Athenaeum of Sigiriya

by Trey Miller

Sigiriya.

That was the monolith within which this great athenaeum loomed.

The hallowed hall of living literacy, misshapen as if dug by ants in their ant bed, seemed to demand revelry rather than sullen study, and likewise I found it brimming with chatter. Curious as the rapids of scholars made me, I was rather more curious by the fact that few looked the part of scholars at all...

The disheveled strode beside the pristine, chattering away in languages unrecognized before parting without farewell and joining with a perfectly new stranger. Each found their paths end at one of the thousand shelves lining the walls, and without pause or reference drew book from sheath.

Yet again this would have caused me great distress, as how ridiculous would I sound recounting countless tourists and foreigners with enough intimacy of Sigiriya to navigate it's labyrinth-like shelves, but my thoughts stuck on just one piece of the puzzle.

"Foreigners..." I mouthed. For they were all indeed foreigners. On both hands and feet I could count the few that might resemble traits of Sri Lankans, yet I would need every hair on my head to number the Latin influenced attendees. What meeting of the minds might attract such variety of class and and apparent intellect but so little variation in ethnicity or cultural influence? Perhaps the Catholic Church happened on some theological breakthrough?

No, I decided. One must only stand atop the monolith to see this world had no intelligent creator.

Besides, the books were all blank.

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I have spent what must be days here, and I profess I have more questions that answers.

First, I require no sleep. This would be curious, but it was too convenient to be bothered.

Second, this was not an event constructed by the South Americans; as hours drain from what I can only call a day, racial purity wains and waxes. One hour I found nigh exclusively Latinos and Inuits, the next hours brought Anglo and Africans. Before long my initial examinees had vanished and a new mono-ethnic swarm descends on the empty, leather bound mockeries.

Third, each subject opens a book found with no effort, as if at random, to an indeterminate page before glancing, eyes un-tracing, at the contents and nodding in self congratulatory acknowledgement only to promptly turn tail and depart. I scurried to the same book and thumbed through every page to find white emptiness laughing at me.

Books with no words and people unintelligible. Nothing to distract from he gnawing perplexity.

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Has it been months? Or a year? Or maybe just a few weeks. I do not know. I cannot know. I should not know.

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"Ah, Soothsayer. You were right..."

I whispered.

"You are always right. You can often tell dreams by literary illusions and faulty second counters..."

The subconscious translates what the binding does not say. But what if one was too read the pages untranslated? What is within the athenaeum of dreams?

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