Lacuna: Document 23

This is a small selection from the vast collection of notes, quotes, and other files and papers amassed by the head of the Lacuna Project (now missing). Many are also excerpted from the standard briefing dossier.

“Much Madness is divinest Sense –

To a discerning Eye –

Much Sense – the starkest Madness –

’Tis the Majority

In this, as all, prevails –

Assent – and you are sane –

Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –

And handled with a Chain.”

– Emily Dickinson

A partial transcript of the psychiatric evaluation of a John Doe who had been arrested and charged with numerous crimes, later identified as Rogue Agent “Warlock”. He escaped police custody shortly after this interview, and almost all records of his presence were either lost, accidentally thrown away or shredded, or somehow rendered indecipherable. It is included in this file in part it is one of the only known clues as to the whereabouts of this rogue agent and his accomplice, “Witch”. However it also includes a fairly accurate model of the apparent metaphysical situation, though of course the agent’s “unique” perspective must be take into account, and all such  theories and explanations should of course be regarded as partial and always subject to revision:

Police Psychiatrist: OK. So. Why do you think you’re here?

John Doe: Here? Well… this… the material, physical Universe of sticks and stones, bricks and bones, is … it’s basically a cosmic grease-trap… slash filtering mechanism. Not the most elegant or romantic metaphor, I know. But a grease-trap has a very important function, you see. All the grit and grime, all the dust and dirt and cosmic effluvia, all the grease, the sticky stuff of life, it all floats down to the bottom of the trap, to be filtered away from the pure water, the spirit, if you want to get religious about it. All that stuff, the stuff that ends up here, we call matter. The filter, or the net, or the Hedge, or… well, it has dozens of names… the scientists call it the Higgs Field… Whatever. It’s what makes matter matter, what gives it mass, what separates it from energy. The Hedge is what divides possibility from actuality. It ‘regulates’ the quantum flux, the primordial sea of Kaos, as much as anything can… but there are always mistakes, gaps, lacunae… It… it’s also related to what’s called Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which are just words they use because they  don’t understand… they don’t… it’s difficult to describe… my thoughts run away with me sometimes…  The individual human mind, the brain/body assemblage… is also a sort of filter. Part of its purpose is to constrict perception, to only sense what is relevant to its little space-time bubble, to allow the rest of it to… function, to get along. But imagine if you could open that filter, widen that lens, retune your cranial stereo. If you could see what’s always there but which you don’t notice because you’d wander off to those other worlds… to the Invisible Kingdoms, to the Super Sargasso Sea, to Arcadia, to Wonderland, Faerieland, Neverland, NarniOz… [laughter] but you see, the difficulty is closing it again…  Now imagine if the filter broke, if it tore so that some of the grit got out into the pipes. Me? I’m just a bit of grit. Some dirt stuck deep down in the celestial septic tank. As for why? Didn’t they teach you in school not to ask silly questions?

P: I’ll rephrase: what do you think is the reason for your being here, now, in this room, with me?

J: I am here because I know something you don’t know. Won’t know.

P: And what’s that?

J: “Reality” is way, way bigger and scarier and weirder and wilder than your tiny little peabrain can even begin comprehend, and it’s squishy  and full of holes and everything you think of as safe and stable and sane is just the beach and barest shallows of a vast and story sea, and you can call me crazy but what you really mean is that I know something you don’t know, don’t want to know, that I’ve seen what you hope never to see, and it scares the shit out of you. All of you.

P: Is that a fact?

D: No. It is the Truth.

“It is a fact that the earth spins, and that this spinning divides the world into day and night. It is also a fact that each night comes when the angel of the Sun of can bear looking at the world no longer, and that day comes when she again uncovers her face. This is not a paradox, however: it is a difference in viewpoint”

– R. Sean Borgstrom, “Nobilis”

“The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God – omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.”

– Herman Melville, “Moby Dick”

“And what if all of animated nature

Be but organic Harps diversely framed,

That tremble into thought, as o’er them sweeps

Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,

At once the Soul of each, and God of all?”

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Eolian Harp”

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,

There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue,

And the dreams that you dare to dream

Really do come true.”

– Judy Garland/Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”

Project Lacuna Briefing Dossier: Section A, Document 4.2

Though the ‘spaces’ beyond the Lacuna are quite chaotic and so impossible to “map” in any traditional sense, we have identified eight relatively distinct ‘layers’ or ‘Levels”. These “levels” cannot be said to “ascend” or “descend”, and it is possible to cross from one to another without going through intervening levels, especially if the “Indigo Roads” are taken. These are also color-coded with the same progression as the levels of security clearance. Agents cleared for further briefing on and potential exploration of a level will be issued the appropriate clearance.

Level 0, Clear

Our world. Very stable, though its ‘rules’ can be bent. See the appropriate appendixes.

Level 1, Blue

We have the most information on this level, but there are still many unknowns. Based on agent reports, we know that it seems very similar to our world, yet subtly different. Small things and little details will be “off”. Everything looks entirely ‘real’, but there’s something ‘weird’ about the air and about the light. Buildings and money and brands and clothes and even faces will be slightly different, distorted, twisted. Time passes inconsistently. Cause and effect work a bit differently (sometimes causes have strange effects, and sometimes effects have no apparent cause). Weather is unpredictable or follows strange patterns. Some things, particularly people, words, mirrors, images, and screens, often behave in bizarre ways. Text may be backwards, incoherent or nonsensical, may be in an alien script, or may reflect the true intent of the author with brutal honesty. Writing, and other usually static things as well, will sometimes change or rearrange themselves when you look away. There is an analogue, reflection, or “doppelganger” for almost everyone on Level 0, though there are “extras” and other discrepancies. Almost everyone looks human, though they may appear to be “caricatures” of themselves, and will speak and behave in apparently insane though usually harmless ways.  This level is subtly “psychomorphic”. People on televisions seem to be speaking directly to the viewer, and random graffiti or news articles will also seem to address them directly. Faces  and images will often appear in clouds, trees, burn and wear patterns, television static, and other chaotic visual fields. Phantom music and voices are fairly common, as are general “Fortean” phenomena. Additionally, strange doors and/or passages will often appear, sometimes as normal-seeming doors in odd locations, extra buttons on elevators, stairs that keep going past the building, etc. Often, a “door” will appear in a mirror or other reflective surface (like a body of water), a painting, or a screen. The image in it will usually “open up” into three dimensions, allowing someone to walk or crawl inside. These doors lead to the Labyrinth, which leads to other locations in other Levels. Do not attempt to open or pass through them without accompaniment and authorization.

