Skip navigation

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you my entry for Sonia M’s May writing challenge. I call it “Fiction or Non?” and it is based in part of a real experience. Enjoy.

“Things are not as they seem.”

That’s what the scrap of paper said, tucked inside of a book in the drop at the library where I work on the weekends. What did it mean?

Mind racing, I immediately thought of movies with like The Matrix, The Pagemaster, Dark City, even The Neverending Story. All dealt with things like this, but this was happening to ME, not some character on the big screen. I looked around, and realized that the hands on the clock behind my station weren’t moving. I glanced back to the paper in my hand. Still there.

“Things are not as they seem.”

Looking back up, I saw that the ladies I worked with were no longer there. Neither were the patrons or the security guards. Turning full circle, paper in hand, I realized that I was alone. “What the hell?” Never had the library been so still, even after hours. It was as though my world had stopped.

“Things are not as they seem.”

“Where did you come from?” I asked the paper. It was unlike any paper I’d ever seen, more like parchment. As if responding, the paper blew out of my hand on a non-existent breeze, wafting through the air toward the stacks. I followed, not knowing what else to do, and guessing that even if I tried, I would be unable to open the front doors. I followed the paper farther back than the library should have gone, passing new books, non-fiction, sci-fi, romance, and mystery, until the paper finally turned at row 55 (out of 43), and found myself in a chamber large enough to hold the entire facility of my library twenty times over. Mouth agape, I gazed upon the unending rows of shelves of tomes that no mortal eye had ever seen. I looked behind me for the path that I’d followed here, though I knew deep down that I wouldn’t see it. That world was long gone.

“Things are not as they seem.”

This time I heard the voice, an old woman’s voice, whispering all around me.

“What is this place?!”

“You have been chosen, young one. Guard this place, for it contains the knowledge of all worlds. Once I was young, but now my time has come. I pass my station to you.”

A rush of air hit me as the world seemed to come to life once more. My old clothes were gone. In their place were tunic, breeches, cloak, sandals. In my left hand was a simple staff, in my right, the scrap of paper that started all of this.

“Things are not as they seem.”

No, they’re not. They’re better. I have a new library, and I will guard it, and in time, I too will choose a successor. I will write the words in the great book of worlds, and they will make their way into the hands of a worthy guardian, the next librarian. It is my duty.

“Things are not as they seem.”


  1. What a brilliant idea…and what better way to spend a lifetime? BTW, you’re missing an “I” right before the “myself” in the 7th paragraph of the story, you referred to the paper turning but not you.

  2. Ah, nice try, but the relevant “I” is actually present at the beginning of that whole sentence. 😀

  3. Interesting…reminds me much of one of the stories in King’s “Everything’s Eventual” collection. I don’t remember which one; it’s a tone thing, though.

  4. That’s high praise, regardless. Thank you very much.

  5. I love it! I love the mystery and the dreamlike quality. And I definitely want to visit that library. 😀

    • Thanks! The image I had of it in my head was part Pagemaster and part Gene Wolfe’s Book of New Sun.

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Fiction or Non by Swords of the Ancients […]

  2. […] “Monsters Inc.”, and was a blast to write. Maybe I’ll tie it in to my May entry, “Fiction or Non?” just for kicks. Anyway, here […]

  3. By Listening « The Swords of the Ancients on 24 Jan 2012 at 11:55 pm

    […] The Aleph and Other Stories that I’ve been borrowing from V), this library is reminiscent of things that I’ve been writing about in the past, and it makes me very happy that I’ve been […]

  4. By Come Seek Me | The Swords of the Ancients on 03 Jan 2014 at 12:11 am

    […] while back, I posted a story that was inspired by a piece of paper I’d encountered in a returned book at the library. Last week, I found a similarly inspiring note scribbled on a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: