Adventure Fiction


The library was being breached. Alfred could hear men shouting for reinforcements. He didn’t have much time, but luckily he had an escape route. When he built his secret library he made sure of that. That was before Huxley Marrow came to power, but he was glad that he decided to put a secret exit in the library. Behind the last shelf on the left was a book with an embossed E on the spine. Pulling on it would open up a passageway that would lead Alfred to freedom. He quickly gathered what would fit in his satchel. Someone had betrayed him, but who? Whoever it was, they couldn't silence him, no matter how much they tried.

He glanced once more around the library taking in its oak shelves filled with books both new and old. The shelves reached the ceiling, so he had installed ladders. What a thrill it was to glide along the shelves while running his fingers across the spines. Sometimes he would close his eyes and when he stopped whatever book his fingers landed on would be the one he would read that day… 

The pounding on the door brought him back to the present. It was growing more insistent and Alfred knew his time in this library was over for the time being. He closed the passageway just as the main door busted open. He hurried down the corridor; it was the beginning of the end, but not from him.

Present Day

          Crispin was exhausted. Why on earth did he think that he was capable of taking this mission by himself? What possessed him to agree to this? He was better suited to inside work. Yet, after two weeks of training here he was trudging along an old road that nature was beginning to reclaim. He kicked a rock and watched it skitter down the road. Crispin needed rest, he felt he was going to collapse and die right there. 

            Just when he was about to let his maker take him, he noticed a run down building that promised shade and a bit of rest. His trudge turned into a trot as he reached the structure. He was relieved to see that he could enter the building, the door was missing. He collapsed against the doorway and fell into a dreamless sleep.

          Darkness had fallen when Crispin awoke. He slid his pack off, stood up, and stretched. Grabbing his water, he took a long drink and sighed.There was no way that he was going to continue the mission in the dark. He was barely brave enough to do it during the day. He was stuck here until the morning. 

         He took a few minutes to explore, but there wasn’t much to the single story building. At one time it might’ve been an office of some sort. Crispin was able to find a small room labeled Janitor’s Closet. There was just enough room inside to put down a sleeping bag. First things first, since the building itself was open to the elements, he needed to secure the closet door. Crispin realized how lucky he’d been while sleeping in the doorway. He couldn’t trust luck again. He needed to be prepared. So, he grabbed one of the empty shelves and propped the board underneath the handle. He wasn’t expecting to be attacked at any moment, but you never knew.

His mission was fairly straightforward. Crispin was tasked with exploring the country while gathering up as many books and other printed materials as possible. The government called them “salvagers.” Their new leader, Alvis Hightower, had made salvaging the lost knowledge of the past a top priority. Under the previous leader, Huxley Marrow, books and other printed materials were banned. Marrow wanted an obedient populace and believed the only way to foster one was to ban anything that encouraged thinking. The libraries were closed, their contents piled in the streets and burned. His government had deployed the military to go door to door and confiscate books. Those that resisted were arrested and never seen again

It had been a time of ignorance and bigotry. Thankfully, it didn't last long. Splinter groups formed and fought the oppressive regime. Hightower and others like him rallied the people and pushed back against the corrupted government.  

Crispin had been little more than an office worker when the fighting started. He knew he was less than useless as a soldier, but could make a difference with his mind. So, as the dust settled, he volunteered to comb through the fallen government’s records. He found the final list of libraries the military had been sent to destroy. They weren’t public. They had been squirreled away by charities and private citizens. Books and records snuck away and hidden well enough that some may have lasted through the war. One such library was the one curated by an enigmatic figure called Alfred.  

Alfred’s library was supposedly the first one formed after books were banned and it was the one that salvagers had yet to find. That is, until Crispin came across some old codes that gave coordinates to the library’s possible location. Alfred was known to be a code name; what the man’s real name was had yet to be uncovered. Crispin hoped that by finding the library he could find more information about Alfred, including who he really was. 

Crispin awoke the next morning refreshed, if not a little sore from sleeping in the cramped closet. He packed his bag and hoisted on his shoulder. Just as he was about to pull the shelf out from under the door knob, his eyes caught something he didn’t notice last night. Where he had pulled the shelf from the wall had revealed part of a door. Crispin was intrigued. Where did this door lead? According to his research there was nothing of importance in this area. He should make a note of the door and continue on to his destination, but in the back of his mind something was telling him that this was the way he needed to go. He sat down his pack and began the process of uncovering the door. First of all, he had to have more room. So he pulled the shelf from underneath the doorknob, then he could carry items out into the hall.

