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By the Book ye shall live, But by the d’buk ye must die

from The Headflux Chronicles, Book 1, by Will Lorimer

Hermetic Library Zine Lorimer Headflux by the Book Ye Shall Live, but by the D'buk Ye Must Die


Extract from an account by Brother Anthony of the two hundred and fifteenth session of the New Natural Order. Inlaid in variegated marble in the stone table, around which we have always forgathered, is the Great Seal, the same as pictured on Bigger dollar bills. An Omphalus inscribed with the year the High Council was reformed under a new constitution, topped by a capstone with a flaming Eye, above which is written, ‘Annuit Coeptus’ – dog Latin alluding to our devotion to the Mother of Night. On a curving banner below, ‘Nuvus Naturalis Ordo Seclorum’, as if anyone needed present reminding this is the New Natural Order in seclusion. Not for us the conveniences of the new virtual conferencing methods. As one Brother, the Venerable Oxus of the Dravidian Chapter, was minuted at the previous session, and I quote, since his words capture something of the rhetorical brilliance that so characterizes High Council proceedings, ‘We, the devotees of an all-seeing Eye, maintain a continuing requirement for mutual eyeballing. Our bond is a physical one. For, notwithstanding different physiognomy, skin colour, and pedigrees apparently rooted in far-flung tablets, we are all changelings, descended from the foundling fathers of the Auld Natural Order in Nippy.’

Quite so. What would those whiskered patriarchs think of us now, shaven-faced wagless wonders of the Temple of the Old Beard of the Ancient Dreed Rite, without crop or mane to stroke? – as the Venerable Elder brother Anthony always says from behind his false beard when drawing a veil over our proceedings.

Trying to get his thoughts in order to frame a question, Seth recalled tuning by chance into a late night radio talk show that ended in uproar, a not infrequent occurrence when Blind Scholars of the three faiths were brought together. Unusually, however, the argument was not about the theological split hairs; instead the Blind Scholars were united in their opposition to the presenter, who doubted whether modern Knot occupied the ancient site of the Holy City.

‘Honour,’ he said, looking up, ‘am I to take to take from all this that Ancient Knot was really Nippy?’

‘No,’ Honour said, ‘Knot was always Knot, but you are right in the sense the Holy City of the three faiths is really Nippy.’

‘So,’ he sighed, more weighted than ever by the troubles of the Natural, ‘where in Nippy is the Navel?

‘Below Old Beard Bridge.’

‘But that’s where the explosion was.’ His head jerked up, weights forgotten.

‘Yes, Seth,’ she nodded indulgently. ‘I expected it.’ ‘Why?’

‘Because that’s where the Grand Assembly will be gathering any time now …’

‘Below the bridge?’

‘No, Seth, not in the road,’ she chuckled, ‘in the Temple of the Old Beard.’

‘You mean that old temple by the pub on the corner of Lodge Close?’

‘At last!’ Honour raised her eyes to the ceiling. ‘But the entrance was bricked-up years ago.’

‘Yes, Seth, but there’s another way in.’

‘Where from?’

‘The museum. A long tunnel leading down from the basement in the new wing of the building connects the two. It’s actually quite neat, considerably enlarged in recent years from the original, with air conditioning and escalators taking the Fux down past the old stairs to their temple in the lower levels.’

‘Really, then why haven’t I heard of it?’ Seth leaned closer, ‘Not even the Numpties could have kept that information out of public circulation.’

‘I can’t count how many receptions I have declined at the museum. Do you know they had fifteen conferences, any number of junkets and celebrations, in the first three months of this year alone. Don’t you think, with all the commotion, a few Fux, however well-kempt and distinguished, could slip in unobserved for the occasional meeting. It’s the perfect cover.’

‘I grant you that,’ Seth said, thinking of all the times at night he had seen lurid coloured lights playing on passing clouds as they scudded over the glass roof of the museum. ‘But how the hell do you know?’

‘Because I’m one.’

‘A Fux?’

‘A renegade Fux actually,’ she beamed.

‘Not a roving reporter for FUX Media Corp.’

‘No, Seth.’ She shook her head. ‘Not a FUX pack bitch, if that’s what you mean,’ she said, using the slang term for female correspondents in war zones.

‘The other Fux are a kind of Numpty, right?’

‘Yes, Seth.’ She nodded, condescendingly. ‘But not just any Numpty; a New Natural Numpty.’

‘You mean a High Council Numpty?’ Again Honour nodded.

‘But those Numpties are high born.’

‘A Tamson’s bairn out-trumps the best of the rest,’ she said, dryly, quoting an age old Dreed expression, meaning a person of the royal blood. ‘There is no lineage longer than ours.’

‘I suppose so,’ Seth said, doubtfully, ‘but you’re not exactly cut from the same cloth as other Numpties.’ He rolled his eyes to the heavens. ‘I mean, a wonan!’

‘So?’ She shrugged, with a look that brought to mind the “Smile”, a famous painting hung in the Dreed National Gallery, showing a siren luring a ship onto the Rocks at Blasket Head.

‘But I thought Numptydom was exclusively a nan preserve?’ ‘That didn’t bother the Marquis who had had me initiated as an honorary nan and fitted with a false beard like the rest of the Old Beards after they found me hiding behind the temple’s antependium.’

‘What’s an antependium?’

‘An altar curtain. That one was embroidered with a picture of Japhet’s Vision of the Golly Fish, rendered in scratchy sequins.’ She laughed at the memory. ‘So, yes, for what it’s worth, I do have a seat at the High Table, wherever the High Council convenes a Grand Assembly and Fux foregather from across the Natural …’

‘What does Fux stand for?’

‘F.U.X. is an acronym meaning ‘For Us X.” It’s the battle cry of all X-fearing Numpties.’

