The room was dark—preturnaturally dark (damn you, Stephen Donaldson!). I was led by the robed and hooded figures to an altar. On the altar was a…something, and it was covered with a cloth. The cloth was a remarkable black, the kind of black that escapes focus. It created an even darker hole in the already dark chamber.
Two of the figures picked up what appeared to be some type of rope, and slowly pulled. The cloth rose from the altar, revealing a box, but what a box! It was of no material I have ever seen. It was clear, but also thick. With the cloth removed, I could see lights inside—lots of lights. They blinked rapidly on and off in a sequence that I could tell was some sort of pattern, but one far to complex for my mind to comprehend.
And then it spoke.
“What brings you before me, supplicant?”
It’s voice was not box-like at all. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
“I…I come seeking knowledge. And advice.”
“That is a good start. Many come seeking knowledge. Some find it. Some do not.”
That final phrase carried a coldness. My mind flashed to an image of Rodin’s “Gates of Hell”.
“I would like to ask a question,” I muttered hesitantly.
“ASK!” it boomed.
“I feel surrounded by ignorance. I can’t seem to find a way out of the dark. I try to tell people to stop chasing miracles, and to look to the marvels of the human mind and that which it discovers through science, and I try to do it with compassion. But I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. Like no one is really listening.”
There was a silence.
The silence continued.
The silence became ironic.
And then, it was broken. “Young physician, you have done well. You have helped, in a very, very small way, to bring light to the darkness. But more must be done. Lemme get another beer.”
I shook my head and looked around. I was sitting in a pub, not a creepy Masonic chamber. Damn my wandering mind! I looked down at my pulled pork sandwich and looked across the table at the other physician.
“Damn, Orac, I just had the weirdest daydream…”
“Meh, happens all the time. Maybe you just need more beer.”
“Sure, sounds good. I’ll have one. But will that detract from our planning more attacks on the cranks, the credulous, and the quacks?”
“My young(ish) apprentice, nothing can stop us now! The universe will bow to our powerz!11!!”
“Um, you’re starting to creep me out…”
“Oh, sorry. The nachos always do that to me. But damn, they’re good! I might have to swing through town again someday for another batch.”
“Well, when you do, Orac, the next beer is on me.”