Bookworm finds a strange old book and a strange new friend...
A lovely late spring morning. All around is twittering and humming but the figure sitting crosslegged in this neglected old garden is lost in thought. Running careful fingers over the blue cloth cover of the battered old book, the individual is completely unaware of the thousands of fellow creatures that share this garden, all involved with their own business. All apart from one. And this one has spotted the book too. "I see you have found 'The Tenth Leaf'! There's a mystery associated with that book." says a voice, " and who are you, and what brings you here?"
"I came upon this place by accident. I don't know why I'm here but I know I'm looking for something." "Another one!" the creature laughs. "We get people like you here all the time. It's that strange book. It's a honey pot. Quaero, quaerere, quaesivi, quaesitus," he hums thoughtfully, "ah I see. I think I'll call you Bookworm. Right, now that's sorted, all we need to do is find out what you're looking for." Bookworm regards the small inquisitor with good humour. "You're very high handed for someone so small! Do you mind if I ask who you are?"
"I'm Melissa. We're all called Melissa. Mother, sisters, brothers... even my grandparents. Bookworm is intrigued. "And your father? Is he called Melissa too?" Melissa hums softly. "Haven't got one, and never had one. But if I did have one, yes he would be called Melissa. And less of the 'high-handed', my siblings and I are all descended from royalty!" "Really?" Bookworm is dubious, but says politely "I'm honored! So how many brothers and sisters do you have?" "50 thousand or so..." Bookworm's eyes widen. "That must make life complicated!" "Nah" drones Melissa, "It all depends on your point of view. To me it's hum drum."
"Maybe we can help each other." says Melissa, "I think that we can find all the answers in The Tenth Leaf." Bookworm nods and tries to open the book at random. "That's odd, the pages won't turn! Oh wait, I can open chapter one easily enough." Bookworm's eyes widen. "Look Melissa, the book is about you and me!" Melissa hums, "What you need to do is work out how to turn the pages. And you will have to be quick about it, I really don't have much time left. You see, we are in decline!" "What do you mean?" asks Bookworm. "All my family are threatened with extinction!" Melissa buzzes sadly, "I have to find out why!"
"In my humble opinion, what we need is a map. That's the ususal way to find out where you want to go."
"Wherever are we?" gasps Bookworm. "A classroom" Melissa chips in glibly. "I can see that! But where?" Melissa answers in a low tone, "One thing's for sure - we're not in England any more!" Bookworm stares. " But how did we get here?" " That's the wonder of the Internet!" Melissa said in a patronising tone. "Anyway what is that object on the desk? Something tells me that it's crucial to unlocking the next chapter. I am convinced that if we can find out what the link is between the girl and the bird, we can then figure out the answer to the two questions."
"Ask her!" Melissa buzzes so loudly that Bookworm jumps. "No, you ask her, she looks fierce." "Why do you say that?"
Bookworm trembles, "You know - her h..."
Melissa crosses his metatarses, "Look, this is your job - you have something in common." "Don't think so." Bookworm wails. "Oh, but you have" Melissa insists. "See, you're both human."
All at once, the girl beckons to our daring duo. "I heard you talking about me. I have to stand here because I lost my temper. It's all to do with these broken fragments and this picture. Oh, and the black bird is a friend of mine. Melissa, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet? Examine the picture, you may get a clearer view. "
Bookworm says. "The girl looks unhappy. And what do you think about the bird, Melissa?" Melissa hums for a while and then pronounces. "Well, if you ask me, that is a black bird." Bookworm says "Cheers! I can tell you are going to be very helpful on this quest." "Pah!" Melissa snorts, "I can take sarcasm. I've got 50,000 sisters!" Bookworm chuckles. "Any other ideas then?" "Of course, this is not going to be easy. We have to search for hidden meanings in the pages."