The lift jerked downwards as Zan placed his feet on it as if it could sense him. Zans heart was pumping really hard. Fingers crossed, eyes closed, he hoped that there wasn anything dangerous down there that would make him regret his adventure-seeking step.
After a minute, he felt the lift stopping. When he opened his eyes, what he saw intrigued him. Whole place was filled with different books. Huge shelves, their height ranging upto the ceiling with a ladder standing upright with the shelves to reach for the high most shelf. Was he teleported into 90s in a trice?
On the other side were a lot of vials, orbs containing different types of coloured chemicals. Those shelves were as tall and as huge as any other in the room. Each vial was labeled with the name of the chemical it contained.
On yet another side were different glass boxes, having different ingredients in them including flowers, leaves, thorns, twigs and what not. It was as if a herbalists workplace, or a chemists. In front of the vials and boxes, on a table was a bunsen burner, cauldron, laddle and everything that is needed to brew a chemical, or an herbal medicine.
The books were antique, with leather-hard covers. They looked years old and that excited Zan, because he was a vintage-lover who never had missed a chance to smell a vintage book or touch an old artefact. In fact, he was a vintageista.
What startled him was that the shelves were so clean as if they were cleaned everyday. The whole place was even shining like a crystal. No book or vial was placed askew. Everything was perfectly organized. It did not seem like a place inside a basement, but a library of highly developed state.
Should he touch anything? He did want to, because the books were so pretty. It was difficult to resist. The leather was very shiny. Books like these were very difficult to find or probably just too expensive for Zan to afford. He would see some like those in art stores, galleries but the price would always be twice as costly as his fathers monthly earning. He would always turn the desire down. But this time, it was all his, all the books unless a witch walks in from somewhere, who had been living here for years, you know like fantasy movies. He was a fantasy lover, but he wouldn like that.
He stepped forwards and picked up a red coloured book out of all the things in that regal place. It was really heavy. Flame was illustrated on the cover saying ”Fire-lore. ” The cover was gorgeous, and flawlessly red. There was not even a spot of dust or anything.
The title of the book sounded like an ancient magic to Zan. What could be written inside it? He somewhat feared to open, scared of what might show up. He vaguely understood what was it about. He was assuming their would be spells to control fire. But is the magic real? Nah, he did not think so!
Zan brushed his fingers over the cover and the flame glowed for an instant. Zan, abruptly, dropped the book on the floor. The echo of thud of the book made Zans heart beat even faster. How long had he been there? He heard the door of his room knock and Mrs Miller calling. He had completely lost track of time. Running towards the lift through which he entered, he tried to make out what he just witnessed. His mind presented him with bizarre assumptions. What if he was in danger? What if he had freed a cruel witch who was captured in the basement or in the book? He would not like to be a redemptive saviour.
As he stepped on the lift, he realized that he was crying. A lot things were spating through his mind. He could hear his heart pumping; lub dub, lub dub, lub dub!
CMON! FASTER! He cried in his mind. With another jolt, he was back in his room. The beams of light merged back into the gramophones. Wiping any dirt from his clothes, Zan opened the door with his frigid hands.
”What took you so long? ” Mrs Miller asked.
”Sorry. Had slept. ” He couldn think of anything else.
”Your friend from school is waiting downstairs. ” Mrs Miller sounded happy when she said this because Zan was finally visited by a friend.
”Oh Matt. Yes, tell him I am coming. ” Matts lips were half smiling half tensed.
”Okay honey. Be quick. ” She turned to leave.
Zan closed the door and felt his face turning red, the chills he was having, the tears that were falling, his lips shivering, his sweaty body, shaking legs, numb arms. He was scared of where had he just been.
Wiping his face wnd calming himself down, he went downstairs to Matt. Telling everything to Matt would be a great idea, or would it? He didn know what to do. Could he trust Matt that soon? What if Matt told everyone about it? No, he could not risk that because everyone would hate him if they knew that he jeopardized everyones life. But he wasn sure yet, if he had done anything that would have put anyone in danger. It could be the basement of an old magician who had died years ago, or just a scientists and that glowing flame was some kind of experiment. All he knew was that it wasn the time to worry yet. So, he calmed himself down.
”Hey, Matt! You here? ” Zan tried to act cool.
”Yeah. Just on time. ” Matt said shrugging.
”You didn have any trouble finding the address, did you? ” Zan asked.