The thought of uncovering this door sent Crispin into a working frenzy. Within a matter of minutes he had the entire door uncovered. There was no doorknob so Crispin felt around the edges to find a way to open it. He discovered a set of notches that fit his hand exactly. Placing his hand into the notches he heard several clicks and the door slid open. Crispin stepped back in awe. He was filled with all sorts of emotions, but he was determined to find out what was at the end of the tunnel. Picking up his pack once more, he began his journey down the dark passage.

Crispin walked down the passageway with anticipation. Whoever created this passageway was clever. The number of twists and turns was making Crispin dizzy. More than once he ended up at a dead end and had to backtrack to find the right way. Crispin was exhausted, but this time he kept going. At any moment he knew would discover what was at the end of the passageway and he could continue on his original quest. 

Finally, a door appeared in front of him. It took him a few moments to find the latch that opened it from this side. The door opened, protesting the entire time. Crispin stepped into the room and his jaw dropped. He was Alfred’s secret library. His side quest was his original mission! The library was magnificent with shelves that reached the ceiling. There were ladders that you could climb to reach the books on the top shelf. In the center of the room stood an opulent mahogany desk. Crispin ran his finger along the top leaving a clean strip of wood behind. Underneath the desk lay a paisley rug of blues, reds, and greens.

Why was this library kept intact? Crispin expected it to be in ruins. Most secret libraries were eventually found out and destroyed, but not this one. Yes, it was discovered, but the damage was minimal. There were books pulled from shelves and tossed to the floor and a desk that was rifled through, but there was no fire set or books torn asunder. It was like they were looking for something, but were unable to find it. Crispin had more questions than answers. He pulled out his communication device to call his supervisor, when a noise made him pause. There was someone else here with him. He had been followed. Crispin grabbed the biggest book he could find and hefted it over his head. A figure walked into the room and just as Crispin was about to knock him out, he realized who the intruder was…

Alvis Hightower stood in the doorway to the secret passage. He was a tall man of indeterminate age. The years of fighting were etched on his face. His hair was more gray than black and he dressed casually in a button down shirt and khakis. He looked like an ordinary citizen, but Crispin knew otherwise. Before him stood a man that was instrumental in bringing down a terrible government. 

“It’s been years since I last saw this place,” Mr. Hightower said as he walked around the room. “I set up this library before Huxley’s reign, before books were banned. I just wanted a place where I could go to read, write, and dream without being interrupted by work or family. Then when Huxley came to power everything changed. I no longer wanted to keep this place to myself. I wanted to share it with other like minded people. No longer could I sit on the sidelines and only worry about myself. Helping people, keeping learning alive, that was my purpose in life. When I found out my library had been discovered, I knew that it was time to act. I used my connections within the government to keep my library from being burned to the ground. It cost me most of my savings, but it was worth it. My plan was to return once Huxley’s regime  was destroyed, but I got caught up in forming the new society. Without realizing it, I was becoming the face of the new government, instead of rejecting the offer I embraced it and my plans for the library were pushed aside. It took me until I knew the administration was stable enough to return to my plans for the library.

“So you knew where the library was the entire time?!” Crispin was angry, no he was furious! All the time and effort he took to take on this mission was for nothing. It was Hightower’s library, Hightower's!

“Yes, and I apologize for the subterfuge, but I had to know that you were the right one to take on the job I had in mind.” 

“Job what job?” Crispin was still mad, but his curiosity was beginning to get the best of him. 

“I want to leave these books where they are. I want everyone to know about this place. My secret library will be the first public library under my government. I want you to run it.

Crispin stared at the aging leader. He had put in all this effort just to appease this man’s whims. Yet, there had been stranger job interviews. Crispin guessed he had passed the test and to be honest, running a library was all he’d ever really dreamed of. 

“I’d be glad to, sir. One last question though, why did you choose the name Alfred?”

“How about instead of telling you, I give you a book that will answer that question. Now do we have a deal?”

Crispin shook Alvis Hightower’s hand. He had a new adventure ahead of him, and he couldn’t wait to get started.

May 25, 2024 01:48

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Avery Crescent
22:52 May 30, 2024

I enjoyed your story. I liked how you went back and forth in time and then closed with the surprise ending.


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Stevie Burges
11:23 May 30, 2024

Hi Bethany I thought this was a good story - so thanks for writing. I think a little extra editing would really make it even more enjoyable. Thanks for writing and submitting.


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