Lacuna: Document 5

The transcript of another recording of one of the Pigeon Man’s sermons, this time delivered beneath a bridge to an audience of one: a rather startled young man (mid to late twenties) apparently on his way to or from an office job of some sort (deduced from his attire and the briefcase he held), who had seemingly stopped beneath the bridge to wait out the rain that had just begun to fall. Our agent, standing below the street in an empty sewer tunnel and recording the interaction with a parabolic microphone through a grate beneath the bridge, said that the young man had just passed beneath the bridge when the Pigeon Man whispered his name, “Clarence”. When Mr. Clarence asked how he’d known his name, the Pigeon Man laughed, and then delivered the following speech:

Look around you. Look around at this world of bricks and bones, sticks and stones. See the fast food restaurants and the cars and the shopping malls and the great glass capitalist cathedrals? See the screens that surround you every day of your life, and the flickering ghosts that inhabit them. This is the world of nine-to-five, of mortgages and receipts, of french fries and riot police and plastic packaging, of numbing yourself with twenty minute teevee shows punctuated by twenty second commercials, of partisan politics and little kids making shit in sweatshops that nobody needs for nothing an hour and football and contraception and crude oil and coca cola and corn, and this is the world of the information superhighway built a hundred lanes wide and counting. It’s the world of ubiquitous self-surveillance, of tailored advertisements and holiday discounts and the “shopping cure”. The world of placebo pills and terrorist scares and metal detectors on the doors of public schools, of pet puppies and uncountable animals kept in dark, filthy cages too small to sit in, and animal shelters slaughtering them by the thousands. This is the world of soap operas and opinion polls and talk-show hosts and fifteen minutes of fame. This is the world where the paradise we were promised is always just around the corner, and to get there all we have to do is what we are told.

You think this world is REALITY? HAHAHAHA! What a joke, hehe… and it never stops being funny! OK, OK, I admit it, sometimes it stops being funny, and then I sob and scream and pull out my hair and bash my head against a wall until I start laughing again. This world is just the skin of an apple, or on day-old soup, the pond scum on the surface of the lake, the very edge of your littlest toenail. It is a hairline crack, a tiny little break in the bricks of the wall that surrounds your soul and separates and insulates it from Reality. Your brain is a reducing valve for the flood of Truth and Beauty pouring through you every moment of your life, a river running just beneath the ground, it hides below and behind and between and around the world’s sights and sounds. Did you know that people only see and hear a tiny sliver of the light and sound that’s actually out there? Did you know that 96 percent of the Universe is Unknown? Scientist’s call it “Dark Matter”, but that’s just a label for what they don’t understand and can’t perceive. They only know it’s there because their math tells them that something enormous is missing, because there’s a big gap, an absence, a lacuna where the rest of Being ought to be.

I can see I’m still not getting through to you, am I? Let me ask you this: where do you go when you dream? What is that world? And have you ever noticed how, when you’re in the dream, it all seems entirely real, and perfectly normal? Even if an eight-legged elephant wearing a top hat is chewing the top off the Empire State Building, most dreamers will simply go on about their dream-business as though it were nothing at all unusual.

Do you see what I’m saying? See my speech? Read my lips: REALITY IS RELATIVE! The world is far more fluid and way, way, WAY weirder than you’ve been led to believe, and the “truth” is up for grabs! The world you know as “real” and “true” is a LIE that’s been force-fed to you by those who would see us all their slaves! Their reality, their dream, their “truth” has been pulled over our eyes to hide us from ourselves, to conceal from us our own Power, our Beauty, our GLORY. Because they are AFRAID of us! They are afraid of anything they can’t CONTROL. And They know they CAN’T CONTROL US FOREVER! We may be in chains, bound by their mind-forged manacles, but only because we forged and fitted and fucking fastened them on ourselves! We’ve allowed ourselves to be enslaved, to be dominated and violated and mutilated. We’ve begged Them to tell us what to do, to take away our power, to take away the terror of freedom, of choice, to lock us away from ourselves and hide from us the truth we are so terrified to face: that we, and this world, were, are, and ever shall be WHATEVER WE WISH.

