Flash Fiction: The Chicago Manual of Style Incident

Source. Pexels. Victor Gusameo Shimabukuro, Photographer

by LJ Frank

Alone. I waited at a specified, temporary location. I wasn’t given the reason for the mystery. I looked around the room with its twelve foot ceiling. Bright freshly painted white walls, French doors leading out to a balcony that looked out at the village street and a sense of sophistication permeated the European style apartment. One of the walls displayed an oversized canvas of an impressionist landscape painting. A tapestry of a Medieval scene titled The Feast, hung on the opposite wall. A rectangular hardwood table with a chair on either side was situated in the center of the room. In the middle of the table was a large round burgundy colored candle and a small box of matches. There was no paper, pencils or pens to seen. No Internet Access. It didn’t matter. My laptop computer needed repair.  An odd singular book, The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition, 2003, lay next to the candle.

After glancing around the room again I decidedly sat down, lit the candle, and opened the book. 

Under the Introduction it read: “A Historical Note. The history of publishing since the end of the fifteenth century has been shaped by the application of technology to the conception and manufacture of printed texts.” 

I sighed.

Further down the paragraph, it read, “Everything that follows in this manual is shaped by a recognition of the lasting impact of the electronic revolution on the publishing industry.”

There was a shout emanating from the street. I got up from my chair, walked to the window and peered out at the street, then shrugged as it seemed much about nothing.

A knock at the door filled the room. I walked over to the door, and opened it.

“Are you The Person?” 

“The Person?”

“In our business we don’t like to use actual names.”

“I see. Well, I suppose I could be.”

‘Please come with me. Bring the book with you.”

“May I ask why? It’s dated.”

 “You may need it. We’ve been looking for you.”

“Looking for me? I don’t understand.”

“You may…in time. Please get the book.”

Nodding, I went over to pick up the book and a page dropped out. It was labeled Errata with the following words underneath. “Below is a listing of significant errors you’ve made in life, grammatical and otherwise that are language related up through the date of this publication. One can only imagine the nature of your future errors, while living.”