Friday, April 12, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Twelve

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 12 (or, "455 Fifth Avenue")

Yesterday’s Episode: Led by Isabel, Mac and Carissa go back to Saint Arbucks, where Carissa confronts Mac about what he may or may not know about their situation.

    The Saint Arbucks had frozen.
    And Carissa knew that she didn’t mean chilly when she thought that to herself. No -- time in the Saint Arbucks had come to a literal stop. They were moving just fine, and the world around the cafe was fine as well, but inside, it was all wrong. Carissa watched as a young professional tried to enter the cafe and froze in the doorway, unable to move. And nobody else noticed but them.
    She heard a sound behind her; turning, she saw that Mac was tugging on her sleeve. “You have one of those phones that can take pictures, right? We need proof of this.”
    She knew what he was talking about; whipping out her phone, she pulled up the camera function and snapped a photo of the frozen in time cafe. Then, she accessed it in her phone’s memory, just to check and make sure it was there.
    “Got it,” she finally said.
    Mac nodded. “Good,” he said. “Though I’m still curious as to how time just froze.”
    “Should we go in?” Carissa asked. “No sense in avoiding the inevitable, right?”
    “I don’t know,” Isabel said. “Place is giving me the creeps.”
    “Well, when you went inside and time froze, you were able to exit just fine, right?” Mac asked.
    “Then you should be able to go back in there without freezing just as that one lady did. We need to figure out why --”
    “What do you think you’re doing here?”
    Carissa looked in front of her and saw the old lady standing in the doorway. She walked out of the Saint Arbucks and toward them, also not affected by the freeze. “I thought I told you to stay away!”
    Carissa pointed at Isabel. “She did it,” she said. “Wasn’t me.”
    Isabel tried to give her best innocent face. “I was just curious.”
    “As am I.” Mac gave the lady a distinctive glare. “I’d like to know what’s going on here. What’s the story with this reality distortion? You seem to know what’s going on, and you’re involving all of us with it --”
    “Silence!” The old lady stopped right in front of Mac. Despite the fact that she was a good foot shorter than him, she carried an air of authority that spoke volumes. “I am not interested in those who have been caught in the crossfire,” she hissed. “I am only interested in the one who will solve the mystery.”
    Carissa remembered. “You mean me?” she asked.
    The lady turned and looked Carissa in the eyes. She tried not to panic until she felt someone’s hand on her shoulder. Looking, she saw Isabel by her side, also looking spooked but holding on to her friend’s shoulder tight. Carissa knew that Isabel was right: that as long as she and her spirit sister were together, everything was going to be fine.
    “This thing I’ve got to figure’s the same thing that you talked about on the train that one morning, am I right?”
    “You are right,” the lady said. “But you forget so easily. You must take this seriously, Carissa Lopez. It must be you and only you who discerns. At the same time, I do realize that there are others in your midst who can see the altered reality that we do. The more people who come into contact with you, the more people that will be able to see it.”
    “So we’re only able to see that the Saint Arbucks is frozen because of Carissa?” Mac asked.
    The lady nodded. “The herald will come soon, Carissa. You must follow the clues, and you must right these realities before the fated day, or else.” She reached into her grimy pocket and handed Carissa a sheet of paper. “The three of you must not come back here again together, or more people will die.”
    “What?” Carissa asked, but reality had returned again. The world around them was moving, and the woman in front of Saint Arbucks was walking in like nothing had ever happened.
    Isabel sighed rather loudly, looking at the ground and all of the spilled drinks. “Well. So much for coffee.”
    “Although we now know that, I think, it’s specifically this Saint Arbucks we need to stay away from,” Mac said. He looked over Carissa’s shoulder. “What did she give you?”
    Carissa unfolded the piece of paper. Written on it was an address. “455 5th. That’s it? That’s all we get?”
    “I guess so.” Mac sighed. “You want to go there now? Do we have enough time?”
    “I do,” Isabel said. “I hope this place has some coffee, though. I’m mad that I didn’t get any here.”
    “None of us should be coming back to this Saint Arbucks for a while,” Mac said. “We can all take the train down.”
    It turned out that the place at the address didn’t serve any coffee. In fact, according to Carissa’s phone GPS, it was a place they knew well as they got off the train at Bryant Park.
