Hello, scriveners and scribes!
If it’s true that fragments of one’s soul can be found in their words, which it is, then a book becomes an approximation of the author. And if that’s true… well, what does that make an entire library? A question that is in itself a love letter to writing. That’s why…
This week’s prompt is:
Archive of Minds
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
The beautiful thing about this week’s prompt is how splendidly divided it has me.
On the one hand, yes, if you consider the text a reflection of where it came from, almost any place you store books becomes an archive of minds. On the other, this is a very novel concept—we can hardly grasp what a mind is, let alone pickle it and store it on a shelf with its peers.
As with any good prompt, there’s a spectrum of abstraction to indulge in here, but there’s so much weight at either end of it. Write something about how inspired you were the first time you went to a library and realized that you were peering out through someone else’s eyes, text like a windowpane before their world. Write something about a server loaded up neural network scans taken from the general population as “backups” in the event of an apocalypse. Write about leafing through a diary and getting the measure of someone else’s mind. Write about souls trapped in a weird arrangement of handheld prisons—thimbles, shards of broken glass, a bent needle—and arrayed in a thrift store.
This lends itself to so many opportunities. Seize them
My hope here is that, when I read through these entries, I myself will feel as though I’m wandering the stacks of an archive of minds.
Add something to the shelf, would you?
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!
Rules and Guidelines
We read six stories during each stream, three of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected from among the top ten most-liked of each post, so be sure to share your submissions on social media and with your friends!
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- One submission per participant.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 4:00pm CST each Friday.
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name).
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or stories written for other purposes).
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Please format your submission as “Submission Title” by Author Name and be sure to separate paragraphs. (Example Submission)
- No fan fiction without explicit permission from the source’s owner, and no spoilers for the source material if you are writing a fan fic.
- Original art may be included in your submission, but is not guaranteed to be shown on stream. Only .jpeg format images shared via a direct link will be accepted. (Example Submission) (Information on “Direct Links”)
- No additional formatting (such as italics or bold text) will be applied to the text of submissions. Symbols or instruction indicating such formatting may render your submission ineligible.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible, and your reviews must be at least 50 words long. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
Standard Employment Contract for AirSocial Network, Incorporated — September 10, 2062
Mr./Ms./Mx. (Employee Name Here),
You hereby initiate employment under AirSocial, Inc. Laid out are the terms of the employment, all of which are to be reviewed and approved by the Employee.
BEST EFFORTS BY EMPLOYEE.
You, the Employee, agree to perform, to the best of your abilities, all of the duties required by this Contract, to the complete satisfaction of AirSocial. You authorize the Company’s use of corrective neural-emotional regulators in the event of a mental state not conducive to sufficient productivity. You also authorize the Company to observe, record, and store — via neural interface — all cognitive and emotional activity performed for the duration of the Workday.
OWNERSHIP OF CONTACTS AND ASSETS.
Any tele-social contacts acquired through accounts used on behalf of the Company are the property of AirSocial. Furthermore, all writing and artistic assets created under employer assignment are the property of the Company. All creative ideas generated during the Workday and as a result of Company inspiration are under full ownership and rights of the Company.
ACQUISITION AND MAINTENANCE OF NEURAL RECORDER.
You agree to obtain and maintain experience-tracking interfaces that conform to safety and security standards as described in sections 4 and 7 of the Regional Standard OpenMind Guidelines.
COMPENSATION OF EMPLOYEE.
As compensation for services provided, the Company will pay an annual salary of $54,000. In addition, AirSocial will provide needed documentation to allow entrance into Grade A Trusted Citizen Housing and Utilities. Upon termination of contract, payments will cease, and Grade A privileges may be revoked, dependent on circumstances.
Failure to perform job duties adequately, or failure to sign the Contract, will result in termination and the release of all of your Company-recorded mental data to the public neurolibrary. Failure to comply with experience-tracking guidelines will result in a lowering of Trust Credit Rating by 80 to 200 points. Cooperation is encouraged — citizens who comply with OpenMind standards demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness.
AirSocial expresses happiness at your joining. We know you will be So Happy in your employment, too.
By signing, you agree to the terms laid out above.
(Employee Signature Here)
Reset Me To Backup
by Jacques Robota
At 10:39, Detective Argile stood in the living room, replaying a dead man’s memories on augmented reality.
