“What in the heck…” thought Tomberlin as she peered through the crack in the wall. This wall, old and decrepit like most of the buildings in their world, separated the flat she shared with her mother from their neighbor. One Dr. Manicle, oddly close to both the words maniacal, which he was, and monocle, which he wore slung over his right eye and fastened in the back with a sort of belt buckle.

Tomberlin’s room was filled to the brim with books. She had but one piece of furniture, an old leather armchair, in which she slept. Her mother had once offered to buy her a bed but she was refused. Tomberlin had reasoned that a bed took up too much space and that would mean less space for her books, and that simply would not do. There were pathways through the stacks that wound around different features, a reading lamp, a table fastened from an entire encyclopedic collection of World Arts, which she had yet to find a use for, and most importantly, the crack in the wall. Even though an outsider would say Tomberlin was a book hoarder, there was an order to her chaos and she was quite sure she could quickly locate any book she might need offhand. She would not go as far as to call herself a scholar, but she knew things, a lot of things, about a lot of things.

In the back corner of her room, Tomberlin had made a sort of book archway to accommodate the crack through which she peered. She had been watching Dr. M work. Her mother insisted she call him Dr. but allowed her to drop his full last name on account of their “familiarity” with their neighbor, though they had no interaction with him and it was merely their proximity that allowed for this. The crack conveniently peered right through a bookcase and into Dr. M’s laboratory. Tomberlin had no clue what kind of doctor her Dr. M claimed to be to the world, but she knew him for what he was. Over the past few months, and with increasing fervor for his work, Dr. M was coming very close to understanding gravitational time dilation within the theory of general relativity and the theory of special relativity with the phenomenon of time dilation, which when combined would give him control of his movement between different points in time. Yes, time travel. It sounds crazy, of course it sounds crazy, and Tomberlin would have never believed such a thing possible if she hadn’t seen it with her own two eyes, under her book arch, through the crack in the wall of her bedroom. And he had done it. She had witnessed Dr. M successfully move 4 rats, 2 canaries, and his English bulldog called Kitty, from the present time, back to the past and then forward to present time again. She dared not think of his failed attempts and the lives it had cost.

Tomberlin knew what propelled her neighbor to try and harness this power of time manipulation. Only love would cause a person to completely abandon the world they exist in and shut themselves away for so long. Love and an equal part Loss. It had only been two months since Tomberlin had found the crack and been watching Dr. M, but she knew he had not left his flat in many, many years. Dr. Manicle had loved someone, and he had lost this someone long ago. And though he had lost this someone, he would never let go of her. It was his obsession that drove his actions and his experiments and his sense away from his mind as he spent the greater part of the day and night, tinkering away with his cogs and gears and clock pieces, centrifuges, and glowing glass decanters. She had admired his determination, but she was disgusted with his great misuse of knowledge. And so she had decided to kill him.

It was almost too easy. She had noticed the glass jar labeled “Coniine” just overhead of Dr. M’s work table on a shelf along with other handwritten labeled jars. She had seen Dr. M use the substance before and knew how it worked. From her research she found that Coniine is a neurotoxin, distilled from hemlock, which disrupts the workings of the central nervous system. Ingestion, in any quantity, will result in respiratory collapse and death. After she calculated all of the physics, the angles and the weight of the small stone, and taking into consideration the noise and the scene of her crime, she understood that her plan was both completely mad and completely achievable.

And so, sitting there in the corner of her bedroom, she took her first aim, and shot. The small pebble whipped from the crack, through the bookcase in Dr. M’s room, across the air and into the wall on the other side, directly above the jar. Dr. M had been bent over a Bunsen burner, extracting some sort of liquid from a beaker into a pipette. He heard the noise, and started. He extracted himself from his work and standing with his head tilted back while he looked up, the doctor unknowingly positioned himself directly under the jar. His mouth was slackened and slightly agape as he craned his neck and searched for the source of the noise. Right away Tomberlin let the second small stone, same size and weight as the first, fly. Dead on. Her stone crashed into the jar, and the jar’s contents spilled over the edge and smack onto the doctor’s face. It was almost instantaneous. Dr. M writhed, wiping the substance from his face with his bare hands. One swipe took it from his eyes. A second more strategic wipe cleared his monocle of the sludge. By the third attempt to lift his hand to his face, the doctor faltered and grabbed for the edge of the work table. And with his fourth move, he accidentally grabbed the hose to his Bunsen burner and tugged, knocking over the flame and setting his desk on fire.

