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The Writers' Block #26 - Theme: Bibelots

Martin always thought it would be great to break the rules. He imagined it made him a rebel, with a leather jacket like those on display on Floor Five under Fashion.

Most of the museum’s collection was dull, so his urge to do something was increasing. He felt a bubble of naughtiness needing to burst within him.

The elevator doors hissed open.

‘Welcome to Floor Seventeen, Mr Daly. To your left, late Twentieth-Century technology, including fax machines, food processors and home computers. To your right, hobbies, pastimes and leisure activities, including the ever-popular sports equipment.’

He stepped out and purposefully brushed his fingers through his hair like that actor James Dean had done. He looked about, with the air of being cool. Or, perhaps, like a Cold War spy in that other black and white movie shown on Floor Nine.

He took a step to his right, thus advising the Guide’s voice in his head. ‘Mr Daly, you’re now in Twentieth-Century hobbies, pastimes and leisure activities. The display in front of you has a variety of sporting objects: a football, a cricket ball and a golf ball, placed beside each other for comparison. The football was used…’

Martin moved on, cutting the automated voice dead. It was readjusting, guessing his next move.

As he approached another cabinet, it re-started. ‘This display features a favourite of hobbies and pastimes: philately, stamp collecting…’

Martin’s eyes scanned the room as he walked. Whenever his gaze settled for a moment: ‘This display has train sets, a popular…’

‘Here we have a shuttlecock, used in…’

‘This is a Bible, positioned next to a copy of the Quran. Last used…’

For a good ten minutes, Martin never settled. The voice, ever attentive, kept trying to inform him about the objects, but he continued walking.

Just as boredom was beginning to settle in, Martin became aware of an unusual thing. All the cabinets were open. As crime and negligence had long been eliminated from society, nothing needed sealing out of reach, except the easily damaged items. The objects took on a different role in his mind. He could touch them. So, he studied the dimples on the golf ball by picking it up and scrutinising it. He turned the pages of the Quran and tried to read some of it. He stroked the feathers of the shuttlecock and rubbed them against his cheek.

He began to enjoy himself. We a smirk, he brushed his fingers through his hair and flipped up his jacket’s collar.

‘This section has trinkets and small items that were collected by some Twentieth-Century people. Some objects were made to resemble company logos and given free when the product was purchased, like the Babycham fawn in your hand. Bibelots such as these varied in worth and manufacturing precision. The next item, for instance, is a representation of a sad clown with a red balloon. It is unclear why such figurines were mass produced. Some experts assume it was a form of societal irony, but whatever the reason for their popularity, they were collected usually by the very young and the elderly. The miniature Eiffel Tower was primarily sold to… Mr Daly. You have not placed the Babycham fawn back into its allotted position. It appears to have accidentally been placed in your jacket. Mr Daly. You have not replaced the Babycham fawn. Before you leave this Floor, do not forget to…’

Martin’s hands were shaking as he removed the ear-chip to silence the voice. He fumbled the elevator button and stared with fascination at the trembling. Adrenalin was a new experience for him. He thrilled at the sensation, as his heart pounded against his ribs. He felt bright, wide-eyed, alive.

As crime no longer existed - what had he technically done? Taken it? Borrowed it? Stolen it? Whatever it was, it was something no one had planned for.

He was a rebel now. And he liked it.


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