His eyes opened slowly, his head throbbed with pain and the light shinning down in his barely open eyes burnt them closed again. Robert rolled onto his side and tried open eyes again, he could see the legs of the large leather arm chair, the foot of the table his coffee had sat on, lifting his head a little, he recognized the library at once and sighed deeply, he felt sick, wasted and tired.
It took a few moments before he remembered why he felt so bad. Robert picked himself up and sat back down in the chair, the book was gone. It was actually gone? He searched the floor, got back up and checked the chair, nothing? He rubbed his head, the pain was beginning to subside,
"What the hell was in that book?!", he moaned to the room, the "Moon" had returned to being full and bright, the room back to its cozy warm atmosphere. Robert looked down at the table at his side, the half drunk coffee had probably gone stone cold, he had no idea how long he'd been, where ever he had been? He didn't care, he picked up the coffee and drained the cup in one gulp. That was better, his head felt clearer.
Replacing the cup on its saucer, he saw the small gold bell, someone had been in the library, someone had taken that book, someone had walked right over him to collect it and completely ignored him! He rang the bell as hard as its tiny pin could take, it really wasn't loud. Robert stared at the last place he had seen Woods, waiting. Sometime passed and Robert started becoming impatient, he looked back at the bell, it really was tiny and the room was so vast and the walls of books so dense, how could anyone hear it.
"No one will come while you are looking", Woods departing words to him,
"Ok", Robert said to no one in particular, "well do it your way", he closed his eyes and rang the bell again,
"Are you gonna ring that thing all day?", asked an irritated female voice he recognized as Eclipse. He opened his eyes and there she stood, dressed in a long dark blue dress with a black shawl draped over her shoulders, she was standing exactly where he had last seen Woods.
"Well i wasn't sure anyone could hear me", he replied coldly,
"Hear you?? You nearly took out every window in the Hospital!",
Robert looked down at the bell again, "Really??", then he remembered why he'd wanted to get someone into the room,
"Who took the book?", he asked her
"No one", she replied flatly,
"Don't be stupid, someone must have taken it, books don't just vanish do they?", he wasn't really asking, just trying to provoke a response.
"Actually yes", she answered, "they do", he stared at her questioningly, they must really think him a fool.
"Well are you coming? The Professor wanted to see you as soon as you'd finished", she giggled, "reading?", he moved towards her,
"Don't forget your cup!", she said happily, teasing him, trying to provoke her own response.
Robert turned back to the table to retrieve his cup and saucer, when he looked back, an entire wall of books was gone and double doors leading out of the library had appeared.
"Where the fu...!?!", his words trailed off as she opened one side of the doors and stepped out into the greeting area.
Following her out, he took one last look into the room, the "Moon" was growing dim again, he guessed it was sensitive the presence of people in the room, then rethought, no, the activity in the room, it had dimmed once he had sat down, lighting only his tiny portion of the room in order for him to read without visual distraction, impressive!
Moving through the greeting room, Robert took the time to go over to one of the four, he now counted, glass boxes, like the one in the library. Inside was another giant, old, wood bound book baring he same legend,
Journal of the LOM: vol 2
for one and one alone
The same bright gold lettering, the same strange image of a cloudy planet, except, this books planet was clearer, less faded, still a book older than anything he had ever seen, but not as old as the one he had just read,
"Well, coming or what!?", snapped Eclipse, she was standing at the top of the stairs, holding onto the rail of the left hand balcony and staring down at him, she really did not seem happy to being kept waiting by him. Robert turned away from the glass case and its contents and began moving up the stairs, he had noticed earlier, but the stairs were carpeted in brightest blue and gold, at the halfway mark, a small recess the branched off into two smaller stair cases leading to the balconies, was a large gold emblem of the L O M legend.
