Book Learning [17]

She walked over to the binder she’d been writing in earlier, and flipped it open to its first page.
“You’ve already learned that we’re dealing with crossovers from a different place. Think of it like this; we live in one country, they live in another, and when they cross into our territory, we can consider it to be like small sorties across our borders. And trust me, when a human crosses into their turf, they think of it in the same way.”
“But aren’t the incidents of people crossing into that area mostly accidental?” I asked.
“It depends on who you’re talking about,” she gestured for me to come over next to her to look at the book. “Some people are definitely accidental travelers. But some do purposeful travel into that zone for purposes of doing goetic magic. And some are just loonies who want to live there.”
I interrupted, “Goetic… magic?”
“Ah. Um. Goetic magic, aka goetia [and a few other names for it], is basically what we call “low” witchcraft. Selfish stuff. It’s the kind of thing a lot of teenagers get up to before they really understand what they’re doing- stupid love spells, or money-grubbing spells, or similar. It’s usually about getting something you want, and it often backfires. Even if they DO get what they want, there are usually consequences attached. And the ones who hook their efforts to manipulating forces on the other side of the borderlands usually wind up with consequences they’d never even considered.”
“Ok,” I hesitated. “So is all of that stuff bad? I mean, should nobody ever try to do magic? Should we never contact the… border folks?”
“Oh, that’s the kinds of things that really superstitious Christians like to scare their children with. No, and in fact if more humans would own their psi abilities and use them responsibly we’d be a lot better off. For one thing, these borders would be more secure if people understood what was going on.”
She sighed and seemed to go off into a trance for a second or two, staring into space. Then she blinked and shook her head slightly, and returned to what she was doing.
“…But I digress. I wanted to show you the incident reports in this binder, so that you can start getting a feel for how we do things here, and why we do it.”
“Ok,” I said, “I’m pretty good at spreadsheets, by the way. Is there a reason you don’t have this on a computer? I could totally…”
“Yes, there are LOTS of reasons not to have this stuff on computers, and we’ll get into that soon. But let’s focus on this for the moment.”
She began showing me the report sheets. They looked like any other business-y kind of form, except that there were spaces for things like “phase of the moon”, and “runes carved” and the like.
Each report consisted of a short list of check-able boxes and multiple-guess questions, followed by a lined section for writing a short description of what happened. On the lower outside corner of some pages was a mark in one of the dayglo colors I’d seen on the map.
“Are these symbols connected to the map?” I asked.
“Exactly. Yes. These are sigils created for these incidents. You can see the coordinates next to them, and marking them onto the map shows where they’ve been deployed.”
“Why the different colors?” I asked.
“It gets complicated, and it will take a while to learn. Basically, the colors have to do with the kinds of sigils and the kinds of effects put into place. But it’s a lot more detailed than that.”
Near the front of the book was an alphabetical checklist of things I’d never heard of. Just under “b” was a very long list. I saw listed, “Beggeys”, “Blemmyes”, “Bwcas” [and etc] before my eyes began to glaze over.
“There are hundreds of different names in here,” I protested, “there’s no way I’m going to be able to learn all of this.”
Grace said, “When filing an incident report, using this nomenclature is important to the process of identifying the species we were dealing with, as well as their points of origin. It just helps everybody on the team understand what we’re dealing with. And trust me, learning them is much easier when you’ve experienced them directly.”
“For instance, those “headless pigeons” you mentioned to us earlier. They’re a species of “Blemmyes”- aka “headless men”- but they’re also a kind of “Leshy”- beings that like to take over peoples’ minds and control them to cause mischief. So we’d file your report with both of those names, and then when it’s reviewed, they’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.”
“Wait. Somebody reviews these? There are “higher ups” in all of this?” I began to be a little overwhelmed at the idea of there being more than just this one spot in Kansas. And the thought of learning it all made my head begin to spin .
“Oh, don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you think, and the rest of us will help you with it until you get the hang of it. You’ll get there.” Grace reassured me quietly.
We spent a good couple of hours going over the old reports and she was very patient with my questions about procedures and forms and whatnot. Then she gave me a big heavy book bound in leather, quite old- an encyclopedia of sorts- to start learning some of the contents.
She led me to a door I hadn’t noticed in the darkened far corner of the map room. It led into a cozy well lit pine paneled room with a thick carpet, big leather armchairs, and three sets of bunkbeds along one wall. On its back wall was another door into a large and beautiful spa-like bathroom- complete with a jacuzzi.
“Holy crap. This is crazy!” I was amazed. Grace just laughed.
“There are some clothes, toothbrushes, etc in the big bathroom closet, there- not the towel side, the other side. Get yourself comfortable, take a nap if you want- we’re kind of on firehouse hours right now due to the emergency and you should rest when you can. I’ll call you when it gets to be suppertime. I have to get a few phone calls in right now.” She went back into the maproom and soon I heard her footsteps across the ceiling.
So I grabbed myself a shower, soaked in the jacuzzi until I was good and pruney, and then hunted up a big floppy tshirt that said, “Rock City” on it, and a pair of blue fleece pajama pants and thick socks. Then I curled up on one of the lower bunks and was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Published by goddesswest

I'm a painter and am writing something now. People keep asking me to put it together in an easier to access place, so here I am. Plan to get some of my artwork in here too, eventually.

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