The library extended upwards into a gloom. The tall bookcases were rammed with volumes, the older ones heavy and leatherbound. The newer ones, colourful and paperback. Brass lamps shone onto the mahogany paneling. Chesterton sofas were scattered around.
There was no indication of night or day, for the building had no windows. Jeremy was alone here. How he got here he didn’t know. But the hollow, eerie echo-eyness of the place had a how would you say… a gravitas.
He stood up and looked around to absorb the place. A large station clock with the sun’s rays shining from it was on the ground floor. There was something not quite right about it though. He stared at it and then he realised, it was running in reverse. The second hand was moving backwards. The minute hand too.
He would normally find being in such a location a little intimidating or unsettling. But he had to accept that this was where he found himself for now, until he wasn’t
here. There was a hum of some air conditioning in the distance. He paced around the labarythine bookshelves.
He climbed the stairs in a wall and came out at the other levels, built in the same symetrical structure.
The dark brown wood and the golden brass put him at ease. This was built by gentlemen for gentlemen. He took a book out at random. He examined the spine and the front.
It had some markings, lines and squares and triangles and circles and combinations of these shapes. He opened it up and it was the same inside. It was no recognisable human language he’d seen before.
He took another book, examined it in the same way. And again it had the same markings, written in the same language he didn’t know. He repeated the process a couple more times before giving up.
What was there to do here? He slumped down on the floor and crossed his legs.
Then a book jumped off the shelf and into the sky rising into the heavens. This was very very strange. Oh well, he had to get on with it.
Then he looked across and another book flew up from a shelf below him. Gradually books were rising up into the gloomy roof.
A young man in a cream suit then came through from the stairs.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. The librarian see you now.”
The man pulled on an orange book on a shelf nearby and the shelf rotated. Jeremy followed the assistant and he found himself in a dining room in a conservatory-type building in a park. Old Victorian gaslights were shining around the edges and there was one elderly man sitting in the centre table. The rest of the restaurant was predictably empty.
“Cheesecake. I’ve never been a great lover of it. Would you care for mine and some coffee?”
“Coffee Jeeves, pronto!” he snapped his fingers.
The assistant started preparing coffee and tentative Jeremy sat silently taking in the place. It was night outside. Just silhouettes of trees stood against the sky of dull glowing orange.
The elder moved the plate of cheesecake across.
“So, what did you make of my library?”
“Your libary, oh yes, I liked it.” He hesitated. “But… it’s a little bit empty, isn’t it.” said the young man
“You’ll find that’s the case. It will always be fairly empty, only a few of you humans have access to it. But that will grow over time.”
The coffee cups were clinking on the linen now.
“Yes. You see all the information, all the knowledge, all the ideas of the universe are stored up here ready for you to read and explore and share.”
“You seem quite mistrustful and astonished. I’d have thought you would expect this by now.”
“Hmmm… this cheesecake is divine. What’s in it.”
“Raspberry and champagne. Fantastic little recipe from an accident in Marseille in 1922 that was scribbled down in a notebook that found it’s way back here. We’ve been
doing it ever since in the restaurant. Gets a little too familiar though”
“Ok – tell me about the library” said the young man melting in his seat.
“You see we have all these books, information – everything is stored up here. Lots of kids come and visit but when they start school, they gradually lose interest and then become bogglewarts. The few who keep their imagination in tact visit here quite regularly.
Because the bogglewarts are so bogged down in responsibilities and jobs and trying to impress people they don’t like — they need a little… how shall we say, a helping hand to remember the worthwhile things.
And so we enlist you, the imagineer to solve this problem. We’ll take things from here, ping it through the portal up there and then it’ll land in your head as a writer, musician, composer, artist – whatever you call yourself.
The young man sipped his coffee.
“Hmm… and what happens then?”
“Well you either use it or you don’t. It’s quite maddening when all these books keep going up there then they return unused. These ideas need to reach Earth while there still is an Earth to enjoy them.”
The young man finished the cheesecake and coffee, gestured to the waiter and went back to the library to find something that he wanted to take back with him.