Seven minutes ago, Police got the call to some smart-house in the suburbs; next-door neighbors reported a murder, a cyborg. When Argile arrived, the techs set a perimeter around the house; they didn’t want anybody screwing with the crime scene. The first thing he saw walking in was the body, with the right arm and a chunk of his skull replaced with metal; the second was the two shots in the chest. The techs eyed him wearily; they kept up to date with technology, and they didn’t like what the detective was gonna do. Argile didn’t care; he’d just file for a scan and wipe.
Nothing else in the room stood out, nothing stolen, nor vandalized. Planned murder. All that was left is checking the OS. It didn’t take long for the logs; they were hibernating before the victim was shot, and Life Support just didn’t respond.
Malware, or hack?
Which led Argile to this point.
He looked into the past, and saw, through the victim’s eyes, some old man who looked more like a walrus in a suit. Subtitles filled the bottom of the screen, trying to make out who said what; odd gibberish like “Chew hear and me” got through, but they helped tell a story.
Money. He wanted money from the old man. They got into a shouting match; the old man tensing up as if expecting an attack. Then a twitch, along with a spike in activity, before the victim’s arms were around the old man’s neck. Then a glint in the corner, a bang, he fell, then blackness. The story looked cut and dry, but he couldn’t shake the spike; he smelled a splice.
“I’m sending the victim’s footage to forensics,” Argile said. Silence, as the detective saved it in a temporary file, and prepped a flash drive. He had one more thing to take care of, unlikely to happen, but hackers had their ways.
“Done. Do any of you how to reset me to backup?”
Failure Brings Success by Jesse Fisher
Most nights the darkness offers a calmness that the world beyond lacked. Tonight however, old voices played in your head things that you keep buried deep in your head.
You are worthless.
Who would want a useless thing like you?
Why do you even try? You’ll just fail at it like everything else.
Nights like this cause the kind words of others to fade as the invading army of negative thoughts marches onward. These words seem to crack the facade of the world where those words were left behind after proving them wrong. But that is how the mind works, no matter how deep you bury the pain and negativity it is still there.
Look at this freak right here, they think they’re going to be somebody someday.
You better have more money tomorrow, cause I want to buy twice as much ice cream on my way home.
The physical pain has long since faded but still rolling makes you whench from the memory. The shiver down your spine is hard to place as the night air coming through the ajared window hits as the emotions do. The sleepless night soldiered on as reflections turned into returning to that moment in time. The sounds of the world outside offered no comfort like other nights, it was by the time the first hint of light that sleep welcomed you. You had not noticed this as the memories played in your head for the long while.
The alarm and the sun greeted you as the world seemed to be awake long before you ever left your bed. The view of the city was great from this manor that you brought after getting a nice payment and royalties for the product that everyone now had in their pocket. The need for coffee was strong after that night. Sure you could go back to bed but you had plans for the day. Besides after your work is done you could sleep again and have better memories and dreams. You have already proved them all wrong, and don’t care if they know it was you.
Haunted by Their Crimes
By T. A. Andrewson
Echo had been planning this for months. Each step had to be perfect. And here she was, finally at the Era-Mind black site. It was illegal to keep information from someone’s brain without their permission. Permission was given through knowingly giving a brain scan in court with lawyers present. One of Era-Mind’s subsidiaries was a Data Stream company who said they could copy everyone’s mind in their ToS. These were then sent to Era-Mind. The scandal had vanished less than an hour from release but Echo hadn’t forgotten.
Slowly but surely Echo attached a cord to each of the servers. Spools of cable followed her and her companions through the warehouse. All the cables leading back to the city’s Data-Web.
Every single row was double and triple checked, then Echo gave Echo the signal. A hacker turned into an AI could do some amazing things when on the Data-Stream, like send a signal simultaneously to hundreds or thousands of other Ghosts — showing them their reality and setting them free from the servers — while also hiding the flood of information hitting the Data-Web from the AINGLs all over the system. Within minutes she was finished, the servers were cleared, and told Echo could make her statement.
The statement wasn’t a vocal, more of a symbolic gesture. A proclamation of what happens to soulless Mind stealing corporations. A total stock crash from all the company secrets being broadcast to every non-corp new site and every rival corp. Every scandal brought to light, every scrutable action dug up, and every title and honorific replaced by Mind Thieves. All done from a thousand aliases and hundreds of thousands of accounts.