But sooner or later we will, we MUST break free! Somehow, they got the lid back on the Sixties, but that only stalled the prison break! A poet once said that if the Doors of Perception were cleansed, we would perceive everything as it is: INFINITE! Well, I ask you: WHO CLOSED THE DAMN DOORS? I’ll tell you who: the same people who keep the KEYS around their necks! Because They know that if we ever opened those doors ourselves, we’d see straight through their little shell-game, past their teetering house of cards. The walls of the maze we’re in would turn to glass and the whole goddamned Tower would come crumbling down like a sand-castle reclaimed by the sea.

Those who go through the Doors are called either “geniuses” or “madmen”. Those who never return, we call “the dead”. But the truth is, they are no more or less sane than you or I, no better or worse. Even the dead are not so different from us. The truth is that anyone, anywhere, can go through those Doors, at any time. All you need is the Will, and a Key.

You look like a bright boy. So, I shall give you a key:

[At this point, the Pigeon Man reached into his coat (made of leather lined with feathers and covered with a great many pieces of paper) and produced an old key made of what appeared to be brass or possibly gold, then handed it to Clarence]

Magic.

Magic is not dead. It may be forgotten, it may be lost, but it is not gone. It slumbers beneath the waking world, surfacing in our dreams and in our stories, hiding behind screens and the pages of books. It lurks in lucky pennies and charms and numbers and knocking on wood and neopaganism and jinxes and ghost stories and holidays and electricity. The Old Gods never left us, either. Thor’s Thunder surges through our web of wires. The burning heart of Ra still shines in the sky each day. Even the days of the week are named after the ancient spirits.

Magic is everywhere, and if you start looking, you’ll see it everywhere. Money is magic. Don’t believe me? Really look at a dollar bill sometime. Every advertisement you can think of is constructed on the magical principles of correspondence, sympathy, and contagion. What is a corporate logo? A glyph, a sigil, a rune that describes and channels the power of the discarnate egregore constructed by the collective will of a company! Who is Ronald McDonald but the totem spirit of his unholy empire?

Magic is an idea, but ideas LIVE and MOVE through us! What do you think built these skyscrapers and shopping malls, what created this whole world we’ve brought into being around us? They were build by human hands, yes, but those hands and the matter they shaped were channels for the condensation of an idea into reality, a means of manifestation for a dream in waking life. But the heart of the Lie is that all we may do is shuffle pieces around on this board called Reality, which is itself flat and static and unchanging, a rational, regular grid, a complex but ultimately lifeless machine. They say that we are limited by the “Laws” of Physics and that this is, was, and shall ever be the One and Only True Reality, and most of us have agreed, assented, and signed over our souls, sold our hopes and our dreams for fast food and a cable hookup, with barely a backward glance.

Well, FUCK THAT!

I say to you: make your own playing pieces and make up your own rules! Or better yet, flip over the whole fuckin’ board and invent your own game! Or stop playing the stupid game for a while and just GO OUTSIDE AND SIT IN THE SUN! Do what thou wilt! We are powerful beyond measure! WE ARE FREE!

At this point, our agent reports that the various birds which had been milling around the Pigeon Man all suddenly took to the air and surrounded him in a dense, swirling cloud of fluttering feathers. His raucous laughter was heard bouncing around the underside of the bridge, though it slowly faded beneath the cries of the birds and the sound of the rain, both of which had been building as he spoke. Then, there was a rumble of thunder and a flash of lightning, and the birds dispersed as suddenly as they had converged, and the Pigeon Man was gone. Clarence sprinted away through the storm.

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Lacuna: Document 18

The Dream Journal of Subject Delta (aka Dawn). It is a small book bound in blue velvet. The spine is decorated with silver stars and curved, curling lines. The pages are made of recycled paper, and the writing seems to be done with a variety of instruments, including but not limited to pencil, pen, paint, crayon, dirt, charcoal, and what appears to be “invisible ink”. There are certain technical errors made, and the handwriting is irregular, but bearing in mind that the child is only four years old, her linguistic ability is quite impressive. The errors have been kept as-is because it was felt that they might give some insight into Delta’s development. This entry was written in blue pencil and is one of the most recent, about halfway through the book. It was marked by a red ribbon attached to the binding.