He took the left hand staircase and made his way up to her, Eclipse spun on her heels turning her back on him rand started walking towards the nearest door. Robert stopped, he had just realized something,
"I don't suppose I could be allowed clothes!?!?", he asked sardonically,
Eclipse stopped again, she did not turn round, "No", was her simple response. He wanted to push the subject, wanted to push her, see how much she could take, but something was holding him back. Eclipse opened the door and stood aside, he watched her, "He doesn't want to see me!", she said exasperated,
"Well aren't I the lucky one", he replied dryly.
Robert took one last look at Eclipse and walked into the room. The door slammed shut behind him, inside he could make out another "Moon" illuminating the room, it was an office, large oak desk with small comfortable looking chairs and a sofa around it. The walls were adorned with books and paintings, the paintings depicted ages past, one seemed vaguely familiar, he moved closer towards it. The picture showed a township some three or four hundred years ago, large wooden and thatched covered buildings stood in the back ground and in the fore ground was a large market, carts of straw, a water fountain with a statue of a girl, holding her arms out in front of her. Robert stared at the statue..."was it?".
Casting his eye over the rest of the painting, he saw amongst the painted townsfolk, a figure in a long blue dress, a woman. Its was hard to tell because of the way the painter had "smudged" his work, but he was fairly sure she was blonde, something sank in his chest, Robert stepped back from the painting, "what the hell was THAT?", he asked himself inside his head,
"Something wrong?" asked a mildly interested voice from behind Robert. Woods was sitting in the chair behind the desk, Robert was sure he had not been a moment ago, but had just about given up on ever understanding any of what was happening. He crossed the room and stood in front of the desk, the gray gown he was still wearing making him feel like a naughty orphan reporting to the master of a work house, he half wanted to look round for a cane!
"Sit", instructed Woods, Robert sat down in the nearest chair, it really was comfortable.
"Can i offer you more coffee?", Roberts first reaction was to jump at the chance, he still felt very disorientated, the painting on the wall hadn't helped. but instead, he responded coldly,
"No, couldn't I have some clothes instead?", Woods smiled at him,
"No, not just yet, first I think it is important to stress this point quite firmly", he lent forward over the desk to look Robert directly into the eyes and said very quietly and very sternly, his eyes narrowing behind thin wire rimmed glasses,
"You have no power, no control, no influence and no minions here, you are a prisoner, Robert, and there is nothing you can do about it!", then sharply and cheerfully, "Understood?!, Yes?, Good!".
Robert hadn't actually answered, but thought, for the first time in over 15 years, that he should shut up and do as he was told.
"Do as your told!?!?!?", his brain screamed out, "What the hell is WRONG with you!!??", he shook his head, what was wrong with him?
"So!", Woods brought him back to the room, "Coffee?".
After several minutes of just staring at each other across the desk, the young man Robert had first seen outside his cell, arrived at the office door with a tray carrying a coffee pot, milk, sugar and two cups.
"Ah coffee!", announced Woods, "Thank you Wolf, please just leave it on the desk, err, have you met our new "guest"?", Wolf turned and smiled at Robert,
"Oh yeah Professor, We've met!", he winked at Robert then made his way out of the office, closing the solid wooden door behind him.
"You know.." Robert started, "for a Hospital, this place bares remarkable resemblance to a Museum", it wasn't a question. Woods considered him for a moment before replying,
"No reason it should look like a Hospital", his voice was serious, but with an air of fun, he was enjoying himself,
"But i can assure you, it is", he took a sip of coffee, "There haven't been any medical patients here for over seventy years, but as far as the basic function this house was built for, it is very much still a Hospital!". Robert's eyes never left Woods, he crossed his legs, trying to tuck the hem of his gown between his legs while maintaining a cold and cool demeanor . Woods smiled again, he really was enjoying making Robert feel powerless.
"Look did you really just ask me here for coffee?", Roberts patience was wearing thin,
"Be quiet", responded Woods, "Robert, there are rules to your staying here",
"Well thats absolutely fine as i don't actually want to stay here!", retorted Robert,
"I said be quiet!", Woods voice never broke tone, he never raised or lowered his voice, he never broke eye contact and he never flinched at Roberts obvious attempts to annoy him.