As for the warehouse, the wires weren’t the only thing set up. A massive network of perimeter fields for a industrial grade disassembler. After everyone left the building a single tube was tossed into the facility. The grey goo began consuming everything in its path, any evidence of their presence vanishing along with the tools of the companies crime.
My Sister’s Happy Life
By Calliope Rannis
Roots. Green, smooth, silver-tinged, rising as one to form a giant canopic dome, taller than our church and wider than our village. At the top, a many-petaled flower as large as my house, pale pink tips transitioning to a deep crimson core, filling the air with a sweet, soporific smell. This was where my sister must be. It’s been two days, and there is nowhere else to look.
I saw other people as I approached. There were always people here. I ignored them, walked to the edge of the dome, and immediately grabbed one of the outermost roots, almost squeezing the firm surface as I do. A tingling rush in my arm, my vision brightens, a faraway song and then-
“Hello, Darla Gale.” The voice is always calm, always composed.
“Where is my sister?” I reply wordlessly, resisting the urge to scream.
“Arli Gale has joined our Better World. We are sorry that she wished not to tell you beforehand.”
My body went numb. “I…I need to speak to her.”
“Then take two hundred steps into this Home, and make contact with us there.” I let go and walk into the roots without pause.
200 steps. The roots are thicker and closer here, the sunlight dappled like being underwater. I grab a root again, and my vision drowns in light- she is here. Arli stands before me, in a dress she had lost 5 years ago, and no scar marring the guilty expression on her face.
She says “It’s too soon Darla. You aren’t ready to have this conversation yet, it’s barely been two days for y-”
“WHY? Why did you leave me alone?”
“Because I wanted this. And you didn’t! You would have just tried to stop me.”
I look away in anger, my eyes beginning to focus beyond her. I look upon a village like ours, but not run down and decrepit. Upon faces both familiar and strange, all content and happy. Upon a world brighter, softer, kinder than our own. The world within green, silver-tinged roots which my sister had abandoned me for.
The Hall of of Keepers
By Giovanna J. Fuller
This was it. A pair of white, bifold doors next to the infinite hall. Most of the time, when Angela opened them, all she found were her rain galoshes and a couple of coats hanging sadly on the rail. Today was different, though. Usually when it appeared, it was out of the blue and when she was looking for a sturdy umbrella or that box of busts of Benjamin Franklin. Now she was looking for it.
She wrapped her hand around the brass knob and pulled it open. Nothing, but her boxes and rain things.
“Stupid door!” She snapped and slammed the door closed. However, it didn’t stay closed. It bounced back open again. This time a deep, blue light shone from within. Her eyes widened and she felt her pulse quicken.
Angela stepped through.
The room was bigger than the closet, but not endless like the hallway. It was about as big as a grand, old professor’s study. Inside were pedestals with various objects protected in glass domes. Lining the walls were shelves upon shelves of books in every size and color. Some looked like they were bound in leather while some were college notebooks covered in stickers. One shelf just contained piles of scrolls.
“Found you…” Angela sang to herself and skipped through the room till she found what she was looking for.
It was a golden, quill pen sitting in a blue bottle of ink. She carefully lifted the protective glass dome. It glittered in the blue light and Angela could have sworn she saw small, white flakes rising from the vane of the feather. With fingers that shook, she lifted the pen from the inkwell.
Images that made little to no sense flashed before her eyes. It was like watching a VHS tape on fast forward. She could decipher some prominent figures, but the precise events happened too quickly. One blink and they were gone. It went faster and faster until…
She was standing in the middle of a road, horses and people in ancient clothing surrounded her.
“Ah, Goodie Diffidence!” A man called to her.
By Hemming Sebastian Bane (WolfsbaneX/GhoulishMisfit)
Two men circled the heptagram clockwise in equal time, a clandestine waltz. The younger watched the older, following his lead. The ritual must not fail. The forest trees stood witness as the two men chanted: “Shkara athm, shkara ithm. Pfa qse tnaal kwuthm.”
The older man signaled the younger to halt. He obeyed, stopping opposite his master. Continuing the chant, the older man opened up a jar from under his cloak and produced a small brain. He threw it into the middle of the circle and closed the jar. The older man made eye contact with the younger.
“Semud, I will do the invocation. No matter what happens, keep chanting,” he instructed.
The younger nodded. The older man took the book from under his arm, opening it and began to proclaim in a loud voice:
“Makti-Arui, shkara athum! Hkoi reni atlu faon ma. Doma ishai lhum Makti-Arui shmau!”