At first I am in a sort of nowhere place but then I fall out of the sky and past the son and some clouds who wink at me. I am fire as I fall and I make a big crash when I hit the erth, a big reverse mountain I am at the bottom of it starts filling up with water and I forget how to swim but I grow six wings (two like a bat and two like a bird and two like a beetle) and flow out of ther and over grassy lands like hilly lawns, when I smel something in the air and look up and see that thers a storm brewing and its rumbling and growling at me and gnashing its teeth. The clouds chase me across the feelds, spitting down drops. Then I see some mountains except theyr littler than usual. And on top of the mountains thers a house that stands ther on bird legs. And thers a little old lady with a big head siting on the porch smoking a pipe and watching the rain and then watching me. And I land on the mountaintop next to her and ask can I stay inside, but she says no, it’s all full up. And I look behind her and I see that the whole house is full of kitty cats, so many some are even on the ceiling, and they all see me with their shining eyes. So I walk around to the back and thers some plant-people growing there, and theyr all laughing and wiggle-dancing and drinking up the rain. I try to talk to them but they talk just gibberish. So then I go back to the little house and fly up on the porch and its nice and dry and feels warm but im still dripping. And I go over and sit down next to the lady and I ask her whats your name? and she says just call me Baba and I say OK and then neither of us says anything for a long tyme, except a black and white cat who comes out of the house and meows at me until I pet it. And we just look out over the mountain and the fields and the trees all drinking up the rain and the big beautiful clouds swirling around and the bright litening and listen to the thunder. Then the litening hits a tree and it starts to flame and then Baba lites her pipe with the fire and puffs it and then she turns to me and blue the smoke into my face and then I woke up.


Lacuna: Document 17

An excerpt from the police interrogation of Peter Wolfe, co-leader of the cult called “Eve/Isis/Ishtar/Ashera/Aphrodite’s Ecstasy¹”. The footage was obtained by an LPD (Lacuna Police Department) plant, who placed a wireless transmitter into the circuitry of the CC camera in the interrogation chamber. The full dossier on this man and his cult can be requested by agents with Beta clearance or higher. Extensive additional footage from this camera is also on file.

[Peter Wolfe is a man of about thirty, with salt-and-pepper hair and beard, all cut fairly short though grown out a little wild. His eyes are bloodshot and have dark bags beneath them. He looks naturally lanky but particularly thin at present, and his nose is bloody. He is hand-cuffed to the metal chair on which he sits, in front of a table, surrounded by cops.]

Peter Wolfe: I remember being born. Even now, twenty years later, I can remember. I had no words then, no concept of time, so the memories are blurry and fluid; indistinct. They also start to break down the further away I get from the moment of birth. But I remember being cradled within the warm dark lacuna of the womb, and then being squeezed out into the burning light. I remember the giant who picked me up and cut me from my mother, my home. I remember being washed and swaddled, and I remember my mother holding me, and then meeting my father, and then the room with all the other little babies. I remember my parents taking me home, how the car ride was bumpy despite the car seat. I remember seeing home for the first time and being struck with a deep and powerful, almost painful sense of deja-vu, though of course did not know these words yet. I remember lying in the crib and remembering my last life. I had lived this life before. This same body, these same parents, this same house. I remembered it all, though my infant brain could not grasp the enormity of this truth. But I grew into it. I realized that because I know the outcomes of certain choices, I am free to choose whatever I wish, to follow or diverge from my last life’s path. I have left it long ago, but occasionally, I cross it again and fragments return to my memory. I remember this little cell. I remember the camera in the corner and the guys behind it and their thugs standing here in front of me. I’m content with my choices. Are you?

[One of the officers strikes him across the face with the back of his fist. Wolfe laughs and spits blood back in his eyes.]

¹The members of the group refer to it by a multitude of names for archaic goddesses, usually those associated with love, fertility, and magic. However, the name always takes the form of “X’s Ecstasy”.


Lacuna: Document 16

A summary of the video-feed from a miniature camera planted on Jordan Brown, the head Librarian of Lacuna. The spiral staircase which leads up to the Library from the back of the statue’s mouth in fact continues past it. This stairway is secret, accessible only by the Librarian himself. However, one of our agents was able to place this bug on his lapel which streamed about seven hours of data before it was discovered¹, giving us images of the Library’s upper levels.

