Book Keepers did not have names, but numbers. 003, the Book Keeper of greenery. 204, the Book Keeper of drugs and most especially psychotropics. 007, the Book Keeper of – well.
5169814 was a Book Keeper that had not yet found her place. 5169813 oversaw forgotten grammatical rules. 5169815 looked after new coding languages. 5169814, however, felt no call to specialization. She read and read and read, but nothing would hold her longer than the turning of a final page.
It was not so strange to wander for a decade or a century or an age, but time wandered and still 5169814 did not find her home. The other Book Keepers began to mutter. Her face began to flush with shame. Her eyes no longer stayed fast to the stories. Her concentration was no longer stone.
It was a night when shame had coated her body, a day when her companions had been especially loud in their mutterings that she snuck into the Library. She read book after book in silence and solitude, but still no book rang to her, still her concentration would not stay. She grew frantic. She tossed books to walls and ran through the library, hoping and hoping and hoping, her fingertips touching each book as she ran, and then –
She saw them. Words, endless words, danced about her brain and twirled and burst aflame, and she saw them – each connection, each touch, so fleeting and unexpected but utterly shattering. Every connection lit inside her.
She was whole.
In the morning, when 00031 came to open the library, he shrieked with fright at the sight of 5169814 – but she was no longer a number and no more among the ranks of those who had misunderstood her, but Epiphany. Epiphany, a spirit of books and chance, her touch in every library and mind to be or have been, her flashes of wonder and connection in each breath and blink.