Chapter 1: Miscellany and its Neighbors
There exists, or perhaps by the time of your reading this, existed, (or maybe furthermore, will exist? I will not indulge in semantics nor time orientation. Hopefully, reader, you will accept my tale written in the present tense.) Let me begin again.
There exists a system of caverns. When they happened along it, it was as if they had stepped into another world! A neighborhood of caverns and chambers of natural stone, connected by passages taller than three men and wider than ten. Stalagmites and tites, all dripping their glittering dew. A rushing river, rendered opaque no matter how many lights were put up, that fell into a deep hole which remains to be explored. And, of course, plenty of space for their equipment.
You see, after the world became less habitable and comfortable, people went all about in search of new homes. Trees, mountains, deserts (desert dwellers were severely unsuccessful from various reports), even the sea. But caves, caves quickly became prime real estate. In any case, the founders of my community settled down in their cave complex and got right down to work. In their mind, it was as if the world had offered them a clean slate of inventions. With most tech and amenities lost or destroyed, there was plenty to fix or make new. Various departments were established in the cave system. One for medicine. Another for electricity. Yet more for underground farming. Yes, yes, it was all very practical. Others would say boring. But more recently we have begun to experiment on far more exciting projects. Projects that some (I do not mean you, reader, you must be very intelligent) would be mistaken to think are magical.
No, we are not magicians down here, we are scientists. But if the rest of the world thinks we’re witches and whatnot, why should we stop them? There’s a degree of fear that accompanies the illusion of magic, and fear is what keeps sniffing noses and hungry mouths away. I’ve lost track of my story already, though. Ah, yes, scientists. We scientists have all sorts of nooks and crannies in our caves now. We’re filled near to burst with labs large and small. Some make bubbling tinctures, others pop and sizzle. But one, one in particular, is operated by three unlikely friends. It’s a tiny little thing, but piled with metal cabinets, saws, wires, vials, tubes, and other clutter in desperate need of organization. Albina runs the place. She makes the most out of the three, and fiddles incessantly. Her friend Wren likes to test Albina’s inventions, but occasionally does so in too rough a fashion. Lastly, Alvin was assigned to keep an eye on the duo by the Council, but has become more and more an accomplice rather than chaperone. The lab is responsible for the use of scrap material and discarded ingredients to come up with anything potentially useful or remarkable, and is thus referred to as “Miscellany Corner.”
It is my (I hesitate to use the word “regrettable,” and will remain undecided on which adjective to employ until further notice) task to detail their misadventures. I do not know what for, or why, but it is my task nonetheless. They do not know I am watching them, or that their comings and goings are being written down. Perhaps something serious or remarkable will come of it. Until such time, bear with me, whoever reads this. The three are not known for their adherence to social expectations and norms. I do expect there to be a lot of tomfoolery.
Subsequent chapters of The Misadventures of Miscellany Corner will be available on our Patreon.