‘Is this connected with the X-ades?’

‘What do you think?’ she snorted, one nostril furling like a palomino he saw once at a horse fair in the Wayward Archipelago, as what remained of Mingland was now known, where subsistence farming had become the way of life in the ten years since the Great Flood.

‘But if the Navel of Knot is really in Nippy …’ Seth cast about with a hand. ‘Why all those X-ades to the Chord over the millennia?’ He shook his head. ‘It doesn’t make any sense.’

‘You forget that ever since the supposed fall of the Hardon Empire, their successors, planted in corporations, criminal organizations, kirk, temple, and state, have shaped events to suit their ends. Always this is best achieved by acts of mass deception on a tablet-wide scale. And I don’t just mean terrorist outrages on the news. No area of nano-endeavor is sacrosanct, whether science, literature, history, the media, whatever. It is a conspiracy in which we are all complicit.’

‘All of us?’



‘Because reality is a mass construct.’

‘It is?’

‘Yes, the collective delusion began in the Severous Era.’

‘When the Navel was reassigned to the Chord?’

‘That’s what allowed the first d’buk in.’

‘D’buk?’ Seth repeated, blankly. ‘I don’t understand…’

‘You do, more than you know, Seth. You’re of the blood. The Marquis was your father. The royal blood of the ancient house of Tamson runs in your veins. You and I, we’re family,’ she insisted, reminding him of the advert for the Oldlands Lotto as she jabbed the air between them with crossed fingers. ‘Think, brother, think!’

‘I still don’t understand, honestly I don’t.’

‘I’ll spell it out then. For every wrong or mistranslated word in the Book, another d’buk gets in.’

‘But what are d’buks?’

‘Predators populating our worst nightmares, always there when friends quarrel, spooking us out in graveyards, sending us to sleep when politicians talk, boring the pants off us in ridiculous situations too many to mention.’ She laughed, perhaps thinking of clients she had serviced over the years.

‘Depressing us at the doctor’s, there at the bedside when we lie dying, for all I know flying out the turkey in Bigger at Thanksgiving.’ She drew a breath, studying the minutia of his face.

‘Their favourite hiding places?’ she went on, clearly enjoying his discomfort as he squirmed on his seat, dreading another onslaught of words. ‘Libraries, where they curl up in book spines and dust jackets, waiting to hook readers …’

‘But what is the bait?’ he wailed.

‘The hook, Seth, the hook!’

‘I still don’t understand,’ he pleaded, desperate to get the guessing game over.

‘Yes you do, Seth, otherwise you wouldn’t have asked the question.’ She paused, waiting for him to catch on. ‘No?’ she said, after a moment. ‘The hook is what draws the predator to the reader.’

‘But what is the hook?’

‘Have you ever had an itching down your back where you can’t reach?’

‘Sure.’ Seth nodded. ‘Funnily enough, twice today. This morning, after I dropped Head off,’ he mumbled.

‘You know where we dumped poor Nancy, on the Red Castle all those years ago? Or maybe I dreamt that.’
Frowning, he scratched his forehead, wondering if he had also imagined revisiting the scene en-route to the airport. ‘And strangely, just then, when you brought the subject up.’

‘Now, why doesn’t that surprise me?’ she said, leaning back in her chair and regarding him obliquely.

‘Search me.’ Seth shrugged, wishing he had something long and pronged to hand, the subtlety of her body language lost on him.

‘Because that’s where the d’buk latches on.’

‘It does?’ he said, distractedly, as the itch between his shoulder blades was replaced by a nibbling sensation.

‘Oh, and it feeds you too.’

‘What with?’ he said, dismissing as paranoia the sensation a rat was scuttling up his back.

‘Short attention span, racing thoughts, petty dislikes, self-importance, delusions of immortality, fear of death –’

‘Stop,’ he shouted. ‘Not another list, please. Just tell me why.’

‘Because it needs your gleam: the gloss only your energy body can provide.’

‘That damned hook again?’ he growled.

‘Yes. Think of it as what connects your energy body to Reality Central.’

‘You’re telling me the hook sustains life.’

‘The illusion of life.’

‘So you’re saying life is fiction.’

‘Reality is.’

‘And life?’

‘The fiction that kills us, or the fictions that kill us. Take your pick.’ She shrugged. ‘In the end, everything boils down to energy, and the hook gives us the boost without which we could not survive the boundless possibilities of the Book.’

‘Not the Book again, please,’ he moaned. ‘Why don’t you tell me what these things look like so I can protect myself,’ he croaked, his mouth dry. ‘I don’t want to be prey.’

‘Generally, they are best perceived out of the corners of the eyes …’

‘Have you ever seen one?’

‘Yes, as I am sure you have, if you think about it, Seth.’

‘No.’ He hesitated. ‘No, definitely not.’

‘Are you certain about that?’ she murmured, sotto voce, shifting her gaze to a point over his left shoulder.

‘Who?’ he said, fearing to look round, lest he’d left the front door open and the man in black was back to serve him with a summons to appear at the municipal court for a deliberate act of ‘Wanton and Willful Endangerment’ at the Red Castle – the usual charge applying to reckless acts of damage to protected nanokin products like the News Head.

‘Stay perfectly still.’ Slowly, she pointed a pinkie. ‘Now, slide your eyes to the left.’

It was a heeby jeeby, Seth decided. The same as had patrolled the long, curtained silences of the late summer evenings of his childhood, as he lay alone in the old nursery, tucked up on his hard bed in the corner of the room with the sheets pulled up to his ears.

‘Not good, not good at all,’ he blurted, pent-up fear propelling him to his feet. ‘What the fux was that?’ he shouted, whirling around as it flew back round his shoulder. ‘A little d’buk.’

