Viam Veritatis

Her fingers lightly glided along the covers. Some tattered, some tape-bound. A few, here and there, slick and uncreased from non-use. Like braille, she could tell each apart from a single touch.

Her library ensconsed her, filling rooms to the height she could reach. No piles, no stacks, everything neatly shelved, perfectly categorized to her preference.

Eyes closed, she hummed to herself, letting her fingers guide her. Past stories of romance, thrilling sea tales, down towards the far reaches of her collection. Frayed bindings tickled her fingertips, like the softest of feathers, pure down. Those were her favorites.

She performed a sort of dance, reaching up , trailing down to the floor. From the floor back up to her toes. A delicate ballet, led by the music of grand stories, fantasies, tall tales and sky-bound knights. Each case of books was a symphony in her mind, and she couldn’t help but laugh.

Through several rooms she wandered, letting her senses guide her. The smell of books, old and new, surrounded her like the finest of incense. Sun warmed wood softly creaked beneath her bare feet as dust motes danced around her.

Coming to a shaded room, where her darker fantasies lay sleeping in their oak-encased thrones, she paused. Her fingers trailed among them, then paused, lingering on a pebbled leather find. She knew her books like a mother knows her children, and this, this was not one of hers.

Soft grey-green eyes fluttered open. Her hand had stopped just above her sight, on a shelf barely within reach. Tightly wedged between paperbacks of a well loved author of science, the tall book put up a fight as she tried to pull it out. Finally, with a less than feminineΒ  grunt, she yanked, ducking her head as a cascade of stories fell down around her. Her green paisley sundress did little to protect her shoulders from the cascade of heavy books.

Peeking through a veil of walnut colored locks, she listened to the rustling of pages settling, anxious of another avalanche. Hearing only leaves settling, her gaze was caught by the book she held cradled against her chest.

“Viam Veritatis,” the title read, in glistening red letters on fawn colored leather. The pages were gold-leafed, she noted, turning the slim tome in her hands. No other writing could be found. No publisher’s stamp, nothing on the spine.

The book felt warm to the touch, though the room was dim and cool. Glancing around, she realized she was nervous, anxious. Never in her years here had she felt anything but calm and comfortable. Suddenly, an icy shiver gripped her. She clutched the book to her breast, backing up against the shelving. She could see the rooms beyond subtly dimming, as if clouds were passing outside. But the gloom remained, and deepened, growing closer till she felt swallowed by it.

Long moments passed in nearly pitch black. Her back ached from the shelves jammed into her back. The only sound now was a soft percussion of panting. Slowly, the shadows lifted. As the light grew brighter, her breathing slowed, recognizing her familiar surroundings. Covered in cold sweat, she glanced down at the book in her hands.

With trembling fingers, she opened the cover.

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