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Borrowed Knowledge
April 21, 2021|Short Story

Borrowed Knowledge

Borrowed Knowledge

The constant clanking of the wagon wheels as they passed over the rails kept him awake, the dinging was impossible to ignore. Time seemed to slow down slightly, as if the train traveled between dimensions.

Although Nathan Astaros didn’t seem to mind the noise, as he studied the symbols on a scroll. It was then that the vivid image of the fire raging through Alexandria’s library flashed through his mind.

So much knowledge that we’ll never get back, Nathan thought, carefully tucking the clear plastic-covered parchment into a folder. All the secrets of a civilization lost forever. Could it be that we’ll face the same destiny?

On his last trip to Egypt he noticed how mysterious the inside of the pyramids is. There is so much we choose to ignore.

Suddenly, a change in the constant clanking of the rails caught his attention. Nathan looked out the window but found nothing out of place, his psychosis for the value of his scrolls awoke. I better get out of here.

Nathan placed the folder in his briefcase and headed for the next car. However, in front of his eyes and a few steps away a cloud of black smoke began to form. Nathan took a step back, not knowing what was happening. From the portal appeared two slender creatures with oversized heads and fanged mouths.

There was no time to wait and see what would happen. Somehow Nathan knew exactly what he had to do, pulling out one of the scrolls and reading it aloud.

The creatures took a while to regain balance after their appearance, long enough for Nathan to finish casting the spell. One of the demons prepared to attack.

Nathan was surprised to see a light unfold from within him, slightly pushing everyone around, blinding the creatures for an instant. When Nathan managed to see what was happening he noticed that his outfit had changed, now he was wearing silver armor, the scrolls and the briefcase were transformed into a book that hung from his waist by a chain, and in his hand he noticed a sword.

The creatures looked at him and fear could be seen on their faces. Immediately, they turned and run, fleeing.

Nathan froze, trying to understand what was happening. When a new portal of black smoke opened at the other end of the car. People began to run when they saw the new creature appear, it was very different from the previous ones, its large and sturdy body, with horns on its head.

The messages came clear after reading the scroll, although this was the first time Nathan had experienced the science of a lost civilization. He grabbed the sword’s hilt with both hands and turned to face the creature.

“Let’s not make this any more difficult than it has to be,” the demon said to Nathan’s surprise. “Give me the book and no one will get hurt.”

The demon looked too calm for the situation. Nathan wasn’t about to give up so easily. “Over my dead body.”

“It will be a pleasure.”

Nathan felt safe… different from his normal state. Even holding the hilt of the sword in his hands was something he seemed to be used to, although it was the first time he had felt this power.

The creature approached slowly, its gaze fixed on the man in silver armor.

“Not one more step…” Nathan said.

“Do you think this is a game?” the beast asked as it stopped. “Are you scared?”

Nathan didn’t know what he was doing, but he plucked up his courage and attacked, swinging his sword against the creature.

The demon grabbed the blade with one hand. “You are not a worthy rival.”

“What do you want from me?” Nathan asked, trying to retrieve the sword from the demon’s grasp.

“Should I repeat myself?” The creature pulled the sword and struck Nathan with its shoulder. Throwing the man down the corridor of the carriage.

Nathan noticed that the blow didn’t hurt him and he got up. To his surprise the sword was in his hand again.

“Don’t make this any more difficult than it needs to be,” the creature said, slowly approaching.

Nathan cleared his mind, concentrating on what was happening; letting go. He took the sword with two hands and charged.

The demon was shocked and leapt backwards to evade the attack. But Nathan continued, approaching the creature with every step. The beast had to jump to the side and managed to continue evading the attacks. Nathan noticed his sword lighting up in a different way, as if it radiated.

The expression in the demon’s face changed, concentrating to avoid being struck by a swing of the sword. “You learn fast.”

Nathan felt sure of himself, noticing his movements getting him closer and closer to his target. But in that instant he was unable to see the creature approach and couldn’t avoid getting caught by a wrist. Then he felt a claw around his neck.

“You never had a chance,” said the demon, tearing the book hanging from the belt. He then threw Nathan against the side of the wagon.

Nathan tried to get up, noticing that his armor had disappeared.

“Knowledge is our domain,” said the demon holding the book with his hand. Then a black fire began to consume the pages until it was destroyed and ashes fell to the ground.

Nathan watched the creature vanish.

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Sebastian Iturralde

Fiction blogger—citizen of this beautiful planet, eternal lover of artistic creation and literature. Certain that the creative energy comes from nature.

90 comments

  • June 11, 2021 at 6:36 am

    It sounds like todays cooperate technocratic systems, absorbing all knowledge and turning it in to a commodity only to be excessed by a chosen few, or those people on the inside. The question is, how many idealists will need to be sacrificed, before knowledge becomes common good again?

    • June 12, 2021 at 12:48 pm

      The real problem lies in the lack of enthusiasm that society has to follow other paths of knowledge.

  • June 13, 2021 at 6:35 am

    Epic imagination 👌

  • July 1, 2021 at 6:02 am

    wow, I like your stories . Kindly share your email or number with me

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    This short story has been carefully crafted with inspiration I got from the Andes' highlands.
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