Sophie’s Quest

Chapter One


“Wait here,” said Auntie Jill, putting down the travel guide. “I’ll be back in a trice.”

Auntie Jill wasn’t Sophie’s real auntie. She was Mum’s friend, visiting from overseas. When Mum dropped them at the shopping centre, and drove off to park, Sophie felt important being alone with “Auntie” Jill. She had only met her yesterday.

First, Sophie had shown the way to the chemist, and Jill bought moisturiser. Then they walked to the supermarket, where Mum was supposed to meet them. She wasn’t there. One of the things on the shopping list, was a SIM card for Jill’s phone—not working yet—

they couldn’t call Mum. Sophie wished for her own phone, but Mum said that she was still too young. Nothing to do but wait.

They looked in colourful shop windows. Auntie Jill bought an apple-beetroot juice drink to share. Still Mum hadn’t turned up.

“Can we go to the bookshop?” Sophie asked.

Sophie was browsing the new book in her favourite mystery series, when Auntie Jill told her to wait. There was no chance to disagree. “I’ll be back in a trice,” she had said. Auntie Jill was gone.

Sophie, at eight-years-old, was rarely alone in a shop. With this unexpected freedom, she browsed the children’s section thoroughly, clutching the mystery book she wanted. Maybe Auntie Jill would buy it when she came back. If Mum came back first, she would say: “Put it on your birthday list.”

All the bright new covers on the laden bookshelves made Sophie feel tingly all over. She continued deeper into the shop. The novels and non-fiction books glowed with gold lettering and jewel-coloured covers. Books covered every inch of space from floor to ceiling. Fairy-lights hung from the wooden rafters, like a medieval cavern. There was a deep, soft armchair upholstered in purple velvet in a corner. Sophie sank into it with her coveted book, and began to read.

The story was more even exciting than the last one (which she had read three times over). Sophie forgot all about Auntie Jill and Mum. She didn’t notice the lights grow dim and the shop go quiet.

A loud thud of a door closing woke Sophie.

I must have fallen asleep! she thought, in a sleepy daze, remembering where she was. Where was Auntie Jill? Where was Mum?

One small red light glowed at the shop counter. It must be very late.

I could just close my eyes and go back to sleep, she reassured herself. I’m safe here until morning. But then she thought of her frantic mother, and police searching for her. . .

Auntie Jill knew where she was. Best just sit tight and wait.

The small red light moved, then suddenly there were two—not computer lights at all, but a pair of red dragon eyes staring at Sophie, moving closer. Sophie reached out to touch the book-covered wall, but she felt only hard cold rock.

She wasn’t in a bookshop any longer.

Posted in EWG Bookshop Competition Entries.