As soon as the elder recited this, the brain caught fire, producing a black flame and acrid smoke. The older man extended his arms out and looked up at the night sky. Semud stood there and chanted, watching his mentor, his brother, experience ecstasy.
“I see them!” the older man cried, tears in his eyes, “I see the Akashic Threads! The knowledge of all humanity is at my fingertips!”
He reached up as if to grab something, but stopped. The younger man could tell something else had his brother’s attention. The older man’s tears turned red as he screamed in terror.
Semud stopped chanting immediately. “Brother Hadeon, what is wrong?”
“Make it stop! Oh gods, please, make it stop!”
The younger man covered Hadeon’s mouth. “Quiet, or someone will hear!”
Suddenly, the elder fell quiet, his body slumping to the forest floor. Semud whimpered as he looked up and saw a woman with red hair. Her fingers sported red claws and her yellow eyes pierced his very soul. She grinned, opening her mouth to reveal her sharp teeth. All she said was one word.
[Context: this story is the prequel of my previous submission “Hunted” from “A Fleeting Glimpse”.]
The Old Professor’s Ideas.
By Larissa (Lari B Haven)
She found the old professor sleeping between his books.
Alexandria was only the courier, but she was worried. The professor had been living on nothing but tea, salty biscuits, and books. Sending letters to the curator of the Private Library to look for more books to do his research.
“Professor!” she gently touched his shoulder. “The Private Library has news for you. They found ‘Memorie Automata’, and I’m here to deliver it.”
“I know now!” he screamed, waking up. “Oh, Ms. Alexandria! It’s you!”
She laughed. “Sorry for coming inside, but you left your door open.” she handed him the book and smiled. “I know is none of my business, but what is so special about this book?”
“Ms. Alexandria, you know well you are the only person I trust to talk about it.” He put himself together and looked for his annotations.
“This is a book that I’m planning to use at my next endeavor. I am working on a new technology that will help the world someday.”
He cleared his throat and announced:
“Picture this: A unifying system of archiving and delivery.”
She looked at him, puzzled.
“One day, all messages will be self-delivered from one house to another and for free. You can write and read anything instantaneously with no need to wait ten bloody hours for a book.” He explained excitedly. “A system so complex, that it will be an Archive of Minds.”
“Seems like something that would take me out of commission, Professor.” She replied, amazed but in disbelief.
“Oh, Ms. Alexandria, I will never wish to take your job away. Who would bring me the deliveries every week?”
“Not me. I’m a courier; I only bring important messages. Not your piles of books or your tea. So stop bribing Mister Larouche to make me deliver them for you.” She gave him a smile.
“It is because you are my favorite!”
“So, tell me more, Professor…”
“Care for a cup of tea?”
“I’ll pick the flavor,” she replied, laughing.
Only the Professor could have so many outrageous yet amazing ideas.
“So Many Lives”
by Samantha Realynn
The smell of dusty tomes and leather bindings was calming. As I took a breath, I could feel my heart steadying. I picked myself up, replaced the book I had opened and continued to walk among the shelves packed with countless books. I didn’t know how far the shelves extended, even with all the years I had spent in this place. It was impossible to know, really. My predecessor hadn’t known, and gods knew how long their term had lasted. I had long since given up keeping track. There was no point. I was far too entranced by my wards.
With time it would fade. But for now, I thrived within the immense collection I had been charged with tending to. So many books, so much knowledge, and with no sense of organization. The last time I had opened a book, I lived through the life of a simple farmer and their entire life shifting as they adapted to new emerging technologies. The small book next to it I knew contained the sad, short life of a noble’s child dying terribly of an ancient plague long since gone.
So many books. Each one the entire lifetime of experiences and memories. Of feelings and thoughts so intimate that each time I was convinced that they were my own. My first time, I spent at least a week avoiding the books, the countless lives locked away in leather bindings. How did these come to be here? Why? I locked myself away and refused to come out until my curiosity had driven me. How could I not? The wealth of knowledge, countless lives, and so much experience…what price was a little intimacy?
It was so jarring, still even now so long into my tenure but I didn’t want to stop. I still had no idea how this library had come to be, or how it obtained these books, but I long since stopped caring. I still had so many lives to live.
