Aldwych's Emporium - Simons Tale

Simons world is about to be changed upside down, his father is re-marring. So not only will he have a new step mother he will have an older brother and the twins from Hell.
Since the death of his mother Simon escapes his world the only way he knows how, by reading. to People call him strange and werid but he doesn't mind because books are him friends and they make him laugh and cry. He finds it difficult to make friends and talk people.
That is until he makes an nexpected visit to Aldwych's Emporium.
Where Simon learns that being different isn't always a bad thing - remember magic happens every single day.

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1. Chapter One

Were you to walk down the quiet back streets of the city of Bath, you could and would most likely, walk straight passed the most wonderful and magical, small shop called Aldwychs Emporium.

To look at it, there is nothing grand or spectacular about The Emporium.

From the outside, it looks just like any other shop that is along the street. Its walls are beige in colour, with two large windows either side of a bright red door. On each window, right in the centre, in curved letters reads Aldwychs Emporium, its gold colour fading with the passage of time.

The window displays are filled with cuddly toys of all shapes, sizes and types, they sit next to dolls, Princesses and Princes who, are in turn sitting next to large building bricks that reach right to the ceiling in all different colours.

If you speak to those who live near Aldwychs Emporium, they will tell you that the shop just appeared from no-where, one day it was an empty building, next, it was packed to the rafters with every toy imaginable and the gold letters covered the windows.

Not much is known about the owner of The Emporium, we know his name is Caleb Aldwych, an older man with jet-black hair that is starting to show flex of grey. His eyes are light brown and his skin lightly tanned. He is tall with broad shoulders and a deep voice.

Some people say, he is a foreign King from some far off magical land, who is seeking refuge from war in his country, others say he is a Gypsy Prince, who had to run away from his family because he fell in love, with a you handmaiden from another clan. Whatever his story, he was now the proud own of The Emporium.

Now, dear reader, do you remember when you were told ‘appearances can be deceiving’. Never was this saying more true, than when said about Aldwychs Emporium, for behind the mundane door and multicoloured window displays, exists a world, where anything, is possible.

It was a typical boring Monday in October, when Simon decided to walk to the park. His house was too noisy, which was normal, when there are five other people in a small house. Simon liked nothing better than to be left alone, with a book and the only noise he can hear, is the turning of the pages.

The weather was cold and on the ground was a thin layer of frost.

Simon had wrapped up warm and had his chin tucked down into his grey scarf, stuffed within the front pocket of his plain black hoodie, a paper back book. His blonde hair stuck out at odd angles from beneath his grey beanie hat. His hands were forced deep into his trouser pockets.

Simon walked for several minutes before turning onto the street where The Emporium stood silently. Simon's pale cheeks carried a healthy red glow and his nose tingled with the chill in the air.

Standing on the curb, he checked left and right, just like his mother taught him and then carefully crossed the street. He paused for a moment and looked into the large window of the Emporium. He cocked his head to the left and his eyebrows drew together in a frown.

Simon was not sure, but it certainly felt like someone, or something was watching him. Sighing, he shook his head, hoping that it would get rid of the feeling, pausing just for a moment longer than he wanted too, Simon then very determinedly turned away from the shop window and started down the street.

A few short yards later, he found that he could not stop thinking about The Emporium, he had never really noticed it before but now he wanted to know what was contained within it's walls. Biting his lip he thought for a moment, what's the worse that could happen if he went into Aldwychs Emporium. Slowly turning on his heel he head back towards the shop.

Simon took a deep breath and pushed the large wooden door open. The high pitched jingling of bells signified his arrival, closing the door behind him his eyes took in the sight that greeted him.

Directly in front of him, stood a large clock tower, made of smaller multicoloured wooden blocks, the small clock face ticking away quiet happily.

He took a few more nervous steps deeper into the middle of the shop. Sitting in the middle of the shop floor was a large wooden pit filled with every single cuddly toy you could ever imagine.

Smiling Simon walked towards the bin, a rather old battered looking Zebra, caught his eye and he could not resist picking it up. Pulling it close to his chest, he could feel it's warmth through his hoodie and t-shirt. Simon smiled as he took a deep breath and breathed in the heady scent of straw and sawdust.

“That one is my favourite, I call him Zee.” A girls voice said behind him, Simon jumped and dropped the Zebra on the floor.

“Sorry.” Simon said as he bent down to pick it up.

