Newcomer: Chapter 8
A Serial Flash Fiction Novel
By: Mike White
Copyright 2016 Mike White
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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There was something undeniably creepy about walking into a furry, breathing library where half of everything was burned inside, but this is exactly what Cali did. The odd thing, if that even applied here at all, really, was that the inside of the building looked a lot like a regular library-
Like the kind Cali remembered that were only just starting to go out of style a bit from her previous life.
There was a short hallway, littered with all sorts of burned things including the books, disks, newspaper clippings and tapes that Cali recognized, but there were other things in the heap that she didn’t recognize. Small crystal spheres that were shooting out what looked like half-formed holograms here and there, flickering where they were scorched and cracked.
Cali walked under the sign that said “Library” and passed the kiosk with the “Returns”
Area as well.
Despite the shelves of ruined books and other media everywhere, and all the burnt copies everywhere, Cali’s eyes immediately went to an arrow that pointed to a door in the back of the front room here, where it looked like a bomb had gone off, with shelves tipped over and singed.
The arrow said-
“[* To the ‘What the %$%$ Happened Thirty Years Ago’ Project” *]
Well OK then, Cali thought. She kind of had the same question about what had/was happening at every other time between now and then, including especially now, but this was a good start. She continued through the world’s strangest library taking one step at a time and keeping on alert.
There was a layer of ash over everything in the room, and scorch marks were all over the place as well. There seemed to be an epicenter of whatever had happened here, towards the middle of the library floor, which was a plush white rug, now with lovely burned parts, of course.
About half of the shelves in the library were upturned, with the ones that were closest to the circular burned epicenter of the explosion appearing to be practically half-vaporized, the other half ending in jagged char marks.
Cali gave the charred epicenter a wide birth, instead taking a circuitous route to where the sign was pointing at the other far end of the room where there was a door. She walked back by the kiosk with the “Returns” sign on it, with a little slit for returning things, and a slide that led into a bucket behind it. She walked behind the kiosk and saw open boxes that had little cards with people’s names on them, just like the old style libraries that were going extinct in her old life.
There were some magazines on the wall behind the kiosk, and piles of books strewn about at her feet. Just beyond the kiosk as she kept walking, there was a tipped over cart that was dented and scorched, with burnt bits of paper that used to be books lying all around it.
One thing she noticed as she walked was that the dates on the open books on the floor and the magazines on the shelves built into the wall behind the kiosk were all from around the last years she could remember, in the late 2010s. There was 2017, 2018, even a few in the 2019, but none after 2020.
Cali had a feeling the current date was a wee bit beyond that, though she couldn’t find any information about that whatsoever. It didn’t seem like there were many working machines here, just the sickly blue glow of half-working holograms, flickering in the dim sun light that lit the room here.
They were like dying glowing robots.
She picked one up out of curiosity. It made her jump every time it finished a cycle and started back up again, projecting an image of a figure with a deep cowl, staring down into the camera to pick it up, his pale hand looking gaunt in the light.
This made Cali shiver, but she popped the crystal into her backpack anyway, zipping it up again so it didn’t leak light around everywhere.
After she had taken enough steps, Cali began to realize that she was naturally walking in rhythm with the breathing room.
She would lift up her back foot a bit when the room was ‘breathing in,’ and lean forward when it was breathing out again. The motion seemed to happen at a bit of an angle, and not straight up and down. It gave the effect like she was walking up and down a continually reforming minor hill. Fortunately, her brain seemed to be adjusting OK by itself.
There was something deeply unsettling about all of this, and now that the adrenaline from waking up and running away from what felt like everything she had encountered the entire time was starting to wear off, and all she felt now was trepidation and incredulity that she had witnessed what she had.
And that she was in a breathing library right now!
After finding herself quickening her breathing, she let herself just stand there, trying to get control of it, to relax, to remind herself that presumably, she was still real, still in the world. She actually decided to sit down and close her eyes for a moment, to listen to the natural rhythms of the world.
Sure she was in a library and moving up and down at an angle weirdly, but it was slow, and she could imagine she was on a boat somewhere, instead of inside somewhere that was neither a best nor a library.
