Entropy: The Library (fiction)
I met the autodidact outside the world’s oldest library. That’s how he introduced himself to me: the autodidact. With a definite article, as though he were the only one. He was sitting outside a cafe, left hand curled around a tiny cup of coffee, and as he introduced himself he didn’t get up, instead remaining exaggeratedly slouched in his seat. Against the flatness of the chair back, his body gave the impression of a Fibonacci spiral. This I know for sure, because I would later try to copy it, many times. His burgundy shirt was several sizes too large, so when he stretched out his arm out for a handshake, it gave the appearance of pulling back a stage curtain. “I’m the autodidact,” he said. “I’m learning everything ever written down.”
I, although I didn’t say it, was at the world’s oldest library for purposes of time travel. For the last few years I’d had some trouble with time. Sleep had become difficult, so I’d taken to eating all meals in the strangest and most lonely hours of the night. Conversations, too, had become tricky. While admittedly I’d never had much of a gift for talking, I knew I was becoming increasingly incoherent. The words themselves were fine, but the facts moved jerkily from place to place, even backwards. I had to concentrate on keeping everything chronological until my interlocutor would nod and smile and say that they really had to be going. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried to get things in order, move things forwards. I really had! I’d moved house, quit several jobs, yet somehow I’d remained the same, more or less, for years.