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The Artefact

By Robert Lynch

The Great Hall was aptly named. “The Good Hall” would have been an understatement and “The Really Incredible Hall” would have been overkill. Great was the perfect porridge indeed. The Great Hall stood as essentially a foyer to the parliament building, to awe all those who entered the otherwise dreary place.

In the very centre of the hall was the last remaining artefact of the Anthropocene Era. A small rectangular item which folded out a hard casing to reveal thin membranous wood fibres which had a kind of primitive code on them. No one could read the code. It could be a list of recipes for jellied toad livers. Although that seemed unlikely because recipes tended to be accompanied with pictures that any meal cooked from the recipe would never look like. There were no pictures in this code. Just lines scribbled onto the delicate parchment.

The artefact holds a special place in society. After the fall it was used by charlatans to claim divine authority to rule the survivors. Religions rose and fell around the artefact, but no one could read it. The secrets of the ancients remain lost to us.

After the last King was overthrown, it was decided to put the artefact, the divine symbol of office, into the Great Hall. There all would marvel at the incredible stupidity of humankind to follow code they couldn’t read to tell them things they couldn’t know.

The first King after the fall had claimed that God had saved the secrets of the artefact and directed the artefact to him to read the secrets. If he could read the secrets, they apparently told him to take many wives and to mistreat the servants. This is why the servants drugged the imperial guard and murdered him.


The oldest of that King’s sons claimed that he could read the artefact and that it told of piety, so he claimed the crown for himself. The second King proclaimed his father’s excesses to be a sin. We all know where this story is going. He was found to be even more debaucherous than his father. As the palace burned, during his overthrowing, the artefact was saved and taken to a monastery.

Strings of high priests, kings, consuls, and dear leaders have bloodied history for the possession of the artefact. There seems to be no logical reason for this, other than they needed to fight over something and the artefact was as good as any other thing. Looking at history, one would be excused for thinking that the tyrants all thought that blood was better off outside the body rather than in it.

We’ll never know for sure what the code of the artefact says, but there are many theories. Some believe it to be mundane, others profound. Some even call the artefact a name they claim was handed down through the centuries, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”


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