Scribings, Vol 2: Lost Civilizations by Jamie Alan Belanger by Jamie Alan Belanger - Read Online

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Summary

Journey into lands long lost with the Greater Portland Scribists. Delve into an Egyptian pyramid in a peculiar location. See what a Viking boy does when handed the executioner's ax. Find out why sometimes it's too late to learn from your mistakes. Watch a bookbinder as he achieves his dreams. See a civilization vanish through the eyes of a young girl.

Scribings Vol 2: Lost Civilizations features eight exciting stories that will take you on a trip through time and space and even through the fabric of reality itself. Scribings Vol 2 features stories from trusted veterans Richard Veysey, Cynthia Ravinski, and Jamie Alan Belanger; as well as stories from new members Christopher L. Weston and Timothy Lynch.

Published: Lost Luggage Studios, LLC on
ISBN: 9781936489114
List price: $2.99
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Catalog

Acknowledgments

Cover art by GPS. The cover includes Public Domain and Creative Commons components, as follows:

A picture of a map from the US Geological Survey:

http://viewer.nationalmap.gov/viewer/

This site is a Public Domain resource built by data from several federal agencies.

Viking ship, pyramid, and gull images are Public Domain, from http://www.wpclipart.com

Fictional map of Atlantis by Patroclus Kampanakis, first published in his book The Procataclysm Communication of the Two Worlds via Atlantis, Constantinople 1893. This image is therefore considered to be in the Public Domain in the USA.

The tree was drawn by Chris' wife, Kristina Stella L. Giroux

The introduction concludes with a modified version of the introduction to Lord Dunsany's The Book of Wonder.

We also want to extend our gratitude to Vanessa Blokland, a writer and animator we have worked with in the past. Vanessa took the time from her busy schedule to create book trailers for this collection. Her website is at http://www.vanessablokland.com

If you haven't seen the book trailers yet, check them out at http://www.youtube.com/lostluggagestudios

And, finally, we'd like to thank Richard's mother, Robin Veysey, for hanging out with us, graciously giving advice and tax tips, and supplying us with some rather colorful Richard stories.

Introduction:

Lost Civilizations

by Jamie Alan Belanger

People have been writing about lost civilizations since the days of Plato, and more than likely have been talking about them even earlier. Over the thousands of years since Plato's days, many books, movies, video games, and television shows have had plots involving lost civilizations -- from the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley to modern characters like Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, MacGyver, and Dirk Pitt. Even the television show The Simpsons has made a reference to Atlantis (in one episode, Homer has a To Do list with Find, destroy Atlantis already checked off).

What is it about lost civilizations that gets the imagination churning? In part, it's the promise of discovery. The speculation of what could have been. The wondering about the people who were there, the things they were doing, why they disappeared, and what they could have achieved if their civilization had continued. In 2009, the Internet came alive with rumors that Google Earth's new ocean floor satellite views exposed Atlantis. More recently, new interest has been generated in Mayan culture, thanks in large part to their calendar ending in 2012. Civilizations with fewer remnants left behind just leave more room for our imaginations to fill in the blanks, building these people into legendary scholars, mathematicians, and architects who were quite possibly (and a little too often, in my opinion) influenced by aliens. Were these civilizations really as advanced as pop culture would like us to believe? Or were they just filled with ordinary people, living ordinary lives? Regardless of which is true, there is a lot we could learn from these civilizations, as much as we can learn from studying any period or culture in our world's history.

When we first discussed topics for our second collection of stories, Cindy wanted to do an anthology about Vikings. While that certainly sparked some interest with the other members, we eventually decided to expand that topic to include other civilizations that are no longer with us -- from the real civilizations of Ancient Egypt and the Vikings, to mythical ones like Atlantis -- as well as completely fictional civilizations. The following stories examine aspects of these cultures and the people within them. The allure of Atlantis. The voraciousness of the Vikings. What was and what could have been.