The stairway continues upward for about seventy feet without stopping, climbing above the library’s ceiling. The first chamber it leads to appears to be the Librarian’s private quarters. Doors of maple and oak inlaid with silver open into a large room, with an oaken hardwood floor and walls paneled with mahogany. A four-poster bed sits in the center, on a red and gold rug, curtained in velvet which is red on the outside and black inside. Behind it, the upper half of the wall is taken up with a huge, circular, stained glass window. It is decorated with many strange symbols, sigils and images, though as a whole it resembles a cross between a mandala and a very colorful chrysanthemum. Its soft, kaleidoscopic light spills over the desk and chair before it and paints the room with luminance. This window is the statue’s “third eye”, positioned above and between the two larger windows set into its eyes, which light the main section of the interior below.

The wall to the left is filled with five sets of shelves, all full of books. Each has a small bronze plaque at the top. The two on the left are labeled “Fact”, the two on the right are labeled “Fiction”, and the one in the center is labeled “Magic”. The Fact books are organized by title, the Fiction books by the author’s last name, and the Magic books by some idiosyncratic and esoteric system we have not yet been able to unravel.

An upright piano sits against the center of the right wall, and above it hang a cello, a viola, and a violin, ascending in that order. On either side hang framed pictures and papers. There is also a glass-fronted cabinet in the right corner of this wall, the one closest to the door, in which are displayed all manner of curious objects.² In the other corner is a large wooden wardrobe. Between this wardrobe and the piano there is a door leading to a bathroom. The wall with the door is flat but the rest of the room is curved (it is the right side of the head’s interior). The floor and walls are the statue’s stone. There is a claw-footed porcelain tub and shower in the center of the room, a toilet at the crest of the back wall’s curve, and a sink in the center of the flat wall. A large, circular mirror is set into the wall above the sink.

The desk beneath the window is an antique, made of several different inlaid woods. The chair is mahogany, covered in black leather and pinned with oak. On the right side of the desk’s surface, there is a lamp with a shade of stained glass, and on the left is a replica “candlestick” style rotary phone, a large leather-bound notebook and an antique fountain pen. The desk itself even has an inkwell, in the upper right corner. In the center is a horned turntable. To the left side of the desk there is a cabinet full of vinyl records. To the right is another, shorter cabinet, which was not opened, but on which is a cigar humidor, a wooden pipe in a wooden stand, and many bottles of wine and spirits. The drawers of the desk are not locked, and contain seven notebooks, pencils, spare ink, and other sundries.

Inside the wardrobe, hanging in the open central cabinet, there is a a long black peacoat with a hood, seven three-piece suits: three black, three brown, and one blue, seven pairs of black, brown, and blue slacks, and seven black, seven brown, seven blue, and seven white collared shirts. Beneath them stand one black and one brown pair of leather shoes, one black and one brown pair of leather boots, and a large black umbrella. In the side drawers are twenty-eight pairs of black socks and black undershorts, seven black and seven white undershirts, one black tie, two red ties, two blue ties, one green tie, and one gold tie, one black and one brown leather belt,, several sweaters, long thermal underwear, one brown and one black pair of brown leather gloves, and a pair of black sunglasses. On a shelf beneath a mirror set into the door, he keeps a gold pocket watch, a brown leather wallet, a cartridge-fed fountain pen, and a ring of keys. Two bowler hats, one black, one brown, hang above the mirror.

Outside, the stairway continues up to a small stone antechamber. It is empty except for the hole in the floor through which the spiral staircase descends, and a set of double-doors directly ahead, made of ebony and inlaid with gold. They open into huge semicircular dome, the uppermost crown of the head. There is a skylight in the center of the ceiling, at the crest of the statue’s skull. Directly beneath it is a perfectly circular pool, surrounded by eight live, full-grown trees. Starting from the closest and proceeding clockwise, they are: Golden Ash, Alder, Blackthorne, Yew, Mistletoe, Oak, Apple, and Willow. The ground is carpeted with flowers and green grass. In the center of the pool stands a stone statue of a human being, submerged up to its neck in the water. Two birds live in this room, a raven and a dove, and so do two cats, one black and one white. The Librarian feeds the cats, but they still try to catch the birds, though (at least to our knowledge) they have never been successful.

