I think this next part was going to be difficult for Jacob. His distress was very apparent. He wasn’t the confident old man I’d come to know since starting work in his post room.
“Sit down, Derek.”
I did as I was told.
“Remember what I said before you come to any judgement, about the tale I’m about to tell you.”
“I was barely in my twenties when The Enlightenment started and where we are today is the same place I’ve lived since.
“As the movement began to gather momentum I was approached by representatives of the ‘Other Realm’ – a world that sits in the same space as ours but where the plane of life is slightly separated, at an angle if you will; together and apart, at the same time.
“Many people you may know of have taken inspiration from…”
I stood up abruptly, so shocked was I about the little snippet of information that had joined with another in my head.
Jacob looked at me concerned. “Are you all right, my lad?”
“You just said that you were in your twenties when The Enlightenment started!”
Jacob nodded. “Yes. That I did.”
“And you said it started about two hundred years ago?”
“Ah! I thought you took that part of my tale in good stead, but it seems it has only just sunk in.”
“You’re – what? – two hundred and fifty years old?”
Jacob shut his eyes and shook his head; then stared at me. He looked very tired. “I don’t know, Derek, something around that. I’ve given up counting… Please, let me continue.”
“Who else knows?”
“Derek, enough questions.”
I sat back in my chair absolutely stunned by the revelation.
“Now, where was I? Ah! Yes. Many people have taken, what you could call, inspiration from the knowledge of the Other Realm; though others might call it fact.
“Have you ever wondered where C. S. Lewis, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and J. R. R. Tolkien drew their ideas from?”
“Who’s Charles Dodgson?”
“Sorry. Lewis Carroll.”
“What! You mean there really are white rabbits checking watches and decks of card marching about somewhere or another?”
“No, Derek. What I’m talking about is the historical recording of the Other Realm in written works such as the ones created by these people. It is my belief they knew what was at stake. But still science soldiers on depreciating the history and extoling the destruction of such knowledge. We’re lucky that these works have become ‘classics’. At least there is some level of assurance the record will remain.”
Suddenly the room began to shake as if an earthquake had just started, and we were at its epicentre. As our tea slopped out of our cups the shaking stopped as abruptly as it had begun.
“I think they’ve reached the beginning of The Conversion, Derek. There’s probably less than a few days left.”