Come with us, ladies and gentlemen who are in any wise weary of this world. Come with us, and those that tire at all of the world we know, for we have discovered remnants of lost worlds here...

Jon the Bookman

by Timothy Lynch

The scimitar-like blade shears with confidence, slicing the edge of the folio. Jon the Bookman flips the pages with approval. Very nice, he thinks as he stacks yet another pretty unsewn signature of the cloth fiber paper on the sewing rack -- each sheet an interlocking web of long sinuous fibers, a wall against the ravages of time.

Jon wakes early, eager to begin a project he has been pondering for about a month. He sits with his hot tea in the simple upstairs apartment he calls his domicile, penciling his to-do list. When he finishes, he sets down his tea cup. He creeps down the steep stairway, clutching each handhold and counting each step. Upon reaching the bottom, his mind switches to a new count.

This one will require two extra cords, maybe three... hmmm... four to be sure. I'll make it four. Jon likes to be sure.

On Friday, like every Friday, Jon sits with the old men while they play dominoes at Bay City Park, a small patch of green surrounded by cement.

I didn't tell you gentleman yet that I'm making a book.

You're a bookmaker, aren't you always making a book? says the Admiral.

"Not like this book. This is the work of a lifetime."

The Admiral lines up sixes with his ivory tiles. Ha! You son of a turd, take that! Ol' Benny grimaces and rubs his chin with shaky hands, looking back and forth between the game's spotted starfish configuration and his tiles.

What's the book about? asks the Admiral.

It ain't about anything, ya dummy. Bookman don't make books with any words or nothin', Ol' Benny gruffs.

That is true, gentleman, but it will be an astonishing work just the same! says Jon.

How many pages will it be? asks the Judge.

Well let's see, says Jon. Twenty-eight sheets folded, one for each day in a month, multiplied by twenty-nine since it's a leap year. So that's 812 sheets times two... 1,624 pages.

That doesn't make any sense, says the Judge.

It's a leap year, even I know that, says the Admiral.

I'm quite sure my math is correct, says Jon.

That's not what I mean. The days, and leap year... It makes no sense, the Judge says.

That is precisely what it will be, no more no less, Jon says. It makes perfect sense.

Sounds like a whole lot of nothin' to me! Ol' Benny says.

Jon sits for a few more minutes. The Admiral mentions how the city park has really gone down-hill. Look at this place, all the concrete is crumbling- Isn't someone s'pose to cut this grass? And they should do a better job of picking up the broken glass!

Yes, they should, says Jon, standing. Well, gentlemen, I've had enough sun for today. I must get back to my work. Good day all! A cacophony of byes and so longs echoes around the table.

Hey Bookman, my daughter's birthday is coming up... think you could throw together something, not very fancy, just kind of girlie? asks the Admiral.

I'll see what I can do, Jon says. Remember you still owe me a little from the last one.

It's your fault, ya know, the womenfolk just love those books you make! I can't afford the number of orders I get for 'em.

Hmmm. Consider us square then, says Jon.

I pay my debts, Bookman!

Very well, says Jon. Until next time.

* * *

Back in his workshop, Jon measures two arms-lengths of thread and flosses the entire length over a large chunk of beeswax. He threads the needle with the sticky length and pokes the first of hundreds of jabs into the dense, strong paper. Weaving in and out, Jon loops the cloth cords tightly to the rising tome that fights the sewing rack as the signatures stack. From kettle stitch to kettle stitch, Jon battles and presses each folded sheet, changing the thick, wild paper into a single bound volume. Jon places the young book fore-edge first into his vise. With light taps of a broad hammer, each signature yields to create an arch extending the height of the newly forming spine. Outside, daylight dims as Jon works paste deep into each valley and hill of the signatures. He smooths a fine tissue layer over the paste with a piece of sanded bone.

Climbing the stairs back to his place above the workshop, Jon fills a small kettle of water for tea. He flips through some National Geographics on his coffee table and marvels at the rocky Scottish coasts and deep African savannas. After his tea and a dinner of soup and crusty buttered bread, Jon welcomes sleep in his soft bed, covered by three familiar wool blankets he's kept since he was a boy.

