Anathema athenaeum

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Randy Mazie

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Randy Mazie

The sign was installed in a hurry, fastened directly on top of the election posters we had just come to remove.

Black. Orange.

Alarm. Fear.


“What’s this?”

“Dunno… some sort of leak?”


“It says… ‘public protection ordinance’,… yadda, yadda … ‘harmful materials’…. blah, blah… bugger me!”

“What is it? Asbestos? Lead?”

“Say’s ‘materials can have long term deleterious effects on human brains, particularly young children’‘developmental/behavioural issues’‘severe personality implications’… far out!”

“Lets get out of here.”

“Hells yeah!”

Behind the library, a curl of black smoke rose, joining other columns in the progressively darkening sky.

(100 words)

Anathema – A thing or person detested or loathed

Athenaeum – an institution for the promotion of literary or scientific learning.

A Friday Fictioneer’s 100 word challenge story from Rochelle’s blog (this link will take you to all the stories).

No mystery around the idea for this story – its taken directly from the photo prompt – a library and a detour sign. Simple.


This is really another idea that has been banging around in the back of my mind for a while – brought to the fore perhaps by me recently finishing (again) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess*. An amazing novel (this was a re-read – albeit over a decade between reads), it prompted me to think carefully on the topic of censorship** (this book having been variously on and off of banned lists).

I am generally disinclined towards censorship of books. I strongly believe that people should be able to be challenged. Challenge your way of thinking by reading something that conflicts with your point of view, and it causes you to question why you have that point of view. Having your freedom to read, and by this the freedom to challenge your own or someone else’s views, hampered by Government or other censorship… that is deeply concerning.

Censorship is more about maintaining the status quo – not protecting the public.

Anyway, enough  of me banging on, let me know what you thought in the comments.




*As I might have implied in earlier post, Burgess’s novel was at least a partial influence to the Friday Fictioneer’s story I did called A Clockwork Universe.

** Do yourselves a favour, and check out Banned Books Week – a site that is dedicated to celebrating the freedom to read.

PS – Apparently I have a problem with libraries… for those who are interested my other short library-related tales:






39 thoughts on “Anathema athenaeum

    1. Thank you very much, very kind 🙂

      And thank you for arranging these challenges – great fun to do, great to read others stories, and great practice (I like to think I’m slowly improving).



      1. Dear KT,

        You know what they say about practice. 😉

        One of the things I love about Friday Fictioneers is watching some writers improve.

        I’m still addicted to FF as well as purple.

        Thanks for taking part.



        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great dialogue, and I found your note at the end really interesting. I’m also not a fan of censorship when it comes to books, unless it is based on age since there are some books that it really isn’t appropriate for children to read. But you’ve left me with something to chew on and a renewed drive to read Clockwork Orange.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicely done – a clear meaning without being too obvious. I like (well, not “like” but you know what I mean!) the idea of treating books like a hazardous substance, and the government has done a good job keeping people in the dark as to what’s going on, by the looks of it.

    I’m also interested in the removal of the election posters – after the election or perhaps before? Is it the end of democracy as well as books?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi mate – thanks! I remember seeing an article on the positives of reading (how it promotes empathy, increases vocabulary, etc) and tried to twist those into negatives (impact on brain development sounded negative to me :)).

      As for the election posters… well I know in Australia, our move to a right-side conservative government has had concerning ‘anti-science’ implications, so I think this is just a long extension of this issue.

      A fun write anyway 🙂


  3. Enjoyed the story and the postlude, KT. I’m not a fan of censorship either. Sometimes they take it to the point of ridiculous by banning books such as Huckleberry Finn because it has the word nigger in it–a socially acceptable term as the time the book was written.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear KT,

    Finishing with the smoke rising was a deft brushstroke to a masterfully illustrated canvas. If you’re not careful you’ll find your books banned one day. A perfect recommendation, if you ask me.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nan – my opposition to censorship is pretty broad, but I do think there is a place for parental guidance and classifications, that should apply to a range of media.

      Thanks for reading!


  5. Great title.
    A bleak story and do continue banging on about censorship. Those columns of black smoke made me shudder. Interesting comments above re protecting children and archaic language. I recently attended a play reading here in a theatre in Manchester UK when we read through August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson which has multiple uses of the word “nigger”. Great discussion around that.
    (What a great writer was August Wilson and little known here in the UK. We have been really missing out!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Patrick – if you want to minimise the impact of books on the thoughts of your future voters, its best to make sure to start whilst they are young.

      I liked your comment on the play reading too – “great discussion around that” – I personally think that discussing the offensive words, or themes is a much better idea than simply banning.



  6. Well done – those warnings are great at scaring people away. Would be good to know what is so abhorrent it has to be destroyed. I’m against book-burning (but went with a similar theme). Just because words exists we don’t have to do what they say. And in their banning they only grow in their seductive power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah – yeah, I thought it was funny how a photo of a library seemed to inspire a lot of book burning stories… perhaps as a bunch of writers we have similar preoccupations…

      As for what is so abhorrent… well I was taking a slight political angle (re the election reference) which would make any texts that opposed the current political ideology terribly offensive.

      Thanks for reading.
      KT 🙂


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