2007-03-11: An Awfully Popular Book


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Summary: An ordinary man does the best he can to understand his extraordinary problem.

Date It Happened: March 11, 2007

Enlightenment Books

People seem to be flocking to the bookstore just because Alyssa wants them to stay away. For the first time, the writer has been working to get customers to leave as soon as possible. Not that the in-between time doesn't include helping them find what they want; just now, no more interrogations or attempted glimpses into their personal lives. Every so often, Alyssa makes it back to her stool behind the register, pulls forward a book and pretends to read it while actually staring at the clock on her open laptop and wondering if Cass will make it back this evening to Talk.

He's read about it on the internet. It's the only way. Right? A very nervous, nervous man pushes through the front door, letting it shut behind him as he looks around the bookstore. It's full of young people. He presses his back to the door, for a second, as though considering he should leave, before he starts to approach the front counter. "Um," he begins. "Excuse me."

Alyssa's head perks up instantly at the noise because, as said, she wasn't actually reading the novel laid out in her lap. Sliding to a more attentive sitting position, she manages a smile- though not quite as brilliant as her usual. "Hey! Welcome to Enlightenment Books, how can I help you?"

David nods twice, before he adjusts his jacket to step up to the counter. He rests his hands sort of nervously on it. "Yes. I'm looking for a certain… for a certain book. It's by a Dr. Suresh. Chandra Suresh. I think the title is 'Activating Evolution'," he asks, looking over his shoulder. He's going to look like a crazy man, but whatever. He has to find out if this book might be true.

A sort of grin lights up Alyssa's face just in time for her to frown, instead. "Yeah, that's the name," she comments, leaning forward and sliding a piece of paper out from underneath a corner of the register. She marks something off there and then hops down from her seat. "Weren't anymore in the front, huh?" Glancing towards there, she then excuses herself to the back room. A half a minute or so of rummaging around and then she's back, bearing a fresh copy of the piece of writing. "This thing has been selling amazing well, I wonder if it has to do with the stuff that Ca— Chandra says now that he's dead." Yay for quick recoveries, "Will that be all?"

Should David glance at the paper while she's gone, he'd see it says 'Activating Evolution!' with various tick marks on it indicting a number count. There's also a smiley face and the symbol from the cover of the book a couple of times.

"R-really? I had a lot of trouble finding it," David says. "This is the only bookstore in the city that carries it. I tried the Strand, and they'd never even heard of it," the man says, looking down at the paper. That's a lot of marks. "Um. Yeah. That's it. So, it's been selling well? Recently, you mean? Do you know anything about it? Have you read it, I mean."

"That's probably why everyone comes here. Only supply and all that," Alyssa nods, sliding the book onto the desk between them. Her lips press thinly together as she shakes her head, "I… haven't read it personally. I know… some people that have, though. It's been recommended a couple of times. I don't know if I could do it— science-y stuff is so not me." Plus the Craziness, "Did someone suggest it to you, too?"

David shakes his head. "No. I read about it on the internet," he says, and backtracks, suddenly, nervously, a few paces. "I mean, I was looking up things like it. I don't… I don't know about what it talks about. I mean, I read that it isn't really taken seriously by anybody. Scientists, I mean."

Alyssa squints at David now with the unhidden curiosity that she can't ever seem to fight down, even with the uprising of abilities and companies and tragedies. "Yeah, I guess not. Wouldn't know. It has quite its own fanbase, though…" She puts her hands on the edge of the book and inches it towards her almost possessively, "You're buying this just randomly, without knowing at all what it's about? Awful brave. People don't do that much anymore."

David touches the cover, and turns it over. So that's what this Chandra Suresh guy looks like, huh? "I, uh. I like to find new knowledge. I mean, new ideas. I'm interested in that sort of thing. If people only read what they agree with, then… then that's all they'll ever really care about, right? They'll never learn anything new."

