Lennie ducks down in the front seat of his cruiser. He holds the mike in his hand. In his other, he clutches his sidearm. He jerks the mike to his mouth and presses the transmit button. “Daryl! Daryl! Daryl, dammit, come in!” His voice is urgent.
The radio emits only static.
Carrie is standing outside of his car. “Sheriff—”
“Shut up!” he says to her. He presses the button again. “Daryl! Daryl, you get your butt on this radio right now!”
He gets no response.
Carrie folds her arms. “Lennie, don’t you think—”
Lennie swears and clutches the mike. “Didn’t I say shut up just now?” Looking at the house, he says, “I’ve got you now.” He nods violently.
Daryl’s voice cracks from the speaker. “Sheriff? This’s Daryl, over.”
Lennie glances at Carrie and holds the mike to his face.
“You drop what you’re doin’ right now and get over here to Jacob’s ASAP. That scumbag Palmer just tried to kill me, and, uh, I mean. . .oh, just get over here now! Over!”
A sigh issues from the radio. “Sorry, Sheriff, but we got us real problems over by the tower rework. Looks like the rain softened the temporary foundation, and the new tower’s fallen over.”
Lennie squeezes his eyes shut and swears again, loudly. “What? You’re kiddin’, over!” “No, it’s true, Sheriff. Fell right into the road. Caused a big multi-car pileup, over.”
He looks at Carrie, who nods. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I heard it on my scanner.” She jerks a thumb to her truck. “They need a lot of help,” she says urgently.
Lennie looks at her, to her truck, and then to the house. He sighs and looks grim. “Any dead, over?” “Hard to say right now, it’s such a mess. Working on it, over.”
“Then call an ambulance and get the hell over here, now, over!”
Carrie rolls her eyes in disgust. “I’m going to find Daryl to see what’s going on.” She turns and goes to her S10, gets in, and drives off. Lennie watches her.
“Ambulance on the way, but no can do on the move, Sheriff. The whole road’s blocked ahead by wrecked cars and trucks, and behind by the backed-up traffic. Looking at an hour at least before anybody goes anywhere. Fact is, I think we’re both needed here a lot more’n we are anywhere else, over.”
Lennie swears and looks desperately at the house. “Sheriff? Sheriff, you copy, over?”
He jams the mike to his face in frustration. “All right, dammit, all right! I’ll come by the old post road. Be there as
soon as I can. Out!” He throws the mike onto the floor and gets out of the car. The rain is beginning to
He hurries to the house and goes in. “All right, you dipstick. You’re comin’ with me.” He stops and looks around. The Tall, Thick Book of Tales is lying on the floor. He runs through the house from room to room yelling Palmer’s name. “Where are you at? Come out now!”
Furious, he stomps out of the house and sits heavily into the driver’s seat of his cruiser. Staring at the house, he beats his palms on the steering wheel, slams the door, guns the engine, and speeds off. His curses echo above the sound of the engine.
About The Book
Author: A.C. Birdsong
On a small farm just outside of a tiny town lives Jacob, the last in a long line of Caretakers of Magic. His mission in life as the world’s only magician (in fact the only person who knows magic is possible) is to preserve magical skill in preparation for the day when magic is needed in the world. Other than what is required to train an apprentice, Caretakers aren’t to be practitioners, a tenet Jacob adheres to religiously.
Jacob has been teaching an apprentice, Palmer, for eight years. As a student, Palmer is a dismal failure, but this does not stop him from experimenting. Feeling that the pace of his instruction is unnecessarily slow, Palmer takes the little magic he knows, twists it, and uses it to trap Jacob and a young neighbor Lucy inside an old book of fairy tales (The Tall, Thick Book of Tales). Palmer refuses to release them unless Jacob imparts all magical knowledge to him in an instantaneous way.
From the moment of Jacob’s entrapment, Birdsong creates three interwoven storylines: Palmer’s dealings with the townspeople, who are searching for Lucy and quickly suspect Palmer for her disappearance; Jacob’s journey to escape, which takes him through scenes written into the book by Palmer, designed to harass Jacob and to speed his compliance along; and Lucy’s interaction with the book’s original characters, all magical themselves, trapped within the margins by Palmer’s spell, and are united in their desire to expel the intruders. Added to this mix are an enchanted bookworm and the fairy tales’ narrator, who have objectives of their own.
Readers will enjoy Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales. Birdsong skillfully mixes the real and the imaginary worlds with a lean and fast-paced style. A well-crafted and fun novel with colorful characters and great dialogue written for any fan of adult fiction, and suitable for young adults and older adolescents as well.
A.C. Birdsong wrote the first draft of Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales during an unseasonably cold winter in Athens, Greece. “I spent all my time either writing the story or searching for a reasonably warm and cheap place to write it. Often this left me huddled near tepid steam heaters in dingy hotel rooms, and drinking endless cups of weak Nes to fight the cold. Eventually the weather turned, which was not only fortunate for me, but for Jacob and Palmer as well, because they probably would still be fighting it out inside that book otherwise.”
A.C. lives in Seattle, where people voluntarily allow themselves to be trapped in books on a regular basis. This is his first novel.