Challenge #02069-E245: And in This LabyrinthsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  last year  (edited)


[All libraries are connected, including bookshelves in homes. This is why book lovers like to keep their books in darker and quiet places. They know that not all Travelers can handle light.] -- Anon Guest

There is an ancient chain of logic that leads to the inevitable. Knowledge is power. To know is to have an advantage, yes, but there is more than one form of power... Power can become mass. Play around with Einstein's famous equation and one can convert energy into matter. Mass creates gravity. This one is simple. Enough mass, and an object will pull in other things. Gravity bends spacetime.

This is why it's dangerous to go wandering unguided in the seemingly endless halls of the Archivaas. They have converted every scrap of possessable knowledge into assorted preservation formats and gathered it in one place. Those who insist on print formats live in labyrinths with addresses in the Dewey Decimal system. To fifteen places.

Absolute power may corrupt, but absolute knowledge is impossible. The Archivaas try, nevertheless. This young Archivaas has encountered a problem she's just learned about. There was an Ape in the stacks. A rather large Orang-utan. Knuckling his way peacefully between the shelves. He said, "Ook," but she somehow heard, I'm looking for a very good advice book on why it's a bad idea to do your own home maintenance.

Her trainers had spoken of this, but it had sounded a little bit... drop bears[1] to Acolyte Leaf. The concept that they had enough accrued knowledge in book form to warp reality sounded like a fairytale. Or, considering the known habits of them in the old stories, very much like a Faerie Tale. She also knew that those who needed help had to be helped or lost forever[2]. Therefore, she reverted to Customer Service. She put down her current ball of twine, tied to a well-known area closer to the surface, and produced a differently-coloured ball of twine that she tied off at a convenient hook. "Would you like easy reading, large print, or pictures for the slow-of-mind?"

"Ook," he said. All of the above, if possible, please.

Acolyte Leaf knew just the one. They still had several copies. "That would be The Big Book of Nasty Little Accidents. Right this way. Would you also like a copy of Everything You Really Need to Know About First Aid Right Now? It's hydrophobic."

"Ook." That was incredibly thoughtful. Yes. Thank you so much. Then he added, "Eek." I know bloody well that we're going to need it. The Archchancellor is ignoring everyone again.

Archchancellor. Wow. This Ape was from there. Acolyte Leaf repressed a squeak of glee. They were never going to believe this, back in the break room. On the other hand, maybe they might. Mind on the job. Mind on the-- oh good gravy, she was leading along the Librarian. From a whole different reality! She'd grown up on those stories - and many others - and had loved him with a passion when she was a child. She still had a plush Orang-utan from her childhood. Three-quarters loved to death[3], but she still had it.

She tied off at the relevant shelf and brought down each copy. Acolyte Leaf couldn't help herself. "I'm a big fan of the books you're in, sir. Is it possible? Can you... pass on my love to your... I mean. Can you give my regards to Sir Pratchett?"

"Ook," he said, patting her gently. There is a place he lives forever because so many know his name. I'll find a way to visit.

Her eyes were wet. "...'nk you."

She watched him knuckle off, books in hand, as if he had always known the way. Of course he did. He was the Librarian.

Acolyte Leaf saluted him, and rewound the twine all the way back to her former work.

[1] Ask your nearest Australian.
[2] They told stories about a skeleton someone had found, once. The giant owl was disturbing, too.
[3] Where all the fur has been patted off, one eye is irrevocably missing, the felt is gone to tatters, most of the stuffing is lumpy from too many times in the washing machine, and death is on the table if anyone suggests throwing it out.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / PinkBadger]

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