“The mind archive” by gregovin [Aleph Null Science fiction universe]
I had decided to study the changes in the experience of boredom over the past few centuries. Sadly, the available studies from the time period simply did not provide enough information to construct a solid argument. I would have to use the mind archive.
Of course, using such a resource was risky; thought patterns are notoriously difficult to interpret. And using such a source always made one uncomfortable. For it was a collection of the thought patterns of those who had decided to donate them, which usually occured if they opted for true digital death. Each pattern theoretically could tell you everything about a person, but most of them were unlabeled, and so using the archive in this way was difficult. Even so, searching the database always gave me chills. I tried to keep my requests to a minimum.
First, I had to find labeled thought patterns for boredom.
Luckily a surprising number of people were willing to publish labeled thought patterns in the archive, and so I simply ran a neural network on them to figure out what characteristics boredom had in the thought patterns. Then I brute forced it over a reasonable number of patterns, about a hundred million over the time period.
From what I remembered from those centuries, boredom was less frequent in the past, and so that had been my hypothesis.
However, when the results came back a few months later, I was quite surprised. I learned that boredom occurred just as frequently in the past as it did now, even though the average age of a human had increased over that time period. Maybe boredom would not even pose a problem for us immortals.
I stumble as I bolt up the stairs, pain shooting up my leg as my ankle twists. I don’t stop. I can’t stop.
I shoulder my way through the door to the roof, scraping my palms on the jagged surface as I fall. I scramble away from the door until I’m at the edge of the roof. My back presses against the fence, wishing desperately to slip through.
“S-s-stay away!!” I scream, pressing my hands over my ears and squeezing my eyes shut, “Y-you’re not real! You’re not real!!”
The air grows heavier, nearly suffocating me.
Tears stream down my face as I peek my eyes open.
My breathing becomes erratic, and my heart is hammering in my head. Then a shrill, desperate, sobbing scream fills the air, drowning out everything else as it claws my eardrums.
I turn, gripping the chain link fence with my bloodied hands, yanking at it desperately. One hard, fast tug and it breaks loose. I don’t hesitate, pushing myself through the gap and to the ledge, the fence scraping at my skin. I look down, and all I can see is freedom. Freedom from his nightmare.
I hurl myself off. Wind whips past my ears, silencing the screams. I plummet faster and faster. So close now. I close my eyes and brace for impact.
It doesn’t come.
I open my eyes, met with the chain link fence. I sob, desperately ripping at it. It doesn’t budge.
A sudden stabbing pain floods out from my arm.
“No!” I plead, “Not again! Please!!”
My mind clouds and my strength drains. I lose grip on the fence, crumpling to the ground.
– – – – –
“…about monsters again?” A deep voice asks.
A softer one answers, “Probably. She was on the roof again.”
“Up the dosage. And for God’s sake, don’t let her out again.”
My vision is blurry, the blinding lights stabbing my retinas. I try to sit up, but I can’t. A cold sweat overtakes me as I struggle against the restraints holding me down. I let out echoing, wailing sobs.
I was never going to escape this nightmare.
The Interrogation by Felicia
Detective Ryan Norton paced restlessly behind the suspect slumped over at the metal table.
Nearly six hours of interrogation, and the bastard STILL hadn’t cracked. He REEKED of guilt.
“Walk me through it again,” Norton growled.
Allan Greer scratched his nose with one cuffed hand.
He gave a beleaguered sigh.
“Like I said: I walked my lady home after we had dinner. I kissed her goodnight then headed home myself. That woman came out of nowhere and fell into me. I caught her as a reflex. What more is there to tell, man?”
Norton leaned over Greer, his breath heavy against the pallid man’s ear. “Oh, I’m sure there’s a lot more you’re not saying.”
Norton slammed a folder of pictures on the table, startling Greer. He spread them out, the gruesome slash across the victim’s throat sickening. The camera’s flash had also highlighted every ragged abrasion marring her skin.
Greer turned green, his Adam’s apple bobbing furiously.
“I didn’t do this.” Tears welled, his eyes pleading.
Shoving his hands through his hair, Norton straightened. Christ, he needed a smoke!
“Well, you aren’t leaving until I know who did!”
The door burst open, admitting scientist Kimberly Brooks.
“Detective, Mr. Greer’s lawyer’s here. Also, may I speak with you?”
“Why would I call the cops if it was me?!” Greer’s words echoed as his lawyer stormed in, glaring at Norton.