"While you stay in the house," continued Woods, "you will live by the rules i set forth, first there is to be no speaking without being asked a question first,
secondly, you will not leave the three rooms you have already seen, your cell, the greeting room and the library, where you will continue with your "Lessons", such as they are", he picked his coffee back up and took another sip, Robert wanted to take his, but at this point he was becoming a little concerned about the man sitting across from him, was he really crazy enough to expect him to live like this?
"However, the length of time you spend living like this is completely up to you, if you wish, there ways to earn certain luxuries back, such as clothes, freedom of speech and son on", Woods stared at Robert, waiting for his patience to run out and for him to snap back or even loose his temper!
"You must have questions" , Woods continued, "You may ask them, one at a time", Robert never broke face, his eyes still steely gray, his usually slick back ebony hair was hanging in his eyes, he pushed the strand aside,
"How?", was his only response,
"How?...What?", replied Woods although he knew exactly what Robert meant.
"How do i earn luxuries back?", his voice was so calm, "must be driving the old fool mad", he thought to himself,
"We will get to that later, first I wish to know what you thought of the book i gave you, was it interesting to read?",
"Read?", asked Robert "Read?? You honestly call that READING?!", his voice rising a little at the end,
"It was not reading?", asked Woods,
"Well you gave me the fu...the stupid thing! You must know what happened!?",
"I haven't the foggiest!", Woods almost laughed, "Didn't you read the front, for one and one alone?",
"So you mean to tell me...", Robert began,
"I mean to tell you that I have no idea what was in that book, although I've always had theories, but until your arrival, I've never been able to open their boxes!", Woods finished.
"Gold coins not working?", Robert asked cleverly, he was curious,
"Indeed", smiled Woods,
Robert sat back in his chair, Woods really wasn't stupid and obviously had no intension of giving him anymore information than he deemed important, he took another look round the room. On the walls on either side of the room were yet more shelves of books, these all seemed older than the ones he'd seen in the library, probably the most valuable. Behind the desk on the wall, was a huge flag, spread out flat against the wall, it was electric blue and bared the legend L O M in large gold letters.
"So..", started Robert, "Do you want me to tell you what was in the book?",
"No", replied Woods,
"No!", said Robert catching up, "Because if you wanted to know what was in the book you would have just asked me, no, what you said is 'was it interesting to read', didn't you", Woods smiled wider;
"Yes, I did, the books weren't meant for anyone else, you and you alone are granted access to their "teachings", by now I'm sure your asking, 'why me?', and once again I must confess i do not know, however, i do know one thing!", Woods reached down to one of his desk draws and pulled out what looked like a dirty old rag incased between two sheets of glass,
"This parchment, was written two thousand years ago in Hebrew, it has been in my keep for the past forty years!", he held the glass plaque up for Robert to see, the scrawled print he could not read, it wasn't especially elaborate or decorated, nothing but a few short sentences.
"It reads," , began Woods, tilting his head up to see the parchment better through his glasses, although Robert felt sure he knew the thing off by heart in Hebrew or English,
"and this is a rough translation,
The Journals are the key, they will save the world
They are only meant for one and he is the conduit
Read the Six
The Shadows are here
and thats all it reads", finished Woods.
Robert just stared at the words on the parchment as if lost in a trance, as if he could read those final four words, 'The shadows are coming' , he could feel the heat of fire on his skin, hear the sounds of roaring and howling, he could see the dark shape floating towards him.
"Are you alright?", asked Woods, Robert had gone a ghostly shade of white, "You've turned quiet pale you know!?", he actually did sound concerned,
"Fine!", Robert lied, "I'm fine, maybe if you fed me?", keeping up this image of cool and collected was costing him strength, what was WRONG with him!
