Come Armageddon come! The end is here!
The end of the world (First Part).
“The only paradise is paradise lost”.
Books disappeared on the 9th of November. Demetrio, the old guard from the library that had been doing the morning shift for thirty two years, arrived at the office that day at 5:50 as usual, marked his time card, poured freshly brewed coffee with milk in a cup and pulled it towards his nose, sniffing the morning air. Then, he walked without any hurry to the surveillance office and there, with his head down and his arms opened wide, was the night guard who had surrendered to the silence and the night. Demetrio put his cup of coffee over the file cabinet, leaned closely to the guard, who was much younger than him, and blew into his ear. The young man got up loudly, moving his arms like a castaway seeing his salvation over the horizon. Demetrio, amused by the drowsiness of his partner, asked him, like it was mandatory, if there was any novelty. The young man rubbed his eyes, got up from the chair with a strong effort and mumbled as he walked to the door: “The books are still in the shelves, just like everyday”.
Demetrio took a long sip from his cup and accommodated himself in his desk. He opened the central drawer to look for a worn out edition of “Treasure island” by Robert Louis Stevenson that he had borrowed from the substantial library and that he had interrupted the day before in page 82, chapter 14, entitled “The first setback”, just when John Silver put Tom to death with his crutch. The guard introduced his hand in the drawer and found some bitten pencils, a ruler, an old Sheaffer fountain pen with its own ink, an eraser and a mechanical pencil, but he didn’t find the copy of the book he had left off due to a change of shift. He then assumed that the night guard, the young man, had returned it to its place in the shelf, in the section corresponding to the letter S, inside European literature. The old man took a small sip from his cup of coffee and walked towards the central hall of the library. Each of Demetrio’s steps creaked in the polished granite floor and the eco formed a somewhat choir of wailing that extended throughout the whole library and interrupted the silence of the closed books. When the old guard arrived at the threshold of the central hall, he dropped his cup of coffee and it shattered, spreading the brown liquid over the floor and the noise served as the cry that Demetrio failed to deliver when he saw that there wasn’t a single book in the shelves.
And then came silence and oblivion. That morning the media announced before a stunned audience on one side and unbelieving on the other, how every, absolutely every library in the world was without a single book. All the shelves without any exception made of wood or steel, which had hold from the most prominent writers to the most pleasant ones, only held absences on the 9th of November. That was how from the Vienna National Library, the National Library of St. Mark’s, the Neo-Manueline Real Gabinete Portuguey de Leitura in Rio de Janeiro, the Sorbonne Library, the Library of Congress in the United States, the British Museum Reading Room, the Palafoxiana Library in Puebla Mexico, to smaller ones that belonged to universities, schools, and personal collections had dawned uninhabited. Texts that had rested on night stands, suitcases, desks; the ones that had been forgotten under beds, and even cupboards, regardless of their size or theme, had literally come to an end.
It was only in the Royal Spanish Academy’s library where a copy was found. A small but valuable evidence of the strange disappearance: a particular hardback red edition of the “Complete works and other stories”, a first edition, by the Guatemalan Augusto Monterroso in 1959, which appeared to have a few pages torn out, except one, page 71, that had the shortest story ever written, entitled “The Dinosaur” which limited masterfully to:
“On waking, the dinosaur was still there”.
To be continued…
By Israel Rojas.