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The Library of Eternity

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Greetings, friend.

Have you ever had a deep desire to satisfy your boundless curiosity? Your infinite lust and longing for knowledge, answers, fulfilment. It is a restless feeling, to be kept in the unknown, with a void that so desperately longs for filling, for it is that search for truth that has led humans from their ancestral caverns into their modern skyscrapers. It will be that exact same craving that will push humans from skyscrapers into interstellar satellites and extraterrestrial homes. It is amazing, that knowledge, mere facts or concepts that exist merely as neural networks throughout one’s nervous system, could result in something as intricate and complex as civilization. Knowledge also holds the power to destroy everything it has built, including its very own existence.

Let me tell you of a place where anything you have ever wondered or questioned will be satisfied and fulfilled. It is a mystical place that only few will ever have access to. Yet, visiting this place has a cost, for those who visit this place will be condemned to remain there forever, as any traces of their existence are completely erased from the physical world. Perhaps in your childhood or your early adulthood, you may have had a best friend or a girlfriend. Of course, you do not remember such a person, for they have chosen to visit that magical place, and had given up their existence to satisfy their lust for answers. Men and women you have met, who claim to have chosen to remain single, or old couples, who claim to have chosen to not have children, may very well once have had a spouse or a son or daughter. Their existence, just like those of your lost friend or girlfriend, were sacrificed for knowledge. Perhaps you are frightened of being erased. I have given you all the conditions of entry, and I have offered you the tradeoff. If you are willing to make that sacrifice, I will reveal to you how to enter this place. Yet, if you still care for anyone on the planet, or if you have a love waiting for you, or if you simply aren’t willing to make the sacrifice, I will show you how to avoid entry.

One night, you will have a dream. The dream may happen on any night, but it most likely happen on a night when you feel very strongly that desire for knowledge. You will open your eyes and see yourself lying on a warm floor wrapped in blankets. If you look around, you will see yourself in the center of a room with walls made of stone, with a wooden door on one of the sides. The room will be lit with four torches, one on each wall. You are free to get up and explore your surroundings. Do not worry, for you will be in no danger. The walls, torches and door are indestructible and stable, and the flames of the torches will only tingle you with warmth. Nobody, not even I, know what lies beyond the stone wall. Perhaps it is an empty void, or perhaps it is pure chaos. If at any time, you wish to leave this place, you need only wrap yourself back up in the blankets. You will immediately feel drowsy and fall asleep, and then awaken the very next day, with no memory of your dream. Yet, know that should you leave, you will never be able to return.

Should you be curious, you would explore the room a bit before wandering through those wooden doors. You will enter a room that resembles a small office. A single dim lamp hangs from the ceiling, illuminating the whole room. Beside you will be one chair, and in front of you will be a desk. On the desk, you will see memorabilia from countless years past, and countless years in the future. The objects will vary from person to person. You may see artifacts such as an ancient tool used by primordial human beings, coins bearing the face of Charlemagne, the quill used to sign the Declaration of Independence, as well as many future objects, such as a quantum computer chip, hologram projectors, or even pieces of a time machine. Behind the desk you will see a large shelf with dozens of books sitting there side by side. You will be unable to distinguish the titles of the books nor the words within those books. But to reach over and grab a book, or to look close, would be a rather inconvenient task, for sitting behind the desk is a man wearing a trench coat and a hat that covers his face.

When you enter the room, he will be reading a book. He will appear to ignore you until you speak up, and should he finish a book in silence, he will simply stand up, put his book back on the shelf, and take another one. One important note is that in that place, time has stopped. You are not yet required to make a choice, and you still have the option of leaving, so you may consider just staying there, and contemplate anything you want. You may achieve deep revelations during your eternal contemplation, but know that everything will be forgotten the moment you return home.

The man who sits at the desk is known as the gatekeeper. Once you speak to him, he will address your statement before introducing to you the Library of Eternity. You will get a way more detailed description from him once you meet him, but allow me to offer a description of this place.

The Library of Eternity contains every possible book you could imagine. It is a room 26 shelves long, but infinite shelves wide. Each shelf contains an infinity of books corresponding to a certain letter from A to Z. Everything, from the answer to the meaning of life, to the mathematical solution to 0/0, can all be found within this vast library, should you be determined enough to search within its depths. If you look above your head, you will see the stone walls fade into a blackened void. Every few hundred meters of shelves, there are some tables and some chairs, where you may rest and read a certain book should it attract your liking.

There are candles that float around, carrying powerful and bright flames that can illuminate large portions of the library. You can even pluck them out of the air, should you want to sit down and enjoy a book, and lack proper lighting. If there is something specific on your mind, you may consult me. I will be sitting in a grand desk facing the sides of all 26 shelves. You will see me either reading a thick volume or writing strange texts that is seemingly gibberish. Pay no heed to what I am writing or to what I am reading, for it is knowledge only I will understand. Come to me, and I will greet you warmly, as well as answer any question you may have, to the best of your ability to comprehend. I will also teleport you to certain locations of certain volumes, should an answer you seek reside in those volumes. Do not be hesitant on disrupting me, for what deadline is there to meet?

The gatekeeper, after offering you a highly comprehensive description of the Library, will warn you of the same risks and tradeoffs I have mentioned earlier. A trapdoor will materialize beneath your feet as he speaks, which leads you on a one way journey to the Library of Eternity. You will have a choice - you may sacrifice your existence and enter the trapdoor, or you may return to the previous stone room and wrap yourself back up in those blankets, and return home. If you have any difficulties with your choice, you may consult the gatekeeper, but he will ignore any questions or concerns that are not related to the choice. As I mentioned earlier, you may still stay there for as long as you want, but you will forget everything the moment you return home.

If you choose to satisfy your thirst of answers, then you will enter the trap door. You will find yourself falling in near-total darkness, with bright lights occasionally whizzing past you. This is the process of destroying your existence from the physical world. Once you jump in, there is no turning back. After a certain period of time, you will fall unconscious again. When you reawaken, you will find yourself curled up on the wooden floors of the Library. At this point, you are no longer a human being of flesh, but a being known as an inquirer. As you stand up, you will see the 26 shelves before you as they stretch into infinity, and if you turn around, you will see me, busy at work in my grand desk, but happy to help you with any question you may have. The rest of the library, I believe, will require no further description.

Two questions may still plague your mind at this point. First of all, you may wonder where the other inquirers are. This Library is a timeless location, so surely there must be plenty of other inquirers right? Well my friend, you would be correct in assuming that the other inquirers exist. Yet, it is very unlikely that you would meet one of them, for they have all delved within the deep sea of infinity within these shelves. I have so far only seen each inquirer once. Upon teleporting them, I have never seen them again. The power of knowledge and the satisfaction of answers is truly a marvelous and powerful force.

Finally, every single inquirer has wondered - who resides at the end of infinity? It has been said that at the nonexistent impossible end of infinity, resides the Chronokeeper. The Chronokeeper is a being referenced in many volumes as the watcher of everything and the embodiment of the Library itself. He is an observer of everything - he sees across time periods, dimensions, physical realms, and even minds. It is said that he holds the ultimate truth to everything. Whether or not he exists, we can only wonder, for he resides somewhere that does not exist.

Now that you are aware of such a magnificent place, and now that I have presented every detail with regards to this place, it is up to you. One day, you will have the dream, and to those who decide to jump into the rabbit hole - I will see you in Wonderland.

The Librarian

Written for the Sixth Age of Extinction on Earth

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