Dear 100 Hour Board,
You have woken up in a magical library. What is it like? How do you survive? What is the most exciting thing that happens to you?
Dear Sub Rosa,
Guesthouse blinks her eyes open one at a time, then squints a couple of times to wash away to morning blur. She glances around confusedly, but with interest. The room she is in is dimly lit by windows that are surely not up to fire safety code (which she acknowledges with more than a mild anxious thought about the flammability of her surroundings.) The familiar smell of glue and archaic literature floats in the air. Guesthouse has a troubled past with libraries, but this one has a certain feeling about it.... warm and welcoming. The wood wall paneling and the dark blue Berber carpeting muffles any sound, and the shelves make the space feel small. She gets up and begins to walk through several aisles of books, picking up a few as she goes, reading the descriptions, and putting them back. These all seem to be boring non-fiction books.
Hours pass. The more shelves she passes, the more her concerns grow - the far wall does not appear to be getting any closer. Something is wrong with this library, she thinks to herself. As a bit of panic begins to set in, she remembers a simple fact that should help her sort this out - Every library has a librarian. I just need to find the front desk. Of course, she won't ever find the front desk in this Mary-Poppins-bag of a library. That's when she gets the idea to look at things from above the chaos. Guesthouse removes her shoes and carefully scales the shelf containing the self-help books.
Atop the shelf, she begins to fully grasp the magnitude of this library. It's not just a big room, it's a huge building. The strangest part is that the more she looks for the end, the more the walls seem to be expanding... it reminds her of the scenes in Inception where the walls begin folding out in fractals... but it never stops. The thought crosses her mind, maybe this library is magic! which she quickly brushes off. This is a place of knowledge, surely there is an explanation. It is while she is within her own thoughts that she sees it. Surely what seems like 3 miles away, in what seems to be the center of the library, a large circular desk breaks the landscape.
What, you didn't think I would really describe walking through 3 miles of bookshelves, did you? Ridiculous. Anyway, we pick up with our protagonist, arriving at the 'front' (center) desk. Guesthouse walks up to the counter and, grinning, hits the gong that lies serenely there. This is certainly more entertaining than a little waiter bell. Suddenly, a person pops their head up from under the desk. It seems they had been picking up some papers that had been dropped. The librarian says, "how can I help you?", then adjusts their glasses. Guesthouse is surprised!
"Katya? You're the librarian here?"
"OH! Hi Guesthouse! Well, obviously. Who else would they put in charge of the 100 Hour Board Archives?"
Guesthouse raises her left eyebrow (it's the only one that lifts), "Wait, you mean this whole thing isn't even a library, it's the physical embodiment of the 100 Hour Board, like... in book form?"
"Well sure. You see, you've been transported here from Earth, or so we think. There's still a lot of unanswered questions. It's clear a lot of time has passed, because there are obviously more than 10,000 answers in here, and it's expanding all the time... So we know that someone is still running the Board. Somehow, all of the answers and cross-references and research have been book-ified. You'll be happy to know that the other writers have arrived already, they live in the "Board - Writers" section."
"Wow... I -"
"Look, I'm sure you have a lot to ask me, and I wish I could help more. We just don't know where we are or how we got here. It's the hardest question we've had, and so far it's the longest overdue question ever. But we have the most expansive bank of knowledge known to man, and the most intelligent group of people, so we're sure we can crack it soon and figure out how to get home. Don't be scared, this place is quite charming, as you would expect. Oh, and there's plenty to eat here, though most of it is pretty weird... you can only find recipes or food items that have been mentioned on the Board. Our Ice Cream shop can be located near the "Strange Things People Do" section. The grape ice cream is a huge hit. Anyway, if you ever need help finding something in the archives, come back and talk and I'll help you out. We're happy to have you, Guesthouse. The more heads we have working, the sooner we get out of here. Now, if you'll excuse me I have to catalog the incoming answers..."
Guesthouse pivots slowly, her brows furrowed. Somehow, she's both more confused and more at ease... At least she knows this place. But still, she has to get out of here. She knows full well the Board will eat your life if you let it. She wanders over to the "Board - Writers" section... which is dominated by the Cardboard Castle. It appears that every person has their own room, filled with their favorite things. Guesthouse's smells like new paint (a lovely dusty blue) and ...cinnamon rolls! As she is about to open the door, she hears a strange noise. It's like a chattering, or is it... a squeaking? She looks around for the source, and her eyes catch on something small, brown and... squirrelly. It's Ardilla, who has, for some reason, actually been turned into a squirrel. He's filling the Hollowed Book with acorns and glueberries.
"Ardilla, h-how did this happen?"
"If I knew, I wouldn't be a squirrel anymore, Guesthouse. It's just one of the many questions that remain. We just hope that the answers in the archives somewhere... or whoever's running the Board now will answer it and add it to the archives." He shakes his tiny head and gets back to work.
Just then, someone taps her shoulder. It's Tipperary and Auto Surf!
"Hey, we were wondering when you were going to show up! Not much time to waste. Wanna join our team? We're searching the archives right now for answers." Tipperary spits out quickly.
"Oh, uh... I mean, sure?"
"Okay cool. So, we're gonna skip through training real fast. Basically, if you yell "I'm Bored!" You'll get randomly transported somewhere in the library. We thought at first this would be helpful, but it's actually not because we've gotten lost for hours in the 'Relationship' section. It's not where you wanna be. In any case, If you want to go to a specific section, you can just go talk to Katya and she'll transport you via catalog to the category, or section, that you want to go to. Right now we're searching 'Strange Things People Do.' It's exhausting, but you get some good laughs out of it."
"Sounds like I don't really have a choice. Will you guys clue me in? What do you know so far?"
And, as they walked, Tipperary and Auto Surf explained to Guesthouse everything they knew about the 100 Hour Board Archives, all of the writers who were there, and everything else. Apparently, yayfulness went off the deep end a few years ago, and lives near the maps, muttering to himself about how they keep adding new temples. Humble Master spends his time reading books and making new podcast episodes to bide the time. Anne, Certainly just keeps adding more books to the 'Legal' section, and they are very big books. Dragon Lady, of course, sticks around the 'LDS - Scripture' section most of the time.
It seems to make sense. This is where the retired writers go. Some have been here longer than others, and have accepted their lives here. Others are newer and are still searching for answers, hoping someday they'll make it back to reality.
"Anyways." Auto Surf finishes, "we've been looking for answers for thousands of hours now. Honestly, my theory is that we have to wait for someone to ask "how do you escape a magical library?" and the current keepers of the board have to answer it, and we have to find it somewhere in here. But you know, for now we just let the Board occupy our time. You can check out any of the books if you want. It's nice to have some night-time reading. Fresh bloods like you tend to take their research home with them too. Which is good! Maybe you'll be the one to get us out of here."
The words of The Eagles Hotel California came to Guesthouse's mind as they arrived back at the front desk. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Oh, how she hoped that wasn't the case.
---- End Part 1 ----
And that's where we leave them, folks. It's clear the Future Board Archives can sustain the writers physically and mentally, but emotionally I'm not sure how long we'll last. Check in next time to get the next part of the story, when Tipperary, Auto Surf, and Guesthouse (future versions) find out some bad news about the archives!