Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lost Worlds

No entry since June the 25th, which only goes to demonstrate what I have said previously regarding my slipshod handling of the keeping of diaries. But, I have been occupied in numerous tasks here in Babbage, not the least being the first steps towards realising a public Exhibition devoted to the vanished worlds of pre-Adamite times, as revealed by palaentology and geology. I will call it the Palaeozoic Museum, in honour of Mr. Benjamin Water House Hawkins. Indeed, I hope that reproductions of Hawkins' fine murals and sculptures will comprise the centerpiece of this museum. It is a daunting undertaking, no doubt. For now, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had provided me with a portion of the first floor of the Undershaw Society, near the northeast corner of Babbage. I have only just begun work in earnest, and am trying to decide whether the main focus of the intitial phase of the "museum" shall be a reconstruction of Hawkins' plesiosaur or of his magnificent Hadrosaurus.

Meanwhile, Miss Paine has begun to settle into our flat in the Canal District. Though I took a companion as a means of easing my loneliness in this strange new world, in truth the period of adjustment is proving a challenge all its own. I am accustomed to living with no one but my late father, and Miss Paine has many peculiar and irritating quirks and habits. But I am trying, within the limits of my own disposition, to be gracious and accommodating. We have had a couple of strained conversations. A few days back, she was gone most of the day, when I'd expected her to be present and to provide company. In her absence, I confess I turned to spirits, as is too often my habit in times of solitude and despair. When she did turn up, well after sunset, I fear I allowed the spirits I had imbibed to speak for me, and I spoke things I now wish I had not. I came perilously near revealing something of how I arrived in this world, a matter which I would prefer she not know for the time being. It is blasted difficult, keeping such secrets. The girl is so...devoid of inhibition, like so much of her world. And me, I am a product of my dear lost Providence and that world's year 1887. I believe that many people here must find me stuffy, overly reserved, and, perhaps, even arrogant. I hope it is not so.

As for the Black Beast of Kittiwickshire, it continues to haunt Caledon. My interest in the "Monster" grows. It seems a problem far beyond the usual scope of my scientific inquiry...but perhaps not. Capt. Susenko and the others clearly believe it to be a super-natural creature, but I would prefer to approach the problem free of these a priori assumptions of otherworldly beings and influences. I have begun to work the problem over in my mind, perhaps as another means of being distracted from my present situation, and perhaps because I was somehow deeply effected by my own encounter with the creature just last week. I have been searching the wilds of Caledon for another glimpse, and last night while visiting Capt. Susenko and Miss Maertens at her estate in Caledon Eyre (accompanied by Miss Paine), I almost got my wish. Alas, I did not see the beast, though our "faerie" talismans glowed their warnings, and the fiend's howl clearly echoed beneath the full moon.

I have bought a pistol, a small Derringer, and have begun to experiment with ammunition which might prove more effective against this "werewolf" than mere lead and gunpowder. I thank my father for all the chemistry he imparted to me during my education, even before my years at Brown! And one last thing, for now, will I record. I do so with some trepidation. Miss Maertens was apparently attacked by the beast some days ago, and she reported to me that she was scratched during the encounter. I hope neither she nor the Capt. saw my shock at that news. I am working on an hypothesis regarding this lycanthropy, and if I am correct, I fear it may consist of a sort of contagious pathology of the blood. But that sounds so much like legend, and I will not alarm them until I have hard evidence. However, I will watch the woman, in case she should prove infected and pose a danger to herself and others.

I have, so far, had no further communication with Miss Terry Lightfoot and the Time Lord Oolon Sputnik.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A New Companion

There is no hope that I may actually keep this journal current. Too many events transpire, and they transpire with such alarming rapidity, and as I have said, I have never been particularly good at the discipline required for journals.

I have taken a companion, a young woman I met while in Caledon. And speaking of discipline, I dare say she may possess not one wit nor iota, but she is filled with energy and passion, and I find I am very much in need of company so endowed. Her name is Artemesia Paine, and she does not yet know my strange story, but believes me only another eccentric Babbage scientist. It's a guise I fear I wear all too well! Miss Paine is an educated woman, with knowledge which will aid in my work, and I shall also be glad of the conversation. I have felt quite welcomed here, but I keep to myself, for the most part, so it will be healthy to have someone in the flat with me. I should add, she has as a pet a trained crow, a vexing, rowdy creature, though I will do my best to grow accustomed to its presence.

