Pratima is a scholar. William works for the Librarian. They must join forces to save thousands.
In a utopian future of wood and animal power the knowledge of dangerous technology is forbidden.
A deadly evil knowledge hidden for hundreds of years has been exposed in Northern India. Now the young scholar Pratima and the inexperienced library worker William must join forces to end the threat. They must make fateful decisions as they travel the rivers, valleys and village ways to stop the unleashing of a grave danger on the land. Their choices will determine if the kingdom will survive.
Published author of academic articles and book chapters and post-apocalyptic "woodpunk" fiction, S.A. Gibson turns his passions for learning, artificial intelligence, and human communication into accessible worlds of wonder and fascination. He is most proud of having been active in political actions for peace and justice. He lives with his beautiful wife and their beloved Dachshund-Chihuahua in Southern California, where he is currently producing an academic title on international ethnic conflict.
William is young and has lived a sheltered life in libraries. What he doesn't know about women could fill books. This stop on their trip brings a change to William and Pratima, for different reasons.
Pratima's Forbidden Book
She walks over to the table. She is dressed in a blue lengha with her midriff showing. She looks perhaps in her late teens.
"Excuse me sir," she says to William with her eyes lowered. "Are you one of the library people?"
"Yes," William responds, feeling proud and hopeful. "I work for the libraries in Rajasthan."
"I am glad I found you," she breathlessly speaks and smiles at him. William is finding that time has slowed down and he is focused on her every word. "We heard you had just arrived at our town by boat. My father sent me to find you. My name is Deven Agarwal."
She reaches out her hand. It is small and soft. William holds on to it as long as seems proper.
"I am William Way," he answers in a soft voice matching hers. His body is moving in time to her movements. His hands move when her hands move.
"My father has a book, that he thinks a Librarian should look at," she looks worried and glances around the room fearfully.
"What is it about?" William inquires, still matching her vocal and body mannerisms.
"Perhaps you could come meet my father and look at it?" she hesitantly suggests.
"Sure," he answers quickly. Being alone with Deven for the time to reach her father sounds like a very good idea to William.
She moves away toward the door, looking back and gracefully waving her hand for him to follow. William awkwardly rises from his chair and tries to show some semblance of grace as he walks after her.
"Our rooms are very close," Deven says to William as he steps out into the street.
"OK," William beams. "I will follow you."
She moves up the street. The sun is going down, but it is not dark yet. Many people are on the street. Many going home from a day of work. It is only a little over a block when Deven turns into a building and beckons William to follow.
"We are on the second floor," Deven apologizes with her eyes down. "Our rooms are small."
"No worries," William excuses her. They climb a set of wooden stairs. There is a hallway with several closed doors. She stops at one in the middle of the building.
"We are here," she announces. She opens the door and steps inside without looking back at William. He quickly follows her in without hesitating. The room is a small combined bedroom and sitting room with a chair and small table.
"Where is your father," William asks immediately.
"Oh, father must have gone to get some food," she explains. "The book is here." She points to a package lying on the bed. She walks over to the bed and sits down on the edge. It is a small bed. William assumes it belongs to Deven. He wonders where her father sleeps. She pats the bed next to where she is sitting and picks up the package. William closes the door and walks over to the bed. His body seems to be moving with little interference from his higher thinking processes.
"My father says the Librarian might be concerned that such a book is out in the world," she starts unwrapping paper covering the book. It reminds William of a gift package the way it is wrapped.
She hands it to him. He focuses on the cover. It is in English, a United States of America army manual.
"Surviving biological and chemical attacks," he whispers as his hands turn cold. He drops the book on the bed and stands up too quickly. He feels light headed and faint and sways on his feet. As he steps back toward the door, Deven looks concerned.
"My father can tell you where he found it," she pleads with him.
"I'm going, I'm sorry," William stammers. Something feels terribly wrong to him about the situation. He is not sure what, but he thinks flight is the best response to his nervousness. Deven gets up from the bed and carries the book toward him.
"Please take the book," she begs. "Librarians should protect it." She sounds like a different person. She has changed into a confident and mature young lady.
She holds the book out and William reaches for it. His back is about half a meter from the door. As he pulls the book away from her he sees a small knife in her hand. It had been hidden by the book as she handed it to him.
He turns and runs to the door, pulling it open and stepping out into the hallway in seconds. Without pausing, he runs down the hallway and stairs and is on the street before thinking about anything. When he sees people around him he looks down at the book in his hand and breathes deeply and starts back to the inn. He is not sure what happened, b