Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop

Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
#1
Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
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You enter Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop.

The shelves are stuffed, bulging, and many of the things they're stuffed with are simply piles of paper haphazardly clipped together. More books and papers fill any empty space; it looks hard to walk in here.

Bilfred Baker sits behind a desk covered with more stacks of papers, several lumpy ceramic jars filled with pens and pencils, and a single gently spinning globe. He is a wrinkled man with unruly gray hair and a drooping mustache.

"What're you looking for?" he asks.

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#2
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
"Where it is the bathroom?"
Duck, duck, duck, duck, GHOOST.
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#3
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
>Magic.
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#4
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
"I think... Yes, I remember now. A dream-book. Some time ago, I purchased an empty dream-book. Something to put the dreams from mind to paper, ease the night into a peaceful slumber. When the dreams stopped, I found myself no longer in need of the book and gave it to another in need."

"By now the book has traveled far and wide, with a story, I hope, of its own to tell. Even without reading the dreams, the pages tells a vibrant story. The writers style, the inks they used, the condition of cover and page. Vibrant fuel for a tired writers imagination. I couldn't say if the book I once held is here now, but I have a feeling it is, or another like it."
Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
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#5
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
(08-10-2018, 04:46 AM)Arcanuse Wrote: »"I think... Yes, I remember now. A dream-book. Some time ago, I purchased an empty dream-book. Something to put the dreams from mind to paper, ease the night into a peaceful slumber. When the dreams stopped, I found myself no longer in need of the book and gave it to another in need."

"By now the book has traveled far and wide, with a story, I hope, of its own to tell. Even without reading the dreams, the pages tells a vibrant story. The writers style, the inks they used, the condition of cover and page. Vibrant fuel for a tired writers imagination. I couldn't say if the book I once held is here now, but I have a feeling it is, or another like it."
Noot noot doot doot.

EGGS AND UPGRADED EGGSShow
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#6
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
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You’ve passed this shop many times, and each time a faint memory has tugged at your consciousness, but you’ve never been able to figure out exactly what it is. Now, upon succumbing to the desire to enter the shop, it comes to you.

“I think … Yes, I remember now. A dream-book. Some time ago, I purchased an empty dream-book. Something to put the dreams from mind to paper, ease the night into a peaceful slumber. When the dreams stopped, I found myself no longer in need of the book and gave it to another in need.

“By now the book has traveled far and wide, with a story, I hope, of its own to tell. Even without reading the dreams, the pages tell a vibrant story. The writers’ style, the inks they used, the condition of cover and page. Vibrant fuel for a tired writer’s imagination. I couldn’t say if the book I once held is here now, but I have a feeling it it, or another like it.”

“Ah.” Bilfred Baker smiles.

“That sounds like a book I’d actually have,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many people come in here looking for the latest installment of 'Bogus Blainard'. Such garbage! I always have to disappoint them.”

He twirls one end of his moustache around his finger. You wonder if he does that instinctively or if he’s trying to look like a villain from a silent movie.

“The books I sell come to me by strange ways. If one, alone and friendless, scribbles one’s thoughts onto a roll of paper and stuffs it into a bottle, wishing desperately to reach someone, somewhere, that bottle may come to me; I am known also to scavengers, scrapers, and traders of all sorts of odds and ends, who travel to places that you will never have heard of; they know that I will pay for the scraps they bring me. Crows, ravens, and magpies fly often in and out of my attic, and in their scatterings and lining their nests, I regularly find some fragments of interest. But, of course, I scarcely have time to read all the stuff. It is up to my customers to decide if any of it ever finds a home.”

He gestures further into the store, beckons you to follow.

“Over here should be dreams … I think …” he says. None of the shelves seem to be labeled.

You look through the shelf he’s pointed you to. There are several old, cloth-bound books on it, accompanied by a large typed sheaf. Other papers seem only scribbled on.

“Of course, it could be anywhere else in the store,” Bilfred adds helpfully.

You study the spines of the books. What did your dream-book look like? … You don’t remember, exactly. You don’t think it’s any of these, although they do seem interesting. A book on the use of dreams for divination, a stapled-together pile in progressively worse handwriting that at least starts out as someone describing a dream they had, and what actually appears to be a record from a mental hospital are all on the shelf.

“Don’t see it?” asks Bilfred.

“No …” you say.

“Well, as I told you earlier, it could be anywhere! I’ll leave you to search for a while.”

You look through many more books, but you still don’t find your dream-book. Eventually you return to the front desk.

Do you want to purchase one of the books, leave the store, or talk to Bilfred more?
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#7
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
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"Still can't find it?" asks Bilfred Baker.

You shake your head no.

"Well, I'll keep an eye out for it!" he says. "Do you have an address I can contact you at?"

You leave Bilfred your address and head out the door.

***

You step outside and sigh as the crisp air hits your face. In the park across the street, a group of the homeless is huddled against the brisk October wind.

