Synopsis: A young archeologist participating in a grueling dig amongst the forgotten ruins of a past era – this tedious chore of little value takes an unexpected turn; he discovers a mysterious tome from long ago in a previous era. He wonders what he will find inside. Treasures… or horrors?
Author’s Note: This story is reprinted from my new blog, readingjunkie.com Drop by for a visit and see the original story there. Or better yet, subscribe to the newsletter listed at the bottom of this post.
It was a typical day at the dig. The life of an archeologist is not the glamour of fighting Nazis or punching cultists in the face. Relics discovered do not grant immortality; only lead poisoning and possibly cancer. Most things discovered amidst the layers of sediment dating back six billion years, or six thousand, depending who you believe, have retained the value they had to their original owners: clutter and trash. Some finds of unknown purpose are at times best left an archaic mystery. If the shape and composition of a household item invokes taboo thoughts in the mind of a paleontology student, that’s probably the exact purpose it served.
Most so-called “finds” fall into the “rubbish” category. We already have enough of our own. Why rob the waste bins of the dead? Is it disrespect, or merely providing a service – albeit a few millennia too late?
One fateful summer evening as the sun drifted beyond the horizon, an energetic student of dead cultures and written languages no one can pronounce, made a discovery. He found a little tattered book. He almost threw it away into the growing pile of garbage close by.
But he stopped himself. As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. No! He had to open it. Upon those pages he found something completely unexpected, something that might be of no monetary value, but unique, if nothing else.
“I found something of interest!” The young explorer beckoned to his comrades.
They scrambled around him, and they too recognized the book’s importance in the annals of history.
“I know just the place for this!” A pudgy curator exclaimed.
“That belongs in a museum!” The boldest of the friends protested.
“Yes, thank you, Doctor, no one was disputing that.”
“What are we going to do with it?” Asked the young enthusiast, his eyes wider than the whirlpool of Charybdis.
“Let’s put the book in that empty spot in the West wing, where the cleaning ladies of questionable immigration status accidentally threw out the $100 million worth of postmodern art.” The curator decided.
“If the art was so valuable, why were efforts not made to retrieve it?” The youthful acolyte exclaimed.
“The problem with postmodern art being dumped into the trash is that it is indistinguishable from actual trash.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You see, that was an era full of people who fancied themselves to be the sons of Picasso and Pollock.” The curator explained to his naïve pupil. “Except Picasso and Pollock had actual skill and decades of practice. Their imitators, on the other hand, had no skill at all. “
“Uh, I still don’t think I fully understand.”
“And you never will.” The curator shrugged. “But let’s not deviate from the point at hand. This book will have a home! We will nestle it in that empty space between the hand-cranked blow dryer and the idol of a fat woman that cavemen jerked off to.”
“But shouldn’t we read it first?” The young man insisted.
All present conceded that they must do this. So they opened the dusty cardboard covers of a cheap mass-produced notebook used by bureaucrats and school children alike. Within that book they found something that no one expected.
The archeologists stared at the pages within. They found not neat rows of text mathematically laid down by digital word processors and cemented by the ink of laser printers common in that age. Oh no.
Instead, they found scrawling heaps of barely legible nonsense with no apparent purpose. It wasn’t clear if the author was even trying to state a purpose. Most likely because he had no purpose at all. Or maybe he did. That purpose, his longing, his deepest most desperate desire was for his voice to be heard.
His holy grail he wanted above all else. Give up your riches and follow me! Get up and walk! Open your mouth and scream! But he could not. He wanted to scream, but had no mouth. With no other recourse, he frantically scribbled gibberish in an innocuous little notebook. A notebook that was promptly forgotten. No, not forgotten. To be forgotten would require it to be noticed to begin with. And no one did.
This was the diary of a sick person. Not a deranged madman, mind you. Just an irrelevant, unwanted, and unmissed invalid… consumed by the fog of time, but mostly the fog in his own head. A forgotten man’s book described his journey; not an adventure of an intellectual giant leaping into the abyss. On the contrary, it was the sad, forgotten saga of a random soul drowning in a puddle.
So began a man’s recollections in his own words…
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About the Author
I worked in the Army’s Public Affairs program as a multi-media “correspondent,” if you will, for eight years, producing news articles, video, and photography in around the United States as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.
My current creative endeavors include Tales From Venus, the Night Witches Project, and The Man With No Heart. A full list of my published work on Fabius Maximus can be found here. My portfolio of military work and publications is located here. I have the attention span of a squirrel, so none of these are quite finished yet. I’m excited to have launched Reading Junkie, and hope it is a platform that other creators enjoy and find useful. See my full bio here.
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