Mortem de Scientia

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Books have become banned, those who read them are branded heretics, vermin, and deviants. They are forced to do so in the solitude of brothel-like hidden libraries. This is not my idea, I found it via a reddit writing prompt posted by wandernauta

Submitted: September 01, 2014

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Submitted: September 01, 2014

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A tantalizing aroma fills the air; the atmosphere of the dimly-lit room is light and sensual. Tapestries are draped over the windows to obscure the inside from the out. I walk slowly through the dusty maze of tables and shelves, weaving my way to the back. I pass several men and women, each squared away in their own private corners, only visible by the faint flicker of candle light. In the far end of the building I find an old armchair, patches haphazardly stitched to the deep, red velvet. I reach into my pocket and produce a match for the old wax poised elegantly on the candelabra. I set fire to the first one and achieve a dim glow, then came the second and third.

Now with enough visibility I examine the shelf to my left, blowing dust away from the obscured words on spines long forgotten. I calmly yet hungrily grab the first one my fingers can adequately grasp. I take in the scent of the worn leather, wonderful and crisply stale. I finger the spine, feeling every sensual curve of each embossed letter. My heart races, my excitement paramount. I delicately open the cover, separating it from the title page; pushing my nose closely to the yellowing paper and inhaling its sweet scent. I open my eyes and pull away to view the faded black ink, elegant pen strokes form each word that glides down the page.

My eyes become my mouth, briskly devouring each word for my brain to digest. Time moves quickly, it feels as though I had just started my meal and now it was finished. I place the book carefully back on the shelf. As I begin my hunt for another, the front door catches my attention. The deathly-silent room erupts into a fit of panic. The Liber Vandalorum has found our nook. Shouting fills the hall; candles spill over into the floor in a shower of sparks, igniting loose, dry pages that litter the room. The window tapestries were next, creating large pillars of fire from the floor to the ceiling. Screams of defiance and fear turn the once peaceful sanctuary into the sight of a massacre. The Liber Vandalorum has two goals, biblioclasm, and to murder all those who disobey the law.

We are defined as heretics, scholars, deviants, all of which is punishable by death. We are viewed as blight, as rats and cockroaches that scurry into dark recesses to avoid detection. We are vermin, we are filth, and we are meaningless, disposable parts of a dying niche-steadily becoming extinct through eradication. I watch in horror as the Liber Vandalorum sweep efficiently through the room. Sword in hand and mask on face, they splatter blood along the shelves and tables. Making their way to the back where I stand-frozen. The intensity of the heat grows as the cries of slain men and women become deafening. I stand still as they move closer; they are dauntingly sinister, their gold masks flickering with the deep red of the surrounding flames. I can hear them throwing obscenities and demanding I capitulate. I weigh my odds.

And decide to offer myself to the window.

 


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