It is a fact beyond the reach of suspicion that an intelligent being outwardly different from ourselves once also called our native planet home. Today, we claim to know more about this curious predecessor of ours than we care to substantiate with factual evidence, but there is more to it than meets the lazy eye.
Despite being physiologically unfit for Earthly habitation, the human, as the being had labeled itself, was nonetheless able to spread its seed throughout the planet's many landscapes and ecosystems. It is, in fact, this very proclivity for geographic domination as exhibited by the being that leads one to the question, why, then, is it no longer here?
Mainstream science will have us believe that the human race consumed itself into extinction over the course of the so-called Cannibal Plague. Such an ambitious claim, moreover, is substantiated by nothing more than the loose references to a “consumer society” found in the many human-era texts and artifacts that have since been unearthed across the globe. Should you too find yourself with a craving for such low-caliber lore, please stop reading this and find solace in your average Humanetics textbook.
The truth, you see, is that the entire human race—men, women and children—vanished in a momentary, blinding flash of light, as if at the flip of a switch. Why, how and what does this mean for us? asks history revisionist Rupert Exavier Moore in this installment of Skeptical Rupert Investigates.
Other books in the Skeptical Rupert Investigates series:
The Knot Universe Model
Sexually Transmitted Cures
The Telepathy of Gold
The Secret Lives of Reptiloids
A note from the author:
When I first set out to write a book about our planet’s former residents, I feared that like many talented researchers before me, I too would fall victim to the allure that facts concede to fiction. Between the undoubtedly beguiling “Cannibal Plague”s, “Apple Invasion”s and “Superhuman Rebellion”s, there seemed to be little left to learn about the clearly quirky, if not a little nutty, human race. I spent years upon years leaping from one idea to another, flipping, flopping and losing my mind without ever landing on anything remotely concrete. It wasn’t until I accidentally acquainted myself with the theories put forth by a professor of spiritual studies, of all people, at the little-known Mossiaite Convent located deep in the forests of Arbor in the Northern Hemisphere that all of the pieces suddenly fell into place. Among other things, the experience taught me never to brush aside the invisible architecture of a seemingly accidental acquaintance when investigating a far-reaching deception.
What follows is an all-encompassing exchange of information that took place between myself and Professor Zachariah Plumb across various platforms over a one-year period that preceded the completion and publication of this book. Be advised, however, that what lies ahead is a puzzle of many moving parts and pieces, as indeed a carrier of truth should be. You must approach it, thus, with stubborn purpose and in a highly conscious state of mind.
Now clear your thoughts, take a deep breath and dive in.
With gratitude and skepticism,
Rupert Exavier Moore
Dear Professor Plumb,
My name is Rupert Exavier Moore, and I’m contacting you on account of having come across your theories regarding the fate of the mysterious human race. I am currently investigating the events that occurred during the latter stages of the human era for my truth-seeking literary series. Given some of the claims you’ve made over the years, and specifically the contrarian nature of said claims, I would like to invite you to partake in the shaping of my unbiased understanding of the matter at hand. Unadulterated mainstream beliefs, you see, simply won’t do my readers justice. They’ve grown to expect the unbelievable from me.
Should you have any reservations about working with a stranger on such a taboo project, know this: My mentor, none other than the late Cornelia Chase, once told me that to see the truth, one must venture outside the lie, and to venture outside the lie, one must first grow dissatisfied within it. This is something I’ve lived by ever since. I assure you, then, Professor, that it is my sole and firm intention to set my readers on a path toward intense satisfaction. Feel free to study some of my earlier works before making up your mind.
Rupert Exavier Moore
Light be upon you this glorious day. I am already familiar enough with your works to all but call myself a fan. I am, therefore, willing to join you on your quest for the truth, but on one condition—please call me Father Zachar; Professor Plumb makes me sound like a purple cartoon character.
Now then, I assume in your letter you’re referring to my theories pertaining to the very real, albeit indeed controversial, phenomenon of Spontaneously-Executed Righteous Fluoroplosion of the domic variety, otherwise known as SERF-dom. Although I’ve investigated quite a few claimed cases of SERF-dom throughout my career, none have ever come close, both in magnitude and sheer mystery, to that potentially experienced by the entire human race during the terminal stages of its existence here on Earth.
