A9: The Novel Tourist

A young girl named Tabitha falls asleep while reading a book and ends up in another land. She finds a portal in front of her with a secret message involving her book. She can only open the portal if she uncovers the message. She has to find a way to use her book to open the door, but after three tries, she is still unsuccessful. Will she ever be able to open it? What will be waiting on for her on the other side? Will Tabitha ever be able to find her adventure?

She had no suitcase, no luggage. All she had was a vehicle, but that was enough.

The young girl sat perched on a strong tree limb, novel in hand. Her cheeks shone chestnut red against her dark skin, and on her face was a blissful smile. The child liked climbing trees, and she liked reading. Nothing pleased her so much as an afternoon where she was free to do both.

Tabitha had just borrowed this novel from the library, and she had not even read the first page. She opened the large volume, the first in a series of ten, remembering the title, Vehicle of Adventure.

8555554515_b3209b30c2_kand read all over” by Jonathan Cohen. CC BY-NC 2.0

There was something marvelous about the name, and since Tabitha loved marvels, she started reading.

This book is the key to your adventure, the first line read.

She wondered at the line. Most stories did not use the word ‘you’ other than when characters were speaking.

In lands of grass and shrubs, where no one has heard bugs, this book will be your guide.

Tabitha felt suddenly drowsy.

Walk in. Do not fly. An open door awaits you.

She could not keep her eyes open. Maybe she had done too much climbing for one day. She so wanted to keep reading, but she couldn’t. Her eyes thudded shut. Before giving completely into sleep, Tabitha shifted to rest her back against the tree trunk so as not to lose balance and fall over.

At least an hour later, Tabitha opened her bleary eyes and found herself not on a tree branch but in a wide, flatland. It took her a while to realize her surroundings, but when she did, she was not so much startled as perplexed and curious. As far as she knew, she might be in a dream or in a shadow of a dream.

In front of her, Tabitha saw a great portal with an inscription that read, This book is the key to your adventure.

Where had she heard that before? Suddenly, she remembered. It was the same line that had started her novel. What was this place? How had she gotten here? Tabitha looked down at her small, dark hands. There she still held her ebony-colored book.

In a moment, Tabitha realized that somehow she could use this book to unlock the portal, but she was not sure that she wanted to. The child wondered what would be waiting on the other side. Couldn’t she just walk around the entrance without using the door anyway? She tried it, but all she found on the other side was more flatland and an occasional bush or twig.

So, Tabitha decided, I must open the door. It’s the only way to get to my adventure. I only have one problem. How am I supposed to use my storybook to open it?

The girl tried reading the first line of the story, but that did nothing. Then, she tried reading the book’s title, but still the door was locked. Finally, the child wondered if there was an actual key somewhere inside the book that she had somehow never noticed. That would be strange. She would have felt it if it were there. She searched and searched and found nothing.

She was frightened of this new place and of what might be inside the door, but her curiosity was stronger than her fear.

The young girl slumped down onto the hard ground and sat in the grass, thinking of some way to open the door.

Tabitha looked at the keyhole. It was large just as the door was large, yet it was not too large.

A thought came to her. What if the book was the key? The inscription on the entrance did say This book is the key to your adventure not This book holds the key to your adventure. It seemed obvious, but something in Tabitha decided it could not be the answer. The book was too large to even fit in the keyhole, let alone open the door. She would have to try it anyway.

Slowly, Tabitha got up and walked towards the portal. She slid the book closer to the hole.

When it reached the keyhole, something happened which Tabitha did not expect.

The book changed. Instead of a large, black volume, it was now a small key, though still black.

The door creaked open without Tabitha touching it.

“Come inside,” said a voice. “You have unlocked your adventure.”

Tabitha saw no form inside the doorway, but the light streaming forth from its entrance was so bright that she could not look at the opening without shielding her eyes.

Tabitha tiptoed through the opening to the other side. The door banged shut behind her.

All around her a million colors and shapes burst into life.

“Come inside, come inside,” said a little figure, the same one who had been talking to her earlier though she could not see him. “Welcome.”

Tabitha looked down at the creature. He was shorter than her, though he was an adult and she was a child. He had brown, hairy feet and a plump frame, and his eyes reminded Tabitha of her grandfather.

“Hello, my name’s Bilbo Baggins,” the little creature said.

“Bilbo?” Tabitha asked. “But you’re not real.”

Of course, none of this was real. Tabitha knew a storybook could not really open a door, and that if the portal had been real, she would have ended up on the other side of it in the flatland, not in some other place entirely.

“You’re right,” the hobbit said. “I’m not real, or not in your sense of the word anyway. You’ve entered our world through that portal in the sky.”

He pointed up, and Tabitha could see a shining doorway in the sky, the same one she had just passed through. That must have been why when the door had opened it had looked so bright inside. She had seen the light of the sun.

“You’ve entered the Novel Lands,” Bilbo continued. “We are the citizens of the Novel Lands, the characters, and now you are one too.”

Tabitha was confused.

“This is the world where all characters live,” Bilbo explained. “You are a character now. Jason has written you.”

She thought she was beginning to understand, but she wasn’t sure what it all meant. Who was Jason? What was real? Was this the adventure her book had brought her to?


6 thoughts on “A9: The Novel Tourist

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