He stands there. In the library. Looking around. 100 books. That is what he is based on. He has been brought back. Re-invented. Re-made. Humanity recast. By the future, for the future. As if. You can go back. He looks around. There is something missing. A gap. A gulf. A lack of something. There is no other. No other. Just him.
He can feel his own strength. Rolls his shoulder. Stretches his arm. Sucking in oxygen, even though the air here is filtrated. Outside of this building, he can’t breathe. The air will kill him. He stays inside. In here. He is the one. Alone. The only one.
The books. There was a list. Is a list- 100 books put in the ground. Ready for the future. Ready for a time when man could resurface, be reborn and. He is it! He is that moment. That rebirth from nothing but a pile of books and some clever science. He does not know how they did it.
He lives here in the library, well not in the library itself. There is a little room off to the side and a garden. Covered over. Like a hot house. Only with plants he does not recognise.
He has those 100 book stored in his head. They did that too. He does not know how. He has those books, their physical presence here in the library as well. 100 books. They are all here. He can reach out and touch them. He does sometimes, but when he looks at them-he sees the gap. He sees not the books. He sees the space on the shelf. There is something missing. There is a missing. The other. The knowledge that there is another. There is something missing. He knows it. He does not know what? He does know what. But he can’t say it. He has read the books too.
He picks up the book that he knows is the history of men. Men were wondrous things. Inventors. Wordsmiths. Builders. Makers. Doers. But there is something missing. There is the gap. Where is the other?
They expect that somehow he will produce other humans. That is the bit. That bit is missing. He looks through the list of men who put this list of 100 books together. What is it they did not think of. That is the something missing. The books tell him of bridges, of machines, of wondrous majestic building. But still there is the gap.
That something missing, in the 100 books-what is it? They are not all non-fiction these books. There is fiction here that carries him to other worlds. In the works of Eliot- -hidden from view, there is the something. The missing. The Dorothea. To his. His thoughts trail off. To his what. He does not know how to make another human.
They watch him closely, daily. This thing they have brought back to life. Recreated. Recast. They are confident they can make humanity better this time. They are not sure to what purpose they will put it. They plan a colony somewhere. He is a social experiment. He skims through the names of all the authors in his head. Tolstoy. Hemingway. Shakespeare. Marx. Keynes. 100 books and all of them something missing. He scans the non-fiction, architecture, anatomy, Darwin-the origin of species. All of them something missing. In Eliot-Dorothea-an equal, not a second. It puzzles him.
They, whoever they are, have said only this. Once there were two but we have read your history, your 100 books and nowhere does it say the second is necessary. In all the first is more important than the second. In one the second comes from the first. You are the first. You will find a way to make the second.
But that does not seem to be the truth. In these books there is no truth. The truth is not there. The truth is beyond the gulf, out of his grasp. There is a gap. An endless gulf. An other. He does not know. There is no way to make the second. He looks at his ribs. He looks at the earth outside. There is no way to make the second. He does not know how to tell them. The books offer no answer. They are right. In the books the second are second and they are of no consequence. Only Dorothea.
The sense of the other overwhelms him. Of its missing-ness. Where are they? How to make those? How to make the other. He is certain that if there was one other, just one, somehow this feeling would be gone. This gap. This gulf.
He sits. He holds the book in his hand. Which book is this? Does it matter? He sees the words in his head? They are not in the words? This book has holes? All the great designers? All the great artists? All the great inventors? All of them? Him! The seconds. The other. Faded, missing in history. Gone.
The gulf feels greater. Wider. He has days like this. Days he does not understand. Days where he wonders if he can think the other into being. He cannot. The other is not here. Not in these words. Not in these books. Not in this library. Not in this garden. The other is simply. Not. He is alone. This must be how they wanted it, he thinks, how they wanted it to be. He looks at a person who is not sitting next to him and who is not there. He opens his mouth to speak. To speak to the other that does not exist. To say. To say what? Sorry? The words fail him. Without the other perhaps he is not here either. He does not know. The books offer no answer. He will sit here again tomorrow. And the day after. And perhaps the other, perhaps she will come and find him.
2 thoughts on “100 Books”
well done. i wonder why he feels so strongly for eliot and dorothea–nice reference to middlemarch.
I love Middlemarch. Am reading it again after years and its still wonderful.