Flash Fiction: The Invisible Encyclopedia

Hey folks! It’s been awhile since I did one of these but over at Terribleminds awesome author Chuck Wendig has launched his first flash fiction challenge of the new year. In this case we were offered two lists of 20 items each. Roll a die or use a random number generator to pick a word off each list and voila – you have your flash fiction title. Oh, and you can add “The” as needed.

So I rolled and ended up with “The Invisible Encyclopedia”. Read, enjoy.

The Invisible Encyclopedia

You might call it, and some have of course, Monopsychism, Unus Mundus, the Collective Unconscious, or the World Soul, but we call it The Invisible Encyclopedia and it’s in danger. Someone out there has gone into business for themselves. We don’t know who they are; we call them The Editor. My name is Ha Sung Hwa and along with my friends Lila Molesky and Basel Rizk we’re hunting The Editor.

We’re trying to anyway, but it has NOT been going well.

So we’re doing something we’ve never done before. Lila calls it our Plan D. As in D for desperation. It’s hard to argue with her. For the first time ever we’re taking a page out of the Editor’s book and adding to the Invisible Encyclopedia directly.

You have to understand, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be done. The Encyclopedia is constantly there, just past the edge of our awareness, giving us hints and nudges of understanding and insight. At the same time, it takes in everything, absolutely everything, we experience. We are all, each and every person, contributers to the Encyclopedia. There are no Editors. Or, at least, there aren’t supposed to be. Sure, we filter what we get from it, whether that information comes in sudden flashes of insight or weird dreams that we can’t shake come morning, through our own personal lens, but the source material is raw, unadulterd. It is what it is – the collective experiences of everyone who is or has ever been.

That’s what it was anyway. But now The Editor is out there and He. Is. Fucking. With. Us. All.

Basel wants me to point out that I say “Now” but we don’t actually know how long The Editor has been active. We also don’t know if he is a he.

What we do know is this. We went looking for the Encyclopedia about five years ago. Through a combination of technology, natural psychic talent, and an explortation of various mystic traditions we found it. We can access the Encyclopedia directly. It’s like hacking into another layer of reality. A pyschic wikipedia overlayed on the real world.

Of course, we went exploring and we got a pretty good feel for it. There is a natural chaos to any particular entry, and it can be disorienting. Imagine reading a digital document with with hundreds, if not thousands of authors (or far, far more!) having given their input and every word and idea has a hundred hyperlinks attached to it.

To put it mildly it is some mind blowing shit.

For awhile everything was great. Knowing that this idea that had been suggested in one form or another since probably human language began sent our minds spinning with possibility. I mean, this was real. Once we had a solid handle on it all we could start sharing what we’d found. Imagine all of humanity in one giant feedback loop with itself. It’d be one step away from conversation with a god. But then we discovered The Editor’s handiwork.

We had never considered accessing the Encyclopia in this way before. We were so wrapped up in conciously percieving it that we never considered the possibilty of conciously manipulating it. It is apparent The Editor had no such blind spot.

He has walked through our collective repository of knowledge and he has changed what he found there. We can’t know the full extent, and we don’t know how to repair it, or if it even is repairable. Of particular danger are subtle changes he may have made. They may be impossible to find in the chaos. His larger works though, they stand out.

When you get used to reading the encyclopedia the chaos becomes familiar. So familiar, and proper seeming, that The Editor’s alterations seem even more terrifying than the chaos first did. The Editor brings focus. He brings order. He highlights by eliminating nuance and complexity. And oh, what he highlights.

Hate. Distrust. A Strengthening of Barriers. Fear of the Other.

The Editor’s mission, near as we can tell, is to break the very bonds of collective humanity that the Encyclopedia represents. We don’t know the motivation, but it seems unlikely that The Editor has anyone’s good interests at heart other than his own.

We have tried to track him, to find him, to stop him. We have failed. So we come now to this Plan D. After careful deliberation and much debate we have taught ourselves to manipulate The Encyclopedia. Where our Enemy seeks to edit we shall seek to archive. We are here to protect the integrity of our collective knowledge and experience.

This is a bulletin. Our first real move here inside the Encyclopedia. Our first counterstrike. We are putting out a call – beware The Editor. Beware the barriers and simplification of hate he sows. Watch for us. Watch for our bulletins. We may not be able to repair the damage, yet, but we can flag it. Even more important we call upon you all to consider, in your dreams and subconscious intuition, The Editor’s work to help us better understand his goals here and in the real world.

We will be watching. We will be acting. You won’t know we’re here. But you will know. The fight for The Invisible Encyclopedia, whatever you may call it, has begun, and The Archivists stand with you.

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5 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: The Invisible Encyclopedia

  1. Hi, I came by to check out your flash fiction. I really like the idea as a whole. It obviously is far too large of an idea for 1000 words to be able to include character development and story. But, I would like to see it fleshed out and the idea revealed over a book length story.

    • Thanks for checking out the story, and thanks for the comments. Yes, this is one that ended up feeling more like an introduction to an idea than a story by itself. I may definitely have to revisit it in the future to tell the whole story as a novella or novel.

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