‘A little d’buk,’ he repeated, slowly. ‘Yes, Seth. They also come a lot bigger.’

‘They do?’ he wailed.

‘Yes, some are big as cities.’

‘What sort of nightmare fiction is this?’ he asked, reeling, clapping hands to his ears, clearly not wishing to hear any more, screwing his eyes shut but still seeing the charred scrap of manuscript paper floating away in the draft. Only there was no draft, or anything else to make the smoldering cinder vanish as it did into thin air. He was left with the impression of thunderous cumulus stacked on a fuzzy black head set on a shady square, inscribed with faint metallic symbols that might have been Ma’atian hieroglyphics, Numpty secret signs, or some other archaic code. The genii had fixed him with a malevolent red stare, before kicking back with its only apparent leg and gesturing forwards with an out-flung black hand, holding what could have been a hook or a scimitar, a star twinkling at the tip; which was the point, or portal, he supposed, for through it the d’buk shot into another space that might have been the same room, he thought, sitting down in the only easy chair.

While Seth tore his hair out, behind the curtain over in the kitchen recess, Honour freshened-up in preparation for going out.


This is a satirical SF novel in the tradition of Swift, with footnotes that give an alternative history of the world.

Will Lorimer is a multi-media artist and the author of a number of books.

The Salesperson and The Owner

by SD Master

The salesperson knocked on the door of the owners house. The owner responding to the knock opened the door and politely listened to the presented pitch. The owner, given a chance to speak said, “Would you care to join me in my paupacity or would you prefer I share in your means”? The salesperson replied, “I’m afraid I don’t understand”, to which the owner responded, “Just because you don’t understand the message, in no way implies the message has no meaning. I simply stated that I have no money and asked if you would care to share yours”. To this the salesperson replied, “I’m sorry to have bothered you” and departed. An angry word not being exchanged by either party. Moral: If you can’t blind them with brilliance or buffalo them with bullshit, make up a word, like Deliferenciation (Death-Life-Reincarnation).

From Quotes, Quips and Whimsical Conundrums by SD Master.

SD Master is a mystic who writes poetry.

Always there be ways and means

from The Headflux Chronicles, Book 1, by Will Lorimer

Hermetic Library Zine Lorimer Headflux Always There Be Ways and Means


Bundled as he was then in the bin-bag on the mantlepiece, even with his visual arrays at full capacity, Head was unable to read the facial markers of the presumptuous visitor rudely butting in on what should have been a private tête-à-tête with his good Master, just when things were getting nice and cozy. The profile he saw so poorly through layered thin plastic only approximated to matching identifiers on his database, meaning absolute verification was not possible. Of course, a pastori, it was reasonable to believe this was the Contessa of Belle Letters, who was expected, but supposition is never an acceptable basis on which to submit a report. Therefore, in the absence of positive visuals, and with only partial audio, he would have to seek the recourse of another network. True, he would still be transmitting blind, but at least that way he might provoke a reaction …

‘So what’s next?’ Seth said, into the long silence that had fallen between them.

‘You’ll find out soon enough. But for now, I want to know more about the book.’

‘What book?’

‘Your book, Seth.’

‘Honour,’ he sighed, ‘why all this interest in what I’m writing?’

‘Because of the principal “as above so below”.’

‘Yes, I have heard that.’ He nodded sagely, understanding nothing.

‘Of course, like all Numpty precepts, you must reverse it to get at the germinal meaning.’

‘So below, so above?’

‘Just that,’ Honour agreed. ‘But a better way to put it is, as in the micro so in the macro.’

‘I see,’ Seth said, connecting the above to blow-back from the Neural-Net when his printer died. ‘So are you trying to tell me that my place of work is somehow significant in all of this?’

‘Auld Nippy is the Eternal City of the Navel. Cast a stone here, and change waves ripple through the mesh of the Natural.’

‘Mesh?’ he repeated. ‘What do you mean?’

‘It is the weave which underpins the Natural.’

‘Can’t you give a better explanation than that.’ My master complained.

‘Some things are beyond the understanding of mortal nanos, Seth, and the mesh is one of those. Suffice to say it appears to be an artificial construct,’ she said, tersely. ‘That raises any number of questions so I am sure you will understand me not wanting to discuss them right now.’

Rising from her chair, she joined my master by the window. ‘Look down there,’ she said, pointing through the window glass, at the aftermath of battle in the Gallowgate below, where a convoy of ambulances were taking away the injured, while police piled the last bedraggled demonstrators into vans and street-cleaning nanokins rolled inefficiently into action, trundling over the mess littering the road. ‘That riot could start a war somewhere else. Or maybe it already has.’ She shrugged, as if it was a matter of little import. ‘What I want you to take into consideration is Nippy’s critical role in shaping present-day Dumpty, Rumpty, and Tumpty.’

‘You mean since the Great Unbearding,’ Seth said, his interest piqued.

‘Of course! When the Old Order finally ended, and Modernism finally began, here in Auld Nippy, the Navel of the Three Tablets.’

‘Now you really are confusing me.’ Seth frowned, absently staring at a column of smoke rising from behind the rooftops opposite. ‘I thought the Navel was where the Holy Omphalus of the Ancient Ma’atians is in Knot …’

‘No. The Navel was never in Knot.’

‘But the Omphalus …?’

‘The Omphalus of Knot, or the Tower of Talk as I prefer to call it, since that was its original name, is a distraction; the real Navel is not marked by a mere monument.’

‘I don’t believe you. For two thousand years, X-tians have been making the pilgrimage.’ Seth took a breath, before continuing, ‘Countless Wigs have been massacred there over centuries … every dawn call, across the Natural, billions of believers, butts perfectly aligned on the Omphalus, bobbing up and down on their precious carpets knotttted by the belligerent Blind Weavers of Knot.’

