Lacuna: Document 2.3

“A Guide to Lacuna”, a pamphlet marking the 321st page of Megan Penn’s Diary. It is printed on glossy paper and folded into thirds, and features color photographs and text describing and praising the city.

Lacuna is a strange city, and we don’t mind admitting it! Nestled within the Rocky Mountains, we straddle the border between Montana, Idaho, and Southern Canada, so nobody really knows where we belong! Lacuna is built around a lake, which almost perfectly circular and fed by underground springs. It is also on an enormous, anomalous mesa: some people say it looks a lot like a giant sliced off the top of a mountain and crowned it with a city. The Truth is that the mountaintop was blown off and sanded flat by a mining company called Lacuna Enterprises, who founded the city as a mining town. I must say though, I prefer the story about the giant. Some say it was the same one who houses our Library in his humongous stone head.¹ Either way, it’s quite the tourist attraction!

Lacuna is a little odd in other ways: it is laid out as a spiral rather than a grid, with the lake at its center, toward and around which the streets all curve. Each ring of the spiral roughly corresponds to a different district. The area around the edge of the lake is a large park, full of both wooded and open spaces, and the city’s graveyard. Surrounding it is the school district, which contains our K – 12 public school on one side of the lake, and the Lacuna University campus on the other. The Library, which services both schools and the entire metropolitan area, is (as mentioned earlier) inside a gigantic stone sculpture of a human head, dating back to precolonial times, which sits on a circular island in the precise center of the lake. Around the school district is the residential area, and around that are all the commercial and industrial buildings. So, in another departure from convention, almost all of the tall buildings are on the outer edge of the city, not in its center. The effect is that, from above, the city looks rather like a bowl, and when approaching it from outside, one sees a circular wall of tall towers, which shine in the sun to spectacular effect.

Some might say that our architecture is anachronistic, and indeed, many of the buildings in the residential district and the area in and around the lake date back to the city’s founding, or even earlier. Many of the recently constructed buildings are also in older styles. Old stone cut from the lake bed and the surrounding mountains is the primary construction material, supplemented with wood and plaster, glass and steel. Even the skyscrapers are encrusted with gargoyles and Gothic embellishments embedded among their sheer, shining surfaces. The lower-income areas are mainly filled with the oldest houses, most of which have been divided up into apartments. Almost all have also accreted add-ons and extensions, which climb up their sides like the ivy. These additions have largely filled the gaps between the houses, and have since grown vertically, so these areas have begun to echo the larger towers of the city’s edge. But instead of planned, sleek structures, they tend to be haphazard, ramshackle stacks of interconnected buildings, rooms, bridges, scaffolding, catwalks and corridors.

It rains a lot in Lacuna. There is some form of precipitation almost every day of the year. Nearly every building has a porch or awning, and everyone owns an umbrella. Thunderstorms are common throughout the Spring and Summer, and though snow sometimes falls in the middle of winter, sleet, hail and freezing rain make more regular appearances. Autumn is the gentlest season, full of mists and drizzles that go on for days, punctuated by occasional showers which almost always stop short of true downpours. On the rare few dry days in late Spring and early Summer, we tend to spend all the time we can outside, usually at the lake, soaking up the sun.

The almost constant rain has lead to another architectural oddity. Most buildings in Lacuna are linked by raised, covered bridges and underground tunnels³ to allow people to move between them without going out in the rain. This dates back to one of the city’s original planners, a brilliant but neurotic architect who bore a particular phobia of getting wet. Why he should have chosen to live and work in Lacuna is a mystery, but his legacy remains and has been continued by others. Today there is a sprawling spiderweb of passageways above and below the ground, and it is rare for a building to not have a roof-bridge or an exterior door in its basement.

The abundant rain also means that plant life is much more lush and fertile in Lacuna than most other cities. The sun is often obscured by clouds, but not enough to prevent grasses and flowers from growing through every crack in the pavement, or ivy and vines from climbing up the sides of every building and twining around every lamp-posts and fence. Most homes have flourishing gardens, though many must grow them on their rooftops. Mosses and mushrooms pop up in every dark corner and damp basement. Trees line every street, their branches growing together to form long, arching arboreal corridors. They often burst the boundaries set for them, their roots cracking apart asphalt and paving stones alike. The farms near Lacuna are particularly plentiful, and form a major part of our economy. There is one large corn and soybean operation, but also many smaller organic farms and homesteads which sell their produce at a local market in the park once a week. They and many other vendors construct a temporary town of tents and awnings under the trees, based around a large stone pavilion, and hundreds come to shop and socialize. This market is colloquially called the Goblin Market, because of the hundreds of statues of Goblins and other strange, squat creatures that surround the area.

