When he first came, I thought it was novel and interesting. I didn’t know much about religion other than what I learned in church. I’d heard of the Privileged Symbol Experiment, but I’d never seen it done. My upbringing was fairly conventional. The Chaotician represented something new. I was curious. We talked.We never talked long, because he always wanted to move on and try his luck elsewhere. After I got the gist of what he believed, things cooled for awhile. I guess the jokes started after that - “want your fortune read?” “let me guess, you foretell that I’ll be disappointed with the fortune?”
Once I ran out of jokes, I just sort of greeted him. And he always just asked the same thing. He never left until I politely refused him. Even after I privately wished that he’d just take the hint, even when I just turned away when he came in, he never left until he got a refusal.
It would have been easier to just give in, except for what he asked for. He wanted a sample of our Dust.
Dust isn’t exactly special. We just use it for long-range encryption, like everyone else. We use it to feed our financial records through to the state, and to our backup servers. We could grit the path to the shop with the stuff and not really lose anything - we’d just get more in a shipment from our encryption partners.
It’s the principle of the thing, really. You don’t give your Dust out. You don’t mix clean and dirty Dust. It’s bad business.
I don’t know what the Chaotician got in response from other businesses. For that matter I’m not sure if he even visited other businesses. Maybe he just came to pester me.
One day he shows up, though, and I just give up. Business is slow. We can ask for a little extra Dust, so I crack open the hourglass and sift some out. He spreads it out on the counter, tracing finger-marks through it. I guess this is the point where curiosity got the best of me, because I always did wonder just what he was going to do with the stuff.
“Dust is the gateway to the Wyld,” the Chaotician explains. “It is the densest form of randomness made by man. Now, normal quantum phenomena are created by the underlying substrate of Wyld that’s bit-bonded to the Akashic Mandala. Think of it as a sort of holographic lens that overlays the Wyld. The net effect is that all this randomness has been filtered through a sort of universal statistical flattening algorithm that yields the observable world according to the Edenite-Gaian template…”
He’d completely lost me at this point, but I didn’t mind. If he was just making up what he was saying, it had the virtue of being interesting to hear.
“Dust is different. It’s quantum state drawn through the lens and transcribed in Edenite-Gaian fashion, onto classical objects. Those objects are still small enough that the quantum boundary is only a few orders of magnitude beneath them. What’s more, that randomness has been entangled with the currents of Destiny that pervade the Akashic Mandala. It’s randomness, preserved by intent.”
The Dust is forming weird patterns on the counter top. The Chaotician looks down at it. “You know, Chaotic prediction techniques pass the ISO Randi standards with a 5% statistical significance. … Your shop will be attacked. You should close it tomorrow and stay home.”
I still don’t know how he knew. But if you rescue guys hadn’t shown up in time, I would have died when the shop blew up. I guess I’m glad it wasn’t arson. I’d really hate to think that he made his prediction come true.