Lyndon knew that the historical archive was off limits; that there would be consequences if he were caught, severe consequences in fact, but damned if he hadn't entered anyway. Slipping in between shifts he now found himself in the twilight of the archive, gently padding his way between the stacks. The hair prickled on the back of his neck, his blood surged in his veins and his eyes ran over the brass numbers at the ends of the shelves. The room was oblong perhaps five hundred feet from end to end with hundreds of dark wood shelves packed with an eclectic mix texts deemed by the Twin Crowns to have historical value.
He had just reached one of the central junctions when a low metallic clanging resonated throughout the room. Was there someone else up here? Lyndon picked up his pace as he zig zagged his way down to the area for mythology texts. The whole floor had been shut down for months, a quick in and out he thought would have been no problem.
At last, his eyes spied the book he came to retrieve, a huge blue leather bound volume. Vetus De Natura Animalium shown across the cover in silver lettering with a queer three sided symbol Lyndon did not recognize beneath it. He hefted it down from the shelf, the weight of it far more than he had imaged it would.
"Are we sure that old stamper wasn't just cracked?" said a voice beyond the shelf the book had just been removed.
"No," replied another deeper voice, "but she has never made claims before."
"Be that as it may, my old nanny would start seeing things when it was night. Start carrying on to visions of her children, as if they were right there in the room with her."
"It's not night. She ain't your granny."
"Well it might as well be, night I mean. Night for the long haul. Aren't we the lucky generation? To have that great fat planet blot out the sun for a whole year?"
There was sarcasm in the first voice, and Lyndon recognized it. It was Isaac; one of the new guards hired to patrol the Bookworks. A stubbly faced little fellow whose hooked chin almost reached up and touched his hooked nose. Lyndon detested him ever since he had watched him stomp a nest of rats to death one afternoon. Some people had cruelty to spare.
Lyndon backed up, his spine instinctively rigid with fear. If they caught him here he would be finished. Not just reassigned to some lowly post in the Bookworks, but prison. The thought of spending the year of darkness in prison was more than he could bare. He turned to put the book back, attempting his best impersonation of a church mouse. He heard the rustle of paper as the jacket of the book failed to slide back into place.
"Did you hear that?" said the deeper voice.
The following silence seemed to last an eternity, with Lyndon too frightened to move a muscle and the two guards presumably listening for confirmation of prey.
The clanging noise he had heard earlier then resurfaced in Lyndon's mind and his stomach knotted. They had sealed the iron security gate at the starwell, sealed him in. His whole plan rested on the hope that he would be able to slip in and out quickly, but no longer. His eyes gazed upward toward the murky red sky through the domed skylights. Around the rim of the ovaloid ceiling the carved faces of the great bygone scholars scowled down. Then he saw it, behind the scornful figure of a robe clad statue there was a iron handle along the side of one of the sky lights. It was a hatch to the roof, an escape. Lyndon took the book back under his arm, moving slowly now towards the center of the room. There must be some sort of ledge behind the statues; his mind raced with ideas on how to ascend, then struck upon one. The brass ladders affixed to rails on the shelves at the perimeter of the room.