Fantasy Fiction

The Light

by J. Bella M.   

I followed the crowd into a thick growth that towered over us on either side of the path. Under my coat, I carefully concealed the package that I found on the ground. I squeezed it tight against my body so that no one could see it. I would unwrap it when it was safe. I kept my gaze straight ahead and tried to keep pace with the others. 

The girl and the boy were still following me. Why were they clinging to my side? Their eyes begged for protection. Don’t they understand that I could never help them? How could I when I couldn’t even help myself? Where did they come from? 

The path that we followed soon became lined with large green pole-like structures emerging from the ground. They were not at all like the columns that I was used to. The ones that were everywhere in that other place. The place that I want to forget.

 Gazing at them though, a recollection surfaced but disappeared as quickly as it came.  I felt like I should have known what those life like structures were called. Light was shining through tiny patches fluttering in the wind. They were attached to long limbs reaching out in every direction. Everywhere, there were different shades of a color that I had not seen in such abundance in a long time. Green.  I remembered it vividly. It was to be the first of many recollections. I could not remember ever seeing so many shades of the color. At least I don’t think so. The entire scene on either side of the path was pulsing with energy colored in many shades of green. It was alive and breathing. I began to sweat. I had to wipe my brow. 

That was when I realized that I had begun to fall behind. The boy and girl were by my side,  also gazing up and around the path. I grabbed their arms and motioned for them to walk. They had to trot to keep up with me.

 The others walked forward as if they couldn’t see what stood around them. Maybe they had seen it before and knew what it was? I could not be sure of anything anymore. Ever since I had been brought into this world, nothing made sense. Nothing – yet slowly something was awakening inside of me. It was frightening, but somehow I knew that things were going to get better. It was the recollection of the color that made me think that thought. 

An enforcer dressed in armor, was making his way down the long line. An older man ahead of us was also gazing up. The enforcer hit him with the back of his large hand and kicked him to the side of the road. Again, I grabbed hold of the boy and girl and motioned for them to continue to move forward. I restricted my gaze to those walking  ahead of me. The boy and girl both fell in line with me. I relaxed my hold on them and soon they were walking in front of me. Why did I even care about them? I slowed down to put some distance between us. 

The road ended in a clearing where the others were being herded by enforcers who suddenly appeared  and began giving orders to the newcomers. Beyond the massive gathering a light was flickering on and off. The young boy and the girl were off the line and walking towards the blinking light. I moved forward to try to stop them but was too late. They already disappeared into a thick blanket of green. I looked around. No one seemed to notice their disappearance. The enforcers were distracted with their round-up task so I followed the pair. Then I heard them yell out, “HALT!” Someone must have caught sight of me. I did not look back, but kept running through the thick brush.

I ran until I  caught sight of the girl and boy.  When I caught up to them, they turned and smiled. I cautiously turned my head to look behind me to where the boy was pointing. An enforcer was looking into the brush scowling. He appeared to be behind a thick glass. It felt as though we were contained inside a large green bubble.

 Every now and then one of the enforcers would turn and look in our direction. Their expressions were blank. Even though they sometimes looked straight at us, I was sure they could not see us.

I motioned for the girl and the boy to walk towards the light in the distance which was becoming brighter and larger. When we stepped out of the thicket we were standing before a small shelter. Through the windows shone a bright light. Something about this place was so familiar yet I was sure I’d never seen it before. After a moment, it was the girl who stepped forward to open the door. I grabbed her arm and motioned for her and the boy to be silent.

I peeked into the window but could see nothing because the light within was blinding. “Wait over there.” I pointed to a place where they could conceal themselves. “Hide, until I give you a signal that it is safe.” The girl nodded and took the boy’s hand. After they left, I turned the doorknob and stepped into a bright room.

It took a while for my eyes to adjust. The room was circular and much larger than the structure had appeared from the outside. There were rows and rows of shelves spiraling up. In the middle of the room, sat a large desk. A man was bent over and moving a small instrument on the surface of a flat object. The instrument was leaving a mark on the thing. I watched fascinated. His movements were both unfamiliar and familiar. 

The man had long hair which was white, silver and yellow. His beard cascaded down the front of his robe. Glass circles framed in metal, sat on the bridge of his nose. His eyes peered through them and as he looked up, he took a deep breath in and blew out gently.  “You made it,” he said.

I asked, “What do you mean?”

“You found us.” Behind the man a woman appeared. I hadn’t heard her approach. She had the same color hair flowing down her back. She was dressed in a long gown that was embroidered with intricate designs. Her eyes were deep blue. She too had metal frames guarding them. I gazed through them and watched as her eyes changed to green, then purple, then brown and then back to blue.

“Bring the child and the young girl in,” she said.

“Who are you?” I asked.

The man looked around the room and then settled his gaze on the woman. She gave a nod. “We are the Librarians,” he said.

“The Librarians?” 

“Yes,” the woman said. “We are the caretakers of the books.”

“Books?” I never heard of books or of librarians before. They had not been present in the world that I had left. Though, something about the words brought flashes of images to my recollection. They were images that disappeared almost as soon as I thought of them.

