The smell of books was overwhelming but soothing at the same time. The rows and rows of books stacked to the ceiling, stood there still forever, as the sunlight came in through the big windows and caressed different parts of them. It was a beautiful place that seemed to be miles away fro many sound that could be caused in the world. Only a very low-pitch murmur could be heard, caused by people flipping pages or gently breathing as they immersed themselves into the worlds described in their books.
Martina walked towards the center of the gigantic room and tried to appreciate the beauty of the place from there. Sadly, it could not be done. It was way too big and with many hallways and corners to see it all at once. So she walked to a metal staircase instead and ascended to the second level, which had been built all around the edge, enabling views over the first floor were people were granted access to the library and the books. The view from there was much better but there was still a lot to explore.
However, Martina was not there to explore the place. She was there to look for a specific book. She had the name of it in a small piece of paper she had in her pocket, given to her by her father. He needed it in order to complete a paper he was writing for the university he worked on. It was only to check some facts and maybe give a bit more of information to the reader. He had sent his daughter to this mission because she wasn’t doing much at home, as the summer holidays had recently begun.
At first, she thought it would be very boring to go to a library. After all, they were not known to be the best places to have any kind of fun. Besides, she had to walk to the metro station and then take the train to downtown and then walk once more, this time towards the library building. It was quite a trip from her home. Such a long trip it was that, her father, had given her some money to pay herself some lunch after she had grabbed the book. However, he had asked for her to come home “as soon as possible”.
That was all before she had seen the beauty of the place, of its main room at least. Because, according to a sign outside of the main door, there were lots of different rooms, further divided in sections. She had entered the largest one but the truth was that she had no idea if the book she was looking for was there. Martina had just been pushed inside by a feeling that she had the moment she saw the very tall windows and the sun entering in the most beautiful way. It took her a while to realize that she had a mission to accomplish and that her father was waiting for him back at home.
She descended the metal staircase and almost ran towards the main counter. It was obviously not a thing people should do because a couple of people raise their heads only to look at her disapprovingly. Martina slowed down and almost tiptoed the rest of the way. When she got to the counter, she waited for one of the ladies that worked there to notice her. As she did, she saw a weird looking kid come into the room and walk straight into a dark corridor to the left. He was wearing strange clothes and what looked like makeup.
One of the ladies interrupted the moment and Martina just passed her the piece of paper her father had written on. The woman moved her glasses a bit, as if she needed to make out what she was reading. The woman did not say a word and Martina had no idea what to say. There was a very uncomfortable silence, and that’s was in a place were silence is pretty much the norm. The woman then turned around and started using a computer, probably looking for the book’s location in the massive collection of the library.
Again, Martina had time to turn around and look at the rows and rows of tables, where people were reading and trying to study. It was kind of amazing how some of them were reading only one book, in some cases one of the most popular novels in existence, and how others had a huge stack of them next to their main read or a laptop. Martina smiled because places like those were almost extinct at it was nice to see that they kept going on, no matter what happened with life and technology in the world.
The woman came back from her computer and told Martina that book was a very unique exemplary and that a special permit had to be granted. Martina started getting worried but the woman asked her if it was possible for her to call her father, who they would talk to in order to make the permit that morning. Martina grabbed her cellphone and called him, passing him on to the lady. They talked for a long time, which wasn’t very nice for Martina, as she was already getting hungry and her cellphone battery was not eternal.
When the woman finished, she told Martina that her father would have to talk to the manager of the library too. They were kind of doing that right then, so she would have to wait for a while until the permit was approved. When Martina was about to ask how much time that would take, the lady only said “In an hour” and started talking to another person. Martina was a bit surprised by that attitude but decided to make the best of it and have something to eat before coming back for the damn book. She was already thinking of a big subway sandwich when she noticed the kid she had seen before.
He was coming out of the dark corner he had entered. Martina now noticed he was wearing something resembling a cape. He apparently felt her eyes on him because he stared for a bit, until she decided to move on and walk out of the building. The kid passed her on the stairs outside and almost ran down the street. Martina stayed there for a bit, both because she was thinking about where the subs place was located but also wondering what that kid’s deal was. He looked very suspicious and way too young to be that.
She remembered the place was only one block away, so she walked slowly and enjoyed the sun hitting her head. She noticed then that the library was a bit colder than the outside, probably because of all the marble and other stones that had been used for the construction of the building. As she got near the restaurant, Martina tried to remember if she had ever been inside the library before, but she somehow could not remember. It was as if accessing those files in its head was not possible.
Inside the restaurant, Martina bought one of the biggest subs, with everything on it. She asked for the spicy sauce and potato chips with tomato flavor as a side. Instead of soda, she asked for an iced tea. After paying, she took her tray to a small table by the window and sat down there to have a view of the people passing by and the sun moving along the front parts of the building and over the sidewalk. The city could be very nice sometimes, even if she didn’t get very excited to be there often. Maybe that could change.
As she bit her sub for the first time, and then cleaned the sides of her mouth with a napkin, Martina saw the kid with a cape walking on the other side of the street. He had just come out of a small store. In the front it said “Mystical treats” and it was adorned with many candles and painted all in black. It looked like a very spooky place for a kid that age (maybe ten or twelve). The fun part was, Martina thought as she took another bite, that no one else seemed to be noticing the kid with the cape. As if he was invisible or something.
It was then when Martina realized something. The same thing had happened in the library. She had been the only one looking at the kid there too and he looked quite surprised and even angry when Martina stared at him. It was as if he was not very used to that happening to him.
As she sipped some iced tea, Martina stopped and left her food on the tray. The kid was still on the other side of the sidewalk, in front of another store: “Mirror Wonderland”. But that was not the most surprising part. The fact that the kid had no reflection on any of the mirrors in the storefront was.