Jun. 15th, 2011

mackknopf: (Books)
(Written in 2007, I dug this up while searching for something in my file archives.  Perhaps I'll post some more of my old fiction.  It might even inspire me to write poetry again, though I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not.)

****

Preface: This is not my dream. These are not my favorites. (At least, not all of them.) Perhaps they are yours, though. Won't you share?

Books on the Library in Hell


The tax code, of course, stretches across rows and rows of shelves, much as it does on the surface. The other law books have been removed, save for federal regulations and state codes. Case law is not allowed here, because the cases are always continued, dismissed, or appealed, and nothing of any substance is ever written down. The wily old judges do not allow it, nor do they let commentaries or form books on the premises. Lawyers must argue from memory by what they glean here, and can never rely on what they have been told before.

The Necronomicon is here, as is the contents of Stephen King's head, and even darker writers than those of the Providence eccentric or Uncle Steve. Baudelaire and Barker and Poe have a home here, but the words do not scare, only bore. No thrills can be found on these walls or in these pages. Every dream you ever dreamed that you didn't like, though, that woke you in sorrow or anger or fear, is here on the shelves, portrayed in unflinching accuracy and photorealistic pictures. Carefully absent are any ones whose whimsy you actually liked. The rows of books head towards infinity in any direction, halls echoing with the sounds of people who you cannot see, yet are there just beyond sight, walking through their own particular prisons.

The books you want the most, those you desire to own with a burning possession, are visible on the top shelf, no ladder in sight. These are the works of your favorite authors who died before they finished, the lost Hemingway manuscripts, the lyrics to the last Jim Morrison tunes, the ending to Charles Dickens and Patrick O'Brien's final efforts. Perhaps these are not your favorites? Yet they are. The titles are clearly visible. They spell out, in red binding and silver and black text, the name of their contents. Yet when you reach up to them, stretch as you may, they remain out of reach. Climbing the wooden racks is equally useless, because your arms tremble with weakness, and failing, you give up.

Perhaps the map room will do you better. These locked cabinets hold the geography, captured in parchment and vellum and other paper, of Narnia, Shangri-La, Wonderland, the Lost World. Somehow you know they also include notations that would lead you to the entrances, perhaps not out of Hell, but then why would you care? Unfortunately the key is lost, and you can only stare at the glass slats in frustration, a sliver of coastline visible here, an overhead view of Mount Doom visible there.

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