Pseudopod 104: The Book in the Earth

By Lavie Tidhar

Read by Ralph Walters

“Excuse me,” said the old man by the door. He was hidden from view behind the bookshelves, and though Gerald had seen him come in, he couldn’t see who he was talking to. “Does the presence of this chapter make it the true first edition or the second state? I can never remember, you see, whether ‘Fathers’ is the missing chapter or the correct one.”

“The pulped version, of course,” said a gruff voice behind the books.

“Ah, of course. Thank you.”

Gerald sat behind the counter, wrapped up in a coat, wondering what on earth they were talking about. He applied for the job at the small bookshop just off Charing Cross the week before, and to his surprise the owner — a short, stocky man who looked more like a bare-knuckle boxer than a bookseller — hired him.

“You start on Monday,” he said. “And don’t let the bastards steal anything or spend too long in the basement. If they start tapping on walls, or doing any other strange shit, kick them out.”

Mr. Mendoza seemed to have a low opinion of his customers. After a week of being left in charge of the shop, however — Mr. Mendoza having left for an unspecified length of time on what he called, in his strangely accented English, a “trade trip” — Gerald began to wonder.

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