Pretty experimental style, actually. It's by no means finished, but I want to know what everyone thinks.
Premise: INTERDIMENSIONAL LIBRARY TEAM
It began, as everything does, with a word. Not a booming, impressively spoken word, not ‘light’, or ‘life’ or even ‘begin’. A single word, sent out alone to fend for itself against all the feeble minds that it would no doubt greet. Just a single, solitary, lonely word. And that word, lost in a sea of misunderstandings, broken oaths and false promises, was ‘Bugger.’
Why is it that the librarian is always English? Okay, not all the time, but in a lot of stories one can watch or read, the librarian is a man with glasses and an English accent. Even if they’re in another world. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We know that’s just in stories, isn’t it? But then again... stories can take place in the real world, can’t they?
Rhetoric aside (and that’s a blatant lie, this is nothing but rhetoric), our story is taking place in exactly that. No, really. It’s the real world, yes; just not a side of it that’s exactly normal. Or real. But anyway, let’s get on with things.
‘Bugger,’ said Will. He was sat behind the desk on the ground floor of the library. It wasn’t the first floor; this was England, and the English do things properly. The first floor is the second one you get to. The ‘bugger’ had arisen because William Vermouth had forgotten to renew his books. While it may be somewhat stereotypical to portray librarians as people who read all the time, for Will, this was exactly the case. Although he liked to think of himself as an archetype rather than the stereo-variety.
And so, since there weren’t any visitors to the library (Will could never think of them as customers), he went through the laborious task of renewal. Normally renewing books doesn’t take too long at all; card-book-book-etc. But of course, being a librarian himself, and a rather important one at that, Will wasn’t bound by the pitiable ten-book limit that the regular peons had to contend with. No; the whole library was his for the taking. Well. Not the whole library. Because this wasn’t a normal library.
A very great man once hypothesised something called L-Space. The equation was thus:
‘Large quantities of magical and mundane books create portals into L-space that can be accessed using innate powers of librarianship that are taught by the Librarians of Time and Space to those deemed worthy across the multiverse. Because libraries with enough books to open a portal are often large and sprawling, those venturing into L-space may not necessarily know that they have arrived. The floor and ceiling of L-space follow the floor and ceiling of the library used to access it, but in every direction and as far as the eye can see bookshelves stretch off, meaning the nature of any walls are unknown.
Essentially, all bookstores are potentially infinite in extent; gateways into literary hyperspace: "A good bookshop is just a genteel black hole that knows how to read."
Because L-space links every library, it is possible to reach any one of these throughout space, time and the multiverse. Additionally, one can read any book ever written, any book that will be written at some point and books that were planned for writing that were not, as well as any book that could possibly be written. As this is a form of interdimensional and time travel, there are strict limits on its use, and the Librarians of Time and Space, that is those who have access to L-space have developed three simple rules to ensure abuse is kept to a minimum:
- Books must be returned by the last date stamped
- Do not interfere with the nature of causality
Senior librarians are also taught how to deal with the dangers of navigating L-space, such as the "harmless kickstool crabs, large and heavy wandering thesauri, the .303 bookworm and the dreaded clichés, which must be avoided at all costs". Adventurers may find markings and scribbled notes on the shelves to help them navigate.’
Thank you, Wikipedia. Even if Will was heavily reliant on physical books, he knew a good thing when he saw it, and like proper grammar and cheesecake, Wikipedia was one such thing. Of course, the L-space thing wasn’t quite accurate. After all, this is a version of L-Space that features in a fictional work (sort of) and so it doesn’t quite cover everything, but it was a pretty good way to get us started off.
All libraries are infinite. This is truth. All libraries are infinite because they are linked to all the other infinite libraries in the infinite infinity of our infinite universe. This is also truth. But the library in which William worked was especially special: in addition to being infinitely infinite, it was what was known by the Bookkeepers as a ‘hub’. A veritable nexus, linking not only to every other library in the space time continuum, but through the use of specialist sections formed by careful shelf arrangement and varying levels of that ancient library smell, it was linked to every world of every work of fiction that was ever shelved or ever will be.
And of course, with anything as vast as this, there had to be some degree of maintenance, or it’d all collapse. Obviously. And that was where the aforementioned Bookkeepers came in. The Bookkeepers were to librarians what ice cream vans were to milk carts. Very few Librarians aspire to become Bookkeepers, partly because it’s a rank they can never hope to achieve, but mostly because Librarians are generally never informed of their existence.
William Vermouth was a Bookkeeper. He had peculiar green hair, and as a result a peculiar tendency to dress in green. This, and his specific-yet-peculiar surname had earned him the nickname ‘Bottles’, as in ‘Green Bottles’, as in ‘Ten Green Bottles’, as in explaining-it-sucks-out-all-the-humour. Will wasn’t even a drinker. Nevertheless, he liked the nickname; it had a pleasant sound to it. Especially juxtaposed with his partner and associate.
Said partner was stood outside, leaning on the wall. There was a cigarette in his mouth. It wasn’t lit. Mr. Partner/Associate was trying to cut down. He maintained the pretense that he could stop anytime he liked, but Will confiscated his lighters on grounds of ‘library safety’. Stephen Curacao was one of those people that could make standing against a library in the early night with an unlit cigarette look cool. Stephen was tall, thin, with blonde hair spiked upwards. He mostly wore sleeveless tops combined with a padded-looking blue gilet (Wiki: ‘Gilet (French: gilet, from Spanish: gileco or Spanish: chaleco, ultimately from Turkish: yelek) is a sleeveless jacket resembling a waistcoat or blouse. Currently, a gilet is a sleeveless jacket or vest’) that underneath his cool outside demeanor he was very very attached to.
And now it’s closing time. Officially.
‘You ready?’ says Stephen, coming through the impressive double doors. ‘We’re heading in as soon as we can. We have an appointment, don’t we?’
That was right, wasn’t it? ‘Oh, bloody hell,’ said Will. He’d forgotten, and was looking forward to a pleasant night of Horace Walpole (Wiki: ‘Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797), was an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and politician’). Alas, it needed to be done, didn’t it? They were going to see one of the higher Keepers somewhere in The Shelves; hopefully one of the occasional plazas, hopefully not one of the secret rooms. ‘It’s going to be the latter, isn’t it?’
‘Of course it is,’ said Stephen, raising one eyebrow. He and Bottles had been partners for what seemed like years in the vastness of The Shelves, and he’d picked up that whenever ‘the latter’ was mentioned it was always the crap option. In reality it had only been a few months, but The Shelves had that effect on you.
Stephen had found himself within The Shelves very much by accident. Oh yes, he was still cool back then, but he didn’t have the cold sense of duty that The Shelves had instilled in him. That was what happened when you became a Keeper: the books chose you and the books changed you. Not by much; they sort of enhanced aspects of you that you either wanted to work on or liked about yourself. Stephen Curacao had received honor and duty, William Vermouth had his intelligence enhanced... But I digress.
Stephen had been in a library in Germany, cigarette tucked behind his ear, when he’d gotten a particularly bad craving. The library was very big, so surely nobody would notice if he went a little deeper in, behind some shelves... and had a quick cigarette... then he heard people coming. So he quickly dropped the cigarette into the little portable ashtray he carried, and decided to head further into the shelves of books. He could loop around them, and leave before they even smelled the smoke. Soon he was lost. Soon after that he met a young man of a similar age, dressed all in faded green and with messy brown hair. Things had gotten out of hand from there, eventually ending up with said young man’s hair turned green and Stephen a Bookkeeper. But that’s a story for another time, another shelf.