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Do Not Worry

Take your time and look

By William AndrewsPublished 3 years ago 7 min read

The excitement gradually died down as a man with a grey beard appeared at the doorway and began to speak.

“The number you have printed to your sweatshirt is now your only identity” He said.

“Behind these doors you are just a number, remember that. Behind these doors is a library. Inside this library there are more than 380,000 books of all sizes. Novels, prayers, comics, manuscripts, poetry, catalogues, teachings, conspiracies, opportunities, truths, lies. The restrooms are located is the eastern and western wing. You may not leave this room once you have entered. If you do, you will be disqualified. You have 12 hours”.

The man with the grey beard paused.

“There is a phrase… ‘Fortune favors the brave’ – but that, is not quite true.”

He stepped to the side and the grinding of a large mechanism drew the doors apart.

Everyone ran into the large atrium and the room erupted with noise. Excitable discussions on what it all meant, where could the clues be, who will win the prize. Alliances began to form, blurring the line between friend and enemy. 463 walked in observing everyone and everything around her. Only one number could win the prize and so at some point a tough decision will need to be made, she thought. She hadn’t rushed to any books but opted instead to marvel at the beauty of the room she had found herself in. Gothic architecture, rich wooden joinery and thousands of colorful books surrounded her. Where to begin, she thought. Her eyes landed on the magnificent clock resting 5 meters high on the south facing wall. The details of the challenge were projected on the empty space below it with simple rules, the first clue and the prize. Below that, a giant alphabet stretched across the wall, each letter in its own frame with a tiny number underneath going up in numerical order. On the opposite wall there was merely a small wooden plaque with the phrase ‘Fortune favors the brave’ carved out of it. 463 noticed that a small pink question mark had been spray painted on the wall after the last word.

The hours flew by. 463 was on her third clue studying the history of the Vikings but had hit a wall. She had so far avoided all conversations with any other number. 177 had attempted to speak and exchange notes with her but she kept quiet. He had muttered something under his breath before disappearing into the sea of studying numbers. She decided to take a break and walk around the library to clear her mind. It was a strange experience to disconnect from the studies and the challenge. She received piercing glares and voices rolled to whispers as she wandered by the desperate contestants. She witnessed sleight of hand between two numbers as money and notes exchanged hands. Cheats, she thought. She noticed how interesting the names of the isles were. Hanging above each section would be a common name to categorize the books such as ‘17th century poetry’ or ‘Russian Architecture’ however, at the end of isles, at eye level, there would be a very small inscription which seemed to have no relevance to anything. Palladium, Iron Gate, Ventriloquist, Cemetery, Peruvian Winter… she smiled as she read each one. A cheer broke out across the room. A few numbers seemed to have cracked another clue.

The challenge was drawing to an end and 463 had accepted that this was not going to be her day. She didn’t think like the others and wasn’t abnormally studious meaning she would often find herself observing the beauty that surrounded her and inspecting the minor details. This made her happy as oppose to adhering to the masses and getting caught up in the rat race of the challenge.

Some enthusiastic dwellers, way down the list in terms of the leaderboard, let out a small cheer as they cracked an older clue and hurried off in search of the next. 463 calmly walked over to where they last stood. Only a few minutes of the challenge remained and it brought a smile to her face to think people were still taking winning seriously. She stared at a yellow book fixed to the wall in such a way that it could only be opened but not removed entirely. She opened the book. Every page had the same bit of text, the following clue. Some people had ripped the pages out to take with them and others had simply memorized the short paragraph, she assumed. How interesting this little book was. The pages were so light and delicate, and the spine had a beautiful, embossed pattern you could run your fingers over. 463 carefully studied the book ignoring the clues and gently flicking through the pages before a particular detail caught her eye. She repeated the same movement, slower this time and again, a small detail caught her attention. One page, roughly 50 pages from the end, had an entirely different paragraph written in it. When she cross referenced with the previous pages, she could see how strikingly similar they were in weight and ink mass however, completely different in words. She paused scanning the text.

When discussing courage, or a word as such

A new door will open with just a soft touch

In the final minute, if looking for heaven.

Remove the two and replace it with seven.

She frowned for a moment going over the words again and again. The large clock sounded signaling two final minutes remained of the challenge and the excitable roar of contestants could be heard with footsteps darting around in all directions. Her brain kickstarted into action. This was the real clue. This was something everyone had missed. She ripped the page out of the book and rushed back to the atrium, scanning the projection once more. Time seemed to slow in these moments. The background noise faded and 463 froze. The clock sounded for the final minute.

“When discussing courage…or a word as such” she muttered

She spun around to the small plaque with the pink question mark.

“Courage… Brave”

She looked back down at her clue.

“Remove the two… replace it with seven”

She spun back around once more and shot a glance at the enormous alphabet with small numbers underneath.

“Remove the two… B…replace with seven… G… Fortune favors the grave!”

She twisted on her feet and scrambled across the room to the only reference she could possibly think of this note relating to. When she arrived at the isle with the small cemetery inscription, she hurriedly looked for anything that could be associated with the grave, stopping on an unusual tombstone book divider on the highest shelf she could reach. Pulling it off its perch, 463 glanced down at the dense piece of stone. The clock bell chimed bringing the challenge to a close.

Screams could be heard across the room, followed by cheers and clapping. 463 peered around the end of the isle to see a crowd formed around a tall blonde girl in a red dress. She was ecstatic and in tears of joy. The projection on the wall had switched to ‘Congratulations Number 51 – You are the winner – You’ve won $20,000’. The man with the grey beard returned and was shaking her hand as confetti dropped from the ceiling and more contestants began gathering around Number 51. 463 sighed, frustrated with herself for being so stupid, believing she may have had a chance and more so that she was holding a silly, little tombstone.

That was in fact, before the hissing sound started. A vertical crack suddenly appeared around the rim of stone and she felt it separate in two. She pulled the stone apart to reveal a beautiful small black notebook sitting cocooned inside the rock with the words ‘Do Not Worry’ etched on the cover. She lifted the book away from its case gazing down at this little treasure as the noise and elation continued in the atrium. She opened the first page.

It can buy you a car,

It can buy you a ring,

It can buy you by far,

the most beautiful thing,

but money is a lure,

a trap to seduce,

if you want something pure,

those riches, cut loose,

Do not worry, my friend

Take your time and look

At the words we send

In this little black book.

463 raised her head to see the man with the grey beard across the room staring directly at her. He let a soft smile appear and gently nodded before vanishing into the crowd of contestants.


About the Creator

William Andrews

Writer of little fictional stories of whatever floats into my head.

[email protected]

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