The Writers of the Universe
12. The Library
A cool breeze drifted off of the water and rolled into the lazy campsite along the beach. Six refugees had appeared in a flash of lightning and had moved little more than was necessary for the ensuing days. They simply laid on the beach, happy to be alive while they enjoyed the warm days and nights.
Jeremy had not a clue where they had landed, only that Noal said it would be safe at least for a little while. At the moment he did not care as he drifted into a mid-afternoon nap. His hands absentmindedly traced Saesha’s name tattooed on his chest. The scars had already healed remarkably well, but it looked like the remaining scar would always be a permanent reminder of this crazy adventure he was on.
The cool breeze that had comforted them on the picturesque beach suddenly switched directions and felt like a hot oven door that had been left open. The entire group felt the change in weather and sat up, unsure of what to expect.
“I’ve been thinking,” Saesha said first.
“Yeah, so have us all,” Cis chimed in.
“Right,” she continued. “I think we need a new plan of attack. We can’t rely on stumbling around the universe hoping to run into people who will aid us. There just isn’t enough time and I think it would be wise to go on the offensive. We have a chance to strike now while Radfewx is still regaining strength.”
“Agreed,” Noal and Tal-sen answered at the same time and in the same type of voice so that their agreement sounded like an echo.
“Then what should we do?” Jeremy asked looking around at each member, hoping for some insight. None appeared to come forward.
“We need to screw with them,” Mai said in a sudden outburst that made the entire group jump in surprise.
Jeremy chuckled as he recovered from the initial shock of Mai being loud and asked. “Why and how?”
“Well…It would be unexpected,” she offered simply.
“Damn! Girl’s right,” Cis agreed with a fist pump. “When we were back in your apartment, everyone was saying to use your imagination and that’s exactly what we haven’t done. They’ve already got everything calculated and quantified. We need to do something batshit insane. Something they never expect.”
The group nodded in agreement as everyone leaned in thinking of ideas. Tal-sen was the first to vocally announce an idea, “We go back to their world.”
“That’s insane. No it’s too big of a risk,” Jeremy shut down the idea.
Saesha agreed with Tal-sen, “I think we could do it. Tal-sen hid for a long time and wasn’t Noal camping out in between all those towers between the time he gave you the quill and you came to rescue me, the first time.”
“Everything is so orderly and built on laws and oaths of conduct that no police or anything is needed. I had no fear of being discovered, except by accident,” Noal added.
“But what then, so we find a dark crevice to hide in and then what do we actually do to stop them,” Jeremy raised an argument.
Noal was the one to have an answer for him. “There is a place in our world called the vaults. It is a library of sorts where we put all our writings after the story has been ended. You will also find our prognosticators there. They are the ones who determine the important events that must happen for each person. It is our most secret place and near enough to a temple of worship for my people. If you really want to change things up, we go there and find out the truth as to why they have marked you as an enemy.”
Jeremy already knew that he had lost the argument to the group but that didn’t make him feel any less apprehensive about walking right into the proverbial lion’s mouth and practically offering themselves up as food. “When I was under his mind games, I think he ended up telling me more than he intended. He talked all about the very first world and universe your people created. He said that he thought I was the reincarnation of the person who had started the war that ended with the total destruction of that planet.”
“The Lord of Chaos. It is a legend and I believe mostly a fib that we tell ourselves in order to justify the wrong we are doing. But if you go to the vaults you will be able to learn the truth about this matter. We will all be able to learn why we are here. I feel that it is far less than random happenstance at this point.”
“That’s what Tal-sen called me the first time we met,” Jeremy interrupted and then promptly turned silent again.
“My people have dreams at night about a person in the future that will end our endless cycle of regeneration. Many people in our culture suspect it will bring the end, like I said before, a breaker of history. I’ve always held the strange belief that my people need something like that. We are sick and twisted both on the outside and inside. If the same name in two different worlds mean roughly the same thing, then we have to act like it is for real and work accordingly. It is more than random.” Saesha championed.
“We will know more if we go to these vaults,” Mai nodded in agreement.