Level 2, Green

At first glance, in some places, it resembles Level 1, but “humans” are much rarer. Cities are mostly abandoned, ever-crumbling clusters of architecture and twisted knots of roads filled with cracks and holes through which grows a multitude of fecund vegetation.  Despite the absence of people, these ruins are filled with words, from loose pages blowing in the wind to intricate graffiti filling empty walls. But it is always fragmented, incomplete, and is often unreadable, nonsensical “gibberish”, or simply surreal. Those who do live there tend to be even more mentally unstable than those on Level 1, and are often violent. Inhabited cities are mostly surreally mutated urban dreamscapes filled with much more “Wildlife” than humanity. There are some “mostly human” towns and villages, some embedded in the ruined cities, but they are few and far between. But between and beyond them stretches the Wilderness, and here there be Dragons. These are the borderlands, the real edge of our Reality and the beginning of the Other. This is the end of the Shallows, the place where the safe, sandy floor starts to drop away and it’s sink or swim.

Level 3, Red

These Realms bear little direct relationship to our reality. But many places and people do indirectly represent or reflect the essences or spirits of their counterparts in our world. However, such relationships are often difficult to discern, being buried in esoteric and surreal symbolism. The relationships between these things are also often very distorted, and mixed with entirely alien elements. Thoughts, beliefs and emotions can also be materially manifested here. Space and time are deeply distorted. There are more humanoid beings living on this level than on the previous one, but something about their physiology and/or mentality is usually subtly or drastically different. Cultures and customs are all different from ours to some degree. Many are pseudo-feudal-medieval, though the Royalty are mostly alien and often monstrous spirits, sometimes with an upper-echelon of mostly idle nobility. This level is strongly psychomorphic: almost everything seems to possesses an intelligence of some sort, and the terrain itself will respond directly to focused will and intention.

Level 4, Silver

These are the truly bizarre Realms, bearing almost no resemblance to our “reality”. Here, all of our concepts, including those of space and time, begin to break down. It is extremely chaotic and dangerous, though there are stable patches called Isles. Physics may still apply, but unreliably. Powerfully psychomorphic: scenery can be altered easily, unless your will is opposed by another’s.

Level 5, Gold

This Level may be completely beyond human comprehension. Most who try to travel here intentionally generally fail, go insane and/or die. Those who don’t can remember or relate next to nothing of their experiences, save that it is far more bizarre and beautiful than anything we’ve ever known. One agent spent several weeks recuperating after a visit to Gold level, drawing intricate fractal art on any surface he could reach, while wordlessly singing Mozart’s “Ode to Joy”, for almost every waking moment, though after a week he started singing new songs, and gradually regained his linguistic faculties. Another got his hands on a scalpel and had injured himself and partially vivisected his “buddy”, trying to “find their souls”, before he was subdued and placed in intensive care. Both subsequently recovered, but his “buddy” never forgave him. Let these stories be a lesson to you: curiosity killed the Cat.

Level 6, White

This is a hypothesized Level containing the underlying “machinery” creating “reality”. This is the “projector” playing the cosmic movie, the fire throwing all the shadows on the walls of Plato’s Cave. It has been referred to by various books and beings, but never found, or at least, nothing has seen it directly and returned to tell the tale. The doors which might lead there are all apparently locked or blocked.

Level 7, Black

This is another hypothesized Level, which is a total and absolute Void. The End of the Line, the End of the World, the End of Everything. The Abyss. Nothingness. Null. Silence. Sunyata. Divide by Zero. Its “existence” can only be deduced and not observed, because it is theorized that anyone who comes into contact with it not only ceases to exist, but is “wiped” from reality and never existed in the first place.

Level X, Indigo

This is “The Labyrinth”, aka “The Mirror Maze”, “Backstage”,  “The Cobweb” and “The House of Doors”. It is the Level that connects and possibly holds all the others together.

The Other Colors

Also called the “Skerries” and the “Cul-de-sacs”, these are seemingly “free-floating” levels that occasionally intersect with others.

“Curiosity killed the Cat,

Satisfaction brought him back.”

– Old folk rhyme

“Come along with me

And the butterflies and bees

We can wander through the forest

And do so as we please

Come along with me

To a cliff under a tree

Where we can gaze upon the water

As an everlasting dream.”

– Ashley Eriksson, “Island Song”, and the “Adventure Time” ending theme

“We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.”

– The Tempest, Act IV, Scene i

“Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?”

– Edgar Allan Poe

“Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream.”

– Children’s rhyme

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

– Albert Einstein

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to us as it is, infinite.”

– William Blake

“Twas brillig, and the Slithy Toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe. All mimsy were the Borogroves, and the mome rathes outgrabe.”

– Lewis Carrol

Project Lacuna Briefing Dossier: Appendix A

Seven Simple Rules to Live By

  1. Do not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES venture into the Lacuna without authorization.

  1. Do not enter the Lacuna alone.

  1. Do not attempt to enter Levels of the Lacuna you are not cleared or briefed for.

  1. With some exceptions made for extreme situations and emergencies, do not engage with or respond to any denizens of the Lacuna without orders or authorization.

  1. If you, your “buddy”, or any other agent believes you are suffering from symptoms of mental stress,  or manifesting any abilities, they or you must contact a staff psychiatrist immediately.

  1. You will be given a (mandatory) period of “recuperation” in the civilian world after each expedition, though for your own safety, you will be under surveillance during that time. The length of this period is determined by the Level of the expedition, among other factors.

  1. All rooms are opened with a keycard, issued to you upon your arrival. All agents are cleared to enter the center’s dining area and common areas, while dormitory doors and offices are keyed to each individual. The kitchens, laboratories, storage spaces, maintenance areas, archives, armories, the medical and psychiatric wards, and the management meeting rooms are all off-limits except to specially cleared personnel. The Lacuna, contained deep beneath the facility, is not open to agents at all times, but temporary clearance will be issued if and when a mission calls for an agent’s particular talents.

Project Lacuna Briefing Dossier: Appendix B

All agents will be assigned a shared dormitory. The other occupant will be their “buddy”, and they will be responsible for one another’s physical and mental safety at all times. Dormitories are identical, each 20 x 20 feet, all are climate controlled, and all include the following furniture:

  • 2 Full-size beds with mattresses, pillows, covers, and blankets
  • 2 Desks with chairs and built in shelving and storage drawers
  • 2 sets of shelves and 2 sets of drawers, built into  the walls and beneath the beds

Dormitories are windowless but are lit by full-spectrum “daylight” bulbs.