¹The Librarian ascended the stairs to the uppermost chamber, fed the birds and cats, and meditated there for about an hour, petting the cats intermittently. He then descended to his chambers, selected several books from the shelves and a notebook from the desk, and read and wrote for about another hour. His concentration was broken only occasionally by his getting up to look out the window or at the objects in his glass cabinet or to play a melody on the piano. He returned both book and notebook to their places and then went to his wardrobe, opening each drawer in turn and muttering something about “goblins” and the “Super Sargasso Sea”³. He then hung up his hat and looked at himself in the mirror, at which point he noticed the camera attached to his lapel. His expression became stony, he snarled, and flung it to the ground, whereupon he crushed it under his heel.

²A full inventory of these is forthcoming pending further study of the footage and identification of various unknowns. However, a partial list can be found in Appendix B.

³The transcript of all utterances can be found in Appendix C.


Lacuna: Document 2

From the Diary of Megan Penn. This is the section immediately following the first, in which she describes her experience immediately following the one at the end of this entry.

This is the story of my life.

I was born in 1984, which was probably about the worst time to believe in and love Magic since the Dark Ages. I had ex-hippie parents, which helped, but the Psychedelic Sixties were over and Ronald Reagan, Destroyer of Dreams, was in the White House. We lived in rural Oregon, which was better than rural Appalachia, which was where my folks had fled from. But still, past a certain age, most kids didn’t take too kindly too you if you called yourself a witch or said you could cast spells (even though I couldn’t really, at least not then). The illusion-magic show my parents took me too at five years old only encouraged me to expand my interest. To make matters worse, when I was about seven I found a copy of the Monsters & Magic “Red Box”, and immediately began building whole worlds in which I had adventures as a powerful sorceress. But only in my mind, because I didn’t have any friends to play the game with. School was a nightmare, as it is for almost everyone. The classes were mostly mind-numbingly dull and the teachers were mostly fascistic overlords of their petty little kingdoms, but at least it was a respite from the torments of the petty overlords among we little ones. I spent most of my after-school childhood reading and wandering the many acres surrounding our family home. I would pack a sandwich and a book and a thermos of tea, put on my adventuring coat, and wrap Liz (my stuffed dragon) around my neck, then strike out past the garden into the Enchanted Woods.

In Middle School I managed to make a few friends but the venom of my tormentors grew too, probably in proportion to the increase in intensity of the hormone hurricane we were all weathering. We would all gather in the basement of one of our homes, stock up on snacks and drinks, break out the M&M books, and explore imaginary worlds and fight Monsters until sunrise, only occasionally stopping to watch movies and cartoons or play video games or read comic books or go to the bathroom. I still remember the dice I used: they had alternating red and blue faces with alternating black and white numbers. I always played as a Mage or a Magic user of some sort, though I went through many different characters, but my favorite thing was to be the Magical Monster Master (the “M”). This was the player who got to describe and control the whole world. We weren’t great at making this stubborn world do as we willed, but when we were playing M&M, we touched the face of the limitless Beyond.

Anyway, that got me through most of Middle School. The first book in the “Mary the Magician” series was published when I was in fifth grade, and they helped me through the rest of it, though I was terribly disappointed when I didn’t get my letter inviting me to attend the Academy of Magical Arts. It both helped and hurt that I was good at the actual school aspect of school. It helped in that the teachers didn’t bother me, but hurt in that it made me a target to pretty much everyone else, so I stopped talking and asking questions in class and just shut up and did my work, and that helped a little.

When it was over, there I was: a nerdy, bookish girl obsessed with magic and Monsters & Magic, about to about to enter High School. It was right at that point that I got acne, and also when all those late-night snacks during our M&M sessions (we ate a lot of M&Ms) started to take their toll. So, as you can imagine, High School plumbed new depths of horribleness. I was good enough at school to get by, though that was hardly the issue.

