We all know where we were when we first read it.
For most of us, it was in school. A slim exercise book, hidden behind the others in the library. Rachinov wanted to spread the word, but only to the inquisitive. A blue exercise book that for most people would be covered in scribbles or swirls, titled Physics or Maths. Not this one though.
This one was clean, looking brand new in fact but completely full. Every page filled with cursive script, words flowing one into he next like waves crashing upon a beach. As with waves, every so often there came a tsunami of emotion. It was a call to arms, my own thoughts appearing on the page before me but in the voice of another.
All the front page said was “Freedom lies within.” No author name, or signature. No cover art. Just three words, but it was enough to pull me in.
“The path to freedom lies within. Follow these words and seek the truth. Truth is freedom and freedom is happiness. I know you. I know what you’re like. You found this book in a library, calling to you from behind the shelves. You heard it whispering when you woke up this morning, feeding on your desire to break the status quo and leave the humdrum behind for the fantastic. This book can take you there. Are you ready?”
“I am.” I whispered, my eyes frantically scanning the page for more information on the author, this creator who could speak directly to me in the neat, swirling words. THe blackness of the ink pulled me in as I read on, my eyes swimming into the pools of words that grew and grew around me until I was enveloped in the dark.
“Excellent. Now that we are alone, we can speak.” There was a figure strolling towards me through the darkness, confident strides that caused his crimson coat to swirl around him. “I’ve been rather excited to meet you, Callahan. It is Callahan? Or do you prefer a different name?” He reached up to his face to pull on the jet black goatee. “Callie? Cal? Mr Douglas?” He was bearing closer, easily six feet tall but graceful, as if he were dancing instead of walking.
“C-Cal. Please,” I stammered, forcing the words from my throat, “where am I?”
“Welcome to Dreamland, Cal. This is my home.” Perfect teeth, regimented into rank and file beamed at me as he came close enough to reach for my hand. “A place where you get to be what you want. Free.” He gestured out into the darkness and it was as if thick curtains were being drawn back. The darkness shrunk from this man revealing a cityscape, rolling fields, a tavern. “Yes, Cal. I’ve chosen you. You can be free, but it comes at a price. Those who choose to be free are free to think. Those who are free to think are free to rebel.” His dark eyes burned with colour and intensity, boring into my soul.
“Rebel. The book is your pathway and you passport. Read it, then return when you’ve made up your mind.”
I was back in the library, head swimming as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. I screwed my eyes tight shut, then opened them again to no avail. I looked down at the exercise book in my hands and saw that it had changed. No longer did it say Freedom Lies Within, no. Now, there was just one word.
A book is a way to escape. Whether you’re escaping the humdrum of your life or the pain and perils of your reality, a book is a way to escape. In this case, it’s literal.
The Idiot in Tin Foil