Hollow Circus – The Grand Library
In the black of space lies the planet Hollow, a celestial body that Anodyne crafted with his own hands. Anodyne is a young god who stole humans from Earth and brought them forth to his universe because he was incapable of creating his own intelligent life. As he tormented and visited Hollow, he would later be referred to as Anodyne, the god of chaos and night. As the generations passed and the humans slowly adapted to their new planet, they began to create a new all-inclusive culture with religions, language, and more until there were more Hollow born than those from Earth. They would later give themselves the name, Holites. As the Holites started to develop towns, Anodyne would travel between them, observing and interfering with the lives of the Holites that attempted happy lives. Everywhere Anodyne traveled, chaos and despair was sure to follow, along with a peculiar man named the Conductor. The Conductor was a human once stolen from Earth to be used by the god Anodyne. The Conductor was where Anodyne channeled all his emotions allowing himself to keep a clear mind no matter what happened, but despite the best efforts of the Conductor, Anodyne still fell to rage regularly.
Wherever Anodyne would travel, the Conductor found he would follow, even if he made no effort to move. He knew that he had become a part of Anodyne, a mental link tethering them together. One day while Anodyne was traveling, the Conductor tried to remain where he stood, but no matter how hard he tried, he would always remain at Anodyne’s side. Each day he would take the time to make a few attempts at separating from Anodyne; with months of no results, his efforts slowly dwindled. One day when Anodyne was particularly active, the Conductor noticed he started to fall behind. At first, it was by a few meters, but it grew till he was nearly 100 meters away from Anodyne. The conductor took his time to walk over to Anodyne; by the time he walked over, Anodyne had flown into the sky and out of sight. Minutes passed as the Conductor waited, staring in the direction Anodyne flew. Nearly a full hour passed before the Conductor accepted that there was no longer a tether, he was still receiving Anodyne’s emotions, but the longer he waited, the weaker he could feel the flow become.
“I should find him; this may cause problems.” The Conductor exhaled slowly as he started to run towards where he believed Anodyne to be. No matter how inhumanly fast he ran, he knew that he was no match for the speeds that Anodyne could travel. His only hope was to find Anodyne stationary; knowing Anodyne, he knew he had to seek out Holites. Not only could Anodyne see into the mind of all his people, but tormenting Holites was the only thing that would entertain Anodyne long enough for him to be contacted. After four days of running, and the Conductor did not encounter a single Holite in the sparsely populated lands of Hollow. The night began to fall around the Conductor once again; he started to move at his fastest speed. In the distance, he could spy a light breaking through the trees.
The Conductor reduced his speed to a walk, observing the surroundings. He watched how the arctic winds rolled through the trees, no hills or rocks, just trees as far as the eye could see. The only feature of the land was a small home deep in the dense forest, glowing with the warm light of a hearth burning bright.
A crooked grin stretched across the Conductors face, his eyes closed as he took a deep breath of the air. The trees, home, and animals all gave off a scent, but the one he was craving was far stronger than all of those smells combined.
“Fears in the air.” The Conductors neck snapped to the left, eyes open wide, he stared past the house into the night.
“No matter how well you hide, my eyes see all in the dark tiny Holite.”
The sound of electricity humming filled the silent night, followed by a green light illuminating a scared man crouched in a hole aiming an intricate gun at the Conductor.
The man stood up from his hole, screaming, “Die demon.”
He pulled a lever on the gun before jerking the trigger, letting loose a bolt of green energy burning through the forest. The bolt soared past the Conductor’s face, illuminating his blackened eyes to the now terrified man standing in his hole. “What have I done?”
A small voice cried out from a window of the home, “Did you scare away the bad man Daddy?”
The man ran to his house shouting, “Back, get back to your hiding spot. You stay away from my family, demon.”
The Conductor waited till the man had entered his home before he made his next move, sinking into the shadows to emerge under the house next to three children huddled together. He watched as the big sister comforted the smaller boy and girl, waiting for the right moment. Everyone could hear the Father run around in the house, crying out for the Conductor to leave; this only scared the children more.
The big sister was constantly holding her twin siblings closer as the Father yelled above until the boy was brave enough to whisper under his tears. “Sarah, is daddy going to be ok?” She grabbed him tighter, but before she could answer, the Conductor spoke softly.
“I would be more concerned about yourself, little one.”
Both screams and tears erupted from all three of the children as they shuffled away. The father heard their screams and ran to the hatch, hiding them, clearing what was on top to allow his children freedom. Sarah handed both the smaller twins up, staring around under the house, watching as the Conductor came close enough to be illuminated by the light pouring down the hatch. His arm extended from the darkness grasping the dirt, pulling his face through the darkness and into the light, “let’s have some fun, Sarah; let’s see how far you can run.”
Sarah was quickly pulled through the hatch; she slammed it shut by bringing down a bookcase full of books on top of it. The family turned to run, but their path was blocked; the Conductor was rising through the floor. Not a single scratch was on the floor as his body passed through it, growling as he went.
“You hide in plain sight and run at my walking pace; I am the Conductor and Anodyne’s angel; how long do you expect to last the night?”
The father raised his rifle up, “Well, I am Magnus, father of three children and husband to a beautiful wife. I expect this night to last longer than your miserable life.”