In this city of decaying churches, of moss growing over gravestones, of rain making ripples in puddles on the cobblestone sidewalks, you wonder, as you have many times before, whether life is bad or good. Everything in this city points to the seeming glories of a not-so-recent past. But sometimes, walking in the hills in the soft October rain, looking at the changing colors in the trees that have grown over the abandoned farms, you think that there has never been a time in which you would rather have been alive.

Life was bad in your grandparents' time, certainly. Back then people worked 16-hour days in the steel plants if the Administration for Administrative Affairs wanted them to. If someone spoke against the Administration or read the wrong book, the secret police might come in the night. Most of the dissident writers you revere were either killed or sent into exile.

Now no one knows anyone who's been visited by the secret police. No one even knows if they exist anymore.

You work for the Administration, like most of the people you know. You keep a burner stocked all night with coal in an otherwise empty factory. The bureaucrat who pays you your tokens swears that there's an Administration capitol still, full of bustling buildings, organizing the world.

You rent a small attic room that's heated and has a working roof. It's a crime to trade Administration tokens for anything other than Administration-provided goods and services, but no one's been arrested for that violation since your parents were young. With so many abandoned buildings, and the Administration not exactly providing upkeep to the official dormitories, it was inevitable that some enterprising folks would fix places up for lodging.

You get by. There are many things that are hard to get hold of these days, but canned food will never be one of them. Not when the warehouses are still stocked with provisions and preparations for a war that never came.

And when you can, you write.

But enough reminiscences. Where were you going, again?
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#8
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
>You're on your way to see the local administrative vendor. The goods remain plentiful, though the quality has dropped from satisfactory to a mere adequate. Not that the price would indicate that, heavens no. The goods remain as moderately overpriced as the day the first vendor opened shop. Enough to annoy, not enough to be worth bickering over.
(Haggling anyways is technically permissible, given the relevant laws were only enforced as a pretense for other offenses. So long as the vendors met their quotas, there wasn't that much concern about the missing funds).
Idle RamblingShow
>Hm? Oh right, right.
>You were heading to the administrative vendor to see if any canned fruit was in stock.
>Fruits are a pleasantry when available, but the real reason you wanted them was the juice.
Treated right, the juice was just as good as ink to write with and less likely to raise suspicions on your rogue writer habit...
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>Sigh. Even now, the administration's deeds loom overhead.

Plenty of words. But the street is long, grey, and terribly dull. Perhaps the street is longer still, leaving time for the thoughts of another?
>______
Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
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#9
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
SpoilerShow

Ah, yes. You were looking for canned fruit.

You begin to stride over the uneven sidewalk. You look up, wondering if it's going to rain; there are many clouds and a seeming smell of water in the air, but it doesn't seem to be raining yet.

The words of an old song run through your head. You know one day we'll sail on the wine-dark sea ... Though it's not here, the shore will come to you and me ... How did it go again? You're not sure, even, if those are the right words, and you can remember only snatches of the other lines.

You heard a rumor that canned fruit was being sold today at the administrative vendor's. It may be true, or it may not be. You hope it is. Fruit is something you like.

A thought comes to you. If there is fruit, perhaps you could make ink with the juice?

Hmm ... no. That really wouldn't work.

The street is long, and empty. You are well past the reclaimed storefronts and into the rows of empty buildings. More thoughts wander around in your head.

What happened to the secret police, anyway? How could they have simply disappeared? Did they go somewhere? You think that, if they were simply disbanded, there would have been some sign. They would have showed up again as armed bandits bullying the townsfolk for whatever they wanted, not simply melted back into anonymity.

Do they still have a headquarters around that you can find? Could you look for clues there? You shake your head, unsure of where your mind is leading you. That could be pretty dangerous.

The street is long, and there is still much more of it. As you continue to walk, you feel the first drop of rain land on your head.

***

You are Elsa.

You are sitting, curled in a blanket, in the living room of the abandoned farmhouse that your family calls home. You have situated yourself, as best as you can, away from the spreading puddles of water that have formed under each dripping hole in the roof. It's raining again, and were your family to fix up the holes in the roof, the house would no longer be an abandoned farmhouse.

Father has been gone for a week now. He said he'd come back when he found food, but you're getting worried and your remaining supplies are down to almost nothing. Mother, meanwhile, won't be back for a month at least. She went to visit family who still live in the cities, and also to trade for items which are hard to acquire out here in the woods.

You need to find food, and fast. You suppose you could always try looking for mushrooms again. You could even leave a note and head out on a large expedition yourself - it's what everyone else seems to be doing. Maybe if you get to an area you haven't been to before there'll be more cellars to ransack for provisions. You and your family have pretty much exhausted the ones around here.

Or, you know, you could just keep waiting, and ignore your mounting worry. You don't really want to go out in the rain.

Do you look for food or stay? Or is there something else that you want to do?
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