A Stranger in a Familiar Land
rating: +17+x

Loyd's wake up routine:

  • Process
  • Room
  • Clothes
  • Identification
  • Journal
  • Explore
  • Keep your head down.

Loyd's first act of consciousness is an attempt to suck every oxygen molecule in the room into his air-deprived lungs. With a cough he pushes himself upright. The light's already on, a sharp fluorescent light built into the ceiling. Windows? No. Underground? Maybe. The musty air sits unmoving throughout the entire room. No breezes or fans. Stale air, no windows, almost certainly underground. There's a second bed next to his. Is he…?

Two intense pains permeate his head. A small pain, just above his left eye and a massive one at the back of his skull. Exit wound? Loyd collapses, as his vision reddens. He tries to scream, but his parched throat can barely muster a mewl. He huddles in a fetal position, as the pain arcs across his head and down his spine. This wasn't the normal… He mentally screams. Time loses the sensation of progress, and his crippled mind experiences what feels like hours.

7:21! 7:21! A small clock next to the bed begins beeping an alarm. It takes a moment, but the unwelcome sound manages to filter its way into Loyd's consciousness. He struggles to turn his head to glance at the clock, but he breathes a sigh of relief and almost chuckles to himself when he manages to see the time.

"Seven Twenty-one." He says the words aloud, relishing in the relief they give him. "Seven… Twenty-one."

He lurches his body over the side of the bed and his feet miraculously catch the rest of his body. Vertigo washes over him, nearly causing his legs to reverse their previous miracle. From his new angle, Loyd finally recognizes the layout of the room. To his left is a door leading outside. To his right, across the the other bed is a bathroom. This is a couple's apartment in a subterranean Foundation facility. He must be in a relationship with someone.

Despite his body screaming unpalatable words at him, Loyd manges to drag himself to the shower and begin his normal wake up routine. Quickly finishing that, he throws on a pair of slacks, a white shirt that he had hanging above what he assumed is his dresser, and a pair of shoes sitting by the door. An ID badge hangs on a hook, and he grabs it as he runs out.

Loyd begins looking over the badge, as his feet move him through various rooms and halls. The ID badge is assigned to "Dr. Daryl Loyd", a Level 2 researcher in the Anomalous Items department. Oh! He's back here again. Well, the building is still here, so that means…

He manages to navigate to what he assumes is his office. He really doesn't know, but the muscle memory in legs gets him there. However, he doesn't notice four very important things on his journey. First, there were very few people in the halls, he only passed a half dozen people and a small group of armed guards. Second, all of them reacted to him, either with surprise, fear, or confusion. Third, the group of guards he passed were not dressed in a standard Foundation uniform. Lastly, he does not notice hear the stomping of boots that echoed through the halls.

The office itself was sparse. Two desks facing each other, each covered in baubles and papers. Lockers filled the back wall. Each one brandishing a colored light, with some having post-it notes taped to their doors. A younger man sits at the left desk, quietly typing on his computer with one hand, and holding a set of Triple-A batteries that seem to have fused together with the other. The entire room makes the hair on Loyd's neck stand on end, and a faint smell of ozone seems settled in the air.

"Mornin', Joe." The name springs from his lips unbidden. He seems to know this man.

Joe Fynegan's eyes flick up from the computer, startled.

"I didn't think I'd see you in here today."

"Why not?"

Fynegan pauses. His eyes move back to the monitor, and he slowly places the batteries in a small metal container before answering. "Well, I heard about you and Alex."

"That we went drinking?"


Loyd moves to his own desk and wakes the computer up. He logs in and begins checking his email

A portion of an email that Dr. Fynegan received earlier today, but Loyd did not.

Act normal. Do not confront anyone. Do not mention these instructions. Keep your heads down. Ensure, that when they arrive, they do not suspect this isn't normal. If, for some reason, we missed any of their remaining agents, do not acknowledge their identity. Instead, silently inform us.
Additionally, several of us who are left have additional tasks.

  • Quartermaster Henries: Replace the munitions with the new marked ones.
  • Agent Giffons: Lace the food with chemical we gave you. Leave the bread and jam untouched.
  • To everyone else: Stay safe. Stay sane. And eat jam toast for lunch.

The pair remain silent for awhile. Neither make any sounds other than the typing on their keyboards, and the occasional shifting in their chairs. Even so Loyd feels Fynegan's eyes trying to burn a hole into his brain.

"Is something wrong, Joe."

"I'm not sure."

Loyd returns to his work. A report on an anomalous item had been left half finished, so he begins working on it. A little message pops up on the bottom of his screen from some chat app.

