One year later. . .
He stood, arms jammed in his coat pockets, staring at the entrance of Books and Coffee Cafe. It was a busy Saturday, packed with avid throngs of caffeine addicted bibliophile. Adjusting his glasses, he wondered what he was really doing here. Curiosity, maybe, but that was not all. Fishing around his pocket, he grabbed a folded and slightly crumpled letter. The words were typed on ordinary computer paper. Since receiving the strange invitation two days ago (he found it neatly tucked between the pages of a book he had checked out of the library), he had read it dozens of times. So much so that he could probably recite it verbatim. Yet holding it up to the light he scrolled the message once more.
In the beginning was The Word and the words were recorded by Scriveners. They were record keepers, philosophers, teachers, and when necessary, warriors, they were the protectorates of universal knowledge, they still are. I know this because I am one of them. As I type this note, the world is descending into chaos. Languages and histories are vanishing at an alarming rate. The story of humanity is being undone, the binding strands of progress slashed by caliginous machinations.
How this is being accomplished, by whom, or even why, we do not know. Those who bear the flame of enlightenment find many enemies in dark unknowns. Even so, we face the foot soldiers of The All-Devourer, whatever that may be. These fiends come from the old places, the forgotten realms of nightmare and chaos, the black pits of time and space. They seek only to destroy for the sake of destruction, to lay waste to what is most precious and powerful- our minds. We cannot let them win. To do so would mean the end of all we have ever hoped for, strived for, died for, all humanity has accomplished.
I will be honest with you. In this struggle we have lost many, I lost a dear friend, and for our cause we will lose many more. Tis the nature of war; inhumanum ultra mensuram. John Ruskin once said, All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness. It is with that in mind that I send you this message. Darkness enshrouded our world, striving to drown us in ignorance. I invite you to face this threat, to become more than you are, and perhaps, what you were always meant to be.
At the bottom was the time and place of the meeting, here and now. Harold folded the letter and placed it back in his pocket, but not before reading the signature at the bottom: Sydney Akins.
It sounded insane, it was probably a joke, had to be. .and yet. He had shown the letter to others, no one else could read the words, they said it looked like gibberish. After a few laughs and a few more concerned looks, he stopped trying to convince his friends and family that it was a perfectly legible message. Either everyone he knew was in on it, or something. .profound was happening. The former seemed more plausible, but in his heart he believed the latter. Time to find out.
A spirited breeze and a frisson of anticipation brought him back to the present. Harold was no psychic, but he sensed that something important was about to happen.
He could feel eyes scrutinizing him from the Coffee House window.
It was now or never. For better or worse, he chose now.
Like a diver before the first icy plunge, he took a deep breath, and crossed the street.