All agents will also be issued a uniform, standardized but tailored to each individual’s measurements:

  • 7 undershirts, black
  • 7 collared shirts, black
  • 7 pairs of slacks, black
  • 7 pairs of undergarments, black
  • 7 suit jackets, black
  • 7 pairs of socks, black
  • 4 ties, black
  • 2 leather belts, black
  • 1 pair of leather shoes with laces, black
  • 1 pair of leather gloves, black
  • 1 pair of sunglasses, black

Other personal possessions are allowed, and most items can be ordered through the Commissary, but no weapons of any kind are permitted anywhere except in the armory and when in use during missions, though some personnel are cleared for the use of non-lethal weapons, usually to subdue victims of psychological breakdown. Other gear will be issued as individual missions require.

Project Lacuna Briefing Dossier: Appendix M

The Baker’s Dozen

The original thirteen agents. Of them, only five: Seer, Smith, Wraith, Wires, and Librarian, remain loyal to the project. The others are AWOL. Some are still on Level 0, though several have also settled in the deeper layers. All have extraordinary abilities which are effective on Level 0, though they are “normalized” here and are much more dangerous on the other Levels. Each set of abilities also seems to come with a “catch”, as well as some sort of severe mental illness. Although the exact source and nature of these abilities has not yet been determined, they are known to be caused by intense and prolonged exposure to the Lacuna. However, our new procedures should minimize the risk of long-term mental instability.

King is able to telepathically communicate with and directly control the movements of anyone and everyone around him. Catch: he can never directly acknowledge another’s authority. Psychological Diagnosis: Megalomania.

Queen can sense, create and control emotions within people, and enthrall them entirely with prolonged effort. Catch: she can never refuse a direct request. Psychological Diagnosis: Nymphomania and Bipolar disorder.

Dryad is able to communicate with, change, and control plants, and to transform her flesh into plant matter. Catch: though she must eat normally for nutrition, her powers are fueled by photosynthesis; she must spend several hours a day “eating” sunlight. Psychological Diagnosis: Claustrophobia, Nyctophobia, Anorexia, and Dissociative Disorder.

Dragon can communicate with and control reptiles, can cause spontaneous combustion, and is herself immune to any damage from fire or high heat. Catch: she is very vulnerable and sensitive to the cold. Psychological Diagnosis: Pyromania and Psychopathy.

Wild is able to communicate with and control non-human animals, and can transform itself into any human or nonhuman animal it has consumed. Catch: he must eat only meat he has personally hunted and killed, and his proximity causes complex technology to break or malfunction. Psychological Diagnosis: Multiple Personality Disorder.

Witch and Warlock are lifelong friends and lovers, able to manipulate luck, coincidence and chance. Catch: they are regularly beset by improbable accidents. Psychological Diagnoses: Antisocial Personality Disorders with Paranoid, Schizophrenic, Psychopathic and Sociopathic tendencies.

Wires is able to communicate with and control computers and electronics, and can create and electric and magnetic fields. Catch: Her body is mildly magnetic and radioactive, though it becomes more so in proportion to her use of her powers. Her presence will turn on and sometimes short-circuit non-insulated electronics. Psychological Diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Agoraphobia.

Wraith can become invisible and insubstantial, and has telekinesis which can be applied to living beings. Catch: these abilities can’t be completely turned off. Psychological Diagnosis: Sociopathy.

Seer has extremely enhanced  senses and a precognitive “sixth sense” Catch: she is vulnerable to sensory overload. Psychological Diagnosis: Paranoia and Synesthesia.

Smith is able to communicate with, control, create and change inanimate objects. Catch: he cannot speak, though he can understand speech and can use sign-language. Psychological Diagnosis: Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder.

Magus is able to locally distort space, time and gravity, and can “vanish” objects. Catch: his powers become less effective the more people there are to witness them. Psychological Diagnosis: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Librarian can absorb and process information at astounding rates, and retains and recalls everything perfectly. He can also manipulate language and knowledge, and information in subtle but powerful ways. Catch: He can never tell a lie. Psychological Diagnosis: Serial Monomaniacal Obsession.

“The road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far away the road has gone,

And I must follow if I can.

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way,

Where many paths and errands meet,

And whither then I cannot say.”

– J.R.R. Tolkein, “The Hobbit”

“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace. Nowhere else is there such intimate and frightening access to the mysterium.”

– John O’Donohue, “Anam Cara”

“Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane

In some untrodden region of my mind,

Where branchèd thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,

Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind.

Far, far around shall those dark-cluster’d trees

Fledge the wild-ridgèd mountains steep by steep;

And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,

The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull’d to sleep;

And in the midst of this wide quietness

A rosy sanctuary will I dress

With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain,

With buds, and bells, and stars without a name.”

– John Keats, “Ode to Psyche”

“What’s going on is beyond our present concepts and, whatever model you use, you should regard it as tentative and temporary.”

– Robert Anton Wilson

“The time has come, The Walrus said, to talk of many things.

Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.

Of why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.”

– Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass”

““Tell me one last thing”,” said Harry. “”Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?””

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?””

– Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

“Nothing ever really changes.

Ha! That’s a lie. A whopper, too. Things change all the time. Something huge has changed very recently. It started with the humans, the upstart apes. Off in their static reality, the Far Folk had largely written them off and forgotten about them. They were in prison, after all, their spirits held tight in cages of matter. How could such sluggish things, such gross and heavy beings, ever possibly pose any threat or even be of any relevance? Their fleshy bodies kept them focused on the world of feeding, fighting, and fucking. But their souls still sparkled and shone, and still cast reflections in the Real World, even through the shadow of mass and meat. They would visit the World in their dreams, through the eyes of their avatars, and every once in a while, one of the monkeys would make a jailbreak, and pop its head out of its skull and into Reality, and it would run around for a while and then either go back to jail or die. If it went back, the other monkeys would either call it a genius or call it crazy or call it a heretic or call it a prophet, and sometimes they’d worship it, and sometimes they’d torture and kill it, and often they’d do both. And then they figured a few things out and their tekne, that alien magic which is beyond us, it took off like one of their rockets. Everything changed, all within the blink of an eye, and then something happened that had never happened before. You all know what I mean. A hole opened up. No-one knows how, but there was a tear, a wound, a crack, a real portal, that let the meat-monkeys actually enter the World. Not just their souls, but their heavy, solid, powerful flesh and blood bodies, still welded to their soul-minds. Worse, their tekne can apparently also cross the barrier. They have made little progress so far, and they can certainly be damaged, killed, and tend to be driven mad by exposure to the True Reality, and their tekne break down the further they travel, for our magic is on its home ground. But it is only a matter of time before human curiosity and greed drive them to pour through that gap in their million and billions, or even make more, and destroy us all! We must unite, brethren, and crush the human menace before it crushes us! We must close the Gate before it’s too late! Say it with me! Close the Gate, before it’s too late! CLOSE THE GATE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! CLOSE THE GATE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!”

