This is a story about a little community institution and how people interact with it.


The library is a hole in the wall 30 centimeters in diameter. Aside from minute cracks and the regular cadence of the brickwork it's the only aberattion in the entire circumferance of the structure.

It functions simply. You reach through the library with your hand and two things happen. First, you feel a series of pricks somewhere on your hand. Secondly, a book will firmly pressed into your hand.

Removing your limb, you'll notice a sequence of 10 characters and numbers tattooed on you.

Examining the book, the same sequence is repeated in solid black lettering on it's otherwise featureless gray cover.

If this is not the first time you've borrowed from the library you first need to return your previous book. Again the mechanism is simple. You hold the book in your hand (the same you used the last time) and put it through the library. Again you'll feel the small pricks, more orderly, and this time the book will be pulled from your grip.

Removing your limb, the sequence will have had a line firmly drawn through it, though it remains legible. You will now be able to borrow another when you wish.

Understanding the mechanism of borrowing and returning, we now need to understand the books.

In appearance, each book is nearly identical to the others, save for it's identity sequence. Each has the same gray binding and the same heavy off-white pages. They are sturdy, but not impervious.

Everyone, at least once or twice throughout their lives, will borrow from the library. Some will do nothing but, their arms turned black with intersecting sequences. Each one will find in their book contents unique to it. They'll read it, as many times as they wish, and hold it in their minds.

Eventually they'll turn to the last written page, and set their own pen down, continuing where the text leaves off. There's always a choice, to take the thread set down by the writers of the past, or to draw a line and start your own.

Every child knows that all writing is theirs to continue. This is the way every book in the library has been written.

They contain stories, history, facts, recipes, lies, attacks, poetry, nonsense, pleas, adorations, debates, musings.

We keep records of course, aided by the unfailing order of the library and it's sequences. Upon one's death their arms will be examined, and their name along with the sequences of books they have borrowed will be entered into a log. This log is kept by us, and not the library, and so is prone to error and decay.

Often, a book will emerge that cannot be kept to oneself and it will spread among the people, lighting their minds. At such time we can look back at the log, and if we are lucky we'll find a name connecting the contents that someone confided to the library however many years ago.

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