The Philosopher from Carnival Island

The Storyteller

Sam Chahine(sechahi at


The First Letter

The Knower

The Fallacy

The Delusion

The Awareness

The Second Letter

The Expression

The Seeing

The Carnival

The Domino Universe

The Third Letter

The Innuendo

The Champion

The Guardians

The Storyteller

The Final Letter

The Opening

You announce “Welcome to the grand opening of The After Word, the greatest book store of all time, open now !” Many rotations of Carnival Island have come to pass, and the Oracle has gone away. Ever since the Oracle bestowed upon you the book of The Storyteller, you have been trying to find a story to tell. Fortunately, there is no better story than the story of stories.

The hoard of book enthusiasts enter your book shop, The After Word, and find their way around the periphery of the cobblestone den. They fill the seats that surround a tiny, circular platform in the middle of the middle, beneath which a red velvet carpet rests. You try to find your way to the platform, teetering through the circular seating arrangement enveloped by the chattering of the crowd. As the door of the shop closes shut, the jingling of the mounted bell reverberates throughout the whispers and the whirs.

You take a modest step and stand atop the platform in the middle, in the middle of the middle. “Thank you all for being here with me. The opening of this shop has long been a dream of mine, but there are no words to describe the feeling of seeing it with mine own eyes! I wish I could tell you how much this all means to me, but the telling is not as fun as the showing! Through foolish song, and wondrous tales, I hope to instil in you the secret secret of this world… storytelling!”

To the fore of the shop and on both sides of the entrance, a collection of books are laid upon the window sill, through which one could find a sight of the old bazaar. Opposing those windows, a marble bench is forged into the timber flooring, veiled by a silky, sable quilt. In the middle of the bench and the entrance, you stand surrounded by many. “Welcome to The After Word, where all your dreams will come to be, and all your worries will be left at the door! Do not enter only to dwell on the frailties of your mind, by finding never-ending means of doubt. Instead, lose yourself in the stories and the music!”

“Before proceeding further, I would like to announce that I am looking for one Apprentice to join me on this wonderful journey! You will be with me, looking through countless books and finding the perfect stories to tell! You will stand where I stand, and sing! You will stand where I stand, and jest! You will stand where I stand, and be! Following the opening act, all who wish to be, as I am, come and find me! You do not have to know how I will pick the one, all you have to know is that I will pick the one! Without further ado, let the spectacles begin!”

“This is the tale of The Conqueror!” The whispers and the whirs of the crowd come to a silent halt, all awaiting the telling of the tale. “There was a simple Salesman, who sold mirrors and everything else! This Salesman was not extraordinary, but rather ordinary. This Salesman was not at all interesting, though always resting. This Salesman was an ordinary salesman!“

“Everyday, folks would come to purchase ordinary looking glass from the ordinary looking Salesman. It was known, by all the folk in the town, that this salesman loved themself. This Salesman loved themself more than any thing in the world! As a matter of fact, the only reason this Salesman sold mirrors at all, was so that they could spend every moment staring into their own reflection. From time to time, a sale would be made. However, when there were no customers to be found, the salesman would lose themself in their own reflection.”

“One day, a tall and muscly Fighter bombarded their way into the Salesman’s store, demanding for the fastest boots available! The Fighter told the Salesman that the boots were for the greatest fight of all time, against the undefeated Jester, in the annual Warrior Games! What are the Warrior Games you ask? The Warrior Games were a battle between the common folk and the reigning champion, the Jester! A challenger would enter the arena of a colosseum, and try to outrun the Jester, forever. If they were caught by the Jester, they lost.”

“Those who outran the Jester for more than a few rotations of the planet would be revered as warriors of the land! The only rule was to never get caught. Unfortunately for the challengers, the Jester was too witty and too quick, and would always catch up. Each challenger was allowed to bring one kind of any thing into the arena, to help them outrun the Jester. This Fighter believed that they could outrun the Jester if they had the versatility and the swiftness of the fastest boots in all the land!”

