We hid in the shadow of the fires, watching as the Firemen tore the shelves down and came out carrying armfuls of books. Once in a while, one would fall on the ground unnoticed, except by our group. Tears flowed as we watched our beloved reading go up in smoke. The blackened pages rising like sparks of genius in the dark skies aglow with the hope, someday we would be free to read again.
For the moment, we had to stay out of sight and watch for the missed books. What they couldn’t carry out was being burned inside and we were able to view the carnage at close hand. The heat became so intense it cracked the glass and melted the iron shelving but books take a lot before they burn. The dryness of the air was cloying as we forced ourselves to watch the flames devour our passions, never sure if we would be able to freely read.
We were lost in thoughts and almost missed the shout, “Move along now, nothing to see hear!”
We turned to see who had called out and saw an elderly man carrying what appeared to be a pile of book. Scared to be seen, he too was hiding in the shadows. At first glance, we failed to take notice of him properly. As he came into the half light we saw he wore a Fireman’s tunic and his shirt bulged, “It’s a trap!”
Not quite understanding the portent of what we were about to learn, one of our group yelled, “Run, before we get trapped and shot like rats. I read reports from other cities and these men are killers.”
The old man stumbled. When he rose he called out to us, “Cripes, keep your mouth shut or we’ll all get killed!”
The bewilderment grew as the man rose and spoke again, “Within the Firemen, there is a growing belief that what we are doing in not right and some of us are trying to save some books. The trouble is we are a tiny group and not organised, so, we’re easily put down.”