The Book of Wonders.

What a terrible title, really. Wonders does not begin to explain what this book was capable of.
Legend told that whoever held the book, not necessarily the owner, but whoever held the book in their hands, would hold the knowledge that they sought in that moment.

The pages were all empty. Every single one, from cover to cover. But as soon as you held it in your hands, it was full of everything you would want to know.

Where the lost cities went, how diseases were cured, how the female mind truly works; every mystery was revealed.

With the Book of Wonders, knowledge was power, and power was limitless.

In the years that I had it, I toppled empires. I earned billions of dollars. I saw the patterns and roads the world and rode them to glory.

But then something happened.

I went to see what the Book would tell me about the latest discovery that my archeology company was working on. I grabbed the old leather cover and placed it in front of me.

Every time I opened it, for a moment, I was overwhelmed with excitement. How the Book of Wonders truly worked, I do not know. They said it was magic, but it never satisfied me as an answer. But a moment before knowing, the unknowing feeling, right before the Book was opened…it was a thrill of sorts. It would last a moment, and then I would bask in the glory of knowledge that I wanted.

I took a deep breath, letting the smell fill my being, and proceeded to open it.

“Return to Central Library.”

What was the Central Library? Where was the Central Library?

I let go of the book, and words faded away. This had never happened before. I had always picked up the Book of Wonders, opened it, and the knowledge that I sought was there. I never had to say anything. It just knew.

Why was it showing me something that I wasn’t thinking about, or knew anything about?

I grabbed the Book again. Perhaps I was seeing things.

“Return to Central Library.”

I set it down with force. Why was it saying that? What was wrong with the Book of Wonders? Could it be broken? Had I done something wrong in opening this morning?

The unanswered questions started to agitate me. It was a bug crawling beneath my skin, and I so wanted it out of me.
My mind leaped to the quickest and most effective relief it knew. I left the book on the desk and made my way to the bar.

The dry martini had barely left the glass when I was pouring another. I couldn’t understand it. This couldn’t be happening. The Book always told me what I wanted to know. It was how I had built my empire. It was how I had achieved everything. It was what took me from a street urchin on Devil’s Boulevard to the penthouse apartment, atop the skyscraper Majestic.

The second drink went down as quickly as the first. The third was poured, and the olive about to be added when I had a thought.

Couldn’t I ask, or be seeking information, about the Central Library, and the Book of Wonders tell me what I need to know about it?

Would that work? I smirked to myself, optimistic about this plan. As long as it wasn’t actually broken, somehow. But how could you break a book? A magical book at that.

As my thoughts ran wild, I realized that I honestly knew nothing about this book, only that it worked. I had been so preoccupied with it for all these years, not in what it was, but what it could do for me. I was Aladdin and it my Genie, granting every wish I could imagine. Had I used up my wishes?

I spun my drink by the stem of the glass, pondering these things. Sadly there was only one way to get the answers, I would have to pick up the Book of Wonders and see if it would tell me anything.

I downed my third martini and marched back to the desk. The Book of Wonders stared up at me.That moment of thrill, the unknowing was back. But there was no joy in it now. Instead, a terror. As much as I could soon have the knowledge I sought, I could just as easily be left empty-handed.

That red flag caused me to proceed with caution. Rather than sit at the desk, I stood a few feet back. I leaned forward slowly. With a flip of the wrist, I threw the book open. I recoiled as if it was about to explode. Peeking over my shoulder, I saw something I hadn’t expected. The page was empty.

The pages had always been full. Knowledge filled every page, almost spilling over the boundaries of the page into the world of the real.

But that was when I was holding the book. I rolled my eyes at my own stupidity. Of course, the Book of Wonders appeared empty. It only worked when it was been held, how I knew not how that made it work.

Hesitantly, I sat down. With held breath and closed eyes, I reached forward and grabbed the sides of the Book. Every thing within me was thinking about where the Central Library was, hoping that things were not beyond repair.

When my body finally gave into the need for air, my eyes opened and fell on the open Book.

“Return to Central Library.”

All those hopes were dashed on the rocks of reality. The Book of Wonders, for all that it had done for me in the past, was broken. All it wanted was to go back to the Central Library as if…as if it was living thing…

Questions flooded my mind again. And as the floods came, so came the doubt and uncertainty. The unknowing, the thrill of the moment was descending upon me, but like never before. It was not a moment. It came in waves, and waves drove me to huddle in the corner and weep.