“As the Fighter walked on out of the store, a Musician strummed a classical guitar on their way in. While they strummed, they sang “Could you hear this splendid tune without the predetermined swoon that’s sure to keep you looking out for all the songs I’ve brought about? But don’t be stumped, for all I need’s a lightning flute with lightning speed to keep the Jester entertained, till I can have its heart, contained!” This Musician wanted to serenade the Jester into an infinite slumber, wherein they could be crowned the greatest champion in the world! The Musician swayed on out of the store, leaving the Salesman to ponder! The Salesman wondered what they could do, were they to participate in the Warrior Games.”

“The Salesman would sell all kinds of weapons, armour and trinkets that the many challengers believed would outwit the Jester. One thing the Salesman realised was that no one was buying the mirrors! The Salesman thought it clever to use mirrors in the battle, so that a reflective maze could bar the Jester from ever even finding the Salesman.”

“It was obvious to the Salesman, that after countless challengers faced the Jester, more would flood into the store, for they believed that they could be different. These challengers believed that they were better, faster, stronger and with much more wit than the ones before. Unfortunately, every single one would lose themself in the belief. Every single one would find themself being found.

“The Salesman requested an invitation from the colosseum, asking to participate in the Warrior Games as a promising challenger! To prepare for the arena, the Salesman would run for miles and miles, passing by forgotten domino pieces rusted in the ground, and abandoned circuses withered to a tee. On the day of the summoning, the Salesman was given the freedom to set the stage with their items of choice.”

“Since the rules only stated that the challenger must bring one kind of an item, the Salesman realised that they could bring hundreds of the same mirror, as the store was overflowing with mirrors! The Salesman would escort every mirror to the colosseum, preparing the illusive maze that could finally outwit the Jester. The Salesman was willing to go on, forever, for all they needed was already there… the ability to see themself!”

“After packing the arena with countless mirrors, the Salesman ran back to the store to fetch the final looking glass. The crowds were taking their seats, anxious to see if the mirrors were to confuse the Jester or distract the Salesman. As the Salesman entered their store, they thought it harmless to look into the mirror, one final time. In the looking of its own reflection, the Salesman forgot about the battle, for it was so in love. In the finding of its own reflection, the Salesman forgot, for it was so in love. In the finding, it forgot.”

“Moments before the Warrior Games began, the arrangers at the colosseum assumed that the Salesman was already in the arena, and that they probably couldn’t see them, for they were already hidden in the illusive maze of mirrors! In actuality, the Salesman was no where to be seen, they were not even in the illusive maze. The Salesman was still in the store, staring into their own reflection, mesmerised by their love for themself.”

“Back at the Warrior Games, the bell ringer rings the bells that rings and bellows throughout the ring. The Jester launched from the champion’s quarters and into the maze of mirrors. The Jester laughed, because they were both impressed by the effort gone to conceal the whereabouts of the challenger and because they were entertained by their motley reflection! The crowd was cheering and thundering in applaud, waiting for the Jester to find the challenger.”

“Neither the Jester nor the crowd could see the Salesman, but they believed that the Salesman was simply hiding. The truth was, the reason the Salesman was no where to be found, was because the Salesman was not there at all! The Salesman was still in the store, falling in love with their own reflection, over and over again. The Jester grew weary of the escapades of the maze, and ran maniacally around the arena trying to find their challenger. The Jester grew weary, and tried to find their challenger, who was simply… not there! Yet, the Jester would keep on looking, and searching, and finding nothing but themself.”

“The Jester would forever traverse the arena, only ever finding themself. The Jester believed that the challenger, who you all know as the Salesman, was simply too quick or too witty to be found. The crowd was baffled, for they had never seen any challenger confuse and frustrate the Jester as much as the Salesman. Many rotations pass and the Salesman was still staring at their own reflection, lost in themself. If there were any customers to enter the store, maybe the Salesman would have remembered their prior arrangement, but at this point all the folks in all the land were watching as the Jester suffered in the search, finding nothing, and finding no one other than themself.”

