“Clash of the Books,” Part IV

(For parts I, II, and III of Sabrina Flynn’s award-winning “Clash of the Books,” scroll down to yesterday’s post, or click here for the entire story.)

IV

“SFPD, we need to commandeer your…time machine.”

The Time Traveller’s eyes widened, and his hand snaked towards a shiny lever.  Kate grabbed his wrist with one hand, and his collar with the other, yanking him out of his seat.

“It’s all yours.”

Merrily clambered behind the controls, settling on the cushy chair with a sigh of relief.  She adjusted the date, rolled the time back, setting it to half an hour before.

“Good luck.”

“Either way,” Merrily said cheerfully, “it was very nice meeting you, Miss Martinelli.”  Closing her eyes, Merrily pushed the shiny lever with a muttered prayer.

**

            All was quiet.  Everything was blissfully mundane (save for the H.G Wells Time Machine sitting in the library aisle).  Merrily climbed unsteadily from the machine, and hurried to the railing, where she peered down with breathless anticipation.  She was light-headed with relief.  Her desk sat in its pool of light, and her former self sat reading in gorgeous ignorance.

Wasn’t there a rule of time traveling declaring that one could not glimpse one’s future self?

Oh, stuff it, thought Merrily, this was reality—not theory and the Martian of letters had already arrived.  Glowing parchment drew near.  Merrily pushed down a wave of déjà vu, and ran for all she was worth.  Unfortunately she was no marathon runner, but she took some consolation in the knowledge that she had worn her sensible shoes.

When she arrived, the inky cube was on the desk.  Her former self was on her feet, utterly pale and speechless.  The Savior’s long digit stretched towards the cube.

“Stop!” Merrily panted, racing towards her desk to snatch the cube.  The Savior swirled with agitation, letters churned, becoming bold and black.  At the sight, former Merrily fainted dead away, leaving her future self to continue the fight.

“I’m not a jailer.  This is not a prison.  It’s a library for God’s sake.”

The Savior grew, drifting menacingly near.  Bold letters took shape before her eyes, encompassing her world, demanding her attention.

The minds are imprisoned.  Release them now.

            “They’re books, not minds.  Humans like me, of flesh and bone, write them.”

They speak.  They live.

            “Yes, books speak, but our minds give them life.  They live inside humankind.  They are not prisoners, but an extension of ourselves.”

They are trapped.

            “Not trapped…” Merrily faltered, grasping for explanations.  In desperation, words came, tumbling from her lips, growing bolder by the moment.  “Books are emotions, thoughts and dreams, everything terrible and beautiful.  They contain all of humanity’s imaginings, flowing from people’s minds to their pens, and finally here, to paper.  Every book is a masterpiece of dreams.  This is their temple, and I am their caretaker.”

Silence answered—unspoken and unwritten.  A minute passed, and then another, until the Savior stirred.

You are a protector of worlds?

            “Uhm,” Merrily considered.  It wasn’t precisely correct, but it was better than the alternative.  “Yes, along with other librarians, especially considering what occurred…or might occur.  And really, the books do not play well together at all.  They are quite happy in their own, individual worlds.  Trust me, we must keep them separated.  At all costs.”

I understand.  And accept.  Farewell, Protector.

              “To you as well, er…” Merrily faltered, and then raised her hand awkwardly, palm forward, offering the Martian a Vulcan salute.  “Live long and prosper.”

The Savior vanished in a whirlpool of ink, and since the books had never been liberated, the Time Machine along with future Merrily, vanished.  And an inky cube thundered to the floor.

**

            Merrily stirred, blinking groggily at her surroundings.  She rubbed her head, probing a knot in the back of her skull.  She must have fallen asleep and then out of her chair.  But what an odd dream.

After assuring herself that nothing was broken, she slowly pulled herself into her chair.  A shape caught her attention.  An inky black cube sat on the floor by her desk.  She bent to pick it up, turning it this way and that, studying it with puzzled curiosity.  It seemed familiar.  Part of her dream, but surely it had been there before and inserted itself into her subconscious.  Likely dropped by one of the students, she thought.  Still, it was an odd thing, unaccountably heavy.  With a slight shrug, she set the cube on a pile of loose papers, determining that it would make for an excellent paper weight.

The End

Comments

  1. A Fan of Deduction says:

    marvelous ending, a bit like Doctor Who’s silent invasion episode

  2. A Wright says:

    **Standing up and applauding** Brava, Sabrina, brava!!

    –Alice

  3. Mary Beth says:

    Librarian as time-traveling superhero. Love it and thank you!!!!!

  4. I love it Sabrina! I’m so proud of you!!!

  5. Margaret W. says:

    I’m still chuckling! Loved it! And thank you to all librarians everywhere, past, present and future!

  6. Margaret W. says:

    PS And don’t forget the hard working library clerks and volunteers.

  7. Love it, love it, love it. Great story. Great adventure. Thank you. What fun!

  8. Thank you everyone for your kind comments throughout the story. I really appreciate it, and a huge thanks to Laurie for running the contest and her support of libraries. I received my books today and they look gorgeous on my shelves. I had no idea they were going to be first editions.

  9. This was a fantastic series- loved it! Well done, and well chosen. Thanks to all involved!

  10. That. Was. Amazing! And with that sort of time travel, I can pretend it’s happened to me!

  11. Excellent! Thanks so much!

  12. TheMadLibrarian says:

    I don’t think I could have spoken for our profession any better. Muchos mahalos!

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