An old man sits at a desk. Orange light from a nearby lamp makes his ancient whiskers seem to glow like embers in a fire. There are but a few sprigs of hair on the man’s head, as most of it has seemed to migrate down to his face. He mutters words to himself through a thick white mustache that goes nearly down to his chin. One hand is occupied twirling a twist of his shoulder length sideburns. The other thumbs slowly through a book.
The old man seems to be lost somewhere deep within his thoughts.
Then, without warning, he gives out a sharp exclamation and slaps his hand on the open pages of the book.
He whirls around in his chair, and despite the frail appearance of his body, kicks his feet on the floor and rolls off to one of many tall bookshelves that line the walls of the quarters. They rise above the old man, floor to ceiling. Some rows are neat, others as though they had been ransacked. Notes stick out of pages and from in between books. Some shelves are covered by chalkboards with intricate flowcharts scribbled on their surface. In some areas, the floor suffices as a shelf, with piles of books making the room more of an obstacle course than an office.
He pulls one book off the shelf, kicks, then darts off in another direction. Like a ball in the surface world’s pinball machines, he bounces from shelf to shelf, wall to wall, pulling books and setting them on his desk.
The old man finally comes to a rest, once again at his desk — only this time, he has built a fortress of tomes. To an outsider, it looks like chaos. Some stacks lean this way and that, others seem to shape into a bridge of another stack. One good sneeze in the wrong direction could very well bring the whole thing down. But the old man looks at the tangled mess triumphantly and smiles, the shape of his giant mustache changing ever so slightly.
At last, acknowledging your presence, the old man turns to you.
“Hello, I am Abraheim Keats Johnson, the Book Keeper of the ship. And before you ask, as I might have confused you, I do not deal in the ships numbers or accounts. No. Rather, I deal in stories … ” the man pauses, looking over at the pillars of literature on his desk, ” … and the connections between them.”
“Here in my office, my sanctum, I have many stories ranging from fantastic to the mundane. Some stories are true; others, we wish were. Some, we hope never will be.” The man turns and raises his hands in a gesture urging you to look upon the chaotic, glorious mess that he calls home. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Fiction and Non-fiction, manga, movies, comics and graphic novels, even some games — all of which are before you in this old man’s room.
“I have a fascination, or a need, if you will, to find out as much as I can about stories. What inspired them? What is the message? How do they relate to other stories? How do we relate to them?
He lowers his head and looks at you over the top of his spectacles.
“I see you eyeing my current project. Care to join me as I delve down wherever this rabbit hole takes me?”