By now, of course, you should be aware that no investigation into the notion of SERF is complete without an in-depth understanding of the case of Leon Z. Moss, an author who lived on Earth during the early twenty-first century of that very same era. Leon was the first known animate entity to have spontaneously fluoroploded, and so it is by studying his case in conjunction with a knowledge of the events that followed that we are able to draw a near-complete picture of the lead-up to the human end of days, and therefore, perhaps, predict an end of days of our own.
You see, if we simply put aside our egos and look beyond our anatomical superiorities to the human, we are not that much unlike the wretched being. Have you forgotten that we speak human languages, that we carry human names, that we put human labels on our rivers, theories, continents, discoveries and so on? Yet we are taught that we evolved, over the course of eons, from the aquatic sponge, an immobile marine organism that had, apparently, one day awoken to the idea of absconding its native waters to instead get busy conquering the noxious air and land. Tell me that you do not detect a strange, invisible, almost duplicitous connection between it all, and I will forever leave you be. And here, if we just stop and consider that we are nothing more than the human being, only improved in some of the places that needed improving, then who, pray tell, did the improving in the first place, and do we too, when we are ready, stand to endure an improvement of our own?
But that’s me getting ahead of myself. If you haven’t already, I advise you to get your hands on one of my earlier compilations entitled The Book of Leon. It is a one-stop document for all your queries pertaining to the SERF-dom of Leon Z. Moss and the intricacies of the late human-era in general. Note that The Book of Leon is not a fictional account of the events as envisioned by our peers, but rather a collection of actual human-era writings gathered from various sources and organized to make a more rewarding sense by myself and a team of handpicked professionals. Even though much of it is written in the second-person, wherein the reader is challenged to try on the mind of a male human, it is required reading for all new recruits here at the convent, brothers and sisters alike.
And lastly, to facilitate the ease of our cooperation, please forward all further inquiries to my attention via the Mossiaite Convent Messaging Client (MCMC: Walk with Us Toward the Light). Among other reasons to do this is that I am more readily available there.
Welcome to the club, Brother Rupert.
On the wings of light,
I was so intrigued by the words of Father Zachar that I had his wife, assistant and daughter, the lovely Ophelia Plumb, forward a copy of The Book of Leon to my vacation home in Gattaca Springs, where I then proceeded to devour it like a hungry human (forgive this manifestation of my societal linguistic programming). And it is now my pleasure to likewise present it to you.
Please note that from this point forward an above-average understanding of the human social order is recommended. If this is your virgin “Skeptical Rupert” experience, then perhaps you ought to educate yourself in the appropriate manner before reading on. A glossary of terms, should you find yourself in need of one, is available for purchase directly from St. Monica Press.
Now, without further ado, I present to you, unsupplemented and unabridged for the first time ever, The Book of Leon. The remainder of my conversation with Father Zachar is interlaced throughout.
THE BOOK OF LEON
discovered by Lon R. Blubber (Holy Father Lonar)
arranged by Professor Zachariah Plumb (Father Zachar)
de-theologized by Rupert Exavier Moore (Skeptical Rupert)
T minus 60 hours.
“It’s all the television, you know?” the cab driver drills into your daydream with his gravelly voice, “They’re now having sex with trees, the animals. What’s next? Straight banging the earth?”
Dazed, you sit up straight and ask, “I’m sorry, what?”
You’re lost, as indeed you should be. You—Leon Z. Moss; yes, the author, the one and only, in the flesh—are at home for the first time in years, after all. Within the general confines of Russia, that is.
“That homosexual chick with the trees,” the driver says and points at his radio, “This world is going to hell.”
“Oh, yeah, right,” you say, “Well, some people are just…” You shake your head, meaning to appear agreeable to the man’s concerns for the world.
[CROSS-DIMENSIONAL INTERPOLATION (C-D.I.) #1 – Leon, who neither watched TV nor listened to the radio, could not have known what his driver had meant by “homosexual chick with the trees.” Not yet, anyway, not until that evening’s catchy celebrity gossip had had the time to spread on the wings of such talkative cabbies, among others. Although, at that point of his homecoming trip, he was still on track toward his eventual learning of all the juicy details in some habitual way, like, say, for instance, by way of one-night-stand-pillow-talk.]
“Did you get yours signed?” the driver changes the subject, evidently satisfied with your take on the tree-love situation.
“Your copy of Zebra Paradox—at the fair,” the man clarifies, pointing a thumb over his right shoulder. “Percy Winters,” he adds, butchering Percy’s last name into Veentres.
“Zebra what? Never heard of it.”
“Weren’t you just at the fair?”