"Very well then", Woods continued, "What is the first thing you can tell me about this message?", he asked as if happily teaching a class,
Robert sighed, he was in no mood for guessing games,
"I don't know, it's in Hebrew?", he replied lamely,
"You knew that when i started reading it!", replied Woods, a touch more harshly than before, "No, I mean what does this message imply?",
Robert thought before answering, his head felt a tad clearer, then it hit him, "Its to old?!", he exclaimed,
"The book you gave me couldn't have been more than, what? Six? Seven hundred years old? This parchment is two thousand years old, so you say, so how is that possible? I mean how could they have known about these journals?",
"Well done", Woods didn't actually seem that impressed, but it was fairly obvious, "Anything else?",
Woods thought again, he started picturing the journals in his head, the one in the library, the four in the greeting room, but that was only five? He searched the room again with his eyes, was it in here? Was Woods really going to make he read another one so soon? But he saw no sign of a book like the others or a glass case anywhere.
"There are only five", he said, actually sounding curious, "Wheres the sixth one?",
"Again I see you really are as observant as your file suggests, the location of the sixth journal is one of the things I wish you to consider while you read the remaining four, until you have finished them, you have no other purpose here, do I make myself clear, Robert?", Robert considered him for a moment, then nodded curtly,
"And please don't forget what I've told you, this Hospital is quite secure, you are staying and there is nothing you can do about that!". Robert got up to leave when something he had wanted to ask came to him, he turned back to Woods and was about to ask, when he remembered what Woods had said about speaking. After at least two minutes of ignorance as Woods poured over some papers on his desk, he looked up and simply said,
"Who took the book from the library?", Robert stared sown at him, cold and hard,
"No one took the book, has it gone?", replied Woods now deeply interested,
"Yes, when I WOKE UP!", he said pointedly, "I couldn't find it, I can't believe someone would just leave me laying there!",
"They would not have", Woods answered, "Everyone is under strict instructions that you are NOT to be harmed!", that really raised questions in Roberts mind but knew this would not be the time to try to ask more questions,
"So the book disappeared, very interesting, well i suppose it would if it had no more purpose, no one else would ever read it?", Woods seemed to become lost in his thoughts, Robert turned to leave again,
"I think you'll find Eclipse is waiting outside to escort you back to your cell, try not to upset her, for your own sake", again so calmly spoken, Robert turned back, he had to ask why he should fear a tiny, thin girl like her, but Woods had turned his back on the room, obviously still deep in theory on disappearing books.
Outside the room, Eclipse was indeed waiting for him, their eyes met as he stepped out and closed the door, she didn't speak and he wasn't allowed, she was so beautiful, he just stared at her,
"So he ACTUALLY did it!", she stated so he could not respond, "He actually took everything, Jesus, he didn't even go that far with Sniper!",
"who?" he thought,
"He was like you, came in all full of himself, took the Prof nearly three weeks to "knock" it out of him!", she giggled, "and it only took him an hour to shut you up?", she began walking round him, he began walking back towards the stairs, he wasn't playing games,
"STOP!", she yelled, a huge grin on her face as he did so,
Eclipse walked over to him, stared into his gray eyes with her magnificent blue ones, their noses were almost touching, he could smell her. He shook the attraction from his head, she was nineteen years old if that! He was pushing thirty and had no intention of having any kind of personal relationship with anyone in the insane asylum.
"What did you read in that book?", she asked, Robert smiled,
"Tut, tut, what would your professor say if he knew you were asking questions you shouldn't?",
Eclipse frowned, "Fine, then we have nothing to talk about do we?!", she snapped and marched on ahead of him,
"Women", Robert continued after her. When they reached the huge iron door of his cell, Robert noticed something in the corner of the room which had not been there before, a wardrobe. He walked into the cell and was about to turn back, hoping she would ask what he wanted so he could actually ask about the wardrobe, but the door was slammed, he was alone.
Robert walked over to the wardrobe carefully, after everything else that had happened in the last twenty four hours, he was taking no risks. Reaching the door, Robert took hold of two small gold handles on its heavy wood frame and pulled, jumping back as the door opened. Nothing? It was empty, then he noticed something, sitting on the shelf built in at the top of the back recess, something dark and small. He reached in and pulled it out, the tiniest of twitches appeared at the edges of his mouth, it was a balled up pair of thick black socks.