They both smiled and pointed to the shelves circling the room. All I could see were what seemed like rectangular shapes lined up in rows on the shelves. Then I heard a sound behind me. The girl and boy were standing in the doorway. The woman walked over and guided them to where I stood. I said, “I told you to wait for me to come get you.”

“But they could not wait,” the man said. “They like you, were drawn to this place.” He turned to them and said, “Welcome young ones! I am called Kian.” The man held out his hand to each of us in turn.

“I am Davina,” said the woman. “Welcome Angus.” She pierced me with her gaze. She then turned to the girl. “You are Arlette.” The girl nodded hesitantly. 

Davina smiled at the boy, “And you, little one, were once named Atlas.” The little boy stared at her as he mouthed the name, Atlas. 

“How do you know us?” I asked. It had been so long since I heard my name spoken I had forgotten the sound it made.

“Your coming has been written about,” she said. “Come and see.”

Kian pulled a large book out from a shelf behind him.  He placed it on the table where Davina opened it to a place which had a mark on it. On the page was a drawing representing each of the three of us. Beneath each drawing was our names though at the time none of us were able to recognize it as such. 

Atlas was the first to speak. “Look Arlette, it is you. You are next to Angus.”

I was stunned, “How can that be? We’ve just met.”

Arlette said, “That is you Atlas. Standing on the other side of me.”

Both children said the names carefully, pronouncing them as though they were made of sugar. The sweet sounds drifted in the air and hung there for all of us to ponder.

“What is this thing?” I asked.

“It is a book,” Kian said.

“What is a book?” I asked still confused.

“A book is a very special place,” Davina said. “It is where information is collected and shared.”

“Yes,” said Kian. “It is also a place where stories are recorded and passed from one person to another. Sometimes it is through years and years. The stories continue long after the author is gone.”

“Author?” asked Arlette. “What is an author?”

“You are an author,” Kian said. “As is Atlas and Angus. “You three have stories which will one day be put down in a place such as this.”

“But how?” I looked around, “I don’t know how to use these things.”

“No you do not,” Davina said. “Not yet, but you will learn.”

Kian began to search through drawers. He pulled out a large metal box. “Here they are.” He  reached inside the large box and pulled out three smaller boxes. One by one, he opened them and put those glasses framed in with metal on each of us. They were the same type that both Davina and Kian wore. “These are your spectacles,” he said.

“Wow!” cried Atlas. Arlette and I also gazed in awe around the room. Led by Atlas, we ran up and down the steps reading.

“The Odyssey!”

“Aesop Fables!”

“Swiss Family Robinson!”


I turned to the librarians, “What do these words mean?” 

“You will see in time,” Davina answered. She was watching Arlette who was on the floor browsing through the pages of fables. She looked up.

“I think I know what it says,” the girl said.

“Yes, I believe you do,” Davina said.

I pulled the one that was titled The Odyssey off the shelf. The words on the pages came to life. I put that one back and pulled another. I was transfixed by the contents of each book that I touched though at the time I was not always sure of the meaning of what I was reading. 

Finally, I turned to the older couple and said, “I am not sure what it all means.”

“In time you will,” said Kian. “Read one at a time until you understand.”

“Until you remember,” Davina added.

“But first,” Kian said, “you must return to the shelves that which you have found.”    

“I’m not sure what you mean.”Just as I said it Atlas and Arlette produced small packages from beneath their coats. They were similar to the one I had so carefully concealed. I pulled mine out as well.

“What are these?” I asked.

“Those,” Kian said, “ are what drew you here.”

“Open the packages,” Davina said.

I watched Atlas and Arlette unwrap their package. They both fell silent. I opened mine. I stared at the book in my hand. Huckleberry Fin. It was written by a man named  Mark Twain. I remembered. This was the library book that I left on my table when they came to take us away. We were not allowed to bring anything with us during the evacuation. The enforcers told us that because we were to be isolated,  we could not bring anything with us that might be contaminated. All would be provided in the place where we were to be quarantined until the viruses that were spreading could be contained. 

How could I have forgotten so much?  I thought about those first months. We had been given very little food and tiny white pills. We were identified by the numbers that were sewn on our uniforms. I was number 101. No one really called me by that number though. There had been very little need to.  That was so long ago. Now, memories of the woman I had called Mother and the man who was Father were returning. What had happened to them? How was it possible that I forgot them. I looked down at the book in my hand. It was the one I had been reading when the knock came on the door. I remember now. I remember how worried I was that I would not be able to return it. I wanted to finish reading it. I wanted to see my mother and father again. Then I remembered that there had been two other children there. A toddler and a young child. A girl. I looked at the two who had followed me. They were both watching me. Could it be possible?

I looked back at the book in my hand. “I don’t understand,” I said. “How did this book end up on the path?”

“Special books have a way of finding us,” Kian said.

I could tell by her eyes that Arlette too was now remembering. She held a copy titled Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Atlas held a book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes.

Kian whispered something to Davina. She nodded and said, “we see how special these books were to each of you. We want you to keep them.”

Atlas and Arlette hugged the librarian. I pulled the book to my chest and managed to say, “thank you.”

April 30, 2021 03:11

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