This morning I was watching the sun rise over the sea east of Babbage (if this sea has a name, I have not yet learned of it), when Sir Arthur appeared, and we walked and spoke of my desire to open a geological institute here in the city. By necessity, the conversation wandered to such dull matters as finance and management. Though, in truth, between lycanthropy and faeries and what-have-you, I must say I find myself more open to the every-day and the humdrum. I shall begin my work towards an actual museum by opening a modest exhibition in a building located in the northwest portion of Babbage, where Sir Arthur is already promoting projects of his own. I am fortunate, by the way, that Father was so thoughtful and possessed of such foresight as to lay in a generous supply of gold in the hold of his time-traveling cabinet. I shall not presently want for funds, so far as rent and other general expenses are concerned. The construction of exhibits, however, will require a more thoughtful handling of my remaining assets, and the day may yet arrive when I have to seek some paying position here in Babbage, or perhaps in some region of Caledon.

I have given some thought to the planning of the exhibition, including the possibility of mounting a fossil skeleton of the remarkable giant from the New Jersey marls, Professor Leidy's Hadrosaurus. I am also looking into acquiring the remains of a marine saurian, a member of the Plesiosauria or Ichthyosauria, perhaps. At any rate, I have hopes and schemes, and they keeps my mind busy.

I am meeting people, slowly. There is a fine young gentleman, Miguel Pinion, who has opened a fabulous cabinet of mechanical curiosities, housed in the most outlandish of quarters, directly opposite my flat. And I have already mentioned Miss Kaylee Frye, who has a marvelous workshop here, and Capt. Susenko and his Miss Maertens, as well as Col. Scaggs. I have not mentioned Dr. Voom, one of the eccentrics I spoke of, who visited and kindly brought a gift of strawberries. It is good to know this world has strawberries, for no world would be fit without them.

My eyes are wandering on the page. I confess I have been at the absinthe, a weakness I have brought with me from home. But I suspect even Father would forgive my drinking after the things I have experienced over the past twenty six days.

The dreams are not so bad as before, and I begin to wonder if my connection of all those other Nareth Nishis has begun to fade. The thought buoys my spitits, though perhaps it ought not.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Black Beast of Kittiwickshire

In all my life, I have never been very diligent at the keeping of journals, and so it is inevitable that days will be missed. But here, in this world, a single day may contain so many marvels that to allow only one to pass unrecorded seems criminal. Still, I have been much occupied with my geologizing and the unpacking of four crates of specimens, folios, books, and the misc. that so clutters the life of a woman of science. Often, the typewriter often sits forgotten, and I try to lose myself in work and not ponder my peculiar situation too long or too closely.

Two nights past, I had decided to travel from Babbage to the town of Victoria City in Caledon, and was taking the evening air and considering whether or not my flat had room for another chair, when, as I passed the town square, a great cry went up. Two officers of the Caldeon Militia appeared — a Capt. Susenko and a Col. Scaggs — who warned that "the beast was approaching." I had heard rumours of a strange creature roaming the wilds of Caledon, but had dismissed them as only so much superstition. However, to hear such strange alarms being spoken by armed men in uniform! I should note that, by chance, another Babbage resident was present, Miss Kaylee Frye, who, I have been told, is a most remarkable mechanic.

Only seconds after the first warning, the monster made its appearance, dashing towards us from the west. Hardly did I have time to realise what I was seeing when it leapt over our heads and vanished once more into the cover of night. Much confusion ensued, though Col. Scaggs and Capt. Susenko had sufficient presence of mind to continue their warning cries to the citizens of Victoria and to provide me with a pendant fashioned, he claimed, by a local alchemist, a sort of talisman to warn of the creature's approach and also to provide some defence against the beast.

