Scouring the shelves for hidden treasure

Striding valiantly through dusty tunnels of words

Ever seeking the unknown, the needed, the objective

Ink stained once-vibrant-green leaves, pressed to the depth of spider thread, have paled over the decades into parchment, cream, ivory, and delicate, fragile eggshell white.

The covers whisper secrets, beckoning silently- after all, no one speaks in a library. It is the most rude thing you can do. Even dropping a book accidentally is met with disapproving looks and irritated glares.

The patrons and keepers all prowl quietly, equally silent, never making eye contact with anything but the uneven fonts displayed to the world.

The light is filtered through towers of stories, becoming soft and patchy with shadows.

The stories are still whispering.

You can hear them jostling for attention, each tiny fragment of the collective consciousness calling out for attention, for eager eyes straining in poor light to comprehend every word.

Sometimes, a group of chatty people, too bright and vibrant for the quiet, calm atmosphere, find themselves in the library for some reason or other. They are uneasy; where is the sound? Where is the background chatter that has always defined their every waking moment? They can't hear the stories.

For the regular patrons, the merciful silence is a welcome break from the fast zoom-zoom-go world outside of the shelves. The hush soothes them, assuring them that all is well in the world.

The keepers of the books know secrets that no one, save perhaps some of the most regular and dedicated patrons, are aware of.

They can hear the pleas for existence, the desperate cries to be something, to be acknowledged, to be loved and thought about and worshiped with flashlights and reading glasses.

Some books have memories pressed between the pages- memories of happy times, of sunshine and ice cream, of hot drinks and firesides. Others have blank space, nothing but a vague yearning to be examined by curious eyes.

Some books have been torn or stained, harassed by the myriad dangers that can present themselves to paper and symbols. Even this, they are secretly proud of, displaying their scars like trophies.

The books are alive.

Not alive in the way a tree or a person is alive; they are alive in a more permanent way. Their existence does not depend on sunlight or meat. They subsist on being heard, they grow and evolve and become something more, every time a new person picks them up and cradles them fondly in the crook of their arm. The books are both more fragile and more enduring than any other living thing in the world.

Even if they are reduced to illegible nonsensical gibberish staining the yellowed paper, if even one person remembers the story, or even has a vague impression of it, they will live on.

It's a kind of delicate immortality, reliant on memories and word-of-mouth and simple curiosity, rather than water from a fountain.

You can't kill an idea. You can't stop the signal.