“Yes,” you say, “Business, not pleasure.”
The driver reaches into his glove compartment, making you cram your knees near the passenger’s seat door, and then produces the book in question. “I think I saw you there, at the author of the year presentation, the tall guy,” he says and hands you the book.
Lizzy Cox and the Zebra Paradox—a young adult novel by freshly-crowned Moscow book fair Author of the Year, and therefore your source of disdain for at least the next few hours, trendy manbun wearing Percy Winters.
“No, no you didn’t—a lookalike, maybe,” you correct the driver and, circling your face with an index finger, add, “I have that lookalike-look.” You then crack open the book and read the first two lines: Too inexplicable to be befriended, Lizzy lived a lonely life. The world, to her, was black, and in it, she was white. “Hmm,” you say and return the book to the glove compartment.
The driver turns as though to study your lookalike-look, twice, and asks, “And what is it that you do?”
“I’m in publishing,” you say, which either impresses or confuses the man, as he raises his eyebrows faster than you can add, “Small, local press, mostly.”
“Must be really small, and really local,” he says, stressing the reallys. “Anything I might’ve read?”
“I doubt it. We deal with more”—you search for the right words—“under-the-surface type projects. Nothing about Zebras, at any rate, unless, of course, they’re from another planet.”
The driver looks at you again, this time either judging you a fool or picking up on your sore-loserdom, but then, as though trusting neither instinct, says, “Well, I got mine signed, for my girlfriend, a gift for her birthday.”
“Oh, she’s turning sixteen, is she?”
Fifteen minutes later, your fear of being the “lesser” author now somewhat subdued by the guilt you feel for having insulted the driver, you stand on the Tverskaya (nee Gorky) street, half a block north of the hotel you’ve been lodging in for the better part of a week. Despite the street’s being busy beyond the telling of words—Saturday night looms, after all—to spare yourself the embarrassment, and perhaps also to get out of that cab sooner, you have decided not to pull in at the hotel’s porte-cochere, but rather to arrive on foot.
Other pedestrians, meanwhile, march up and down the sidewalk faster than usual, awkward limps now disfiguring their steps. Constantly fixing their belts, buttons and collars, they seem to be searching for the short-lived freedom they’ve likely grown accustomed to over the bygone summer months. It is, after all, the fourth Saturday of September.
A sign in the window of a grocery store reads, 25% DISCOUNT ON EVERYTHING, but an asterisk at the statement’s end leads you to scan for and find at the sign’s bottom a fine-print footnote that adds: Discount does not apply to liquor, tobacco, coffee and birth control products. Farther south, beyond the billboards, balconies, limping bodies, bobbing heads and smog, the Kremlin stands yet unseen by you, on this trip, or ever before.
You close the half-block distance without once being glanced at and then slip unnoticed under a modern steel and glass roof of your hotel’s porte-cochere. The roof’s out-curved structure amplifies the many noises of the busy street—honking, booming and howling, a baby crying and a mother telling a crying baby to shut up, among an army of others. “Drop dead, jackass,” someone stuck in traffic yells at someone else stuck in traffic, only not as reservedly. A chain of above-head lamps lights the hotel’s driveway, and executive class sedans, pearl black in their majority, line it from entry to exit. Polished to excess, like those on display in a showroom, the cars glimmer under the white light falling from above. An opaque-skinned pedestrian, someone like yourself, thus often remains overlooked until the definitive pivot from the driveway to the main doorway. And indeed, it’s only when you take the turn in question that a young doorman in a blue coat, black tie and a funny-looking top hat finally screens you as a potential security threat. Nevertheless, seeing as you have in fact been staying here for the better part of a week, the verdict on the youngster’s face quickly changes from “danger” to “valued guest.” The young man then does his job with a professional grin, bidding you a fair evening while welcoming you into a lobby of marble and gold.
The hotel’s lobby, while loud in the excessiveness of its decor, is rather quiet in the literal sense. The bounteous marble, per a brochure you read while using the restroom a day earlier, hails from Portugal and the Altai mountains. That brochure said nothing about the origins of the equally bounteous gold. Directly across from the main entrance, a spacious foyer unravels its many gifts for your inquisitive eyes. Furnished by modern reproductions of Victorian-style armchairs, tables, floor lamps and sofas, all arranged in a neat, strict and linear manner as though on sale in a posh furniture retailer, the foyer yet remains vacant.
You stop by the reception to retrieve a key to your room. “Thirty-eight,” you inform the receptionist.
