Just how Cosmic is that Coffee?

There’s one on every corner, or so it seems. That retro spinning Saturn; that loopy text: Cosmic Coffee calls your caffeine-fueled cells home to its embrace most weekday mornings. True to its name, it seems to be not just the center of the universe but also its edges, and like the universe, its edges are ever-expanding.

This was not always so.

Another company so pervasive as to constitute some percentage of the air you breathe, The Keane Candy Company, also wasn’t nearly so popular in the past.  Founded nearly eighty years ago, its products did not receive wide distribution until it was bought by a certain food service giant. The same one, of course, that owns Cosmic Coffee and many other familiar brands.

Keane Candy. You know, Tum-Tums? Small, spherical confections, the bag-bottom detritus of any Halloween haul, and the lollipops you’ve seen on the desk of every bank you’ve ever been to. Cheap sweets, the sop to every impatient, fidgeting child who has ever had to wait for their parent to finish doing their boring, adult business. If you look inside the wrappers, there are sometimes coded messages. Most take no notice, thinking it akin to a cereal-box-top marketing game, a toy in the package of caramel corn.

Look deeper.

In your local Cosmic Coffee – the one you frequent – there’s a barista with iridescent eyes and a beard of prey. He’s always been nice enough, but there’s also always seemed to be more to him. Or rather: since that morning when you woke from the dream, the morning that began the descent into all this madness. The morning you became what you Are now, what you had no choice but to become.

He knew you. He saw you, somehow. Even if you managed to evade his deeper scrutiny, you know you didn’t get by him that day, not completely. He’s one of you, somehow. These days, you can always tell.

You’re not sure what that means about Cosmic Coffee, or Keane Candy, or any of the other products that make up the warp and weft of mundane, modern reality. There’s an overlay to everything, now, a transparent glow of the non-mundane. Everything seems infused with it, these days. What are they putting in the coffee? What do the symbols on the candy wrappers mean? Would you like to see the secret menu?

How deep does it all go?

Look closer.


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Jared, the poet magician

Jared, by Duncan Eagleson

He’s the second thing you see when you open your eyes.

The first is a welter of scribbling on the wall beside you, a visual cacophony of symbols, hashes and curves. You try not to look at it for too long, as it starts to move and shape itself into new meanings if you stare for more than a few seconds.

You don’t remember doing that, but you’re fairly sure you did that.

You shut your eyes for a moment, then open them in a different direction. Your eyes fall on a young man, mostly gangles, slouched into a too-small school desk. He sits up, eyes widening behind chunky glasses, the thick tome he was holding in one slender hand lowering to the desk with a soft *plomp*.

“You’re awake,” he says, eyebrows peaked in concern. The word seems to reverberate, meanings breathing in and out.

“Yes,” you manage, “I think I am.”

He’s young, just college-age, and a student here at the University, where you’ve been brought for safekeeping after your “episode” last night. Turns out his transformation into a mage wasn’t much different from yours: sudden, destabilizing. But his was accidental: he already knew about mages and magic when a student’s work in the Alphabet got transmitted to him through uncareful, curious eyes. Yours was unexpected, for sure…but you’re fairly certain it was intentional. The question of “why” will have to wait.

Jared might not be the first person you imagine when you think “mage” or “wizard,” but given all that’s happened lately, it’s not all that surprising that a young poet, obsessed with language and understanding the deep nature of things, would find joy in being a mage. It helps him write, he says, and he shows you how a certain kind of focus can reveal every detail about a situation in a fraction of a second. Counting grains of sand may be a waste of time, but with this power, you don’t have to: the total understanding of how many grains there are, what colors and shapes, what they’re made of, where they were born – it all comes to you at once like a wave hitting your mind. The sensation – a kind of purity of knowledge that flares white behind your eyes – is something like erotic.

It’s all a bit much, frankly. But Jared, at least for now, will be your guide. It will have to do.


Meet Jared and countless other characters when you play a Mage in Susurrus: Season of TidesSign up now to play the game early.