Empty Pages by Allison Grace
Short Stories

I’m Back! + Empty Pages

Hey everyone! I’ve missed blogging, but boy, do I have some exciting things coming in the next few months!

Just a quick run over of all the changes before we dive into the first short story of my “new” blog. 😉

Instead of posting every week, I’ll be posting every other Saturday. That will take some pressure off of me and allow me to give you better content!

Speaking of content, you’ll be seeing a lot more of my short stories and Christian living articles than before. I might occasionally post writing tips, but my focus is going to be on short stories. They will be serialized so you don’t have to read a whole 25 page monstrosity of a “short” story in one post. That also means I can put lots of cliffhangers at the end of each section. Hehe. 😛

One last thing, Oliver will be moving to my email list. As some of my short stories are more somber in nature, it doesn’t seem right to put a goofy picture at the end. You can subscribe to my email list here.

This is one of the first short stories that I got published. I used to volunteer at our local library, so that is where I got the idea. Enjoy!

It was an ordinary Friday afternoon of volunteering at the library. A big cart of books to shelve. A whole lot of books to read. 

I was deep in the children’s nonfiction section, shelving the books on bugs. Yuck. There was a lot of noise coming from behind me, but I assumed it was just some loud and crazy high school kids, rejoicing that school was over for the week. So I ignored the noise and resumed placing books on the shelves.

   “595.7,” I muttered quietly to myself. “Ah, here it is!”

  I finished in that aisle and went on to the next. On my way, I passed a person who looked like Amelia Bedilia. I nodded politely and walked on. I put on the brakes and did a double take. Amelia Bedilia!  No, it can’t be. Someone must have placed a cardboard cutout there for a program. I shook my head and picked up a biography on Benjamin Franklin. I finished the final row and was going to return the empty cart to the front desk when the high school kids got much, much louder!

  I dashed out of the aisle and looked around for the source of the racket.

    Tigger bounced off the walls and bookshelves, heaps of books falling in his wake. Cinderella watched a lightsaber duel between Yoda and Darth Vader with horrified fascination. A little boy drew pictures on the walls with a purple crayon. A scarecrow bemoaned his lack of a brain to Rumpelstiltskin. A man in a yellow hat chased a crazy monkey across the little round tables. Clifford had broken a hole in the roof and was scaring people at the 7/11 behind the library. The Frankenstein monster chewed on a DVD case while sitting on the CD rack.

  I stood there with my mouth hanging open in shock. A little old lady jumped in front of me, catching a fly in her mouth. She turned to me and said, “Are you trying to swallow a fly? That’s my job!” Then she promptly swallowed my empty book cart. I don’t know why she swallowed my cart, she was not too smart.

  I sort of just stood there watching the chaos unfold until I got ahold of myself and went up to the front desk.

  “Excuse me,” I said to the librarian. “Can you help me? Somehow characters have escaped from the books. What should I do?”

  She laughed. “Such an active imagination. Here is another book cart.”

I lugged the cart back to the children’s section. I must be hallucinating. I must have eaten something that disagreed with me. I pushed the book cart past the magazines, past the CDs, and into the children’s area.

  Now there were more characters than before! Frog and Toad rode around on R2-D2’s domed head and Peter Rabbit had dumped all the puzzle pieces out onto the floor. The Hardy Boys were discussing a case in a corner.

  The library was deserted except for the staff, a few adults browsing the magazines, and me. No one else seemed to notice the jumble of characters. I sank down on the red chairs that sat around one of the pillars scattered throughout the children’s section. How am I going to fix all of this? I have to get the characters back into the books, but how? I closed my eyes and rested my head against the pillar.

  “Excuse me, Miss,” said a voice. “I think we took a wrong turn somewhere. Can you help us?”

  I opened one eye. Then I shut it. There were three new characters I had not noticed yet.

  “I’ll say you took a wrong turn. You aren’t in Narnia anymore,” I said, reopening my eyes to look at Mr. Tumnus, Lucy, and Prince Caspian.

  Mr. Tumnus consulted his map, which he was holding upside down. “Where exactly are we?”

  “You are in a public library. In Ohio. On Earth,” I said.

  Caspian picked up a book and flipped through it. “What strange books you have! Look! There are blank spots everywhere! How can you even read these?”

  I looked up. “Can I see that?”

   He handed the book to me and I turned the pages. It was an Amelia Bedilia book, only, minus Amelia. She was not in the illustrations. Her name was not in the book either; where she should have been, it was empty. I tossed the book on the chairs and hurried across the room, ducking to avoid lightsabers and trying not to step on the princesses’ ball gowns. I knelt down and dug through a basket. Eureka! I held a Curious George book in my hands. The same thing had happened here! There were blank spots where the man with the yellow hat and George should be.

  Struck with an idea, I ran about the library collecting the books from which the characters had escaped. Soon there was quite a sizable pile. I groaned and collapsed beside the pile, gasping. 

  “How am I going to fix all of this?” I said aloud.

