The thing with bookworms (people who love books, not worms who live in them) is that they are deeply attracted by the writing on them, particularly that on the cover. And especially the back cover. So, when you grab a book with a huge “82” drawn on the front on a blueish background and with all sorts of creatures and objects flying, crawling or even drilling their way out of the number itself, it does catch your attention. So, you turn it over to read the summary on the back. All it says is “This book has a significant focus on the number 82. It tells a story like no other, which will remain with you long after you read it. Now, you want to find out what the number 82 has anything to do with it, don’t you? Well, you’ll just have to read the book then…” You think it is silly. But it already has you gripped. And the next thing you know, you’re comfortable in your relaxing armchair, with your soft, fleece blanket at your knees, and a steaming hot cup of tea at the table beside you, and you turn the first page of this new book.
It had a fascinating start. It was a story about a young man who had learned to read from a shepherd who took refuge in his barn one night. And he inadvertently found his first book one morning when he went to offer the shepherd-guest some food but discovered he was gone. All he left behind was a book. Intrigued, the young man began to read it, as he believed it would solve the mystery of the shepherd’s presence.
That is when it first appeared.
“Turn to page 82”.
Was this a Fighting Fantasy book? It couldn’t be. But the man tried to find page 82 to turn to anyway. (So did you). Page 82 was nowhere to be found. (It was nowhere in this book either). It was not between pages 81 or 83, nor misplaced in any other part of the book. Nor were there any signs whatsoever that it had been ripped out. Page 82 had simply never been a part of that book. (Nor in this one – clever, huh?).
But drowning in curiosity, the man continued to read on from where he left off. A few pages later, it appeared again.
“Turn to page 82”.
The same process was wearingly repeated. The man continued to read on. It was a story that seemed incoherent. With weird animals, imaginary creatures and ghosts appearing out of nowhere, with the story taking place on earth, in the ocean, on different planets, in different universes, at different times even. It was utterly confusing, but for some reason it kept you wanting more. That’s the other thing with bookworms – they must finish the books they start reading; it’s a matter of principle.
So whenever the prompt to turn to page 82 appeared – and it appeared quite often – the man simply ignored it and continued to read on. (So did you). He had still not understood the storyline or purpose of the book, but was profoundly drawn into it by now. (And coincidentally, so were you).
Alas, he reached the final page. He thought that finally he might understand what all this “turn to page 82” was about. It turns out, however, that the book would eventually end in a cliché: this was all a dream. The young man had apparently imagined it all – the strange paradoxes, the hen fighting with an elephant, the appearance of a yoku (a beast which was half eagle, half something that resembled a lion-snake) and its defeat using rat’s poison that was taken from a far away planet that could only be reached by planting a specific type of bean that grew from tomato plants watered with coke. It was so confusing that you were surprised you had managed to last until the end. So, although you were deeply disappointed that all this time you were reading something that was in essence never there, a smile did form on your face when you read the last sentence explaining that the man had fallen asleep in his quest to find page 82 in a book that simply did not have it because a publisher had been distracted when numbering the pages.
And that is when you closed the cover and put the book down. “Well, that was ingenious”, you thought.
Inspired by Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots