Last week I asked five friends to supply me with a random word. I took those five words and used them in a story. The five words my friends gave me are in italics, enjoy…
In 2093 the Earth is dead. Humans destroyed it, but still humans refuse to die. Animals are extinct. Plants are gone. Everything is grey. Joy, laughter and wonder has been so sanitised it no longer exists. Even though human life goes on, few know what life really is.
But in an old, dusty library two young children are about to experience what it was like to be human…
“Grandpa! We’re bored!” Alex and Sam were visiting their seventy-two year old Grandpa. Their parental figure dropped them off, and removed all their technology at the request of their Grandpa.
“You’ve been here literally a minute!” said Grandpa. “And unlike your generation I actually know what that word means.”
“You don’t have anything to do here.” said the older child, Alex.
“I hate coming here,” added Sam.
“Well kids, I don’t have any technology like you do, but this place is far from empty,” said Grandpa. Gazing upwards and looking around at all the shelves he added, “Just look at all the books.”
“Our teacher says books are bad,” announced Alex.
“Yeah, they destroyed all the trees,” added Sam. At four years old he had only been to preschool, but even there the ways of the world were dictated.
“They did not destroy the trees,” said Grandpa. “They enriched the world, and continue to do so. Everyone needs to pick up a book and start reading.”
“But reading is boring!” reading wasn’t important at Alex’s school.
“Come help me with this chest,” said Grandpa, ignoring Alex’s comment.
The children helped Grandpa get the dusty wooden chest down from the shelf. It wasn’t big or heavy, but the knowledge and nostalgia it held exited Grandpa.
“This is my father’s collection of newspaper jokes that we cut out of the paper and kept,” said Grandpa. He picked out a newspaper clipping and read it. “Did you hear the one about the sheep and the cow who were in love? The chef refused to serve them together,” Grandpa chuckled, but both the children were unmoved. “That was hilarious eighty years ago.”
“What’s this?” asked Alex pointing, clearly already bored by the old jokes.
“It’s a satirical magazine,” answered Grandpa. “Back in my day satire was everywhere, you basically couldn’t tell what was real or fake. What satire did was take something normal and make it funny, and either people were really unintelligent or simply didn’t want to believe the truth.”
“I don’t get it,” said Sam.
“What’s that?” asked Alex, pointing at a picture in the magazine he was flicking through.
“It’s an animal called a llama,” answered Grandpa. “My uncle owned a llama.”
“Grandpa, where did you live?” asked Sam.
“I lived in a place called Ipswich,” Grandpa answered, pleased that the children were now asking questions. “I think I have a map over here.” Grandpa took Sam around to a section of encyclopedias and took out an atlas. He showed Sam a map of England and pointed to Ipswich. He then flicked to some pictures of Ipswich which amazed Sam.
“Cool, I didn’t know books had pictures in them,” said Sam.
“Well then,” said Grandpa with a twinkle in his eye. “Have I got just the book for you. It’s called a comic book, and it’s full of pictures.”
Again Grandpa lead Sam around the shelves of books to the comic book section where he took out his favourite comic book. He gave it to Sam and watched as he sat down and started reading.
“What about me?” asked Alex.
“What do you like?”
“Well you’re in luck. My father was a football fan, and he gave all his books to me.” Grandpa lead Alex over to the biggest shelf and took out a book simply called, ‘The Beautiful Game.’ “Start with this one.”
Five hours later the children’s parental figure returned. Grandpa hoped they enjoyed their liberating reading and new found knowledge. Grandpa saw the world change and knew books held the key to knowledge, thought and truth. It was too early for the kids to understand this, but Grandpa hoped one day they would, providing his efforts weren’t quashed by a dictating society.
“Grandpa, can we come back and read more books tomorrow?” asked Alex.
“You are always welcome in my library. Tomorrow I’ll show you my favourite book ever.”