A Failed Two Weeks Notice
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Alright. It's time. In ten minutes I'll no longer be a researcher at the Foundation.

Is what Dr. Menard thought to himself as he walked toward his monthly status meeting with his boss. He held a two-weeks notice in his left hand, and all the conviction he could muster in his right. His arms shook from the strain.

I'll tell him. I'll say "I quit" and it will feel amazing.

Menard hadn't done jack shit in the last month. He was supposed to be writing up containment procedures for what few anomalies were under his purview, but really he was just hiding his new project in obscure corners of the Foundation database. Even used his personal file to stage drafts. Menard built up a habit of checking over his shoulder every few minutes to make sure no one caught him slacking off. He could type without even looking at the screen now.

I will be at home at my desk far away from the scary monsters and work on my stories. It'll be comfy and safe and everything I've wanted.

Well, it's not like Menard was incredibly productive before he started writing. Understanding anomalies is frustrating. Containing them is nerve-wracking. And writing up their files mind-numbing. Working for a place that deals with the impossible can make a man feel quite disillusioned. But Menard now felt something he thought he lost years ago. Passion.

Menard swung open the door to Dr. Patrick Teller's office.

"Oh hey, Pierre. Yeah, take a seat and we'll get started."

Menard took a seat and stared down his boss.

"So, what's your progress looking like?"

Menard opened his mouth, and then froze. Like a deer in head lights. Like an actor with stage fright. Like a goddamn popsicle.

Fuck. I'm not ready for this.

"Pierre?"

Like, how much money would I make? Could I even pay rent?

"Oh well uh, you see…"

Shit I should've thought about this a month ago.

"I— I've been studying a new kind of anomaly. It w-was urgent so I had to put all my other stuff on hold."

"Oh really? What was so urgent?"

"Umm… well look at this. Pull up the database," Pierre said as he walked around Teller's desk, "Pull up my personal file. Someone's messed with the file."

"You think it's been hacked?"

"Ummm," Shit I should've said that. "I don't think so. Because look at what happened to it. It's been replaced with—"

"Some sort of story?"

"Yeah…"

"That's strange."

"I agree. I think it's anomalous. Specifically, the main character. He's screwing with us."

"I see… This is indeed interesting."

"I think I might need some additional resources to track this guy down, do some research into the matter."

"I mean, he probably operates sort of like 423."

"Exactly, but if that's the case they're probably similar entities. Which means there could be even more. This could be an entire field of study." Oh what are you even saying Pierre?

"We should put together a proposal for this. Send it to the higher ups. Do you have a name for this field?"

"Umm…"

The fuck are you doing? Just— just tell him the truth.

"Actually P-Pat.."

"Yeah?"

C'mon if you back out now you can just quit and go on with the pla—.

"Pataphysics. That was the name."

YOU FUCK.


One Week Later

Ok, I can do this. You've been interviewed by these people before. Just like, remember to breathe.

Is what Menard told himself as he waited for someone from MTF Xi-41 ("Internal Affairs") to arrive. It was one of the site's many interview rooms, equipped with cameras, microphones, and that one way mirror. The mirror was the most daunting part. Menard used it to look right at his face and mask the guilt until a woman holding a manilla folder entered.

She sat down across from Menard, straightened her papers and adjusted those big, round glasses. She pressed a button underneath the table to start recording.

<Begin Interview>

Harper: Afternoon. I'm just here to ask you some questions about your personnel file.

Menard: Of course, yeah. Go ahead.

Harper: So, how did you say you discovered the anomalous change in your file?

Menard: Well, I had finished up uh… a report. I forget which one. And I wanted to go add it to my file and the file was different?

Why are you saying it like a question? It "happened". There's no ambiguity.

Harper: When was this?

Menard: Last Thursday.

Harper: Interesting, see we pulled the edit history for that file, and it looks like you made the edit to replace the page with the story that Wednesday.

Oh shit they can see that?

Menard: Umm… I definitely don't remember making that change. Maybe it's able to change the file using my credentials?

Harper: Possibly. But weren't you also in your office at that time?

Menard: Are you accusing me of lying about an anomaly?

No, no don't jump that far ahead! You're gonna give yourself away, dumbass!

Harper: No we—

Menard: We mess with a lot of weird things here. Is this one that hard to believe?

Harper: We just want to make sure and understand what this thing is before we go too far into researching it.

Menard: Isn't that what the new department and funding is for? To do the research?

Harper: Well…

Menard: C'mon. You've obviously seen my file, which has my track record. Would I lie to you about this?

Harper: Alright, alright. I think I've got all I need. We'll get back to you soon.

<End Log>

Menard sat alone in the room again, but now he just stared blankly at the mirror.

Wait, did that— did that actually work? Am I good?

He swallowed.

What have I done?


Three Years Later

What am I doing?

Is what Dr. Menard asked himself when he sat at his desk. He's convinced that his little pata-fuck-up got lost in the swirling vortex that is Foundation bureaucracy. He got approved for a small budget which he mostly used to pay the people who got assigned to his department. He had to let the cat out of the bag to a few of them, but they played along, surprisingly enough. Now it's three years later and Menard is still writing up characters to pretend his department's funding isn't going to waste.

I can't believe I miss my old job.

Menard turned on his desktop and opened up his latest story. He started reading through it from the top, making small edits as he went. It was one of the few parts of his job he enjoyed. Eventually he reached the end of the—

Wait, I didn't finish this yet.

There was a new paragraph on the page.

Have you ever written a character for so long, it stops feeling like you're the one writing it? Like they just act on their own and you just happen to write it down? Actually, characters have a lot in common with lies. They both start out as fake, but the more you play into it, the more real they become.

Pierre, your pataphysics department is about to take on a whole life of its own. But don't worry, I can handle it from here.

- Dr. Panagiotopolous

Menard just sat in his chair for a while. He blinked a few times, and then pinched himself.

Shit, where'd I put that two weeks notice…

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