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Sholto

Elsewhere in the Multiverse

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“Mom.”

Isabella was writing in a notebook. Several others laid open in front of her. She was trying to map out The Library. Its been a years-long project and it still felt no closer to being completed than when she started.

“Mom.”

She knew if she found ‘pleasure island’, a term given by some of the staff to where you were most likely to find porn, then she could get a straight shot to the sports almanacs, detailing records of every sport and every outcome. It was so up-to-date you could read about games in progress. This is assuming that the religious material was to your right though. If it wasn’t then—

“Mom!”

Isabella looked up. Mae, human, was looking back at her.

“You have bags under your eyes again,” Mae commented. Isabella knew it was true. When was the last time she slept?

“Its just been long days.”

“This isn’t healthy.”

“It’s work.”

Mae placed a book on the table. Isa looked at it. It was a self-help book on creating healthy habits. The title included ‘sleeping patterns’ on it, and someone had taken a pink highlighter to it. The same color Isa noticed was missing last week.

“It was next to the elevator when I got off. Even The Library is concerned about you.” Mae gave it a little push towards Isa. The Library was a thinking, living, creature as much as any human was. Not in a traditional sense, of course. It was omnipotent, as far as Isa could determine. It didn’t eat or bleed or shit like any other living thing.

But it certainly thought. It had feelings, it had opinions, it had desires, and it had multidimensional knowledge of some kind. Apparently, it had turned its great omnipotent eye on her and felt pity. Maybe concern.

Tending for The Library was an assignment that most people demanded to be removed from after a short amount of time. Isabella had been here the last ten years. At some point, it became clear this was going to be the rest of her life. For whatever reason, The Library accepted that.

The project to try and map it was her idea. It has, for the most part, been a failure. Isabella sighed and turned her attention to her daughter.

“How’s your assignment going?”

“You mean… living on Kaerwyn.”

“Yes.”

“It’s not really a job.”

“You have a job.”

“I submitted all my reports this morning,” Mae noted, frowning. “Your friends miss you.”

Isabella paused, but only for a moment. “They can come visit.”

“So can you.”

“Niobe is back in town looking for you,” Isabella said. Mae froze, a look of nervousness coming over her face. Niobe is her ex. Part of Isabella held out hope they’d get together and settle down. Consider how much of a chaos elemental Niobe is, part of her is glad they didn’t.

“I’ve got Emm with me!” Mae protested as if somehow Isabella could get Niobe out of town.

“Then you better keep an eye on her.”

“Shiiiiit…” Mae stood and headed for the elevator that would take her up and out of The Library. One of the few easy things to find, if only because the red light Isabella installed on it could be seen anywhere in the mostly sterile white facility.

Alone again. Isabella sighed. She started to return to her notes when something caught her eye. Another book on her table. A parenting help book, for dealing with adult kids.

“She’s been my daughter for over twenty years,” Isabella muttered, rubbing her face. “And you know I don’t like you involving her. I'll figure out what's up, I swear.”

The Library doesn’t answer verbally. It never does. But a book falls off the shelf a small distance from Isa. She stands up and goes to collect it.

The book was Gone Girl. The Library can be blunt or cryptic, and half of Isabella's job was trying to determine what its messages meant. Why Gone Girl? Warning of betrayal? Dishonesty? Murder? Was she supposed to just take the title literally and assume that she was losing Mae? Isa sighed and put the book back.

Screw it. She needed sleep. A bed to lay in, some privacy, a hot shower. Time to get…

The quiet room was in front of her. It wasn’t there before, but now it was. As if it always had been. Maybe she would need to readjust the map again.

“Alright. I’ll stay the night. We need to have a talk in the morning,” Isabella noted, knowing that The Library will decide if it wants to. But so long as it was providing, she’d take advantage of it. Isabella stepped into the room and shut the door behind her.
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