“Hey, it's O.K.” Her voice was kind. “It was a little cruel of me, to creep up on you like that.” There was a laugh in her voice, as Simon turned and faced her.

He looked in to a pair of bright emerald green eyes, which were slightly covered by her blonde fringe. Her blonde hair was long and fell all the way to her waist. She was wearing a white t-shirt, a pair of jeans over which hangs a pale green apron.

She stepped towards him with a smile and stuck her hand out.

“I am Freya.” Her smile grew bigger as she shook his hand. “And you are?”

“S. .Simon.” His voice was nervous.

“Well it is lovely too meet you Simon.” She folded her arms across her chest. “So you here for something special?” Freya lent against the tall wooden counter.

“Not really.” He placed the Zebra back on the top of the pile. “I don't really know why I came in here. I was going to the park to sit by the pond and finish my book.” He shrugged.

Now I have to tell you a secret, it's very important that you listen very carefully. If you ask the owner of a certain Emporium, about The Emporium. He will quite happily tell you that The Emporium is magical.

I know that sounds slightly mad, but believe me when I say that it is magical, and those who enter The Emporium find themselves touched by magic.

You know when sometimes, you go somewhere you have no idea why you went there. Well, Mr. Aldwych calls it 'The Call'. Something deep down inside you feels The Call and you can't help but answer it.

“Well I am glad you gave into the feeling and popped in.” Freya beamed again. “What book are you reading at the moment?”

“Tik-Toc of Oz” Simon pulled the slightly battered book from his pocket. “I've read it a few times. Actually I have read the whole series several times” A rush of colour swept over his cheeks.

“Ah, The Wizard of Oz series.” Freya stood up straight and picked up a pile of books from the counter. “I have to say that my favourite is Ozma Of Oz. That's a good one.”

“I guess it's O.K but that's more of a girly book.” Simon's voice is quite.

“In away, but it does have the wheelers in it and they scared me. The first time I read about them, I had to sleep with the light on for a month.” Freya carried the books towards the corner of the shop.

Behind a large curtain that hung from the edge of a man made balcony, was what Freya lovingly referred to as the Book Nook.

Beneath the balcony were several large wooden bookshelves and on the floor lots of large bean bags, in various pastel shades. She ducked beneath the balcony and placed the books on a pile of other books sitting quietly on the floor.

“O.K they were a little scary but they were no where near as scary as the Nome King.” Simon stated as he collapsed down on to a pale green bean bag. Tik-Toc of Oz being held tightly in his hand.

“So do you read a lot?” Freya asked as she picked up several books and looked at there spines.

“Quite a bit. I have a few books at home.” Simon thinks for a moment. “I have been told by my soon to be step mother that I have to spend my allowance on something sensible and not on books.”

“There is nothing more sensible than books. Take it she's not a big reader then.” Freya laughs. “So what's your favourite things to read?”

“I like adventure books and fantasy books. My favourite is Gulliver’s Travels.” A smile formed on his face as he thinks about the book. “I like the fact that Gulliver travels through many lands and worlds, that are all so different.”

“I haven't read Gulliver’s for a long time.” Freya dropped down on to a pink bean bag beside Simon.

“So what's your favourite?” Simon's voice was quiet and he picked at his finger nail.

“Um that is very difficult, I have so many. I love everything, the classics, fantasy, adventure. Though I have to say that Fairy Tales are a personal favourite of and I think that Cinderella is the best one.” Freya smiled. “Proof that wearing the right sort of clothes and shoes can change your life.” Freya sighed. “Right, why don't you help me put these books away?”

“O.K” Simon stood up with Freya as she handed him some books.

“All you need to do is just pop them on the shelves in the right order.”

“How do I know what's the right order?” Simon said as he took several books from Freya.

“Whatever the writers last name starts with, that's where they go. For example you have Roald Dahl so that needs to go with the D's”

“O.K” He smiles.

The sun climbed higher in sky and The Emporium was filled with the enjoyable sound of laugher. By the time they were interrupted they had completely tided the Book Nook.

“Freya, I thought you might like some lunch.” Caleb said as he carried a tray full of sandwiches towards them. “Good afternoon Simon.”

“How, how did you know my name?” Simon looked shocked.

“A wild guess.” Caleb winked. “I brought some ham and cheese and your favourite Freya onion ring crisp sandwiches.” Caleb smiled.

“Thank you Mr. Aldwych.” Freya beamed as she climbed out from beneath the balcony, Simon quickly followed her.

