By Jonathan Hudson
I walk into the bustling bookstore determined to find the treasured book with the answers to life as a gift for my sister. My name is Devin and I’m overwhelmed by the surging amount of people and colors around me as they all climb the escalators like ants in a colony. It is, in fact, December so shopping is expected to be crazy, I sling my drawstring bag around my shoulder and bob and weave through the waves of people to the help desk. I approach the person at the counter; she is tall with many wrinkles and sleek new reading glasses. “Excuse me ma’am can you point me in the direction of the book that has the answers to life’s questions?” She glares at me like a hawk for a moment and next points a bony finger up to the second floor in the left corner near all the school books, adjacent to the children’s section. I say “Thank you” as I tear off in that direction I hear her mumble, “Be careful”.
My progress is stopped by the masses of people on the escalator. As I wait in the thick of people, I crane my neck to look out the window. The sky has changed since I came in, from the pale crisp blue to a dark, ominous gray. The leaves on the trees are dancing now as; I stumble when the escalator gets to the top. I see two bright neon orange jerseys heading toward the section that my book is in and the worst thought comes to me: What if they want it too. I sprint as fast as I can toward the section, knocking over a book. When I reach momentarily to put it back on the shelf I notice the book is titled Are We Truly Dominant as Humans? I barely notice all the other books in the section and as I close in on the two orange jerseys, the black cameras above us loom ominously. I reach the section and see that they are holding the golden book in their hands, I think what shall I do now that was the one gift; it was the only thing on her list.
I decide to bargain with them, when suddenly there is a loud crash. I look over to see that one of the tall wooden bookshelves in the children’s section has toppled over. Although the books are scattered like marbles, no one is hurt. Then I look back at the bookshelf in my section and my heart skips a beat… all of the books are the same. The two soccer players are now reading the answers to life and after flipping through several pages, they hurl the book down the aisle where it sails over the railing and lands with a loud flop on the first floor. I eyeball them perplexed, as they storm off to the escalators. I scan my surroundings and realize that every book on the second level is now the same, not a half a second later the bookstore turns into a wild stampede, as people start running and leaping over one another to get to the second floor. I’m frozen in place like a heavy block of concrete, aware of my surroundings but not able to act, as everyone around me grapples for the golden books. The tinted, creamy golden color fades into the mahogany of a ravaged bookshelf, I still can’t move, frozen by the sudden change in events.
Next, it gets stranger, almost in unison the people reading the treasured book let out a sad, desperate, frustrated, primal scream and hurl the books through the air down to the first floor. They all scurry to the bottom and start to destroy each book. A lady, clutching a sleek brown purse, like a prized showdog stomps her nine-inch heels through two books as she starts to tear another. The tall lady with reading glasses stalks towards the pile of books with the fire extinguisher at her hip. She lets loose and all the books are sapped in the substance, bound to be ruined for all eternity. Then serenity comes, as all the shoppers get up, survey their work and exit in an orderly fashion. By now I have slumped against the railing for support unable to comprehend the event that just occurred. I stumble down the escalator and wonder why my sister would want such a book and what book would enrage such a crowd when they have attained the secret to life. I rustle through the rubble of torn wet pages and find that they are all blank, except for one tiny phrase that I find in a slice of a page numbered 42, “We are better than humanity.”