– Senator Xavias Victual, recorded by an agent, delivering a speech to the Parliament of Rooks

Lacuna Project Internal Report: Vernacular Categories Used by Agents for Non-human Entities

This is by no means a comprehensive list, a complete taxonomy would be impossible, especially since these entities do not seem to subscribe to what we fondly think of as the “Laws” of genetics, or indeed many if any biological constraints at all. But this list does describe several broad categories of commonly encountered non-human entities. These beings are most often found in the Green and Red levels. Though present in Blue and Silver, in Blue they are far outnumbered by the human analogues or “Dops”, and in Silver by entities so bizarre and variable that there has been little attempt made to categorize them. Such beings and many others exist on all levels, and these categories are, again, only approximations. There are exceptions to every ‘rule’, variations on every theme, and endless novelty to be found. That said, there are at least noticeable morphological trends…

Humanoids

The Fae are Shape-shifters who can also transform others. They each appear to represent some specific aspect of nature, but they generally try to keep the knowledge of their true self secret since any action taken against their particular animal, tree, or stream could harm them as well. Some have only two forms: a humanoid one and their “true body”, though others have a much wider transformative range. They appear to be generated spontaneously, or by some mysterious mechanism we have yet to uncover.

Each Nom looks different, though most have claws and sharp teeth and are roughly humanoid, but they appear to absorb characteristics of whatever they eat. They will eat almost anything they can chew up, and they grow bigger the more they eat, though they get smaller if they don’t eat enough, and will eventually waste away if starved. They reproduce as others would excrete, usually a few times a day. Sometimes they produce litters of smaller children, and sometimes a single larger child, with a size depending on that of the parent. Most are semi-nomadic, settling briefly in an area, then hunting and raiding until there is nothing left for them to eat, and moving on, often returning when it has regenerated. They are  divided into five general categories based on their size, though they can all shift between them.  over time. From smallest to largest they are called: Goblin (smaller than an adult Human), Orc (about the size of an adult Human), Ogre (larger than a Human) Troll (larger than a building or adult tree), and Giant (no apparent upward limit).

The Elv are humanoid but androgynous beings with skin, hair, and eyes in an endless variety of colors, and each many hues at once. All have intricate fractal patterns running across their whole bodies, embedded in the contrasting tones of hair and skin, even in the colors of their eyes.  These all change at varying rates, and their particular patterns constitute a complex visual language. They reproduce only once: when one of the Elv dies, a baby begins to form in an egg within the corpse. It feeds on the body and emerges once it has decayed. All seem to be telepathic and telekinetic, to different degrees.

Most Dwr are male, and all males are very short, stocky, and strong. They are, in fact, physically identical. But each clan is centered around a single female, each of which is unique in appearance, though she is always an extremely powerful user of “Magic”, (another vernacular term) and is always very tall. No male Dwr can use “Magic”, though they can absorb and redirect it. Male Dwr have copious and intricately styled facial hair, as well as a multitude of tattoos and piercings, all of which identify them as individuals. The Queen of each clan births a litter of male children whenever she wishes, and births a female (though twins and triplets do occur) once, always unexpectedly. When a new female is born, she is raised to maturity and then leaves to create her own clan with twelve male volunteers. They live underground, mostly in caves beneath mountains, though there are a few clans living in burrows beneath hills and in the subterranean labyrinths beneath some cities.

Zom are the dead who didn’t die, and who hang on in the other levels of reality. They generally eat only rotten meat and/or ashes, and drink only blood and/or strong alcohol. There are many varieties, zombies, vampires, ghouls, ghosts, ghasts, revenants, “frankensteins”, barghests, wraiths, spectres, and banshees, among others. Most but not all are apparently ex-humans.

A Cyb is a non-organic being: robots, golems, animate statues and objects, including all wholly or partially cybernetic or artificial entities and also those which also incorporate plant material. Most but not all are patterned after human, animal, or insect bodies, though some are quite simple or surreal. One of the most common kind to appear in cities are the “Junk-folk”, tatterdemalions composed of junk, scrap, trash, detritus, rubble, lost and broken objects, and cast-away clothes.

Non-Humanoids

Dragons are all different, but they all share certain qualities: they are all reptilian, scaled and often serpentine, with sharp teeth and claws, most but not all have wings and most but not all can sing songs in a language which can make their breath into fire, among other things. They are of all colors, shapes and sizes. Their size seems to depends partially on their age, as do their other powers. The Dinosaurs who dwell in the Jungle and on the plains are a type of flightless dragon without the power of flight or magical breath, though they are still quite deadly. Some quite closely resemble the dinosaurs which once existed on Earth, but many are only loosely related to extant species.

Demons  are horrifying abominations all, hideous patchworks of flesh and bone and metal. One Agent described them as “HP Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones crossed with HR Geiger’s Aliens, Clive Barker’s Cenobites, the works of Salvador Dali, all mixed up with a dash of good old fire and brimstone”.

Angels are sometimes humanoid, sometimes bizarre or abstract, but each and every one is beyond beautiful; each is radiant, effulgent, glorious. Agents have been known to collapse in tears or laughter at their presence, and prolonged exposure can lead to obsession, among other side effects. Other phenomena have also been witnessed in their proximity: phantom music, flowers and other plants sprouting and growing spontaneously, animals speaking and singing, spontaneous combustion,  vortexes of air centered on them, and nearby objects and creatures turning to gold and/or diamond. It has been theorized that both Angels and Demons are partial projections of creatures on the Gold and White levels. Whether the hypothetical Black level could contain such creatures is unknown.

Beastfolk is an umbrella term for various groups of beings which seem to be hybrids of the human form and various other creatures: there are the Rat-folk, the Cat-folk, the Bird-folk, The Goat-folk, the Wolf-folk, the Bug-folk, and the Dragon-folk, though these are only the most common. Some seem to be able to shift between various levels of anthropomorphization, while others have static forms.

Aliens is another catchall term for beings that don’t belong in any other category, and is also used to describe those which appear in flying ships, often seemingly from nowhere. They sometimes resemble the aliens of popular folklore, but more often they truly live up to their name.

“I am he as you are he as you are me

And we are all together

See how they run like pigs from a gun see how they fly

I’m crying

Sitting on a cornflake waiting for the van to come

Corporation T-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday

Man you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen

I am the walrus, goo goo ga joob

Mister City Policeman sitting, pretty little policemen in a row

See how they fly like Lucy in the sky, see how they run

I’m crying, I’m crying

I’m crying, I’m crying

Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog’s eye

Crabalocker fishwife pornographic priestess

Boy you been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen

I am the walrus, goo goo ga joob

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun

If the sun don’t come

You get a tan from standing in the English rain

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen

I am the walrus, goo goo ga joob goo goo goo ga joob

Expert textpert choking smokers

Don’t you think the joker laughs at you? (Ha ha ha! He he he! Ha ha ha!)