“Right away, sir,” the man says, recognizing you. He then shuffles around his workspace for thirty seconds longer than expected, eventually returning with a keycard and a small brown envelope. “This came for you,” he says.
“Came for me?”
“Yes, delivered no more than fifteen minutes ago.”
“An older gentleman with a…” He starts to outline the curves of a body with his hands but stops at around the waist area.
“A younger lady?” you interject.
The receptionist looks embarrassed but says nothing.
You pocket the keycard and open the envelope to locate within it three items: one thin, salmon-hued paper slip—a train ticket—and two notes, one handwritten and the other printed. The handwritten note says:
Dear Mr. Moss,
Please find enclosed the summary you requested. Notice that it is complete, strictly by chance, at exactly three-hundred-thirty-three words. I urge you, once more, to exercise extreme caution in the handling of this information. We wouldn’t want “them” learning of your having come into possession of it.
Thank you again for your time. I trust you’ll know what to do. The future is now in your hands.
Denis B. Ivkin.
And at the very bottom, written in print letter cases and with different color ink as though added at a later time, and perhaps by the hand of a third party, are the words P.S. YOUR FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELED. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
By now, the moment has all but slipped your mind, but earlier in the day you had in fact invited one Denis something-or-other to send you a summary of a certain “life-changing project” that he claimed to have come upon “in the most cosmic of ways.” Denis couriered for a law firm that you had hired to grease the necessary palms in the acquisition of the deed and keys to your recently deceased grandfather’s apartment. As Zev’s sole heir, you were well within your rights to semi-lawfully appropriate all of his property and belongings. It was, incidentally, the thought of scouting the old man’s apartment for some nostalgia-based inspiration that had cut short your success-induced expatriation and brought you home in the first place. Into the general confines of Russia, that is, as that which you’ve come for isn’t in Moscow at all. X marks the spot six-hundred miles south of the capital, in your and Zev’s native city of Burov. Denis’ firm had therefore also provided you, also via Denis, with a plane ticket for a flight that has, apparently, since been canceled.
At the time of Denis’ delivery, a woman across the street had bent over to scoop her dog’s droppings, clearly a Moscovite, so the details of your conversation with the man now elude you, but as a publishing industry insider, you are inclined to shape what you do know into the makings of an ill-timed novel pitch. It is, on the other hand, exactly this loose connection between that moment and a lady’s hardbody that grants Denis’ summary a slim chance of ever being glanced at.
[C-D.I. #2 – Although the jury is still out on this matter, there is yet a distinct possibility that Leon’s derailment from his destined path coincided with his decision to read Denis’ printed note. Yes, something as unexciting as a one-night stand was simply no longer meant to be. It was likewise here, perhaps, that Leon ultimately sacrificed his chance at ever rolling his eyes upon hearing the story of popular socialite and confirmed bisexual Samantha “Cookie” Fairgame, otherwise known as “homosexual chick with the trees.” Earlier that day, you see, when asked in an interview if she was a paraphilic dendrophile, as in sexually aroused by trees, Cookie had answered “yes, sometimes,” thinking the words to mean one who loves or has a strong affinity for Dan “Double-D” Drough, a costar of hers on “Who's Fairgame?” her eponymous reality show. The interviewer had been inspired by an episode of the show in which Cookie had compared the surface and girth of Double-D's penis to those of the Fagus grandifolia, a species of beech tree, a rather sickly member of which grew in the Fairgame family garden. None of this, of course, was in any way apparent, or even theoretically meaningful, to Leon at the time of his reading the handwritten note. In fact, it never as much as occurred to him that Denis’ project was precious enough to die for, and that Denis might have “come upon it,” specifically him, only and precisely because he had it written in the stars, on that fourth Saturday of September, to be the one to make that morning’s delivery.]
“Is there a problem?” the receptionist says, evidently reading dissatisfaction off your face.
“No problem. Thanks.”
You don’t yet look at the printed note. Instead, you wonder if the receptionist, a guy of about twenty-five, thirty tops, could have referred to Denis as “an older gentleman.” You yourself would have simply said “gentleman,” or even just “man.” Denis couldn’t have been much older than you, you try to recall, although, theoretically, someone could have argued that he possessed an eye-deceiving maturity common to the long-term Moscow resident. The ecology of this place is no friend of longevity, not by any measure. That’s not to mention the lifestyle. Or maybe the gentleman wasn’t older per se, only older than the lady with him. That would’ve explained his being too preoccupied on a Saturday evening to stick around the hotel to make the delivery himself. A true delusional writer seeking that elusive lucky-break would have done precisely that. Was there even a lady?
