Short Stories,  Featured Stories

The Collector

It was an uninspiring day as the Collector looked out from the large, unornamented windows of his study out over the endless plains. Today was like a proper autumn day, with grey skies that threatened rain and an utter lack of color and visual variety to the world outside. Not that it was autumn mind you, not exactly. After all, seasons as one would normally understand weren’t part of this realm. Neither would it actually start raining, that would be far too inspiring.

The Collector turned away from the window and walked over to a large cabinet at the far end of the study. One might assume that a room like this would be filled with luxurious crimson rugs, extravagant mahogany ornaments, and a globe beside a large desk as would be befitting of a classical study. But of course that would not do here. The room lacked any object without function, the walls unadorned, and the wooden floors were just plain and unremarkable. These floors still refused to wear after centuries of use like a proper study floor would do. 

Arriving at the far end of the room, the Collector was welcomed by the warm, orange light coming from the countless glass orbs filling the endless shelves of the cabinet. The orb’s lights somehow refused to properly blend in with the dull, grey surroundings, giving a certain ethereal unrealness to the whole scene. This was only natural as, strictly speaking, the orbs weren’t real, at least not here.

A fond and longing smile crept upon the Collector’s gray and worn face; he remembered acquiring each and every orb. Oh yes, those were pleasant memories, capable of brightening up even this dull place. How he longed to once again experience the acquisition of a new and original orb, to revel once again in the experience of something fresh, something different. But alas, it would seem that the endless shelves already contained every possible orb.

With a defeated sigh, the Collector turned away from the orb cabinet and looked around at the uninspiring study room. How cruel that the consequence of success is to lack purpose. How depressing that achieving a life-long goal would mean that there is nothing left to strive for. If only his surroundings would inspire him to set a new goal, give him new ideas and purpose. Imagine that, a new and original idea. Why, it would be an idea worthy of its own orb on the endless shelves.

At that thought, the cabinet behind the Collector started to hum, a low vibration that was somehow louder than any other sound he ever heard. The shelves and orbs of the cabinet seemed to shrink and lower, making room for a new shelf. With a distinct pop a new orb appeared on this shelf, glowing with a distinct, bright white light. Confused, the Collector stared into this distinct and deviating orb. Within, he saw a reflection of himself, standing in a dull and grey study. Then, suddenly, the image within the orb changed. The reflection of the room became vivid and colorful, and an unreasonably big rug coalesced out of nothing on the floor. Almost afraid, the Collector stepped back from the cabinet and looked around in the room. His study changed, just like in the reflections, as if the grey and familiar study had just been a mirage all this time. Curious, most curious. Who knew that an orb could actually affect this realm, the idea alone seemed inconceivable. Of course, that would be the key to what was happening.

Smiling, the Collector turned back to the deviating orb and peered into its white light once again. An inconceivable idea formed into his mind, an idea so vivid, colorful and outrageous, it had no place in this realm. As if to both confirm and deny this paradox, the orb responded to the Collector’s idea. A dark mist formed inside the study, taking up the better part of the room. A mist so dark black that it seemed to absorb every light in the study. Then, a light appeared within the mist. Just a pinprick of light, somehow more real than any other light in the room. And then another light. More and more lights appeared, dotting the swirling dark mist, twisting and forming complex patterns. 

Both excited and amazed, the Collector saw his inconceivable idea taking shape. A new real within his real, a place of endless possibilities and ideas. As he looked closer at the lights in the swirling mist, he saw clumps of rock taking shape, orbiting the numerous pinpricks of light. The room started to shake, and the orbs in the cabinet became restless. One by one, the warm lights from the orbs escaped their glass prisons and gravitated toward the tiny rocks inside the mist. The Collector watched this all and thought: Go, my collection, and give inspiration to life. We’ll meet again when I acquire the offspring of your ideas.

Behind the Story

Word count: 835

This story was inspired in part by Death from Discworld and an experiment describing an odd, unfamiliar place.

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