He stood puzzling over the missing body when something caught his eye at other end of the aisle. It looked like the person. The dead body person Oscar thought to himself, but not only was this person not dead, he seemed to disappear by half then appear again then disappeared completely all in a matter of seconds. Oscar shook his head and closed his eyes and when he opened them, there was nothing to see other than shelves and books. Poor Oscar wondered if he had seen what he thought he saw or had he had a dizzy spell. With the strange goings on with bodies and flying books it was possible. He found it hard to believe he saw a dead body only to find it had disappeared then see it reappear then disappear by sections. He though it better to believe he had a dizzy spell.
He was still pondering over this when he heard a voice behind him. “Excuse me”. Oscar turned to see the boy who had caused the commotion. “My name is Andre and I am sorry”. Oscar was puzzled as to why the boy was saying sorry to him but before he could ask the question, the boy continued. “I am the boy who caused the book avalanche. The librarian said I have to go to every visitor in the library and apologise for the calamity I caused. She said if I did not I would not be able to volunteer in the library and that would be a tragedy. I come here every afternoon after school to stack shelves. I have done so much work getting rid of the cobwebs and rearranging books and stacking shelves. This is the first time I have ever ‘unstacked’ shelves!”Oscar told him not to worry as he did not get hurt and thought the whole thing was a spectacular sight. Oscar felt that was a bit thoughtless of him to say that so he quickly asked the boy if he had been hurt, “No, just my pride.” said Andre.
Oscar could plainly see that the boy had his ladders and arms under control; he was as compact as a Swiss Army knife. He had everything in perfect alignment. Oscar suddenly had an idea. “Have you seen anyone or anything unusual in the library today? Like…someone… disappearing or – or dead? Andre blinked twice in rapid succession and looked like he was trying to swallow a fur ball. “Nope” he said far too quickly and before Oscar could ask anything else Andre excused himself saying he must continue with his apologies and practically ran away, his ladders rattling as he went. Oscar felt stupid. The boy must think him crazy, no wonder he hurried off but Oscar felt there was more to the boy’s reaction. The strange look on his face puzzled him.
Again, let us press pause in this story to learn a little about Andre the ladder boy.
As you just read, Andre can fold up his ladders and arms onto his body with perfection like a Swiss Army knife. It was not always like that though. It took him until fourth grade to perfect his ladder and arm folding and neck control. Up until then his head used to bob around like an out of control kite on the end of its string on a very windy day. His head often got in the way of the hologram board in the classroom when the other kids were trying to work or his head would swoop down and cause havoc knocking their books and ipads from their desks. He often had bruises on his forehead. The bully kids called him weirdo clumsy neck. Oh sure, the other kids had strange bodies as well, like Didge, he had the longest fingers and sharpest nails of anyone but he could retract them so they looked relatively normal inside the classroom although he didn’t like doing that, he felt too ordinary so he bullied everyone to cover up his feelings. He stole their things and if they asked for them back, he would extend one finger and poke them hard in the back when the teacher was not looking. In the schoolyard, he would extend his fingernails and scratch their arms or legs then grab at shirts, and tear them. He did it mostly to Andre. Then there was…well…we will not even talk about her, she was the worst of all…she continually called Andre CLUMSY!
It all changed just before the start of fourth year. It was Celebration time to mark the beginning of their Rock Harvest (celebrated each year since the settlement of this planet). Didge and his family had never won the decorated house contest as his Father built their house from the top down, like he built the library and the main hall, his house was ten stories tall, the tallest house ever built. There was no way anyone could reach the roof of his buildings. Each year he was frustrated because he wanted to decorate the whole house especially the roof but unfortunately, not only had he lost his builders license the worst thing of his entire life was that he lost his hover license… INDEFINITELY!
Here on this planet one must have a license for just about everything. Poor Didge’s Dad, he was the only one that could hover. It was hard for him to stay grounded but the people got sick of the way he built buildings that were impossible to reach the top levels, so if he was grounded they were all safe from the dreadful skyscrapers.
Didge’s Dad saw Andre practising his unfolding and folding of his ladders and asked him if he could put decorations on the roof of his house. Andre did a brilliant job. The Didge’s were the winners. Didge’s Dad invited Andre to dine with the whole Didge family to thank him. Didge (Bully fingers as they called him at school) learnt that bullying was not smart at all, doing something good was.
I could go on about…well…no, I said I would not mention her, besides; I have digressed far too long. I hope you have not lost the story line… let us quickly continue…
to be continued….