“Tomorrow then, we will set out and get some answer,.” Jeremy agreed with a heavy heart. He did not want to put this ragtag group back into danger quite so soon, but he knew that he had no choice. If they were to ever figure out why Radfewx had decided Jeremy was an enemy then they would have to seek whatever answers lay in those vaults.
The next day came much faster than Jeremy had intended it too. Being unable to relax after deciding their course of action, Jeremy felt less than ready to begin their next adventure. As briefly and suddenly as they had arrived on the beach, they disappeared and landed in the labyrinth of reaching towers. Noal then had them all hold onto one of the towers so that it could transport them to one close to the vault. In less than the span of ten minutes, they had transported themselves from a calm relaxing beach to the heart of the enemy.
They stood at the edge of the towers, below them stretched out a city full of lights that Jeremy quickly realized were part of the same structure. The entire city was but one super building that had been expanded numerous time over millennia. Like the ancient cities of earth, with their pyramids, castles, and sphinxes, the structure stood as one compound stretching as far as the eye could see. The forest of towers behind them, that had once felt strange and unnerving, had become something of a safety net. Jeremy wanted to resist stepping out from under their deep shadows but followed the group as he could find no argument that would halt their progress.
“How do we get in?” Jeremy whispered with great caution.
“I’m not too sure. They don’t allow us, regular writers, to enter. Only directors and above can enter the vaults,” Noal mentioned.
“Awesome,” Cis said sarcastically.
“Try the window,” Tal-sen suggested by pointing towards the nearest flash of light. They all silently followed Tal-sen to the window he had suggested. But as they drew closer, the height of the window grew and grew so far that they would have needed to stand on top of three Noals in order to peer inside.
With the window out of the question, they followed the side of the building hoping to find some way into the vault. They walked for miles until they reached the front gate of the vault. So far it looked to be the only way inside the gigantic structure.
A row of green hedges ran alongside a wide road that ended at the gate blocking their entrance. They slid between shadows, jumping from hedge to hedge, as they marched towards the great white gate. Noal stopped the group one hedge short from the entrance. He looked very worried as he addressed the group.
“I believe we have to request that the doors be opened. Obviously, we do not have permission and they are not expecting any arrivals. We would know if they were as the flags would be raised for a welcome. Now at present, there are two ways in. We climb that bloody fence or we ask very politely and hope to whichever deity we taught you to believe in that they do not take our heads just as a precaution. Remember, though they have lax security this is our most important place so they do not take threats lightly.”
Jeremy looked at everyone, attempting to gauge their slim choices. They all stared back at him, waiting for his decision. Cursing silently, he stepped forward. “They shouldn’t have any reason to suspect us. We can just tell them we are travelers here on a pilgrimage.”
Noal pulled at his face, trying to think about the situation and evaluate if this was the best course of action. “Yes, I think we should be forward and not attempt to sneak in. But I think instead of posing as pilgrims from afar we should tell them the truth. We are here to seek knowledge, something they value much more than sentiment.”
“Let’s do it. You lead the way,” Jeremy clapped Noal on the back.
“Woohoo! Let’s go die,” Cis whispered in fake excitement as he brought up the rear of the group as they stepped onto the wide road.
Noal raised his head and shouted up to the gate as if it was actively listening, “Hello, we 6 are travelers from afar. We seek to study the knowledge within the vault. Will you grant us passage into your embrace of study and allow us to gaze upon the treasure of our people.”
The rest of the group stood perfectly still as Noal finished his request. Barely a breath was released as they waited for some indication one way or another.
“I think we’re good,” Noal broke the silence just as a small doorway appeared in the center of the large gate. It seemed even more anti-climactic as a small four-foot creature shuffled out of the new opening. The creature looked mostly the same as Noal, just two scale models smaller.
“I will lead you in,” Croaked the creature. “You may call me Moretz. I have been assigned to assist you in your search for knowledge. Would you prefer rest or that I lead you straight to the repository of your choice.”
Everyone turned to look at Noal, as they had no idea how to respond to the courtly little fellow. “Please, Moretz, my students and I would enjoy it if you showed us to the Universe 84, subversion 10, Branch C, Earth. That is where we will begin our study.”
