Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: Written Immortality
By Serafia Cross
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Like the internet was a breakthrough five hundred years ago, the WORD –World Online Resource Database—is the current means of communication. No more phones, portable musical devices, or writing material. It's all in our heads.
Then there's my friend Kendrick Beckons. He's the only one I know of who has learned to turn off the WORD, which is really annoying when his best friend tries to contact him to see if he wants to get some pizza and just hang out. But then again, as his best friend, I know where he is because he has a strange obsession. He loves to read old letters. Those old letters can only be found in the Intergalactic Library, which would be a problem for anyone who didn't live in the neighborhood of the world powers homebase, but Kendrick's dad is a senator to an offworld planet, so he's always based back here on good ol' Earth where the only physical library in the galaxy exists.
The Intergalactic Library was a major undertaking when all the nations on Earth decided to put all their books and museums to a single location. Everyone praised this accomplish, and then everyone forgot—everyone but Kendrick.
“Kendrick?” My voice echoed through the darkened corridors lined with massive pillars and rows and rows of dusty bookcases and displays. I saw a dim light at the end of one bookcase and crept towards it. “Kendrick?” I found him surrounded by piles of old envelopes broken open and personal letters scattered on the table.
He spun his chair around and held up a yellow sheet of paper torn and tattered at the edges. I squinted to look at the words scribbled on the page, but I couldn't read the elegant loops and twists and turns of the letters. The handwriting looked painful, and I wondered how anyone managed to cope with such an old fashion form of communication.
“Michelle, look at this!” Kendrick waved the paper in front of me. “What do you see?”
“Wrist ache and a headache. Why do you ask?” I folded my arms over chest and glowered at him.
He shook his head and turned back to the table overflowing with letters. “It's a letter written in year 2010 between a woman and I think some guy who's dead.”
“Did the dead guy reply?” I sat on the edge of the deck and ignored the look Kendrick gave me when I was being ridiculous on purpose. I picked up a letter just to humor him but didn't try to read it.
“No because I think he died nine hundred years before she was born.”
“And she was writing to him? Why?”
“Because she knew something that we've forgotten today ever since the WORD was invented, and this is what I've been trying to prove.”
I dropped my chin into my palm. “Sorry, don't follow.”
Kendrick sighed and sat back in his chair, which creaked under the weight. “The written word makes people immortal. Here's a girl five hundred years ago we would have never known about if it wasn't for her letters, and she's writing to a guy who's now...” He looked to the ceiling as he did the math. “Fourteen hundred years died, and we wouldn't have known of his existence if it wasn't for her writing.”
“So what does it matter? He lived. She lived. So what?”
The smile Kendrick gave him sent chills crawling under my skin. “In a hundred years from now, will anyone know you even existed?” I never thought of that and wasn't going to begin now, so I shrugged, and Kendrick went on. “No one's going to know that you or I existed because our technology has taken away that form of immortality. It still exists though—right here in the written word. We just need to learn how to write again—by hand.”
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