The days passed, and Duncan grew increasingly concerned at his body’s strange response to his solitary practices. After much experimentation, he had precisely pinpointed the problem: if his two feet were planted behind the three-point line, his shooting arm would begin to spasm. Anywhere else on the court, he could shoot with no difficulty. If he lined up with one foot on the line, then brought up the ball like he was going to shoot, he could stand there for minutes feeling nothing but boredom, but the second he brought his foot an inch backwards, the unexplained twitching would resume. Changing gyms hadn’t helped. Even going to a gym with a shorter three-point line hadn’t helped. Nothing had helped.
Duncan knew he should seek medical advice, but was reluctant to do so. What if news of his strange condition got out? He remembered how Markelle Fultz had been torn down in the media because of his supposedly psychosomatic shooting struggles. Duncan knew the same could happen to him if he revealed that his body (or his brain) was trying to stop him from taking three-point shots.
The possibility of seeing a therapist had crossed his mind, but he definitely didn’t feel like he had some kind of a mental block affecting him in any way. His jumpshot from just inside the arc was just as pure as ever. His mechanics were fine. He wasn’t going through a slump. It was absolutely absurd.
And his dreams…
It was difficult for him to seize onto concrete details of his oneiric experiences. The concept of a “library”, an overwhelming feeling of imminent discovery…those were the only two things he could recall. Were the recurring dreams and his uncooperative right arm somehow linked? They didn’t seem to be, but Duncan figured that if he was going insane, a lot of seemingly disconnected things could be gathered under the umbrella of insanity. And he often found that, when attempting a three-pointer, a glimpse of something unknown was lurking just beyond his vision.
Now, he set a pen and paper next to his bed as he prepared for sleep. If he woke up from a dream, any dream, he would quickly jot down as many notes about it as he could remember. Hopefully, by repeating the exercise for a few nights, he would have enough details to glean a better understanding of exactly what his psyche was trying to communicate to him.
The door swung open and the rows upon rows of books were in front of him once again. A ray of sunlight shone through the cloudy window, robbed of its golden hue and turned an ashen gray by the dust which floated everpresently through the air. At random he perused the shelves, eyes glancing across those withered spines with no titles, restlessly trying to find the one volume that he sought. He would pluck one off the shelf and inspect is pages, only to find small black text in an unfamiliar script.
His arm was twinging violently, distracting him. A ploy by the library itself to keep its bounty of knowledge out of his hands? Or a ploy by his mind to protect itself from the unfathomable teachings to be absorbed from these ancient works? Either seemed possible.
His feet took him to another part of the room, one draped in shadow. Peering through the dimness, a wide gray-leather spine stood out to him. With trembling hand, he removed it and gazed at the front. There was a title embossed in gold, written in the familiar Latin alphabet:
“Codex Triplici,” it read.
He could barely control his spasmodic arm enough to lift the cover and look at the first page. There was more text here in Latinate letters. His breath quickened, but as he rushed to being reading those words of undoubtedly great importance, his sight began to lengthen as if his consciousness was being stretched through spacetime. The words were soon too small to read. The hands holding the book were so far away, like they were part of a different universe.
He blinked once, and it all ended.
Duncan sat bolt upright in his bed, upsetting Mrs. Chips, who had been slumbering next to his torso. Scrambling to grab his pen and paper, he wrote two words that held no meaning to him: “Codex Triplici”. But as he gripped the paper and stared at his writing, trying to parse meaning from it, the ink began to fade.
Alarmed, Duncan wrote it again. He had barely finished dotting the final “i” when the C of “Codex” vanished. Again, he wrote the mysterious phrase and again, it disappeared. Faster and faster he wrote, but the letters were disappearing faster than he could pen them. Soon, he had forgotten what he was supposed to be writing. He furiously commanded his mind to remember, but those banks of memory were empty.
The blank paper taunted him. He crumpled it up and threw it against the wall. His anguished thoughts would not let him return to sleep, and he was still awake when the first rays of dawn pierced through his blinds.