Into the Land of Ghostly Schemata
In the year 2008, Cassie O’Brien sat with her best friends Akasha and Efram in their shared living room, watching TV—something on the Sci-Fi Channel.
During a commercial break, a promo came on for a pseudo-documentary about lost historical artifacts and relics, like the Holy Grail.
Saying what Cassie was thinking, Efram commented, “Why do they always assume these things haven’t been found?”
“What do you mean?” Akasha asked him.
“How do they know,” Efram elaborated for her, “someone doesn’t have these artifacts hidden somewhere?”
“Right,” Cassie added, somewhat disingenuously, “Like Indiana Jones—The Ark is not lost, it’s just kept secret in a warehouse.”
“Good point,” Akasha noted, “Just because ‘The World’ (she says with air quotes) doesn’t know I have, say, a lava lamp… doesn’t mean it’s missing.”
18 months ago, an undisclosed location deep underground… Conciliator Onobanjo spoke to Cassie of the foolishness in trying to summon a demon or elder god—either they are not real and therefore a waste of time… or they are real and would almost certainly wreak havoc. It’s not that the world is full of darkness, the aged man sagely kibitzed… with Cassie appreciatively acknowledging and conceding the revelation... it is just that we have closed our eyes.
He only mentioned this to her as obtuse metaphor; analogy for their current dilemma.
When the Conciliator had requested her immediate presence, without explanation, Cassie—out of reverence-- arrived without preamble or question.
Inadvertently, she tended to look more approachable than she actually was, so people tended to get an impression that they could—or should-- impose or encroach on her. For good or bad, Cassie had an innate kindliness and sanctity that inclined people to trust her, to like her. But in truth, she was too earnest, too honest; not meant to cope with things as they are. She often felt as if she wasn’t the person people were talking to—or thought they were talking to. People tended to assume things about others—for example, they frequently expected or attributed a particular degree of “Irishness” to her because of her culturally loaded surname, and were unduly disappointed because she did not speak Gaelic or even with an accent. Nor was she Protestant or Catholic. She wore her Irish quietly, on the inside—which, she admitted, may seem like a contradiction.
Perhaps we expect too much from names, give them too much power… too much credence.
The danger in names is that they are too regionally or propensionally subjective… too variable and maleable.
Onobanjo described the delicately troubled situation as the two of them strolled urgently down a corridor toward the primary entrance to The Arcanum Reliquary. Most of those allegedly lost or missing historical artifacts you hear about (and many more you don’t) are neither missing nor lost… they are kept here. As a logical extension of Arcanum’s self appointed task of observing and preserving the truth of human history and knowledge. American-centric legitimazation is routinely imposed on other cultural histories. An egregious historical gentrification was being conducted through deliberate mistranslation and mistranscription for the convenience of various parties “in power”; so Arcanum existed to correct the “official” public record.
Plus, safeguarding the so-called lost artifacts was a protection against the inevitable ramifications if an item like the Holy Grail were loosed in a society lacking the wisdom to comprehend.
Nevermind that the Grail is really symbolic of the Messianic bloodline and philosophy of Jesus Christ; not the commonly presumed chalice icon.
Since the early 1900s, Arcanum facilities utilized a cybernetic-crystaline tesseract technology, delivered from the future by The Traveler. For security and simplicity purposes, Onobanjo is one of only three “key” people in the whole world at any one time with unfettered access to the warehouse.
Not counting The Traveler. Or The Wandering Jew—which goes without saying, since he founded Arcanum. But she the Traveler and he the Wanderer were both currently incommunicado.
So, technically, that actually makes five authorized personnel. Decades later, Cassie would become one such person.
No one entered unless ushered by any of these individuals; after which, visitors are granted the trust of free reign.
The Reliquary itself is governed by a rudimentary autonomous artificial intelligence— essentially a living brain—with a kind of mind of its own. And it, for reasons yet to be determined, had ceased to acknowledge access for any of them. This has never happened before, and should not have ever been possible. If they were dealing with any conventional or mainstream computer system, Cassie would recite her mantra that “computers are stupid”; but this computer -- being no ordinary marketplace computer—was explicitly designed to not be stupid.
As a pre-eminent dreamwalker (and, fortunately, Arcanum member in good standing), Cassie was to attempt exploratory immersion into the machine’s demi-subconscious… and resolve this mystery of the absent mind.