Read Unwritten Books 1 - Unwritten Girl Online

Authors: James Bow

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BOOK: Unwritten Books 1 - Unwritten Girl
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The sky outside the front windows was darkening. Another snow squall was coming. She might have to call home to get a lift after all.

Enough was enough. Nobody else was coming. She’d shelve the remaining books and call it a day.

She slid four books into their places on the lower shelves of H–K. The remaining books belonged to the top shelf of L–N. Rosemary looked at the top shelf and sighed. “Growth spurt any day now, Mother says.”

Pulling over a stepstool and standing on tiptoe, she was just able to bring her face level with the top-most shelf. She shoved some books aside in order to put a book in their place.

From behind the books, someone stared back at her.

Rosemary gasped.

For a fraction of a second, she thought that she was staring into a mirror and that her reaction had been
foolish fright. But another look at those eyes told her that the “reflection” was different.

The girl from the school library was standing on the other side of the bookcase, obviously on her own stepstool. She was glaring at Rosemary, eyes full of resentment and hate. Rosemary was held by those eyes like a butterfly on a pin.

“Who —?”

“Coward!” The girl’s voice was as soft as sandpaper. She lashed out, caught Rosemary’s wrist, and pulled.

Rosemary screamed. The stepstool flew back as she was pulled into the bookcase. Her forehead hit the top shelf. Another hand grabbed Rosemary’s collar. Rosemary kicked, struggled, but felt herself being pulled in.

Then a voice boomed around her. “Hey!”

The grip slackened. Rosemary fell backwards and hit the bookcase behind her. Books rained down on her and the spine of a thick volume clocked her on the head.

Her vision swam. She saw the girl standing over her, sneering. How did she come around the stacks so fast? Rosemary thought she heard someone calling her name, and footsteps running. The girl turned towards the sound and then turned away, folding into herself like paper and disappearing.

When Rosemary’s vision cleared, she saw Peter kneeling over her. “Peter!” She grabbed his arm.

“Rosemary! What —”

“There was this girl.” She was talking much too fast. “She — she — she was in the — I mean, behind the bookcase. She grabbed my wrist. She tried to pull me in —”

“Where did she go?”

“She disappeared.”

“Disappeared?!”

“I saw her yesterday, at the school library. She disappeared there too.” She stopped suddenly, staring up at Peter in horror. “You don’t believe me.”

His eyebrows jerked up.

“Of course you don’t believe me. Disappearing girls. It’s crazy talk, and you know it was just a matter of time.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb! You heard the stories about Theo and his breakdown! You have to have heard, everybody knows. Everybody’s waiting for me to go crazy too. Of course you don’t believe me;
I
don’t believe me!”

He looked at her with a gaze that was the most serious she had ever seen. “I believe you.”

“But,” she sputtered, “why?”

“Because you’re bleeding.” He nodded at her wrist.

Where the girl had grabbed her, her wrist was covered in thin red cuts, two dozen or more. The cuts made the shape of a hand and clawing fingers. They weren’t bleeding much, but they hurt.

“These look like paper cuts,” said Peter.

“You believe me.” The feeling of relief made Rosemary giggle. “God, Peter, I feel like such an idiot!”

He helped her to her feet. “You’re not an idiot.”

“But it doesn’t help that you believe me,” gasped Rosemary. “I mean, it helps, but it doesn’t make it go away. If I’m not hallucinating, then something
is
attacking me. Something horrible.”

Cold brushed them. The library door had opened.

Peter and Rosemary looked up.

Theo stood in the entranceway.

Rosemary let go of Peter and stumbled over to her brother. He had come in from the cold without a coat. His book was in his hand and he stared blankly ahead.

“Theo?” said Rosemary.

Theo looked at her, then reached out and took her arm, where the girl had cut into her wrist. He stared at the paper cuts, and his gaze grew dark.

“Leave her alone!” he shouted, pointing in Peter’s direction.

“What? Theo, no, Peter didn’t —” Then Rosemary saw that Theo wasn’t pointing at Peter, but at the bookshelves beside him, at the aisle where the girl had been waiting for her.

How did he know?

Theo shouted again, “Leave my sister alone!”

CHAPTER THREE

A WINTER’S TALE

 

“Please. Why are you doing this?”

— Theo Watson

The library door flew open, and Rosemary’s mother burst in, carrying Theo’s coat. “Theo!” she cried. “Why did you walk out on us? It’s cold! You went six blocks without your coat!” Her breath fogged in the air let in by the door. Theo did not look cold.

