Hand Written Books

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Henry Lawson is a little boy who lives in a parallel universe where printing hasn't been invented. So they write their books by hand. He and his mum are excited when his school principles books him in for a reading at the War Memerial Theatre in a world with Hand Written Books.

Submitted: December 29, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 29, 2018



It was back in the 1980s. Henry Lawson attended Makaraka School near the countryside of Gisborne City, New Zealand, in a parallel world. He was ten at the time. All the books at the school library was hand written by scribes that were employed by the ministry of education. In this universe all books are written by hand. 


Henry was in his standard 3 class, reading out a hand-written copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He was a skinny boy with short brown hair. 


“And as Violet chewed on her bubble gum,” read Henry “She grew and grew into a big round shape. She began to turn purple. ‘Violet, you’re turning Violet' exclaimed her mum in fear. Violet looked around. She was feeling quite concerned as she turned around, looking at everyone'”. 


“That is good” exclaimed his teacher, Miss Grant. 


The copy of the book was written on refill. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory was originally written by a man named Ronald Dahl who told his stories in streets and theatres. The scribes would copy his stories so they could take them back to the library or ministry of education. For that was how stories were spread in this realm. 


“Your reading is improvingMaster Lawson,” continued Miss Grant “Now who would like to read the next page?” 


Penelope walked up to the front of the class. Henry handed the book to her before she continued reading.  


“So, they rolled her over into the next room to have blue berry juice squeezed out of her” read Penelope. 


At the end of the class Miss Alexander, who was the school principle at Makaraka, entered the classroom and walked up to Henry.  


“Henry,” she said with a smile “Would you like to come into the office please? 


“Um, Ok, Miss Alexander”. 


Henry climbed down from his desk and followed Miss Alexander down the corridor, past the toilets and through the foyer into her office on the left. Henry’s mum waited in the office for them. 


Mum was a farmer who raised sheep on her small farm on Bushmere road. She was in her fifties at the time. Henry’s dad died when he was only five. So, mum raised him on her own. 


Henry, sit down next to your mum. Will you?” 


Ok, Miss Alexander”. 


Henry did as he was told. He sat on a chair next to mum and looked up at Miss Alexander. Why did she call him into her office? Did he do something wrong? 


Miss Alexander looked up at his mum and said “Miss Lawson. You have a talented son. Henry is a good writer. You know that?” 


“Well, he always had a good imagination,” replied mum. “Hes a clever little boy”. 


“And I couldn’t agree more”. Miss Alexander smiled at mum. “That's why I booked him into the War Memorial Theatre for a reading. I liked his story so much that I believe everyone should hear it”. 


“And when is the reading?” Asked mum. 


“It will be at eight tonight. How does that sound?” 


“Thats great news,” exclaimed mum “I’m so proud of my son”. 


“Yes, yahoo” replied Henry. 


He and mum hugged. He was so excited about reading his story in public. He rested his head on mum’s shoulder. She kissed him on the forehead and said “Come on, Henry. Let’s go celebrate”. 


They walked out of the principal's office and headed towards the school gate. 






They arrived at Treble Court where mum parked the car. As they walked down Treble Court, Henry looked around at the hand painted signs above the shop entrance or on the shop entrance. One of the signs said Treble Court Pharmacy. Another said Hudson’s Pet Shop. 


They entered the Robert Harris cafe whose windows had been painted dark green. Mum asked Henry “What do you want?” 


Henry looked at all the delicious buns and cakes, next to the labels written in blue ink. Henry picked out the cream donut and put it on his plate. Then he read the menu above the counter. It was clearly hand written in red felt with the prices next to the food items. The milk shakes came in banana, chocolate, strawberry, mint, Jaffa, caramel. 


“I’ll have the mint flavoured milkshake” said Henry. 


“Ok,” replied mum “And I’ll have the cappuccino”. 


“Certainly,” replied the waitress as she handed them the number on a stand “Your orders will arrive shortly”. 


Mum grabbed the tray. They went and sat at table outside. Mum dug into her chocolate fudge cake with her fork. Henry got tucked into his donut. After a while their orders came. Mum sipped her coffee. Henry slurped his milkshake. 


The town crier walked down Treble Court, ringing his bell and crying “Hear yea, hear yea, the Chernobyl disaster occurred in the Soviet Union in the Ukraine region. A power plant exploded, killing everyone with radiation. The whole town is being evacuated 


“Come on, Henry. We’ll go to the library to take out some books. Then we’ll go grocery shopping. How does that sound?” 


“That sounds great” said Henry with a happy grin on his face. 


“Come on”. 


They got up and left the table. 






