Emboldened by the bestowal of a name by the author, the woman in red – henceforth to be rightfully addressed as Emily, passed gracefully through the threshold of the doorway into what she had been told was a hall of records, a library. On entering she became swallowed up in golden light which bounced of everything in a frenzy of dancing reflections. The entrance lobby, apart from the fact that the walls and decor were all golden coloured, looked very ordinary but possessed a majestic and stately quality. Instinctively, Emily headed toward a set of double doors that stood at the far end of the long golden chamber she was now traversing. Nearing the double doors, she lost count of all the unanswered questions popping like bubbles in her head, but after exercising some self control decided to put them aside for now, or until they had more time to develop and mature. Having arrived at the doors Emily gave a quick glance backwards to drink in where she had just come from, then, taking a deep breath, put one hand on each door handle and pulled them open. The doors opened smoothly and silently with no hint of grinding squeaks from rust or non-use. Emily stared open-mouthed at the sight that met her, it was like nothing she had ever seen before.
As Emily entered this new chamber, mesmerised as she was by the sheer scale and beauty of it, she didn’t realise she had pushed the doors to close them. As the doors met their frame a booming explosion of sound reverberated throughout the chamber sending diffusing echoes racing in all directions. Emily jumped with shock at the sound, then felt a bit silly about what she had just done. She recomposed herself, and thankfully, the echoes were now evaporating away and silence once again returned to the golden chamber. With her regained composure Emily now turned her attention back to the enourmous space she now occupied. The author had told her that this place was a library, or hall of records, but the description given didn’t quite do it justice. It was beautiful beyond measure and seemed to go on forever – stretching as far as the eye could see.
There were books everywhere, all stacked on ornate shelves rising up to the ceiling. As Emily looked up it seemed that the chamber was exposed to the elements with a clear view of the sky above, but after closer scrutiny it became clear that they were in fact murals painted on the ceiling by an artist to simulate the blue heavens. Light poured in the chamber from everywhere which Emily thought of as rather strange, her first sighting of the city had odd looking clouds forming over it, maybe the weather had since turned? She brushed the thought aside and continued to soak up this new environment. It was all a bit overwhelming, gold crafted carvings adorned the walls at various sections between the shelves, richly adorned arches reached up to touch the ceiling, but the boldest, most impressive feature of all was the tiled floor. Emily marvelled at the design and began to wonder about all the skilled hands responsible for crafting it – who where they? The entire chamber, just like the lobby, had been wrought from gold and its value was beyond her comprehension. She concluded that whatever society built this must have been uncountably wealthy, so what became of them?
She took a few steps into the chamber, her eyes still trying to look everywhere at the same time, still trying to come to terms with its undescribable beauty. Once again questions dominated her thinking, and being honest with herself, self constraint was no longer an option.
“My dear author, did you write all this?”
“Yes,” responded the author – but this time without the expected long wait.
“I am overwhelmed,” said Emily, emotion in her voice. “What am I to do in such a place?”
“As I have already mentioned. . .you are here to discover something.”
“Yes I know that,” said Emily, impatiently. “But where am I to start. This place is huge and it would take me more than a lifetime if I am to discover something written in a book – is that what I am meant to do?”
“Yes, you must find the written word contained in this library.”
Emily threw her hands up in the air with exasperation.
“My dearest author, you need to do better than that.”
“You are an intelligent and beautiful woman, that’s how I wrote you,” the author responded. “I know that you’re more than capable to work out why you’re here in this library and how to properly use one.”
“Don’t patronise me,” spat Emily. “I do not deserve that.”
“My intent is not to patronise you,” reassured the author. “But my intent is to allow you the room and time to solve the problem for yourself. I have told you what your name is, this is the biggest hint I could ever give to you in a place like this. I know that you know how a library works, use that knowledge to your own advantage.”
Emily fell silent as she pondered what the author had just told her. She studied the shelves that stretched off into the distance knowing full well that the author had actually just told her what she needs to do. She watched as shafts of light coming from recessed windows cast multiple shadows upon the tiled floor in crazy patterns, creating subliminal surreal shapes. She watched them for a while, allowing her thought process to go where it will. The answer came quickly and she kicked herself for not seeing it sooner. She walked over to the nearest bottom left shelf and a knowing smile formed on her face after seeing what books were housed there. For confirmation she skipped over to the right side and was rewarded with the fact that she had been right. She did a twirl in celebration of her victory making her red dress sparkle in the golden light.
“Wasn’t that hard to work out, was it?” – asked the author, sounding amused.
“Well, in my defence,” said Emily. “I was totally overwhelmed by this place when I entered it. It’s alright for you – you wrote it, so you knew what to expect, I didn’t. But now that my head has cleared from the initial shock in seeing this place, I am able to seperate the visual impact from the actual function and inner workings of a well ordered library.”
“Good. . .so what do you mean by that?”
“Easy!” exclaimed Emily. “I should begin by looking at the books under section ‘E’ – E for Emily. Any library that I know of uses alphabetical listing to order and arrange all content. I realise that libraries usually organise their listings by author surname, but I know of no other place in which to start. Failing that, the library must have a complete bibliography which will be of enourmous help to me.”
The author said nothing, but Emily could have sworn that she heard the sound of soft chuckling.