“Rosemary needed help.” Theo’s voice was dull.

“Rosemary’s doing just fine, aren’t you, dear?” She shot her daughter a look that said, “Just nod!” Rosemary bit her tongue and nodded.

Dr. Abrams came in, puffing. “Theo,” he said. “Why did you leave?”

“There is nothing wrong with me,” said Theo. “Rosemary needed help.”

Dr. Abrams frowned. “That’s more responsive than I’ve seen him all morning.”

Rosemary’s mother wrung her hands. “Maybe he’d be more comfortable at home?”

Dr. Abrams touched Theo’s arm. “Come on, Theo, let’s take you home.”

Theo shrugged his arm away. “There’s nothing wrong with me.” There was a rising edge to his voice. “Rosemary needed help.”

Rosemary stepped into Theo’s vision. “Theo, go with them. Please?”

He focused on her. “Will you be all right?”

She squeezed his hand. “Yes. Peter will help me, won’t you, Peter?”

Everybody looked at Peter. He swallowed hard and nodded.

Theo glanced around at the library, blinking at the shelves as though seeing them for the first time. He looked at her. “Watch out for the books. Be home soon.”

He turned and walked out the front door. Dr. Abrams followed like a protective dog.

Rosemary’s mother gave her a hug. “Thanks, dear. Will you be coming home soon?”

Rosemary nodded. “I’ll tell Mrs. McDougall to close up. There’s nobody here.”

“Hardly anybody downtown, either,” said her mother. “But I’m afraid at least a few people saw Theo dashing down the street without his coat. So much for his privacy.” She sighed. “I’d wait for you, but —”

“It’s okay.”

Rosemary’s mother followed Theo out of the library.

Rosemary stared through the front window as her mother and Dr. Abrams got Theo into the car and drove off. She sighed, then blinked to feel a hand pat her shoulder. She looked up in time to see Peter hurriedly pull it back.

“What are you doing here?” she said.

He started. “I ... what?”

“What are you doing here?” She turned on him. “I’m here every weekend and I never see you about. Then the day all” — she waved her hands at the stacks where the books lay scattered — “all this happens, you show up. Why?”

He gaped at her. “Why shouldn’t I be here? What else is there to do?”

Mrs. McDougall came shuffling out from the back. “Could you two keep that door closed? There’s a draft!” She frowned at their stares of disbelief. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” said Rosemary. “I’ve just been talking to my mother. Let’s close the library early.”

“Good idea! I’ll get my coat.” Mrs. McDougall shuffled to the closet, pulled on her coat, and stepped outside. Peter and Rosemary watched her go.

Peter glanced at her. “Look, I just thought ...”

“I’m sorry.” Rosemary took a deep breath. “You’ve only ever seen me angry or scared. I’m not always like this.”

He shrugged and gave her a small smile. “I’ve seen worse.”

She turned to the stacks. “Let’s clean up this mess and get out of here.”

They put the books back on the shelves, shut down the computers, and turned off the lights. Five minutes later, Peter held Rosemary’s skis as she locked the door.

A shape separated from the stacks, a tall figure dressed in green. Through the front windows, it watched Rosemary and Peter walk down the street.

Sunday was also bright and cold. The world was black, blue, and white as Rosemary stepped from the front door of her home. Her breath fogged in the air.

The snow squeaked underfoot as she walked to the mailbox. On days like this, she didn’t mind that the newspaper delivery boy didn’t bring the paper directly to the front door, even if she had to pull on boots and a coat to get it. She pulled the paper from the mailbox.

A snowball hit her in the back.

Rosemary scowled.
Just call me the snowball magnet
, she thought. She turned around. “Trish, how many times do I have to tell you —”

There was nobody at the front door.

“Ow!” said a voice higher up. Rosemary’s gaze shifted to the roof of the house.

A lanky man was perched on the gable above the front door, shaking out a wet hand. “How do you throw these balls of ice?”

Everything about him was odd. His ears were a little too pointed, his arms and legs were a little too long, and his eyes were far too wild. He was dressed like Robin Hood, with a long tunic and hose of green leather.

Oddest of all, he looked familiar.

“Sage Rosemary,” he said. “You caught me off my guard. I was asleep, tired from my ordeal. You locked me in the library last night.”

