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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Book Store/Library (06/03/10)

TITLE: Happy New Year, Grandpa!
By D.A. Urnosky


“Happy New Year Grandpa,” said the young man as he entered the doorway to the museum.

“Same to you, Race. Did you ring in the new millennium?”

“You bet! There was a twenty-third century dance at the school, how about you?”

“No, I went to bed early since I had to come into work today,” said the elderly man behind the counter. “By the way Race; I really appreciate you coming in to help me today.”

“No problem Grandpa. I like coming to the museum and helping you. What are we doing today?”

“I received a shipment of books from a generous donor that need to be cataloged and stacked.”

Race picked up one of the bound books. “Why bother Grandpa when nobody can read and the audio scanners don’t work on these old pages?”

“Because my boy, these are a part of our history. There was a time, hundreds of years ago, when people actually read instead of listening to everything. You could visit a place just like this, browse the shelves, check out books and take them home. I believe your class will be coming to the museum as part of your history lesson on the American Empire.”

“It’s hard to believe how powerful this country once was,” said Race.

“What you need to remember Race, is how big this country was before the Great War that separated it into four sections governed by the victors.”

“We just finished the 1800’s before winter break, Grandpa.”

“How do like school this year?”

“I like the academics, but the junior military classes are dull.”

“But you’re doing well in them?” Grandpa asked anxiously.

“Sure Grandpa, I have superiors in all my classes.”

“Wow, I’m proud of you. Keep up the good work, especially the military classes.”

“I know, Grandpa. Dad reminds me everyday how important it is to do well in the military classes.”

After three hours, the work was almost completed. Race had picked up a large white leathered bond book with gold leaf pages and walked over to the shelf Grandpa was working on.

“Grandpa, this is the last book. Where do you want it?”

Grandpa turned around and looked frightened as to the book Race held in his arms.

“Drop it on the table, Race!” Grandpa yelled. “Where did you get that book?”

“It was in the bottom of the box under the tissue paper. “I’m sorry Grandpa, did I do something wrong?”

Grandpa ran over to the counter and grabbed a bottle of cleaning solution, a rag and rubber gloves from the shelf below. He ran back over to the table and placed the rubber gloves on his hands and began to squirt the cleaning solution all over the leather.

“You did nothing wrong, Race. We need to make sure to get your fingerprints cleaned off this book. I recognized the lettering on the front cover. It is one of the banned books. I don’t know how it made it passed the customs officials, but we’ll lock it away with the other banned books.”

Grandpa walked over to the far corner of the library carrying the book, still wearing the rubber gloves, with Race following closely behind him. He punched a code into the digital keypad and the wall opened to reveal a steel door. Grandpa punched a code into another keypad and the door clicked open.

“Stay here.” He told Race. “I’ll be right back.”

Grandpa entered the doorway and disappeared into the room. He came back out moments later.

“There, that’s stored safely away.” Grandpa said with relief. “Your mother invited me over for lunch. What do you say we grab our coats and go? We’re all done here.”

“Ok Grandpa.” Race said and thought for a moment before speaking again. “Grandpa, why was that booked banned? It didn’t look like a propaganda book against the government.”

Grandpa thought about his grandson’s question as he shut off the lights and locked the door behind them.

“I really have no idea, Race. I opened one of those books once years ago, copied down the first sentence and manually entered the words into an old audio scanner before they changed the design to disallow manual entry.”

“What did it say, Grandpa?”

“Promise me that you will never tell anyone, not even your mother and father.”

“I promise, Grandpa”

“I didn’t think it was anything bad. It said in the beginning god created the heavens and the earth.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Maria Egilsson06/10/10
What layers of meaning in this story. The banned books, the censorship of books deemed subversive. Then the horrifying thought that technology will do away with the need for books of paper. Then an scanner that will read the book for you so the skill of reading is lost.
This was rivetting. Excellent entry.
Sarah Heywood06/10/10
Excellent - and scary at the same time. Good, good writing!
Timothy Klingerman06/10/10
Great story and well written. I hope you are not as gifted at prophecy as you are at writing. I would hate to see your vision of the future come true. The scary thing is that we know similar things have already taken place in the past.
Micheline Murray06/11/10
Wow--scary to think you might not be that far off in what could happen...well written story--I could feel the tension/fear in the grandpa when he saw his grandson holding a Bible.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/15/10
Wow this was such a suspenseful read. I can not picture the world ever coming to that, but I hope that's the truth and not the little bubble I choose to live in at times. Well done. The pace and levels of suspense were perfect.
Theresa Santy 06/16/10
What a frightening thought. Brought tears to my eyes.

Creative, suspenseful, and engaging.

Very nicely written!