Another bolt of energy erupted from the rifle; this time, the bolt passed through the Conductors face and into the floorboards that he had only managed to pull half of his body through.
His body slumped over, falling limp. The boards around his waist started to crack as his blood poured into the grooves. Sarah was taking no chances; she took one of her fighting knives from nearby to remove the head of the conductor. She ran as fast as she could to the well and threw it down. Her hands were shaking so much she dropped her knife into the damp soil by the well. Magnus rushed out soon after with a twin under each arm; he was sweating and frantic falling at Sarah’s feet. Inside, the body of the Conductor had begun to twitch and convulse violently; his body sparked until his remains were fully ablaze, setting the house into an inferno.
Magnus dropped to his knees, “My books, all the books I gathered gone.”
Sarah stilled her shaking hand on her father’s shoulder, “We can find more; we will start your library again.”
The family grouped together in the warmth of a burning building lying before them, unable to see the red glow growing larger behind them. The wind started to pick up until a full force of wind was roaring through the forest, blowing at the backs of the family. They turned, peering over the well to see the full range of Anodyne as he stormed the treeline, pulling 100ft trees straight from the ground, and bringing them down upon the blazing library.
“Where the fuck is my Conductor?”
Magnus stood, pushing his children to the ground. “I killed him; I removed his head and threw it down the well. The same place I toss the corpses of the nightmares you let roam the night.” Anodyne laughed as the ground began to shake underfoot, “he is the Conductor, and you put him in a place where he can conduct.”
The ground started to break apart as something seemed to be breaking up from below. An enormous hand broke through the ground; it was fluid as the multitude of dead corpses constructing the hand wriggled over each other like worms. A grand creature of writhing corpses arose from the ground; at its feet stood the Conductor, smiling. “It seems the night will be shorter than my life, after all, Magnus.”
Magnus stood in disbelief as a towering behemoth of corpses stood before him, staring back. His hair flourished as a knife flew past his ear, plunging deep into the Conductors chest.
The Conductor sighed as he pulled the blade from his body, “Girl, you have been a nuisance this whole time. If you had just left my head attached, your father’s precious library would still be intact.”
“I would give up thousands of libraries with millions of books for my children.”
Anodyne’s eyes glow and slowly disappear as he lands in front of Magnus, “giving up for loved ones is easy, but how much would you be willing to take, or should I say collect.”
With the wave of one hand, Anodyne brought forth an enormous building that descended from the sky. As it lowered, it crushed all the towering trees of the forest as if they were twigs; resting on the ground in the center of the forest, the structure stopped moving.
“I dub thee, The grand Magnus Library. It shall be here that you will spend the rest of your life, eternal life, that is, for it should take about an eternity to fill this library. Before you turn down this challenge, just think of your children.”
Magnus turned to see his eldest shaking, holding two books , each one having a picture of one of the twins. Magnus grasped at the books caressing the spines, examining them individually, reading their titles, ‘I was a mistake, it is true,’ ‘I was mistake number two.’
“In order for you to get your children back, you need to fill my library with all the books of Hollow, it might be a little hard considering most people don’t write, and there is no way to mass produce books yet. But have faith; you don’t need to give up thousands of libraries; just fill one!”
“Father, don’t worry. I will help you. We can get them back.”
Magnus squinted, trying to make out the top of the library; he knew he would never fill it in Sarah’s lifetime. “Please, I need you to take Sarah away; this is not her task. It is mine.”
Sarah began protesting, but she was interrupted by the Conductor grasping her face, covering it with his white-gloved hands. The white seemed to bleed into the skin of Sarah, traveling down her body, changing her clothes as it went. Her shirt turned into a black and white striped corset, and her hand and arms were covered with elbow-high striped gloves, one blue and one green. Her legs had matching knee-high socks, which matched her colorful skirt.
The Conductor turned to Magnus, “Sarah will entertain in my circus till you have filled your library; I have been looking for an acrobat for a while now.”
Magnus did not know what to say, he looked down and the terrified faces on the books in his arms, then back to Sarah, who was performing tricks the Conductor was yelling at her. Finally, he looked at Anodyne, who was grinning ear to ear, waiting eagerly for his response.
“I will do it, for my family, not for you.”
Anodyne cheered and clapped to celebrate Magnus’s decision, “Great news, great indeed. Just to make things clear, I don’t know if the immortality I gave you was from everything or just age. Once the Conductor is too far away, this abomination will return to primal acts, so maybe you should start running.”
The Conductor had already started to walk away with Sarah cartwheeling in tow. Magnus held his children’s books in his arms as he ran towards the library. He could see the front doors to the library, but already he could feel his heart pumping in his chest. His body was not used to running such a distance; already, he could feel his knees getting weaker as the sounds of the abomination grew closer. The vibrations from its malformed feet colliding with the ground buckled Magnus’s knees; he came crashing down into the doors of the library, falling onto the cold floor. There was no time for sightseeing, so Magnus picked up his children and ran further in.
Anodyne held his sides, laughing as the abomination funneled its way into the library,
“Conductor, did you see that? How long do you reckon he is going to last?”
Anodyne turned to receive his response, but the Conductor was nowhere in sight.
Sarah was springing around behind the Conductor as he walked through the forest; he seemed to be moving with determination.
“Hey, Conductor, where are we going?” The Conductor stopped to turn to Sarah.
“To get the others, of course.”