“At once,” Moretz bowed and ushered them into the gate. “I can tell it has been many times since you last visited. We merged all branches of the Earth vault nearly two decades ago. It was becoming unstable and unmanageable. But now we have it on a regular cycle and full steam ahead.”
The small creature laughed as if everyone in the group should understand his strange joke. “Well, then, follow me. Since we are going all the way over there, your accommodations are on the way.”
Jeremy was just worrying that they would have to walk for miles and miles in the great building but was thankful as an unmanned floating cart raced towards them. They all cautiously boarded the platform, careful to mind the always smiling Moretz who seemed to be permanently cheerful. Once all were aboard, the creature clapped its hands and the platform shot away into the twisting passages of the building. Jeremy tried to keep track of voyage but quickly lost track as they snaked their way in and out of places so fast that they all appeared as blurs.
A jolt almost spilled them out of the nimble cart as they stopped abruptly at a crossway of sorts. “Through that doorway is the repository of earthly histories. To my left, the green entrance is your place of stay while you study. If you need anything, I shall be but a holler away.”
“Holla!” Cis cheered inappropriately while ducking behind Jeremy and causing Moretz to twist dramatically in circles searching for someone to assist.
Saesha rolled her eyes and thanked the confused creature, “We’ll take it from here, Moretz.”
“Oh, well, you are most welcome. The vault is open to all who wish to study. May I query you on the subject of your sabbatical. I may be able to put you in contact with those more knowledgeable on a certain subject.”
“That will be all,” Noal cut in, neither rudely nor in a gentle manner, just abruptly.
“As you are,” Moretz bowed with an air of indignation, his gracious smile quickly disappeared before zooming off around a tight corner on his cart.
“We shouldn’t say more than necessary. He might not have been a bother, but there are many deep shadows and places for voices to carry to ears that may not wish us success on our mission,” Noal whispered under his breath to those closest to him.
One by one they followed Noal into the first door Moretz had pointed them to. Practically on their tip toes, they wandered up past floor after floor of shelves with dusty books on them. At first, Jeremy had been amazed and dumbfounded at the sheer number of stories that stacked from floor to ceiling. He soon became distraught as the sheer number of lives being controlled and influenced by the writers became overwhelming and beyond a count that Jeremy could understand.
“There’s so many here, each one a different person’s life. I mean I realized what they were doing was on a scale beyond anything I could ever believe, but once you see the sheer size of just one book and then multiply that by 7 billion people and multiple that by the innumerable worlds and universes you have made, it is simply unbelievable.” Jeremy said as he carefully picked up a book that instantly disintegrated into dust at his touch.
“Yes and you’re damaging the structure of the place,” Noal scolded. He had become very solemn and distant since entering the repository, refusing to so much as open his mouth when confronted by a creature that could have passed as Moretz twin. The rest of the group had been left to deal with making up plausible reasons why they would be interested in the Earth’s repository.
Jeremy, a tad red-faced, quickly returned the remaining bits of the book to its former resting place before following everyone up the next flight of stairs to another level filled with even more books than he had ever knew could exist.
The books on this level were much newer, their bindings were all intact and the pages in the books were still white, instead of the aged yellow color that many of the books below had ripened into. The room was structured in rings that at first stretched what seemed like miles in diameter and slowly got smaller as they walked towards the center of the room.
“This room is weird,” Cis muttered to Jeremy.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I feel like something very strange is about to pop out at us.”
“Nah, that’s not quite what I’m feeling. It’s almost like this room is movin’ or something.”
“Yes. That’s correct,” Noal said, listening in on their conversation. “To compensate for the ever expanding knowledge that is your race we had to encase it with a room that could grow equally as fast. The room is always growing outward as new rows in the center are born and filled with the life works of many a man.”
“So it’s a timeline?” Saesha asked.
“Yes, well sort of,” Noal stuttered for a while failing to find the correct way to phrase words that did not have a direct meaning in the spoken English they were using. “Let’s say that yes, but not in a way that would make sense to anyone who isn’t a writer.”