‘Please, Seth, not the whole litany,’ she groaned, as a clamour of sirens suggested another outbreak of mob violence nearby. ‘Just accept it is a historical fallacy alluded to in the Book of Deception.’

‘I’m sorry, but I simply can’t. The location of the Navel is a central plank supporting bloody reality itself.’

‘Exactly, Seth,’ she said, imperturbably, as a shockwave from a distant explosion shook the walls of the small apartment.

From the Scroll of the Steps, kept in the Library of Old Beard Lodge, detailing the secret history behind the ritual of the Thirty-Ninth Step²².

Some three hundred years after the unknown prophet, Sweet Lord X became the first martyr of the faith that later bore his moniker, and the Hardon Empire was in steep decline. Its army, which in previous centuries had swept all before it, conquering most of Dumpty and vast stretches of Tumpty, was not the mighty force it once had been. No longer were the Imperial legions led by the first-born sons of senators and praetorians. Instead, the officer corps were mostly mercenaries, as were the legionaries.

In the Imperial capital of Romulus, the Hardon elites had become decadent, their lives one long round of feasting and debauchery. The Senate was no more than a talking shop, and the once glorious Republic had been replaced by a hereditary autocracy ruled by imperators who demanded to be worshipped as gods. Everywhere in the Empire, signs of decay were evident, and its borders were only maintained by the payment of vast tithes of gold to the Barbarian tribes, threatening from the East and West.

The climate had changed, too. In the South, prolonged periods of drought led to repeated crop failures, and the Imperial granaries were almost empty. Only in the North-West had agricultural production been maintained, but that was subject to depredations by hostile Dreeds, from over Anthony’s Wall in the Wayward Isles, which the imperator of the same name had ordered to be built to keep them out. This then was the picture when the new imperator, Gaius Petronius Severous, assumed the Eagle Throne. Unlike his three predecessors, whose reigns had been bloody and short, this was an imperator with a grand plan. In his first edict, Severous formally adopted the pacifist X-tian faith, which up to then had been cruelly suppressed, as the new official religion of the Empire. But for what he had in mind, Severous needed to turn X-tianity into a church militant. So, rather conveniently, a conspiracy of Wigs was blamed for the assassination of his predecessor, which Severous himself almost certainly ordered. When added to the fact that Wigs had put to death Sweet Lord X three centuries earlier, this achieved the desired effect of galvanizing the X-tians, mobs of whom then massacred innocent Wigs across the Empire.

Next, propaganda was spread throughout the Empire, alleging that the same Wig conspiracy was now bent on destroying the Holy City of the Navel, where Sweet Lord X had, by his death, in perpetuity atoned for the sins of the Natural. However, since that city had been utterly destroyed on the order of Imperator Rellius, some two centuries before, and its name erased from the records and all maps of the Empire, no one knew where it was.

But then, after an expedition to the East, led by the new Imperator’s wife, Dreedica, it was identified as the Wig city of Knot, over three thousand leagues to the East on the uttermost fringes of the Empire, and so a volunteer army of X-tians was dispatched to destroy it. Quod erat demonstrandum, the Emperor had a new army who would march to the ends of the Natural at his command.

When at last they returned, Severous, never one to keep an army idle, or rest on his laurels, next led his Xtian soldiers on another march, this time of four thousand leagues, to the North-West, where they joined up with the garrison in Westminton. In the campaign that followed, the remit of the Empire was restored in the Wayward Isles, the ancient Dreed city of Heden²³ (as Nippy was then called) was utterly destroyed, and the Empire was saved.

‘Unbelievable!’ Seth exclaimed, as the computer screen, which had been blank, suddenly blipped on. ‘Look,’ he said, pointing at a news vid showing burned-out racks of pedal horses in a smoldering building. ‘That’s my old horse, third row, second on the left, where I had to pump power along with the rest of the unemployed before I branched out into walking tours.’ He grinned, remembering how good it had been to get off state benefits. ‘No wonder the computer’s in sleep mode, the electricity must have been on trickle supply all this time.’ His smile reverted to a frown. ‘So why is it on full now?’

‘Simple, good Master,’ a familiar face announced, lopsidedly, from the screen. ‘Your computer is now operating on back-up power relayed by boosters.’

‘Head!’ Seth gasped, ‘how did you get on the screen? Get back in your bag.’

‘Then I would be in breach of contractual obligations, good Master. I must inform you that Nippy is being evacuated.’

‘Why?’ Seth’s eyes narrowed as Honour looked on with interest, leaning in from her chair to the side …

‘Thousands are injured, good Master. Hundreds may have been killed.’


‘Reports suggest an unknown armed force has attacked a number of government installations across the Three Towns.’

‘Name one.’

‘The Congress, good Master.’

‘Terrorists only attack big countries. Why Nippy, after all this time?’ Seth knuckled his brow. ‘Of course! Why didn’t I think of it before?’ He stood up, looking wildly around. ‘The Summit of Natural leaders. About now, the Big Imp should be making his speech,’ he groaned, sitting back down. ‘Let me see the reports,’ he said, again addressing Head on the screen.

‘The major networks are down. Audio transmissions do indicate however that a task force is on its way from the N-class carrier.’

‘Is it indeed?’ Seth frowned. ‘That will only inflame the situation.’

‘I grant you that, good Master – ’

‘Shut up,’ Seth cut in, angry now. ‘Just show me what you’ve got!’

‘What few vids I have received are unclear, good Master. As soon I have resolved the images, you will have them.’

‘He’s lying, Seth,’ Honour said, from her chair. ‘Why would he do that?’

‘I can think of several reasons, and hopefully we will have time to explore all of them later, Seth, I promise. But for now you must realize the attacks are distractions to the main event.’

