Friday, June 12, 2015
Wishing Cross Station by February Grace
Don’t stay a moment longer than you have to. Don’t say too much. Don’t pollute the timeline.
When nineteen-year-old college library page Keigan Wainwright is sent to pick up a private donation of books for the school’s collection, he has no idea where one of those books will take him, or what it will take from him.
Retracing a powerful man’s footsteps through the past, Keigan finds himself caught in the same dangerous trap: falling in love with a woman he was never meant to know, and uncertain he will ever find his way home.
In my head, an entirely different soundtrack was playing, and it had Seymour’s voice.
When you get to the roundhouse, pay attention to the center pit, he’d admonished, and made me write down. Aurelia Belle’s pit. Beneath it, just ahead of where they stop her when they pull her into the shop for the night, is where you’ll find the uneven cinderblocks in the floor. They wobble, just a little. The entrance to the tunnel is beneath them.
Suddenly, I noticed my pack vibrating against my back. I thought maybe it was my phone again, but then I remembered no, I’d stuffed it in my front pocket. Something in the bag was shaking.
A low hum emitted from it then, and I noticed people around me were beginning to stare.
“Sorry, alarm on my phone,” I lied, and I stepped to the back of the roundhouse, by the entrance. The farther away from the center of the house I got, the less the vibration, and I realized, thinking back on what Seymour had said, it could only be the book.
My heart leapt into my throat. Was it possible?
I set the bag down on the floor by a bench just inside the door for a moment, shook my head to try to clear it, and then moved closer again so I could listen to the man before me finish his presentation. When he asked for questions, I waited until the rest of the small groups within had wandered to the overhead platform to take photos before I leaned in to ask mine.
“So, there aren’t any hidden passageways in this place, are there? You know, for employees to use? Like they have in other theme parks?” I was beating around the bush, trying to circle inward.
He laughed, though it was a nervous sound. “No. We’re not like other theme parks.” He rolled his eyes, uttering the words with disgust. “We are a living historical monument. An educational beacon to people all over the country.”
“So you are,” I replied. Then I went for it. I leaned closer to him and whispered. “There aren’t any secret tunnels beneath the floor?”
“No, there aren’t,” he replied quickly, certain of himself. “That would make a great story, though, wouldn’t it?”
“Yeah, it would. Thanks.”
I pulled the guide map to the Park from my jacket pocket and unfolded it again. Looking it over, I realized something I hadn’t before. “You’re shutting down for the season soon?”
“Yes, we’ll spend a few weeks getting ready and then shut the place down entirely from late December to April.”
“A shame,” I replied. “I bet it’s pretty in winter.”
“It is, but it’s a nightmare to work here and horrible on the equipment.”
I nodded my thanks and moved on. I retrieved my backpack, slowly climbed the stairs up to the observation deck, and looked down. The man was busy giving his speech—the same one—to a new group of tourists who were all recording him with their smartphones and tablets.
I took in every detail of the roundhouse, and I had to admit, everything was still exactly the way Seymour had described it to me, even though he hadn’t officially worked there in two decades and hadn’t been well enough to make a casual visit to the Park in one.
What lay beneath the stained, sooty cinderblock floor? Why was the book vibrating when it got close to Aurelia Belle’s pit? Could it possibly conceal the way to reach a world I couldn’t begin to imagine?
Meet the Author
February Grace is an author, poet, and artist from Southeast Michigan. In previous novels, she has introduced readers to characters with clockwork hearts, told of romantic modern-day fairy godparents, and reimagined a legend, centuries old. Now, in her fifth novel with Booktrope, readers will board the special at WISHING CROSS STATION and embark on a trip through time. She is more than mildly obsessed with clocks, music, colors, meteor showers, and steam engines.
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