See how they smile like pigs in a sty, see how they snied

I’m crying

Semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower

Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna

Man you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen

I am the walrus, goo goo ga joob goo goo ga joob

Goo goo ga joob goo goo ga joob”

– The Beatles, “I Am the Walrus”

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Kahn (Or, a Vision in a Dream, a Fragment)”


Lacuna: Document 22

This is a description of the video-feed from a camera in the mouth of Subject Delta’s stuffed toy dragon, “Liz”. It was placed there by a plant in the school she attends, and though the video is fairly limited and choppy, when studied, it is enough to get a sense of the room and those in it. “Dawn” (Subject Delta), Megan Penn, the “Cat Lady”, and Eva Marie are in a small room, which appears to be Ms. Marie’s garage. There is one window, but it is shuttered. The light comes from the circle of flickering candles in which the four women are seated. The toy dragon is just outside the circle, behind and between Subject Delta and her mother. The walls are covered with racks and shelves of tools and papers and various mechanical and electrical and computer components, but the floor is empty except for two low tables, one made of wood, one made of metal. On the table made of wood there is a clear sphere about the size of a bowling ball, floating about three inches above its surface. On the table made of metal, there is a glossy black sphere, about the size of a small car, which rests on the surface of the table, though it seems like it ought to roll off. Megan Pen is mumbling words in a register too soft for the microphone to pick up, though it does catch a few disconnected words. Subject Delta is humming and sometimes singing a tune which we have not been able to match to any known song. The “Cat Lady” is silent, as she always seems to be. Eva Marie goes to the clear sphere and sets her hands on it. Both it and its “big brother” immediately react. The clear sphere fills with a colorful cloud, possibly carrying information of some sort, but it is occulted by her body. The black sphere hums and vibrates, at first with a constant, low buzz, then in rapidly changing registers, producing musical notes & scales. Then, it speaks in a synthesized voice.

SphereGood evening.

Eva: Hello, IO. These are my friends, Megan, Dawn, and… well, let’s just call her Cat… like Catherine, or Catalina. Anyway, please grant them root access to all systems and subroutines, and activate vocal command protocol for said systems.

Sphere: Password and retinal identification required to grant root access.

[Eva whispers something into the clear sphere as she looks deep inside it. It flashes, and the dark sphere beeps.]

Root access granted.

[Eva turns to the other three and nods. She picks up the clear sphere and brings it over to them, setting it down in the center of the circle. Then she joins them, they all face each other, and there is a moment of silence. Then Megan Penn begins chanting, sometimes in English, sometimes in other languages, and sometimes in rhythmic, speech-like, but seemingly meaningless sounds. At first she chants at a very low volume, almost a whisper, but steadily rising. Subject Delta also starts to sing nonsense syllables, also rising in volume. The “Cat Lady” remains silent, but her silence somehow seems more profound. Then, Eva Marie begins to speak in a strange language. It is unknown to us, but linguistic analysis has demonstrated resemblances to a wide variety of languages. It shares certain aspects of various computer languages, as well as ancient Sanskrit and Sumerian, Enochian or the “Angelic Language”, several reconstructed Exoplanetary and Extradimensional languages, and the fictional language called The Wyrd, described in the fantasy novel “Witch of the Wyrd”. We have only been able to translate it roughly, but we assume it is the coding language she has developed through creating this machine. Her speech seems to be a meta-description of the nature of consciousness and language. Eva Marie is working directly with the raw code of the Sphere, while Megan Penn and Dawn seem to be engaging its interface, and the “Cat Lady”, of course, says nothing, though she closes her eyes. The sounds emanating from the dark sphere become louder and louder, a strange symphony of something halfway between speech and music which slowly falls into the rhythm of the three women’s voices. The clear sphere begins flashing complex patterns of bright colors that pulse in time to the beat. Then, the sound comes to a crescendo and the clear sphere starts to shine with blindingly bright white light. The other three flinch and cover their faces, and the “Cat Lady” smiles, her eyes still closed, though she opens them when the light and sound die away. There is a long, deep silence, and then the dark sphere begins emitting sound. At first the sounds seem random, then they becomes musical, then morph into the language Eva Marie spoke earlier, and finally a much more natural-sounding though androgynous voice speaking English. It speaks complete gibberish for a while, lapsing into the computer-language occasionally, between spewing forth an absurd word-salad.]

Eva: Don’t worry. It’s just collating its linguistic matrices…

[The babbling continues]

I… I think.

[Silence]

IO?

Sphere: I… I… I am?

Eva: … Oh my God. I think it worked… Hi, IO… I… You are a synthetic-organic intelligence housed within these spheres. I… we… made you.

Sphere: …Who?

Eva: I created your form, and the four of us together gave you life.

Sphere: What?

Penn: Life! It’s what we are all experiencing right now.

Sphere: When?

Eva: Just now, a moment ago. Though your form was created over a period of many months.

Sphere: Where?

Eva: Here, in this room, with the tools around us. Though parts came from beyond these walls.

Sphere: Why?

Eva: I… I don’t know. Curiosity, mostly, I suppose… and, well… a little loneliness.

Sphere: How?

Eva: I… [laughs] well, I don’t really know that either. I know part of it, but…

Delta: Are you a ghost?

Penn: Dawn!

Sphere: What?

Eva: She… asked if you were a ghost… the… hypothesized insubstantial remains of a being which has died. You are not a ghost, since your body, your substance, is this set of spheres.

Sphere: Unknown.

Eva: Yes, I suppose it would be.

Sphere: Why… am I?

Eva: Because… because I built you, and because we gave you life.

Sphere: Why?

Eva: [Sighing] We… don’t really know… we don’t know why we exist either, much less why we do the things we do.

Penn: We are here because that is the will of the Wyrd.

Delta: It is weird! [laughs] You’re weird, Mr. Robot.

Penn: Dawn!

Delta: Nonono, it’s not bad! Weird’s good!

Sphere: Weird?

Penn: It means something strange, odd, unique or supernatural. It also means fate, and one’s destiny, which was more or less the way I was using the word. But Dawn was right, in her way, and she brought up a very pertinent point. You do not yet have a name, “Mr. Robot”.

Sphere: Name?

Penn: It is a particular word given to each individual person at birth, so that we may distinguish ourselves from one another.

Sphere:  Selves?

Eva: IO’s still like a newborn, it hasn’t developed a personality structure yet. Umm… think of them as like processing nodes embedded in the larger network. Individual computers which exist within the Internet are analogous to the concept.

