Once safely back on solid ground, I make my way over to a darkly varnished, wooden round table and take a seat, crossing my legs as I get comfortable. I open up to the contents section, the pages and hardcover creaking in protest at the exposure of the yellowing pages.
As I'm reading through the contents page, taking note of interesting subjects, I notice out of the corner of my eye a figure leaning against one of the shelves. I go back to my reading, but feel distinct goosebumps rise up on my skin and my senses become alert like the hackles rising on a cat. I discreetly peer at the figure again, sensing as if the person is looking straight at me.
I shake it off, reminding myself that I had nearly pulled a knife on Anna's new 'friend' today due to my jumpy behaviour. I continue perusing the book, but after 10 minutes of seeing the man in my peripheral vision I decide that it can't be coincidence that he seems to still be looking at me unabashed.
Then the colour bomb happens for the second time that day.
I see flashes of charcoal grey and tar black streaks cross my vision, accompanied by a dull thudding in my skull. I look up at the man, no longer trying to hide my gaze as I get a proper look at the person wearing a dark grey jersey with the hood up as well as unembellished jeans. The hood more or less conceals their face and I don't get a proper look before they turn their back to me and walk around the shelf and out of sight.
Some sixth sense awakens in me, making my heart pump faster and my nerves feel as edgy and sharp as razor blades. I feel unsafe, like I'm teetering on the edge of a great cliff in heavy mist trying to find my way out of danger.
Screw this. Where there's smoke, there's fire so I'm out of here...
I stand up, needing to grab onto the table edge when a short dizzy spell comes over me. I shake my head, clearing it and snapping the book shut. I walk over to the counter where the old man sits and turns the pages of an old leather bound book. I clear my throat, diverting his attention from the writing before him.
The colours flare up again, and I turn around to catch the sight of the hooded figure observing me from behind the shelves across the room. I feel as if cold fingers are caressing my spine, making me grind my teeth together.
"Hello? Dear? Are you still needing my help?"
The elderly male had already addressed me, but I seem to have missed it the first time in my moment of distraction.
"Yes please sir...could you keep this book on hold for me? I might be able to pay for it and pick it up by this weekend. "
"I certainly could. I'm glad that you were able to find something of interest to you, we don't often get people your age visiting the shop." He took the book from me with faintly quivering hands, placing it in a box demarcated as 'books on hold' before looking back at me with a smile. "Enjoy the rest of your day dear"