‘What event?’

‘The Rich Chancellor has been planning a spectacular for a long time and I think this is it,’ she said, smiling back at him.

‘What exactly?’

‘If I’m right, you’ll soon find out. Until then I’d like to get back to the topic of discussion.’

‘How can you stay calm with all this going on?’ Seth raved, waving his fist at a transmogrified Head leering from the screen.

‘Ignore him. He’s still blind as a bat in that bag. Without visuals, he can’t file a report.’

Seth looked from the sightless display on the screen, to the black plastic bag on the mantelpiece, and back again.

‘You mean he’s been reporting on us?’

‘Not us, Seth. You,’ she said, emphatically. ‘Please, it’s important.

At least you could try to concentrate on what I’m saying.

‘Why should I?’ Seth thumped the table.

‘Never forget you are a candidate for patrimony. Without the knowledge, you will certainly fail. Remember I am here to help you.’

‘So now you are my guide,’ Seth said, folding his arms and glaring.

‘If you put it that way.’ She smiled, dipping her brow.

‘Now can we get on with it?’

‘Shit!’ Seth exclaimed, jumping out of his chair and turning to stare out of the window, as the rat-tat-tat sound, echoing along the canyon street, was drowned out by a massive explosion. ‘I think that was from Old Beard Bridge,’ he said, peering through dirty panes which he suddenly noticed were spattered with ash.

‘It’s started,’ she announced, from behind him.

‘What’s started?’ he said, turning round.

‘Can’t you work it out?’ She yawned, reminding him of a cat, stretching languidly in the easy chair.

‘All I know is Head was right. Nippy is under attack. Look down there.’ He pointed. ‘The police are assembling my neighbours in the courtyard. We should join them.’

‘What?’ She sat up. ‘Like a lamb to the slaughter? I didn’t think even you could be that stupid.’

‘You’re the one that’s stupid. Can’t you hear that policeman with a loud hailer?’ Seth said, staring at the action below. ‘He’s ordering everyone left to vacate their houses.’

‘So, stop standing in the window and pointing.’

‘OK,’ Seth said, tensely, resuming his seat, ‘Now tell me what’s going on.’

‘I’m surprised you haven’t guessed.’ Honour smiled. ‘This is the Rich Chancellor’s bid for natural power.’

‘But he already controls the supply of Exeon.’

‘Yes, but for how long? The New Federation of Old Land States has no standing army.’

‘So who are the armed forces Head mentioned?’

‘Mercenaries. The Rich Chancellor has deep pockets.’

‘So what is he after?’

‘The ultimate bargaining chip.’

‘The Big Imp?’

‘The Imperator’s just a puppet. Nothing more, nothing less – as are the other Natural leaders.’ Honour gestured, dismissively. ‘The summit was only ever a cover for a Grand Assembly of the Numpty High Council.’

‘So how come the Rich Chancellor is in on the secret?’

‘There’s very little he doesn’t know.’

‘He’s a Numpty too?’

‘Oh yes, Seth.’ She raised an eyebrow.

‘You mean a high step Numpty?’

‘That and more.’

‘I get it, you mean he’s a Thirty-Ninth Step Numpty. A real Fux, right? In on the big secret, whatever that is.’

Honour clapped her hands. ‘At last you’re connecting the dots to the big picture.’

‘Actually,’ he glanced towards the door, ‘I’m more concerned about the police.’

‘They won’t bother us up here, not now the main attack has started.’

‘But they’re still clearing my neighbours from the flats.’

‘Didn’t you say even the postie has a hard job finding your door?’ She shrugged. ‘And besides, there’s all those stairs. Now where were we?’

‘The big picture?’

‘So you were listening.’ Honour smiled, approvingly.

‘What I want to know is what is so relevant about the

‘Their empire ended almost two thousand years ago.’

‘That is just what their successors would have you believe, Seth. The Hardon Empire never ended. It simply mutated into church and state.’

‘It did?’

‘Yes, Seth. The Hardon Empire still rules Dumpty and its client nations, through the New Natural Order, which is the Fux and their nominees.’

‘The Numpties?’

‘Yes, basically.’

‘I still don’t understand what their interest is in keeping the real location of the Navel, whatever it is, a secret.’

‘They get to keep Nippy for themselves.’

‘But what is the point?’

‘In Natural Wars of the last century, unlike Westminton and the other capitals of the Old Lands, all of which suffered major damage, only Nippy was safe from attack.’

‘Yes, I’ve always wondered why that was.’

‘Because the commanders of the warring armies were all Numpties.’

‘They were?’

‘Yes. Those generals would no more have attacked Nippy than they would their own home. Remember, this is the city where the Order was founded, after the city the Hardons had destroyed was rebuilt.’ She raised a finger.

‘This is sacred ground, Seth, the occult Navel at the center of the Mesh around which the Whole Natural turns. Whoever holds it can control the very substance of Heaven itself.’

‘You mean, so below, so above?’ my master said, unaware that the dictum was coined by Herman Trist, a Knuttland Philosopher of the 15th century.

‘That’s the secret, Seth. You got it!’


