Return to The Books of The Dark Library

Book of Solitude

The door opened and she found herself staring into a deeper blackness than even the rest of the library held. The burning torch cast a flickering light in the corridor, but was consumed entirely in the blackness beyond the door. Nothing could be seen within the room except for a single book on a tall plinth. A column of light fell from high above, hitting the pages as they waved occasionally with a gentle breeze.

"What is it?" she whispered, the darkness seeming to swallow the sound of her own words as much as it stole away the light.

"This is the Book of Solitude," he said, holding the door open.

"Can I step inside?"

He nodded. "Of course. But there is only room for one person at a time."

She gave him a strange look as she turned to the blackness. It seemed to stretch away for miles. She carefully grasped the low doorframe and stepped through it.

He closed the door slowly behind her, his voice just penetrating the wood as he called out, "Mind where you step." With a soft thump the last of the torch light disappeared.

She stood beside the doorway a moment, staring into the gloom. A faint breeze came out of the darkness and gently ruffled her hair. "Mind where I step? But I can't even see the floor!" She squinted against the blackness, then took a tentative step forward.

Suddenly she felt her foot falling as she started to place her weight upon it, and she threw herself backward against the door. The heavy oak didn't budge as she leaned hard upon it. A couple of loose stones chattered lightly as they fell away, bouncing off other stones before disappearing into the void.

She looked down at her feet, more careful now of where she stepped. Her eyes had grown accustomed to the gloom, but still she could not see any floor. She peered hard, before realising the reason.

"Hey!" she called, "There's no floor in here!" When no answer came back to her, she knelt down and ran a hand across the space in front of her. Heavy stone slabs lay beneath her, extending just a short distance away from the door. After that... she swallowed nervously as she realised she was standing on a narrow stone column, with never-ending blackness extending downwards on either side and in front of her.

She looked up again, seeing the book in the distance. The white paper seemed almost to glow in the column of light, the pages taunting her as they moved slightly in an unfelt breeze. She strained to make out the text on the pages, but the distance deprived her of a decent view. She craned her neck a few times, but to no avail.

Looking around, she could see only blackness and the book. Another gust of cool air rose up from the floor, pushing her hair about before fading away. She sighed quietly, watching as the pages of the book waved at her in the distance.

She banged on the door and it opened slowly, allowing her to step through. She pushed the door shut behind her again.

"I don't get it. I mean... Okay, yes I do. The Book of Solitude, right? That's why you can't get to it. It's meant to be all alone."

His smile was soft despite the harsh shadows of the torchlight. "There is only so much that a book can teach you about solitude. To really learn about it, you must experience it. You must be alone..."

Her voice came quietly as she stared at the closed door. "... standing in a dark room, unable to see anything, unable to hear anything, unable to reach the only other object in the room..." She trailed off quickly.

He nodded slowly. "You learn fast. Maybe all this reading is good for you after all..."

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