“After countless rotations, the Warrior Games announced a new champion, the challenger with the mirrors! The Jester was still searching, and would forever be searching, but the crowd had dispersed. The crowd wanted to spread the word, that there was a new, undefeated challenger who had outwitted the Jester. Word began to get around that the challenger was the chosen one, and that this challenger would forever outwit and outrun the Jester.”

“Soon after, a passerby found the mirror store on their way to town and decided to peer inside. When they entered and found the Salesman, the Salesman snapped out of the forever stare, and remembered everything. The Salesman realised they never attended the Warrior Games. The Salesman realised they never took the last mirror to the arena. The Salesman realised that they forgot. Luckily for this Salesman, their ordinary complexion led the passerby to believe that the Salesman only provided the mirrors to the challenger. The Salesman was off the hook, and their mirror store was a hit.”

“The Salesman could not believe that they forgot to attend the Warrior Games, but was elated with the fact they were revered among all the folk. No one knew who the Jester was searching for, but no one even tried to know, for if the Jester could not find someone, then no one could. The Salesman played along with the fallacy, becoming the most prosperous mirror salesman in all the land.”

“The Salesman would tell tales of the eternal challenger, who could outrun the Jester forever. The Salesman would talk about the infinite essence of the challenger, though the Salesman spoke of no one. The Salesman would talk about the moment they knew that the challenger was the one, though this challenger was no where. The Salesman would talk about the challenger as if the challenger was not them, but how could anyone believe that the Jester was searching for no one? How could anyone believe the Salesman, were they to tell the truth and announce that they were no one?”

“The Jester would for eternity search for no one, only finding themself while the Salesman told of endless tales, of having known this supposed challenger, who was actually no one. The Salesman told of endless tales, of having known no one. The Salesman told tales of knowing no one, and after every story, the Salesman would make a point of saying ‘Is that not ridiculous?’ to emphasise the ridiculousness of the challenger’s existence, but no one would question the Salesman.”

“Is that not ridiculous?” You conclude the tale of The Conqueror, where the Conqueror was… no one! Is that not ridiculous? The crowd was baffled, for they had never heard any story as confusing and ridiculous, though they thoroughly enjoyed it. As they quaintly applaud the telling of the story, you bow and make your way to the marble bench.

All the shop goers form into one line in front of the bench, all awaiting their copy of The Conqueror! Goer after goer, you are being praised for your narration and explanation of The Conqueror. Though the meaning of the story is unique to you, you understand it is just as unique to everyone else. One by one, they approach the bench and praise your expressiveness, in the hopes that you choose them to become the Apprentice.

”That was truly amazing! I love the use of the mirrors to describe the self inflicted obsessions we all experience!”, “Wow, you really know how to tell a story! Is this the first tale you’ve ever written?”, “Ha! It feels as if you’ve done this before, what a lovely story and what a lovely book shop!”

You are more than pleased with the crowd’s response to your telling of the story, but someone is yet to stand out from the crowd. Until, you see an anxious Leprechaun peering at the books on the window sill, standing out from the crowd. That is, this Leprechaun was standing away from the crowd, thus literally and figuratively standing out. You are amused by this odd realisation, and entertain the rest of the crowd until you can finally meet your new Apprentice.

As the crowd subsides and the chattering disappears, you launch yourself atop the marble bench, and then again toward the anxious Leprechaun. Startled, the anxious Leprechaun leers at you as you question them, “What are you looking for?”. The anxious Leprechaun anxiously responds, “Nothing…”. “Perfect”, you say, “Would you like to be my new Apprentice?”

The Hypothesis

“Would you like me to separate the story books from the memoirs, or put them all together?” The Apprentice has just begun their first shift at The After Word. As you pass the Apprentice the final crate of books you say “Why seperate them at all? Are not both the stories and the memories the telling of a tale? Are not both the stories and the memoirs the remembrance of a where? Or a who? Or a when? Or a why? Why separate the story books from the memoirs, if they are both telling the same story… differently?”