22 — As previously noted, every step up the Omphalus of Initiation carries an ever-increasing cost. As one rises, one’s stock grows, not just within the Order itself, but in society at large, so there is a commensurate gain — and return, when the next step is taken. For the elite who repeat the process thirty-nine times, rising through ever more select Numpty Orders, and finally reach the apex of the Fux, as represented by the Crystal Cap of the Omphalus, the reward is nothing else but dominion over the Natural, as promised by the Emissary. However, in every generation, there are exceptions to this Fux rule; two candidates for the Empty Chair at the High Council, whose claim rests on their lineage. First a ritual is performed in the Temple when they are selected by lot. Neither can refuse the challenge when later informed. Both are fast-tracked to the higher steps by mentors. Of the two, one will pay dearly. That is the way of the Fux: for every Step, there is a cost, and when the rewards are limitless, the price is proportionate. Not just for the failed candidate who goes on to the Realm of the Unconscionable, as Brother Paulus clearly states in the Secret Histories, but also for the Fux who have endured all thirty-nine steps. These are basically docu-dramas, in which the Initiate is the central actor. In the ritual performance, which vary in length from a few hours to days, he may experience: pleasure, relief, shame, drowning, entombment, torture – all these things, or just one, intensely. He will speak set lines engraven on his mind by the mnemonic routines of the Fux and his research in temple libraries. In the higher mysteries of the more elevated Steps, he may well be compelled to commit criminal and depraved acts, even murder.

23 — Nothing is ruled out except silence, later. Also, throughout, he will have had to repeat diverse secret signs and perform certain passes, which can be very straining. The Rituals of the Steps are culled from diverse accounts in the Scrolls of the Secret Histories kept in the Library of the Seal in the Temple of the Old Beard. Each Step retells a significant past episode of the Ancient Order, pertaining to its role in shaping the Natural to the unfolding Master Plan of the Emissary. The Apprentice Step, as the first Step is termed, relates to the destruction of Tall Temple by the Hardons. The Journeyman’s Step, which is the second, tells of the murder and burial of the Keeper of the Key by a Knight Errant charged with his protection. In the third, The Arisen Master Step, the supplicant Chapter Mark Numpty plays the Master of Cats who recovered the Crystal Cap of the Umphallii. It had been ditched in the sea by the Hardons in their ships, abandoning the Wayward Isles to the savage Dreeds – What was left of them, anyway, after they had fought Severous, his Imperial Guard of Praetorians, seven crack legions, and the three Dreed Clans – whose names the High Priest cursed to be forgotten, to a bloody standstill. Ten years of skirmishes, forced marches, lightning raids and scorched earth retreats, ranging the length and breadth of the Wayward Isles, culminated in one great battle, which both sides won and lost. The Dreeds were broken-hearted, their land blessed no longer, its wonders ravaged and forever despoiled. The Hardons too would never be the same, for the Empire had reached its limit, and thenceforth would only decline. But, as gilded letters warn from the stone scroll over the Grand Portico of the Porphyry Skulls of the Great Hall in the Supreme Temple of Feenumptry: Qui profecti sunt, non gradus, qui sedes in sede profectum. In other words: ‘Those who set out on the Steps and now sit in the High Seats, are not those who set out.’ So, for the Fux of the High Council, the price is maxed up too. As for the successful candidate, He gets to sit in Emissary’s Empty Chair at the High Table and play being the Makkar ‘til He believes it. Ergo: Sic eaquae ex Propositione petitorem.—or, ‘thus does the Candidate required by the Proposition.’ Therefore, the Fiction is real. Fux Rule! The Fiction is maintained – as promised by the Emissary to the Reformed High Numpty Council of seventeen o’ seven, and their Successors. Yea verily, unto the Ninth Generation

24 – In Ancient Dreedic, Heden had a dual meaning – Garden and Hidden. The first is an allusion to the famous stepped Garden of Heden which in Foundation Times was esteemed as the first of the Seven Wonders of the Natural. The second may be an allusion to the remoteness of the Isles of the Blessed, at the end of the longest trading route of the Great Wig Empire – The same which the upstart Hardons finally defeated after the long-running Two Centuries War, at the famous Rout of the Sacasians in 242 BX. A time by which, blessed Dreedland was already legendary, its treasures mythic: the Empty Box of Bran which answered any question – except about Bran? – stolen by big Tam MakChorry, who kidnapped the wicked Pharaoh’s daughter, fair Dreethia, and took her for wife when he led the People out of Ma’aat to the Promised Land; the Crystal Capstone, also stolen, as was the Seat of Destiny, and the Ark of Gold – abandoned in haste when the Great Chieftain of Thieves unaccountably left for the Unconscionable Realm, from which it is said none return; the fabled wisdom of its seers and their sacred geometry – of which Plotonious Longbeard opined, found its most perfect expression in the divine architecture of the Tall Temple in Heden; the mirth and upright character of the Dreed people; their height and grace; the warmth of their welcome; their ire when insulted; the fighting qualities of tattooed warriors of the tall clans – who were undisciplined and fought naked but had no equal in close combat; the beauty of Dreed maidens, the looks they kept into old age, their many virtues and little vices, not counting the pleasures that on the Feast Day of Tam they were bidden to share with strangers; the charm songs they sang to quieten a bairn, bring on a birth or call a cow to milk; the fine cloth that was good in all weathers, and the tartans thereof; the serpentine jewellery they wore of gold and silver, cannily wrought by travelling smiths of Clan MakBraw, from the foothills of the Tall Lands, the gravel of the broad rivers there being rich in metals and precious gemstones – diamond and peridot among them; the eerie martial pipe music, which gladdened the hearts of Dreed soldiers, and filled their foes’ with dread; heroic tales and ballads, bespeaking long voyages to other lands, for they were a trading people, like unto Wigs, pirates among them, but more cunning with sail, metal smithing and sorcery; the vineyards terraced on favoured slopes, and the pleasant dreams their fine wines induced; the name of the native plant which must never be uttered, for its ambrosia was the secret of the immortal mead (about which quoth the great Knutt Philosopher Dæ’ñætz, before he expired, if heaven was in a cup, I have it in my hand) made by the powerful brewing clan, the MakMuch; the abundance of crops in the countryside outwith Heden’s commanding walls, the rugged beauty of the nature beyond; the plentiful fish in every bucket dipped in the sheltered seas around its coasts; the perfumed ambergris washed-up on beaches; the amber that gleams in sea-wrack after a storm; the large pearls of vast oyster beds in river estuaries and the seashore, of a lustre not seen elsewhere in the Natural; the sports of narwhals and whales which journeyed to mate in the waters there in the early summer; the walrus that bask, disdaining their mates even in squalls of winter; the innumerable outer islands which served as bulwarks against the mighty ocean swells without; the hazardous passage of the labyrinthal shoals and reefs therein, which test even the most seasoned steersnan; the variety of game abounding the wooded slopes of the golden Uplands; the shining fish, chief of which is the salmon; the flashing birds and iridescent insects of tumbling rivers, babbling brooks and bottomless pools; the unfathomable depths where, the old tales tell, venerable pike have circled time since time began and the longest line cannot reach; the sheer heights the intrepid traveller must cross to attempt the snow-capped peaks of the Tall Lands; the hermits who live in caves there; below, come the glorious spring, white and gold eagles engage in aerial battle above the keening of sky larks circling chicks nesting by boxing hares in verdant meadows fragrant with wild-flowers, butterflies flitting, busy with bees; calls of birds, corncrake from the beds of iris, bittern in the bulrushes, a stork from the chimney of yon croft, more distantly a moorhen too; the perennial puzzle of that precious county’s beneficent climate somewhere in the otherwise cold North at the uttermost limits of the Natural – So fabulous and conflated did the ancient accounts of Wig voyages to the Blessed Isles seem– even the very existence of the hidden city, was questioned by scribes in libraries across the Empire, tasked by the Imperator to find new lands for idle Hardon legions to conquer, lest they turn their attention to finding his successor from within their ranks.