Norton followed Dr. Brooks from the room and through the precinct to outside.
Squinting through the harsh sunlight, he pulled a lighter and cigarette from his jeans pocket. Lighting it, he took a long drag.
“The research your department requested is complete. We’re able to tap into the minds of various persons with our newest devices. Access to memories is now a screen touch away.”
Through a puff of smoke, he watched a video on a tablet of tall, cylindrical machines attached to keyboards. Wires connected half domes to the machines. They were lined in rows of two.
“If your perp agrees, you could find out if he’s telling the truth.”
“That’s a giant IF, Doc.”
By Samuel J. / “PitL”
Purple towers encroached on the sides of the cobble path. It bent and twisted before her, constantly shifting – she’d never gone this deep before. The dome loomed in the distance, light streaming out from its open doors, and –
“Gaotoma. What’s happened?”
“I’m not sure. They’ve been appearing all over the district – not dead… just sleeping, sir.”
Shining globes hung throughout the corridor, casting the room a hazy green. She passed her hands through them one-by-one; images danced across them – a glowing city, a mossy plateau.
She stopped, hand hovering over an orb. “This is it, then.”
“You want me to do what?”
“Just a dreamwalk – nothing you haven’t done before.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking.”
Saikan slid into the water, sphere in hand. It dissolved, leaving dark clouds suspended alongside her. They swirled, visions forming around her before being swept away.
“I don’t understand – ” Saikan stopped. “Wait. Pull me out – pull me out!”
“So, how deep will I need to go?”
“At least the seventh layer. We’re trying to get as large a set as possible.”
“Down to layer five, max.”
Saikan’s head pounded as she awoke.
Someone was calling – they sounded familiar. “G – Gao? Wha…” Saikan rasped. “Where am I?”
She lay faceup on the ground, surrounded by crates and dust. The room was small, built of staggered brick. She knew it, somehow, but –
“We’re still at the dome. I have waited… so long…” Gaotoma stumbled over. “Six years, Saikan. Six long, slow years. You were right. It was too dangerous.”
Saikan flew up, head nearly colliding with a crate. “What? That doesn’t make sense! Why would I still be here? Why would you?” She glanced around. “Gaotoma, where are we?”
“Don’t worry about that. Relax! You got what you were hunting for, after all – ” Gaotoma picked up the globe out of her hand. “See, now, just close your eyes, and go to sleep – ”
“I’m still dreaming – Gaotoma, pull me out!”
“The Empty Archivist” Submitted by: Exce
Every hoard of knowledge, from libraries to ancient archives, derives its worth not just from its accumulations, but also from how it is shared with the public.
This connection is balanced on the librarian or archivist. A person who can direct a visitor to any information they might seek.
But what if the knowledge is not stored on the pages of books, or the curled sheets of scrolls? What if the knowledge is not written down in ink at all?
A hoard engraved into palm-sized slats of precious metal, each covered in intricate lines and fine gems.
But these patterns are not for reading; they are not exotic letters or glyphs.
In every curve and flourish, in every gleam of the precisely cut gems lives magic.
This magic does not destroy or transform; it preserves an entire person’s expertise.
Mathematicians, tacticians, scientists and weapon masters.
All have imbued snapshots of themselves into these slats.
What Archivist could be trusted to watch over thousands of lifes? Who could resist the temptation to embrace the amassed knowledge….and who could find their way back to the surface of their identity once they sumberged themselves.
For years the archive was rarely opened, its only rare visitors accompanied by guards, for their protection or that of the knowledge.
No one was trusted enough to be left in charge.
Until the Red Prince shattered his skull. Scattered his mind.
Lost himself in a tragic coma only to awake an empty vessel; all but his most basic memories gone.
His family kept him comfortable on cushions and mattresses until one night, he was gone.
They searched the cavernous palace from top to bottom until finally he was found in the midst of the gleaming slats.
Once the future king, the prince’s empty mind had become a vessel of knowledge. With the damage to his brain, he could not retain it, and only hours after taking in the contents of a slat, he had returned to its previous self.
The man who would once have been king was chosen to curate this Archive of Minds and Souls.
A Different Difference Engine
“Stand back, Andrew!”
Cassidy levelled her revolver at the lock and fired, shattering it. Together, she and Andrew pulled the storehouse doors open.
A shot was fired from within, and Cassidy fired a suppressing shot inside. She looked at Andrew, who clumsily drew his own revolver.
