Alex’s jaw dropped, her face blanching at the timbre in his voice. Fear circulated in her brain. Why was he so scared about seeing me? she thought, anticipation firing from her synapses. “You...you know my name?”
“Yes, yes I do. Forgive me, but it’s almost as if I’ve known you for a very long time.”
Alex laughed nervously and looked up at Jack. His expression held equal confusion and he looked sternly at Mortimus. “I’m very sorry but this is the first time that we’ve ever met. It really is an honor to meet you, I’m a very big fan--”
“Alex Windemere?” It was a question, more to himself than to her.
He started to blink in rapid fire and rubbed his temples. By then, Liam had come back by where they were standing and Brayden was hovering over her shoulder with interest. “I’m sorry, I just...this is going to be very strange but I have been having visions about you for weeks.”
Alex took a step back, not knowing what to say. “Um, I think you probably have me confused with someone else--”
“No, no. I definitely don’t. This may sound a bit strange, but you would you mind having a word with me after everyone has left? You and your friends?” He motioned to Jack, Liam and Brayden. “It’s of the utmost importance.”
“Alex, maybe we should leave--” Jack protested.
“No. I’ll stay, I’d like to.” Alex tried to ignore the worried glare coming from Jack’s eyes and the blatant confusion apparent on Brayden’s face.
“Great. Thank you for understanding. I don’t want to keep these people waiting.”
“Right, right, I understand.” Alex shuffled over to the left side, letting people behind her through. To her surprise, Brayden stayed with them instead of completing his turn.
“Alex, I think we should probably leave. Obviously this guy is a psychopath! How does he possibly know who you are?” Jack muttered loudly.
She shrugged. “I don’t know but I’m intrigued to find out.”
“Your funeral.” Alex, Liam and Brayden looked over at him with a stern look but neither of the boys said anything to refute. There was definitely something not right.
“Jack, he’s not going to do anything if we’re all here. Maybe if it was just me and the bookstore was empty and it was closing time and they were playing the Halloween score over the intercom, then I’d be scared. But right now, I’m more curious than anything.”
“Visions, though? Come on!”
“It’s true,” Liam started. “Mortimus Sinclair has always said that he’s received his story ideas from dreams and visions. He said so in the author’s note of Issue #6.” Jack looked at him skeptically and snickered.
“Right! And I’ve heard that Mortimus even said that some of his stories aren’t even fiction! Like that one haunted house story? He said he personally experienced it!” Alex supported.
Jack laughed, which irritated Alex quite a bit. “You can leave, you know. You don’t have to stay. If you think it’s weird, I don’t have to burden you.”
“We don’t have to burden you,” Liam corrected, standing close to Alex’s side. Brayden nodded. Alex looked at him with shocked suspicion.
Jack furrowed his eyebrows, the concern draped over every angle of his face. “No, I want to stay,” he resigned.
“Okay then, no more complaining.”
“Damn, bossy,” Brayden joked. Alex shot him daggers, silencing his chuckles.
They waited over 2 hours, sitting in the lounge off to the side of the table. A couple of times they were asked to leave by an onlooking employee but Mortimus dismissed them. Every once in awhile he would look over at them, more so to Alex, with a worried expression. Sadness peeked out through his smiles. They stayed quiet most of the time. Liam and Alex talked about characters they liked the most (Jim Hawkins and Nancy Drew respectively) while Bryaden and Jack argued about different theories and plot points. Jack had his arms crossed the entire time and listened intently. He then immersed himself in an issue of Psychology Today magazine.
They grew silent again when there were only 2 more kids left in the line and few loiterers. Alex began to sweat every time Mortimus would look over. What if Jack was right? What if he was just a crazy old man that wanted to murder them and hide the bodies at that haunted house of his? Alex began shaking her leg up and down in a nervous fidget. Jack lightly touched her knee after a couple of minutes to settle her and shot her a smile. She stopped fidgeting but it didn’t really calm her nerves. Right before she could thank him, they heard the sound of the chair scraping the floor as Mortimus moved it from underneath the table and stood up, dusting off the bottom of his shirt. He shook hands with the store manager and they stayed in conversation for a couple of minutes before he excused himself. Alex could tell the manager was concerned for their safety as well--he shot them a curious glance and stayed close by while Mortimus sat down with them.
“I’m very sorry for keeping you waiting, kids.”
“What’s all this about, Mr. Sinclair? What’s so important?” Jack asked, avoiding all possible small talk.
“Geez, Jack, rude much?” Liam hissed.
“It’s alright, boy. Your brother has a right to be concerned, but believe me, I mean you all absolutely no harm. Pardon me, this is a bit strange talking with you. I’ve thought about it countless times and finally figured that I should show you this first.” He took out a manila folder from the interior of his jacket and untied the string. He pulled out some white, sketch papers with shaking, aged fingers. “These are some panels that I wrote and drew for the next issue of Baker Street. I drew these about two months ago.” He handed them directly to Alex.
The first sketch was just a couple of panels of the Baker Street members deep in conversation in one of their infamous hideouts, planning their next mission. The next couple of panels showed various members turning their heads to the sound of the hideout door opening.
Alex looked at the next page and there it was. There she was. Alex. Her surprised face opening the door with a lighted torch. There were people behind her, but they were in the shadows. Alex’s hands started shaking as she swallowed a gasp. Sherlock squinted her eyes while D.W. pulled out a gun, aiming it right at her. Jim Hawkins crept in the next panel, asking simply, “Who are you? What is your business?”
Then the surprising answer: “My name is Alex Windemere. My friends and I were sent here to help you.”
And the last scene, a spectacular, detailed drawing of the entire hideout, with all of its members and Alex with her friends looking at all of their faces. When Alex managed to look up and loosen her hands around the pages, she passed them to the boys. They all huddled together to read them. Afterwards, they all looked up at her then at Mortimus.
“How?” she managed to ask. “My name? What I looked like?”
Mortimus shook his head. “I don’t know how it works, these visions. Nobody believed me so I don’t talk about them anymore. I see these things and I just put it on paper. But everything that I have written, every idea that I have had, every scene that I have drawn...it is truth.”
“So, you just saw a vision of me coming to meet you. That seems pretty harmless--”
“No, Alex, you were going to the Baker Street Club. That’s the vision. That’s the truth.”
“But this is fiction. How--” She became exasperated, a lump of tears forming at the base of her throat.
He shook his head again. “No, no it’s not. It’s all real. They are out there. Sherlock, Nancy, the doctor, the hideouts, the villains...they are all real. And you have to help them.”
There was no more air in the room, it had all been sucked in by four pairs of lungs. Alex looked up at the boys. Liam and Brayden’s faces were indescribable. They looked frozen in time, waiting for any indication to respond. Jack on the other hand was dissecting Mortimus with a sharp glare. He was trying so hard to place him somewhere, to figure out what he was saying, to justify what was he saying. “I don’t believe this crap,” he finally said. That broke Liam and Brayden out of their trance. For once, Alex didn’t want to fight him because she couldn’t believe it herself.
“I know it’s a lot to take in…”
“It’s too much to take in. I just...it’s impossible.” He dropped his arms to his side with a resigned clap.Mortimus turned to Alex and softly took her hands in his. He looked her dead in the eyes. “Alex, if I were in your position, I wouldn't believe it either. But believe me when I say that you at least have to try to believe it. You are the key to turning this story around, to saving my life.”