  I looked around. Books were scattered all about the floor. Pages fluttered here and there and most of the DVD cases were half-chewed and slobbery. The cart of CDs was dumped all over the floor. Not to mention that the majority of the books were missing their characters. And, there was a hole in the roof. Minor details.

  This is the greatest mystery of all time. How could this have happened? I flipped through a book. Hold on a minute! These are Hardy Boy books! Who would be better at finding an answer to this mystery than the Hardy Boys?

  I scanned the room looking for the Hardy Boys. I spotted them swatting fairies by the holiday books. I rushed over. “Hey, I need your help,” I said.

  “With what?” said one.

   The other said, “Well, we need your help.”

  “Okay,” I said. “Will you help me if I help you?”

  Frank, at least I think it was Frank, said, “We need help getting back home. I don’t know what happened to us! How did we get here?”

   “That is exactly why I need your help. I have until three to get this fixed or I’m toast,” I said. “I need to clean this up and get everyone back where they belong.”

  Joe said, “Of course we’ll help. But…” He looked around the room. “We’ll need more than just the three of us. Especially since we only have 20 minutes!”

  “Count us in,” said Lucy, gesturing to Caspian, Mr. Tumnus, and herself. They had followed me.

  “Let’s ask that guy in black with the red sword,” Mr. Tumnus said, pointing to Darth Vader. The faun seemed fascinated with lightsabers. “He can help us.”

  “Yeah, how about we don’t,” I said, “With the six of us, we should be able to get this mess cleaned up before three. First, we have to find where all these people are coming from.”

  Lucy and Mr. Tumnus went to investigate over by the children’s librarian’s desk and shelves of beginning readers. Frank and Joe searched over in the non-fiction. Caspian and I hunted in the picture books and fiction. Five precious minutes went by and no one found anything.

  Suddenly, a cry came out from over in the nonfiction section. “We found it!”

  The three Narnians and I rushed over to join the Hardys, trying not to step on anyone’s toes, or ball gowns, or capes, or paws.

  I saw the machine the librarians had been using earlier to re-label all the books for the new checkout system. It had sprouted arms and was pulling books off the shelves, scanning them, and then spitting characters out instead of book labels. 

When it saw us, its screen glowed red and it began scanning faster and faster.

  “How do we stop this creature?” Caspian asked, brandishing his sword. “We have nothing like it in Narnia!” I was pretty sure weapons weren’t allowed in the library, but this was a special occasion so I let it go.

  Frank and Joe tried to get close enough to shut it off, but it swatted them away like flies. Nothing we tried phased it. We were running out of time with only ten more minutes until three. We all tried various methods of shutting it down when, CLICK! the screen blinked off. Everyone turned around and there was Mr. Tumnus, holding the plug.

“What’s this?” the faun asked.

  “Hurray for Mr. Tumnus!” cheered Lucy. “He stopped the monster.”

   I slapped my forehead. “How could I have not thought of that? You’re a hero, Mr. Tumnus.”

  I thought when the machine was turned off, all the princesses, monkeys, Jedi, frogs, detectives, and Narnians would disappear one by one, but they did not. They all were still there as real as the nose on your face. I was about ready to bang my head into the wall.

  After a brief conference, we finally decided to plug the machine back in. We powered it back on, only after the Hardy Boys and Caspian had pried off the arms and discarded them in the tiny trash can beneath the children’s librarian’s desk. I’d have to remember to empty it before I left.

I scanned one of the books with the machine. The pages glowed and we could see right into the story’s setting. It was a Magic Tree House book and I quickly identified the missing characters, Jack and Annie. They were not hard to find, since they had been watching the whole affair from the red chairs.

  “How do we get back?” Jack said.

  “There’s only one way to find out,” I said. “Step into the pages.”

   So they did. The book shook in my hands and then was still. We watched the children slowly appear on the cover. I flipped open the book to a random passage and gave a shout of triumph. “It worked. They’re back in the story.”

  We were running out of time, only five minutes now. The six of us quickly formed an assembly line. Mr. Tumnus handed me a book, I called out the characters’ names, Lucy scanned the books, then the characters stepped into their respective stories, Caspian checked to be sure they had made it back into the story, and Frank and Joe put them back on the shelves.

  Cinderella’s fairy godmother was the last character to go besides the Hardys and Narnians who were still helping me. “I see you have quite a mess on your hands,” she said. “Let me help you. Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!” She waved her wand.

  In an instant, the roof was repaired. The books flew to their places on the bookshelves. The minute hand went back five minutes. The children’s section didn’t look like anything unusual had happened. It looked just as normal as any day, just a tiny bit neater. Though the carpet did sparkle with magic. Everything was perfect.

  I turned to thank her, but she was already gone.

  It was time to say good-bye to the Hardys and the Narnians. It was a sad parting, for a close camaraderie had formed between us.

  When it was all said and done, all the books were put away, all the characters were back where they belonged, and I waited for my mom to pick me up with two minutes to spare and one crazy story.

Did you know? The image at the top of this post is actually the library where this story takes place!


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