The Apprentice lifts the crate and ponders “But, even if I separate the story books from the memoirs, they will still be a part of the same book shop, no? Would that be separation or organisation? Would that make the story books or the memoirs harder to find? Would that make the customer lurk for a little longer, or help them find what they are looking for?” You are impressed, and you feel a sense of pride that you could never communicate. You laugh “Then separate but do not separate! As long as everything is in one place, a place where the customer can find what they are looking for, it does not matter the pattern or the design, only that nothing is lost, and all can be found!”

After some several shifts, the Apprentice finds you and asks “Excuse me, but what do you store in the room behind the marble bench?” There was a door behind the reception area that led into some room. The Apprentice would work in the main area of the shop, but was never invited into this mysterious room. “That room my friend… is a room! I go in there to write my stories, I go in there to tell my tales! It is filled with magic and secrets that I could never tell!”

“This room has all my memories, this room has all my woes! This is the room of all rooms, and it is here, in this simple book shop! Soon enough, I will invite you to enter this room, but not now… for soon is not now! Soon is soon, now is now, and the time has not yet come! When you know when ‘soon’ is, you will enter the room. Maybe I will tell you, maybe I will not, but either way… you will know. You will know when it is time to enter this mysterious room!” The Apprentice looks perplexed, as if you had just answered a question they were never going to ask.

As the Apprentice returns to the stacking of the shelves, you notice a slight carelessness in the arrangement of the books. You look around and notice the same careless expression in the heap of empty crates, placed around the shop… carelessly. Suddenly, you remember when the careless one was you. As the Apprentice reaches to stack the final book, you begin “Could you please leave this book in its crate, and wipe the dusty window sills?”

“Could you also stack all of the crates above one another? Could you wipe down the marble bench and the window panes? Could you make sure not to leave the crates lying around carelessly? Could you make sure that the books are placed and sorted carefully? Could you make sure that the customer’s experience of this book shop is extremely pleasant, rather than subpar and inconvenient?”

Apologetically, the Apprentice stutters “I-I understand. What can I do to make the customer’s experience more pleasant? What can I do to make the customer’s experience more convenient?” This is the question you’ve been waiting to answer, and you do so as if you never expected anyone to ask it. “Well, let me think about it… You must make your own experience of the shop more pleasant. You must make your own experience of the shop more convenient!”

“How do you treat the book shop? How do you walk in the door? How do you enter the old bazaar? Do you tidy the book shop until it is welcoming, or just enough until it is bearable? Do you open the door gently or with great force? Do you rush into the old bazaar or do you pace yourself, with plenty of time to spare? How do you hold the books while you stack? How do you hold the broom while you sweep? How do you hold yourself with a customer? Do you hold the books by their flimsy covers or do you wrap your hand around the spines? Do you push the broom with no purpose or do you push for immaculacy? Do you treat the customer with respect, or do you respect yourself and the customer by the nature of your own self regard?”.

“How do you turn the pages of a book? How do you lock up at the end of your shift? How do you find yourself as an Apprentice? Do you delicately turn the pages of a book, or with anger betwixt your fingers? Do you shatter the hinges of the door or close it inch by inch? Do you find yourself being helpful to others? Do you find yourself being kind? Do you find yourself being polite? Do you find yourself being inviting? Do you find yourself at all, or are you lost?”

“Do you find yourself pondering the wonders of the outside world or the mysteries of The After Word you are yet to uncover? Do you find yourself pondering the wonders of the after world or the mysteries of the afterwords you are yet to discover? Do you find yourself finding new stories to tell? Do you find yourself finding new books to begin? Do you find yourself finding new stories in which you can lose yourself? Do you lose yourself in the stories? Do you lose yourself in the books? Do you lose yourself, or are you found?”

“For if you cannot find yourself, how can you find peace? If you cannot find yourself, how can you find the pages of a book? If you cannot find yourself, how can you find the helpless customer, if you yourself are the helpless one? If you cannot find yourself, how can you find anything? If you cannot find yourself, who is the one that is lost… yourself or the one who is looking? How can you find the kindness for a customer, if you do not know where to look? How can you find anything, if you do not know the one who is looking? To find yourself at every moment, being kind and welcoming to all things, and all beings, is what you must do before you are kind and welcoming as an Apprentice!”