After they left the café mum took Henry to Gisborne City Library. All of the books in the library were hand written on pieces of refill paper stapled together.  That was the only way to write a book. A lot of people had written down stories by hand for thousands of years since the days of the great Greek story tellers.  


Mum came up to the librarian and returned the hand-written books. After grabbing mum’s hand-written library card that was laminated, she looked it up on the computer. Well, no one can write stories on a computer. What is the point in that? Computers are too bulky to carry to the reading cinemas, theatres and street corners. Plus, a person needs somewhere to plug a computer in. In this particular parallel world, computers are only used to store data and calculate equations. That’s it. Not for storytelling, art or altering photos. 


Once the librarian found mum’s details on the computer, she popped the books on the tray and said “thank you” with a smile. 


Mum and Henry then went looking for books to take out. The library only had their computers set up about a week ago, as far as Henry could tell. The books were arranged according to genre. There was romance, western, crime, drama, thrillers, horror, science fiction, historical, non-fiction and, of course, there was a children's section as well. 


Sometimes, a writer would be invited into the library to read his writing to the children or the adult audience if the librarians liked the story. Some writers read their stories in the cafes. That was how stories are spread in this world. By word of mouth.  


Once mum had selected the books that she wanted to take out, she then went and checked them out at the library. The librarian would then type the title into her computer under mum's name and hand the books over to mum. Mum took the books and they headed back to the car. 






Mum parked the car behind the Woolworths supermarket. Mum and Henry climbed out of the car. They entered the main foyer of the supermarket where the lotto shop was. There was a hand painted sign that said lotto on it. Henry knew that they painted the signs in some workshop in Gisborne, before delivering the signs to the shops and setting them up. 


Mum grabbed the trolley as they went through the sliding doors of the supermarket. She picked out some apples, cabbage, carrots, sacks of potatoes with a sticker that had Potatoes written on it in black felt. There were containers of various meat with stickers that said Sir Lion Steak, Plain Shoulder Chops, Pork Chops, Sausages, Saveloys. The stickers were written in blue pen. 


“What type of cereal do you want?” asked mum. 


There were various cereals in plain white boxes with writing on it. The labels were written with black felt. There were boxes labelled Coco Puffs, Rice Bubbles, Kellogues Corn Flakes, Sanitarian WheaBix, Sanitarian Natural Muesli. There were various biscuits labelled Mellow Puffs, Griffins Chocolate Chip Cookies, Tim Tams, Wine Biscuits, Short Breads in black felt. 


They got the wheat bix, coco puffs, muesli, chops, sausages, chocolate chip cookies, ginger snaps. They got a plain bag of bread with the worlds Plain White Bread written on it. Butter, cheese, jam, peanut butter, milk form Gisborne Milk. All the packages were labelled with black felt or blue pen. Some packages were written in pencil. It must be a tedious task writing out all the labels by hand. 


Once they had gotten all the groceries and put them into the shopping trolley, they took it to the checkout counter. The checkout operator typed the items into the computer before putting them into the paper bags. After all the groceries were put into the shopping bags, mum told Henry “Take the trolley out to the car, would you?” 


“Ok, mum”. 


Mum paid for the groceries while Henry pushed the trolley to the car. Mum caught up with him. She unlocked the boot of the car and Henry helped her put the groceries into the back of the car. Then they climbed into the car. Mum pulled out of the parking spot and they left the supermarket and went home. 






Henry and his mum arrived home from the supermarket. They lived on a small farm on Bushmere Road, close to Matawhero. Henry helped mum take the groceries into the house and put them away in the cupboard, fridge and freezer. She sent Henry to get the mail. Henry walked up to the mail box, grabbed the mail and took it into the house. The addresses were hand written. 


While mum was bussy cooking dinner in the kitchen, Henry went and played in the spare room that was attached to his bedroom. It was an old house too. With wooden windows. Henry pretended that the spare room was a magic lift that took him to different worlds since it had a sliding wooden door separating it from his bedroom. He pressed the button and it took him to another world. Then he would come out of the magic lift into another world covered in swamp. A giant water snake stuck its head out of the swamp. Henry was fighting it off with his sword when mum called out “Henry! Dinners ready”. 




He rushed out into the kitchen, grabbed his plate. He and mum took their dinner into the living room at the front of the house, overlooking the fishpond in the front garden. Mum turned on the tele. Back in those days, their TV had a dial that switched the channels. There was the word channel written above the dial in white paint, the channel numbers were written in white paint too. There were sliding dials with the words volume, contrast, brightness written in white paint. Mum turned the dial to TV 1. 


