“It’s Too Late"
The library has always been an old haunt of mine. I’ve used my local library and others for many years. There is something about a library that is so homely; maybe it’s the smell of old books that gives this psychological effect.
I feel Libraries are a gold mine of information. I’ve used them for my college days, for just pleasure and to find out the answer to things of interest. I have even had an excuse to go into a library just to escape the heavy rain.
Take last Thursday, for instance; it must have been about five-thirty in the evening. I was walking down a street in the city of London with no umbrella and was wearing just a jacket, suddenly It became overcast, and then it bucketed down. There was no shelter anywhere; shops were closing, and I had nowhere to shelter. Then I spotted a library. I just managed to rush in there before getting soaked.
The library was almost empty, except for an older lady sitting by the window, reading a book, and a man was sitting opposite, reading a newspaper. And yes, I could smell the odor of old books.
Suddenly, I could hear the rain pelting against the library windows. It was then that I decided to find a book to read until the rain abated.
I walked down the History section and scanned for a book that would interest me. Then a man in a trench coat, wearing a fedora hat, resembling someone out of a crime thriller, walked into the library. He sat down not far from the elderly lady, opening a packet of Rothman’s King-size cigarettes. The lady looked up at him and pointed to the sign “no smoking.” The man frowned and reluctantly put his cigarettes back in his coat pocket. Then, he pulled out a small white envelope from his other pocket and stared at it on the table for a while. He looked around and caught sight of me staring at him and gave a grin.
Soon afterward, he got up and walked to the Science Fiction section, and started browsing for a book. I was still trying to find a book myself, but nothing interested me in the History section. I then looked up and saw the man at the entrance door ready to leave. He stared at me again with a big grin on his face, as if he knew something I didn’t; then he left without taking a book. Finally, after some ten minutes, I found a book, In the Science Fiction section, “The Time Machine” by H.G.Wells. Just then, I noticed thru the library window; the rain had stopped. I went over to the librarian, and she stamped my book, giving me a ticket. I then made my way home.
I walked to the nearest bus stop to get a number six bus and climbed the stairs to the top. Coincidently, the same man I saw in the library earlier brushed past me as I sat down. He turned and stared at me, grinning. Now I was starting to feel unnerved. “Is this man following me?” I thought. “Maybe he is one of those people who have escaped from an asylum nearby or something? “For some reason, he as latched on to me.” “He could be a psychopath and dangerous!” I pondered.
I planned on testing him. At the next stop, I would get off the bus and wait to see if he got off. Then I would quickly jump back on the bus again, leaving him behind. In theory, the idea sounded good, but like most things, in reality, it’s another story.
The bus soon arrived at the next stop.“Dam it!” I can’t move; what’s this elderly man in front doing?” I can’t get by him! ”Alright, abort, sit down, and try the next stop.”I thought.
“Right, here’s the next bus stop coming up, now.” I rushed downstairs and got off the bus with a man and lady, followed by guess who?”
“Okay, this man’s on my tail. I need to time this right. Wait for the bus to slowly pull away, then run like mad to climb back on board.”
The strange man was walking behind me, only a couple of yards away now; I pretended to do up my shoelace and waited for him to pass by. He glanced back at me, then like a Jesse Owens; I turned and sprinted like a greyhound as the man puffed, running after me as hard as he could, but; I was too fast for him, and jumped back onto the bus.
As soon as I got back home, the first thing I did was pour myself a stiff whisky and sat down, exhausted.
“That’s the last time I ever go In a library.” I thought.
After resting, I delved into my library book. I have always loved Science Fiction and think It is an excellent escapement from stress. As I leaned over to pick up my cup of tea, I tipped the book, and something fell out of It.
“What’s this?” I thought, on the carpet, was a white envelope. Then I remembered that man had a white envelope at the library. I picked it up and opened it. “What the devil is this?” I scratched my head. There were various numbers with symbols and alternating letters. Then in a flash, they all revealed to me their meaning. Luckily for me, or in this case, unluckily, I used to be known as a code breaker doing secret operations during the second world war, breaking German codes; some ten years ago.
This code was Russian, and now Britain and Russia are in the cold war; it was a serious business. “So what were the odds of me choosing the right book containing this envelope?” “They must be thousands to one. This Russian spy must’ve thought I was the person to meet him at the library, to pick up the envelope, but for some reason, the other man never turned up. Unfortunately for me, I turned up instead.
"More importantly." I thought. "What am I going to do about this?"
Thoughts of anger flooded my mind. "how ridiculous life can be, I get through the Second World War unscathed, and now World War three is on the horizon!" As I sat In the chair, I planned to contact Scotland Yard first thing In the morning.
The following morning, at Scotland Yard.
Two men from MI5 greeted me in their office. “Hello, Mr. Thomas Brandt.” “You are Mr. Brandt, aren’t you?” I swallowed hard. “No,” “ my name is James Fisher.” “Look, I came here to give some vital information that accidentally came into my hands yesterday.”
“Yes,” “about that, sir.”Said the taller MI5 man. “A bit of a coincidence some man at random leaves an envelope in a book in a library, and you happen to pick out the right book, don’t you think so, sir?“Look, what’s going on?” “ I’ve come here to be a good citizen, and this is what I get!” I complained.
“Look, you are wrong about me!” “You must look at the code in this envelope. If I’m right, we’ve no time to lose!” I said.
“ Yes, I was a code breaker for the British Intelligence service during the war, but I wasn’t a double agent working for the Germans.” “Yes, my name is Thomas Brandt, that’s my real name, and I am German. I hated the nazis, so before Hitler came into power, I immigrated with my parents to Britain and volunteered to work against the Germans.”I retorted. I continued, “I had to change my name; otherwise, people would be suspicious, me being a German,” I said.
“And now your working for the Russians?” The MI5 agent barked. staring at me to confess.”Listen, you idiot,” I shouted. If I was working for the Russians, why have I brought this code to show you?” The MI5 agents paused for a while. I opened the envelope and got out the piece of paper with the code on it and placed It on the desk. “Look,” I said to the agents and pointed to the two symbols with the number sixteen under them,” I explained to them: “On the sixteenth of this month, at four o’clock, the Russians are going to attack London with nuclear bombs, in two waves of bombers.
Then my heart sank,” What is the date today?”I asked nervously. One of the agents said.”It’s the sixteenth of March today.”
“And, err, what’s the time?” I asked hesitantly.
“It’s just coming up to four o’clock.”The agent said. With that, all three of us turned and stared at each other, looking horrified when a sudden burst of bright light flashed into the office.
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I love these kinds of endings. :-) I really like this story and would really love to see it fleshed out a little better.
Thank you for a lovely, positive comment. That is so encouraging