Tonight’s bedtime story is Chapter 5 from my book, “Fred: The Creature Sent To Save Us All.” This is an adventure story for ages 7 and up, with strong themes about environmental protection and the power of the mind. Every Friday I will share another chapter from the book, so if you enjoy the story, you can always follow along next week.
I hope you enjoy Chapter 5…
🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #38
Chapter 5 – The Book Burglar
When we arrived home, the news was still on the television. As my father went to sit back down in front of it, I heard something strange being reported. The local news reporter was a tall woman named Emma Langley, and she was standing outside of the village library, not far from my house.
“CCTV cameras yesterday spotted a small intruder breaking into our treasured local library, with some books dating back over one-hundred and fifty years,” she said. “The intruder was covered in a dark cloak and is very hard to identify, but police suspect it was probably a man with a large head, the height of a small child.”
She looked slightly embarrassed at what she was saying, but soon the CCTV footage was being displayed on the screen. I knew it was Fred as soon as I saw the way this little figure walked. A dark cloak covered his entire face and body, and the camera footage showed him standing outside the doors of the library for a while, trying to open them. Emma’s voice commentated over the top:
“As you can see here, the burglar was attempting to open the locked doors last night, to no avail, and after seemingly speaking with the doors for a few moments, they apparently swing open. This is currently unexplained by the local library, since the doors are manual and require keys to open from the outside. The suspect now known as ‘The Book Burglar’ is seen here entering the library and wandering around the bookshelves for at least half an hour.”
My father looked at me.
“Give me my phone back,” he said to me.
I didn’t move. I kept watching, and Emma kept commentating…
“As you can see from the camera footage within the library, The Book Burglar picks up nearly every book from the shelves and even uses a ladder to climb up to the higher levels. The figure can be seen placing his hands on the books, and every time he does there is a strange interference with the cameras, so that their recording capability is paused. This happens every time he places his hands on a book, until he puts it down and chooses another. Beside me here is the manager of the library, Mrs Derris. Mrs Derris, thank you for joining us…”
“Wallace, my phone!” My father stood up from the sofa and reached inside my pocket for his phone. I had already put it on the kitchen table. The TV now showed Emma, the news reporter, speaking with the little old lady named Mrs Derris, who looked distraught and hunched-over by the impact of the loss.
“All the books are still there,” she muttered to Emma. “But the words…the words are all gone.”
“So this book burglar took nothing physically from the library, but seems to have depleted the very core of our town’s heritage by somehow erasing the words from the books?”
“Yes!” Mrs Derris said, beginning to weep. “But, in fact…there is one book left unaccounted for. A children’s book, portrayed to be a real account of one man’s research within our local forest. The book is called ‘Mythical Creatures Of The Forest’, and we would like it back immediately!”
“And there you have it,” Emma said, facing the camera again. “A town robbed of its wealth of knowledge. A lonely librarian reduced to tears. And a book burglar on the loose who we are now hearing has already struck one home in the local area. Lock your doors. Hide your books. The Book Burglar might be coming for you next.”
My father had now found his phone, but as he picked it up, outraged that Fred had been erasing even more books, there was a knock at the door.
“I bet that’s them!” my father said. “The police are here. They will take me seriously now that this has happened.”
I couldn’t work out why Fred had taken all the words from the books, even though he knew it wasn’t right. Perhaps he went to the library before he spoke to me last night and realised what he had done. I looked out behind me through the windows and saw Fred there, standing at the gate at the back of our garden.
I looked to the front door, and three policemen were walking into our home. My father was telling them everything.
I ran back out into the garden and sprinted up to Fred.
“You took all the words from the library!”
“Eh?” Fred said.
“All the words. All those books you read, all the words are gone!”
“Ah,” Fred said. “Yes, sorry, I haven’t corrected that yet, I’ve had a lot on my mind. I don’t seem able to absorb a book properly unless this process happens. I can put the words back. I’ll put them back really soon. But first we have to go.”
“I can’t. You know I can’t. My father…”
“Oh, these rules will be the end of us!” Fred said, stamping his foot on the ground.
“The police are here for you too. You better run.”
“I’m not scared of that lot. I’m not scared at all. I might have to think of another way to convince your father to let you go. Or…or you could just say ‘yes’ and we could be away…”
“Wallace! Wallace stand back, get away from it!” My father was bringing the policemen outside. I realised he was going slightly mad. Suddenly I could see through him. I could see his thoughts. I could see that inside his mind he not only wanted Fred to stop stealing words from books, but he wanted to hand Fred over to the authorities so that they could learn from him, learn more about his powers and things like the Healing Tree. I saw an image in my mind of Fred being pinned down to a bed and experimented on.
“No!” I yelled. I felt something furious rising up within me. I didn’t know what was happening. I felt almost as if my body was getting bigger. I felt a golden power reaching up into my feet and then filling my entire body.
“Stop. Everyone stop!” I yelled it so loud that the policemen flinched. They were all armed. I didn’t know if they were holding dart guns or deadly guns.
“None of you come another step closer!” I yelled. My voice was completely different. It was as if the whole forest was yelling through me.
I was sure I could feel Fred smiling behind me.
“If you come any closer you will be punished for it!” I yelled at all the men.
They were looking at me as if I was changing colour or changing shape.
“I want to go and help Fred,” I said clearly to my father. “I would like your permission.”
I had no idea why, but my father just began to nod.
“Okay,” he said. He looked frightened. I could feel all of my skin tingling with golden light, and I could see Barney looking at me, starting to bark. He ran up beside me and faced my father and the policemen.
“Fred is not dangerous!” I yelled. “He will put all of those words back in the library when we are finished. And the other book, if he stole it.” I turned to Fred and Fred nodded vigorously.
“Of course,” Fred said. “I just needed to borrow it. I used a library card but I bet they didn’t tell you that, did they?”
I turned to face my father but I still spoke to Fred.
“How long will we be gone for?”
“Don’t know. A day, maybe.”
“What? Is that all? A day to fix everything?”
“That’s all we need,” Fred said.
I looked through the house and could see the news was still on. It was showing fire and flames on the edge of a huge forest.
“Okay, we’re going then,” I said. I turned away and felt something whistling through the air towards me.
I spun around and caught, in mid-air, a little blue dart that had been fired at my back. As I grabbed at it, I noticed my hand was larger and thicker. I looked up at the one policeman who still had his rifle raised, and he fired another at me. I caught it again, threw it back at him, and closed the gate behind me.
Story written and read in English by Adam Oakley, Copyright © Adam Oakley