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This is a satirical SF novel in the tradition of Swift, with footnotes that give an alternative history of the world.

Will Lorimer is a multi-media artist and the author of a number of books.


by SD Master

Circle (Zoom in on… as in)
Closing in (smaller)
Room Inside
My head…

“To play and roam
till I be found,” he said,
‘In a roundabout sort of way.’
“It’s weird”… ‘Definitely not’… “What you
wanted to say”…
‘It’s lost’…“If you dare but say it”.
‘Look, but don’t Sea* C* See*
to far,
before you turn about

Hermetic Library Zine Hall 12-29-79

C = 3, #3 in the Tarot, “Venus*”. First letter in CLU. C it? Ear, Corn, Spirit.

Nothing = 5628957 = 6, #6 in the Tarot, “The Lovers*”. Easier to carry. Materialistically what can be taken with you when you die (or decide to change your cloths). Remember, numbers travel easily, through reality and dreams.

Sea = 151 = 7, #7 in the Tarot, “The Chariot*”. Travel, “See” below. Also “C”. The Camel is called the ship of the desert. In the Kabala, the middle path… the camel and the needle, the rope that does not pass through the Eye of the needle with ease, yet passes through more readily than the rich person (A materialistic individual). Go dry. Keep your hands out of your pants and your head on your shoulders. Magick (#11). Harm no one (including yourself).

See = 155 = 2, #2 in the Tarot, “The High Priestess*”. To be given sight in mind. To sense (See) things that others do not see. A dimension

2 = The High Priestess, The Camel. The Veil, Mystery, to travel through the desert, keep your hands out of your pants. Keep your ears open and your mouth shut.

3 = Venus, A Door, Located between Chokma and Binah on the Tree of life (See pages 5 and 6). Goddess of all of nature. Got Corn? Do the crawl. Feeling frisky.

6 = The Lovers, Inside and outside, yet ONE. A way to travel through eternity. Choose Life, become two, realize you are ONE. Through out history there is always ONE.

7 = The Chariot, To stand on the Fence. To guide previously unruly opposite sides in the same direction. Light in Darkness. Run away from, run towards.

From The Great Work by SD Master.

SD Master is a mystic who writes poetry.

As unbidden gifts are to the Ass Naysaying is butt to his Goat

from The Headflux Chronicles, Book 1, by Will Lorimer

Hermetic Library Zine Lorimer Headflux As unbidden gifts are to the Ass Naysaying is butt to his Goat


The Rich Chancellor’s rise to power at the head of the breakaway Federation of New Oldlands States was one of those epoch-making political events that come as a complete surprise to just about everyone. Certainly, none of the correspondents covering the Oldlands Congressional Elections in the Garpathian Mountains, a remote region previously best known for its bison cheese strudel and the prowess of its arm wrestlers, anticipated that the voters of Bogomill would elect a rank outsider whose only previous claim to fame was that he had won the Loo of the Oldlands Union.

There matters might have ended, had not a malfunction in the computer counting the votes cast for the President of the Union seen the representative for Bogomill nominated by the Independent Block — a loose alliance of Ruralist parties — win by a wide margin. Following allegations of vote tampering, the Independent Block staged a walkout and then formally seceded from the Union. A press release, issued an hour later, formally declared the creation of the Federation of New Oldlands States under the leadership of the former representative for Bogomill. Then, a few weeks later, the new chancellor’s lucky streak continued, when a large deposit of strategic mineral crucial in the nanufacture of nanokin products was found under the Garpathian Mountains; a discovery which transformed the fortunes of the impoverished regions overnight and earned the new leader of breakaway Federation of New Oldlands states the nickname of the ‘Rich’ Chancellor.

‘That all would be to the good, Seth,’ Honour said, replacing the page she had been reading aloud on its pile, beside the other stacks of manuscript set out on the patchwork bed covers, ‘if it wasn’t for the fact you have missed so much out.’

‘What else is there?’ Seth replied, looking out from behind the computer screen. ‘I made him up! The Rich Chancellor is a fictional character.’

‘On the contrary, I know him rather well.’

