Secret Passage

Austin was at the library, looking through the history books. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he was sure he’d know it when he saw it. Whatever it was.

First, he took out a book about the history of flight and flipped through it. Nope. Then, a book about film history. Nope. He spotted a book about the history of pencils. A whole book about pencils? Interesting, but nope.

That was the end of the second shelf. He knelt down to read the titles on the bottom shelf, and walked sideways on his knees as he scanned each one. Just before he reached the end, something hit his arm as he side-walked. Ouch.

He turned, rubbing his arm, and looked down. There was a doorknob attached to the wall. There wasn’t a door, or even an outline for a door, and the doorknob was rather low. How strange.

Austin tried turning the knob, but it wouldn’t turn. It seemed to be locked, which didn’t make any sense. There wasn’t a keyhole, so how could it be locked? Besides, why would you lock the knob when there wasn’t even a door?

Wait a minute. Austin sat back on his heels and looked more closely at the wall. If the knob was locked, maybe there really was a door here after all. If it didn’t need a key, maybe there was a button or a lever somewhere.

Taking the books off the shelf one at a time didn’t work. He made sure to check the knob after each one, and it stayed locked. There was nothing behind the books, either. The wall seemed to be perfectly flat, other than the door knob.

He tried knocking on the wall as though it were a door. He tried tapping different patterns on the wall. He knocked and tapped quietly, of course. After all, this was a library. Nothing seemed to make any difference.

He tried stepping on each inch of carpet within sight of the door, but there were no clicking sounds, and all of the carpet felt the same. The adventure stories made this seem much easier.

What was next? Magic words. That sometimes worked. He really hoped they weren’t in a different language, because he didn’t know very many words in other languages. He counted to ten in Spanish. Nope. He tried random hissing sounds. Nope.

“Open Sesame.” Nope.

“Abracadabra.” Nope.

“You are a very lovely door.” Nope.

Austin sighed. “Please open.” There was a clicking sound. Austin turned the knob and the whole wall slid sideways, leaving an opening next to the bookshelf.

Inside, there was a short, dark hallway that turned sharply. A little light shone from around the corner. Cautiously, Austin stepped inside. If this was a secret passage for polite people, he needed to remember his manners. “Um, thank you?” The door slid shut.

Was that a good thing? Could he open it from the inside? He’d better check before going any further. “Please open.” The door opened. “Thank you.” It closed.

He walked forward and peeked around the corner. The next hallway was even shorter, and ended in a frosted glass door that was lit brightly from the inside. He thought about politeness and knocked quietly at the door.

A little monkey answered the door. He was wearing a suit and hovering in mid-air. This was probably because of his giant wings. Austin was a little surprised, but tried to continue to be polite. “Pardon me,” he said. “I found this secret passage by accident. I was curious.”

“Oh, that’s alright,” the winged monkey said. “You’re welcome to come in.”

“Thank you.” Austin stepped through the doorway.

The room inside looked like a lot of the other reading rooms in the library. It had comfortable chairs and a small window and shelves of books. There were a few other doors that perhaps led to other secret passages.

Unlike the other rooms, there was a large tank of water with a mermaid in it. A unicorn stood by the window. A short green person with one large eye was sitting in one of the chairs.

He briefly looked around at everyone in the room, but didn’t mention how strange they seemed. Politeness was important here, he knew that. So he didn’t say anything and instead walked over to the bookshelves and started looking at the books.

The history of leprechaun gold? Mermaid battles of the last five hundred years? Modern Sphinx riddles? This was more like it!

He pulled out the last book and looked for an empty chair. He found one and sat down. The room was quiet, except for the occasional sound of a page being turned. It was just right. Austin settled in to read. Being polite really paid off. It was almost magical.