Lacuna is well known for its many statues. Every public space, many buildings, and almost every street and street corner features at least one statue or sculpture. They stand like a multitude of silent sentinels, being worn away ever so slowly by the rain. Many of the oldest are unrecognizable. The lakeside park is filled with them, containing several thousand. Many even stand on the shores of the lake itself, being cyclically submerged and revealed as the water-level changes. Some even stand on the bottom of the lake bed, though nobody has any idea how they got there. Some were made recently, but many were there before the settlers arrived. Most are human or humanoid, but there are many monstrous gargoyles, fantastic beasts, and pieces of sculpture that bear no clear resemblance to anything at all. The city (then a town) was the site of several battles between Canada, various US factions, and the local native people. So, some of the statues mark graves or battle sites, but many are entirely mysterious. There is also a tradition of dressing the statues, and some people even knit them hats, sweater, socks, and scarves in the winter!

Then, there is the graffiti. It is not unusual to see tags, scrawls, and the occasional mural in most cities. But in Lacuna, they are as common as the weeds and the rain. The city government fights a constant battle with all three, but for every artist they arrest or tag they paint over, two or three or ten more crop up in its place, like the weeds. The majority of the graffiti is on the interior walls of the subterranean tunnels, since the rain makes it more difficult to spray paint outside, yet one can still hardly walk a block, let alone go down an alleyway, without seeing some sort of painted image or glyph. Most are actually quite beautiful, or at least interesting, and there are many murals and stencils in and around the rivers of writing. The statues are also often painted, but there is an unspoken taboo against “tagging” them.² But due to the sheer quantity and often high quality of the graffiti, it has become something of a tourist attraction!

Again, largely because the rain makes driving difficult, public transportation in Lacuna is much more efficient and widely used than in many other American cities. A trolley system using cable-cars travels both above and below-ground, and, in combination with the walkways, it can be used to reach almost any part of the city. People do still own cars, though they tend to be older models, and the streets are generally narrow and often covered with cracks through which sprout a multitude of plants, so if you are visiting Lacuna, why not leave your car at home? A visitor’s pass is only $5 for a day, and it’ll take you anywhere you want to go!

Below the subterranean walkway and trolley tunnels, there is an extensive natural cave system, which is intermingled with the many mine-shafts dug out when the area was settled. Lacuna, therefore, sits atop a vast labyrinth,* the ground beneath it honeycombed by hollows.This too has become a great tourist attraction, and guided expeditions are led on a regular basis, though only to the upper levels, since those deeper down are too dangerous to be traversed except by professionals. But do not fear! The famous Chamber of Ten Thousand Crystals is entirely safe and can be visited for a mere $19.99.

Lacuna is also known for the presence of many alternative religions (known less politely as “cults”). There are many Christian churches and one magnificent Catholic cathedral, as well as a few Mosques, Synagogues, and Hindu and Buddhist temples. But there are also a multitude of smaller religious groups and a few large ones. Some identify as neopagan or revival religions, and of course groups like the Scientologists have a presence, while others are more or less unheard of beyond our borders. It is also an open secret that Lacuna is home to a number of esoteric organizations that are not specifically religious but which seem to be to some degree. In any case, we are all very accepting of all religions, faiths, and creeds, including the absence thereof. No matter what, we welcome you to Lacuna!

There is one final thing one should know, though. Strange things happen here. Not all the time, and not often obviously, but they do happen. People have have just learned to accept it. It’s just a part of life. Don’t be too concerned, but be careful, and expect the unexpected.

¹Nobody, even our analysts, is completely certain of the origin of this sculpture.

²Those who do tend to come to a bad end.

³Lacuna is a prime spot for smugglers of all kinds, because of its position on the intersection of three borders and because the underground tunnels make it easy to hide and transport illegal goods. The police are aware of this, and regularly work with Canadian forces to apprehend such people, but it’s just like the weeds and the graffiti: get rid of one and more appear in its place. The proximity of so much black market activity does create violence, but it is mainly contained among the smugglers themselves. There are exceptions, of course, but the incidences of unrelated robberies, assaults and murders are actually relatively low compared to many other cities.

*Vampires love Lacuna, because its extensive underground labyrinth of tunnels and chambers gives them a plethora of places to sleep and a way to move around during the day. At night, they come out to hunt. However, they have no wish to alert the wider population to their existence. So, for the moment at least, they limit their feeding, take care to cover their tracks, and don’t “shit where they eat”, so to speak. This means that their general risk of generating a large-scale disruption of reality is calculated to be quite low. There are also several groups of them determined to drive out rival ghosts who would become vampires, to keep the population in check, so they do our work for us in a way. One particularly powerful group of vampires kidnaps people and imprisons them, usually underground, where they keep them alive, feeding from them periodically, and charging other vampires a fee to feed from them as well, more if they are killed in the process. Our agents assaulted the base of this operation once, and were successful, but it simply reformed elsewhere. Our policy now is to let it be, since it creates fewer victims overall and thus less chance of catastrophic exposure.

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About MysterMe

A Magical Mystery Tour Guide View all posts by MysterMe

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