Saturday, November 13, 2004

Chapter 19

Seamus seemed to feel his journal throbbing slightly in his hand. He looked down to see that it now had a glowing insignia on its corner, matching the one on Cassidy's, and on the new book they had found.

They tried to pick the book up, but it seemed rooted in place, impossibly heavy, even for its large size. They opened it to find the pages covered in text, in what looked like the same handwriting as their journals used. It was densely packed, thoroughly covering each page. But when they tried to read it, they found that they couldn't. It wasn't that it was illegible in the ordinary sense, or even in a different language, it was that it simply could not be focused on. At a casual glance it would seem to be perfectly reasonable text, but when they tried to read it the letters seemed to shift and fade, and their eyes would be drawn away to other parts of the page, where the same thing would happen, making it impossible to concentrate anywhere long enough to decipher anything. It was very disconcerting, and after a minute or so of trying, Seamus had to pick up one of the romance novels they had tossed aside, just to reassure himself that he wasn't going blind.

"Hey!" said Cassidy, still staring intently at a page, "I could have sworn I just saw our names go through here."

"Really?" Seamus looked over. If he thought about it, it would kind of make sense that if they could find anything in that mess it would be their own names. It would be like the cocktail party effect – where you can pick out your own name in a different conversation from the hubbub of a noisy party – only visual instead of auditory. People are attuned to the appearance of their written name nearly as much as to the sound of it spoken. He started examining the page again.

"Are we in there?" he asked, focusing on the center of the page, as the words seemed to swirl hazily around his vision.

There was a slight flurry, and ink seemed to swirl in and converge in the middle of the page, then expand outward into an unmistakable


Then with another swirl, it was gone. Seamus and Cassidy looked at each other. Yes, they had both seen it. No, they were not imagining it.

"What's going on?" Cassidy asked the book. "What can you tell us? What are we here for?"

They didn't get a single, clear response like the last time. Instead, individual words across the page would fade into coherency one at a time, standing out slightly from the surrounding text before fading back into obscurity again. Pieced together, it said


"Hmm. Seems like it doesn't want to talk to us itself," Seamus said.

"Well, it's kind of difficult this way anyway. The journals are simpler. Do you want to see what yours has to say?"

"Sure." He picked it up from where he had set it on a nearby shelf and pulled his pen from his pocket. Opening it up, he saw the scribbled panic from where he had pulled Cassidy out from Oregon through the journal. He turned to a fresh page.

So, um… what's up here? he wrote, for lack of a better way to put his question. Cassidy read over his shoulder. Is this book like a bigger version of you, and of Cassidy's journal? What is it?

I am nothing,
the journal replied. It is everything.

Everything? How so?

It is a manifestation in your world of the combined literary genius and power of every book ever written. It is the source of all my power, and provides me with the words I use to communicate, for it has access to all words of all languages, in infinite supply.

We saw our names in there. Is there a book about us somewhere?

No, not yet. But there have been others with your names, so the Book knows them. And it knows you. You are the Key.

The Key? What do you mean?

You have the power to bibliomorph, to unlock the door between the worlds of fiction and reality.

What about Cassidy? She can do that too, can't she?

She has more ability than others, and she can do it with your help. But you are the Key.

"Did you know any of this?" Seamus asked, looking over at Cassidy.

"Well, I kind of suspected. About you being unique, I mean, though it never said anything so straightforward to me. I certainly didn't know what this book was that we were supposed to be looking for."

"Hmm." He turned back to the journal.

So… if I'm this "Key" thing, what do I do?

You must enter the Book. All will be made clear to you inside.

Okay… but how do I do that?

That is the test.

After that, the journal remained silent and would give no further clues.


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