It was cold this far down, below any semblance of natural light, past where the churning of machinery boomed. Up above, birds chirped about the trees and and bees buzzed over the flowers and sun beamed down on all of them. Down here there was no such fortune. It was cold, dark, and empty.
Lilibeth’s flashlight shown through the dark and swayed ever so slightly with the elevator as it descended further and further into a sea of inky blackness. It had taken months of preparation, but the old researcher had enough rope strengthened and affixed to her lift to bring her miles below the surface. And bring her miles below the surface it did.
The rope hit its end only half a meter above what appeared to be a black tile floor. Lilibeth paused for a moment, listening to the dull hum coming from somewhere beyond where her flashlight touched the otherwise perpetual darkness.
Lilibeth turned on a small floodlight attached to the side of her elevator. God only knows why it was in her basement, but it proved invaluable. If she lost her way, she'd be able to backtrack towards the light. Thankfully she had run its power source through a generator. It could last for days, maybe weeks.
“Off into the dark, I suppose,” Lilibeth whispered to herself. The tile floor echoed into the distance, much louder than Lilibeth had expected. Her pulse quickening, she took off, watching every step she took. There was no way to know if a bottomless pit was mere meters in front of her at any given time.
She wasn't sure how long she had been standing there, looking at the door affixed to the rock wall in front of her. She wasn't sure when she had stumbled into the cave she was currently in. And yet, there she was, staring at the entirely un-extraordinary door, wondering just how long she had been walking . It felt like an hour. Maybe two. The strange noises from before were gone. It was quiet here, and properly normally quiet. With a push, Lilibeth opened the door.
On the other side was a hallway built of marble and stone. A dozen meters out, the corridor gave way to some sort of balcony or walkway, overlooking shelf after shelf after shelf: Books.
This was a library.
Lilibeth took careful and bewildered steps out to the railing, where shelves went so far down and so far up that she couldn’t even see the roof amidst all the walkways and floors and ladders. But there were people too, reading in armchairs or walking or browsing through the books in the narrow aisles. Some wore casual attire, while some were dressed in suites or ornate jewelry. A few were wearing dark brown robes. One of those robed individuals was on the same walkway as her, walking towards a flight of stairs at the far end. She gave the person a tap on the shoulder.
“Um, excuse me, do you know where I can fin-”
The man had no mouth. Lilibeth nearly screamed then and there, but managed to suppress her surprise. Why didn’t he have a mouth?! Where did his mouth go?!
“You wouldn’t- uh- happen to know, w- where I can find someone n- named Carina,” she stammered. The docent cocked his head to one side. Despite its rather ghoulish appearance it didn’t seem to be hostile, or even agitated.
“Carina, um, I was told she’s a librarian who works here.”
The docent thought for a moment, then nodded. Its arm stretched out towards Lilibeth, displaying its malformed fingers, index and middle finger curling in a motion indicating he wanted her to follow him.
“Are you here for the meeting?” asked a woman as Lilibeth was escorted into a small cozy room. An array of chairs were placed around the center of what looked like a conference room. The only other person here now was that woman, seated behind a desk with with several books stacked atop it. It would have been comforting if she had any eyes, but she did not.
“I was told to find a librarian named Carina,” Lilibeth replied. The woman smiled.
“Yes, that would be me. So you are here for the meeting.”
“What is this place?”
“Why, this is The Library. Is this your first time here?”
“Yeah, I uh… I guess I don't get around much these days.”
“That's quite alright. Perseus is around here somewhere. If you'd like to wait for him he shouldn't be long.”
“I'm sorry, this is just a lot to process.”
Lilibeth sat down, looking out the open door at the people milling about. Sat against a row of shelves, a couple held hands as they read, while another individual ran his hands along the books as he walked with a pace that suggested he had nowhere to be. It was strangely peaceful. Perhaps Lilibeth was just overwhelmed from seeing other people again; she had spent so long alone.
“What's a library doing in a place like this?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Has there been a library this far underground this whole time? All these years?”
“Is that how you found it? Through a door underground?”
“There are many Ways to The Library. It doesn't have a location, it is a location.”
That thought sunk into Lilibeth. She wasn't in SCP-2508 anymore. This was some entirely seperate place, seperated by who knows how much space (if such concepts could even be applied to them). Her lips curled into a faint smile at the thought.
“So, which one are you?” Came another voice from behind Lilibeth. As she turned, she could see it belonged to a young girl in a labcoat who had just entered the room. She looked no older than 12, and sported a comically oversized top hat.
“I'm sorry?” Lilibeth remarked. The large hatted girl gave her a smirk.
“Your name I mean.”
“That's the one,” she extended a hand, “I'm Norma, Site-43 Chemistry department. Welcome to our little club.”