I stole a book. It was an unplanned affair, and the shortest way of recalling it begins with an article, which boasted that the city’s free library had a book, and that the book once had a special owner, and the owner was a famed Englishman, and so was the author. I was never too familiar with authors, but I was always familiar with money, or at least I wanted to be, otherwise I wouldn’t have done what I did, and a dreadful thing it was, and regret it I do.
But back to the matter at hand, because I promised the short version, but began to deliver the large. Having made up my mind to steal the old thing, I camped outside the special collections section of the library, day after day, awaiting my chance. For months I found no luck, yet on that Friday, things changed.
It started with the suffocating smell of smoke smothering my nostrils and continued with fire. Having smelled it too, the researchers ran out of the special collections in a hurry.
The heist was both swift and successful. Authorities were preoccupied with the fire, and, luckily, neglected the preservation of cultural artifacts. With the dusty tome in my bag, I attended my next class, “English drama to 1642.” Slumbering on my desk, and occasionally scratching letters into its wooden top, I became resolved to look upon my instructor once, so as to give the impression that I was present both in body and spirit. Yet to my great surprise, I found not one but two bearded men before me. One was the expected professor. The other, a scholarly-looking fellow, stood behind the professor and, holding what seemed to me as an enchanted stick, was working on some sort of magic potion alongside an infant. Soon, this man ran out of the room, as if pursued by a treacherous mob, and, I am uncertain as to why, I felt the strongest urge to run after him. Having left the classroom, to the great bewilderment of my classmates and instructor, who seemed unaware of the strange fellow’s presence, I found myself in a different hallway than the one I expected.
I was in a palace of antiquity and heard numerous voices from outside. Running to the nearest window, I saw the most horrid sight that my eyes had yet beheld, the repeated stabbing of another older fellow by a group of men. Resolved to immediately conclude this misadventure, I turned away and headed for the nearest door, but upon passing through its marble frame, I found myself in court. The legal proceeding struck me as the oddest thing, for the attendants’ attention was on a man with a knife, who was approaching another man’s chest.
Now overcome with terror, I shut my eyes and repeated, I don’t know how many times, that it was all but a nightmare. And as I opened my eyes, expecting to find myself in bed, or perhaps in class, I beheld an even stranger sight than previously. Three witches stood before me, chanting, amidst rain and lightning. Even more terrified than before, I ran through the barren land until I saw a castle, yet even from there I had to turn away, as I quickly beheld the sight of a ghostly figure talking to a gloomy young man.
The sights came quicker now. The faster I ran, the faster they appeared, resolved to drive me to madness. Through a haze, I saw a forest for lovers, a tavern with thieves and princes, a madman shouting at the skies, Egyptian royalty, a teenager’s balcony and numerous other things.
When the sights had at last combined into a murky haze, individual entities floating in the same endless void, guided solely by language, I overheard the muffled discussion of two librarians whom I knew.
“Can you believe they found this in Main Hall after the fire?”
“Doesn’t matter now. This new bookcase has three locks. The book’s not going anywhere.”
Through the glass of the case, I saw their faces, but my screams were the wind to their ears.
Christoforos Sassaris is a fourth-year English major with a minor in computer science. PS868710@wcupa.edu