    “The library?” Carissa asked. “The crazy old lady has me going to the library?”
    “Not just any library, either,” Mac said as they looked up at the huge, old building with its white columns and carved lions out front. “THE library.”
    “Okay, so why does she have me coming here? Does she think that I’m just going to go inside and find the answer to all of our problems right here? I doubt that it’s that easy. She said something about a herald -- what’s that?”
    “Well, clearly the person named Harold we need to speak with is in this building,” Isabel said, only to be rewarded with a facepalm and a “Dios mio” from Carissa.
    “Maybe the herald works for the library system,” Mac said, oblivious to Isabel’s obliviousness. “The point is, this is the address that the lady gave to you. Therefore, this is where we start.”
    Mac led Isabel and Carissa into the library, through the huge doors and into the lobby. After getting their bags checked, they made their way in and upstairs, into the huge reading room to regroup. They sat at a wood table under a huge chandelier. The room was fairly packed, so they were lucky to find seats.
    “Why do you think she wanted me to come all the way here?” Carissa asked. “Maybe there’s a book that I have to find that will help me out with this puzzle.”
    “Don’t forget Harold,” Isabel said, too loud for a normal library voice.
    Carissa rolled her eyes. “For the last time,” she said. “Please.”
    “When we’re done here, can we stop by the nearest Saint Arbucks? I still want a coffee.”
    “I promise we’ll get a coffee! We just need somewhere to start here!”
    “Excuse me?” There was a man now standing by the wood table with an inquisitive look on his face. He had a badge on with the name “Raz” on it, which made Carissa believe this young man might work at the library. “Is there anything I can help you find here?” he asked.
    She decided to go for it. “Look,” she said, “are there any rare books here? You know, super rare, like there’s no other book like it in the entire world. I have to do this, um, school project on something unique, and I thought I’d start here. But I really don’t know what’s in your collection. Is there anything that you would recommend?”
    The man named Raz thought for a minute, then seemed to get an idea. “You could always do your project on our copy of the Gutenberg Bible,” he said. “It was one of the first printed Bibles ever. That makes it one of the oldest books in existence.”
    “Wow,” Isabel said. “That’s actually really cool. Hey, do you know any people named Harold?”
    Without any warning, the fire alarm went off. Raz looked up at the high ceiling. “I have to go,” he said as he ran off.
    “Well,” Carissa said, “nothing surprises me anymore.” She got up from the table just as the intercom came on.
    “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a drill,” the voice said. “There is no fire, I repeat, there is no fire in the building, but this is an evacuation. Please make your way to the nearest exit as soon as possible.”
    Carissa, Mac, and Isabel went along with the intercom’s announcement and exited the building. “Five dollars and a chai that nobody remembers this happened,” Carissa said as they joined the crowd on Fifth Avenue.
    “Agreed,” Mac said as he spotted the worker Raz nearby. He went up to him. “Did everybody get out?” he asked.
    “They’re still working on it,” Raz said. “Apparently the situation is really bad. Something about one of the books was stolen. I didn’t get a chance to know or hear which one.”
    Carissa’s eyes widened, a spark in them. “Mac, where’s your bike?” she asked.
    Mac pointed to their left. “On the bike rack over there. Why?”
    “I’ll bet you two chais that the Gutenberg Bible was the book that was stolen, and if we move quickly, maybe we can catch him.”
    Mac’s eyes widened. “Are you sure?”
    “Don’t ask how I know this! This is an altered reality we’re dealing with. If I was going to steal a book from the library, how would I escape?”
    “In a white truck,” Mac said as a white truck passed them on 41st Street. Carissa watched the truck go by.
    “How ironic would that be,” she said, but then gasped as she saw the logo on the side of the truck. “Mac! It’s that one! We need to go NOW.”
    Mac’s eyebrows raised. “I don’t quite get your logic, but I’ll go get the bike.”
    “Good idea. Isabel, the bike’s only gonna fit Mac and me. How about you go find the nearest Saint Arbucks branch and get us a seat? We’re in Midtown. There has to be one on every street corner.”
    Isabel seemed surprised. “Where? What are we doing? Why do we have to leave?”
    Carissa pointed at the truck’s logo: a huge green apple. “That’s why.”

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