Quantum Steam Theory - Part 2 of 5

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Ancient books lined the shelves along the corridor. Rotting leather clung to faded tomes, the cracked spines shoved at awkward angles. A sharp smell of neglect and decay permeated the space, and moss bloomed on the exposed brickwork. Selina looked up to see cobwebs looped across the low vaulted ceiling. A large brown spider covered in black stripes sat in a web. It watched her as it unwrapped a dead fly from a silken shroud.

Selina cast her curious gaze over the spines of the books. Some of them bore titles in a language she didn't recognise. She wondered how old they were, and where they were from. She ran her hand along the shelf, and flakes of cold leather drifted to the floor. Selina couldn’t see anything about weaponry. She at least expected Turpin’s Treatise of War or Bartholomew’s Guide to Ballistics.

“Well this was just a waste of my time, wasn’t it?” said Selina.

She directed the question to the spider. The arachnid ignored her in favour of its dinner. Selina shuddered. She could cope with the concept of an animal with eight legs, but as with quantum steam theory, concept and reality were two different things.

Selina turned to leave when a book caught her eye. The flickering lamp light danced across a golden lion embossed on the thick black leather spine. The book seemed out of place among the decaying remains of the other tomes. She pulled it from the shelf and ran her hand over the blank cover. The only clue to its contents was the embossed lion, but Selina had no idea what a lion signified. She wondered if it was the national symbol of whichever country the book came from.

Selina flipped open the book. She expected the same dense print that filled her quantum steam theory textbook, or at least engravings. Instead, the pages were completely blank. Tiny tears and watermarks bordered the pages, but no text marked the creamy white paper. Selina couldn’t even find a publisher’s note or a contents page. She flicked through, inhaling the dusty smell of old paper.

Selina felt a draught on her neck as she flicked through the book. Suddenly, the pages fell open to a black space in the middle of the book. She gazed into the space, seeing stars and distant galaxies laid out before her. A jolt passed through her hands and she dropped the book. It landed on the floor at her feet, still open at the universal void. A strange pull grasped her stomach, and Selina felt herself fall forwards.

Part 1 : Part 3


Adam Byatt said...

Nice, sharp hook at the beginning. The idea of a book untouched by ink is appealing; so many possibilities. I want to know where she's headed.
Adam B @revhappiness

Carrie Clevenger said...

The descriptions are just as vivid as can be. You're really fleshing this tale out beautifully.

Sam said...

Really like the descriptions, your first paragraph had me standing right next to Selina. I love the way this tale is developing.

Harry said...

Great job puting us right there in the dusty old stacks Icy. Very interesting, this book drawing Selina in.

Jason Coggins said...

I like that the tone of this one is so different to The First Tale. Much more whimsy ... and whimsy is good, yes.

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