The Apprentice stands in front of you like a gelid figure waiting to come to life. The Apprentice is speechless, not because they understand what you said, but because they do not understand a thing. However, they pretend that they do, “I-I know what you mean… I must… always look, and always find, and never be lost unless I know where to return.” The Apprentice musters up whatever heap of words they are able to salvage from the rapid goings of their mind. Yet, although they could not remember exactly what you said, they remember exactly what you are saying, unbeknownst to them.

“Perfect!” you proclaim, “Then get to work! I will be working in the mysterious room which you are yet to discover! I have a couple of chapters left to write, and I will return once I am complete. Make sure to finish arranging the books and stacking the crates! Should there be any troubles in my absence, I trust that you will be able to find the right thing to do! Make sure to button up your sark and always tie the laces of your boots! You wouldn’t want to fall, no? You wouldn’t want to fall and let yourself down, right? You wouldn’t want to fall short of greatness, would you? Anyway, I’ll see you when I see you!”

As you watch the Apprentice sort the books and stack the crates, you realise that this is the last of the Apprentice you will ever know. You bid them farewell, “See you soon, I’ll be inside!

The Consequence

“Hello? Are you in there? Hello!” The Apprentice bangs at the door. The Apprentice is yet to see the shop owner, several days after they went inside. Frustrated and confused, the Apprentice is opening shop and locking up every shift, with no sight of the owner. The Apprentice wonders if the shop owner has forgotten about them, or if they are simply not in the room anymore. However, the Apprentice has not yet given up their duties at The After Word, because they enjoy the telling of the stories too much.

It has been many rotations, and there is still no shop owner to be seen. The Apprentice has come to terms with the possibility that the shop owner may never return, though it would be absurd to tell the customers of such carelessness. At this point, the Apprentice does not know whether or not the shop owner is in the mysterious room, through the mysterious door, or somewhere else.

As the Apprentice saunters into the empty, quiet bazaar, they notice a Messenger delivering letters and crates to the different shops that surround The After Word. A scurry of ideas flood into the Apprentice’s mind regarding the Messenger, as they scurry into The After Word. The Apprentice had made splendid amounts of progress in the decoration of the book shop. The platform was still in the middle of the middle, and the marble bench was still opposing the entrance.

However, since the grand opening, the Apprentice had built and filled up five enormous shelves on both sides of the shop. Each shelf was less than an inch away from the cobblestone ceiling, and each row held hundreds of books. The shelves were stacked and sorted to perfection, thanks to the shop owner’s perfectionism. The story books could be found on the left, and the memoirs on the right.

There was no more dust on the window sills and there were no more stains on the window panes. The crates were piled up behind the marble bench, and the platform in the middle of the middle was immaculate. Everything was in order, and everything was perfect. Everything was in its place, and everything was able to be found… except for the shop owner.

Upon entering the book shop, the Apprentice almost steps atop a tiny crate of letters, most likely delivered by the Messenger. As the Apprentice unfolds the first letter, the crackle of the scarlet wax reverberates throughout the tearing of the envelope. The first letter reads “Greetings! To whom it may concern, I have been an avid visitor of The After Word! I was even a common goer when it was a simple merchant’s cart in the olden times of the old bazaar!”

“Unfortunately, I have since become frail and weak, and cannot leave the comfort of my home. I cannot traverse the rubbles on the streets or fight through the powerful winds of the sky. Would you be so kind so as to deliver a collection of your best books? I have inside the envelope a generous payment, and I hope your stories can find me soon!”

Excited to deliver their favorite collection of books to this loyal customer, the Apprentice puts aside the offerings in the till. The first letter is placed on top of the marble bench and the Apprentice grabs ahold of the second letter. It reads “Salutations! I assume that I am speaking with the shop owner of The After Word? It is a pleasure! I do hope this letter finds you well! I am wondering if you would happen to know the whereabouts of the Oracle? They used to run the merchant’s cart before long ago! I have looked everywhere, but I am not able to find them! Please let me know if you know, if not, I bid you farewell!”