As he fell to the floor, his eyes turned straight to Tomberlin’s crack in the wall. Tomberlin let out a small gasp. One last word, two syllables, escaped his lips as a kind of whisper. Her name. Just her name. And though she could justify her actions, that knowledge and power was not for any one man, she knew this to be true, she was unsettled. It was in her contemplation of this obscure exchange that she realized the heat coming from her crack. Terrible heat it was and she knew right away that the wall was no match for this fire’s revenge. She stood from her place and looked around for the first time in quite some time. She was dumbfounded, after all, and she found herself thinking the silliest thought, which was quite unlike her, silliness. The only thing she could think when she realized the wall would not hold was “What is to happen to my books?”

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Ratings and Comments

#1Elyza Marie Monroe's AvatarElyza Marie Monroe (rated this 10)

This is very well written and has a really great flow.

#2Charlotte Athena's AvatarCharlotte Athena (rated this 10)

This is an amazing piece! I love it! This is so compelling and riveting I couldn't stop. For such a short piece the characters were pretty well developed, the plot well thought out, and the setting described thoroughly.

Well done!

#3Lisette Westerveldt's AvatarLisette Westerveldt (rated this 9)

Very well written! The story reads nicely and you do an amazing job developing a realistic personality for Tomberlin. My only issue was that there were some moments where the sentences and flow became bit choppy, very few granted, but nonetheless still there. Overall, great job!

#4Kaydence Weaber's AvatarKaydence Weaber (rated this 10)

Brilliantly descriptive and awe-inspiring. Well done!

#5Madeleine Benner's AvatarMadeleine Benner (rated this 10)

This was so amazing! I just couldn't stop reading!

#6Blanca Solchoice's AvatarBlanca Solchoice (rated this 10)

Wow! This is was quite brilliant! You write very descriptively; I always like it when I can completely picture the charactes, setting and story progession! Your word choice was also quite lovely. Awesome job!

#7Olive Star's AvatarOlive Star (rated this 10)

This was so worth reading! Bravo!

#8Anneliese Lee's AvatarAnneliese Lee (rated this 9)

The story was in depth and brilliant! If this were a book, I would definitely read it over and over again! :)

#9Vanessa Tian's AvatarVanessa Tian (rated this 10)

its a really nice story i love it!!!

#10Patrick Kane's AvatarPatrick Kane (rated this 8)

This story was pretty good, great job to you!!

#11Isabelle Chen 's AvatarIsabelle Chen (rated this 9)

This was so creative and fun to read! You did a great job :)

#12Sybil Thorn's AvatarSybil Thorn (rated this 10)

This is shear genius! I love how I can relate so much to both characters! I pity Dr. M. I love and abhor Tomberlin. It is just beautiful.

#13Georgia Braidwood's AvatarGeorgia Braidwood (rated this 9)

This was great, very entertaining to read.

#14Arabella Black's AvatarArabella Black (rated this 10)

This story was fantastic! The whole time I was reading it I kept wondering what was going to happen. I also really loved the words you used, and how descriptive you were! Loved it!

#15Jodie Victoria Wright's AvatarJodie Victoria Wright (rated this 9)

This story is planned pretty well and is rather nice to read!!!

#16Syarri Hazelia's AvatarSyarri Hazelia (rated this 9)

good plan, and awesome story..

being pitty for the books..

#17James  Manning's AvatarJames Manning (rated this 9)

definitely continue... good use of grammar

#18Grace Black's AvatarGrace Black (rated this 10)

This was amazing! Keep up the good work and I hope to read some more work of yours in the future!

#19Kaleen Marie's AvatarKaleen Marie (rated this 10)

Very nice! I love your creativity.

