The library kept all of its books under lock and key, behind three-inch thick glass etched with runes from every major arcane school of thought, watched twenty-four hours a day. They weren’t especially dangerous books, they weren’t even magical in and of themselves, and they certainly weren’t rare. However, they were dangerous. Since words had started to come to life, all books were dangerous.
It had started in Berlin, by most accounts, with a disgruntled wife who scrawled the word “HUND” across her unfaithful husband’s forehead with a Sharpie while he slept. By morning, her husband was gone and there was a puppy in his place. Of course, she had been little more than a footnote in a grocery store tabloid at first, but then it happened again. And again. And again. It spread, quickly, and soon became so widespread that nobody could ignore it anymore. Words were becoming things. Words were changed things. All you needed was a pen… and you were master of the world.
There was panic. There were riots. The people turned to their governments and the governments did what governments always do – They banned things.
They banned printing. They banned pens. They shut down the Internet and closed all of the schools. Signs were torn down in the streets. The written word was a weapon and could not be allowed. They wanted to burn books, of course, but nobody knew what would happen if you aerosolised words. Nobody wanted an airborne weapon, a drifting plague of wild information and imagination that could do, well, anything. Instead, the silos were built. No matter how tall or small a library was, it was siloed – sealed in a thick concrete shaft that was dropped into position over the building and then sunk deep into the ground. Inside, the libraries were refitted with alarms, vault doors, and the special safety glass. Nobody knew if any of it would work, but governments never let a simple thing like that get in the way of taking action.
Two generations on and almost nobody knew what a library was. The silos were still there, still guarded, but their walls had moss on them and birds had begun to roost in the cracks. The words were still locked away. In many ways it was a better world. It was certainly a simpler one.
There were those, of course, who still knew the true power of words. Some of them used that power to control the world. Others used that same power to try and stop them. The great secret war of words raged, but nobody recorded a moment of its passing.
The war was why Milo got given the typewriter by his great-grandfather. The old man’s eyes were too weak, his hands to riddled with arthritis to use it now. It was a young man’s weapon.
“You’re become to be just like me, kid,” he told him. “A WMD.”
“A Writer of Mass Destruction.”