Friday, July 29, 2011

Collect Call from the Outer Dark


The City is awash with weird rumors, but one of the weirdest is about thaumaturgic artifact said to be in the possession of (or perhaps possessing) the City Telephone Company. In some inner corporate sanctum (so it goes) a secret order of technician-priests performs rituals in the service of a mummified severed head.

The rumors vary as to whether the head is housed in the City Telephone Company Skyscraper (a ziggurat-like structure that’s highest tower is topped by a Tesla coil-like spire--could it be more that decoration?) or a few blocks away in the research laboratories of its parent company, Reade Telephone (confirmed to be working on advances like etheric image transmission and trans-mortem communication). Wherever its housed, the head is said to be studded with electrodes attached to the glass sphere surrounding it. Beyond the dome, the “altar” upon when the head sits is surrounded by magic wards and electrical equipment like rune inscribed van de Graaff generators. Despite the sealed vacuum that surrounds the head, the room is always filled with its sonorous babbling.

What’s the heads purpose? That’s the question, isn't it? Some think its pronouncements are coded prophecies dutifully collected and decoded by the scientists. Others believe it's some sort of extradimensional computation device; it’s vocalizations are sonic representations of binary code, ultimately describing the entire multiverse and giving thaumaturgic mastery of reality itself. Still others are sure the head's a demon from the depths of the Pit and the sounds that hold its acolytes in such thrall are a slow working spell to breakdown the walls of the material world and overturn Creation.

Some adventures have gone looking for the head. Most have found nothing but stiff security at the telephone company offices. If anyone’s ever found the head, it doesn't seem they've lived to tell about it.

17 comments:

JimShelley said...

Great setting piece! Here's my theory - the head is that of a demon who became so powerful that he tried to take over the city. He can't be killed but can be contained, by the constant distraction of endless calls made throughout the city. As long as he is incapable of concentrating on that one single incantation that will free him.

A incantation that just some of his devotees have managed to slip into upcoming Djinn Cigarettes jingle.

The Angry Lurker said...

A demon medium, contacting both sides or allowing contact?

Trey said...

@Jim - Ha! Good one!

@Angry Lurker - Yeah, that's one of the important questions isn't it?

Chris said...

GJ Trey.

Related: 'NYNEX and the NY telecoms system are the nervous system of an arcane entity'.

http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/nynex-embedded-angel-of-new-york-city.html

Trey said...

@Chris - Now that's clever--probably a little too clever for a Ghostbusters sequel. Thanks for the link!

Needles said...

Perhaps the head is simply a phone company worker whose been transformed into the perfect conduit for the abyss & the multiverse. Its not the head you need to watch out for but those who did the transformation. The head might be the only thing keeping the strange phone lines of the city going. All that information might render one insane. What happens when they need a new head? Perhaps the adventurers are perfect candidates for such an operation

The Happy Whisk said...

That was FUN to read. Thanks.

Trey said...

@Needles - I like the way you think. :)

@Happy Whisk - Thanks. I hope you're having a good Friday.

The Happy Whisk said...

I am, thank you. Have the day off. Getting some chores done.

You?

Trey said...

Almost done with another day of working for the man.

Porky said...

I like Needles' and your thinking both, and the thinking of that guy with the Ghostbusters sequel. Great ideas all.

Trey said...

Thanks, Porky.

christian said...

I have terrible cell reception where I live. Can the demon head help me out with that? Verizon is of no use, but perhaps an alien entity from beyond Time and Space can be of better service?

satyre said...

Trey - Another great piece. Chanting mummified heads are a well-travelled tradition but placing one at the heart of a telecoms network adds new meaning to 'ghosts on the line'.

@Christian - You can but you might want to check the terms & conditions first...

Trey said...

@Christain - Unfortunately, some services are not available in all areas. I think on the West Coast, you guys got mysterious, floating handlebar moustache instead of babbling severed head.

@Satyre- Thanks. Familiar with a twist is usually the road I try to travel.

NetherWerks said...

Really, really nice--and excellently weird at the same time. Does anyone have a Tepaphone in The City? anyone who can and does place mummified heads into complex phone-line hook-ups would probably not be above using Bardon's little toy to eliminate people who get too close to finding out things they had best not meddle in...one late night phone call and the problem is solved...

Trey said...

Given that I'm sure magic lanterns (that are really magical) have a long history in the City, can the tepaphone be far behind?