* * *

He is flying! Soaring over rocky coasts and shining lakes, purple meadows bursting with flowers. Below him beautiful birds with long pin feathers flap in unison. He descends slowly, alighting on a tall plateau in a grove of dogwoods, flowering pink, yellow and white. A castle made of four massive, squatty, stone towers with tiled roofs sits on one end of the plateau. A topiary garden maze surrounds a sturdy stone gazebo. Jon walks along a bumpy stone path leading to another garden smelling of roses and sweet lemon. Among the blooms, a lovely female figure approaches. She is undoubtedly royalty in an ethereal pink gown. Her rich white-blond hair is held up off her shoulders with a delicate metal crown. She displays one bare breast, enhancing her stately presence, reminding Jon of a statue in the courthouse downtown. As he approaches, he notices her youthful appearance hides knowing eyes and tiny lines in her forehead. Jon's pupils open, drinking in her beauty.

The next instant he's walking arm in arm with her. She mentions her family. She smiles and laughs and keeps her hand on his arm until pointing out where uncle or aunt so-and-so were caught being amorous under the dogwoods, later marrying in the gazebo, and then finally being stabbed by someone they thought was a friend of the family. That was a sad day, she laments.

Great black and white-splotched lions lay lazily in the grass, yawning and flicking their tails. She says they've been in her family for generations. A dark-haired girl in a simple blue dress offers a cool drink. Jon stares at the girl's pretty but unusual eyes, whose lashes are fuller on the bottom than on the top. He reaches for an amber drink the girl holds on a tray...

* * *

Jon awakes the next morning without the usual tangle of wool blankets. He's refreshed, but his mind has been working all night. He shakes off his night of adventure and peels an orange and a banana to have with a piece of toast. He swallows his medication with a tall glass of water, then descends the stairwell to his workshop, counting each step as he goes.

His book has dried overnight but artistry demands a full twenty-four hours before he removes it from the vise. That's what Jon's father taught him, just as his grandfather had taught him. Each of them had made books; each was named Jon.

Jon wipes the worktable with a new cloth. He tears several large sheets of brown paper from the roll and covers his worktable. He scans the room.

No cups of anything in the workshop from now on, he mumbles, moving the water glass with brushes soaking in it a good distance from the table.

He pulls out the wrapped, exotic leather he ordered from his dealer in Amsterdam. This single piece of hide cost two thousand dollars. But after all, as his dad would say, You can't set a diamond in plastic ring. He opens the wrapping and the earthy, blissful aroma of leather finds his nose. He studies the brown-grey markings, the way the light bounces from different angles. His eyes follow a beautiful swirl-like pattern.

This could be the front cover.

He lightly maps-out each distinctive pattern on the reverse side with a charcoal pencil. He ruminates, staring at the leather marked up with black lines. A little smile crosses his face. He grabs the largest of his father's book racks.

Once holding the hide and clamped to the table, the homemade rack will stretch the leather and position the thin wooden boards that will form the cover of the book. Jon places the leather carefully over the rack, positioning the charcoal marks. He pounds several squatty blocks of wood in a groove around the rectangle of the frame, then cranks the clamp and the rack firmly to the table. He measures the width of the spine in the vise at four distinct places between the cords and writes down the measurements on a piece of paper.

Turning to a smaller table, he mixes up more wheat paste. He washes his hands making certain to dry them completely. He takes a deep breath and stretches.

Now begins the part of the task he calls the fever. If a mistake happens, it will probably happen now. All those parts and all that paste -- Jon has done it a hundred times -- but each time, it has to be right. If the book is to work, it has to be perfect -- and once he starts he can't stop. Jon wipes some perspiration from his forehead with his sleeve.

