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A Challenge from Chips! — 11 Comments

    • Kirby, Yo have a good point there. It could be Mr. Holmes bookshop and that paperback was placed there as a clue to what? Maybe someone could write a short story about that.
      Chips

      • I’m not sure it’s actually a story, but here’s a bit of flash fiction in the format known as a 221B (221 words, the last word starting with the letter ‘b’).

        At the corner of Church Street, in the old bookseller’s absence, his wares were displayed under Jemmy’s watchful eye.

        He dismissed the boy with a coin and a wave. A flash of unexpected colour amongst the jumble of novels and pamphlets caught his eye. A red book, new, not his. He plucked it up with long, pale fingers. The title was illegible, but the silhouette fastened to the cover was a man in profile, pipe jutting from his mouth.

        He peered along the street; of course, the unknown messenger was long gone. Cabs rolled by. Men – and a few women – strode purposefully past. A pair of boys crouched in the dirt, poking with a stick at something dark and unmoving.

        Closing his eyes, he recalled the letter in that morning’s post, now just ashes in the grate. A series of numbers, black ink on cream paper, handwriting obviously disguised.

        The sequence fixed in his mind, he leafed through the book, picking out the words indicated by the cipher.

        “Hunter – arrives – this – night – make – ready.”

        He tucked the book into a pocket of his oversized coat and looked toward the medical office where the doctor, just returned, climbed the steps. He gathered up an armful of small volumes to bring along, hardly noticing the titles: Catullus, the Holy War, and British Birds.

  1. The book with the red cover held by the buyer in the white t-shirt looks vaguely familiar, but I can’t blow the picture up enough for my tired old eyes to confirm it.

  2. Jeff and Roxie, Your eagle eyes are correct. I can see I am going to have to find a harder one for next time.

  3. Argh – I was sure it was the red book, because that little bit of the silhouette showing seemed suggestive, but I couldn’t figure out what book it was.

    I still like Kirby’s answer, though. 🙂

  4. I deduced that it had something to do with the books being perused, but my eyes aren’t sharp enough to spot the title. However, they are sharp enough to spot a good deal, when they light upon one. Thanks for the tip, and the book is now mine for 1 penny, plus shipping. 🙂

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