Shifting her weight to one side, Alyssa pauses, considers, and then finds herself nodding, "Yeah, actually, I like that. More open than a lot of people you can come across. For instance- Dave gets on my case no less than weekly now." Insert rolling of eyes, "Okay, so let's get you one book of new knowledge," Now that David seems to have checked off as 'okay' (through even that tiny bit of interrogation) she gets back to standing over the register and marking up the price; one that she gives to the customer, "And that all this evening, sir?"

"Uh, yes. Hey, actually, can I ask you something?" David says, as he starts to prepare to pay for the thing. "You asked me if I had been recommended the book by anybody. I didn't really see any… you know, buzz, or anything. On the internet. Is it a word of mouth kind of thing? It's just funny that you asked."

"Hmm?" Is the distracted noise from Alyssa at the question about asking a question as she rings up the book. Without glancing up, she gives a nod, "I've had no less than three people tell me to read it lately so I think there's just these… circles. Or maybe it's a slow starter. Or maybe it's circum— well, whatever."

David may be terrified to be out and about, but he's not totally dim. "Circumstance? What do you mean?" Have there been others? If what the book is about is true, that means there should be many people. More than just one. "You don't think it's true, do you?"

Alyssa stiffens, probably too noticeably, but she gives a good casual impression in her tone, "Do /I/ think it's true? Jeez, I can't even begin to speak on the idea. Haven't read it, remember? Heh. Would be a bit presumptuous of me and I certainly don't like to second-guess writers, being one myself."
"I used to write," David says. "But that was a long time ago." He is about to reach for his credit card, but he withdraws it at the last second. The name on the plastic is 'David Berman', which might sound familiar. An author, from the 80s and 90s. Mostly wrote fiction with thinly veiled messages about various political causes. Quit writing and Salinger'd at some point out of disgruntlement. Tried to change world, world never changed. He starts to fork over cash.
"Just keep typing. Never stop."

"Never do," Alyssa chirps, a glimpse of a more relaxed her appearing at the more natural conversation piece. She takes a peek at the card as he decides against it but quickly covers her curiosity by grabbing up his cash and punching it for his change. "Long time ago, huh? What did you used to write?" As she watches him for an answer, she doesn't notice that, so compelled, she's punched in a few too many numbers on the register. It takes the antique thing dinging and spitting open at her for her to blink, glance down, and fish out the right amount to slide him back. One hand tapping insistently against the desk, she side-steps away from the register, "I've got an old writer type… mentor, I guess you could call him. Employer, too. Used to be in the business probably back when you used to be in the business," ha, she called you old. She's also found her way to her laptop keyboard by now. Mm, keyboard. Punching in those letters is awesome.

"Just some silly little books," David says. "Nothing that did anything or went anywhere." He takes his money and quickly pockets it, before he watches her start typing away. "Really? Well, that's interesting. I might now him," he says. Before he thinks. Oh god. "You… oh, no. You don't have to do that. You can stop. I… I need to go. I have to go now."

Alyssa's fingers obligingly slow and then fall away from the keyboard as she eyes him with slightly slanted eyebrows, "I can stop? Is something the matter?" She can't think of how she might, have- oh! "I totally wasn't calling you old back there! It's just that Dave hasn't been writing for a while……" But the guy just looks way more freaked than that.

Oh, and she /was/ totally calling him old.

"Dave?" David stops to think, and then realizes — Oh, it's a coincidence. Okay. "Oh. I… no offense taken. Really. It's alright. I was joking," he says, after a moment, with some measure of cheer. "Thank you so much. For your help.

Alyssa gives one of those sharp, employee nods, "Of course. Hope to see you in another time, enjoy 'Activating Evolution'. In fact, I'd love to hear what you think about it once you delve into all those theories and the like. Oh, and it's actually David. David Brennon." Coincidence /and/ hilarity of initials, both missed by Alyssa, "Maybe you'll get to see something by him out again soon."

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