This is my take on Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #33. The challenge, to write a piece of flash fiction based on the great photo below. My entry is a 300-word drama. Thanks to Fandango for organising a great prompt. Like the story? Don’t like the story! Either way, why not pop over and have a go yourself. (~350 words)
He was a collector of books. A lifetime’s obsession with the written word, he’d built quite the library. A sprawling labyrinth of literature over two floors of a dilapidated warehouse down in the boondocks. Countless dusty tomes, filled every shelf, all precisely catalogued. He had meretriciously read every one, before placing them onto the shelves. None had quenched his appetite for knowledge.
His particular passion was for the more esoteric, old forgotten books. Books whose pages had rarely turned, dry, crusty with age. The Carcerem Ad Animi was one such book. It had been his life long pursuit, his holy grail. He’d tracked it across the centuries, across the globe, whispers here, rumours there. Never copied. Few accounts of its contents existed, all were tantalisingly cryptic. A true enigma. He knew he had to possess it, to consume it.
So it was with shaking hands that he wiped the worst of the dust from its leather cover, ran his finger around its intricate embossed labyrinth design. It was beautiful, surely the book that would finally quell his ravenous hunger. He released its catches, each made a dull thunk. Slowly opening the creaking cover he savoured its musty aroma, licking his dry lips. With a bony finger, he traced the words.
Words unfamiliar. He turned the page, more words, more peculiar language. It was inconceivable, he’d seen every form of the written word, but this, this was gibberish. He turned the page and the next. It was nothing but nonsense. Not a single word made sense, nothing remotely similar to any of the countless alphabets he was well versed in. Frustrated he slammed the book closed, threw it across the table and cursed its writer, cursed his folly. But it wouldn’t leave him be. No mere book was going to confound him. He flung it open again and dived deep into its pages.
When, finally, his dead dry husk was discovered, he was bent over the tome, surrounded by his books. Mad scribblings covered every inch of every page of every tome, all in an unfamiliar vocabulary. In places, frantic sketches of a maze, always scratched out.