He takes each one out of its box and activates it,
using the key as he had been instructed. And as each
goes its way, he remembers the clockmaker
who had shown him the mechanism, the spring
and gears, and all the parts whose names he has
now forgotten. He remembers the first time, stealing
into the workshop, and the subsequent visits
when he was welcomed as a guest. The automatons
come and go, and the little fires glow at each
of the stations. The alembics bubble and steam.
Night falls. The sense of anticipation is like a perfume
that hangs over a garden in an old poem. It is like
a dream in which an old manuscript is discovered,
a manuscript by one who has renounced his art
and yet who has gone on writing secretly, filing away
poem after poem, story after story, spell after spell.
He comes back to us now. In the dream, the sun
is rising, and we see the flying machine on the horizon,
the bands of red, yellow, and blue coloring the newborn
day. How long we have waited to hear him speak.
As it happens, these documents have been falsified,
and the history that they represent remains in doubt.
Few operatives of the Foundation are known to have
been trained in such arts. The Directors understood that
thaumaturgy always had to mediated by narration,
that narration, in effect, was a form of thaumaturgy,
and that relative to the degree of secrecy, the storylines
would flourish or wither, ramify or submerge. The slogans,
the graffiti, even the occasional demonstration (carefully
choreographed to appear spontaneous) all point to the same ends.
Our contacts in the city now confirm that the events
of the last few months could not have resulted
from trepidations in any of the known orders. Much remains
to be verified, including the confirmation process itself,
since it is the instability of the base, the platform, that leads
to speculation. And if the platform is unstable, what then?
Some experts hold that it is these very shifts, unpredictable
but certainly not anomalous, which lead to the vibrations
commonly deemed “good.” These tend to graph at regular
intervals, but have been known to skip a beat, drag, or
double up at an alarming rate. The resultant encoding,
syncopated, often highly encrypted, leads in turn to what
one scholar has identified as “sacred forgery.” Built up
phrase by phrase—not line by line—the virus infiltrates
the files. Lyrical interference, harmonious static, dissonance,
dissidence, rapid fluctuations of band width, invasive
procedures resulting in solo performances, memos
addressed to no identifiable recipients—we are tempted
to say these files are corrupt, but somehow they keep
making sense. They have, therefore, been maintained.
Yet this has led to a reconsideration of the entire
registry. The range has been determined as follows:
upper limit restoration, lower limit disturbance.
Doubling back on itself, the corridor is now open
and completely accessible at all points between
the Market District and the entrance to the Archives.
The guardians have left their posts, but this was to be
anticipated, since the current squad was installed
after the mandrake experiments. As the old saying
goes: first the archons, then the scribes.