How would I ever describe that brute? It must surely have been at least seven and a half, maybe eight feet tall. Covered in thick, matted black fur, it resembled nothing so much as a man crossed somehow with a black wolf — as with the werewolves of legend and folktales, and, indeed, Capt. Susenko called it that very thing. It had the most terrifying howl. Shortly after the first attack, it once more entered the square, and this time was fired upon by the bold militiamen, as well as by Miss Frye (who wielded some steam-powered weapon of her own design), but all to no avail.

This time, the talisman I'd been given glowed brightly at the beast's coming. Col. Scaggs suggested that it was using the rooftops to move through and about the city. Once again it vanished, but soon reappeared for a third pass at our tiny party. This time, the wolf thing charged directly at me, and, indeed, came so close that I felt its foetid breath hot upon my face and its coarse hair brushing against my skin! And once again, it was gone in a flash, and I cannot say why the creature did not seize the opportunity to do us harm, for surely it could have. Both the Capt. and Col. claimed our fortune was due to protection afforded by the talismans, a claim of which Miss Fry seemed to dismiss as only so much superstition (and she did refuse to wear one herself). But, when faced with a werewolf, and having myself spoken with a Sidhe, how could I then doubt the provenance of these brooches? It seems I have been cast into a world where science and magic somehow coexist, where reason and faerie vie for the eager minds of men, and I am at a loss for resolution. We kept to the square until sunrise, at which time the creature seemed to have moved off.

I have taken a keen interest in this "beast of Kittiwickshire," for, I think, it may hold some key to understanding the paradox of this world. Can the monster's existence be explained without recourse to magical beliefs? Last night, I returned to Caledon, this time to the more remote district of Carntaigh, hoping for another glimpse of the demon. I know how reckless of me this was, for I traveled alone and unarmed, with only the purported protection of the talisman to keep me from its claws and teeth. While I did hear the monster's howling repeatedly, I did not again sight it. However, I am almost certain that its howl was answered by the howl of another such fiend, calling back from some more distant part of Caldeon. These impossibilities — my mind reels, even after all I have seen and heard in the past twenty-five days.

Later, towards dawn, I was invited to visit Capt. Susenko at the laboratory he is building with Miss Gloriana Maertens in Babbage, on the opposite side of the island from my own flat. Col. Scaggs was there, as well. I reported what I'd heard that night in Caledon Carntaigh, and we talked also about science and invention (again, the constant paradox). He has seen my own workshop, and was taken with the small fossil saurian skeleton I have mounted. Towards sunrise, I returned home, exhausted and dizzy from my adventures.

And still, I have said little about the particulars of my conversation with Miss Terry Lightfoot, the remarkable being who calls herself Sidhe, or of Oolon Sputnik, with whom she travels through time. Also, there are the persistent, terrible, vivid dreams I have not recorded, which I suspect are evidence of my own temporal journeying. But not now. Later, if I am not so weary or if some new excitement or travail does not present itself. For now, I will place these pages in the envelope with the others.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dreams and Stranger Things

I am beginning to become accustomed to this peculiar device I purchased in Caledon. The clerk who sold it to me called it a typewriter, but its design is nothing whatsoever like that of the Remington I used back home in Providence. In the main, it is a more efficient device. I am placing the typed pages of this journal in an envelope inside a drawer in my collection. I cannot quite explain this need for secrecy. I know so few people here in Babbage, and those I have met certainly did not strike me as the sort to snoop about or pry where they should not.

Strange dreams last night. I suspect that I have been "traveling" again, and so perhaps it was no mere dream at all. But I was lost and wandering in an awful place, one of the worst I have glimpsed since the accident 23 days ago. I walked across a scorched desert in ragged clothes, and the blazing sun shown down like a hellish Cyclopian eye from the dead white sky. Scattered across this parched world were the corpses of all manner of fantastic machineries and derelict, ruined buildings. There was a buckled tarmac, running north to south, and also broken railroad. I awoke in the sand, near a vast gash in the skin of this place, a mighty canyon or fissure that dropped away for hundreds of feet.