He sponges a minimal amount of water over the leather. Using dividers, Jon recreates the spine measurements with a piece of heavy card stock he cuts up and pastes neatly between each cord. Boards -- cut and sanded weeks in advance, so no sawdust is present in the air -- accept a thin layer of paste on one side. Neatly, they fall into place, square to the rack. Jon uses his entire weight, pressing his palms and massaging the boards against the leather. Slicing the cover free of the rack with a razor-edged blade, Jon holds the newly covered boards in his hands, smoothing and kneading the leather with the pads of his fingers until every wrinkle, every bubble is gone. He cuts the excess away, paring the edges of the leather to a consistent, workable thickness. He carefully cuts a measured circle for the book's final piece, then meticulously turns over the leather folds, sponging when necessary. He creates decorative sun-style corners. Placing the new, skin cover under a press with waxed-paper, at last he can relax. He boils water for tea.

As the water heats, he opens a package of clay and begins forming a disc about the size of his palm. In the center of the disc, a figure emerges beneath his dexterous fingers.

* * *

Friday comes around quickly, and Jon must go back to the park with finished books for the Admiral. His eyes scan a shelf of books he's made for practice or that didn't sell. Jon dashes to add handmade pink paper to a few smaller off-white paper books. He attaches a small ribbon to each, using various practiced loops to tie the covers shut. He replaces the inside covers with more handmade papers, disguising the books' original colors. He shuffles to the park, precious pink choices in hand.

I have some books for you to peruse, Admiral, Jon proclaims as he sits down on the usual metal benches. Jon carefully pulls a wrap of white cloth out of a brown grocery bag and begins unfolding the contents.

Oh, that's nice stuff, Bookman. A chorus of approval follows. Judge leans forward and says, "Listen Admiral, I'll give you first choice, but Jon, unless they're already spoken for, I'd like to buy the rest. These are genuine Bookman Books. My wife and daughters would never forgive me if I didn't buy each of them at least one!"

That's quite kind of you, Judge, says Jon.

Look who's the moneybags! says Ol' Benny.

I'll take the best of them then, says the Admiral smugly. The one that looks like a frilly tuxedo shirt -- yes, that's the one. She'll like that one. Now, I won't be able to pay you right away.

I know you're good for it, Admiral.

Just as soon as I have it Jon -- you know that. Grunts from Ol' Benny underscore the Admiral's perception of financial solvency.

You look tired, Bookman. You stay up all night making these books? asks the Admiral.

No, no... I'm dreaming a lot lately and it makes me tired some days.

I never remember nothin' of my dreams, says Ol' Benny.

I remember everything about these dreams, says Jon. They're pleasant enough, just long and involved. They make me tired is all.

Once I had a dream about an elephant takin' a shit... That was a great dream! He was eating hay at one end and poopin' out the other like a regular factory! says the Admiral. The group erupts in laughter. Jon feigns a laugh at the Admiral's dream, though he really doesn't understand why everyone thinks it's so funny. He passes the remaining books to the Judge.

"Well, no time to stay today, I must finish my big book!"

That's Bookman, says Ol' Benny. He don't mess around when it comes to books!

His Dad was the same way, says the Judge. Why do you think his last name is Bookman?

Sure as hell right! says Ol' Benny. Every damn one of the Bookmans made books, go figure. They were good people though.

Sorry Jon, I know you must miss them, says the Judge.

That's all right, says Jon, giving a knock on the table. An unexpected tear forms in his right eye. His mind flashes to memories of his father and grandfather in the bookshop. I'll see you gentlemen next week. Enjoy your books!

Jon walks across the wide, cement sidewalks surrounding the grass. Instead of turning for home, he crosses the street facing the park and proceeds straight up Washington Avenue. He makes a quick right into It's Art. He walks to the back of the store where the manager is setting some leaded glass.

Marty, I'd like to borrow a little glaze if I could?

You got it Jon. What do you need?

Jon pulls a small box out his paper grocery bag and removes the cover showing the clay disc to Marty. "I'm trying a new design. I usually don't do this kind of stuff myself but I got