Flash Fic: Alchemy 2.0


Ipad Gold Ingot

To be honest, I’m not sad that Paracelsus is dead. He was old as dirt. Not only can I do my own thing now, but I don’t have to cringe at his judgmental, gold-toothed sneer anymore.

Don’t get me wrong; he was an okay mentor who taught me the basics of alchemy. I’d be nowhere as awesome as I am without him. But, the thing is, he was stuck in the old ways. As wise as he was, Paracelsus wouldn’t accept that we have technology in the 21st century that the old coots didn’t.

Like his whole Great Work obsession. I get it. It’d be cool to create a Philosopher’s Stone to transmute junky base metals into gold. But, really? Who cares?  For thousands of years, wrinkly dudes with scraggly beards have been trying to do that. It’s not gonna happen. Just move on already.

He never even got close to making it happen. Instead, he charged me with stupid busywork of extracting existing gold from ore. A bunch of rock crushing, washing the dust over copper plates coated in mercury, then the repetition of that tedious refinement process, over and over again until he had a few tiny gold flakes worth a couple bucks. Boring as crap, not profitable, and totally not alchemy.

Paracelsus was all about the exoteric, physical process. I’m much more spiritual, into the esoteric/mystic vibe. My new process marries the ancient with the modern. Pretty genius if you ask me. And my piles of glittering gold speak for themselves.

I use some old-school materials like salt, mercury (of course), caustic lime, and sulfur. But they’re just catalysts to amp up the intensity of the spell. The Molecular Receiver and 3-D printer soft-wired through my smart phone hotspot make the actual alchemy possible.

Chugging a few shots of absinthe doesn’t hurt.

That stubborn, backwards-thinking Paracelsus would say I’m bastardizing the alchemical tradition. Whatever. I’ve got more gold than the geezer ever dreamed of. Sure, I’m not actually creating it from scratch, but neither was he. At least I’m making precious metal instantly appear. And it’s not like I’m stealing. I’m simply finding things which were lost and forgotten.

Take my first experiment two months ago.

I lit orange candles, for luck, during the full moon. Eff off if you think that’s lame. Some of the old traditions can’t be broken. I laid out the salt circle in my mom’s basement and ignited the mercurial sulfur amalgam in a coffee can. Low tech stuff. I calibrated the printer and backhauled the Molecular Receiver’s signal over the wi-fi. High tech. Next came the software-of-sorts. Every good alchemist knows you need magick to drive the process.

I filtered this ancient incantation from Tycho the Elder through my voice recognition app. I was super cautious, though. I had absolutely no idea how much lost gold was out there, so I set the parameters pretty tight to only include [“charms” AND “baubles”].

Then I chanted.

What gold is lost, I must now find. Charms and baubles, make them mine.
Bring them back, they must be found. Take my fortune, spin it round.

One iteration is all it took.

The 3-D printer immediately started spitting out gold: lockets, tiny spoons, fancy buttons, these cool little rosettes, clasps, bracelet charms in all shapes and sizes. Before I knew it, mom’s musty basement was flooded with stuff lost over the centuries. I could barely keep up with the transmission. At one point, I was scrambling with a shop broom in one hand and a rake in the other, trying my damndest to make room for more. By the end, waist-deep in gold trinkets, I had no choice but to disengage the receiver.

Stick that in your stinky-ass pipe, Paracelsus.

That single interrupted spell produced a crapload of gold. In theory, I’m an effin billionaire. I only scrapped a small portion of it—a shoebox worth—and scored 350 grand. I reinvested it right away: upgraded all the equipment, bought some property. It took me three full weeks, four dozen truckloads, and two pulled muscles to haul all that scratch to an old 50,000 ft2 warehouse-turned-mystical-lab on the south side of town.

By then, the moon was already waxing full again. I cast the spell to summon gold statues lost through antiquity. I qualified the parameters [height>=6” AND height<=12”] and [“soldiers”]. I ended up with my own army of 30,000 miniature warriors. It felt wrong to melt them down. So I lined them along the edge of the mezzanine so they could watch over the awesomeness happening in my lab below.

I can’t stop making lists of all the gold I can dredge up: watches and fobs, rings, armor, chains, inkwells, crowns, chalices, flatware. I’ve got pages of programming possibilities. The most exciting are [“coins”] and [“bullion”]. Can you even imagine how much is out there? Buried in the earth, lying in the sewers, shipwrecked and lost at sea? I’ll have to set parameters like [mint_date<1500CE] and probably [max_value=10000 “coins”] and then cast the spells by time period until I find them all.

It’s ridiculous how much lost and forgotten gold is out there. I’d never be able to spend it all—or even spend what I’ve already summoned. Still, I want to find every last scrap of it. Because I’m spiritual like that.

The full moon’s rising. The candles are lit.

I know it’s stupid, but I keep catching glimpses of Paracelsus’s sneer glinting at me from the greasy, dark corners of my warehouse. Ghost or not, I’m snatching those gold teeth right out of his critical jaw tonight. His, and a million [“incisors” AND “molars”] like them.

All lost and forgotten.

Which is something I’ll never be. The filthy rich, and humble, Rodney the Magnanimous will be remembered and venerated as the Father of Alchemy 2.0. That’s got a good, golden ring to it.

I have a nice little collection of Flash Fic pieces & figured I’d share a few over the next couple weeks. Hope you enjoy!

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