CJ Bernstein

CJ Bernstein

The Secret Society: “I looked across the cold and silver swirling sea.”

Nothing out of the ordinary has happened in the office since my last post, just the usual sounds (and smells every now and then, like flowers maybe? Perfume?) so just normal haunting, not full on poltergeist materialization. NBD.

But… Something else has been happening. Something I hadn’t picked up on at first, but looking back has been going on for a couple weeks now?

Every once in a while I would think about going back to the storage warehouse Orvin and I visited. The rundown Lower Eastside former apartment building where we found some old mundane paperwork about this version of Ackerly Green, as well as the pins, which I suspected were from the other version of Ackerly Green. My mind kept wandering back to the little room where we found everything. The room we’d cleared out and stop paying the lease on months ago. It belonged to someone else now, but every now and then the idea of going back would consume me…

It happened again this morning and then I realized… I was wearing the Hippocampus pin. And I can’t be sure, but I think every time I thought about that room I’d been wearing the pin. The pin was trying to tell me to go back.

Far weirder things have happened, and if these pins really were from The Book of The Wild, The Lost Age, well, maybe they have some residual magic in them?

I just want to go on the record that I personally don’t think it’s breaking and entering if all I had to do was lean against the locked door of the storage space to open it. Like, a hard, repeated leaning.

I broke into the storage room.

It was already full of someone else’s boxes. I have to say I thought that maybe the ghost with the mustache was gonna be there to give me some useful and profound piece of magical information. But instead the place was stacked to the ceiling with banker’s boxes from the bookkeeping firm who’d taken it over. I looked around the boxes, seeing if I’d left anything, but I (with Orvin’s tsking supervision) had been pretty damned thorough when I cleared it out. There was one small window in the room, the only light aside from the strip of fluorescents on the ceiling. A gray stream of cold winter light was cutting through a gap in the stacked boxes to the floor in the far corner of the room. I went to the window, looked out, for a sign, a ghost…

When I turned back, I’d blocked the light and could see, stuck in the space between the wall and the baseboard, was the edge of a yellowed piece of paper. I shimmied it out and found it was a folded up sheet of aged carbon paper. For all the non-old Mountaineers, carbon paper was how you made copies of things back in the day. You’d put it behind a sheet of paper you were writing or typing on to make an exact copy.

It was a copy of a letter that Warner Green himself had written decades ago! An exact typed replica. He’d probably put the carbon paper in the typewriter himself.

It had faded with time and sun, but I could make out that it was from the desk of Warner Green, it was written sometime in the 60’s, and it was a draft of a letter to readers who’d bought the pins!

 

Welcome to The Ackerly Green Secret Society

 

________ and as you know, elemental [materials] sometimes hold onto magic, and these pins, made of the rarest of metals, I’ve been told contain traces of magimystic energy. __________ and when the time comes, the pins may call on you to find what they have been asked to find __________ Something missing worth rediscovering. Further instructions are included within this mailing.

__________TOO FADED TO READ_____________

All you truly need to know is that this must be kept in the strictest of confidence. ____________________ The pin, its purpose, even your membership in this society, must be kept secret from those who cannot bring themselves to believe. But we believe. Magic is real, and it is up to us to seek it out, perhaps learn to use it, but most of all protect it.

Your friend and fellow member,
Warner Green

 

Okay. So the pins are from The Book of The Wild, and either they were never mailed, or this was outstanding stock that hadn’t been used. Also, confirmed by Warner himself, the pins have some trace of magical energy. (I mean, I guess it could all be make-believe, new readers think I’m making all this up, but we know there’s something weird about these pins, which lends credence, not only to their power, but also that Warner Green himself knew about magic.)

Also, we’re all just casually wearing relics of The Lost Age!

So you’d think that would be enough, right? Enough magimystic adventuring for the day? Nope.  I didn’t notice until I checked later, but pretty much the second I walked into the storage room I got a text message on my phone. A notification.

It said “I looked across the cold and silver swirling sea.”

I have no idea what it means. You? I mean, we know that the Silver took up residence across the sea in Neithernor. But what does the sentence mean?

And the bigger question…

How in the name of Herman did the notification come from the Ackerly Green app?