Rosemary kept on staring.

“Fortune found me a hatchway to the roof,” the man continued. “From there I had no trouble getting down.” As if to illustrate, he jumped from the pitched roof, landing nimbly on his feet in front of Rosemary. She kept staring.

He frowned at her silence. “Come, come, Sage Rosemary, surely you do remember me?” He thrust out a long-boned hand. “Robin Goodfellow. You may call me Puck.”

Rosemary wheeled around and walked out the front gate and up the country road.

“Rosemary?” Puck called. He followed her.

“Go away!” she shouted over her shoulder.

Two steps behind, Puck matched her pace, his pointy shoes skidding on the snow. “Rosemary, will you not speak with me?”

“You’re a figment of my imagination!”

“Do you order all such figments to fly away?”

Rosemary’s fists clenched tighter. “A hallucination, then! I’m going crazy at last!”

“Do hallucinations leave footprints?”

She stopped and looked at the road behind Puck. “You don’t.” She turned again.

Puck looked back at the snow behind him. Only Rosemary’s footprints showed. “Oh! How very odd! I wonder why that would be ...” He scratched his chin, and then snapped his fingers. “Of course!” Rosemary was now several paces ahead of him and he bounded after her.

“There is a good reason why I do not leave footprints in your world,” he said, matching her pace. “You see, Sage Rosemary, I am not real.”

“Is there an echo somewhere?” asked Rosemary.

Puck stopped. “Hallooo!” he shouted. He listened for a moment and then loped after her. “No.”

“I already said you weren’t real. Now, go away!”

He kept his pace. “Hallucination I am not. They are real after a fashion. Neither am I a sprightly ghost. Figments are as real as a person believes. Wise one, I am not real. I am fiction.”

Rosemary stopped. She stared at Puck.

“I am well developed, as you can see.” He gave her a smile and twirled around like a ballet dancer. “A three-dimensional character.”

Rosemary backed away. She dropped her newspaper. Then she turned and ran.

“Sage Rosemary, come back!” shouted Puck. “I did not mean to frighten you!”

Rosemary ran as fast as her heavy boots would let her, oblivious to her surroundings and any sounds of pursuit. At the McAllister mailbox, Peter was getting his own newspaper. He looked up. “Hey, Rosemary. Where are you go—”

Rosemary ploughed into him. They went down in a scramble of arms, legs, and newsprint.

Peter grabbed her shoulders. “Rosemary!”

She was trembling. “I want my mind back! I want it back, now!”

“Rosemary! What is it?”

She pointed. He looked. The road was empty.

Then, out of nowhere, Puck dropped down in front of them.

Peter and Rosemary yelped.

Wide-eyed, they looked up at the tall, gangly not-exactly-a-man that smiled down at them. The smile might have been meant to be friendly, but Puck’s mouth was just too wide, and his eyes just too large and too green.

Rosemary looked sidelong at Peter. “You see him too?”

Eyes wide, Peter nodded.

“Fear not,” said Puck.

Peter and Rosemary scampered back.

Puck tapped his foot. “Do you doubt your very own eyes? Shall I prove that I am Robin Goodfellow? Observe my powers, as I transform into a goat!”

And, before their eyes, he changed into a large goat, at least as tall as Puck had been, with green eyes and great curling horns.

Peter and Rosemary clutched at each other and screamed.

The goat rolled its eyes. “Oh, Lord, what fools these mortals be!” He transformed back. “I say again, fear not, for I mean you no harm! Here, let me help you up.”

He grabbed them by their wrists, hauled them to their feet, and brushed the snow off them. Peter and Rosemary edged closer together.

“Who is he?” asked Peter. “Where did he come from?”

“He followed me home.”

“And you’re going to ask your parents if you can keep him?”

Rosemary shoved Peter into the snow bank.

The creature pulled Peter back onto his feet again and shook his hand. “You must be young Peter McAllister, who saved Rosemary at the library,” he said. “It is an honour to meet one so valiant. Puck at your service, sir.”

Peter’s brow furrowed. “Like from
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
? That Puck?”

Puck beamed.

“Why are you here?”

“To be Rosemary’s guide in her great quest to find her brother, Theo.”

Rosemary pushed forward. “You know what’s wrong with Theo?”

“He is a prisoner within his mind,” said Puck. “You must journey inside to save his hind.”

BOOK: Unwritten Books 1 - Unwritten Girl
10.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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