Somewhere in my wandering, I met a man named Wyeth, who spoke a strange and broken tongue, and he was in all ways deranged. And it was here that the "dream" first began to assume nightmarish proportions, for he seemed at once taken aback at my appearance and pointed to my arm. When I looked, I saw that it was mechanical, as though some limb from one of my father's automatons had been grafted directly onto my shoulder. He warned me of slavers and worse things. He told me to find a woman named Nova, for she, too, was partly mechanical, he said. Later still, I wandered into what seemed to be a darkened theatre of some sort, and stood puzzled for a moment at what I finally realized was an image projected through the darkness onto a wall by some invention resembling what I have read of Mr. Ottomar Anschütz' "projecting electrotachyscope." However, the image it showed was a mystery to me. There was only a single man in the theatre, a bald fellow with spectacles, and he told me his name was Spider Enoch. We talked for what seemed a long time, there in the sweltering shadows and the glare of the projection, though now I have forgotten most of our conversation. He believed I was insane, but also that all men and women are insane, and that I was a machine, but that all people are machines. He spoke all in vexing riddles, and never once rose from his seat, where he perched like some Hindi fakir, nor moved to look me in the eyes. The lenses of his spectacles were mismatched, the left lens being green, and the right one red (unless I misremember, and it was the other way round).

There was so much more of this dream, but most of it is now lost to me, and I suspect this is for the best. It was a frightful, fallen world, poisoned somehow. I never heard anyone name it anything more than "the waste-land" or "the wastes." Indeed, I could conceive no more fitting appellation, for, from what I have heard, even the most sun-blasted deserts are more alive than was that dead place. If that was a vision of one of the many alternates created in the accident, which Miss Lightfoot referred to during our conversation on Wednesday as "doppelgängers," I am very grateful indeed that my connection to that Nareth Nishi is merely mental, and pray I will not ever have cause to witness the world she inhabits again.

And yes, I still need to write of my conversation with the remarkable Miss Terry Lightfoot, for it hinted at many revelations yet to come, and I told her much (though not all) of what I have seen, of those dreadful things I know for certain and other matters I only suspect. I asked her about Sen, and she spoke with me of the Time Lords and Dr. Oolon Sputnik and his time-traveling cabinet, which she referred to as a "Tardis." When I spoke of "the Eye," she grew restless and visibly distraught and would not say anything on the subject. She has promised that she and the doctor will try to help me if they can, though, I fear that I am beyond the aid of even such remarkable beings as they. I must confess that the greater part of the hope I felt after my conversation with the Sidhe (as she called herself) has left me. I will write more of her later. I need now to set my hands to other work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Visitation

I have passed another day in this world. The hour is late, and I need sleep, for the day has been long and tiring. Most of it was passed in my flat and workshop, in the details and familiarity of my palaeontological researches, the work which serves at least to occupy my racing, perplexed mind. But near evening, I had a most astounding guest come to call. Yes, even after the strange and terrible tribulations of the last three weeks somehow I still retain the ability to be astounded! And I must find that fact, in and of itself, a truly astounding thing.

I will write more of these things later, for bed calls to me and I must answer. But I do not feel quite so alone in this foreign land as I felt only a day ago. When my guest had taken her leave, after patiently listening to such parts of my long tale as I could bring myself to relate, I was surprised the see that our conversation had outlasted the night. I left the building and walked alone across the little green at the southeast corner of Babbage, watching as the sunset behind the tall buildings and a crimson moon rose above the opposite horizon. The sea air smelled so familiar, I could almost imagine myself once again safe home in Rhode Island, standing, perhaps, near one of my beloved old lighthouses at Point Judith or Beavertail Island.

I can only hope sleep and dreaming does not ruin this newfound scrap of optimism. Somehow, all has been lost to me, utterly, and yet there might still be hope.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Accepting One's Situation

My name is Nareth E. Nishi, and I was born to a Japanese father in the city of San Francisco in the year 1864. All I have ever known of my American mother is that she was a whore in a waterfront brothel. Often, I tried to learn more from my late father, who would say only that my mother died not long after after my own birth. Afterwards, he went East, to Manhattan and then New England, where he finally settled in the city of Providence in Rhode Island, having accepted a professorship at Brown University. My father was a brilliant man, but he was not sane. And in the final years of his life, his madness became a malignant, all-consuming thing.

