A Hole in the Tapestry

by DarkStuff

rating: +13+x

Rachael and Dorer stared into an alleyway on Wall Street, New York City, New York. People passed them on the street, but no one seemed to notice them just standing there.

"This is the one," said Rachael, almost reverently.

"How? It looks like all the other alleyways we've seen."

Rachael shook her head. "Look. Do you see where those overflowing trash bags suddenly stop in the middle? Or how the pavement's color changes from the left to the right? Or how about that wet spot that seems to cease at the center?"

Dorer wasn't sure how he hadn't noticed those glaring details. As soon as he was made aware, they stuck out like a giant spider on a white wall. Even more was missing — the alleyway seemed bisected. No elements from the right side ever passed onto the left side. "A spacial anomaly?"

"No, I don't think so. Notice how far you can look into the alleyways."

He glanced from side to side, and noticed that he was barely getting any information. After a few feet in, everything became a blur — no, no, it wasn't a blur. His vision just didn't reach that far. His head started to hurt, but not in a memetic way.

"Wait, alleyways? Plural?"

Rachael breathed deeply. "Yes. Look straight ahead."

"Straight ahead?" Dorer suddenly realized that his eyes had been to either side the whole time. For the first time, he looked straight ahead. Directly in front of him was the entrance to a tall, imposing office building. Despite the daylight, details were difficult to make out due to stark shadows. Only a few lights from inside the building illuminated aspects of the outside. Otherwise, the building was more of a silhouette than anything. Another detail that Dorer hadn't noticed before was the streetlight behind him, that was on in the middle of the day, so as to reveal the front revolving doors.

Dorer jumped back a bit, and as he thought back, he saw it in the corner of his memory's vision. The building had always been there, blotted out by unwilling ignorance. How had he not seen it?

"How come we — the Foundation never found this before?"

"Simple," Rachael spat. "No one's been looking for it. And you're going in first."

"What?"

"What else did you think I needed you for? Here," she reached into her bag and grabbed a flashlight, "take this."

"What? You can't — I'm not —"

The cellphone on his back became hot. He yipped (he hated when he made that noise), and then it cooled back down. Eye contact with Rachael became heated, before his powerlessness came through and his glare deteriorated into the stare of a begging dog. Rachael responded only be stepping up to him, asserting physical dominance through height, and Dorer got the message. He slowly stepped towards the revolving doors, and felt the scenery become dim. Looking pensively behind him, he noticed that less people seemed to be walking on the street.

Like a cartoonish stereotype, he gulped, and let out a chilled "haa" of air. Turning on his flashlight, he pushed through the door, and entered the midnight foyer.

The first thing he noticed was that the light of the flashlight had very clear boundaries — anything outside the direct beam of the flashlight was completely black, and shining a light out the windows did nothing to reveal the outside.

"Rachael?" Dorer called.

"Yes?" A muffled, echoing voice called back.

Passing his flashlight over the room, it was uncharacteristically barren. Not even abandoned buildings had this much nothing in them. The only feature were three chairs, piled in a corner, and the front desk, behind which sat a single computer, which was emitting a faint glow.

"Just checking if you can hear me."

"I can hear you. What do you see?"

"Three chairs. A reception desk. A single computer. Otherwise, tiled floor, white walls, nondescript ceiling."

"Anomalously?"

"No, just bland."

"Do you feel any memetic influence?"

"No — wait…" He did feel a tingle in the back of his head, which he hadn't noticed before. "Yes, I do. But just like the building, you had to point it out first. That seems to be a theme here, heheh… heh…"

"Alright. I'm coming in."

Rachael pushed open the revolving doors, and flicked on a flashlight. "Is there a light switch in here?"

"Not that I can — oh, maybe."

Dorer's flashlight passed over a switch on the wall near the door, and made his way over to it. Flicking it on, a previously unnoticed chandelier lit up. "Huh," Dorer said. "I'm not convinced this isn't a spacial anomaly."

"Me neither. I've found a hallway. You're going down it."

Dorer drew two deep breaths. "So I'm the guinea pig."

"No. You're not as cute as a guinea pig. Now, go."

Dorer pushed forward. The velvety blackness unfurled wherever he pointed his flashlight, and yet he uncovered nothing. The hallway seemed to extend forever, with no doors, no dents, simply no variation at all. "Wh-what are we looking for, Rachael? Where are we going? What is this all for?"

Rachael looked peeved at his cessation of forward motion. "Elevators, Robert. We're looking for elevators. Move."

He started walking forward again. "A place like this, I don't know if I'd want to get in an elevator…"

Soon afterwards, they were met with an open elevator shaft. Peering in, Dorer (because Rachael made sure to make him do everything) saw that it went up and down for… well, until his flashlight stopped revealing anything. "Looks infinite," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if it was. No elevator in sight, either."

