Palimpsest | 2012 | Ink and Gold Leaf on erased 15th Century vellum leaves from various Books of Hours

A palimpsest is a is a vellum page from which the text has been scraped off so that it can be reused. While this was done in part because of demand for good quality vellum, there was also a sense that a text could be cleansed by rewriting scripture over it. Invariably, the erasure was incomplete, and modern scholars have recovered the original text of many palimpsests, the most famous being the Archimedes Palimpsest, which contains the only example of the Greek mathematician’s The Method.

My palimpsest reads as follows:

No serious incident in the unload and defrost. The forward base was tethered to the mesa. Full inflation and a breathable atmosphere was established. exterior is fifty-eight kPa with Earth-comparitive concentrations of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Biogen is adjusting the high percentage of carbon-based micro-organisms. Self replicating nano-bots dig a city underneath the mesa.

Mining outposts have been established. Exploitation and processing of rare ores has commenced. Biogen’s agricultural station is operational. An unexpected silicophagus virus resulted in three deaths, with full memimplant loss. Tox has isolated and destroyed it. Psych reports that the population is exceedingly content. First three native births celebrated.

The central mesa city is lost. We are isolated in outpost seventeen, but food and water are dwindling. We woke something up. Less than ten percent of us are accounted for. A message has been sent to earth. We await a response.

I can hear vibrations and scratching outside. It wants to break in. We will resist. These rough notes and our dead bodies will tell the tale. The end comes soon.

This chronology is based partly on a similar passage from The Lord of the Rings, and partly on the letters from Robert Scott’s doomed Antarctic expedition.


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