They had only two channels back in the day. Both of them run by TVNZ which was owned by the Government. Mum had made mashed potatoes, sausages, pumpkin and peas. As they sat there eating their dinner, they watched the news on the tele. 


There had been a disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station which had exploded, sending radioactive material across the town. Chernobyl was part of the Soviet Union at the time. They had to evacuate the town.  There was a clash in South Africa where the blacks rioted against the police in the days of the Apartheid. The Palestinians blew up a school bus in Israel as an attempt to gain independence. There was also another bombing in Northern Ireland where a pub had been blown up by the IRA. Charles and Diana were taking a tour of New South Wales. Charles and Diana are now divorced. 


Once they had eaten their dinner, they had desert. Henry and mum had chocolate ice cream with apple pie and tinned peaches. The ice cream container was labelled in black felt as was the tinned peaches. 


There was a hurricane in the US. The dock workers went on strike again over the quality of the toilet paper in the workers bathroom. The All Blacks had beaten the Aussies again. 


Once they saw the weather forecast, mum asked “Are you ready for the reading tonight?” 


“Oh, yeah” replied Henry. 


Henry ran into the bedroom and grabbed his story out his bag. He ran back into the hallway where mum was waiting for him. She had already put the dishes in the dishwasher and turned it on. 


“Let’s go then,” said mum “We have to be at the theatre at eight”. 


Henry exited the house first. Mum switched off the light and closed the door behind them. Henry opened up the garage. Mum climbed into the car. After she had backed out of the garage, Henry closed the garage door. He climbed into the passenger seat. Mum pulled out of the drive way and turned left as they headed towards the city. 






Henry and his mum had arrived at the Gisborne War Memorial Theatre on the corner of Childers Road and Bright Street. Henry waited back stage, waiting for his turn to read his story, as the other kids in his age group read out their stories in front of the audience, some of them by memory. Henry field a little nervous. His breathing was rapid, he was shaking all other, he felt butterflies in his stomach. He held his short story in his right hand and watched a little blond girl read out her story. 


Once the girl had finished reading her story, the emcee said “Thanks, Jessica. That was a good story. Well done”. 


The crowd clapped and cheered. Jessica smiled at the audience and curtsied to them before walking off the stage. Henry found her attractive. “Let’s give an applause to Jessica” announced the emcee with a clear, loud voice. “Up next, we have Henry Lawson, reading his story Lucky Not to Stay on Pluto”. 


The crowd clapped as Henry walked out onto the stage with his story in his hand. He stood there, looking around at the audience, until the applause died down. Once everybody stopped clapping, he held out his story in front of him and said “My story is called Lucky Not to Stay on Pluto”.  


Henry took a deep breath to calm his nerves. It was the first time he read in front of the audience. “Lucky Not to Stay on Pluto. The crowd cheered as I boarded my rocket at the Gisborne A and P Show Grounds. I waved out to the crowd. Then climbed into the chair and strapped myself in. Once the countdown had finished, I pressed the button and took off into the sky leaving Earth far behind. I landed on Pluto and went out exploring. But when I came back, I found these ugly purple aliens had covered my space shift. They squirted out this poisonous gas. Suddenly, an alien resembling a fury humanoid crocodile said to me ‘Those are the purple ugly floffers and they squirt out a poisonous gas. Don’t worry, I have a spaceship on the other side of the planet’”  


In those days the scientists thought Pluto was a planet even though they didn’t know its true nature. “’We are called the Sookimamas. We control the other side of the planet’. I followed the alien to the other side of Pluto. He let me burrow his space craft. I said ‘Thank you for offering me your space craft’. The Sookimama said ‘That’s Ok. I’m glad to help’. So, I boarded the space craft, clicked a few buttons and took off back towards Earth. Everybody cheered when I landed back at the A and P Showgrounds and exited the space ship. The End”. 


The audience stood up and gave Henry a standing ovation as they clapped and cheered. Henry was so happy and excited. Everyone loved his story. That was the night that Henry decided to pursue his carrier as a writer and story teller. And, ever since, Henry would go up on stage and read out his stories at the reading cinemas. They have reading cinemas all over the world for writers to share their stories. Ever since he started uni, the first stories he read were Free Earth and Battle Attack. 


Now he goes on reading tours throughout the world. Diana and Charles have divorced now. Diana is married to an Arab while Charles married Camilla. Ever since, Free Earth and Battle Attack have been made into movies. 


He is now standing in front of the UN Annual Reading in front of the UN General Assembly reading out his latest story Columbus Warp: World Without Telephones before he returns to Hawkes Bay to visit his parents for Christmas. He is now married to Prime Minister Jacinda Addern of New Zealand.

© Copyright 2020 simon arthur. All rights reserved.

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