"Hmm," Rachael contemplated. "Maybe we can take the stairs."

"Where?"

Rachael panned her flashlight across the wall. "There." She settled on a previously unseen door with a dark, unpowered exit sign above it. "Those must be stairs. Go."

Dorer slowly opened the door, which held an impenetrable black behind it. Even his flashlight seemed to dim upon entering. "It's dark in here."

"No shit." Rachael followed behind him. "Oh, I see. It is."

"Told you."

"Well, rummage around. See if you feel anything. Wait. Found something."

Suddenly the stairwell was filled with old white light from fixtures at every landing. Leaning over the railing, Dorer could see that it followed the same pattern as the elevator shaft. "Down and up forever, Rachael. Doesn't look like anything."

"We're going up."

"What? Why? What's there to find?"

"Go, Dorer."


Dorer had been going for the better part of two hours. The white knurled metal stairs' clangs echoed throughout the chamber with each step. There were no doors on the landings, which Rachael used as an excuse to keep going up. Dorer was not a fit man. He may have been young for his field, but a chubby man in the upper end of his twenties still had not a lot of staying power when it came to stairs. After the first hour, he had begun to fatigue.

Cold sweat (everything became cold in this place) had begun to cover his brow and soak through his palms. By the hour and a half mark, his hand would slip off the rails sometimes, throwing his weight off balance and causing a stumble. Looking behind him revealed nothing of the same nature happening to Rachael.

In fact, he knew that she could be walking faster than him. She had chosen to wait behind him, and watch him become more and more tired as he climbed the stairs. She had chosen to torture him. Why? Dorer couldn't fathom why.

A fear was building in him. A fear that grew stronger with each and every step, and multiplied tenfold whenever he looked back at Rachael's cold, uncaring face. A fear that solidified when he thought he caught her staring down at her feet.

Defeat.

Dorer wheezed, rotated, and sat down on the stairs.

"What do you think you're doing?"

"Resting," he said, panting. "I'm resting."

"Not for long. We have a long ways still to go."

"No we don't." He looked up at Rachael. Had he finally mustered up the courage to speak against her? Or had he lost all the courage necessary to continue ever upward? He could not know. He coughed. "There's no plan here. You don't know what you're looking for. And this staircase goes on forever."

"Don't pretend that you understand what's going on here."

"You can drop the act, Rachael. I can see it. You're scared like I am. You don't know where we are. You don't know what we're doing here. You don't know what to do. Give it up, please. Why don't we walk back down and try to find the door. We can —"

"And do what, Dorer? What could we do when we left? Go back to our normal lives? Pretend this never happened? Pretend I never tried to kill you? Never know?"

"Know what?"

"What happened here, Dorer! What went wrong! What made this company!"

"Well, you know what, Dr. Davidson?" Dorer shook upon standing to his feet. "You can continue forwards. But I'm going back down the stairs." Dorer stared Rachael down, trying to move her to one side of the stairs through sheer willpower and intimidation. It wasn't working.

"Rachael, this is insane. You can keep going, and you have my word that I won't stop you. That I can't stop you. But even now, we might have passed a line we can't return from. What if that door isn't there? What if this staircase never ends? We could already be screwed. But on the off-chance we aren't, the sooner we turn back the more likely it is that we make it out of here. Or, if you won't come with me, the more likely I am to make it out of here. So I can't go. I can't keep going. I'm turning back."

"No. No you aren't."

Why did he think she could be reasoned with? "Why?"

"Must I tell you the obvious? You aren't leaving unless you're dead, Dorer. You're my hostage, and you are submissive to me. You know too much. You leaving could be the end of me."

"Us moving on could be the end of us! Don't you see that?"

"Nothing has come to attack us. We're safe."

"I fear the mind that can look at this staircase and feel 'safe'." Dorer squeaked a bit when he breathed. "Rachael, I don't want to fight you. I just need you to turn around. We can explore ground floor more, maybe. But we can't keep going up these stairs."

Rachael's brow began to twitch, and she closed her eyes. "Robert." She took a long, deep breath. "You're…" She looked at him. Almost softly, almost kindly. Not a trace of anger on her face.

But that changed very quickly.

"You're going up these stairs or your spine isn't staying with your body. One more moment of uncooperative behavior and I'll make your stay here permanent. Am I clear, Robert?"

The cellphone taped to his back began to heat up. Dorer's bravery was waning, his character failing. He tried not to think of the sweat pouring out of his glands, or the water welling up in his eyes. He convinced himself that dying of exhaustion in these stairs would be worse than a death from explosive cell phone, and those were his two options.

With faulty spirits, he continued. "Rachael, you need me. You and I both know you won't blow me up. You brought me here to use me for something."

Rachael stepped up the stairs towards him, and the cellphone grew hotter.

"Let's face it! You brought me here for some reason other than a guinea pig! Y-you're curious about me! It's true!"

