The Book

As I gazed down at the paper, my hands trembled. Etched onto the papyrus reed paper it stated, “You shall not be reading this, or else, your fate shall be sealed.” My heart beat ferociously as sweat broke onto my forehead. Closing my eyes, I turned the page as a blinding flash bled into existence.

*****

My eyelids fluttered open as I was awoken by the tolling of a tremendous bell. I found myself in the accommodation of a straw bed, one which was alongside many others, in what looked like a stone fortress. My head throbbed from the bright flash which still singed my eyes. As I rose, I realised that I was dressed in overalls which reeked of faeces. Terror struck my heart as I heard footsteps echoing on the cobbled corridor.
Flinging the door open, a stubby old man entered the room, leaning heavily on his cane. His wrinkled skin was calloused with warts and wrinkles of all sorts and kinds. “Hey you, scruffy kid in the overalls!” he barked as he pointed a stubby finger towards me.
“Y-y-yes S-s-sir,” I answered in as fine a voice I could muster, “What shall I do for you on this lovely day?”
“S-S-SIR,” he spluttered, “It’s madam, you filthy rascal!” Only then did I realise that the stubby old figure was indeed a wizened lady.
“Sorry, madam, what shall I do today?” I asked, changing the subject.
“Well, you should’ve been out there sweeping the barn thirty minutes ago!” the lady boomed as she pointed to the window, overlooking a dusty courtyard.
Grabbing the broom which rested by my bed, I rushed outside the room before the hag could sputter out something else. As I dashed through the endless hallways, medieval art and marvellous sculptures burst in and out of existence. I rounded corners and leaped down flights of stairs, as if I knew the fortress like the back of my hand. Huffing and puffing, I reached the barn. My legs wobbled with the effort to keep me standing. “Keep it up worker girl!” the crone boomed from the dormitory window.
The words ‘worker girl’ echoed in my mind as I swept the courtyard. Only when the cobbles were crystal clear and the witch-lady gave the nod of approval from the tainted window did I dare to head back.

*****

As I found myself back in the dim room, objects were scattered on the straw mattress. A broom, extra pairs of rather dirty overalls, some scruffy boots and a book. The belongings made my identity crystal clear, I was a worker girl, imprisoned in a fortress under the control of a harridan in medieval Europe. My hands trembled as I picked up the mysterious book. Opening the first page, it read as follows:
‘I warned you, but pride and neglect forced you astray. You have chosen the wrong path. Enjoy the rest of your life as a worker girl.’

I am doomed.

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