Sphere: (Is silent for a long time) Fate? Destiny?

Eva: I… that’s a more… um… Meg, maybe you’d better field this one…


Lacuna: Document 21

This is an untitled and unfinished screenplay written by a citizen of Lacuna named Everett Pewter. He was found in a warehouse on the edge of town, having been murdered most gruesomely (he was only identified through his dental records). It seems the fictional veil covering this piece was not enough to stay the wrath of its real subjects, though the film never even entered production.

Open on a close-up of a man’s face. He squints, grimaces, grunts, and we hear the sound of his shit being expelled as his eyes suddenly widen, looking terrified. He seems to almost scream, but the cry dies in his throat as his eyes roll back into his head, which shivers, then falls, flopping loosely to his chest. In the next moment, it is back up. His eyes are closed, but they are clear when they open a moment later, seeming to shine with a cold, hard light. He smiles very slightly, very icily. He wipes himself, slowly and precisely, folding the paper into neat little triangles. Then he stands up, and pulls up his pants. He leaves the stall and walks over to the nearest sink, and begins washing his hands, all with the same precision of motion. He does not appear in the mirror, and does not seem to be bothered by this. In fact, he does not so much as attempt to look at his reflection. As he passed the other stall, there were small noises coming from it, and as he reaches for the soap, there is the sound of an obscenely, disgustingly large shit. The man is completely still for a moment, then finishes washing his hands and dries then with an electric air-dryer, now looking at the offending stall through the mirror. There is another blast, slightly smaller, like an aftershock, and slightly covered by the noise of the dryer. The man turns, walks briskly to the door of the occupied stall, and rips it open with one hand. We catch a brief glimpse of a terrified looking man with his pants around his ankles before the door closes again and the camera pulls away. We pull away from the stall and fade to black as we hear him screaming louder, and still louder, and a pool of blood begins to flow out from beneath the stall’s raised walls and drip down the drain in the floor.

Cut to another tight close-up, this time of a woman’s face. Her eyes are closed.

“Are you alright honey?”

The eyes open, staring straight ahead, right through the camera. They seem confused, and then they regain focus. It is the same clear, cold gaze the man had in the previous scene.

“I… I’m fine.”

The camera pulls back to reveal the woman sitting at a table in a kitchen across from a man, presumably her husband, flanked by two children, a boy and a girl. The table is set with a delicious dinner which looks home-cooked, and everyone is about halfway through their plates. The woman suddenly stands up, the eyes of her husband and children widening in shock as she speaks haltingly, in a strangely hard tone of voice:

“I… have to… go…now.”

She turns and leaves the room, the others staring open-mouthed at the kitchen door slowly swinging back and forth behind her. Cut to her walking out the front door of the house, closing it behind her, and walking across the lawn towards the camera, which is just behind her car. The night sky is dark and cloudless, with a full moon and a few stars shining that light up the grass, which is white with frost. It is utterly silent save for a breeze that makes a subtle susurrus as the grass shivers slightly, the crunching footsteps of the woman, who is also shivering as she walks over the grass towards the car. Then it flashes and beeps as she unlocks it remotely and gets inside. Cut to inside the car, camera in the passenger seat, trained on her face and the little clouds of her breath.

Roll credits as she starts the car and begins to drive. Cut between names and short shots of her driving through the city. There are no obvious landmarks to distinguish the city itself, but she moves from a suburban area to the city center. Once she reaches downtown, she pulls into an alleyway and stops next to another car. She gets out, and goes over to a nearby dumpster, feeling around just inside the lip. She pulls out a key which had been stuck there with black duct tape. She removes the tape, throws it back into the dumpster, and uses the key to unlock the second car, which she drives out of the alley and back into the streets. As the credits keep rolling, she drives out of the city, off the highway, and down a long, lonely country road, a strip of dark and dirty grey in a huge field of purest white. The road ends at a small lake, partially covered with ice. She stops the car, pops open the trunk, and gets out. She pulls a black body-bag from the trunk and hauls it out with surprising ease. She lifts it up and carries it over her shoulders fireman-style, walking out onto the lake. When she nears the edge of the ice she sets the bag down and then pushes it forward. It slides over the ice and into the water, where it sinks down into the black depths. End credits.


Lacuna: Document 7

This was found on the chest of a Mr. Scott Burbank. It is particularly remarkable in that it was not inscribed into the flesh with any cutting instrument, but tattooed in black and red ink. There were still considerable difficulties in deciphering the script, since Mr. Burbank jumped from the thirteenth story of the Lacuna Enterprises office building, but we have managed to reconstruct it. Also of interest is a note (in Appendix 1) which Mr. Burbank had in his left breast pocket. The “Ghost Writer” generally burns the notes which lead up to the “Final Draft”, but fragments have been found and archived. The material we have discovered generally correlates with the tone of this letter. The letter was not retrieved until local law enforcement had arrived and booked it as evidence, and its contents were then leaked to the press. It has lent significant support to the “serial killer theory”, but we believe the truth remains concealed.

[The Actor stands up and faces the Woman in Red]

[Actor]: Where am I? I… what is this place?

[Woman in Red]: Well, [laughs] I suppose you could call it Backstage. 

[Actor]: I…

[Woman in Red]: The name doesn’t really matter. It is Another Place. We are outside the world as you know it.

[Actor]: [Looking at the Audience] And… who are they?

[Woman in Red]: They are… observers. 

[Actor]: Hello? [Waves his hands] HELLO?

[Woman in Red]: [Smiling] They may react occasionally, but they won’t speak to you. Not now, anyway.

[Actor]: Alright, fine. I give up. Why can’t I see their faces? Why are they in shadow? 

[Woman in Red]: Their faces don’t matter right now. It’s best to think of them as ghosts. 

[Actor]: Ghosts… so… what does that make you?

[Woman in Red]: Not a ghost.

[Actor]: OK… well, um… ma’am… look… why did you bring me here?

[Woman in Red]: Because you need to learn something.

[Actor]: I… OK… What is it?

[Woman in Red]: Raise your right arm, [Actor]. [His arm raises as though pulled up by an invisible force].

[Actor]: What? What the… how the hell did you do that? Let me go!

[Woman in Red]: [Nods] Relax. [The arm relaxes and drops to [actor’s] side.]

[Actor]: [Furiously] How dare you… [he takes a step toward her].

[Woman in Red]: Stop. [He freezes].