”You are asking as if you still live in a bustling city if New York. Your house literally stands out. Although, it doesn have anything to stand out from. You have no neighbours at all. ” They both chuckled the topic away. ”Lets go out? ”
”Yeah. Sure. ” Zan put his flip-flops on and they made their way out.
”The house is so peculiar, no? ” Matt soundned impressed somehow.
”Yeah, a little weird. ” Matt gave a chuckle. Zan was still thinking of the glowing of the flame.
”How are you doing catching up with the studies? ” It felt awkward to Zan that it was always Matt who started and pushed the conversations. His introversion was always a problem.
”Haven really done anything. It was only first day, though. ” Zan said frankly.
”You are right. ” Matt pursed his lips.
They were continuously walking. Zan was thinking of the basement and the flame, and Matt, probably was thinking of a question to throw at him next. ”
”Why don you tell something about yourself? ”
”Only I have been telling since we met. ” Zan gave a laugh. ”You go this time. ”
”Uh, well, what do you want to know about me? ”
”Anything. ” Talking to Matt was kind of comforting him. They sat on a nearby bench and continued talking. ”So what do you like to do when you are free? ”
”Mostly, I am studying. Other than that I like reading books; fantasy specially. Whats your genre? Do you like reading books too? ” Matt asked.
”Oh I love reading books. Fantasy and Romance, too, sometimes are my genres. ” Zan liked the compatibility between them.
”Ah, yes. Those love stories that leave you emotionally demolished are the best. ” Matt said with a laugh.
Laughing, Zan replied, ”yes, I like that pain more than anything. ”
Zan realized that for a while he has forgotten about that basement. They were talking, guffawing, and simply having fun. And now he knew that he could trust Matt with it. Probably because he was of same nature as Zan: sensitive, introvert, tolerating, bookworm with same genre as favourite, with same trauma of being bullied at school (although it wasn much of a trauma for Matt.) Zans instincts were telling him that he could slough off some of his weight on Matt.
Thinking of how to tell Matt about the gramophones, the ligh beams, the lift, the basement, the books and flame, he might have changed his expressions which Matt noticed. He asked, ”Whats the matter? ”
”I have to tell you something. ” This is the only way he could think of to start the topic. He was bad at making conversations.
”Go on. ” Matt asked serenely. He sounded very easy and untroubled.
But wait! Will he believe him? Zan didn think so. Who would believe those light beams coming out of gramophones which are years old having no source of light. Who would believe the presence of a basement perfectly camouflaged on the floor that not even the crack was noticable even if seen stooped on the floor, the working of lift. Who even built the lift? What was it functioning on. There was no any electric connection or anything. No one would believe unless they have seen it themselves. Zan wouldn either. Matt needed to see it by himself.
”Actually, I want to show you something. ” He saw Matts eyebrows compressing a little and eyes squinting. Zan stood up, gesturing him to come.
”Are you back already? ” Mrs Millan asked from the kitchen. She was cooking lunch. Dane and Linda still hadn come out of their rooms.
”Yes, Mom! ” Zan shouted back.
Zan ran towards his room. Matt following him. On opening the door, he felt satisfied. He was expecting a explosion or something. Anything but not this composure!
Gramophones were there as he had left them, there was no opening to the basement visible on the floor.
Noticing the change in Zans expressions, Matt asked, ”What were you talking about? ” Zan flinched on Matts voice. He had kind of forgotten of him. He moved closer to the gramophone he had rubbed earlier, lifted his hand and with a fast beating heart touched it. ” On rubbing the gramophone, light beams appeared again meeting at the centre and revealing the basement lined by fire, along with the lift.
Zan looked at Matt. Matt was surprised but not as severly as Zan was. When for the first time he discovered it, Zan had goosebumps and was sweating and shivering, fearing of what was unveiled infront of him and right now he was still feeling almost the same.
”Do you see that? ” Zan said staring at the lift.
”Is that some kind of sorcery? ”Matt asked in surprise.
”I know, right? Do you wanna go in? ” Zan confirmed.
”I guess so. I am curious. ” Zan was surprised by how not-surprised Matt was. Perhaps, he had been finding such a place that existed only in books. After all he was a fantasy buff. Matt readily stepped on the lift and it carried him downwards. Zan followed.
”Look, how clean everything is for a basement. ” Zan said. Everything looked even tidier then it did before.
”Its beautiful. ” Matt said smiling and looking through all the shelves up to the ceiling.
