The terror seizing my body keeps the ink flowing as I write this note. New Babbage is gone… or appears to be! All that seems left in the plane I exist in at this moment is Clockhaven. I can only presume that the fact Clockhaven has been spared is due to the aetheric anchoring I secured for myself and my shop. I hope its pull is strong enough to reunite me with the rest of this fair city…
ahhh now, what has happened…
as best as I can remember. Will my hands not stop shaking!
I was out on another voyage on the Gretchen to investigate the troubling atmospheric anomalies and see if they might simply be due to the machinations of one of the local factories or laboratories.
As before, as I approached the border of Clockhaven, Gretchen’s sails were pulled to there most by a strong wind which seemed to come from no-where and every where… I could see New Babbage below. I tried to make a mental note of where I was when the storm came up. Fore and below was the Pneumatic Post (one on my list of possible scientific explanations behind the occurrences). I glanced over to my instruments and froze in shock. The display showed NOTHING ahead. According to my instruments, the buildings and streets I was hurling towards in this gale did not exist. This momentary hesitation was too long. The wind kicked into a maelstrom in a flash. I could not reach the lever to the auto-mooring. My shoulder crashed against the port rail as I was pitched overboard. As I plummeted, I fumbled for some device which might save me from gravity’s greedy allure. My finger touched the arms of the silver crucifix in my pocket. Yes, it seemed that only Faith could save me now. I could smell the sea water in the cracks between the cobblestones as they rushed up to embrace me. Then they were gone.
I was in blackness.
Again, I fumbled in my coat pockets… there it was… my fingers spasmodically flicked at the aether compass.
Suddenly, there I was, standing in New Babbage overlooking the very square which moments before had been in existenssial crisis. Yet, where was my Gretchen. I looked as far as I could above the rooftops to no avail.
I climbed down the staircase of the building in which I had landed and began the treck home.
In the study I pulled out some parchment and a cartomatic engine. I loaded the engine with the magnetic inks I had acquired on my last trip to Nepal. As the paper was pulled through the engine’s feeders, an image began to appear. With haste, I pulled the map from the machine, still hot and slightly damp. I stared in horror at the same thing Gretchen’s instruments had shown me earlier:
There was Clockhaven, surrounded by … nothing!
Incredulous, I rushed out, past the fountain, towards the Gangplank and Port Babbage.
My racing feet slowly came to a halt as my head span. I could not comprehend what my eyes saw. There, stretching out before me where moments before had been my beloved city, was nothing… nothing but the vast Vernian Sea… if it was even that anymore.
My heart pounded in my temples so loudly I did not hear the young woman walk, or land behind me. I turned around and stopped. Another survivor?!? A thousand words filled my head, but all I could manage was “It’s gone! All gone!”
She looked at me in perplexed confusion. I did not recognize her and after a quick exchange determined that she was a new visitor to our city. Without trying to panic the young lady, I told her that I was under the impression that New Babbage was gone and in its place was nothing more than the vast expanse of nothing and ocean.
What she told me then frightened me even more than if the above were the total facts of the situation. The young lady looked at me with concern in her eyes… concern for another human who might be not quite right. She gently touched my shoulder and softly reassured me “It’s right there”. Gesturing to the void I saw, she described the shops and alleys which I knew should stand there.
Somehow, she was still able to see them… much as I had moments before my instruments showed them gone. Could New Babbage still exist? Could it be on some aetherial plane that I did not have access to? (an alarming thought!) Could this newcomer have passed through the boundary between planes and be straddling both? If so, there was not a moment to lose. The lady looked more than capable of handling herself. I told her what I knew of the situation… mostly. I implored her that if she could, to get a message to Mayor Tenk. To tell him that something terrible was coming and may have already taken hold of New Babbage. She ignited her personal aero-engine and flew off to the nothingness. I turned back to the Clocktower to await word from her or Tenk. I had not told her what I feared was coming … or rather, who.
That was an hour ago.
Still no word.