The Inventory is Taking on a Life of Its Own

If our stock is going to start talking to us, I wish it would be more specific.

This morning when I came downstairs to open the store, Sophia’s bookcase was hanging open for the third day in a row. The case itself is at least two hundred years old, so I had (perhaps naively) been thinking that it was finally starting to show its age. Woodworms in the latches or some such. Today, though, one of the books was out and open on the shelf.

Our security here has always been good, as one might expect. I think some days Val wishes for a break-in, because it would give him something to do at night. For all he says he’s earned his retirement, and at his age who hasn’t, I think he’s hoping for a little excitement beyond wandering through estate sales to see if a treasure has slipped through the cracks. At this point we’d even welcome a visit from Nicodemus, with all the attendant bickering and old stories, just to break the monotony. Peace and quiet isn’t all it was cracked up to be.

I may yet live to regret those words. There was no intruder who left that book open–none who could even have opened the shelf. Since Sohpia left it, it’s stayed locked, waiting for her or someone like her I suppose, only now the books seem to have other ideas. It was one of the oldest that was open and for once, the pages weren’t blank. Neither of us has ever been able to read one until now, but we both saw it, a word on one leaf:


I saw it, as well as Val, but either the book is so old that’s the only language it knows, or the message was meant primarily for him.

They come.

I had to leave off a minute there. More falling shelves and strange rattles. This time the back room, where a ship in a bottle we found at an Annapolis estate sale a few years back seems to have tried to set sail of its own accord. The bottle managed to land unbroken, at least, and whatever has decided to rearrange our stock at least appears to wait until there are no customers in the store. I wouldn’t think much of it, but when I was putting the bottle back I found something of David’s on that shelf. I don’t remember putting the astrolabe out, or even having seen it in years, but it was tucked away behind a tacky little carving (a souvenier of the Redwoods that I never expect we’ll sell, but one never knows.)

I don’t believe in ghosts, strange as that sounds coming from me, but I can’t help thinking David and Sophia are trying to tell us something.

Evening’s coming, and it’s time to close. Val’s taken it into his head we should go for a walk tonight, not that I expect anything interesting to come of it. He’s been rather pensive lately, but not the old wartime restless. Not yet. As for me, I can’t help but feel uneasily. Something is coming. Venitias. They are coming. Perhaps once the store is locked and before the sun settles far enough to make the light comfortable, I’ll take a minute and play the cards.


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