CJ Bernstein

CJ Bernstein

The Secret Society – Cellar Door

Okay. It’s been nearly three weeks since I found the storefront. I called the number on the sign every day since then. No one ever called back. And every time I wore the pin it kept wanting to take me back to the store. I couldn’t take it anymore, so…

Last night I broke in.

I waited until about 3am then walked over. The front door was dead-bolted and I once locked myself in my own bathroom so there was no way I was getting it open by picking it. And I’m an otherwise upstanding magic-hunting burglar, not a vandal, so I didn’t want to smash the front window.

But there was a set of metal cellar doors in the sidewalk out front. The kind I’ve almost fallen into a thousand times here in the city. It was locked too, padlocked actually, from the inside. But it was also rusted all to hell. And I came prepared.

I want to go on the record and say this isn’t something I’d normally do. But the combo of the pin, the wondering what’s inside, and no one CALLING ME BACK FROM THAT NUMBER, well, the gears started turning.

So I brought a hammer and chisel back from the country. I mean, we’ve all done crazy things for magic, yeah? I mean, look who I’m talking to…

It took about an hour. When no one was passing by, I, as quietly as possible, hammered the hinge pins out of one side of the cellar door. Then all I had to do was pry open a hundred years or so of rust and climb down.

The basement was empty except for a family of about three-and-a-half million rats. I mean, I only saw two, but for all I know there could have been millions.

Upstairs was nothing but dust and empty boxes. Until I found the back office. It was empty too, except for a big, beautiful old desk that I definitely didn’t consider dragging out through the basement, but the pin was pulling me in there, and after digging through every nook and cranny, I found something.

Part of a shipping receipt. Nothing major, right? It just detailed some big, heavy crate sent to Marrakech with faded instructions stating (I think) “Return has been paid for, but only upon request.”

The recipient’s address was torn off.
But the deliverer’s address? It was the storefront. Or, as it used to be called, The Ackerly Green Book Shop. And the package was sent by our mysterious friend, “A.G.”

The minute I read it, my phone buzzed. I had to sit on the floor and take a second, because if it was another stupid email telling me some site was changing their Terms and Conditions I was going to put my fist through a wall.

But it was the app.

The notification read, “I’d found the key, and with it, a way to leave this world behind.”

I left through the basement and I’ve been in the office since, waiting for Woolie.
I’ll let you know if/when something happens.


There actually was an Ackerly Green Book Shop. And our “A.G.” worked there.

Just like our AG office is kind of… blending with the old AG office, the Instagram account is blending with the Book Shop?