The movement was almost mesmerizing, and at first it calmed her, but then she had to deal with a wave of anxiety, seeing that freakish thing in her mind’s eye, coming towards her, the screaming of people waking up from trances, the ground moving under her feet, the flash of something moving near her right as that monster was bearing down, what the crows had called the “non-human,” so fast and so close that she could almost hear him saying-
Suddenly there was a thump in real life, and Cali jumped up to her feet instantly, clamping a hand over her mouth to avoid screaming.
What was that!?
It had come somewhere from her right, and Cali turned her head that way just in time to see a book fall off of a shelf a little ways away near the door she was heading towards. It tumbled to the ground and Cali flinched, her shoulders feeling like they were going to knock her own head off.
After a few minutes of Cali wildly looking this way and that, she had to concede that whatever had hit the outside of the “building” wasn’t around anymore. Or at least, it was waiting for her to make a move.
It was affecting her without even fully existing yet.
After all, maybe it was just the crow Candy Cane, trying to get her attention or something. A glance back through the door confirmed that the crow with the red and white striped box on its head was no longer in view.
Following her curiosity as a reprieve from everything else, Cali took a few steps through the still-breathing room, and picked up the book that had fallen. It had been badly burnt, but the cover was still intact. What was significant about the book that Cali noticed right away was that it was completely different from the others she’d seen.
The others all looked like the books she remembered from Before, because they basically were. In other words, they were created by machines, with hard corners and perfect crisp pages, the ones that weren’t burned anyway, with the lettering all obviously done by some kind of machine with very stroke the same.
This new book was made of some thick leather like she had never seen. Blue and uneven. What animal made this? It wasn’t any that she recognized anyway.
When she reached down to pick up the book, she realized that it was hand bound too, with three holes in the edge that some sort of rope had been threaded through each time to hold the book together.
The title read-
But, when she picked it up, it was mostly ashes that fell out between the leather cover and onto the floor.
Of all the books in the library, that’s the one she would’ve most wanted to read.
So with that, she tucked the cover into her backpack, and finally approached the door that the sign had indicated.
She swung the door open, and oddly, there were actually stairs there. The very second that she set foot on the stair, there was a change in the rhythm of the world. This actually made Cali trip and nearly dive headfirst into the far wall, but she put her hands up in time.
Steadying herself with a wobble, she looked back at the room she had just come from. It was like she had just docked in port. The room still moved up and down like a calm sea, but the place where she was now was even and acted like good ole regular ground.
It was necessary to walk in place a bit, because the world was still all out of sync and chaotic, a good theme for the Second Life she was having.
After the feeling of trying to walk on a plane that didn’t exist faded, she went ahead and made her way down the stairs.
The stairs were fairly crude. They appeared to be most stone, and it was dark down here in the stairs. Something glowed faintly every few meters giving enough light to see by, but only just barely.
The narrow green lights affixed to the sides of the walls somehow seemed familiar to Cali, but she couldn’t quite get her mind around how. At last, she made it down to a carp looking wood door with a misshapen brass handle, and opened it.
There was a bit more resistance on the handle than she was expecting, and she knew that she had just walked right into a trap or that there was some creature holding the other side of the door, the same creature as made the noise upstairs? Was it stalking her? Was there another way down here?
There was a strange clicking noise and then a deep rumble as something gave and the door swung open toward her at the landing at the bottom of the stone steps.
Cali jumped at the sound and let out a high-pitched noise herself, getting ready to run from whatever it was.
But then, nothing happened, of course.
Except that that deep rumble continued. Cali left the door partly open without doing anything about it since she wasn’t sure what was going on. She was basically in constant stunned mode at this point.
She was either just accepting one demon after another, or jumping at every minor noise. She took a breath and walked into the room this time, edging around the open door slowly and cautiously. Hey, I this world, being paranoid was probably good.
When there was another click and the room suddenly lit up with a series of electric noises from fluorescent lights overhead, Cali managed to get by with only a released puff of air. There didn’t seem to be anything else in the room moving, besides the mystery of the rumbling noise, which was solved when she saw a gas generator that was connected by a string to the door handle.
