C. A. Pack

Musings & Brainstorms & Rants

Library of Illumination - The Orb - Chapter One



I’ve been talking about blogging my next book and here is the first installment:

The Library of Illumination - The Orb

Chapter One



          Late morning sunlight filtered through the tall, narrow windows of the Library of Illumination, capturing the intricate design woven into the Persian rug, within the geometric ghost of windowpanes. Suddenly, the play of pattern and light was replaced by something more visually stimulating, yet so ominous and unusual, it would soon test the resolve of everyone who came in contact with it.

***


         Illumination. Even though the gold leaf highlights on the richly illuminated text had faded with age, the impact of its beauty was no less powerful.
         “Look at the delicacy of the acanthus leaves surrounded the main letter. They’re only a small part of the whole, yet their intricate beauty lends depth to the illustration.” Johanna, curator of the Library of Illumination, was giving her sixteen-year-old assistant Jackson a lesson on restoring illuminated manuscripts.
         As she sighed in awe of the beauty of the artwork, Jackson sighed inwardly over the beauty of Johanna. He had been working at the Library for several months, and when school went on summer break, he had jumped at the chance to work additional hours at the Library. He didn’t know if she knew how he felt about her. Nor how she felt about him. For now, it was enough for him to have an excuse to be near her five days a week. So here he was, sitting a hair’s breadth away from her, inhaling her scent and becoming intoxicated by the tone of her voice.
         Johanna was older than Jackson, but he had no idea how much older. She didn’t really look any older than him. He appeared mature for his age. And he was at least eight inches taller than she was, making them
look like contemporaries. But he knew she had an active social life, because he’d once seen her having dinner with some guy when he and his pals were walking home from the movies. Johanna and her date had been sitting at a window seat in Le Chat, Exeter’s excuse for a French bistro.
         “...the ink isn’t absorbed by the parchment. So the pigment merely lies on the surface of the page, which is why it’s so delicate and has a tendency to fade.” Johanna turned toward Jackson. In doing so, her thigh brushed against his bare leg. It was the middle of July and they were both wearing shorts and tank tops to stay cool in the heat.
         Jackson felt every nerve ending in his body jump to attention. His face reddened.
         “It’s too hot back here, isn’t it? I can tell you’re hot just by looking at your face.” Johanna continued, “I’d better read Mal’s diary tonight to see if he mentions whether the Library has air conditioning. If this heat keeps up much longer, the books are going to melt.”
         “Yeah,” was all that Jackson could think to say.
         “Why don’t you go get something to eat? The luncheonette has air conditioning. The pizza place has fans, but with those big ovens going, you couldn’t pay me enough to eat there.”
         
Was she asking him to have lunch with her? “Sure. Wherever you want to go.”
         “Oh, I can’t go. I’m expecting a call from Book Services about a delivery. You go. I think you need to cool off.”
         Did he ever, but he had no intention of telling
her that.
         They walked out of the Library antechamber. “When you come back, we’ve got to finish setting up the display for the Gutenberg Bible. We don’t want the Board of Directors to get their hands on it during their meeting here on Thursday. They may decide to open the cover and we don’t need Moses parting the Red Sea in the middle of the Library. I know it’s hard to believe, but even though they represent the Library of Illumination, they have no clue that these books can come to life. And I think it’s best if it remains that way. Mal, the former curator, felt the same way. He said some of the Board members were just doing it for the prestige and power of being on the Library Board. And he said ‘power corrupts.’”
         Johanna often spoke this way about Mal. Jackson had never met him, but you would think Mal was a god the way Johanna spoke about him. Jackson stared at her wondering if she felt about Mal, the way Jackson felt about her?
         “Don’t stand there gawking at me. Go to lunch.”
         Jackson felt his face redden, yet again. “I was just wondering,” he said, “do the books come to life, even when they’re loaned out?”
         “There are a few, select scholars and universities that have been approved to receive the enchanted books. I usually have to borrow books from other libraries for people who aren’t on my master list.”
         “Who approves them?”
         “Well... Mal approved them, I guess, and then when someone who’s on the list retires, he or she usually recommends someone they trust, to be added to the list. So I guess it’s self-perpetuating.”
         “So when they open the cover, stuff happens, even though they’re not here in the Library?”
         “Yes, but they know how to handle it.”

         “What is that funky, blue light?” Jackson wondered aloud as they rounded the information desk. They stopped in their tracks when they spotted a large sphere in the middle of the room. It was about three feet in diameter and appeared to be studded with smooth silver disks. On closer inspection, the metal disks were attached to internal spikes, aimed at an eighteen-inch matte black globe, suspended in the center of the orb. An iridescent blue and purple gelatinous substance surrounded the globe and appeared to pulsate, emitting a dull blue light.
         Jackson reached out to touch the sphere.
         “Jackson, no!”
         The teenager’s hand never made contact. Instead he felt a buzzing sensation that propelled his hand away from the orb – like a mild electric shock. “It won’t let me touch it!”
         “What do you think it is?”
         “I don’t know, but it doesn’t look good.”
         “Why do you say that?”
         “Because it looks like something from a science fiction movie; it came out of nowhere; it’s got it’s own defense shield; and it’s pulsating.”
         “Like it’s alive?”
         “Like it’s ticking.”

To be continued…