I was in the room, the room at the back of the library. Only it didn’t look like the library of Fenbay. There were tall marble pillars, and the rugs lay on a pristine white floor that radiated a cool, pleasant air. The sky was a clear shade of blue with not a cloud in sight, and a golden dome stood against the horizon reflecting so much sunlight it made me see stars after I blinked.
It was my little room from the library, only set inside the House of Wisdom. It wasn’t exactly the room from the library, though. There was only one shelf, with just enough room to fit five books, or perhaps three big ones. At the moment, it had two tomes resting on top of it, their spines too faded to read from afar.
The reading lamps on either side were turned off with their heads pointing at two armchairs, both of which had their back to me. I stood on the edge of the rug, my feet uncovered. I was wearing the clothes I had gone to sleep in.
I had gone to sleep? So, this was a dream. It felt familiar.
The sky darkened swiftly, like hours were passing between my breaths. Soon the dome was an angry red, the pillars a shade of pink, and the floor overcast. A clock ticked. It was the clock from the library, the one that had struck thirteen. It hung on the wall right over the shelf, all hands frozen at six.
My ears rang with a grating noise, like chewing sand with no saliva. The sky faded, the golden dome’s radiance died and it melted into the darkness. Just as the darkness was about to encroach on my entire vision, I heard a distinctly electrical buzz and the reading lamps came to life.
There were two circles of light in an empty sea. Red armchairs floated in the illuminated spots, particles of dust visible in the beams coming from the cloth lampshades. I drifted towards the armchair on the right, careful not to trip over the rug I felt should still be on the floor. The grating grew louder. I clenched my teeth; the sound was infuriating.
It was a comfortable chair. I rested my back against the pillow. It was almost like a bed. I looked over to the other armchair, and squinted.
Someone was sitting there, but I couldn’t tell who. Their image was blurred like a picture from a moving car. The grating sound was coming from the figure, and I finally recognized what it sounded like.
The noise was literally noise. White noise to be exact. An endless series of greyscale pixels whizzing between the spectrum. Waves from exploding stars, radiating black holes, tiny cellular devices, and mishandled microwaves, scrambled in a code as old as all of existence, destined to outlive me, my loved ones, everything I knew, and everything I thought I knew.
The noise was oddly comforting. I’d heard some people liked listening to white noise at night, it helped them fall asleep. The idea had always seemed ludicrous to me, and despite the warmth in my heart, and the easing of my shoulders, it still seemed like a dumb idea to me.
Couldn’t they tell this thing was evil?
The lights flickered. The static heightened. And I fell into the depths of the armchair.