09/10/2020 Snippet, THE THING IN MY HIP FLASK.



There is a particular room in the University library where people are not permitted… well, it is easier to say what people are permitted to do. Mostly, it seems to be ‘stand over there and look at the books.” The posted list of restrictions was formidable, in its way; no pens, no paper, absolutely no flash photography — and the latest addition to the rules was ‘no laptops,’ in faded ink. I was mildly amused by the list, as I unconcernedly took pictures of various pages with my phone: why not ban lithographs, daguerreotypes, and the subtle menace of the camera obscura while they were at it?

Then again, I was not in the Special Reading Room to read the truly odd books, the ones that even engineers like myself had heard furtive rumors about; I was looking at a credibly worm-eaten medieval alchemical text, written in indifferent Latin. Indeed, the author’s command of it was worse than mine, and I only had three years of it in high school. Which is… entertaining, yes? You would expect it to be the other way around. At any rate, David had assured me that this proto-chemical (hah) formulary had a process that might salvage our batch.\

Why did I believe him? That is an excellent question.