Among Books And Trinkets

The funny part of being stuck in a time loop is that it takes several “days” for you to know you’re stuck. It took me, at least, ten before I realized something was off.

I have no idea why, but every time I wake up, I am surrounded by darkness. At first I had to feel my way out of the room that led to a library the size of a cathedral’s main room. The whole room reminds me of the one shown in the The Beauty and The Beast animated movie, only dim lit and windowless, as if I were in the darkest wing of a large manor or castle. In hindsight, that image has to be the main reason I thought I was dreaming.

I wasn’t, though. Which explains why I went the same route Bill Murray went in his own time loop, even trying everything in my power to kill myself, just to see what happens. No matter what I did I would return to the dark room that led to the huge library. I have lost count of the times I’ve woken up in this place. It might have been a hundred or maybe ten thousand times that. Either way, I gave up on looking for ways out of the loop and this whole place.

That was the moment I considered reading every book placed in the towering shelves. There were works of every language and time period, including more modern titles that are still somewhere down the New York Times Bestseller list. This only managed to confuse me even more. I started reading Homer’s work and kept going up until I reached Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I picked it up yesterday and had the weirdest thing happen to me.

As I hadn’t read any of it (not even the back cover), I found it interesting that a red envelope fell from the book as I opened it. I examined it—it was empty and dusty—and put it aside in order to read the book. I finished reading it in less than a few hours and put the book back. It wasn’t until I backed away from the shelf that I remembered the envelope. I went back to the seat and found it next to it, on the ground. I reach down to put it back in the book but it disappeared. It took me several minutes to recover from it. I hyperventilated until I felt faint. A few minutes later, everything went black for the millionth time.

I find a way out of the dark room yet again and stop at the edge of the library. A wild thought occurs to me. That red envelope might be my way out of this place. I shake my head and yell, producing an echo that bounces throughout the whole room.

I hate it when this happens. This library—which doesn’t seem to lead anywhere else except the dark room—is somewhat filled with curious objects, most of which are hidden in the weirdest places. Every twenty days or so, I find a new one. The most recent one was a Rubik’s cube no less than thirty days ago. It was sitting lonely behind the Sherlock Holmes collection, in perfect shape, color and overall condition. I dropped The Sign of Four in order to examine it. It wasn’t solved, and I decided to amend that. It took me three days to finish it, especially since it would turn back to its unsolved state after the day’s replay. I dropped it and continued reading, occasionally coming back to it to check if it had been a figment of my imagination. I stopped looking at it only days ago and now I find the envelope.

My problem is that I still want to leave, go back to my normal dull life. Reading has not made me get used to the place, but helped me numb myself by diving into those fictionalized worlds created by millions of people over the years. It has helped me see things differently. Whenever I read of a character dealing with his insane, overprotective parents, I think of my own. Whenever I read that a character wants to meet someone to wake next to every morning, I think of my own stupid life. I always find a way to deal with my versions of those problems. Every time I finish a book, I find another thing I want to try in my life. Seeing the red envelope vanish before my eyes rekindled that for the hundredth time.

“Fuck it,” I say out loud, the sound bounces all over.

I walk straight to the shelf and pull out The Scarlet Letter. I open it and find the envelope there. I pick it up from the floor and examine it again. It’s the same as yesterday: empty. Despite its futility, I don’t want to let go of it. I’m not planning to do anything else. I just sit back on my usual reading chair and wait.

“What are you doing?”

I choke on my own breath and turn to look at the source of the voice. It’s a small and thin man, barely older than me. He’s frowning at me, as if questioning my sanity. I don’t know what to say or do. He sees that and says:

“It’s not going to help.”

“How do you know that?” I blurt out.

He shrugs and says, “It means you don’t get to leave. You’re here and that’s that.”

“Why?”

He sighs, “I have no idea. All I know is that it doesn’t help.”

Now that I look at him well, I see that he has a weird, sort of ethereal look to him, as if he’s at the edge of vanishing entirely. He smiles a bit at me and turns around to walk away. I extend my hand to wave at him and see that my hand look as ghastly as he does.

4 thoughts on “Among Books And Trinkets

  1. Great story, full of interesting twists. At first I thought your protagonist was inside his own mind (perhaps comatose) and facing hidden truths about himself revealed through the books. But the ending was very chilling, because it now sounds more like a place of limbo. so many questions left unanswered…

  2. I love the ending, its a really scary thought to be stuck in a time loop, with no way to influence it. except that he or she did influence the rubik’s cube which remained solved. Interesting conundrum.

    1. Thanks.

      In a way, I surprised myself with that ending as I wrote it. I honestly didn’t know what I exactly where I was going until the last 300 words or so.

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