This is the first public extract from Martin Cosgrove‘s upcoming second esoteric novel, KARA (named changed from The Legacy of Kara Reyne). This is a scene in which Kara meets the mysterious character known only as The Librarian which is, you must admit, perfectly and amusingly appropriate. You may recall Martin as the author of The Destiny of Ethan King which has been featured before and is part of the collection at the Reading Room. KARA should be available as an ebook in August and paperback shortly thereafter.
Excerpt from the upcoming esoteric novel KARA
by Martin Cosgrove
Her mind numb, Kara found herself standing in the middle of the library. She didn’t remember climbing the stairs to get there. Her feet began to move again; one in front of the other. They stopped outside the secret entrance to the Perception Section and then it was her hand’s turn to take on a life of its own as it twisted the handle and pulled open the door.
The warping effect of the portal was still disorientating, as blobs of reality bulged out at her as if squeezed in the middle by a giant hand. Seconds later, Kara again stepped out into the small white room of what was officially named the Life Purpose Section.
“Oh, it’s you again.” The glum voice of the Librarian echoed in the sparsely furnished room.
“It’s great to see you too,” said Kara, not quick enough to catch her sarcasm before it left her mouth.
The Librarian humphed and proceeded to polish his spectacles whilst muttering something about young people these days.
A pang of guilt prompted Kara to add: “I’m sorry. I’m going through a lot and I shouldn’t take it out on you.”
The Librarian stopped what he was doing, still holding one lens of his glasses between folds of his baggy cardigan, and squinted at Kara.
“It’s quite all right,” he muttered. “I’m actually rather used to it. People don’t usually come here unless they have something on their minds. Folks who are already happy don’t go seeking out potentially life-altering information as a rule.”
She hadn’t thought of it like that, but it made sense. Why upturn the applecart if you are enjoying munching on apples all day long?
Kara stepped a little closer to the Librarian.
“I don’t think I introduced myself last time. I’m Kara.” She held out her hand, but the
Librarian just glanced at it then proceeded to perch his glasses on the end of his sharp nose.
“I know who you are,” he said with a wave of his hand. Kara pulled back her hand awkwardly.
“Everyone seems to be saying that to me lately,” she mumbled. “How do you know who I am?”
A look of utter incredulity crossed the man’s face. “Because I’m the Librarian. Knowing things is my job.” Kara pursed her lips to speak, but the Librarian continued. “I’ve seen references to your various incarnations in many volumes from countless cultures throughout the ages. If I remember correctly…” He tapped the back of his long hand on his lap. “Yes. I first saw mention of you in an inscription on a stone tablet inscribed by the Harappan civilisation of modern day Pakistan over four and a half thousand years ago.”
Kara’s eyes narrowed. “Exactly how old are you?”
The Librarian took off his spectacles and waved them casually as he spoke. “As old as words. Not as old as you.”
“What does that mean?”
The old man craned his neck to look around the room. “I’ve probably said too much already. Do you wish to look at your books?”
Kara took a deep breath. “Yes. I suppose that’s why I’m here. For answers.”
The man nodded knowingly and extended one arm towards the bookcases. “Be my guest.”
“Thank you.” Kara turned towards the books and then something occurred to her and she turned back to face the Librarian. “How rude of me. I didn’t ask you your name.”
The Librarian shuffled a little in his chair. “I’ve had many throughout the ages, but I tend to stick with Librarian these days. Keeps things simple and neat.”
“Pleased to meet you, Librarian,” she said with an apprehensive smile. “How do I know which one to look at first? Am I supposed to read them all?”
The Librarian smiled, making his loose cheeks wobble at little. It was the first time Kara had seen his otherwise sullen expression brighten.
“The books will show you what you need to see, don’t you worry about that.”
Kara just nodded and sloped off towards the middle bookcase, her stomach doing somersaults.
She picked a slim leather-bound volume off a shelf. Embossed on the front in gold leaf lettering was the title: Tao Te Ching. Kara had never heard of it. The words looked like a romanised version of Chinese and most Chinese books (along with books on spirituality, philosophy and so-called ‘radical’ politics) were outlawed by the Council.
