The Books

This is part ten of the continuing saga, The Last Grain of Sand, which I began via a prompt at Bluebell Books’ Short Story Slam a few months ago. The nine previous parts are available by clicking on the links at the bottom of this post. This segment is being posted to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday, and is entitled The Books. I hope you enjoy it.

The Books

I followed Lilly to the house, stunned, and not at all sure what to do next. What she’d told me just now was beyond my comprehension, but in lieu of all that had happened in the last few days, it didn’t seem impossible. The screen door slapped closed behind her as she vanished into the old farm house.

Ben was at the kitchen table, eating what appeared to be corn flakes from a large bowl. He looked up at me and smiled; a drop of milk clinging to his chin.

“Where’d you get the milk?” I asked, smiling back at him. Lilly passed by in the hall, and I glanced up.

“Powdered,” Ben answered. “Used bottled water.” He spooned another mouthful, wiped at his chin with the back of his hand then chewed silently as he watched me stare at the spot I’d last seen Lilly.

“Oh,” I said, as I walked toward the hallway.

I found her standing in the doorway of a room at the end of the hallway; opposite end of the house from the bedrooms. Her head was bowed—praying, I assumed—and I didn’t speak as I stepped quietly then stood a few feet behind her.

“You need to see something,” she said, not turning to look at me. Gooseflesh again; I figured I probably ought to get used to it. She moved into the room and I followed her.

When I entered the room, the enormity of it struck me as being impossible. The inside of the room was larger than the entire house seemed from outside, and the ceiling appeared to be ten or twelve feet high. At the far end, a huge antique desk sat facing us; an oversized chair behind it. Floor to ceiling book cases lined every inch of the walls, and there was not an empty space on any of the shelves. The books were all identical in size and color, and on the spine of each was a name and what appeared to be a date. I scanned the names in front of me and noted they were in alphabetical order. I was standing in front of an entire shelf filled with books titled Charles Martin.

Some of the dates below the names were the same, but they went up in chronological order as they changed. When I came to the last Charles Martin, the date below the name was 01-27-2012; today. I walked down the rows, past the Charlie Martins, the Charlotte Martins—even a Charzy Martin—until I found it; Chase Martin. There was only one Chase Martin, and below the name the date read, 03-13-1982; ten days after my twelfth birthday. I opened the book and in the center of the third pure white page, my name appeared again with the same date below it. A quick thumbing through the remainder of the book revealed that the rest of the pages were blank. I closed the book and stared at the gilded gold letters on the black spine.

Lilly’s soft voice startled me as I stared at the numbers below my name, trying to recall what had occurred on March 13, 1982.

“It’s the day you were baptized,” she said.

I was really beginning to hate gooseflesh.

Copyright © 2012 C.Mashburn

Previous parts of this story:

Part one: The Last Grain of Sand

Part two: Hope

Part three: Like a Fairy Tale

Part four: Then There Were Three

Part five: Cinnamon

Part six: L. Aliens in the Morning

Part seven: Dearest Wife

Part eight: Dearest John

Part nine: L. Angel

Part eleven: Play Money


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    You got some ‘splainin’ to do!!! And once again, you’ve left me wanting more.

  2. wow! the ending gave me gooseflesh! what a wonderful twist! Also, I have to mention the whole milk on the chin thing made me smile, it reminded me of my son sopping up a big bowl of cereal! 🙂 I cannot keep milk in the house when there is cereal!
    I love your charm, Charles! It is always a pleasure reading you. Thank you for submitting this wonderful chapter to FWF! xox

    • Thanks, Kellie! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I hope you don’t mind the liberties I’m taking with your prompts. I’m enjoying twisting them to fit my story!

  3. Raivenne said

    “I was really beginning to hate gooseflesh.”

    Yeah, I’m beginning to see why. Charles, you missed my son’s exact date of birth by only a few days.

    Excellent story telling as always.

  4. terri0729 said

    Okay, left us hanging until the next one 😦 ! Great job 🙂 blessings, Terri

  5. elizena said

    Charles, I loved it!! This was totally awesome and I want more. Oh man, my skin is tingling and I was just so excited the entire time I was reading this. The date of his baptism!?!?!? I want more!!
    You know this story started off sad; a disaster and so many dead. It appeared like there was no hope and help coming, but little by little you see hope arising. First in his finding first one person alive, then another and then more and more across the states, the world even. You know there’s more and that the only way out is God.
    Okay, I’ve gotten in too deep again, but then again I think it’s only an awesome story that can do that. Wonderful! 😉

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, Elizena. Your comments encourage me to continue!
      However, as I begin to turn the story toward hope and inject God into it, I seem to get fewer and fewer responses. I’m sure some of the decline is attributable to loss of interest, and some to the fact that people just now seeing it don’t want to read ten segments to catch up. And, maybe I’m just being paranoid.
      In any case, I will continue to write this tale. I have no illusions regarding it, and no plans to publish it, but I am into the story and I’m enjoying writing it, so I will continue. Sometimes these stories of mine die a sudden death–I simply quit on them–but this one seems to have purpose–at least, to me–and I hope it goes on to a suiting conclusion. My my! Look at me rambling along.
      Thank you, Elizena! I appreciate you!

  6. I enjoy your writing style it is open and friendly, that is such a gift to your readers!

  7. ~L said

    You know… You are such a talented writter! The story is great Charles! … I hope your novel is comming along


  8. David King said

    Alas, I found you too late to be in at the beginning of the story, but the writing is clear and lucid to tempt one in. I shall try to pick up on the back numbers. It’s an enjoyable style you have and an interesting tale to tell.

    • Thanks, David! The segments are short–usually less than 500 words each–so it isn’t difficult to catch up. I think you would enjoy the story, and you’d also probably find the process by which it has unfolded interesting.
      I appreciate the visits and comments!
      (There might be new segment of the story added today!)

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