Startled, Joseph jumped out of bed. A familiar woman’s voice captured his attention from a deep sleep. “Light on,” he ordered. An amber glow filled the room. Quietly, he went to the hallway.
“Kate’s room,” he whispered. The floor moved at a smooth pace taking him down the narrow passage. He opened his daughter’s door and saw his deceased wife projected, bigger than life, on Kate’s wall.
“Never forget the books we’ve read, no matter what. Okay?” She tickled the little girl.
Video Katie giggled, “Okay, Mommy.”
Real-life Kate wiped tears from her cheeks. Joseph sat down.
“I miss her, Dad.”
“I miss her, too.”
“She asked me to remember the books, but I can’t.”
“It’s my fault. Mom wanted you to love books, too, but the times we live in make it dangerous. I want to keep you safe.”
Katie scooted close and put her head on her dad’s shoulder. “Are they outlawed?
Joseph picked up her PRS, personal retrieval system. “Our government supplies us with these instead.”
“Isn’t that the way it’s always been?”
“I think you’re old enough to know the truth. Get dressed and meet me at the escalator.”
“But it’s the middle of the night.”
“That’s the only time we can go.”
They rode down from their home high atop the trees. The natural air so stifled, it was hard to breathe. Once on the ground, they stepped over debris of times past.
Father and daughter skirted away from police strobe lights that towered above them until they were in a barren spot in the middle of an open field. “Stop here, Kate. This is a secret place. There’s no telling anyone.”
“But there’s nothing here.”
Joseph knelt onto the grass and pulled up a lever. A door opened. “This is the Labyrinth.”
“It’s a basement, right? We learned about these in school.”
“It’s sort of like a basement.” They crept down steep steps.
Kate gasped when he turned on the light. There were ten rows of shelves that started in front of her and spanned out into the edges of darkness, each taking their own direction: right, left, and some down lower into the ground. “This is why it’s called Labyrinth, right?” She tiptoed to a nearest shelf and ran her finger across the objects. “So many books!”
“They hold words that describe our past and predict our future; words that make us laugh and cry. They teach us what we need to know.” Joseph searched for a special one then took it off the shelf and held it out to her.
Katie turned it right side up then backwards. “Where do you turn it on?”
Joseph chuckled. “It doesn’t come on, Kate. Open it up. See the words? You read them right on the page.”
“But the PRS has written works. What’s so special about these?”
“What’s in the PRS is what the government allows us to know.”
“Mom used to come home sometimes with a pile of books hidden in her coat. When I asked where she got them, she said I would find out when I’m older. Oh Daddy… Mom was killed because of books, right?”
“Mainly for this one book in your hand, the number one banned book of all time – the Bible. She was brave, much braver than me. This book tells us all about our Creator.”
“Our Creator? What do you mean?”
“Your grandfather was a pastor. He encouraged his congregation to memorize the Bible so they could keep the Creator’s words in their hearts. He believed books wouldn’t be allowed much longer. The people didn’t listen. About a year later, the government seized all the books in our land.”
“But this place…”
“Grandpa busied himself collecting all he could and built this shelter to hold them all.”
“Mom was in church when the police came and shot her dad, all because he dared read a Bible to the people. She took his place. She kept up his mission.”
Kate edged closer to Joseph. “Police came to our house and I hid under the bed. All these memories are coming back.” She shivered. “Mom and Grandpa are heroes because they saved books?”
“They saved books and taught out of the Bible. They’re martyrs.”
“Tell me more about our Creator, please? I need to know this book.” Katie pressed the Bible close to her heart. “Don’t worry, Mom will be with us. We’ll be safe.”
“Mom won’t be with us but our Creator God will.”
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