paperback rider 8: sheridarp

An unpaid library employee is describing his journey to Sheridarp to Millie, the librarian. He traveled on a moving railway station, passing stationary carriages resembling everyday buildings. Part 1 is here.

The station stopped at various constructs,
and after an elastic interval to night,
I deboarded, wandering in the dark
until a flight of ancient currawongs
dressed in bells
led me to a hazardous occupation
in this very library.

Millie glanced towards a monitor
where windowed morning light
was streaming on the internet.

I may be able to assist you
in your search for Sheridarp.
You overlooked some pale text in the
“The Unknowable”—

“The mythical Land of Sheridarp
may be found on the rooftop of
the Great Library of Sonandinho,
which is also mythical.”

My surprise was palpable,
barely short of an exclamation point.

An astonishing coincidence.
Through the machinations of the fateful Moirai,
from the so-called chance assembly
of atomic ping-pong balls,
to the formation of long-chain hydrocarbons…
…amino acids in lightning storms…
…eggs in white…trilobites…Solarians…
…bees…megawasps…snow cones…
…traffic cones…light cones…
…I find myself in the very library
that hides the stairway to fabled Sheridarp.

Millie shook her head.

We’re in the Dreamwalk Library,
and it isn’t mythical at all.
Doesn’t it concern you
that Sheridarp is merely fantasy?

I shrugged metaphysically.

Do the inhabitants of Middle-Earth
question their own existence?
If we’re no more than other people’s
fantasies ourselves,
would we know, and would we care?
Sheridarp would be just as real as

Millie meta-disagreed.

“The Unknowable” tells us Sheridarp is a myth,
so the book itself exists beyond the fantasy.
And shortly I’ll be demonstrating
just how real I am.

to continue




the last train to sheridarp (part above) and the Great Library of Sonandinho (left) are original drawings by Tamaya Garner evolved with VEE, the visual evolution engine.

42 thoughts on “paperback rider 8: sheridarp

  1. Laughed at “My surprise was palpable, / barely short of an exclamation point.” among other gems – the snow cones, light cones etc. but the suspense, particularly with the meta-disagreement of our favourite librarian – well it’s too suspenseful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peter. I remember a writing course where the instructor said, “Do not use an exclamation mark unless the universe catches fire.” Don’t remember much else mind you. 🙂 No idea where it’s going, might need a bit of deus ex machina. Either me or the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: paperback rider 8: sheridarp — inconstant light | Fantasy Gift Sources: Book Reviews, Article Resources, News

  3. I have to believe that Sheridarp must be a lovely place to hang out. What is a reality anyway? I don’t know why it may be the hour of the morning here but I can’t help but think of the movie ‘Big Fish’. Reality is overrated, I vote for fantasy. Lovely fun Steve you have a very creative mind.


  4. If we’re no more than other people’s
    fantasies ourselves,
    would we know, and would we care?

    Sort of reminds me of something Shenandoah Fish thinks to himself, in one of Delmore Schwartz’s short stories (either In Dreams Begin Responsibilities or America! America!). He thinks to himself (looking in a mirror) how we can never really know ourselves if we don’t know how other people perceive us, to fill in the gaps of what we might miss about ourselves. Here you use fantasy, that “we’re no more than other people’s fantasies ourselves”; I often thought that other people’s opinions on us, without us to fill in the gaps of what they can only assume, means that other people are in part fantasizing about who we are. So Shenandoah should be worried, he should care about what other people think, but not because they become an aid to him knowing himself, but because people end up fantasizing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Daniel. Introspection has its value, even though in the end, some parts of us hide themselves. I guess we need models, so to speak, of other people, and how accurate they are is an open question. To some extent we base them on ourselves, as well as others around us. I certainly tend to assume other people are like me as a default. A mirror as an analogy for a relationship is interesting I think, because it keeps reflecting back and forth and back and forth. I sometimes think it’s a wonder we humans can communicate at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. yes the moving railway station appeared in my thoughts as i read your words. I like this journey, it’s slow and the awareness is not in the arriving but the things he sees and experiences along the way, nothing is ever definite and can never be taken for granted. life may be confusing to others but he is so focused on this journey, I envy him a little.I say this because he dares to argue with a librarian!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Gina. I like your insight about living, something to think about. Perhaps such focus is both a blessing and a curse, it seems that way from my own experience with it.

      No, I never disagree with librarians: they control the books and the fines for lateness. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Millie’s insistence that “The Unknowable” exists beyond fantasy reminds me of the popular argument that God exists outside of the universe (i.e. the laws of the universe do not apply to Him/Her/It). I’m very curious as to how she intends to demonstrate how real she really is. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the unknowable tends to be unknowable. 🙂 Outside our universe is definitely tricky because there is no time as we know it (time being a property of the universe), yet often people will talk about “before” the Big Bang. Leaving belief and possibly unanswerable questions aside, I find it interesting to contemplate the idea of life existing without time. I don’t know the answer. I don’t know what Millie has in mind either. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So the journey continues. I am beginning to wonder where I can catch this train—The Orient Express does not sound half as exciting anymore now. Am I to wait at the Platform 22 1/8 or something?

    Always a great read, Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annie. That would definitely work for real places like Hogwarts. 🙂 But Sheridarp might only exist in someone’s mind, and I don’t even know who that person is. To be honest, I’m wondering when the paperback rider will finish his journey myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps even the rider doesn’t know where he’s going, or where the road will take him. I will wait on the platform for the train, Hogwarts or not—I’m sure it’s where imagination starts. You’re welcome, Steve. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this. And thanks for the re read of the wonderful egg in white haha… so the egg or the book? With a little myrrh?
    So are the guests of his eminence inside the stationary carriages?
    More caffeine someone cried, someone being myself. This is just awesome fun Steve.

    And this art work is wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Would you believe I had to prevent myself from mentioning large, flying cockroaches (aka Palmetto bugs — yeah…right! Try to make it sound like these aren’t really evolved roaches from Prehistoric times) in previous comments? So glad to get that out of my system. Catharsis.

    Liked by 1 person

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