I was in a library searching for a book. The school year was ending and it was crucial that I finish my Ancient American History class paper before Final exams next week. My knees were locked to keep me from falling as I traced my finger over the rows and rows of endless spines, hoping to match the reference number to the thick catalogue card I was holding. It felt like it had been days since I slept and I didn’t want to pass out again. Especially not here. Especially not now. It was late and the building was mostly empty.
The library was old. It had been built in the 1800s and had gone through some restorations; the most recent being in the 1970s. Everything had heavy oak trim and there was a fragrance in the wood and a musk that spoke of age and wisdom in the broad body of the massive archive. The books assembled here had come from all over the world, even from before the building was originally built.
I kept hearing people talk. One said..."Yeah...Dave is over there". And the echo of the word "there" repeated off the hollow dome that stretched over… “There…. there… here… ere.."
I found what I needed. Mythical Toltec of MesoAmerica: An ancient civilization so unknown they aren’t even sure if it existed at all or if it’s a land of fantasy. The Aztec Atlantas. I brought the book to the long table where I had my belongings and set it down, but there was a book laid out in my spot already. The cover was a form of canvas pulled tightly across a heavy board with five decorative suns engraved. I ran my fingers over the details, finding four of the five which had been blacked out, filled in with a dark chalk that emitted the aroma of ash.
I picked up the book to open it, only to find that the yellowed pages were mostly blank... that is except at the very bottom were words were hand written as if penned from a quill in fresh ink... "Yeah...Dave is over there."
The sight was unsettling. Was someone watching me? Had someone been in the library, recording what was going on? It wasn’t beyond reason that someone would hear the phrase, same as I had, and decided to write it down. But why in this old book? Why did they leave it at my seat? Why did they write the phrase over and over and over on hundreds of pages and how could they do it without smudge or smear so fast? The more I thought about it, the more it rattled me. I freaked out. I had to show the group that was talking and ask if they knew how the hell did this get here.
“Hey.” I said as I approached the group. The two guys sat across from each other, and three ladies crowded near the head of the table. They stopped their conversation to look up at me.
“Hey.” Said a guy with a sip of his large water bottle. “What’s up?”
“I found this book over there and wasn’t sure if one of you left it there on accident.”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“Okay. I was asking because I thought I overheard one of you say ‘Dave is over there.’ and I saw it written in the book so I wasn’t sure if one of you was Dave or if that’s a thing I don’t know about... Like a quote from a movie or something”
“Yeah, I’m Dave.” The second guy joined in. “Can I see that?” He asked putting down his book on Evolution, holding his hand out. I handed him the book and he thumbed through the pages with an air of concern on his face.
“Yeah, that’s not my book. Looks like it hasn’t been opened in decades. Weird though.”
“Yeah. I thought it was weird too. I’ll put it over there in case someone comes looking for it, okay?” I said, motioning towards a table near where they sat, but far from where I was camped.
“Why not keep it at your table where the person left it? The lady with the cat printed on her shirt said. The group nodded along with her. She had a point.
I felt uneasy about having the book close to me for some reason; almost like someone was playing a prank. I mean, it made sense. If the person was looking for their book, they’d probably start where they left it.
“Yeah. I guess that’s not a bad idea.” I said squeakily. “Okay, I’ll keep it at my table if anyone comes back for it.”
As I walked back to my seat I heard a thumping noise, only to look back and see that a handful of books had fallen because part of the shelving rack was coming down. The group at the table sprang up to make sure the books wouldn’t fall. I took note of the sign that read World History before pausing in contemplation, thinking about whether or not I should help. But before I could decide to act, the group seemed to have the situation under control. The ladies picked up the books while the guys stabilized the shelf, and as sudden as it collapsed it had been fixed.
I sat down, setting the book on the far edge of the table before sinking into my studies. The PreAztec culture was beyond fascinating. No records exist from the Toltec people themselves, but had been referenced and even used as a source of inspiration for the Aztec concept of cyclical eras, where the future becomes the past and a new world begins. The only legend that remains is of Tecciztecatl. The gods had made and destroyed the earth four times before Tecciztecatl's world due to man’s corruption. First destruction came by ocelots devoured men. Next man’s ignorance transformed them into monkeys. After that the world was destroyed for lack of devotion by fire, and earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. And finally the last world was destroyed with a flood, drowing the very sun and plunging mankind into darkness. But in this new world of darkness it was Tecciztecat who volunteered as a sacrifice to start the new sun. He stood atop a pyramid, dressed in feathers for his funeral pyre. But his courage was weak, and he was too afraid to jump into the flames. Seeing the man’s weakness, the god Nanautzin, draped in ahumble garment, entered the fire himself. Ashamed, Teccitztecatl threw himself into the fire after the god. It was then that the new sun rose into the sky giving light to the fifth world.
Hours went by before I looked up from my schoolwork. The scent of ash had grown stronger, almost as if incense had been lit. I looked over that the crazy book to see that a small stream of smoke smoldered from the cover. My heart pounded as the thought of a fire in a library had manifested. I turned to see if the group was still there, hoping that the guy with the water bottle had some left, but they were gone. Everyone was gone. I approached the book, deciding that if I couldn’t put the fire out, I could at least take the book outside and keep it from igniting the tinder that surrounded a hungry ember. The cover had changed. The final sun had filled in with thick black char, scarred with coal's carbon. It was cold to the touch but I was compelled to see what the heck was going on. I picked the old book up again and opened it. The pages no longer said “Yeah...Dave is over there”. It now read...."You should have helped with the shelf"....on every single page. The ink still fresh and bleeding down the curled edges of the aged paper.
I dropped the book in disbelief, and as it hit the ground it tore through as a lead weight through wet tissue, opening a vast chasm to a blackened pit below. Smoke began to pour out and rise into the library. It was then that a creature appeared from the void. His body was small, pale, and bony. It looked like a man, but he was inhuman in how viciously he crawled hand over foot in his approach. He was horrifying, His misshapen form was covered in scabs and torn cloths that were soaked, dripping with warm blood. He spoke in a language I didn’t know, crazy sounds and looking at me with a deep sense of anger. I tossed the book at him as hard as I could.
He looked at me displeased and ran his finger over the cover of the book, creating an engraving of a new sun.
“What do you want from me?” I pleaded.
His eyes lit with intellect as he found the words in a language I could understand. “It’s your turn.” He grunted painfully at me with a sense of justified anger. My bones had turned to stone within my body. I was paralyzed in the presence of a force beyond this realm. I knew who he was. He was Nanautzin, the Toltec god, come back from within the 5th sun. The sun that would soon go black like the others. His time had ended and a new time was about to begin. There was nothing left to do but pray as I was dragged away to be the sacrifice for the light of the 6th World.
If you are interested in the Toltec legend of the 5 Worlds, CLICK HERE