As Kara opened the book, the brittle yellow pages exuded the distinctive musty smell of knowledge blended with history. The pages were a little tattered and well-thumbed and the spine had been cracked in such a way that it opened on one specific page of its own accord.
The Universe has a beginning;
That is the mother of creation.
He who quests after the mother
will know the sons;
he who knows the sons
and returns to the mother:
he will be safe his whole life long.
Kara read it three times, attempting to decipher its meaning and how it applied to her situation. The phrase quest after the mother rang through her head as she flicked back a few pages and read:
The soul of the vale never dies.
It is named the feminine.
The portal of the dark mother
is the source of Heaven and Earth.
Unceasing in its persistence
it is powerful without effort.
This one made even less sense to her. She closed the book carefully and was about to give up when another book farther along the same shelf caught her eye. The cover along the spine had fallen off, leaving the glue and string binding exposed. Something about it fascinated Kara — it was like looking inside a wound: tattered flesh and exposed blood vessels.
She placed her index finger on top of the sad-looking volume and eased it off the shelf to discover that the front cover was also missing. The title page read: Words from the Void: An Anthology of Poetry.
Again, the book wanted to open at one specific page and Kara didn’t stop it. She sat cross-legged on the floor, her back resting against the shelves and read a poem whose author was listed simply as anon.
Her boundless blackness swallows me whole;
an endless ocean engulfing my soul.
She stands strong, her sceptre poised with power,
ready to strike out and to devour
the impure, the degenerate, the soulless,
stripping them bare with her maternal prowess.
She laps at the shadowy shores of Malkuth;
‘ever ready to enter and to transmute
the lifeless into Life; the lead into gold;
begetting her daughter for us to enfold.
By men’s eyes she is unimpassioned and distant.
yet she moves with a Higher Love much more persistent.
Oh, Dark Mother: tear us down to make us stronger!
Sift the chaff from the corn so we are poor no longer.
In your feminine hands we entrust our souls,
so we may strive onwards to achieve sacred goals.
And in your expansive stillness and silence
lies hope for an end to this earthly violence.
Something greater than the words themselves struck Kara as she finished reading the poem. The mother, the female mentioned in the pages she had read was referring to a universal energy, a divine essence. Some of the words, however, were unfamiliar to her. The title of the poem, Binah, for example. And also Malkuth. She made a mental note to ask Abra about those terms and then a thought occurred to her. She placed her finger inside the book and closed it over, then wandered back over to the Librarian.
“Excuse me. Is it possible to take a book out of here?” she asked.
The Librarian’s brows knitted closer together. “Why ever would you need to do that?”
His reply caught Kara off guard. “Well, so I can study the texts in more detail.”
He chuckled — a phlegmy rasp which caught in his throat. “My dear, you will not forget the essence of anything that you read in here for the rest of your life. Or lives. But books may not be removed. Those are the rules.”
“Besides, these books do not exist out there. They only exist in here.”
It was Kara’s turn to frown. “And where is here, precisely?”
“Aha!” he exclaimed, sitting up a little straighter in his chair. “Now you’ve hit on an interesting question. This realm is a little below the one through that portal,” he said, indicating the door through which she had come, “and twice that distance above the world you’ve left behind.”
“What on earth is that supposed to mean?” Kara flicked her hair out of her face. “Your answers are even worse than Abra’s.”
“Taught her everything she knows,” replied the old man, not missing a beat.
Kara couldn’t tell if he was joking or not, but decided it wasn’t worth pressing the issue.
The man, seemingly picking up on Kara’s frustration, leant forward in his chair.
“Listen. Things will be revealed when the time is right. Stop fretting and just continue on your journey. One foot in front of the other — that’s all that is required. And don’t hurry to your destination either, you may end up wishing you’d savoured the journey a little more once you finally get there.”
He winked and gestured towards the door.
“Now get out of here. It’s closing time. A man’s got to nap, you know. This job isn’t as easy as it may look.”
More questions than answers. Again, thought Kara as she headed for the door.
“Ah, ah, ah,” the Librarian called after her. “Haven’t you forgotten something?” he asked, looking pointedly at the book in her hand.
“Oh!” Kara slapped her head with her palm. “I’m sorry. Silly me.”
“Silly, indeed,” mumbled the man as Kara returned the book to its home on the shelf and left the Perception Section for a second time.