So be it, you finally decide; train it is, then. Flying is for busy people, anyway.
You toss the handwritten note in the trash and pocket the ticket. Then, instead of hopping on an elevator as you did on every previous evening, you head into the foyer, where you sit down on the farthermost sofa, facing the entrance. There, secluded in the far corner, buried in the padding of an imitation Victorian sofa and surrounded by Portuguese marble and fairytale gold, you plan on skimming over Denis’ summary. But first, you cast a quick eye across the lobby.
A tall and slim lady in her mid to late fifties, having first emerged from a room marked for women, ambles lengthwise the foyer and stops by a black-marble pillar with a glitzy, gold-plated top. An atypical shadow displacement of her facial skin texture leads you to assume her a recent recipient of getting some work done, some and then some. Crowned by the gold-plated pillar top, the lady just stands there, waiting for that perpetually unpunctual nothing, glancing now and again at a chain of clocks hung above the reception desk, as though saddled, tested, enslaved by the heft that is unneeded time.
“They who need the time get punished by a lack thereof, and they who’d settle for a lack get punished by a surplus,” you recall something your grandfather said to you after you’d been unemployed for longer than someone of his generation could have ever understood. The man must have seen the surplus gnawing at your face. Soon after that, of course, thanks in part to the old man himself, you would suffer through the lack as well, when working on your novel.
It’s with the treachery of time in mind that you finally lower your eyes to Denis’ printed note… and are instantly stunned stiff—
From the website of Entertainment Tomorrow:
AUTHOR LEON Z. MOSS MISSING IN RUSSIA, POLICE QUESTION WITNESSES
Leon Z. Moss (born Leonti Mosin), a Russian expatriate and author of the popular novel, Up in the Under, disappeared last Tuesday while on a personal trip to his native Burov, Russia. Moss had arrived in Burov early on Monday morning from Moscow, where he had attended the Moscow International Book Fair. Some witnesses, among them two police officers, have insisted that Moss “vanished without a trace after a blinding flash of white light had seized the sky.” The officers in question have since been unavailable for comment. At least three other reports of a glaring explosion of light occurring in the vicinity of Moss’ last known location have been filed with the police.
A neighborhood street sweeper claimed to have seen a man matching Moss’ description after the purported flash of light had subsided, but investigators have swept the claim aside on account of the witness’ sobriety level. Entertainment Tomorrow was able to obtain the street sweeper’s statement to the police.
From the statement: “Yes, that’s the guy [witness pointed at photograph of subject]. I saw him circling a manhole in the backyard of this building [witness pointed at photograph of subject’s local residence]. Those covers go for five-thousand rubles a piece nowadays. Oh, yeah, and he was half-naked.”
Authorities, while promising to leave no stone unturned in their search for the author, have declined to comment on the flash of white light. A source within Roscosmos, Russia’s state-run space agency, has, however, nominated “a rare meteoric-dust flare” as the most probable source of the light. Since Moss’ disappearance, Entertainment Tomorrow has received numerous unconfirmed reports of the Burov Region’s being home to a secret military facility known as “Polygon 38,” which may or may not be used for the covert testing of experimental weaponry. The region is also known for its many UFO sightings dating back to the early twentieth century. In the eighties, life in Burov was paralyzed by the hunt for serial killer Andrei Alliluyev, known locally as “The Butcher of Burov.” Following Alliluyev’s arrest, trial and execution, the city fell off the map until a number of high-profile assassinations, all assumed political, rocked its streets in the nineties and early two-thousands.
Fans of Moss’ work fear the worst. Those most impressionable believe it was the controversial subject matter of Up in the Under—the presence of extraterrestrial life on Earth, particularly in Russia—that had triggered the author’s expatriation shortly after the novel’s success. St. Paul’s Press has already announced a reprint.
The investigation continues. Meanwhile, Moss’ agent Celeste Carlyle asks anyone who may know something about her client’s whereabouts to contact either her at email@example.com or Moss’ representative in Moscow, Igor Smolin, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Attention and confidentiality are guaranteed.
Batman1998 – 2 hours, 33 minutes ago
Lisa88 – 2 hours, 22 minutes ago
Christ4Life – 2 hours, 15 minutes ago
+Lisa88 Have some decency. Something terrible might have happened to this man.
coolUK007 – 2 hours, 9 minutes ago
+Christ4Life Don’t forget to buy this dude’s book… sheep.
