Carl was sitting on a folding chair in a large room with many identical folding chairs, nearly every one taken. In his hand was a spiral bound booklet entitled, The Book of Durfur — A Beginners Guide. Oddly, the first thought that came to Carl’s mind was, “Shouldn’t it be Beginner’s Guide?” He vowed to point out the grammatical error to whoever produced the booklet.
Looking around, Carl saw a diverse group of people seated in the chairs. All ages, all races, both genders, and, based upon how people were dressed, many nationalities. All of them, like Carl, were holding the same booklet.
Carl tried to remember how he had gotten here, much less why he was here. But he couldn’t. His last memory was that he was lying in bed reading a book. Was he asleep and was this a dream?
He turned to the guy sitting on his left, a large black man dressed in some sort of ceremonial garb. “Excuse me,” Carl said. “Do you know where we are and why we’re here?”
“You tell me,” the guy said without making eye contact.
Sitting on Carl’s right was a teenage girl wearing what looked like a prom dress. But before Carl could say anything, she blurted out, “No, I don’t.”
Carl looked once again at the booklet in his hand. He flipped it open to the first page, but it was blank, as were all the pages following. He tried to stand up but was unable to leave his seat. “What the fuck?” he said aloud.
Suddenly the lights dimmed in the room, a screen slowly dropped down from the ceiling, and a video started playing. “Welcome to Durfur,” the man in the video said. “I know you have a lot of questions and they will all be answered shortly.”
The man in the screen smiled and continued. “Durfur is like a way station. It is situated halfway between what was and what will be, between where you’ve been and where you’re going. Each of you has been provided with a booklet that has been custom tailored for your journey. ”
The man in the screen seemed to look directly at Carl and said, “And, yes, Carl, we’ve corrected the punctuation.” Carl looked down and the booklet in his hand, which now read “A Beginner’s Guide.”
The man continued. “Some of you will be here in Durfur for just a brief time. Others may be staying with us for a while. It’s all documented in your guide booklet. Now if you’ll please open up to page one, everything will become clear to you.”
Carl opened up his booklet and began reading.
Written for this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt.