Foreign Concepts
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There is a rat in my library.

I can hear it, sometimes. Scurrying through the infinite hallways, gnawing away at my books, eating the pages, destroying the narratives. I look at the books, and some of them are dreadful, horrendous, impossible to appreciate any longer. I throw them away, but I give it a while, a few days, and there the rat comes again. Tireless. Ravenous. Definitely ravenous. Eating away at the ink, and then vomiting some.

So many people before that rat worked tirelessly to produce these works, and what for? For something like that thing to do this? It is disrespectful, unbelievably so, and I must find it. I must catch it, and I must get rid of it. My father has warned me very well, he said: “If you let a pest linger long enough, it multiplies. Use fire if you must, but do not let it spread its sickness.”

Yes, there is a rat in my library.

I told that to the last customer that came here, inquiring about one of the books he took. There was something wrong with him. He took one of the books, yes, one of the newly destroyed ones. Broken, tattered, merely a shadow of what it once was, yet he loved it. He loved the book that the rat destroyed. He tried to show me some of the pages, but I couldn’t read a single word in them. Nothing in there could be comprehended, yet he smiled and read over for me as if that would change something. I could see he was talking, yes, and making words with the sounds that came out of his mouth, but nothing I heard could quite be pieced together.

He left with the book, delighted, and I stood there. Time passed, and dust collected on my dark coat, on my shoulders and on my body. I laid there, waiting for the rat to come once more.

Still, there is a rat in my library.

He is destroying the narratives. I saw him the other day, brown hair, missing a tooth, freckles and dirt on his face. He was doing something to one of my books, yes he was. I could see the pages turning and his smile beaming as he peered into the contents inside. I ran for him, and he dashed, faster than my legs could carry my old body. The rat was young and nimble, while I wasn’t exactly at the prime of my age.

I took the book from the floor, and peered inside. Were these words? Symbols? Blurry, all of it. I had no need for glasses, despite my old age, yet I couldn’t read. A librarian like me, unable to understand the very stories he protected. Disrespectful, unbelievably so. That night, I barely slept. There was too much dust in my eyes for them to close soundly.

Look, there is a rat in my library.

And I would rather if you didn’t show me the pages in those books. I don’t know how you found it, I thought I had thrown them all away, but the rat… look, I don’t want to hear about your proposals and your new laws. I don’t want to hear about those concepts and ideas. I would rather not be bothered. No, you may not keep the book, I will dispose of it properly. Of course, until then.


There is a sickness in me.

I have been hurting for a few weeks, indeed I have. My stomach burns and my heart weights like a stone. My body tries to reject my very person, and I can only blame the books. The new books, with their distorted views and bent narratives. I can understand them now, I can, but I wish that was not the case. They speak of things I have never heard of before, never pondered or considered, never thought could be true.

The books lie now, yes. They promise a world that can’t come, promise a land against all of our beliefs and all we ever stood for. It says the dust can be cleaned, but it has stained our clothes for so long now. It says the minds can change, but I digress. They can’t and they shouldn’t.

Yet, my heart weights and my stomach burns. I find myself considering the new concepts I’ve read. They’re invading me, invading my thoughts like burning possibilities; like ghosts, or perhaps, angels with a message. The gospel? Ludicrous. They could never be.

There are rats in my library.

They’re winning, I believe. Spreading their sickness to every corner of this old place, their beliefs and aspirations, their dreams and desires, all of it is permeating every single shelf, every single book that I once sought to protect. Even I find myself immersed, head to toe, not in dust, but in ideas. A perhaps surges in my mind, followed by a what if. The dust is blown by the wind, and I stop to think. I haven’t done that in so long, which means I must be sick. I have to be.

Yet the weight is gone from my heart, and my stomach burns no longer. The customers, they visit me and talk about the books, talk about the stories, and I understand now. I don’t shoo them away, nor do I burn the books. I listen, and I participate in conversations. I inquire back. We both think, and I do believe that is wonderful, yes.

The pest spread in my library, like my father said.

There was only one thing to do, like my father said.

I stood as I watched my library burn. My home whisked away into the sky through a visage of what they promised us if we remained sick. Except, there was no turning back, much like the fruit we ate, which gave us knowledge of good and evil.

I pack what is left of my bags, and I leave. Surely, the rat in my library has finally been dealt with.

Today, I visited a library. It is quite a wonderful one, indeed. I touched the pages on the books and I drained the ink, ravenously, vomiting words back onto it. I gnaw at the books, I eat the pages and I destroy the narratives. There is just so much dust in this place.

Yes, there is a rat in this library.

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