See all 38 comments
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RUPERT EXAVIER MOORE (#0000015) to the attention of FATHER ZACHAR (#0000001): Father Zachar, it’s Rupert. I was so thrilled to have received your response that I immediately signed up for an MCMC account. I see what you mean now; this is indeed very efficient. Needless to say, your help is much appreciated, and rest assured that credit will be given where due. We have a lot of ground to cover, but let’s start at the beginning. First, can you elaborate on the “various sources” of actual human-era writings of which you spoke in your letter. What are your sources, exactly?
#0000001 in response to #0000015: Hello again, Brother Rupert. Few are aware of this, but the Word of Man is, perhaps, the most abundant source of knowledge we have in our possession today. Humans were such prolific note-takers that we have unearthed entire complexes once devoted to the storage of raw data. Of course, much of this data is far too decayed to be of use to us at present, and even that which is of fair condition is, by and large, unreadable trash. Having done my fair share of research, I can best describe the bulk of all that remains intact as the residuum of gutless man-boys and boredom-stricken housewives. There are, nonetheless, small pockets of truly important chronicles peppered throughout the mountains upon mountains of drivel, each like a needle in a haystack. It was in exactly such a haystack that Holy Father Lonar, founding father of the Mossiaite Convent Lon R. Blubber, stumbled upon the story of Leon Z. Moss some fifty years ago. The haystack in question was the collection of so-called Maryland tablets, excavated in Fort Meade a few years earlier still. In anti-establishment circles, of course, these tablets are better known as the “human fingers,” for their likeness in shape and size to the human extremity of the same name. Quite a few of these human fingers were covered in a strange semi-white substance, the true nature of which remains a mystery to this day, save for the fact that its original state was most likely highly viscous. Whatever it may be, this substance, when congealed, clearly served as some sort of protective coating, for it would be the memory capsules of only the fingers covered in it that researchers would eventually access after many years of trying. Among hundreds of videos found inside, none of which, sadly, have ever been restored to watchable condition, were thousands upon thousands of fairly readable pages of text. And within these pages lay splintered into hundreds of seemingly meaningless pieces the tale you have recruited me to tell. I do have copies of the more valuable documents, of course, should you like to see them. Unfortunately, the originals have since been looted, ransacked and violated in every way imaginable, many of them lost forever, and those that yet survive are spread across an incomprehensible network of private collections and public museums, not on display, mind you, but rotting in dusty storage closets and damp cellars, all as if to discourage those interested in learning the truth from seeking them out.
#0000015: Fair enough. Next question: Who came up with the theory of Spontaneously-Executed Righteous Fluoroplosion, and could you provide a brief explanation, in layman’s terms, of what it means and what causes it?
#0000001: Sure thing. In its original, raw form, the theory was envisioned by Holy Father Lonar, but its entitling and subsequent advancement were all the work of yours truly. I feel like I should warn you, here, not to confuse the authentic theory as put forth by myself with its derogatory clone, Seriously Exaggerated Reading of Fiction, as popularized by the media in a swift but rather uninspired smear campaign. Essentially, the theory refers to the involuntary passage of a physical body from existence into nonexistence within a minimal time-frame, leaving behind nothing but a residual discharge of fluorescence. In layman’s terms, it’s when someone up and vanishes in a flash of light for no perceptible reason. There are different schools of thought regarding the cause of this phenomenon. Beliefs on this diverge even here at the convent. Some have argued that SERF is akin to the human idea of “enlightenment,” defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the “final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering.” In the case of such a belief, if we were to look at the physical reality as a kind of training ground, SERF would be caused by a subject’s attainment of a certain fundamental knowledge that indicated the coming-to-an-end of their training, their graduation to a higher state, if you will. I too was among this camp at the onset of the idea. It is, after all, rather harmonious with the isolated case of Leon Z. Moss. (Hence, in fact, the R in SERF.) However, having delved deeper into the subject, I now find this belief inconsistent with at least one major fact. You see, how can an entire race of beings attain enlightenment within a period of time too short to measure? And the human race, remember, indeed vanished as though at the flip of a switch. There must therefore be another cause, one more consistent with the deliberate wiping-out of all representatives of a species, enlightened or not. Does it not stand to reason, then, that the root of such a cause would be found in something akin to, if not exactly like, the story of Leon Z. Moss?