”Doesn this scare you at all? I mean its a very strange place, who could have built it and why did he leave it and how has it been so organized and clean since then. There should be dust and webs, for how old this place is but no! Every glance that I am taking of it, its appearing even cleaner. ” Zan had a lot of questions about the place whirling in his head, troubling him ever since he saw it.
”You are right! It is quite intimidating after all. ”
”Sure! ” Zan said mockingly.
They moved forward examining the shelves. Zan realized that table in front of the bookshelves had a book on it titled ”Guidebook for a Booklore. ” How did it come here? It wasn there when Zan last came. He could not have missed it because it was very conspicuous. ”Look! This book wasn here the last time. This place is magical for sure. ”
”What are you talking about? ” Matt was not believing him.
”This book was not there last time. ” Zan repeated himself.
”You were dead scared then. You must have not noticed it. ” Matt protested.
”Oh come on. I know it was not there. ” Zan was annoyed at Matt now. He was so strange. ”And look its a guide book. Its as if the place wants us to know what it is. It makes sense! ” He said the last word intensely out of frustration. ”And what is a booklore anyway? ”
”Lets read it. You will know. ” Matt picked up the book and opened it. Zan leaned over as well. The cover of the book was gorgeously, flawlessly black as any other cover of any other book with no spot of dust. The title was carved in gold or was just golden in colour. Matt read:
”This book is a guide book to comprehending all the peculiar things including books of different lores, vials with different potions and boxes with different potion ingredients, and their powerful aspects that are important for being a better booklore. Booklore is a person who is capable of weilding such powers contained in books and using it as their defence against evil and preserving the virtue and good in the world. One can not easily use this intricate power, but need intellectual, intense toleration and patience to acquire it. ”
”This is some kind of sorcery. I am telling you. We should inform the police about it. They will investigate the place. It is not safe playing with things like these. We are squandering our time and risking our lives. ” Zan was worried. It clearly did not sound normal. Now Zan even thought that it was a gruesome place, the one he liked earlier, aesthetically.
”What no? ” Zan almost shouted the words.
”We can not do that. Listen, Zan! Just like you said that the place is talking to us. It means it is revealing everything itself. What if we are meant to know this stuff. If the place is magical, it could easily hide all of this. However, it gave us a guidebook to follow, to make things easier for us to understand. Think wisely before you do anything like that. ”
After a pause, Matt answered, ”You are probably right. ”
They both looked back to the book and turned to the next page which they found was empty, so was the next and the one after that. Zan looked at Matt confused. This book was supposed to have all the answers for them, why was it completely empty.
”This is absurd. ” Zan said exasperated. ”We are wasting our time. I am out of this. I don want to get caught by mom. ” Zan closed the book shut and scurried towards the lift. Matt tried to stop him and pulled him from shoulder.
”Zan, this book is magical, too. Lets see what magic does it have? ” Matt tried to convince him.
”How do you know that it has to have a magic? It could be nothing but waste of time. ” Matt sounded completely intrusive. Zan was so done in there.
”Don you see. All the books and vials and boxed, they don seem magical to you? Were you the one who insisted that this place is magical and not normal at all? Here, ” Matt ran towards the bookshelves and picked up the book titled Water-lore ”, made on the cover was a splashing tide of water. ”What do you think about this, huh? ” He picked up another book titled ”Atom-lore ”, having a paradigm of an atom on the cover just as he had learnt of it in school; nucleus at the center containing protons and neutrons, electrons revolving around it. And, surprisingly, the electrons were moving in the circle. ”Does none of this seem magical to you? Stop being vacuous. ” Matt didn know what to say. He touched the splashing water tide and he felt the water flowing. Drawing his hand back quickly out of amazement, although it was not that surprising anymore, he shouted, ”where is the ”Fire-lore ” book? I dropped it there, ” He said pointing on the floor. ”And as far as I can remember, I did not pick it up. ”
”You see? ” He was grinning because this proved his point. But for Zan it was not the competition but he was not okay with all that. He had no desire of rivaling or anything. Things were finally going better for his family now and he didn want to do anything that could mess everything up again.
”Matt, ” He said with a shaking voice, ”I know that you are right. This could be magical but i don want to indulge in that. I agree that its tempting, irresistible. I acknowledge that. But I don know what is it going to bring in future. I can not go any further with that, please. ”
Matt was disappointed. ”We don have to hurry, alright. You can take your time and think again. ”
”What is there to think of? ”
”Think of whether you really want to renounce this place and give it off to cops. ”
”Alright. Whatever. I don think its going to change anything. ”
Matt took the guidebook to look into it. And they left the basement.