A Truth-Eating Monster: Chapter 1

He was a terse and unforgiving man, bought and paid for by Verity Corporation. His true motives known only to his benefactors and the lizard he kept in his pocket. Dealing in propaganda and fancy words, he made our lives a living hell, day in and day out. This is the story of how I was fired from Satyrine Infinitely, and why I weave my words now onto the prestigious pages of The Crepuscule Notion. I’ll be telling this story over several issues, as prescribed by The Editor.

It began with an interview unlike any other interview. Mr. Reviats called me into his office, the air was thick with a hundred burgeoning stories destined for publication in the next few days. The Editor in Chief of the stalwart beacon of Truth known as Satyrine Infinitely offered me a seat on one of his 15 chairs, produced a copy of my curriculum vitae from his temple, and sat in one of the remaining 14 chairs. After the briefest moment of uninterrupted eye contact, he simply smiled and asked if I had any questions.

Of course, I had a thousand questions. Some even related to the job I had applied for. But I had dreamt of this day since I was a young Vislae, and the only words I could muster were, “You have my Service, my Words, my Truths.” It wasn’t until much later that understood what was really happening. Never-the-less, Mr. Reviats nodded and extended his hand in an offer of a handshake.

“Welcome to Satyrine Infinitely,” he said coldly, “Have your first story in my air first thing tomorrow morning.” The chair under me vanished, sending me falling to a floor that was no longer beneath me. I fell for what seemed like an eternity, and then found myself standing just outside his office, my arms filled with an assortment of Satyrine Infinitely branded supplies; a typewriter, a coffee mug, an employee handbook, and a lizard of my very own.

That first story was a dream to write. Quite literally, I wrote it and all the residents of Satyrine collectively shared a dream that night after I finished it. You may remember it from several years back; that dream where you found yourself back in Shadow, with each crack in the pavement spilling the Truth of the Actuality. The dream where your mind was rent from your physicality a dozen or more times, only to be smashed back into the Lie of the Grey. Yeah, that was me.

You may also remember the article itself. A scathing exposé of the secret ambitions of Idea mogul Heinrick Mechni. It was that article that shot me into the limelight in an instant, and what brought me under Mr. Reviats’ tutelage. What followed were the best and worst years of my life, each day punctuated by a swirling torrent of secrets, threats, sleeping pills, and cheap liquors.

He spoke through Bernard, my Infinite Lizard. The same kind of lizard was issued to every SI reporter. I went through every day and night of my life for three years with Mr. Reviats’ words whispered in my ear by Bernard’s slithering, lisping, lizard voice. Infinite Lizards are incredible creatures – physical manifestations of consciousness who need no food, no water, only a pocket to live in. You’ve likely never seen one unless you too worked for Satyrine Infinitely. But you’ve most certainly heard them. And by extension, you’ve most certainly heard Mr. Reviats. You’ve heard the lies. The deceit. The manipulations.

Because this is neither the time nor the place to educate you on the biology of Indigo’s fauna, I encourage you, dear reader, to visit the Greyform Library and check out Randy Harris’ excellent book on the subject called Timeless Reptile: A Study of the Majestic Infinite Lizard, if you would like to learn more about these fantastic creatures. You can find the book at the library from approximately sundown to three hours before sunup. She is always willing to talk during those times.

In any case, Bernard became my only friend after just a couple weeks at the paper. I found it difficult to make personal connections with anyone I ran into. I became what I can only describe as a Fact-Finding Machine. Perhaps Fact-Creating Machine would be a more apt description, but it’s hard to say. So much of who I was has been lost since the day Bernard was killed. It was a day that was all at once heartbreaking and freeing, and joyous and full of despair. It was also the day that I came to realize that my time at Satyrine Infinitely had to end.

Bernard, an innocuous name by most standards. My Bernard, though. Well, that little lizard taught me more about this world and the seedy corporate underbelly that makes it turn than any book from any Order under any Sun. What I intend to write over the course of this editorial can be considered dangerous to even read, so take care with the knowledge you come away with, should you decide to read further.

Each reporter at Satyrine Infinitely receives a standard issue Infinite Lizard – the Blue Sun variety – at the time of their hire. Little is said about the lizard at that time, except that it is to be kept on your person at all times. Most freshly hired reporters don’t question it, as they are simply content to start their work as an SI staffer. Others, such as myself, have an innate curiosity that drives them to look deeper. After my first couple days at The Infinitely I cracked open the 441-page employee handbook to hopefully learn more.

It took the better part of a day to get through the whole handbook, but by nightfall I had found something. Deep within the employee handbook was a tiny paragraph, obscured from our vision with a shadow. I wouldn’t have found it had it not been for my glasses which I had perched precariously on the tip of my nose; the singular object that came with me back from Shadow; the only link to my previous life, to the lie of the Grey Sun.

“By accepting Bernard, and providing him a pocket, you also accept the Truth of the Verity Corporation. Henceforth, for so long as Bernard remains in your custody, and for an elimination period of 107 days thereafter, you shall be beholden to the Truths owned by the Verity Corporation. Should you at any point during the elimination period regain custody of Bernard this and all prior agreements become null and void and are superseded by a new agreement of the same terms plus one day to the previous elimination period. Violation of the Bernard Policy will lead to corrective action up to and including Termination.”

Reading further into the handbook in one of the 16 appendices, ‘Termination’ was defined as:

“Prompt and immediate removal from all responsibilities as an employee of Satyrine Infinitely [The Company]. All ideas, relationships, and Truths gained during your employment will be surrendered to The Company. Upon release from your position with The Company, should you wish to retain any of the aforementioned company property, you may have the relative value deducted from your final paycheck. In the event that such a transaction would bring the gross check amount below a value of zero, any remaining value will be deducted from you on a one-to-one ratio. The Company takes no responsibility for loss of life during the Termination transaction.”

At the time that I read this it was only mildly disconcerting, however I was green and hungry to make a name for myself. Certainly, an institution as reputable as The Infinitely would only be covering their bases with such legalese.