“I love onion rings.” Freya took a sandwich and took a large bite.

“Go ahead Simon, they aren't poisoned.” Simon carefully took a sandwich and took a small bite. “I'm Caleb, the owner of The Emporium.”

“Nice to meet you.” Simon replied.

Freya grabbed another sandwich and jumped up on to the counter. Caleb rolled his eyes and Freya beamed.

“I was talking to Simon earlier about, what he is reading and it's Tik-Toc of Oz.”

“Good choice.” Caleb smiled “Personally one of my favourites.”

“Well I said that my favourite in the series, is Ozma of Oz. Simon, says it is a girly book and I told him that the wheelers scared me so much that I couldn't sleep.”

“They are pretty scary.” Caleb said. “Does this actually have a point?”

“Well. Do you think it is a girly book?” Freya took another bite of her sandwich.

“In a way it is but it is quite scary.” Caleb shrugged.

“Told you Simon.” Freya maturely stuck out her tongue. “Oh before I forget.” Freya shoved the rest of her sandwich in her mouth and jumped from the counter.

Crossing the space between the counter and the Book Nook. Dropping to her knees her eyes quickly scanned the shelves.

“Lewis, Lewis, Lewis. Where are you?” Her thin finger gently brush against each spine. “Lewis, Ah here it is.” She pulled the thick book off the shelf and climbed out of the Nook.

“Earlier you said you liked adventure and that you can't buy any more books but you seriously have to read this one.” She handed it over to Simon who took it.

“The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” He frowned.

“O.K, trust me, it is brilliant.” Freya smiled as Caleb looked at her with a fatherly gaze. “It's about a world, called Narnia. It's hidden away from prying eyes. The only way to get to the world of Narnia, is through a plain, old wardrobe. You have to climb through all these old clothes, some have moth bites and they have that old musty smell. As you climb further into the wardrobe the clothes start to change to branches on pine trees covered in snow. Then you appear in a lane, covered in snow with a single solitary gas lamp.”

“Sounds cool.” Simon smiled as he turned the book over in his hands.

“It is pretty awesome. I want you to have it.” Simons eyes went wide. “You can have it on the one condition that once you have read it you come back and tell me what you think? If you like it there are two more in the series.”

“I promise.” A smile formed on his face, as he opened the front cover and his heart raced at the idea of a whole new world to explore and understand.

Simon silently made his way to the Book Nook and sat down on a pale green bean bag, taking a deep breath he made sure he was comfortable, he turned the page to the first chapter and read;

Once there were four children whose names were, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.

That opening section was enough for Simon to be hooked, he couldn't help but wonder what was going to happen to the children and where the story was going to go.

The hours went by as Caleb sorted out the back room and new stock orders, Simon sat perfectly still in the Book Nook, the only noise coming from him was the occasional sound of turning pages and Freya served several customers.

Freya could not help but glance and smile at Simon, as he devoured page after page. She was looking forward to going home and picking up her book. Sitting on the floor behind the counter she sorted through stacks of paperwork. Happily talking to herself she didn't pay much attention to the passage of time.

“Freya” Caleb said as he lent on the counter and look down at her.

“Oh Goodness.” Freya jumped. “You scared me to death.” From the corner of the room came a giggle, Freya stood and glanced at Simon. “Glad you found it funny.”

“Freya can you lock up please.” Caleb lent against the counter, as Freya picked up a ring full of keys.

“I should be going.” Simon sounded sad. “They will be wondering where I am.”

“Well.” Freya walked round the counter and with Simon headed towards the door. “It was lovely to meet you and I can't wait to find out what you think.” She pointed at the book.

“Thank you.” He pulled the book tight to his chest. “Bye. Thank you for the sandwiches.”

Simon left the shop, Freya watched him go and Caleb crossed the shop floor and stood beside her.

“So it seems you have found a new friend.” Caleb sounded pleased.

“Hey, he seems like a good kid. Weird step mother but nice kid. Anyway, it wasn't me.” Freya held out her hands “It was The Emporiums idea, she made him come in here.” Freya shrugged.

“She always has a plan. I am glad that you now trust in her.” He winked and started to turn away.

“Oh yeah, before I forget take the cost of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe from my wages.”

“I will never understand how you will ever have any money.” Caleb laughed and walked to the back of the shop as Freya flipped the sign from open to closed and locked the front door.

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