Callum McZander, Outer Entity Expert
She came to my office and asked me to do it.
“We need an “O.” Write about the Outer Entities.” She said this casually. As if she was asking me to write of the joys of cat ownership.
I examined her closely, looking for the telltale signs, the signatures of Infection. She seemed free from taint. I therefore consented to converse. I drew a sigil in the air, lowering certain of my office defenses, and coincidentally triggering deployment of a large amount of serotonin into my system. I felt this happening, and two thoughts occurred to me at once: the first, that I really needed to adjust my iMudra settings so that this wouldn’t happen again; the second, that in about 20 minutes, things would get extremely interesting. In fact, I would shortly be hallucinating as hard as any Early Digital Raver.
“What?” I said.
She repeated her request.
“What?” I shrieked.
She began to say it again.
“You want me to tell of what I know of the Outer Entities? For general distribution, to all Agents?”
She smiled. Apparently, that was exactly what she meant. Was she Infected, after all? Or was she merely a mindless bureaucrat, seeking to fill an organizational hole (the letter O, which is about as hole-shaped a letter as you can get) with the first stopgap she thought of, without considering the danger of the use of that particular stopgap?
“What department are you from?” I asked, casually.
“Admin,” she said.
“Ah.” I knew it was useless to argue. “Very well. I will do it.”
“Why are your pupils so big?” She asked.
“Leave me,” I told her. “I will begin The Great Work at once.”
And so I shall. I shall do this thing.
But I would recommend that you do not read it, Agent.
Do not seek knowledge of the Outer Entities. Preserve your innocence… your sanity… the ignorance that is indeed bliss.
Big, round numbers are scary. Those zeroes are like eyes, staring balefully at the helpless humans who hurtle resistlessly towards them. Ever since zero became a thing, it has been a feared thing, a gaping emptiness…
…like the letter O…
…a Nothing where there should be a Something…
…like the empty skulls of Admin…
Was that Admin female really what she seemed? Could any true human smile so vacantly and yet so beguilingly?
A few deep breaths and I am myself again. Probably. Anyway, I am able to continue, to fight down for a time the gnawing Fear.
I continue to tell of The Millennial. This particular Outer Entity attacks the timeline right before a new millennium. That is the only place it can get in. It is not a physical thing at all, but an Infection. Or, rather, I suspect that it is a physical thing, in its own place, only it can’t get in here. It can, however, whisper, and there is panic in its every syllable. Sensitive humans (lucid dreamers, telepaths, psychics, the emotionally disturbed, the traumatized, lunatics, geniuses, etc.) can hear it. They don’t know that they are hearing it. They don’t know they are hearing anything. All they know is that the world is about to end. Like, really soon. Like when the calendar resets. Then.
And, like anyone with bad news, these people immediately go around, Sharing. “The world is ending!” They say, grinning horribly. “I am a genius, and I know.”
Panic happens. In the continuity that leads us to our present day, the panic is pretty mild. But The Millennial seems to have lots of do-overs. It gets to try again. It does so. And its effects Ripple up through time, and, once again, we Lighthouse Agents wake to find a smoking wasteland instead of The World.
Presumably, The Millennial’s goal is to make it so. To make what it says true. To make the world end. Why it wants this will probably never be known.
By the way? The Millennial’s window of opportunity is in the year before the zeroes. So, 999, 1999, and 2999 are its years. No one has ever cared that technically the new millennium won’t start until 1001, 2001, or 3001. Most people just know that zeroes are bad news, and that the calendar is about to have a lot of zeroes. It is in this panic-rich environment that The Millennial can act.
Also by the way: yes. I am tripping my face off. But I am a veteran drug-user. I will Maintain.
I have seen the abomination that is The Pigman. I was a young Agent, and it was my first Hugo-rated mission. Whatever had happened had clocked in at 4.8 Hugos, and humanity had vanished from the landscape outside the complex. What evidence we could collect suggested that some other species had taken humanity’s place, because something kept shooting our iDrones out of the sky.
Even now, I can hear his screaming voice in my brain.
I must have orange juice. I must bring this trip down. I cannot think of the creature in my current state. I go to fetch the orange juice.
I have the orange juice. I stare at its orangeness, trying to remember whether Vitamin C increases or decreases the intensity of a trip, or if the thing about orange juice is total nonsense. I cannot remember. I drink the orange juice.
I can see him now, the cloaked figure in the blasted wasteland where once there had been a Victorian era. I can see him by the pigsty, crooning to his kin. I can hear his infernal singing in my brain. And I remember the tuneless song the pigs sang back to him, the dreadful grunting—hooning, almost—that as the noise continued turned into a thing with structure, a thing with meaning. The pigs were grunting in time to his dreadful commands. Intelligence shone in each piggy eye.
I can still hear him. Or am I hearing him again? Does The Pigman walk the Lighthouse halls, seeking me, seeking his revenge? Grunt grunt hoon grunt hoon. I sing the song of the pig. Grunt hoon grunt
A Word From Admin:
Ahem. And that is basically all we’re going to get on Outer Entities from our revered Expert. We at Admin, concerned about the size of McZander’s pupils, checked up on him just now, and what we found was… disturbing. McZander was, of course, grunting rhythmically in a corner of his office. That was slightly worrying, but McZander’s behavior is so non-typical that it was hard to be sure anything was wrong. But Administrator Rubella reports that she then heard a horrible voice, screaming in her brain, telling her to put a bullet through McZander’s skull. Following protocol, she poured a bucket of water over McZander, and the voice immediately ceased. McZander has been quarantined in an undisclosed location (somewhere outside of our time-shields, we assure you) until we are totally sure he isn’t a portal or something. Of course, with our Expert in quarantine, we’re not really sure how to establish that, so probably McZander will just have to stay put.
This is the fate of most of our Outer Entity Experts.
Agents with Outer Entity experience are encouraged to apply for the exciting position of Outer Entity Expert. Higher pay. Better sex. Really good recreational drugs. The chance to make a real difference. Anything you want. APPLY NOW.
I do believe I know some Outer Entities disguised as humans of the Early Digital Era. Hmm…
Madam! I urge you to Report at once to your friendly local Lighthouse Agent! Or, rather, since you live in The Past, I suppose you should write the thing up in whatever primitive method the people of your time employ, and then bury that report in a box, clearly labelled “Lighthouse–Urgent.” And then what you do is… hope. Just hope.
I think I went to High School with that guy.
We all did 🙂 And really, his Orange Juice technique is probably not something you want to rely on.
“But I am a veteran drug-user. I will Maintain.”
A-Zing this year at:
Normally found at:
Thank you! He didn’t seem to Maintain for long, though, did he? Sad…
I’m filling out the application as we speak. Wait–we? I’m alone here. Or am I? (Nicely done as always, MAA.)
Or are you, indeed? This is a Critical Question. The answer to it may determine whether you end up with the lucrative post of Outer Entity Expert, or are just thrown into quarantine without that little formality.
Indeed! I found that amusing, too. 🙂
I don’t have any expereince with Ourter-
Oh, wait! Do Millennials count as Outer Entities? Because in this case, I think I am an expert 🙂
Are you a Millennial? I myself am, I believe, too old to qualify even slightly. But I am not actually very clear on the cut-off date for being a Millennial, so… who knows?