Feeling an annoying twinge in his right bicep, Duncan Robinson lowered his arms from his shooting motion and let the ball drop to the floor. After shaking his arm a few times to loosen up whatever tightness was there, he grabbed the ball again and prepared to shoot another three-pointer, one of hundreds he had shot that day, but he was again bothered by what felt like a small jolt of electricity pulsing through his arm.
Thinking that he had simply overworked himself, he begrudgingly packed up his stuff and prepared to leave the empty high-school gymnasium that he had rented for his own personal training needs. He could go home, get a good night’s rest, and hopefully the strange muscular affliction would pass. He tried not to worry about it; while his career had been relatively injury-free, he knew that anything seriously wrong with him could be dealt with by the Heat’s skilled medical staff.
He was walking down a musty wood-paneled corridor that gave the impression of great age. Underneath his feet, a stately red carpet lay forgotten under time and dust. He didn’t know where the hallway was leading him, but he knew it was very important that he reach the end of it. After a long time of walking where it was unclear that he was making much progress, he finally came to a wooden door with an ornate cast-bronze doorknob.
Pulling the door open, Duncan saw a vast library with shelves of books that reached to the ceiling. The sight of such an extensive collection of knowledge was intoxicating to him. After many trials, he had finally made it to this grand archive, and now the fruits of his persistence would be plucked from the tree.
There was a tickling sensation on his face. He rubbed his cheek but the annoying sensation persisted. He squinted his eyes shut, and when he opened them again, the dream shattered around him and he found that he was lying in his bed with his cat, Mrs. Chips, trying to curl up into a ball by his shoulder. Her whiskers were poking his face, but when he shoved her away, she simply returned to the warm spot she had created for herself.
Duncan tried to remember what he had been dreaming about but found that the details were already disintegrating. Something about books, maybe? But he hadn’t read a book in a long time. Perhaps his subconscious was chastising him for that fact.
With that thought, Duncan went back to sleep.
“God damn it,” Duncan muttered under his breath. His arm had been fine for the first thirty minutes of his workout, but now that he was getting into a rhythm with his three-point shot, the twinge was back. It wasn’t painful, exactly, but it was very distracting. He could shoot through it, at the expense of accuracy, and missing more shots than expected him caused him to quickly grow frustrated.
Not wanting to cut his workout short for the second straight day, and also yearning for a sense of normalcy, Duncan stepped forward to the free throw line. The effortless, well-practiced motion of his free throw would hopefully be unaffected by his misbehaving right arm. And as he sank free throw after free throw, he found that his arm was perfectly well-behaved.
Thinking that he had been miraculously cured, Duncan immediately went back out to the three-point line, but as soon as he got into his motion, the muscle spasm returned. Even stranger, Duncan had a flash of something in his vision right as his arm twitched. The picture that had appeared in his eyes, he couldn’t even begin to describe it, but it triggered he faintest recollection of a dream…
Duncan tried in vain to grasp at the retreating recollections, but was instead left standing there at the three-point line, feeling very confused but also overcome an inexplicable yearning. A yearning for what? He probed his mind for an answer but found none.
That night, Duncan returned to the dusty library. As his sleeping body twisted itself among the bedsheets, sheened with sweat, his dreaming mind once again navigated that forgotten corridor which led to secret writings. That same wooden door was there, and the same daunting collection of books was there behind the door. Filled with a sense that profound knowledge would be found here, he approached one of the shelves. Many of the tomes had no titles on their spines.
He felt a pull to another shelf, so he crossed the room and again began browsing the books. A hefty tome bound in timeless gray leather beckoned him, and he carefully removed it from its spot. There was a title printed on its front:
Suddenly, he was yanked out of the dream as if by an outside force. Eyes open in his dim bedroom, Duncan felt a wave of disappointment crest on top of him, although the reason for this strong emotional response, he couldn’t have articulated. He tried to remember the title of the book he had found, but it was gone.