Saesha shook her long hair in frustration as she picked up a book and flipped it open. “Uke Maye, the First moon of harvest 3260 B.C.”
“Holy crap, that’s a long time ago,” shouted Cis.
“Yeah, we must be a long way from modern day,” agreed Jeremy.
Noal requested the book from Saesha and turned to another page. “Come here, Jeremy. Let me show you how the art and the science of the quill, the writer, and the page all work together.”
Setting the book on the ground, Noal sat cross-legged in front of the book and motioned for Jeremy to take a seat opposite him. The rest of the group crowded around them, intent to learn. Out of the folds of his robes, Noal pulled out his own silver quill.
“In order to not do any damage to this pristine story, we shall flip to the end. There is normally always pages left unwritten,” Noal spoke in a professorial manner while carefully turning the 5,000-year-old pages to the end of the book. “Jeremy, I want you to place the tip of your quill on the end of the last sentence.”
The book was rotated so that it faced Jeremy. For some reason, he felt an enormous deal of importance weighting on this moment. His eyes couldn’t help but read the last sentence as he placed the quill on the spot Noal had instructed. A flash in the dark and Uke fell to the ground, a blade of ivory bone, striking her in the back.
Jeremy wanted to scream because at the moment his quill touched the end of the last squiggle on the page, he was there. Feeling every thought and pain right alongside the young woman who had just been struck in the back by a knife. He coughed as the sensation of blood flooding his mouth overcame him. As the pain and darkness grew closer, a voice found him in the mix of the turmoil. It was Noal, telling him to move his wrist.
“You have entered this person’s story. You must continue it at all costs, for if you don’t you too shall pass away from this tragedy. A writer lives and dies by their words, each one must mean something.”
Jeremy struggled with all his might. His head was flooded with pain, too much to form sentences and paragraphs. Gasping at the wretched hole, seething with pain, he was struck with but one thought. I can change the ending.
Like a dam bursting after holding back the winter melt, the words flowed through Jeremy and out of his quill. Uke struggled. The pain was severe, but it would not overcome her. A healer happened to be walking by in the streets and noticed her agony. His hands worked quick, healing Uke, mending the torn skin.
Jeremy let out a deep breath as he felt the pain subside and Noal came into focus. They were both writing on the page at the same time. The wizardly giant asked, “What have you learned from this?”
“Is that how it always feels when you write?” Jeremy asked.
Noal nodded solemnly, “It’s true; every cut, bruise, and scrape we feel along with the person we are writing for.”
“Then how come you can live with yourself while inflicting so much pain on me?” Jeremy erupted. The memories of all the times Jeremy was left alone, or hurt in so many unimaginable ways and it was all Noal’s handwriting that had put it into action.
“That’s why I had to break the cycle. I couldn’t go through with it anymore. You have to believe me, Jeremy. They came and asked me to..to make you suffer. Why I never knew, but I just couldn’t write the words they whispered into my ear. Your pain had already been shed so many times and now they wanted to just go forward and blatantly torture you. There was no art or reason in the universe that I could imagine why they wanted to hurt you so badly. It was just blind hatred as far as I could see.”
Jeremy could see that the giant creature was sincere in his remorse for his actions. But that did not take away all the years of struggling that Jeremy was forced to endure due to Noal’s influence on his life. “You really went through all of that pain with me.”
Noal cracked a ragged smile, “And I deserved six times as more.”
Deciding to feel compassion, instead of hate, Jeremy smiled back at his strange new friend. “How do we get out of here?”
“Simple, be sure to follow anything you have added with – the end. Without doing that the story will continue without a narrative resolution. If even one story were to be left unfinished, it could unravel the entire history of your universe. Now let’s set this one back to the original ending. I worry that our meddling could affect other future events that we are not privy to.” Noal said as he crossed out Jeremy’s newly written lines and ended the story with Uke’s violent death.
All eyes in the circle around Jeremy stared at him waiting for him to speak. Hesitantly, and without much more than a solid grasp of the concept, Jeremy announced, “I…have a plan.”
