The Telephone

By Michael Berry All Rights Reserved ©

Other

Chapter 10

To anyone else, the small simple looking library would be just like all other dead and deserted buildings in the city, tiny remnants of knowledge and literature of mankind slowly mouldering and rotting as time and decay slowly ate at them from within, being pettily guarded by a dead structure made of stone and brick. But, to Sarah Gaelock, it was her second home, before and after the war.

She stopped the car and switched off the engine, replacing the air around her with the unchanging and unfeeling emptiness and silence. She got out of the car and rested her back on its side, her eyes fixed on the library itself.
The library was very small, only around the size of two ordinary houses stuck together, with the roof of both cut off. Around the library was a small garden, more grass than flowers. Two small stalks that slowly grew into trees stuck out of the garden, surrounded by a tiny circular fence that protected it from being ripped apart by morons. Sarah looked at the trees with great pity. The fences seemed to choke the stalks, almost like it was preventing them from growing properly. She wanted to remove the fences and give something in this dead world some life, then she realised she didn’t have the proper tools, not even in the trunk. She made a mental note that she would return here one day and remove them.
She returned her sight to the Library, trying her best to see through the intense blackness of the windows and see inside, to see the piles of musty old books and remember her father silently walking through checking the books, his index finger stuck on his lip. Her chest ached as she thought of her father here, an extremely faint tear fell from her eye.
It was sad to see the place slowly collapsing into dust and misery with everything else, to see a big part of her memories and past disappear until she wondered whether they were ever there at all.
She breathed in a deep sigh and unhooked the plastic sheet from the back of the car. She removed the tape machine and a small selection of tapes and carried them down the narrow concrete path that led down to the main entrance. The front door opened stiffly, it creaked loudly, a sound similar to a childlike scream, as if it was crying out with happiness at receiving a living visitor.

The entrance was composed of two glass doors with a small space in-between where catalogues and tourist pamphlets were kept in small wooden boxes. The pamphlets and catalogues were scattered around the floor, now being blown about by the breeze that came in through the door. The wooden boxes were rotted beyond description, now lying in a miserable state of dust and a few small wooden pieces.
Sarah passed through the second entrance door and into the library itself. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply as the smell of leather and memory flooded back to her like a great ocean wave. She could almost step forward and into her own childhood. She could see herself sitting on the floor in the children’s section, swamped by books, her father carefully giving his keen eye to each individual book.
Sarah looked to where she imagined her father. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll make sure I won’t damage anything.”
She looked around the room carefully. Just in front of her was the reception, still holding together firmly, a faint trail of dust had settled at its base. The rest of the room went off to the left. The children’s section was first, then autobiographies, then crime, cookery, fiction, and the rest of the various genres. She looked at the worn and decayed objects that lay unmoved for years in large plastic shelves. No longer could they be called books, the things that had registered them as books now no longer existed, much like the things they contained. Great piles of dust gathered underneath the shelves, dust that was once riveting reading. The book like objects above teetered above, slowly awaiting the eventual and total destruction of the blazing destroying fire of the dust beneath.
Sarah shivered as she beheld these pathetic examples of human literature before her, she didn’t like to think what her father would think to see this.
She walked up to the reception and placed the tape machine on top, ensuring first to wipe the dust away before she did. She realised that their was no worry about plugging it in as it was battery powered. She placed the tape inside and switched on the play button. The dead and silent air was instantly swamped with the bizarre and unusual voices of the dead, slowly making their way through this graveyard representing human knowledge.
She stood beside the machine and held her hands behind her back. She looked to the reception and toward the small back room beyond, now filled with semi-darkness. She imagined her father’s silhouette in the doorway, looking at her disappointedly. She looked back at him with a questioned expression. “What,” she said aloud. “I’m not interrupting anybody, I’m just doing a little experiment.”
She turned her head away and looked back into the main building for a few minutes then back at the machine. She felt slightly disappointed at this experiment, yet not really knowing why she was here doing this at all.
Realising that this was pointless, she switched off the machine and took hold of it in her hand. She looked back at the interior of the library. “Sorry, dad,” she said disappointedly. “Guess I should have asked you first about this. Make sure you keep those books tidy for me.”
She walked out of the library, carefully making sure that the doors were shut securely. She saw a flittering shape suddenly in the breeze in the corner of her eye. A sudden voice sounded like church bells in her mind. Dad, you’re here! Her sudden excitement vanished as she realised that it was nothing but a torn rag of a shirt caught in one of the stalk trees. She walked over to it and ripped it hard from the stalk then let it blow down the street into the encroaching darkness. She watched it go then went to her car, she put the tape machine back under the plastic sheet and reattached the hooks. She sat in the drivers seat, switched on the engine and sped away, her eyes not once glancing at the library as it rushed past her in a great blur.

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