Intrigued, The Apprentice ponders the nature of this Oracle. What did this letter sender want from them? Was it a question? Was it a fortune? Was it nothing? There is one more letter to be read, but The After Word is filling up with customers that require the Apprentice’s complete focus and attention. The Apprentice leaves behind the letter on the marble bench, as the crowds leave behind their woes and troubles at the door.

The crowd finds their way through the entrance of The After Word, and sit around the periphery of the cobblestone den. They fill the seats that surround a tiny, circular platform in the middle of the middle, beneath which a red velvet carpet rests. Since the shop owner is no where to be found, The Apprentice finds their way to the platform, teetering through the circular seating arrangement enveloped by the chattering of the crowd.

The Apprentice takes a modest step and stands atop the platform in the middle, in the middle of the middle. “Thank you all for being here with me. Unfortunately, the shop owner is still away on a retreat, so I will happily be your story teller once more! Until the shop owner returns, I hope that I can entertain you and serenade you. I hope that you can enjoy my stories and enjoy my songs! I hope that you can enjoy!”

“Before proceeding further, I would like to announce that starting now, The After Word will be working to deliver these wondrous story books to you! Up until now, all of you have come to listen to endless tales and mythical stories! However, though there are a few that are most definitely fortunate, some do not and cannot have the freedom of freedom. So, instead of having to come here, to The After Word, we will come to you! You will finally be able to read our tales and wonders from the comfort of your own comfort, receiving countless stories without ever stepping outside!”

“This is the tale of The Puppeteer!” The whispers and the whirs of the crowd come to a silent halt, all awaiting the telling of the tale. “The Puppeteer would stand atop a wooden stage, where all the crowds could see! The Puppeteer would perform at every carnival and would never disappoint the puppet admirers. The Puppeteer had many marionettes that they would use to tell a different story, but their favorite marionette was The Seer.”

“The Seer was a marionette that made ridiculous jokes about The Puppeteer and sometimes about the crowd! The Seer would joke about anything that they could see! The Seer was attached to five strings, each string attached to a finger on the hand of The Puppeteer. Show after show, performance after performance, The Seer’s stories and jests could never, and would never disappoint!”

“Though The Seer was the crux of the performance, it was known that The Puppeteer had used these marionettes to express their own opinions and beliefs. In the middle of The Puppeteer’s restful slumber, The Seer had come to life! In any other world, this would have been impossible, but not this world! This world, of The Puppeteer, was known to house all kinds of ridiculous absurdities, mythical and magical, and everything fun!”

“The Seer made so much ruckus that it had awoken The Puppeteer! The Puppeteer had never had a marionette of their own come to life. The Seer climbed atop a wooden bench, upon which it was built, to paint its own shoes a kind of velvety red! The Seer would rip and shred the silken fabric into a magnificent purple vest. It already wore a green hat and a pair of green trousers. The Puppeteer was surprised and a bit annoyed that it was The Seer that came to life, as it was the star of the show.”

“The Seer found a pair of scissors and glared at The Puppeteer. Threatened, The Puppeteer made a fist and held it by their side. Soon after, The Seer chuckled and leaped toward The Puppeteer with the scissors in its wooden fingers. Because of its tiny size, The Seer was speedier than the speediest puppeteer, especially this Puppeteer!”

“The Seer seemed to instantly appear at different parts of The Puppeteer’s gigantic body. For a moment, it would appear by the Puppeteer’s head, swoosh. Then it would make its way to The Puppeteer’s arm and legs, swoosh slash. After a couple of swooshes, and a couple of slashes, the Puppeteer fell to the ground. The Puppeteer could not move anymore, The Puppeteer could not do anything.”

“In that instant, The Puppeteer had realised what The Seer had done. It had slashed The Puppeteer’s strings from its body, and without any strings, The Puppeteer was helpless. No matter how hard The Puppeteer tried to move, no matter how hard The Puppeteer tried to stand, it could not. The Puppeteer was not only a Puppeteer, but also a marionette! The Puppeteer had believed that it was a Puppeteer for its entire life, and the realisation that it was no more than a single marionette in what seemed to be an infinite string of marionettes… had shattered its world.”