“What is it?” they all asked in unison. Jeremy noticed the frowned look on Noal’s face but dismissed it quickly.
“We need answers. Or at least I need answers. We need to find my book. That will explain why they’ve specifically targeted me all my life, even before I could possibly have been a threat to them. The answers have to be there.”
“You can’t,” Noal blurted, but Jeremy was already up and jogging further into the orbiting rings of bookshelves. Cursing Noal followed behind the party, fearful of what Jeremy might try to do with the information he gave him.
Jeremy continued running in the same direction for at least a mile before slowing down to catch his breath. Huffing and puffing from his exertion, he gazed down the hallway. It seemed to never end like a mirror reflecting another mirror.
“Where are we?” Saesha coughed.
“It’s not where, but when, are we,” Mai rightfully corrected and pulled a random book from the shelf. “1752.”
“Come on,” Jeremy urged as he continued forward but at a much more regular pace.
Another hour of forward progress passed before they reached the modern era in Earth’s timeline.
“How do we find me?” Jeremy asked the entire group. “It’s not alphabetical, and I don’t really have a legitimate last name either.”
“It’s by birthdate,” Cis realized. “Do you know what day you were born?”
“I know it was February 1990. But the exact day is fuzzy.”
“I wonder how many Jeremy’s were born in February of that year?” Saesha stated the question everyone else was thinking.
It was at that moment Noal finally caught up to them. “I tried telling you. You can’t.”
“Why not? This is my chance to get some real answers,” Jeremy defended his plan.
“If you open that book, that I so carefully ended so that you could be free from us. If you open that book, I think, and I’d really like not too, many things would be answered but the temptation to change and edit would be too great. I have no idea what would happen if you started writing your own timeline. It could be great, or it could lead to disaster for everything. Always remember the words, As it is written, so shall it come to pass,” he concluded.
“Then I’ll write on his behalf,” Saesha reacted proudly.
“I still don’t think it will be possible,” Noal continued. “Radfewx will most likely already have your story in his hands. There is no way he would leave something that important to public knowledge. I tried hiding it before I ran, but I am sure he has discovered its location by now. At best we could find your parents.”
“Yes,” Jeremy responded in a way that stopped Noal from making any more excuses. “Show me where my parent’s stories are held.”
Noal looked deep into Jeremy’s eyes, trying to gauge his intent, but knew that his moment to make Jeremy listen had passed. It was now up to Jeremy to decide his own path. Noal turned and led them along the outer edge of one of the many rings.
The group walked in silence. They were all nervous and had different reasons to be apprehensive of what might be found in Jeremy’s heritage.
As if he had done this every day, Noal reached out without so much as a sidelong glance and grabbed a novel as thick as his two forearms and continued on. Another 50 yards and his other set of arms reached up to a high shelf and brought down another volume, nearly the same size. Both volumes looked to be easily twice as thick as most other books in the library. Noal turned to Jeremy and formally presented them to him. “My boy, these are the collective works and full account of your parent’s lives. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Brad Tierney.”
Jeremy felt the weight in his hands, but his arms were shaking so badly that he nearly dropped them on the ground.
“Why don’t you settle down for a minute before you open those up,” Cis suggested kindly.
Kneeling down, Jeremy set the books on the ground and took a deep breath. Before him lay the two people he spent years and years dreaming about, thinking that he would never know and yet here he was, with every letter and word that mattered was in those books. Jeremy wanted to cry as he pinched the front cover of his mother’s biography and turned to the first page.
Ellen Carpenter Brown was born June 17, 1971, a warm and breezy day.
Jeremy jumped over to his father’s book and opened it.
Brad David Tierney, was born December 18, 1970, a cold and snowy night.
“So these were my parents.” Jeremy sat back for a moment. “It’s weird I always thought that the moment I heard their names that I would just know that it was them. But instead, these are just two people that I’ve never met or heard of before.”
“Take as long as you need. We’re all here to help you.” Saesha rubbed his shoulder, while he turned to the middle of his mother’s book.
Next Chapter – The Writers of the Universe – 13. My History
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2014 © Stew Stunes