While Liam and Sandra bickered, Isaac broke the seal on the manilla envelope. He tilted it against the table and a whole collection of things spilled out. He picked up one of several small plastic bags that had slid out with the letters, and turned it over. It contained a small quantity of white crystals, about the consistency of sugar. A label on the satchet read: 'Piracetam'. He set it down and picked up a folded sheet of paper. He unfolded it and read:
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From the Office of Student Affairs, Invisible College:
Congratulations on your recent graduation! This letter is to inform you that, as an IC alumnus, you enjoy a number of opportunities here in the College. As always, you are welcome on campus at any time. We observe an open campus at the IC, and welcome visitors, students, and graduates alike. Also, as an alumnus, you may enjoy free room and board at any of the College-affiliated hotels or rooming houses in the area. We believe a college is made up of the knowledge and minds of its students, and we want to encourage those minds to contribute in any way they can.
Also included with your Alumni packet is a letter of introduction from the Jittlov Institute, an on-campus center for Consciousness Engineering. As a graduate, you have the option of applying for post-graduate work in one or more of our available programs, and we think the Jittlov Institute may be of interest to you. Please take a moment to read the letter of introduction and examine any supplemental materials included in the packet. You can contact the Jittlov Institute at their listed addresses, or you can contact us with any questions at:
comm - 323.14494.7.17
vid - holo/unat/23/ic/student
He realized the room had gone silent. He looked up, and found Sandra and Liam watching him.
"Wossat?" Liam said.
"Something from the College. Looks like stuff about post-graduate work."
Sandra eyed the packets on the table. "Looks like they sent you some goodies, too."
"Yeah. I haven't gotten to that yet." He picked up the second sheet of paper and unfolded it.
Greetings from the Jittlov Institute!
This letter should reach you, along with the supplementary materials, in your I.C. alumnus packet. Hopefully the wait hasn't been too long. Some of our graduates go on to distant ports, and can be difficult to reach.
The Jittlov Institute is an on-campus center for Consciousness Engineering, a post-graduate program with its roots in Consciousness, Psychopharmacology, Meta-Programming, and Ontology. Our focus is on finding and documenting systematic, repeatable, and ontologically neutral methods of consciousness change, with an emphasis on self-actualization based on a given subject's goals and ideals. To put it another way, we think the mind is capable of things we are only beginning to understand, and some of us think we may be within reach of unlocking them.
And that's the party line. I'd like to take a moment to speak with you personally. Or as personally as I can through the medium of a letter. My name is Dr. Zaldania Rider, and if the Jittlov Center can be said to have an administrator, it would be me. I know you're interested in some of what we are doing, because I've read your final essay for your Consciousness class. I want you for this program myself, as well. Between your interest in Consciousness change and your unique physiology and metabolism, I think you'd be an ideal participant in what we're doing. But that's ultimately up to you. Our work isn't for everyone, and there is some small risk involved, but I'd like the opportunity to at least talk to you in person about the program. Come and visit us, if you're interested, and ask for me personally. If I'm not available, we'll figure something out. You can also contact me- or the Institute- by vid or comm.
Our particular focus at the Institute is on the effects of nootropics on memory and cognition. The term 'nootropic' covers a wide range of substances, but applies to anything which has, or is proported to have, cognitive enhancing properties. Most of these are unknown to the general populace, for reasons that still baffle me. You've probably noticed the little plastic bags that came with your packet. These are samples of several substances we've been investigating. The larger of the bags contains Piracetam, the grandfather of all nootropics. It's known to improve a wide range of cognitive functions, has no known LD50 (lethal dose), and very few side-effects. It doesn't produce a 'high' in the conventional sense, and may not be particularly noticeable. I've supplied you with an 'attack dose'- 2,600 milligrams- of the pure powder. If you're interested in the program, I urge you to try it between now and when you pay us a visit. With your unusual biology, I would like to be certain there are no side-effects, so if you do decide to take it, please note down any unusual or uncomfortable sensations. And take it with something sweet. It's quite bitter. The two smaller sachets are Choline and Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5). Both are essential nutrients, and both are synergistic with Piracetam. You can find more specific information on the attached sheet, or through vid search.
I look forward to hearing from you, and hopefully working with you, Isaac. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
Dr. Zaldania Rider
comm - 323.14493.3.17
vid - holo/unat/23/ic/jittlov/zerider
Isaac passed the letter around the table.
"Wild," Sandra said, when she had finished reading. "You going to do it?"
Isaac shrugged. "I guess so. When I get some free time. I'd still like to visit home first."
Liam looked up from the letter. "What was your final essay about?"
"You know," Isaac said. "I can't remember? Is that weird?"
"Well, yeh," Liam said. "But it's normal, too. It'll come back."
"I hope so. I'd like to know what I said."
"What about the-" Sandra read the word again. "The Piracetam?"
"I guess I'll take it." Isaac picked up the sachet of white crystals and looked at his glass. "You're probably not supposed to take this with alcohol."
"Hell," Liam said. "Live dangerously."
Isaac looked at Sandra. She shrugged.
He sighed. "All right. Here goes." He opened the little bag. "Here's to mad science."
Dr. Rider had been right. It was extremely bitter.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.