Are we still good to go? You said the Five would be here by 9am. And Andy's pretty sure he saw more security officers than you said would be here.

His cursor moves on its own accord and clicks the message. Loyd looks at his hand, half expecting it to be moving the mouse by itself.

He should be here. I heard him walk past. Check the administrative offices.

The cursor closes the message, quickly opens a command prompt, and spitfires a few commands. As the words and numbers scroll past the window, the cursor stops moving. In the corner of his screen, a new window appears.

Remote session ended

Across from him, Fynegan sighs. "What are you? A changeling? A specter?"


"You were killed last night."


"You were dragged back to the surface, tied to a post and shot four times."

"I got better." Loyd smiles wryly. Fynegan does not reciprocate.

"What are you, Loyd? Are you actually Loyd?"

"That is a fantastic question that I don't have an answer for."

The pair remain silent for a few minutes. Fynegan glares at Loyd, looking like he's trying solve an unsolved equation. Loyd looks bored.

"Why'd you betray us Loyd?"

"That wasn't me."

"Clearly." An odd echo.

Outside, bursts of gunfire are exchanged from both sides of the hall. And with a bang, the door bursts open as a man dressed in heavy kevlar armor and combat gear sprints through, slamming it closed behind him. He waves his gun about, a paltry attempt at intimidation. He's like a deer running from a forest fire.

A later portion of the email quoted above.

When we spring the trap, they'll become panicky and most likely look for a place to hide. If able, get to a room and lock the door. If one of them follow you, leave the door unlocked, and slightly ajar.

"Get the fuck down! Both of you!" The soldier barely sounds out of his teens.

Loyd steps towards him.

"I said get the fuck down! I'll shoot you."

"Do it." Loyd taunts. Fynegan uses the distraction to get closer to the door and open it a fraction of an inch.

Loyd steps forward again and grabs the barrel of the rifle, forcing it directly onto his forehead.

"DO IT!" He screams. "Better now than never, right?

The guard looks even more unnerved, but holds his fire.

From the distance Fynegan notices four things. First. The magazine has a small bit of paint at the bottom. Which means that it came from the armory here. Second, the paint is yellow, which, in accordance with the email he'd received earlier today, meant that the rounds had been sabotaged. Third, as he leans against the wall, he feels the small vibrations as dozens of booted feet come running through the hall next to them. And lastly, he notices the soldier's arm twitch, as the muscles in his hand flex as the trigger is pulled.

Loyd does not notice these things. Instead, he is too busy staring at the underside of the barrel, fully expecting fiery metallic death to fly through his head at any moment, ending his existence. He does, however, feel the faint tremble as the trigger is pulled back. For a brief moment, he smiles as he welcomes the expected darkness.


"What the-"

The soldier's question is cut off, as a fist with every pound of force that Fynegan could muster slams into his face. The soldier stumbles backward, tripping on his own feet. Fynegan grabs the rifle from the now distracted insurgent.

The response officers that had been waiting outside take this moment to throw the door open. Three of them come rushing in, with two remaining outside. The officers pin Loyd, Fynegan, and the soldier to the floor.

"Name. And ID Number."

"Dr. Joe Fynegan, B-28S GH78DR."

The one holding Loyd digs his knee into his back, causing him to wince. "Yours."

"I'm Dr. Daryl Loyd. ID number of fuck you. I don't remember mine."

The pressure stops. "Loyd?"

Two of the officers look at each other. The soldier begins to cry, but is quickly silenced by the officer slamming the butt of his rifle into his face. One of the officers approaches him with a black sack. She leans down next to Loyd, and with one fell swoop slides it over his head. She almost certainly could have been gentler.

When the bag was taken off, Loyd found himself facedown on the dirt. Dozens of armed response officers surround him. All illuminated by the headlights from several trucks. It's nighttime, but no stars are out yet. A face leans down over him. A weathered one, with as many lines as it has scars. The body its attached to is wearing a nice suit.

"Almost did it this time, Loyd."

"Sir. Mister Oh-Five Seven, sir." A voice from behind him pipes up. Fynegan. "I don't think this our Loyd. We killed him last night when you told us to."

The man turns to look at Fynegan. Above him, the first star comes out. "Don't matter to me none. Name's Loyd. I gotta kill him."

He draws a wicked looking revolver. Dried blood is spattered on the barrel. Loyd sees the O5's trigger finger tense and…

And Dr. Daryl Loyd dies.

This is a tale for the OCT and features my character Dr. Daryl Loyd and Dr. Joseph Fynegan. You should also read JackalRelatedJackalRelated's tale Kaleidoscope of Guilt, where he tackles the same characters.

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