coffee table in front of the couch. In front of her was a man wearing a cloak and a white mask over the top half of his face.

 

“I’m not that terrifying am I?” He laughed. “I thought the mask made me look better.”

 

“But… who…” Cathy stammered.

 

“I am Joseph William Mortimer the 5th. My family has been building this library for some time.” He sat down in a chair by the couch. “Since you are wondering, I was born with a disfigured face and have been living here in seclusion for the past three years.” He smiled, and cocked his head to the side. “You seem much taken aback. What were you expecting when you wandered into a cave with a security system on a volcanic mountain?”

 

“Um….” Cathy blushed all over. She’d been expecting a grumpy old man yelling her out of the place, not a young man a few years older than herself. “Well there’s a volcano and, and I was supposed to come get you cause you don’t have a TV or Internet or anything!” She blurted.

 

“Oh… it’s going to erupt sometime?” The man started back. “I’ve been wondering about various signs I’ve seen, but my family had promised to come and get me. They had built the upper house without electricity and all because it cost so much to upkeep the library and cave systems, especially the waterfall security system to trap intruders. Trust me, I didn’t design all this. It’s extremely weird!”

 

Cathy stared for a moment. “Uh… yeah. Well, sorry. Let me start again in a more dignified manner. The volcano is supposed to erupt in a few days so they are evacuating the area and my mom sent me to get you. I fell down a ravine because I was running and accidentally found the door. I was looking at it and it fell in when I leaned on it and then suddenly I was trapped down here. I don’t even know how long I’ve been here. At least two days, maybe more.” Her tongue raced almost as fast as her heart.

 

“Don’t be afraid, um… pardon, I don’t know your name…”

 

“Oh, it’s Cathy! And… do I call you Joe?” She offered her hand.

 

He shook it cordially. “Joe is fine I guess… I haven’t had many friends, my family calls me Joseph. But… you’ve been down here three days. The alarm went off in the evening while I was having dinner and I didn’t want to check it immediately. Then I forgot about it.”

 

“Three days!” Cathy gasped. “Well, first things first Joe, we need to get out of here! The volcano could erupt any minute!”

 

“I have a car. Let’s go.” Joe led her to a rather tall cabinet, and after fiddling and knocking on it; it slid back to reveal a winding staircase. “Come on, up to the top.”

 

They ran up the stone steps until they reached a doorway. Cathy collapsed at the top. “I’m so, so hungry.” She gasped.

 

Joe picked her up at once and kept running. “We’ve got to get out of here! There’s snack food in the car, and I can get water from the kitchen.”

 

He carried through a myriad of ornate rooms and finally placed her in a Land Rover. “I’ll be right back!” He rush away and quickly returned with several canteens of water.

 

Cathy ate and drank as Joe drove down the mountain. As they drove she directed him to the shelter for evacuees. After some hours they finally arrived and Cathy saw her parents standing near the entrance. They ran and embraced happily, her mother shedding tears of joy.

 

The volcano erupted the next day, but thankfully went down the opposite side of the mountain leaving Joe’s library safe and sound. For the rest of their lives, Cathy and Joe explored the great family library, which they added onto for many years. Cathy convinced Joe to stop wearing his mask, and that having crooked eyebrows was not a disfigurement to be ashamed of.