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Chapter 1: A Strange Book

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It was four o’ clock on a sunny Saturday afternoon and Samantha Bennett was sitting on her favourite red and white checkered window seat staring at the book in her lap as if it would jump up and bite her. She looked at the heavy leather bound book in her hands with a mixture of fear and eagerness. “Should I open it again?” she wondered. Her hands tingled with anticipation.

She had found the book quite by accident last Saturday. It was one of those days when she could not stay at home. Her stepmother was in a bad mood and whenever that happened Samantha would have to leave the house because it would become just unbearable. There was no one she could talk to. Her parents were long dead and the closest she had to a confidante was her dog Roxie. So she had gone to the flea market with Roxie. And that was where she saw the book.

The book had drawn her like a magnet as soon as she had seen it perched on a display. It was an old book, bound with burgundy leather and elegant gold gilding. The front board and spine were covered with a decorative floral design and gold lettering that read “The Land where Dreams Come True”.

“What an unusual book,” thought Samantha wondering at the overpowering urge to open its pages. “And it’s about a land where dreams come true? I must read it!” she had thought and again the strength of the desire behind that thought had taken her by surprise.

She had found to her delight that it was filled with beautiful illustrations of historical scenes, painstakingly executed in minute detail. One picture in particular had grabbed her attention. It looked like a stone castle of the kind that one saw in European travel magazines. It was a beautiful sketch and she peered at the drawing imagining the scene in living, breathing colour. She could feel the coolness of that morning long ago; see the trees swaying gently in the breeze.

And just then a slight movement on the page caught her eye. She gaped at the page. There it was again.

The tree near the front door moved for a fraction of a second and stopped.

She stared at it.

Then something very strange and frightening happened. Everything around her began to blur and Samantha felt herself being pulled into the book. There was a rushing sound as though she were driving very fast in a car with the windows down and she saw the castle in the book appear in front of her as through a mist.

She dropped the book. It hit the floor with a heavy thud.

The mist disappeared and the scene faded out just as suddenly as it had begun.

“What…What was that?!” she exclaimed. Roxie whined as though she had felt something strange too.

“Is everything alright, young lady?”

A tall, thin old man peered at her suspiciously from behind the desk that stood near the door.

“Yes, I’m fine. I just dropped the book,” Samantha told him hastily.

“Dogs are not allowed here. You’ll have to take her out.”

"Oh! I’ll just take this book and go if that’s alright,” she said. She had bought the book but had not dared open it again. Now, she wondered what had made her buy it.

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