Episode 19 – The Writingdesk Conundrum’s Game

After searching through all our books and looking at internet pages for days we still didn’t find anything. I was getting a bit desperate but Poe tried to keep our spirits high.
‘Did you already check this book?’
‘Yes. And I checked all of the other ones as well. Twice. There’s no Calle Santa Ana in any of them.’
‘Well, maybe you missed something… Don’t give me that angry look again. You can miss things.’
‘I’m sorry. I just really don’t know what to do anymore. Maybe we should just give up. Don’t you think the Writingdesk Conundrum will come to us anyway?’
‘Probably. But we still don’t know if this was him sending us to these books. I think we should be prepared.’
‘I agree. Where were we?’ I grabbed my laptop and opened firefox. We already knew it was a street in Barcelona, but without a book we had no way of going there. I was browsing and Poe was searching when we suddenly heard a thump followed by a bright flash.
‘Damn!’ We heard someone whisper.
Poe and I exchanged glances and he grabbed a big book and raised it over his head. We sneakily walked towards the noise, it had come from the hallway, and we still heard someone shuffle down the hallway. We counted silently till three and jumped on the person hiding in our house. I held him while Poe dangled the big, scary book on top of his head.
‘Who are you?’ he screamed.
‘Please don’t hurt me!’ the man stammered. He had a camera around his neck and looked terrified at Poe and his book.
‘I think it’s a journalist.’ I said. ‘Want to smack him on the head, so he forgets everything?’
‘You do know that something like that only works in books. It might kill him in real life.’
‘Not if you’re careful…’
‘Please don’t smack me… I… I can help you!’
‘How?’ I said unconvinced.
‘You were talking about Calle Santa Ana, right? I know the book you’re looking for.’
‘How do you know we’ve been looking for a book?’ Poe asked sharply.
‘I… I guessed…’
‘Speak up now… You don’t want a book on your head now, do you?’ I said.
‘I… have been here for a while…’
Poe threatened to drop the book and the journalist kept on talking.
‘Just a while. A couple of hours maybe. I overheard you talking. You are looking for that street right? In what book it appears?’
‘So what if we are?’ Poe said.
‘I know it. If you let me go, I’ll tell you.’
‘This is taking to long.’ I said to Poe and the journalist. ‘Spill.’

He told us all he knew and it was actually helpful. We needed to go to a book called the Angel’s Game and the address was a bookstore called Sempere & sons.
We arrived at the opposite side of the street and looked at the old bookstore. It looked like every booklovers dream. Big bookcases filled with just rows and rows of books. My heart jumped like a little girls’ and excitement took over.
‘Let’s go in!’
The store smelled like old books. There were some comfy chairs to read in and some stray costumers. Even the man behind the counter looked almost magical. He had an old look about him, wise and friendly. Poe and I walked around with our jaws open, just staring at all the wonderfulness around us.
‘Polly, look at this! This is a first edition of Hamlet. Have you ever seen such a beauty?’
‘Can I help you children?’ The magical man asked us.
We jumped up, scared by his sudden appearance behind us and just stared at him. I was the first one able to speak.
‘We were sent here… By a man called Humbert. He said there was something here we need.’
‘I’m sorry, but I don’t know a Señor Humbert. Are you sure you have the right bookstore?’
‘He gave us this address.’ Poe replied. ‘But he didn’t really tell us what or who to look for.’
‘Well, if he gave you this address, there must be something here for you. Let’s have a look around. You like Shakespeare?’
We nodded and the old man smiled. All of the costumers had left the store, besides us, the old man and a younger boy. The old man nodded to him and said:
‘That’s my son. And I am Sempere.’
‘I’m Poe and this is Polly.’
‘Nice to meet you, Señor Poe and Señora Polly.’ Sempere smiled at us and started moving around the bookshop. ‘Let’s see what we can find. You say you like Shakespeare, but have you tried some Dickens?’
While we followed him around the bookstore, I noticed his son staring at me. But as soon as I returned his look, he turned away. It all seemed very odd.
‘You know, I read this book when I was still very young.’ Sempere was holding a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray and smiled reminiscently. ‘Just like the painting, this book contains a bit of my soul. Have you ever read it?’
We nodded and had to hide our smiles.
‘Excuse me, mister Sempere. What did you say about the book having part of your soul?’
‘I believe a book absorbs the soul of its readers. By reading we make a book come alive.’
‘How do you mean?’ I asked.
‘Well. It all starts with the author. When you write a book, you put a bit of yourself in those pages. This will be the soul of the book. And by reading it, you also put something of yourself in a book. This will add to the soul and will make it come alive. A book is shaped by the people who read it, not just by the person who wrote it.’
‘So you say a book has a soul and lives?’
‘I do, Señor Poe. You two should understand that more than anyone.’
‘How do you mean?’ He asked.
‘Don’t you visit books yourself? You two make them come alive.’
‘We do?’ I said surprised.
‘You don’t think your presence in these books has gone unnoticed, do you? Every book you two have been to is slowly falling apart. You’re disrupting the stories with your existence.’
‘That sounds bad…’ I said quietly.
‘It is.’ Sempere replied. ‘But it is also unstoppable. You can’t help yourselves. He’s forcing you.’
‘Who is?’ Poe looked confused at Sempere and back at me. He was about to answer us when we felt a weird shock. Sempere felt it as well and he looked frightened.
‘You have to go. It’s already happening.’
‘What is happening?’ I asked.
‘The story is falling apart. You must go now.’ And before our eyes fiction was bending and twisting. Sempere was turning around, swirling in front us. He turned inside out while the bookstore spun us around.
‘Polly, we should really leave. It doesn’t seem safe here.’
‘But what the hell is going on? Are we ruining books?!’
‘Come on Polly.’ I took Poe’s hand and we left as fast as we could.

‘What just happened back there?’
‘I don’t know, Poe. But we’re causing it. And it didn’t look good…’

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