Introduction to the files found by the author after having them bequeathed by a relative.
|I've tried a hundred different ways to tell this tale, but there's no good way to start it all without much more information than I was willing to divulge. I now know the only way to tell the story is to let it unfold for you, dear reader, as it did for me.
The box was left to me by my grandfather, a singularly strange man. He was best described by his friends and relations as a crackpot, although he preferred the term "psychoceramic". Over the years he had collected an enormous array of strange devices, books, clothing, and other things one might call ephemera. Now there's an interesting word. Had it not been for him, I would never have known what the word meant. He also taught me the values of an open mind and a forthright spirit. Oh, I digress...the box.
It's an odd thing, made of ironwood, about 12 inches wide and deep, and twice as long. It's top is hinged on a short side, and it has a monogrammed brass plate on the other end, with a hasp and a rather large brass padlock. The monogram on the plate is very ornate, and the initials are "EFG". Underneath that plate is a smaller plate marked simply " 1/7". When the box was delivered to me, it came with two keys. The first was a very odd shaped key, the sort one might use to wind up an old toy, and the other regular looking padlock key. I assumed the regular key fit the padlock, and tried to open it, but found that the keyhole was shaped more for the wind up key than for the other. So, I placed that key in the lock and began to turn it. Sure enough, the key was winding up some mechanism inside the padlock. After about five turns, the lock pushed the key out, and began to vibrate. Then, quite suddenly, the hasp itself seemed to pop away from the box, exposing a keyhole. That's the keyhole the ordinary key fit. It was all very interesting that the real lock for the box was disguised under a lock.
Upon opening the box, I found a ring of keys and a letter written in my grandfather's hand. Here is what it said:
My Dearest Vincent
There are things you must know that I can now reveal to you. All these years everyone has thought me a fool, and I have allowed them to do so to protect them from the knowledge that I have access to. It is all quite fun to have a secret, but it is very important for that secret to be kept and revealed only to those who earn it. So, this is what I've done. Here in this box are some of the collected papers of a very dear friend of mine, Dr. Elias Faraday Gloriosky, Ph.D., my old professor of pandemonia at Miskatonic University. I urge you to follow the trail of these papers in the order they are contained in the box. The keys on the ring will become important, but only when you come across the markings for the keys on the papers. Now for the important part: The Rules
1. Time travel, IF it were possible, might be limited to 200 years prior or 200 years after the moment in which you enter the slipstream between dimensions in which you could travel.
2. IF time travel were possible, people would have developed a way of tracking their own time and the times they were visiting. A convenient way of this might be something like "subjective" for times they were visiting and "constant" for their own timeline.
3. IF such travellers existed, and there really was a tried and true methodology for time travel, one would be assured that many types of devices might be used to travel, so long as they had some method of locating latitude, longitude, and time in their operation.
4. There are rules for everything, and sometimes the rules are the only thing that will protect you.
5. At some point, you may have to break a rule. Having the wisdom to know when to do that is the key to finding a much greater world than you or I ever imagined in our long talks while you were growing up.
6. Don't judge people quickly. Some of the nastiest people I've ever met were the best I've known.
7. Governments would have to be involved in any kind of time passage in one form or another. This can be a good thing, as in setting up a method of keeping people from becoming stranded or interfering too much with the timeline, OR a bad thing if they try to control the actions of other governments or individuals for their own purposes or advantage. The best thing to remember would be to trust the trustworthy, and don't be afraid to risk it all should you need to.
I hope these few things help, as I can't say too much right now. I have to go tuck your father in for the night, since he's starting the first grade tomorrow. Oh, and if you should run across anyone who asks, tell them I did just fine. Also, should you run in to anyone involved with carnivals, run.
Forever your grandfather,
John Owen Coffin, Sr.
So, there it was. The box, the letter, and a ring of very odd keys to who knows what locks. I now reveal to you the contents of the box, as given to me, because knowing these things must be earned. Oh, and that thing he said about carnival people...he was right. I started with a letter to a Captain Spaulding.