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July 13, 2018

28. A History of Tomorrow

The building seemed placed in the environment from above—or grown from below. A brutalist, heavy structure with too few windows, occupying the entire city block. It’s concrete walls threatened in all it’s terror and beauty. No signs indicated the purpose of the structure.

As one approaches, solid glass double doors reveal the only entrance. Is it even marked? A foyer gives way to a seemingly endless ceiling. Walls covered in books, becoming the architecture and creating the space that exists to contain them. From floor to ceiling, immaculate but aged.

There is an ominous desk just inside the glass doors. A heavy oak desk that shrinks anyone sitting at it. A single individual occupies the desk. entire space at this hour. It’s late. It’s dark. He closes a book with a thud. Maybe dust puffs out of old pages but we are too far to tell. His radio clock says 12:01am.

An echoed noise resounds in the space. A different sound. Odd, a book has fallen off a shelf just around the corner from the librarian. No one is in the library but the librarian.

The librarian gets up from the giant table and becomes his natural size, the desk no longer diminishes him as he walks towards the book, the progenitor of the unprovoked noise. The leather bound piece lies open, face up on the carpeted floor. The librarian picks it up and inspects the open pages. He is unfamiliar with this book. But so many others are also a mystery: there are more books than a lifetime can consume. The book is immaculate despite a publication date almost a century earlier. A History of Tomorrow is typeset just above the date. The title is not repeated on the cover or spine. The book smells one hundred years old.

He replaces the book and locks up to leave. The strange concrete building is now a solid black box. The streets are choked with a fog that blankets the area. A block up the road a light rolls in on the street. The single light diverges: two lights, headlights. A matte black van, sleek.

Two men exit slowly and confidently. Both approach and accost him. Hooded and masked they are anonymous and efficient. No harm or violence really transpired but his hands are now zip tied behind his back. The men effortlessly pick him up and throw him into the sliding doors so he winces in pain, closes his eyes—all too late for a thudded impact.

Immediately reopening his eyes reveals the interior of the van is surreal and massive. His eyes adjust to the darkness in the unlit van.

The book. What did it say? asks a voice.

It was only then he realized the van was moving. But how? It seemed as large as his library. Was he in a van? Maybe in the melee he’d ended up in another building or room—no this was the van.

What book? he asked reluctantly.

You know the one. It showed itself to you. Tell me what it told you. The voice was clean and clear and beautiful. Her voice continued but turned into white noise. Maybe he was losing consciousness or maybe her voice was actually turning into sounds with no words.

What book! she mocked bitterly, her words pierced through the white noise.

She slammed a hand down on the armrest of the van. He startled at her power. Her back was to him, she faced forward in the passenger seat. An anonymous driver kept the car moving. All of the seats in the van had been removed; only the driver and passenger had a place to rest. Apparently the two men that loaded him in the van had disappeared.

If you’ve touched the book—if you’ve even just seen the book you will know. It calls, it beckons. You know! You know you know! She exhaled slowly.
She slammed her hand down again, more violently than before. He startled again, shaken. Awake. He opens his tired eyes. He is back in the library, asleep over an open book. He looks up, alone in the vacant enormity.

Suddenly a book falls off a shelf. White noise grows in volume from a broken radio, just off to the corner.

Published to stay on track with schedule but might rewrite this ending a bit.