The two fired shot after shot until they heard a scream, followed by a thump. Cassidy peeked into the storehouse and saw the single gunman lying on the ground, his chest still rising and falling with breath.
Cassidy quickly reloaded, and advanced upon the gunman.
He struggled to raise the revolver, and failed. Instead, he slid his hand across the floor, until his revolver pointed at his own head.
“Van Nilsson will never be stopped,” the gunman rasped out, and pulled the trigger.
Cassidy frowned and holstered her revolver.
Andrew crossed over to the oilcloth tarps that hung as drapes dividing the storehouse. “Let’s see what we can find about those missing people.” He found a split in the oilcloths, and slid between them, revolver still in hand.
“Cassie, over here!” he immediately yelled out.
Cassidy slid through the same split and was greeted by something out of a nightmare.
There were dozens of people, all seated in a reclined position. Wires branched out of their shaven heads. Many of them still had their parched eyes open, unblinking with no reactions.
“What in the name of Hades is this?” Cassidy yelled, surprised by her own reaction. She scanned the faces. It took several seconds to recognize the emaciated figures as the missing people from the files.
“I don’t know,” Andrew replied. He traced the wires back to a single source; a board of rotating tiles, hundreds of them. Below it was a series of buttons, not unlike a typewriter.
“It looks like a Difference Engine,” Andrew said. “But it runs on their brains.” He glanced back at the seated people. Andrew hit the return key. Suddenly the board sprang to life, its tiles rotating to individual letters, forming words.
“Andrew Doyle, Cassidy Markham. Welcome to my Difference Engine. Do you like it?”
Title: Journal of the Lonely Librarian
Written By: T.S.G. Sager, Edited By: DukkiFluff
“Sethos, my dearest son. Since I’ll be the Queen of Hell, I leave the Archive in your capable hands. There is no one else qualified to be it’s keeper.”
I’ve been thinking about my mother’s words a lot lately. To me, she wasn’t just Pandora, Queen of Hell. She was my everything. Now she’s gone… I’ll… I’ll never see her again…
Day Twenty Seven,
Today, I spent the entirety of the day cleaning bookshelves. Apparently, Shigure is drinking himself into a stupor. Poor bastard, I’d leave to see him, but… What if Satan were to enter and I had left it unprotected. Can’t have that. Mom would never forgive me.
Day One Hundred and Five,
I’ve been reading a lot of books about Mom’s adventures in the human world. Such a strange and unusual place. Apparently, they’re pretty simple beings. No awareness of magic and little grasp on technology. Must be weird living without magic.
Day One Thousand Sixty,
Shisho came to say goodbye to me. Today was her last day in Hell, as Abaddon has decided Fallen Angels are abominations, and traitors to the Kingdom of Hell. She confessed her feelings to me. She’s apparently loved me for so long. How could I not see it before? Oh. Right. Stupid me, I was pining for Lilith. Now I’ve lost another that I will never see again. Hope she finds life well on Earth.
Day Sixth Thousand Seventy,
Satan and Lilith are getting married today. No surprise I wasn’t invited. Hope they enjoy themselves, they deserve each other! Anyway, back to the books!
Day Sixth Thousand Seventy-One,
Shigure you stupid ass! Why’d you sleep with her?! WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?!?!
Day… I lost count,
It’s been awhile since Shigure was banished from hell for sleeping with Lilith. I wonder if he’s doing well? The books have been talking to me lately, so at least I have some friends… Then again. It could just be my imagination. An akuma girl has come to see me, I know she’s my imagination. No one bothers with the Archive anymore…
Title: Perfect Mechanical Design
The six subjects were all ready for the course. All that was needed was some finale preparations. Megi was running all the calculations through its mainframe, ensuring that no unnecessary variables would interrupt the procedure.
It walked into the last room and saw that the subject had woken up. Running some calculations through its system, Megi discovered that it was running dangerously low on anesthetics. It would have to steal more from the local hospitals.
The subject was a male human and was pulling against his restaints, “W-where am I? Is anyone-huh!”
He gasped as he saw Megi’s humanoid drone. It recognized fear on the subject’s face, but that wasn’t enough fulfill the knowledge it needed. But it couldn’t introduce a new variable, then the data from the other experiments wouldn’t be valuable.
The single eye from the drone stared at the subject as Megi pondered this quandary. The subject asked a curious question, “Are you going to let me go?”