"Curious?"

"Yes! I have the same powers as you —" or so she thinks "— and you don't know why! You're curious about me, and you couldn't let that go. You've never found someone like you before, and you wanted to see where this went. Am I wrong?" The cellphone burnt flesh. "Well am I?"

He hoped to unknown powers that he was right.

"I-I…" The cellphone cooled. "I'm…"

Oh thank fucking god.

But then Dorer screamed.

Shreds of his coat went everywhere, and he fell to his ass on the stairs. Blood trickled down, staining the pure white stairs with dark brownish red. He couldn't move anything below waist, and he could feel, for a second before it all overwhelmed his senses, that pieces of the cellphone had jammed their way through his intestines.

"Do you think you get me, Robert? Is that what that play was?"

In a fit of hysteria, Dorer began to laugh, and his idiot grin had returned to his face — albeit with wide, terrified eyes.

"Well, fine, Dorer. Now that there's no point in keeping things from you, here's why we're here. When I was very little — when I was 13, in fact, I discovered that I had powers over electricity. Like an idiot, I thought that I could tamper with people's brains without any training. And I saw things, Dorer. I saw things. A frozen gaslit world, with reaching arms and hands and a glowing faceless mass beyond the horizon! And that's it, Robert. Because he said he saw the same thing. He said that all of his company saw the same thing. I've gone my whole life wanting this, Dorer. I thought you might help me. But that was a fucking lie. I should have gone solo, like I always do. I trusted you, Dorer. I trusted you."

"Heheh, eheheheheh, holding me at gunpoint is an odd form of trust, eeheheheheh —"

Rachael pushed a foot into his jaw before storming past him. Her heart pounded, her head hurt, and her eyes stung. She thought, she thought, that Dorer might have been special. He resisted her, of course. But that clearly hadn't translated into loyalty.

She wanted to find dogs but all she found were cats.

Dorer's howling laughter, mixed with coughs and moans of pain, collided with the walls of the stairwell and became more and more metallic the further that Rachael ran away from him. The further up she went. The further in she ventured.

After an indeterminate amount of time, she collapsed on a landing. She had barely noticed how much she had shrieked; her throat felt like it had received a thousand lacerations. Her cheeks were wet, too. She wondered why that was.

She laid there.

She was tired.

And thirsty.

The last echo she heard from Dorer, before he went silent entirely, was: "You cry in your sleep, Rachael!"

She decided not to pay it too much mind. After all, she already knew that. Her pillows were always wet when she woke up, wet around eye level. She must suffer night terrors, she thought. Not so strange.

Flashes of arms and raindrops frozen in midair tore through her synapses like bullet trains. Dorer's screams had transformed into her own, the ones she was told she had made for a whole four hours. She couldn't remember any of it, of course. They took her to the ER. Her hair started falling out.

They asked her what had happened, and she couldn't tell them. Her parents took her out of school for months. Something had changed, they thought. Something was wrong.

She stopped doing things.

She stopped talking, for one.

This was, of course, right around the same time that they had all that electrical frying in their walls.

Until one day, she came out of her room, and she was fine. She wasn't smiling, but she was fine. She told her parents she was ready to go back to school, that she was ready to be around people again. They tried to coax it out of her, they tried to send her to a therapist, but no one had made any progress. They didn't know what to do.

But she was fine, by the looks of it.

A rough patch. That's all it was. What they didn't know was that she had come out of that room with a purpose.

The mission statement read: "Know."

"Know what that was. Find out what you saw. Learn the truth."

She had never been able to replicate the effect. Never again had rummaging through someone's brain yielded similar results. So she did her research. She found people online who understood her. Well, understood that things like her happen. She never told them about what she saw, but she did tell them that she could turn off and on the lights. They told her of an organization that hunted freaks like her. They told her that she needed to hide, to cover up. To lay low. They were all terrified of this organization.

Rachael was downright fascinated.

An organization that knew all of the things behind the curtain? Who took the unnatural outside of the public eye? She knew her course of action. She knew that she needed to get into that organization, and learn its secrets. To climb the ranks, and attain access to everything. There, she might find it. What that was. What she saw. The truth.

Never had she expected the lead to come from the mouth of a field agent during an interview.

Agent LaFerrier.

The man, the myth, the legend.

Perhaps the only person alive who had ever seen what she saw. The only person who could possibly understand it. She had seen him struggle to remember. She had seen the pain.

Her own pain. Reflected in his face. It was all she could have done to put him out of his misery.

But at that moment, something inside her yearned for a familiar face. Lying face down in the stairwell, an infinite amount of space above and below, she could only hope. Hope that there was something to find. Or maybe hope that something found her.

She hoped for the face that knew her pain.

She wanted Agent LaFerrier.

And at that moment, the stairwell went black, and she heard the clacking of fingers on a keyboard behind her.



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