But I did what any self-respecting teenager at the time would have done. I went goth-punk. It helped that I was genuinely wracked with angst, both of the existential variety and otherwise. My few good friends did it too, so there was that as well. I dyed my hair black, and then bright red. I wore my top hat to school along with a black leather trench-coat that had been my grandfather’s when he fought in World War II. I wore weird, scary T-shirts and listened to weird, scary music. I pierced my ears, not just the lobes, but also eleven other cartilage piercings. My parents wouldn’t let me get it done at first, so I got one of my friends to do a few, and they decided they’d rather I get the piercings professionally. I also got a ring in the right corner of my bottom lip, another in my left eyebrow, a stud on my right nostril, and another between my brows, marking my Third Eye. I wore lots of black eyeliner, black (or blood red) lipstick and nail polish. I wore baggy black jeans much more often than skirts (though every once in a while I’d rock a dress and some spiderweb stockings), and big steel-toed combat boots. We all took up Wicca, and Satanism, and Stochasticism, and called ourselves “K-Oz”, the Chaos Sorcerers. We joined the Church of “Bob” and the Cult of Kthulhu and Thuh Tempall uv Sighkick Youfe. “Monsters & Magic: Modern” also came out in our first year, so on weekends we kept ourselves busy between actually trying to cast spells and act out weird rituals by pretending to be heroic but tragically flawed Magicians fighting a losing battle against banality. Which was of course just happened to be exactly the way we imagined ourselves in real life. But the others didn’t know about our shared but secret inner world. It was invisible to them, in a blind spot, past a gap they could not close. They saw only our appearance, our demeanor, and that kept the bullies at bay, especially since there were a few of us freaks to watch each other’s backs now. It also scared away most everyone else, including, for the most part, teachers and parents, but we didn’t care. That was half the reason we did it.

Around this time, by the way, computers had started being introduced to classrooms en masse. I never liked them, perhaps because I had never liked televisions or screens of any kind. Occasionally, I had to use one for an assignment, and I would swallow my fear, but they always struck me as somehow sinister. Creepy. Cold. I never had a personal computer, let alone a laptop. I didn’t even own a cell-phone until after college. Even then, I just had a simple phone and have never wanted a “smart” one. Back then I had an antique land-line rotary phone that worked perfectly well. Being reachable all the time is a double-edged sword, anyway. Now, Dawn has my old cell-phone (which still works just fine, by the way) and I’m back to using a rotary. I know, I know, Diary, call me a Luddite, but I’m not against all technology. I’m just fascinated by the ancient and archaic. I prefer the term “Old Soul”.

I never got on board with the digital trend in music, either. Digital copies of music are always incomplete, imperfect. They work by taking a series of “snapshots” of the waveform and building up a reproduction of it. But there’s always something missing, something lost in translation. There’s always a gap between what you hear and the original sound. Give me good vinyl and a record player any day, or better yet, a live show, or better yet, my own instrument! Let’s see… what else? I write with a fountain pen and send actual letters and take down numbers and notes in a little leather-bound book. I use a pocket watch (inherited from my great-grandfather) instead of a wristwatch (or a phone). I also still wear my maternal great-grandfather’s top hat, which I found in our attic when I was five. (It inspired the trip to see a magic show when I tried to wear it at the dinner that night, and my mother asked if I was playing make-believe Magician as I was pulling the brim back up over my eyes). I roll my own cigarettes, and light them with my father’s brass Zip. I read printed paper books almost exclusively. Even those supposedly paper-like e-readers are nowhere close to the real thing.

You might assume that all of these preferences are due to my current condition, but nothing could be further from the truth. I was this way my whole life, and it’s not like I’m hundreds of years old or anything. Though I know a few people who are, and I do feel like it sometimes. High School alone felt like a few centuries. Endless days of drudgery broken up by the taunts and torments of my classmates. The weekends were refuges, each a heavenly oasis of freedom without which I don’t think I could have made it through. The same group of friends met pretty much every day except Sunday (which was when my parents made me my homework) to play M&M. Though about halfway through High School, we discovered drugs. We would start sneaking in beer and liquor and pot and cigarettes into our sessions, which would eventually dissolve into meandering conversations punctuated by laughing fits.

The group broke up when High School ended, however. I went to college out of state: to Lacuna University. But things were better. In fact, though I know it sounds terribly trite, those really were the best years of my life. I loved Lacuna, and still do. My acne cleared up, I lost a lot of weight, I had so much more freedom and my classes were (mostly) fascinating. I started making friends, and they thought it was cool (as opposed to a sign of scary-psychoness or weird-loser-freakdom) that I wore an old top hat and listened to vinyl and rolled my own cigarettes and didn’t have a cell-phone or a computer (OK, I got a lot of weird looks for that, but I was used to it by then). By this time, I had also been practicing magic (as well as Magic) and playing music for over a decade. I had always been too shy to perform any in front of anyone. But I finally did a few tricks at a party, and played my fiddle at another. It started conversations, and I found I could actually talk to people I didn’t know without crippling anxiety. Suddenly, I was being invited to more parties than I could attend.