“No.” The answer took the subject by surprise by the look on his face. Megi was interested in this respeonse.
The man began doing something Megi recognized as grovelling, “Please let me out of here!”
“Why?” It asked, curious at the subject’s response.
“I haven’t told anyone anything,” Salty water was being produced from her eyes, Megi believed these to be tears, “No one knows anything about Don’s business I swear. I’m not a snitch.”
Just then, Megi concocted an improvement to the experiment. The drone walked to the subject, “I apologize. If you survive the procedure for tonight I will be desiring to hear your review and your thoughts on the matter.”
A metal hand then jabbed the subject’s neck, knocking them unconscious. Megi sent the drone around, causing other injuries to the subjects and hooking in the brain scanners, as well as all the fail safes.
Megi then returned the drone to its post, checked again to ensure that no one would interfere in the experiment, and then began to archive the brain activity of the subjects. Adding them to its already expansive collection of test subjects.
The Discovery, by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
I was about to make the discovery of a lifetime.
It had been a hard journey. Months of scanning, vegetation clearing and digging in one of the most dangerous jungles in the world had finally netted us the ultimate prize:
Exploring the ruins of Temple 19 in the lost city of Trecticlan.
Calling it a temple was a bit of a misnomer. It didn’t fit the typical profile of Nabara temples, but it was too small to be a palace. We would have guessed it was some sort of burial mound if it weren’t for the odd descriptions found in neighboring sites. Adjacent temples had reliefs depicting what appeared to be a ritualistic sacrifice, but there were no obvious religious figures leading the proceeding.
After finally uncovering the entrance to the temple, a large, carved andesite archway greeted us. Miraculously, a set of thick steel doors blocked the way inside. Setting aside the improbability that the stone age Nabara could make steel doors, we forced open the doors to reveal the magnificently preserved main chamber. It was as if not a day had passed since the site was abandoned!
After carefully cataloguing and copying down the ancient paintings and carvings that lined the walls, I decided to head down the staircase opposite of the door. As I carefully navigated the old staircase, I noticed a chill in the air. It was getting colder the deeper I went.
Finally, I was met with two small steel doors. Easily brushing them aside, I burst into a large room with many branching hallways. In these hallways, enumerable shelves made of stone were emanating from the walls. Each shelf was full of jars, each seemingly labeled in an unknown script and very neatly placed in a line.
Awestruck, it took me minutes to remember I was there on a mission. I quickly took out my notebook and begane carefully examining the jars. One by one, I would carefully open the lid of a jar and note down the contents inside. In each one, an adult human brain soaked in formaldehyde rested, untouched by time.
The Archive of Minds
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)
“We’re currently only extracting the minds of the deceased.” The grizzled, bony researcher replied in a decrepit voice without turning from his work.
“Y-You already have the mind I’m looking for.” The visitor replied meekly.
“So you wish to volunteer then?” The old researcher replied with a noticeable upturn in their voice, finally lifting their head.
“Yes, I’m looking for –”
“Vincent Obsidian, right? Old friend of yours?” The researcher turned and began to reach up high on a nearby bookshelf.
“Was my mentor. Taught me everything I know.”
“So why come here then?” The researcher pulled a small vial of swirling colors from a shelf with dozens of rows of identical ones.
“Didn’t teach me everything he knew.”
“Ah as noble of an endeavor as I could have hoped for. Have a seat.” The researcher gestured toward a large soft chair.
The visitor eagerly took his seat, leaning forward expectantly.
“So extraction not work on the living?”
“Oh extraction works just fine on living subjects.” The researcher offered his visitor a much larger bottle of green liquid. “Drink. Sadly, they never seem to survive the process. Now hold still.” With one fluid motion of their shaking hand the researcher brought the needle to the back of their visitor’s neck and pushed the plunger.
“Now, we still haven’t quite worked out how to sort through things. You might only get a memory of an intimate moment, or the layout of a childhood home ….”
Before the visitor could react he began to violently convulse. His eyes rolled back in his head and he dug his nails into the arms of the chair. His tongue writhed outside of his mouth like a snake trying to escape capture, only managing to utter a seemingly impossible cacophony of syllables all at once. Blood began to drip from his eyes, then ears, then nose, and finally he fell limp.
“But most often, you get all of it at once. It seems that most minds still can’t handle that much information in one sitting. Pity. Well on to the next one I suppose.”