Almost lost among the professional certificates hanging on the dingy wall was a hidden gem. A single sheet of vellum, covered in elaborate calligraphy, bearing several signatures of dignitaries, and the seal of the university.
The frame was unassuming, to better fit with the lack of tasteful or current decor.
Dust was on most everything, and somehow a splash of an unknown redish liquid obscured the name of the university, leaving a visitor to uneasily get the impression of a learned but careless person.
Little would they know that the splash was concealing a vastly more prestigious name than would ordinarily be seen in such a dingy setting. Or for that matter, that there was a slight difficulty with the dates and names on the vellum. Not at all that they were incorrect, or that the document was forged. More that neither the document nor its owner bore the appearance one might expect for the age implied by those dates.
Both were remarkably well preserved, but Michel well knew that simply placing that treasured document in plain sight was the best way to preserve it. Nobody would look closely, and those who did would see exactly what they wanted to see. People are funny that way.
The device sat on a brilliant blue pedestal at center stage. The stage itself was minimalist, just a slightly raked dark grey disk jutting out into the audience, with seating to all sides and room for the presenter to move around the pedestal and speak more or less personally to each block of seats.
The top of the pedestal rotated slowly, turning the device to show all sides to everyone.
The subdued lighting cast few shadows on the device, and the perfectly clad and coiffed presenters cast no shadows at all.
All of this conspired to make the brass, wood, leather, and glass of the device stand out, showing off its form to the best possible advantage.
And as is typical of a major product announcement, almost nothing about the presentation managed to convey exactly what the device does.
They say that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a berry, but wisdom is knowing not to put one in a fruit salad.
They say a lot of funny things.
A lot of what they say is about as clear as a broken mirror. Sure, it shows you fragments of the truth, but there’s all the sharp edges, misaligned shards, and risk of cutting yourself to deal with. Look too closely and you miss that other parts are showing different views. Look too broadly and the image is hard to resolve.
Some say that mirrors are really just windows into another plane. Alice might have come to believe that. If they are a window, they aren’t the sort that can be opened by slipping a butter knife in and lifting the latch.