‘I forget you’re the Contessa of Belle Leers, and a fictional character too,’ Seth sneered.

‘Quite so.’ Honour nodded, unperturbed. ‘My point is that he is quite as interesting a character as you —’

‘Hold on,’ Seth said, ‘you’re implying I’m a fiction in someone else’s book?’

‘Yes.’ Honour said, categorically. ‘Everyone is.’ ‘Is what?’ he demanded, angrily.

‘A fiction.’ She smiled.

‘Everyone? Prove it!’

‘Do you even know your real name?’

‘I know what it says on my birth certificate.’

‘But did you get to choose it?’

‘Obviously not,’ Seth snorted.

‘There you are.’ Honour spread her hands. ‘You got them from someone else, which goes to prove my point that the most fundamental fact about you is made up.’

Exasperated, Seth sighed, ‘So what have I missed out?’

‘It’s more what you have glossed over.’

‘Like what?’ Seth frowned.

‘Where he was before winning the loo, and how he achieved that. The malfunction in the vote-counting machine at the Oldlands Congress. His elevation to power as the chancellor …’

‘You seem to know a lot about him.’

‘No more that you do, Seth.’ She smiled, mysteriously. ‘It’s your book.’

‘So why can’t I remember?’

‘Perhaps because you’ve written so much.’ She gestured towards the stacks of manuscript on the bed covers. ‘There’s bound to be more on him here somewhere.’

‘Please remind me. Sometimes it takes me weeks to find bits and pieces I’ve written.’

‘OK,’ she sighed, ‘when I first met him he was much as you are now, largely unformed …’

Seth glowered. ‘What do you mean, “unformed?”’

‘Just that; and judging by his outward characterization, few could have guessed at what was to come.’ She smiled. ‘He was a whole lot younger then. Naïve, always asking questions, more often than not taking my answers personally.’ She chuckled. ‘Just like you, when we first met.’

‘So what has changed?’

‘Everything. In the interim he had become a media publicist. A right bastard. The typical Fux in other words, suave and urbane. The difference was unbelievable. I hired him to turn around public opinion, which had become hostile in the run-up to the trial after the House of Pleasure was closed down a second time.’

‘A second time?’

‘Yes.’ She smiled. ‘Mother Sin always said the future lay in the Oldlands. So we relocated there shortly before she died. Most of the old girls were at the bedside. Sweaty Bey, Gorgeous Georgina, Desperate Delilah, Nora the Nag …’

‘Please.’ Seth pushed out a palm. ‘Not the whole list. You mentioned a trial. Where?’

‘Isis,’ Honour said, grimly. ‘Because I was left in charge at the Châteaux de la Coquees. I got the longest sentence: four years.’ She sighed. ‘However, this is about the Rich Chancellor.’

‘Right.’ Seth nodded. ‘But first I’d like to know: how was it inside?’

‘Prison?’ Honour raised a penciled eyebrow. ‘My sentence was suspended after I married the Count of Belle Leers in the prison chapel.’ Honour beamed. ‘It was a lovely ceremony.’

‘So what happened to him?’

‘He never existed. The Count was a fiction.’

‘Of the Rich Chancellor?’

‘Yes,’ Honour nodded. ‘He’s writing a book?’

‘Of course, only he’s much more organized than you.’

‘He is?’

‘How else do you think he has achieved so many improbable things in such a short time?’

‘But what’s that all to do with his writing?’

‘Through it he discovered the Fundamental Law of Existence.’

‘Which is?’ Seth demanded.

‘That fiction is the organizing principal of reality.’

‘I am beginning to hate him.’

‘So you should; he’s a threat to us all.’ Honour looked at him steadily, holding his gaze. ‘The next I heard of him, he was a pilot, hired by some naturalologists surveying the Garpathian Mountains. I suppose that’s when he found out about Exeon.’

‘Exeon?’ Seth said, blankly.

‘The strategic mineral essential to the nanufacture of nanokin processors.’

‘Uh, right.’ Seth nodded.

‘After they discovered the motherload, the naturalologists were all killed when their plane flew into a mountain peak.

‘But the Rich Chancellor survived?’

‘Yes; he bailed out just before the plane crashed, or so the story goes. Apparently he was taken in by a farmer who was the local representative of the Ruralist Party. I guess that was when he first had the idea of standing as a candidate in the elections.

‘But why Bogomill?’

‘Because of what only he knew lay under the mountains.’


‘Of course. I’ve mentioned that nanokin nanufacture depends on it. Whoever controls the supply can dictate terms to the richer nations. That deposit under the mountains represents at least seventy percent of the known supply in the Whole Natural.’

‘I see.’ Seth’s brow furrowed. ‘How does the loo win figure in all this?’

‘As far as I understand, that’s the one random element he didn’t plan; or maybe he was using the code of the book?’

‘What code?’

‘We can’t discuss that now,’ she said, firmly. ‘The point is he bought the winning ticket to the biggest loo draw ever. The rest of the story everyone knows. The prize was billions. He threw a party to which all two hundred thousand Bogomill voters were invited. The celebrations went on for weeks; there were arm-wrestling contests galore and an endless supply of bison cheese strudel. After that, the election was a foregone conclusion.’

‘And the vote-rigging at the Oldlands Congress?’

‘Money can buy anything, if you have enough of it. Even after his expenses in Bogomill, he had plenty. Of course, that was before he controlled the supply of Exeon.’

‘So, what is he after now?’

‘Total Natural domination.’ She spread her hands. ‘What else?’ ‘I guess the Big Imp²¹ might have something to say about that.’

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21 – The Imperator of Bigger.

This is a satirical SF novel in the tradition of Swift, with footnotes that give an alternative history of the world.

Will Lorimer is a multi-media artist and the author of a number of books.