This was the world’s last great expedition. The territory was not uncharted. All was familiar. But it was just no longer feasible.
She reached the Library and spent her days and nights exploring texts, poring over cuneiform – desperately trying to decipher long-lost languages without so much as a phrase book.
She probed and pondered. For a while she was certain of making progress. A letter here. A symbol there. Sometime a sentence promised to offer up a partial truth. Other times that same sentence became devoid of anything.
The process became so arduous that one by one the lexicographer’s party fell prey to unknown ailments.
One person fell asleep awake forever. Another was unable to locate themselves within the cosmos. A third became prone to the kind of doubt that manifested itself as a wasting disease. Someone else became detached from their shadow.
Two men found themselves merging with their past and future selves simultaneously and thereby cancelling themselves out.
One poor soul merged with their surroundings and actually became part of the furniture.
The impossibility of the mission turned another crew-member inside out. They were found pooled beneath a bookshelf.
And then only she was left.