These are not the matters I have sat down at this writing desk, at this typewriter, to say. I may yet have many long years ahead of me to speak of my childhood in Providence, of my schooling, of the young man whom I loved and almost wed. All those things are forever lost to me now, as lost to me as is my mad father, and for now I will let the distant past be the distant past.

My name is Nareth E. Nishi, and I find myself stranded in an alien world and time, and slowly I begin to believe that this is where I will spend the remainder of my days, however many they may be. After my father's suicide and the death of my fiancé — a story for another evening — I found myself alone for the first time in my life. At the age of twenty three, it seemed everything that could possibly ever matter had been stolen from me. And yet it also seemed that perhaps I possessed the ability to change the course of my life, indeed the course of time. For had my father not spent the last decade of his life on a contraption which could carry a man forward or backward through the stream of time? And now that contraption, along with his laboratory and our house on College Hill and all my father's effects and personal papers, had passed to me. I bore my grief for a full week after his funeral, seven days and nights when the noon sun and the black of midnight seemed no more to me than the merest variations on the same shade of grey.

In the end, I opened the time portal which Father had died mercifully believing to have been shut forever, and in my sorrow and desperation I tried to reach back and alter our history. I tried to step back one week and rescue him. Yes, truly I know now what I have done, the entire, impossible horror of it, that I have somehow trespassed in the domain of gods, if such things as gods can even endure in a universe capable of the depredations I have witnessed in the last twenty days. The contraption was never perfected, and though I was well-versed in its mechanics, operation, and theory, only moments after the massive Gramme dynamos had powered up and the vessel had detached from its originating temporal coordinates...I say these things now as if they will ever again mean anything at all to anyone but me. Since that moment, my mind has gnawed at the events a thousand times over, searching for anything that I might have done wrong, any miniscule, critical step in the procedure I might have skipped or failed to properly carry out. I have tried to discover if it might have been my fault....but my recollection grows ever less certain. Only in the last few days have my perceptions of time, my ability to discern past from present from future begun to return, and as my sense of time grows more concrete, so my memory of that life before the accident begin to fade. It is as though this place and time may accommodate but one outcome, not the multitude that for a while I comprehended.

I can describe only what seemed to occur. The vessel was shaken by some titanic force, and I watched from my seat as it began to drift from the time stream. My father's automaton attempted in vain to correct the drift, but the contraption began to splinter. I have tried to find some more adequate word for what happened and none has come to me. There was one final instant, the smallest fraction of a second, before I was no longer simply me. As a wine glass might shatter when dropped upon a marble floor, so that moment shattered, and all things contained there within the portal shattered, too, and it seemed to me as though an incomprehensible gulf of being was laid open before me. Only, I did, however briefly, conceive of it. I held a trillion years within my mind's eye. Within a trillion divided minds that were yet all somehow mine, as all possibility became suddenly, violently realised. And I fell.

Father would have the words and equations to tell the facts of this, perhaps. I find that I do not, no matter how hard I once strove to be a student worthy of his lessons. I know what I have said, and I would think it father's legacy...if I did not now sit here, writing these things down in this room in this city surrounded by the sea. I fell. We fell. All the Nareths, for in that instant we were a multitude.

In twenty days, I have walked a hundred worlds. I have spiraled round and round, coming at last to this place and this time. I have glimpsed those other splinters of myself, some hardly recognizable, some so fused with the contraption that they are themselves hardly more than automata. And, here, I find that I have begun to accept that this is my life now. Here in this city named Babbage, where I have been welcomed. For that I should be grateful. I have despaired of ever finding the piloting automaton, whose electrical mind might have retained our home coordinates. I have hidden what remained of the vessel in the sea where I pray it will never be discovered, and now I will live this life as best I may. But it is not so simple, not matter how much I might wish it to be. My mind learned some infernal trick during the accident, and if I allow it to wander, even in the most innocent day-dream, I find that I am once again moving through time and inconceivable extradimensional voids, slipping between countless existences. I no longer need my father's machine to travel.

That is enough for now. I can smell the salt water, and I desire to see the full moon shining over this new ocean, which is only new to me.