“The Puppeteer had believed that it was moving, and doing on its own accord. Yet, when its invisible strings were cut, it could no longer move. It never saw the strings, because it had never looked. If you were to tell The Puppeteer that it was a marionette, it would never believe you. In the same way, if I told you that you are never actually seeing, would you believe me? Thankfully, of course you are seeing!” The Apprentice laughs at the absurdity and impossibility of seeing without eyes. “The Puppeteer was helpless, it was as if its eyes could no longer see, and its ears could no longer hear.”

“The Seer would help The Puppeteer and teach them how to walk. It would teach them how to move. It would teach them. When The Puppeteer was finally able to move, The Puppeteer and The Seer would traverse what seemed to be their world to find the puppeteer of The Puppeteer! They would do so in the hopes that they could set the puppeteer of The Puppeteer free! They believed that in the same way that The Puppeteer believed they were a puppeteer, their puppeteer must believe the very same thing.”

“They would forever traverse their ridiculous world, which was actually a tiny stage, searching for The Puppeteer, only to remind them that they too were a marionette. They would forever traverse their tiny little stage, until they found their puppeteer, in the hopes of reminding them that they are a part of the same, infinite, eternal string of marionettes!”

“Is that not absurd?” The Apprentice concludes the tale of The Puppeteer, where the Puppeteer was… a marionette! Is that not absurd? The crowd was baffled, for they had never heard any story as outrageous and unbelievable, though they thoroughly enjoyed it. As they quaintly applaud the telling of the story, The Apprentice bows and makes their way to the marble bench.

All the shop goers form into one line in front of the bench, all awaiting their copy of The Puppeteer! Goer after goer, The Apprentice is being praised for their narration and explanation of The Puppeteer. ”That was truly wonderful! I love the use of the marionettes to describe the self obsessed puppeteer we believe that we are!”, “Wow, you really love your marionettes! Is this the first story you’ve ever told?”, “Ha! It feels as if you’ve done this before, what a lovely story and what a lovely book shop!”

The Apprentice is more than pleased with the crowd’s response to the telling of the story. As the crowd subsides and the chattering disappears, The Apprentice reaches for the third letter, still sitting atop the marble bench. As the Apprentice opens the wax sealed envelope, a key falls onto the table. The third letter reads, “Soon is now! When else could it be?”

The Epilogue

The Apprentice grabs ahold of the key, making the obvious assumption that it belongs to the mysterious door. Moments after the key jitters in the rusted lock, the Apprentice pushes open the mysterious door. The Apprentice enters a colossal wooden chamber. They find themself inside a candle lit library with never ending isles and never ending stories. The aromatic scent of an open book cloaks the deliquescence of the burning candles.

The Apprentice peers upwards, looking to find the ceiling, but it is so high that it cannot be seen. The Apprentice turns around and finds that the passageway, whence they came, is no longer there. Instead, The Apprentice is surrounded by a ring of never ending mahogany shelves that seem to reach a ceiling that cannot be found.

The Apprentice stands in the middle of an infinite library, with endless shelves in every direction. There lies a marble table in the middle of the middle. The table rests upon a round, scarlet velvet rug, ornamenting the tessellated tiles beneath. The Apprentice walks toward the middle of the middle and notices a collection of books atop the table. Each book is spread around in the shape of a circle, paralleling the formation of the endless shelves.

The Apprentice counts thirteen books. Oddly enough, out of all the books upon the marble table, there is only one that is not lathered in ancient cobwebs and silver dust. The Apprentice grabs ahold of the spotless book and turns to the first page. The only thing that read was “The Storyteller”, marked in purple ink.

The Apprentice turns to every page, reading every word, understanding every story. The Apprentice knew that the shop owner had left this book, on this table, in this room, in this shop, in this bazaar, on this island, so that they could find it. As The Apprentice turns to the final page, they find no more words. Instead, an envelope slips out of the book and lands on top of the table.