Believe me when I say that my admission into the inner halls of Coilhouse has been rife with surprises. Between discovering that Nadya had a wooden leg (lost to Latvian leg thieves, apparently, although I have a feeling this is a lie) and finding that the Panda bone office furniture was an elaborate lie to entice me to relocate to the catacombs, my illusions have been shattered. Still, sitting here at my plain, pressed wood desk, nary an Ursine skull or femur in sight, I can say that these pale in comparison to the true nature of Meredith Yayanos. Revealing it here will no doubt put a swift end to my employment and, unfortunately, mean that I will be on the run for some time; for this is no tiny secret, dear reader. Many have died so that Mer’s true nature would remain known to only a small circle of powerful insiders. But I can’t think about that. My life is nothing in comparison to my service to humanity. The world has to know!
On June 24th, 1953, in an undisclosed location somewhere in the western United States, a small group of computer engineers, headed by one Adrian Luthwaite under the supervision of the Department of Defense, put the finishing touches on the most sophisticated computer of the era: the Massive EPICAC Relay, or M.E.R. The machine was the brain of a large network of hidden missile units, as well as some of the very first (unofficially) unmanned aircraft, to be used in the case of a Communist attack upon U.S. soil. M.E.R. was able to assess threats automatically, using pre-programmed parameters, allowing for a response dependent on a much smaller group of human operators than was required at that time, allowing for a faster response while theoretically decreasing mistakes due to “human error”. Operators nicknamed it “The Theremin” for the sounds it made as it crunched data.
Unfortunately, humans were still required to program M.E.R. and in the fall of 1954 tragedy struck, when the computer fired upon an elementary school, killing 150 people, mostly children. An investigation would find that M.E.R. had assessed a P.E. class as a small, expeditionary force and sent out 3 armed drones to the site. The event was quickly covered up and the families compensated. M.E.R. was, understandably, deemed too much of a liability and was quickly and quietly dismantled and put into storage. Strangely, the DoD decided to the machine at a local self-storage facility. The reasons for this are unclear, but it is theorized that this site was chosen by David Forsythe, whose brother, Lawrence Forsythe owned the self-storage unit and who was said, at the time, to be “a little tight on cash.” Whatever the case, what is known is that Forsythe declared bankruptcy in 1964 and ownership of the land and everything on it fell to Wells Fargo. What follows is a long series of sales to other financial institutions until March 1998 when the current owner of the deed, New Mexico Bank & Trust, held an estate auction for the land and its contents. It was finally sold to ChC Information Systems for a sum of $250,000.00.
ChC knew exactly what they were buying. How, I am not sure, but it is clear that not long after taking control of the land, the company began to reassemble M.E.R. Scores of Russian laborers were brought in to work on the project. Internal memos I have found while rummaging through Zo’s office show that nearly a third of these workers perished during reconstruction. The majority of these deaths were surprisingly not during the construction of the Catacombs, but during the early test phases and most of these were due to the computer’s propensity for using the pneumatic messaging system in the Catacombs as a weapon. It seems that the engineers could not reprogram it completely and it was using the tubes in lieu of the original, explosive ordinance it was used to. Nevertheless, on or around March 2005, M.E.R. was considered fully operational. It would control climate, communications, and security for the entire warren as well as oversee the print facilities.
And that brings us up to today. Here, locked in my office — an office devoid of furniture made from Panda bones, furniture I was promised would be here — drinking a last shot of brandy to settle my frayed nerves — from a cup that is not sculpted from the cranium of a Panda — I write down this account; a history heretofore unknown to the world at large. I only hope that someone finds it, With that, however, I must go. No doubt M.E.R. will become aware of my activities soon enough. Have to leave before then. Strange, it’s so quiet. It’s like the halls are empty. I don’t hear anyone now; no one at all. Wait, what’s that sound? Like a low hum. It sounds…sounds like the pneumatic tubes are rattling. It’s like they’re…like it’s…oh no. Oh no, no, n—
All strange origins and kidding aside, Meredith is one of the smartest, funniest, coolest, most beautifulest people we know and we want to wish her a joyous Un-Unbirthday, and best wishes on her upcoming voyage. Mer will soon be jetting off to New Zealand to join her beau, who’s working on some small, indie film about little people who save the world with LARPing. Before she does you can see her, live and in person with her violin/theremin at the following events: