When fiction becomes more like fact
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Today I read an article about a Scottish author, Peter May, who has had his novel published after being rejected 15 years ago. The reason? The plotline was considered too far fetched for readers to engage with. The novel is called Lockdown, and the fictional pandemic May described 15 years ago, is now becoming a reality we are all coming to terms with. Other authors also claim to have written about a virus outbreak and the possible repercussions. The article can be found here:
I don't claim to have foreseen the scale, fear and uncertainties Covid-19 has brought into our lives, but it is strange that I happened to write a short story recently which has since become more relevant. At the time of writing, Covid-19 had arrived, but no one knew the full impact the virus would have globally. As a member of the Campsie Writers' Group, we were asked to write a 500 word short story for a competition which had to include a reference to Lennoxtown Library. I was pleased to discover that I had won, managing to submit my entry at 498 words. Since my story is so topical, I've decided to share it here on my blog and hope you'll enjoy it:
“Will we sing a song again Maggie? Which one? The Wheels on the bus?”
“Dear God, if I hear that song one more bloody time…” muttered Mr. McHugh, hand on his forehead, resigned to hearing the kids classic for the 100th time.
“How else can we keep these kids entertained?” asked Kirsten, trying hard not to snap “It’s not everyday you’re banned from leaving the library.”
“No, that’s true, but it’s just my luck that this happened when bloody Book Bugs was on. Libraries used to be nice quiet places, now it’s all noisy with crying babies and kids who cannae sing!”
“The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round…”began Kirsten, gesturing for the other tots to join in, glaring at Mr. McHugh; daring him to complain.
He stood up, walked to the other side of the building, and removed his hearing aid, breathing a sigh of relief as the “singing” became a muffled mumble.
“Astronaut!” yelled Maggie excitedly pointing out the window. The singing stopped as toddlers and babes in arms moved towards the glass for a closer look.
“What the bloody Hell’s going on now?” Mr McHugh thought, walking back to the children’s section.
“Never in my 70 years in Lennoxtown did I ever think I’d see this” Mr. McHugh confided in Kirsten. She nodded sympathetically and tried to stay calm as the group of “astronauts” walked along the main street.
“Why are there astronauts coming to the library mummy?”
“Oh…it must be because we sang those space songs last week Maggie. Some surprise visitors!”
Subconsciously the parents squeezed their children tighter, hiding their fears behind reassuring smiles.
They brought essential supplies; food, drink, blankets and pillows…even baby formula and fold-away cots. They waved at the children, an attempt to make the surreal seem normal. Quiet conversations behind masks, as instructions were passed on to the head librarian, and then they were gone. The garish yellow tape across the doors the only evidence they’d been.
“I always thought it was a stupid idea to put a health centre above a library. People come here to read books, they shouldn’t be exposed to all sorts of germs and bugs”
Kirsten hadn’t really thought of it that way, Maggie was always coming down with something. A trip to the doctors and book bugs after was quite useful…two birds, one stone.
It was dark now, a good few hours since the alarm had been raised upstairs and everything had been put on lockdown. The first night would be fine for the kids, an exciting sleepover in a library…but how would everyone cope with 2 weeks? Kirsten thought of her well-used library card, she couldn’t help but wonder how many of the people in the library would check-out books again….would the disease be the final check-out for them all? She shuddered at the thought, focusing her attention on her beloved Maggie, immune to the growing worries of the adults at Lennoxtown library…quarantine zone.
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Stay safe and healthy at this strange time, and as I'm sure you are, keep washing your hands.
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