When I found the place again, it was through an advanced google search, the one where you have to get it to look for a specific phrase while at the same time eliminating results with a different specific phrase.
Even then I only found the place after eight pages of results.
It takes me a few more minutes to get the right client and get some settings the way I want them. I’m acting on physical memory now. My fingers just seem to know the way, I’m just along for the ride.
I connect and my password and userid grant me access.
The sea of black text flooded the screen, the usual disclaimers and warnings too dense to comprehend and suddenly I was back in my alchemical laboratory. I looked around to read the description. How I agonized over the wordings and spellings. I trimmed the descriptions in order to fit them on one page for visitors.
There were a few loose items scattered in the room, a guest key that I had coded a while back that allowed people to teleport here if they used it, but the second it left their inventory, they would get booted back to the main lobby.
I could summon it into my inventory at anytime. Handy when an anonymous guest got unwieldy.
A rose appeared in front of me, hanging in mid air. Attached to it was a small note.
“Lim! I haven’t seen you in ages! Come talk to me, I’m in the Aerie if you feel chatty.”
The rose was from Angel. She owned the place, gave me enough permissions to start building once she got to know me better. Next thing you know, I had my own little world, a whole slew of powers, and Aenone had moved in.
I did want to see Angel, but I wasn’t quite ready, not quite yet. I was going to ask her for a big favor, the kind that only she could grant. I wanted to make sure that I asked for it correctly.
I moved to the bedroom and looked over the code that Aenone and I wrote together. It was a tricky bit, locked to the both of us and required the two of us to execute simultaneously. I didn’t recognize about half of it, she was really the coder out of the two of us. I always handled the content, the descriptors, the ideas. As I looked over it I realized that it was a pointless exercise. She’d never be here again and the code was just lines of text without her to activate it.
I walked through the rest of the laboratory with the gears and the steam engines, through the library with the living books, through the grounds to the gazebo surrounded by azaleas locked in eternal spring.
I picked up things here and there, the odd trinket that made people speak backwards, the widget that would change people’s appearances, the various games and incomprehensible Escher vehicles that made so much sense so many years ago.
When I got to the gazebo, my familiar was waiting for me there.
A pool of shimmering ink reacted to my presence, transformed itself into a snake, and slithered up my leg to my shoulder before taking on the form of a raven.
I wondered how long it had waited in the gazebo, waiting for my presence to trigger this action.
I sat down, and the raven changed into a purring kitten and coalesced in my lap. I whispered to it and it bounded across the grass twice. On the third bound, it dissipated into a fine mist. It wouldn’t be long before Angel received my message and made her way to the gazebo.
I looked at my inventory and started doing what I came here to do. Everything I picked up, I recycled. I imagined them slowly turning opaque before flowing away like so much dust. Ones and zeroes sent back for the rest of the community to use.
I was going to miss this place.