At one of those parties, a beautiful boy who would later become my husband and the father of my daughter, shared some strong, clean LSD with me. We left the party early and spent the rest of the night wandering the grounds and gardens and the park by the lake, basking in the beauty and wonder of existence. We were children again, innocents frolicking in Eden, full of curiosity and delight, wandering a world awash with breathtaking splendor, every surface alive with colorful fractal patterns. I lived the hippy cliche and stared at my hands (and his, and his eyes, and the whole wide world) in astonished wonder for a solid hour. At one point, he found me a rose, and its heavenly hue and its sublime scent and vivid suchness described and encompassed the whole Mysterium Tremendum that is life, the Universe, and Everything. I had been practicing Magic and Witchcraft since I was a child, but that night, I finally felt, deep down in the depths of my soul and the marrow of my bones, that Magic is real, that it is reality, inside and out.

We watched the clouds dance with the stars and saw and the sunrise from the tallest tower of the Castle, wrapped up in a big blanket. I was snuggled up against him, resting my head on his chest, but he didn’t try to kiss me, he just stroked my hair and whispered sweet somethings in my ear, while I listened to his heart beat. I kissed him, actually, when I left later that morning. But before that, there was a moment, just as the sun had begun to rise, when he drew in this deep breath through his nose, and I could tell he was smelling my hair, and he let it out in this long contented sigh. Then he tucked a lock of my hair behind my ear. That was when I fell in love with him, and when I knew he loved me. It was as though something inside me had been struggling to get out my whole life, and with that one, simple, gentle gesture, it had finally been released. It was as though something within me had finally clicked into place, had come home. It was like the key had finally turned in the lock of a door, and it had opened, somewhere deep, deep down. It was like I had been dying of thirst, throat parched and burning, and someone had given me a glass of cool, clear water. It felt like my whole soul was being tucked behind the ear of Goddess.

We got married right after college. I moved away with him, to New York City, and we started our life together. I got pregnant with Dawn two years later, when I was twenty-four, and she was born in the Spring, when I was twenty-five. Then, when she was a year old…

[The ink on this page is blurred, apparently from teardrops]

…my beautiful boy was murdered, and my beautiful baby was stolen. I tried to find them both, of course. But they had been erased. Their birth certificates, their social security accounts, even their taxes, every scrap of paper that proved they existed disappeared overnight, just as they did. The only reason I knew my husband was dead was the blood on his bed. I tracked down his boss, who denied ever having employed him, though I could see the fear in his eyes. I tried to find his parents, but it seems they’ve disappeared as well. The hospital had no record of Dawn’s birth and the doctor denied knowing me. The lease on our apartment had been in my husband’s name, but it too vanished and so was rendered void. I was evicted within the week and became homeless.

I traveled around the city for months, working part-time jobs to keep my head above water, staying in shelters or sleeping on the streets when it was warm. I looked for clues with ever-increasing desperation. I even hired a private detective to find them, which did nothing except further drain my savings. I tried every spell and divination I could think of, learning nothing except that some sort of powerful techno-sorcery had been used by a large group of very powerful people to make them disappear, though I still had no idea why. It seems, though, that I had Them worried even then. I was getting too close to the truth, so they had be committed to an asylum. Believe me, psychiatrists react to claims that you can do Magic about as well as schoolyard bullies, though the tricks did help me make friends once again. Still, the year I spent in there almost made me miss Middle School. But I eventually escaped. Magic (of both varieties) helped with that, too.