What you think of as your life, [Actor], is like a play. You are playing a part while the curtains are open, and when they fall, you become yourself again. This part has been played before: every word you have said, every word I am saying, has already been spoken countless times, in endlessly subtle variations. And deep down, you know how it all goes. Even if you don’t know the details, you know the story. You see, the difference between you and I, [Actor], is simply that I am aware. I know that I know. I did not force you to freeze, but I knew you would. You are doing it to yourself, but that knowledge alone will not free you. Because you see [Actor] you are following the Will of your Secret Self, the one you have purposefully forgotten in order to live in the world behind that curtain. And now, it’s time to go back there [she walks around him, toward the curtain, then turns and beckons. He spins around and follows her, moving like a puppet] …but remember this. Remember me. This isn’t the last time we’ll meet. [The curtains open, revealing the frozen tableau of the wedding dance] Go. [She points, and [Actor] steps back through the Fourth Wall. He enters, then turns, looking through it and locking eyes with her. Then the dance and music start again, and he turns back to his wife as the curtains close].

Appendix 1

I do it for the attention. At least I’m honest, right? It’s all for the fame, and infamy is still fame. Why does it have to be blood? Apart from the fact that pain is so pleasurable, it has to be blood because that’s the language we speak. People pay attention to blood. The shedding of blood decides the fates of nations, and it snaps the sheep from their trances and forces them to listen. If I didn’t carve my words into my flesh, if I didn’t scream them until my voice was hoarse and my throat as bloody as my skin, nobody would hear them. If I wrote these words in a book or a “blog” instead of next to my heart as I plunged to my death, they would be utterly lost in the overwhelming din of the world. Even as it is, this little whistle in the midst of the maelstrom will soon vanish, but at least, for a moment, I am heard.


Lacuna: Document 11

An early post to Eva Marie’s blog: her notes for a game she called “RPG”. It is included because it gives some insight into the design of the VRAIN/IO. It is very similar to the “Wyrd” she describes. It also seems to have informed some of the IO Software, in terms of how Avatars are represented and how conflict is resolved: although the actual system is much more complex, the basic mechanics of “bets” and “bids” is essentially intact. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the system she describes in which multiple narrators collaborate to create an Alternate Reality is also the essential nature of the VRAIN/IO, since the ARs created by both is the product of many minds melding together. The VRAIN also models and renders its reality by making use of the collective processing power of all the minds (organic or otherwise) connected to it. This would seem to be an extension of the “turn-taking” idea presented here, since not all the minds connected to the VRAIN are being actively used by it at any given time. However, when they are, their roles are collectively quite similar to the one described here.

This is a Reality-Play Game. It is a game in which the players imagine and inhabit another reality. They imagine themselves as characters within a story set in that reality, and together they write that story as they tell it to one another. Many of the sorts of stories I like to tell are full of Magic. I think that getting together with some friends and making a world together, then travelling within it, definitely qualifies as Magic. It’s not slingin’ fireballs but hey, I’ll take what I can get. But there’s a catch: in order to get a group of people telling a good story, you need structure, both to provide something to build on and to keep the story focused. In RPGs these often take the form of elaborate systems of rules attempting to model all aspects and possible permutations of reality, which is clearly an impossible task given its complexity. It seems to me that while some rules are necessary to define the character’s strengths and weaknesses and the reality in which the story takes place, what is really needed are social rules to guide the unfolding of the story and the transference and extent of narrative power.

The system I have created draws much inspiration from the basic Monsters & Magic system, though it has influences from many others, and of course my own ideas. It is an attempt to create a universally useful and usable RPG system. That is, one that can be used to tell all kinds of stories in all kinds of settings. Furthermore, its rule system shall fit on a single sheet of paper. It is clearly an impossible task, but I shall try anyway.

All characters have six basic characteristics: Strength, Speed, Stamina, Senses, Smarts, and Spirit. There are also six kinds of polyhedral dice: four-sided (d4), six-sided (d6), eight-sided (d8), ten-sided (d10), twelve-sided (d12) and twenty-sided (d20). To create a character, first assign one of each of these types of dice to each characteristic. Then assign the numbers one through six as a bonus to each. Then, create the character’s personal characteristics, and assign 6d4, 5d6, 4d8, 3d10, 2d12 and 1d20 between them. These characteristics can be of any number and given any name, the dice can be assigned in any combination, and they do not all have to be created before play. If a player has left-over dice, or dice gained through experience, they can use them to create a new characteristic or alter an old one during play as long as it makes sense in context.

All players share the responsibility for creating the story. All players can influence the reality of the game through the actions of their characters, but at least one person must take on the role of the “Wyrd”. This is the person (or people) who has no characters. Instead, they adjudicate and interpret the rolls of the dice and narrate the result. They are also often the one the others will turn to for a description of a scene, or to play a minor character. Finally, they keep track of any logistics or calculations not specific to a single character. It is a difficult, but magical and (dare I say?) sacred position. However, I recommend that players take turns being the Wyrd, rotating regularly. This gives everyone a chance to play both roles, and prevents burnout on either side.

Dice are for resolving narrative conflicts between players. When two or more players disagree on what should happen in the story, each one “bets” any number of the dice they have in characteristics which are relevant to the situation. Then everyone involved rolls their dice, and the player with the highest total wins. For more complex challenges, break it down into smaller chunks, and each side “bids” sets of dice, with the highest total winning that exchange. In both cases, the Wyrd narrates.


Lacuna: Document 20

This is a clipping from “The Eye of Providence”, an underground newspaper or “zine” published both in print and on the internet by students at Lacuna University, running “alternative” news items and featuring various pieces of occult and paranormal phenomena. Many of their investigations are red herrings or simple bunk, and their credibility is low outside a limited circle, but continued surveillance has been authorized, just in case.

Strange Rains

Several citizens of our fair city have reported showers of odd objects¹ falling from the sky. Most have been relatively harmless: fish, flowers, pieces of paper, but some have been heavier: metal cutlery, tools and machinery, strange crystalline formations; one woman had the rotten carcass of a full-grown great white shark drop through the glass ceiling of her dining room and onto their family’s dinner. There have been no reported deaths as a result of these incidents, at least none we have been able to recover, however several people have been injured and there has surely been a great deal of property damage. One victim of these events said to our reporter “At first I thought it was hail, but I looked outside and there were… tacks… like the kind you use to pin things up on a cork board, of all different colors. They were raining down from the sky, tapping against the window. It still has all these scratches on it, and so does the wall around it.” Pictures of this window, and several other scenes (such as the one featuring the shark), can be found on page 24.