#20Etzil Quilling's AvatarEtzil Quilling (rated this 10)

I love the detail and flow of this piece! The story has a nice rhythm and pace to it. My only qualm is the formatting, but that could just be attributed to laziness on the reader's part to take the time to fully digest the material :)

#21JaLeyah Rainey's AvatarJaLeyah Rainey (rated this 10)

I didn't want to stop reading! You did an excellent job with the task at hand. I hope to read more from you!

#22Astrid Black's AvatarAstrid Black (rated this 10)

Absolutely an amazing story. It's well written and has a nice pace. I do wonder what will happen to the books and it is not a silly thing to think of when Tomberline obviously cares a great deal about her literature.

Very good story with a beautiful cliffhanger ending.

#23Joshua Reyes's AvatarJoshua Reyes (rated this 10)

very great story,i hope the person who wrote this magnificent story is in slytherin.

#24Ariella Bexley's AvatarAriella Bexley (rated this 10)

This was such an entertaining read! You've got such a great imagination. Very creative! ( :

#25Ginelle Griffin's AvatarGinelle Griffin (rated this 10)

Really nice! I also really love books, and am very worried about what will happen to them. But I believe Tomberlin to be a very nice girl, so I dont understand why she would just suddenly decide to kill someone. It would make an amazing book, though! I wish there was more!

#26Alina Plopperpus's AvatarAlina Plopperpus (rated this 9)

This was a lovely quick read and it was so creative, I was really entertained. This was great.

#27Allysa C. Hanks's AvatarAllysa C. Hanks (rated this 10)

Brilliant. What an amazing job you did. Who ever you are, (I don't know cause it didn't mention) you got to keep writing couse this is awesome. Thumb up for ya

#28Atalinn Copeii-Devilsnare's AvatarAtalinn Copeii-Devilsnare (rated this 9)

This was a cute and adorable story! I loved the characters and the setting. Good job!

#29Ariana Shacklebolt's AvatarAriana Shacklebolt (rated this 10)

I absolutely love this story! I could read it over and over again.

#30Bridgid Medimorium's AvatarBridgid Medimorium (rated this 10)

This story is amazing! I love how it is a short and easy read, and yet amazing at the same time. Keep writing! (And please save the books)

#31Chadwick Cadet's AvatarChadwick Cadet (rated this 10)

This is awesome! I'm generally skim most things that I read but this had me interested from start to finish - I wish it would continue!

#32Isadora Asquith's AvatarIsadora Asquith (rated this 9)

I advise you continuing this. It's well written, with attractive grammar.

#33Kitty Marija Monoceros's AvatarKitty Marija Monoceros (rated this 9)

That was great! Really loved the twist at the end and the sense, by the end of the story, that our heroine just might have been as mad as the Dr.

#34Lilly Miller's AvatarLilly Miller (rated this 10)

Why did it have to end! That was amazing so much detail and I love the ending it's so mysterious! Great job!

#35Grey Dantes's AvatarGrey Dantes (rated this 10)

Great job! The format could have been a bit neater, but the content and overall grammar makes up for it. Excellent!

#36Nina Messersmith's AvatarNina Messersmith (rated this 10)

Very creative! This would be an awsome begining to an actual book :) I wonder whats going to happen to all those books...

#37Bella Dean's AvatarBella Dean (rated this 10)

An amazing story, I loved this. I can't wait until I find out who wrte this fantastic masterpiece!

#38Sirithre Leylnn's AvatarSirithre Leylnn (rated this 10)

Could probably use a little bit of formatting (spaces between the paragraphs) and some mild proofreading, but I like it. Short stories are difficult, as it's hard to fit a full length plot into a small space. But you've managed to explain the setting pretty well within the confines of a little over 1,000 words. Seems like it could be one of those book previews written on the back of books, or inside the front flap. Or, it could be a simple little anecdote in time, standing just fine on its own. Kudos.
And I too, would be most concerned about all those books going to waste.

#39Jem Reed's AvatarJem Reed (rated this 10)

Well I was entertained. I must say though that must be one heck of a large crack in the wall. Reminded me of Doctor Who actually (the crack in the wall). If for no other reason then that means it gets a 10. And please by all means, SAVE THE BOOKS!