Well, at least there’s tech of some kind after the apocalypse, she thought.
It was like a little library underneath the first one here. Much less streamlined though, as the uneven wooden sign that hung from the low cut stone ceiling simply said,
“The ‘What the Hell Happened?’ Library.”
Sort of a library, anyway, she amended.
A slow walk around the room revealed that most of the books down here were the rough variety from the time after Cali remembered. There were more hand drawn letters on covers that anything machine-made.
The first thing that jumped out to her in the room was a big series of pin boards that spanned the entire length of the ‘library’ that was full of notes with writing on it, pictures, newspaper clippings, hologram spheres that looked like disco balls that were hanging from a pin by what looked like a keychain.
There were three major parts to the series of boards, with a big piece of white tape dividing each of them.
On the left, a huge sign in yellow on top of the section said, “The God Entity.”
In the middle it said “Demons”
On the right there was a sign that said “Newcomer” in black.
They each had what looked like a timeline, which was a single bit of narrow black tape with pins that had dates in them. Each timeline “reset” at around 2020. That was all she could tell from the entrance since the text was big enough to read from far away.
Some part of Cali’s mind was warning her to be careful about going any further into the room, since this was all happening a little fast and leaving a lot of questions behind, such as-
Who had done all of this? Where were they now?
What did any of this mean?
But she had to know, so her feet carried her further into the room.
One thing she noticed as she walked into the room was that there were a lot of black feathers everywhere. Were there crows down here too?
But more than anything, that board devoured her attention. This was especially the case for the “Demons” section because underneath the timeline there was some pictures connected to some strange names, and there was a tag below the demons sign she hadn’t seen before that said “(supposedly).”
One of the pictures under the section looked exactly like the monster she had seen yesterday, or whenever that had been. What day was it today anyway?
Under this picture, which looked real familiar for some reason, it said “Agares.”
However, for some reason, instead of reading the description underneath, Cali’s eyes drifted to another picture in the same section that read “Belphegor.” The picture showed a short creature that was faintly humanoid with a balding head, horns and a sly, toothy smile. His toes looked too long and the picture had a weird distortion to it, as if there was some kind of electric disturbance.
The caption under the picture said,
“[_ Eyewitness accounts indicate that he claimed to be- “ Hell’s ambassador to France.”_] More information needed??”
“What?” Cali said aloud to the empty room. Her confusion echoed off the walls of the space, though she half expected some crow to come shooting out to tell her to keep it down in the library.
“Why does hell need an ambassador to France?” Cali found herself saying aloud. Hell had a government? Were there Hellish embassy’s in every country? Did every country warrant an ambassador?
He must’ve been kidding. Still, in her mind’s eye, Cali couldn’t help construct the image of that weird Belphegor demon with his endlessly long and curved toes wearing a suit and padding into some twisted Hellgate building with haunted moans coming out of it that said –
“L’Ambassade De Sytrie” on the top sign, with some pitchfork or triangular imp tail for a symbol.
Welcome to the new world, she thought.
The odd/kind of great thing about it was that Cali actually found it all sort of energizing, really.
At least she felt like she was being invited to her own life now.
Thanks for reading!
Check out my other stuff, a lot of it in the “newcomer world” category will fill in a lot of blanks for this story eventually.
From the World of ‘Reality Zero’
‘World Shard’ Series
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The Serial Flash Fiction Novel: Newcomer is about Cali, a woman who finds herself in a capsule in the middle of the forest with no memory of how she got there, and only spotted memories of her life beforehand. She is radically different now, physically, and the world seems to have changed around her too. Just where is she? Is any of it real? Or are her memories of her previous life false, instead? Can they both be real? How is that possible? Newcomer describes a world that spans time and involves a war between two distinct ideologies.People who witness the events call it a "war in heaven," though the accuracy of this description remains to be seen. There are many other stories occupy the same world, but many of them take place in different places and time. They will all connect in the end. ** Chapter Quotes- "Why does Hell need an ambassador to France?"