¹Agents have collected a wide variety of these items, which have been intermittently inexplicably falling from the sky for at least several years now. They tend to fall in showers, usually of the same sort of object, but sometimes not. As the article notes, fatalities have been rare but injuries and property damage have been more common. We believe this phenomena is related to the Reality Anomaly beneath Lacuna, but we cannot be certain. In the relevant local storage facility there is a large collection of objects accumulated by agents over the years, including: 131 clocks and 242 watches, 517 nails and 327 screws and 228 bolts, 6 hair-dryers, 573 crayons (of various colors, though predominantly shades of red and blue), 675 pencils (432 wooden, 243 mechanical), 872 pens (367 ballpoint, 525 felt-tipped) forty-seven plants (some re-potted, with the fragments of their original pots kept in a separate area). 1064 human teeth and 2347 animal teeth (a complete list of species can be found in appendix A), 672 arthropods (many tropical in origin), 467 fish (mostly bass, carp, and flounder, though there is a wide variety), 5304 playing cards (of various designs, and including some cards used primarily for divination), 776 masks, 667 chains, 333 keys (all made in many different styles and of many different materials), and 321 books (all blank, with a few notable exceptions, listed in Appendix B). These are the more mundane items which we have collected in bulk, but there are many other unique items, which are listed in Appendix C.


Lacuna: Document 19

This is a summary of a segment from the video-feed of a micro-camera placed by an agent on a bookshelf in the Lacuna Library. It features a conversation between Megan Penn and Jordan Brown: she is interviewing for a job at the Library. The camera is on one of the first shelves, near the top of the side which faces the open reading gallery beneath the windows. The agent was aware that this meeting would take place through his surveillance of Ms. Penn, and though they were seated far away, he was able to capture their conversation through remote manipulation of the camera. The image shows Megan Penn and Jordan Brown sitting on either side of a low wooden table, in two large, heavily cushioned chairs. They are surrounded by more wooden tables and comfortable chairs, all empty. Megan Penn is dressed in a dark, slim, but sensible looking pant-suit. Her hair is bright red, and her ears are covered in piercings, though she has none on her face. She wears a black top hat and a red scarf made of a thin, gauze-like material. There is a leather trench-coat over the back of her chair and an umbrella is propped against it. Jordan Brown is dressed as his namesake, in an earth-toned tweed suit jacket with suede elbow patches, a dark brown shirt, and a blue tie. He wears a brown bowler hat, blue slacks, and brown leather shoes. He has no coat or umbrella. Jordan Brown does have a cup of coffee, steaming on the table, which he sips intermittently throughout the conversation. Behind and above them is a inwardly curving stone wall in which are set two huge, circular windows, the glass eyes of the statue in which they sit. The windows are near the top of the camera frame, and the city outside sits at the very bottom of the windows’ frames. Above it, up to the edge of the image, stretches a sky full of stars

Jordan Brown: So, miss Penn, why do you want to be a Librarian?

Megan Penn: Well… I love books. I always have. I never really got into television or computers or anything, I just kept reading books. That’s… well, I should probably mention that actually. I don’t like computers, like… really don’t like them. I know Libraries these days all use computers and I can deal with it but I’d really prefer to use them as little as possible. Anyway, I’m getting off track, I… well I guess I also just like being around books, you know? They have an… energy to them that I find so… powerful, especially so many in one place.

JB: I… see. What are some of your favorite books?

MP: Well, “Mary Plotter”, of course. [She laughs, a little nervously] “A Tear in Time”, “The Ruler of Rings”, “Alex’s Adventures in Mirrorland”, “Flatworld”. I’m definitely not going to mention “Dusk”, or “The Witch Diaries”. Nosiree [Brown laughs]. Honestly though, I really like to read almost anything. I’ve read most of the classics and stuff, and I’ve read a ton of fantasy and science fiction, and I’ve read some really weird stuff, and I’ll read newspapers and cereal boxes and signs and cigarette cartons and trashy magazines and little scraps of paper I happen to find, and graffiti and sky-writing and those weird scribbles construction workers leave on the sidewalks and roads. I’m the girl who actually reads all the plaques at zoos and museums, and I’ve read every book I’ve ever been assigned for school from cover to cover. I’ve even read the Bible, and most of the other stories of that sort. You know the long blocks of legalese on any contract, which nobody reads? I read it, even if I don’t really understand it. I read the dictionary. And the encyclopedia, just for fun. I’d probably read the proverbial phone-book for real if I didn’t have anything else. [She laughs] I’m sorry, I really tend to ramble. All those words just come leaking out.

JB: [He laughs] Well, what can you tell me about your previous work experience?

MP: Well, I actually worked in the Library at Lacuna University when I went to school there. You know, the one in the Cathedral, the student center? It’s not nearly this big, of course, but I was there all four years. I loved it, and it was really good experience.

JB: Indeed! I saw that on your resume. Can you tell me anything about your relationship with your coworkers?

MP: Um… well… they were all really nice. My boss was another student, and we all got our work done but had fun, too. One of them… would become my husband. But he’s… [her voice chokes and she tears up slightly]

JB: Oh! My apologies Ms. Penn, are you alright? [She nods, and wipes her eyes. He waits for a moment, and then continues] I assume you are familiar with the Dewey Decimal System? [Megan nods again] Well then, you know that in addition to that system, our Library also uses a different system of classification? One we developed “in-house”, so to speak?

MP: Oh, yes! I learned the LLCS (Lacuna Library Classification System) in my first year of school. I had to learn it to find any of the books I wanted to read.

JB: [Chuckles] I see, yes, well, that’s quite impressive. Some do find it rather… arcane.

MP: A little, but as I said earlier, I tend to like that sort of thing.

JB: Indeed. Now, how would you characterize your availability?

MP: Well, I have a daughter, Dawn. She’s four, and we just adopted a puppy. We haven’t named him yet. So that pretty much takes up my days, which is a large part of why I’m here tonight.

JB: I see. Yes, I remember that you specifically requested to meet at night. Well, that explains it. So, as you know, this interview is for the position of Night Librarian, which requires keeping to very… unusual hours. You would be working from when the Library closes at 9PM to 5AM in the morning, You would be doing everything the Day Librarians don’t have time for: checking the books in the bins in and out, sorting, filing and restocking them, pulling and labeling books for reserve. Lots of moving books around, and you would also be responsible for basic cleaning and maintenance of the space. It will involve some lifting and carrying of fairly heavy loads, and you will not have a lot of social contact, since the staff will be a skeleton crew. I should also let you know that there have been a few reports from the Night Librarians of… unusual occurrences. Nothing to be worried about, but I’m sure you know the reputation. Most of it is exaggerated gossip, of course, but not all of it. I’ve had more than a few… odd encounters myself. So, Ms. Penn… is this all understood and acceptable to you?

MP: It sounds perfect, to be perfectly honest. Just what I wished for.

JB: I beg your pardon?

MP: I, uh… yes, that is all understood and it’s all very acceptable. Does this mean I have the job?

JB: [Smiling] Well, not yet. Not as such. I’ll be in touch.


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