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.Bobby Prescott couldn’t tell if he was listening or not.‘Whoever sprayed that up there got the punctuation absolutely right,’ said Bobby Prescott.‘They put the apostrophes where they’re supposed to go.The bastard could write.And that means they could read.They understood what all this meant.’Bobby Prescott turned to one of the piles that peaked halfway to the ceiling and sloped down into scattered volumes, individual books, one almost touching his foot.He picked it up.‘They knew what it meant.And they still helped destroy it.’ Bobby Prescott’s voice was thick with emotion.He could hear himself getting louder.‘So of course I know what you mean.’ He was shouting now and at last the little man was turning around, looking at him, paying attention to him.‘You mean this place is like a church,’ said Bobby Prescott, letting his voice go quiet again.‘And now the church is dead because the religion is dead.’ He let the book drop out of his hand.He’d checked.It was quite unsalvageable.‘It was killed by people who didn’t believe in god.’‘Do you believe in gods, Bobby?’‘My god was books.’ Bobby closed in on the little man.‘Books I could escape into.Books that were doorways into other worlds for me.You know about those kind of doorways?’‘Yes.’‘Like going through that wardrobe into Narnia, right? I started reading those books when I was four.I learned fast.They said I was something special.The librarians.They taught me in their own time.In their lunch hours.That was one of the first books.I went through that wardrobe.I found the lion and the witch.’Bobby Prescott leaned in close to the Doctor, his breath warm on the Doctor’s face.‘I rode on the quest for the rings of power.I went out into the desert with Kit and Tunner and Port.I’ve stayed in a house in England called Howard’s End.It had a roof that kept the rain off my head.Even when there wasn’t a real roof and the real rain was soaking me to the skin.Do you understand?’The Doctor nodded.‘I’ve been down every corridor in Gormenghast.I’ve been on the road with Dean Moriarty.I waited for a quiet American called Pyle in the rue Catinat in Saigon.I was with Dillon and the kid when they killed Eddie Coyle after the hockey game.I went up to the castle with K.There was snow coming down on us.’Bobby Prescott looked up at the ruined library rising around him, beyond the balconies of the dark building well.A million books, burned, torn, destroyed.The survivors dying now.Books died just like people.They died when they finally lost a critical amount of information.Pages torn out or obliterated by the dirty rainwater.When a book ceased to be legible, when it lost so much information that its ideas could no longer be transmitted, the book died.Bobby Prescott felt like a child again, sad and alone, standing in the silent heart of a mass graveyard.He looked at the ruined books all around him.He’d rescued as many as he could, carrying bags of books home right under the noses of the librarians.They’d known.They’d switched off the alarm system when he went through.They knew the trouble was coming.Everybody did.Bobby Prescott had been there the day the balloon went up, the day the rioting began.One of the pitifully few.A thin line standing against the hordes.Illiterate and literacy‐hating, streaming in through the gates.Shouting in their eagerness to kill.And it wasn’t even people they wanted to kill.It was the books and the ideas in them.Ideas that could live almost forever if the books were cherished.The front wave of rioters had hit them and Bobby Prescott had begun to swing his baseball bat.He had felt a wild joy matched at no other time in his young life.He had always dreamed of smashing these ignorant computer‐blunted faces.Now they were being offered to him.When he stopped swinging, it was only because the bat had been reduced to a useless stump of soggy wood.They’d beaten the first wave of attackers as far back as the library gates.If they’d been able to shut the gates at that point things might have turned out differently.But the kids from the high school had brought steel rods with them and jammed the gate mechanism forever, just as the crash barrier began to grind shut.Bobby Prescott had almost lost a hand trying to pull one of those bars out.Sometimes he could still feel the wound, healed but still there, deep in his hand, down among the bones.He felt it now.Bobby Prescott stood in the graveyard silence and felt that ache.It was the ache of an old defeat.There was hot air at the base of his throat.His anger made it hard to breathe.The little man had moved again.He stood looking over the circular balcony, down towards the basement well of the library.He was holding something Bobby Prescott couldn’t see.‘I tried to stop them,’ said Bobby Prescott.He was moving towards the little man, moving quietly.‘I tried to stop them but I didn’t manage it.’ The little man turned and Bobby Prescott could see what he was holding now – a pad of paper, the top sheet blank and white in the moonlight.Out of his pocket he took a pencil and he began writing on the pad.Bobby Prescott hesitated, watching him.No, he wasn’t writing.The motions of his hand were too fast and sweeping.He was drawing something.‘Bobby Prescott, why were you here?’ asked the little man.‘When the riots were on?’ said Bobby Prescott.‘I was here because I wanted to save the books.’‘How did you intend to do that?’‘Stopping the kids.’‘Have you stopped a lot of kids?’‘They’re little animals.The only time they read a word is when it’s on some computer screen.That’s the way I imagine them.In their safe little homes.In their warm little bedrooms with the computers their mom and dad bought for them [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]