Part Sixteen of You Will Find Your Way
All things considered–see: the incident with Dallas–Tate College really shouldn’t be in possession of so many powerful books.
Somewhere Else, A Very Long Time Ago
Dallas returns to consciousness with a gasp.
Opening her eyes so quick is a mistake, so she slams them shut to hide from the spinning walls of drab gray and olive green. She groans and tries to move, but her arms are leaden, so heavy that she gives up and drops her head back on the pillow.
“Take it slow,” a woman says from somewhere probably nearby. “Would you like help sitting up?”
Dallas’ voice isn’t really working, but somehow she manages a nod, and then a pair of careful hands take her by the shoulders. She helps her sit up, and a second later a cup of cool water is pressed to her lips. She drinks down as much as she can stand, and croaks, “Am I dead?”
“I certainly hope not,” the woman says, and Dallas doesn’t know why she’d think that’s funny. “This world would make for a truly mediocre afterlife.”
When Dallas can finally bring herself to open her eyes, she blinks a few times to shake the blurry away before she looks down, takes stock of her body.
She feels the blood drain from her face.
“Holy shit what did you do,” she gasp, and the world goes black.
“Dallas, you there?”
She jolts, shakes her head and comes back to reality, counts ten cracks in the stone path they’ve been walking on, “Yeah, more or less.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Dallas sees Giselle slide a sideways look in her direction, “You sure about that?”
Giselle makes to pat her arm, but when she realizes she’s standing to Dallas’ right, she curls her fingers to a fist and drops her hand back to her side, “Don’t worry,” she says instead. “It’ll all be over soon.”
Dallas crosses her arms over her chest, snorts and glares at the campus’ beautiful late-summer foliage, the sprays of leafy green slowly being tinged with orange and red, like it’s personally offended her, “It’s never going to be over.”
“You’re certainly feeling markedly overdramatic today,” Giselle snarks as she holds the library door open. “Obviously I should have let you sit with your coffee a little longer.”
“Not worth it, we don’t have any whiskey.”
Giselle smiles at her over her shoulder, “We can make that happen tonight. You know I do my best lesson planning when I’m smashed.”
Taking a deep breath before she steps across the threshold, Dallas holds back a laugh that’s tinged with a wince when she takes in the library’s musty air. Giselle takes the lead and heads over to the older woman seated at the front desk and Dallas rocks on her heels as she looks around.
The lobby is surrounded by heavy door and walls covered with bolded posters and banners about how this is an extremely secure location and that no materials are allowed off the premises—and that means you too, Greeks.
Dallas thinks back to the leather-bound book in the box she shoved under her bed their first night in town and shoots a glare at one of the security cameras built into the corner of each wall.
She blinks out of her stupor, turns to Giselle and belatedly realizes that she’s been trying to get her attention for a couple minutes, “Ye-“ she breaks off, clears her throat until she’s sure her voice is going to work. “Yeah?”
The woman behind the desk is watching over the rim of her spectacles with barely-veiled impatience, and Giselle tilts her head in her direction, “She needs to scan your ID.”
“Right, sorry,” she pulls the piece of plastic from her pocket and slides it across the counter.”
The librarian gives it a critical look, but all things considered, Dallas gets it, “Thank you, Ms. Anderson,” she swipes it through the reader and hands it back.
A buzzer sounds as Dallas shrugs and shoves it away, follows Giselle and the librarian through the door that released and clicks securely shut behind them.
All the books in this library are housed in massive climate-controlled bookcases, and unfortunately it seems as though the one Giselle needs is deep within the massive library structure. As they walk, Dallas feels little pops of power burst out from every few rows she passes, and the sensations make her palms itch.
Over the years, she’s been to more special collection libraries than she can count, courtesy of Giselle’s near-unfettered access by way of those three or four PhD.s, but for some reason, Tate College’s collection plays home to some of the most dangerous books on the planet.
There is no way this is actually safe.
Dallas is living proof that it’s not safe.
“God, humans are so fucking stupid,” she mutters under her breath when she passes yet another book that pulses with a power that only she can feel.
Giselle hums and glances up from her phone and the notes she took on what they need to copy out, “Did you say something?”
She rolls her eyes, “No. Not a thing.”
The librarian types an eight-digit code that Dallas can’t help but memorize into the keypad outside the plexiglass housing of their destination, pulls the door aside and lets them through, “Hit the intercom if there’s anything else I can help you with,” she says with a tone that says don’t do that, and then she leaves, heads back to the front desk.
The heavy door swings shut, and Giselle marches to the stepladder at the end of the row, pushes it with her knee to somewhere near the middle.
Dallas rocks back on her heels a couple times, rubs her hands over her face a couple times before she sighs again and considers the bookshelves. As Giselle gets absorbed with her work, Dallas paces back and forth in front of the opposite side of the bookcase, picks a disintegrating tome on the bottom shelf.
She hefts it in her arms, lists to the side before she gets her balance back and drops it on the desk behind her with a thud. She pushes the cover out of the way, sneezes at the dust that puffs up before she traces her fingers over the front page.
The words aren’t in English, but languages haven’t been a problem for her for a long time.
Liminal Spaces Between Worlds and Their Respective Access Points
Dallas smacks a palm to her forehead.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
You Will Find Your Way continues with Part Seventeen
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