I lived on the lam for another six months before They caught up with me. Six identical suits surrounded my trailer with their identical haircuts and sunglasses (which they wore even though it was pitch dark). I was parked on the side of a lonely road just south of the Canadian border. I remember waking up in the night and knowing They were there. I couldn’t see them or hear them, but I knew it deep down in my gut. I knew that this was when I would die. I looked out my window at the moon for a moment, then at the stars. I found the Pole Star, which was Our star, and I smiled to it, and blew it a kiss. Then I got up, brushed my hair, and put on my wedding dress. I left the bedroom in bare feet, then the trailer, and there they were, standing in a perfect semicircle around the door. My breath made clouds in the cold air, but theirs did not. I nodded to them, and they all nodded back, in perfect unison. Two of them moved behind me and pressed down on my shoulders until I knelt on the asphalt. Then the one in the center of the circle, who was wearing a red tie (all the others were black) produced a pistol from a chest-holster. As he screwed a silencer onto the barrel, I asked “You know what the worst thing is? After all this, I still can’t remember His name. You even took that from me. But I remember Hers.” The man with the red tie placed the barrel of the gun against my forehead. It was even colder than the air. There was a moment of perfect silence. No, deeper than silence. Peace. Like the world was holding its breath. Then, the man laughed. Behind him, way off in the distance, the sun was starting to rise. I smiled.

Then, the world ended.


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.


Lacuna: Document 5

Another of the Pigeon Man’s sermons, this one not written down but delivered to a crowd of drunks late at night, recorded by an agent with a parabolic microphone hiding in a nearby alleyway.

Listen, here’s the thing about Magic: 99 percent of it is absolute bullshit. Most of what you read, and more of what people say is just utter garbage. Much of it is fascinating and some of it is sexy and most of it is messy and nonsensical, and there is a very real danger that it will drive you stark raving bonkers if you take it too seriously. But Bullshit is what makes the grass grow.

And here’s the thing about bullshit: it’s all over the damn place. Pick any politician, religious leader, celebrity, lawyer, hell, pick any doctor, of medicine or otherwise (especially otherwise), and I’ll bet you that almost everything they say is pure, unadulterated, A-1 BS. Most people you meet do it, too: “Hey, how ya doin’?” “Fine, thanks, how are you?”. BULLSHIT. Nobody’s fine. Nothing is fine. The whole goddamn world is spiraling around the cosmic toilet bowl, killing time with bullshit before the final plunge.

Oh, and by the way: every one of those folks I mentioned, the ones distracting us on our journey around the Porcelain Throne, every one of them is a Magician, working their Magic on anyone who listens to them. Scientists are shamans, and their incantations are powerful, though they are not the only players in town. Every one of us is a player in this game, though we all too often allow ourselves to be pawns! And here’s the thing about Magical Bullshit: if you fake it for long enough, you can make it off the board and out of the toilet. God knows it’s what everyone else is doing. But just try getting in or on and telling all the other prawns… pawns what’s going on. You end up mixing metaphors.

Look, most of Magic is bullshit because if we could see its white-hot core of Reality, it would blind us and burn us even as it made the world anew, like the phoenix which rises from the ashes of everything. If we could truly comprehend reality, if we could truly understand what Magic is, we would become it, and so lose ourselves. And there’s no rush to do that: we’ll all get there eventually.

The layers of bullshit are veils. They are the garments behind which the Mystery hides its nakedness, and which protect us from the full force of its Truth. But we have grown too far apart. The gap is too great, the lacuna too large. We have lost the Magic and cannot find it among the multitude of veils that now surround us. We are drowning in images, in words, in signs and symbols. They scream at us from every street corner, from the screens (those magical mirrors) that inhabit every home. Even I! Even I exist only within a web of words, a sea of symbols! We need that sea, we need that web, for we are as fish and spiders within it. But we are polluting our own home, stuffing our skulls with endless drivel and dreck spoon-fed to us by those few who have seen the Light and want to keep everyone else in Darkness so they can have it all to themselves! So they lie to us and spy on us and they make us make war on ourselves! On our own family! For all beings are related, it is only a matter of degree! We are all one enormous extended family! Yet we kill and torture and enslave one another! We poison and destroy our own home! The only reason we don’t see it, can’t see it, is the endless distractions constantly offered to us! We are cheering at the Colosseum while Rome burns!

Well I say, it’s too late to save Rome but GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN! The end isn’t just nigh, it’s RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW: WE’RE SOAKING IN IT. There was no apocalypse, except the one that’s been happening every single day for the last TEN THOUSAND YEARS. One of these days we’ll run out of apocalypses to take our attention away from what’s REALLY GOING ON and then They’ll be in REAL TROUBLE!