May 2017

“Yes, the surveyor told him, but the Colonel was a man who knew what he wanted and meant to get it. He asked how long it would be before Cliffsby fell into the sea, and the surveyor told him fifty years. To that, the colonel replied that he was a sixty-year-old man and he wouldn’t live another fifty even if he took up residence in the operating theatre at St. Bedford’s.”

“And now that time has come?”

“Soon enough. You’ve seen the cracks. The Colonel wanted Cliffsby as a retreat, as a symbol, and as a place to put all of his money so that his children, whom he loathed, wouldn’t see a cent.”

“That’s where I come in, I suppose. His daughter Bertha wants all the furniture appraised so it can be sold. I’ve one week to do it.”

“Ha! Ten years ago that never would’ve happened. But now that Agnes and Clara have died, and Doris is an invalid drooling at a wall, I suppose Bertha sees her way clear.”

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GesteCo’s colonization scheme was simple: seeding barren worlds in the habitable zones of stars with hardy terraforming plants, then shipping in a jump gate for an official survey crew. The planets were each given marketing-friendly names coined by a dedicated AI, and the survey crew would lay out an initial colony for investors and settlers. With any luck, GesteCo would recieve a 1000% return on its investment within 25 years, to say nothing of longer-term profits.

Aerna (original designation: J20383259+4601983 c) was one such planet, and the survey crew found the terraforming plants to have succeeded brilliantly, warming the world such that its ice caps had shrunk and generated a terrain of stark waterfalls and caverns. It was in one of these caverns near the colony site that the crew discovered the spheres.

They ranged from just a few centimeters to tens of meters in diameter, featureless and stony, and most strikingly they hovered 1-2 meters off the ground without any visible means of support.

GesteCo, panicked at possibly violating their contract not to develop worlds of “historical or biological interest,” immediately called for a government investigation. It was found that the spheres were of the same composition and age as the rocks around them, there were no indications of tool marks, and that their floating was the result of an anomaly in Aerna’s magnetic field combined with a very ferrous composition in the rocks.

The Spheres of Aerna quickly became a tourist attraction, but the debate as to their origin remains open. It’s possible they formed naturally through some unlikely geological process, or that they were placed by an unknown intelligence.

In the meantime, GesteCo has been content to pocket the results of tourist spending and scientific analysis alike.

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Day 28: Stay home from work and school from now until the end of the challenge.

Day 29: Go up to your high place. Take a selfie and post it with the hashtag #Emergence. Stay there until dawn the following morning.

Day 30: Jump.

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Day 19: Contact your sponsor. Make sure they know how far you have come, and they will confirm your Cocoon status.

Day 20: Your sponsor will send you a film. Watch it.

Day 21: Watch the film all day, from when you get up to when you go to sleep.

Day 22: Delete the film. You will never need to watch it again.

Day 23: Locate a high-up place that is also secret. A railroad bridge or an abandoned building are good candidates.

Day 24: Take a selfie in your high-up place. Post it with the hashtag #CocoonGoesHere.

Day 25: Take a razor blade and cut yourself on your inner lip, your inner arm, and your inner thigh. Do not take a picture of this.

Day 26: Write down a date four days from today. Leave it in a place where it can be found, but not easily, in your room.

Day 27: Go to the high place you found and stand on the very edge for one hour. If you are seen, you fail the test and must go back and find another high place.

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Day 10: Call or Skype your sponsor. Make sure they have seen everything up to this point. They will give you a task to do as confirmation of your Caterpillar status. Do it without question.

Day 11: Your sponsor will send you a piece of music today. Listen to it.

Day 12: Listen to the piece of music from yesterday for 1 hour.

Day 13: Listen to the piece of music from yesterday all day. Have it on in the background or in your headphones from when you wake up to when you go to sleep.

Day 14: Delete the song. You will never need to listen to it again.

Day 15: Choose a spot on your body that no one will notice, like the inside of your arm. Draw a butterfly with permanent marker and take a picture. Do not wash it off afterwards.

Day 16: Post your body art with the hashtag #Larva.

Day 17: Cut the form of a butterfly into your flesh, lightly, with the tip of a razor. Follow the drawing from Day 15. Take a picture.

Day 18: Post your carved butterfly with the hashtag #Cocooning.

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Day 1: Contact your sponsor and give them your information. They’ll keep you honest! Check in with them every day, or you’ll lose the Cocoon Challenge!

Day 2: Draw a butterfly on a piece of paper.

Day 3: Post your butterfly with the hashtag #CocoonChallenge

Day 4: Find a picture of a butterfly somewhere around your house or your town. Take a selfie with it.

Day 5: Post your selfie with the hashtag #IAmAButterfly.

Day 6: Using the same piece of paper from Day 2, draw yourself.

Day 7: Post your two drawings with the hashtag #Yolk.

Day 8: Find a clear sidewalk or other piece of cement, put your drawing on it, and burn the drawing. Take a picture or video of it.

Day 9: Post your picture or video with the hashtag #TheEggIsHatching

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“M’ood Bilt” magisteriums are permanent magical buildings of quality. Over one hundred thousand mage circles, or approximately half a million people are casting in “M’ood Bilt” magisteriums. Scattered over the middle west and eastern sections of the country, we number among our hundreds of satisfied “M’ood Bilt” magisterium users mages from every school of sorcery — Abjurers, Conjurers, Diviners, Enchanters, Evokers, Illusionists, Necromancers, Transmuters. etc. A list of them would provide a cross section of magical life.

This tremendous public acceptance is the very best proof that can be offered of the value to the prospective magisterium builder contained in the services offered on these pages.

You will receive all materials of high quality necessary to build, excepting masonry materials. No extras guaranteed if plans and specifications are followed.

Plans, specifications and materials all guaranteed as to accuracy, quantity and quality under our most liberal guarantee, backed by the entire resources of the company.

Free scrying service on all magical building problems. No obligation.

For over thirty years the “M’ood Bilt” Modern Homes Department has been producing homes. Each plan developed has had to pass the inspection of a board of experts, including a home economics advisor, and finally the test of construction and public acceptance. It has had to conform to the high standards demanded by us from the standpoint of design, arrangement and economy.

Some early magesteria in the Jni Sands are still standing over two hundred years are still beautiful — a result of correct design.

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