October 1st, 2017
Site Director Edgar Holman sat in his office at Site-64, a small file's worth of paperwork spread out before him. Researcher Cooper sat in a chair on the opposite side, her expression confident as she watched him read the article. Anomalous items would bubble up from Three Portlands all the time, usually ending up within the site's low security storage wing to gather dust until the end of time. What was rare was when something from Prometheus Lab's days of using Three Portlands as a tax haven would surface. In this particular instance, the artifact in question was an electric blue powder which, when inhaled, allowed the user to speak with the dead. Holman put down the Experimental Object file and furrowed his brow.
"Where did you say Tau-51 recovered this, again?" He asked.
"Old town, sir," Cooper replied. "A few young anartists were using it as part of an experimental performance in which all the actors are deceased."
"So it works then? This isn't just a bunch of people getting stoned?"
"Well, technically it is," Cooper chuckled. "MRI's showed that it lights up the same regions of the brain as LSD, and auditory and visual hallucinations abound. But D-class trials confirm that subjects are able to speak with the dead, or something that has the memories of the dead."
Holman gave a small smile as he noticed the excitement in Cooper's eyes. Most of the objects brought into Site-64 from the Portland's anart scene warranted little more than an anomalous item number. It wasn't often that they got to submit an item for SCP designation.
"Provided the draft here meets your approval, we're ready to submit as soon as we have your signature," she said with a grin.
Holman nodded and reached for his pen, but stopped. Cooper's smile vanished.
"I'm going to hang off on that for just a bit…" he began. "As soon as Analytics hears about this stuff they are going to start looking toward the paratech devs to make our own version. The ability to speak with the dead has high mileage. Now that we have the AMAT lab up and running at full speed, let's see if we can figure out how to synthesize it first, and really put Site-64 on the map."
October 31st, 1998
Edgar and Rita sat on the upper deck of their house, overlooking the leaf covered street below. A chilly wind blew as the sun vanished behind the distant Portland hills. Rita was wrapped in a large quilt. Edgar handed her a mug of spiced cider before taking a seat next to her and smiling. Down the street they could make out the forms of their youngest child trick-or-treating with a group of friends. She was dressed as a hot dog, complete with mustard. Their eldest was downstairs, passing out candy to their colorful guests.
"Happy Birthday," Edgar said brushing a small bit of his wife's long black hair behind her ear and giving her a peck on the cheek.
"Happy Halloween," she replied with a warm smile. "You didn't have to call in too many favors to get today off, I hope."
"Not at all," Edgar instantly replied with a chuckle. "They begged me to stay away."
The two of them clasped hands and turned their attention to the menagerie of costumed characters roaming the street below.
October 2nd, 2017
Researcher Conwell blinked a few times as he absorbed Director Holman's words.
"A-a month?" He stuttered. "You want this done in a month?"
"Can you do it?" Holman asked.
Conwell looked over the paperwork and nervously ran a hand through his messy hair. Eventually he shrugged.
"I mean, maybe?" He replied. "You're not giving us a lot to go on here. We don't have any of the original PL documentation, and if this powder underwent any form of anomalous processing I don't have access to, we're sunk. My team is good, but we're not alchemists."
Holman gave a sly smile.
"I'm not hearing a no…"
"I'm going to have to put at least three other synthesis projects on the backburner for this, you know that, right?" he asked. "I'm going to redirect those angry researchers to you."
"You do what you got to do." Holman shrugged.
"Alright then…" Conwell sighed.
"Grand. Keep me in the loop," Holman said with a sheepish grin. He then gave a wave as he exited the office.
Conwell sank deeper into his chair as he looked over his paperwork and the samples on the desk in front of him, then flipped on some music.
REM's Losing My Religion began to play.
October 31st, 2014
Edgar and Rita sat in the living room of their house, looking out into the rain as it pelted the trick-or-treaters. Rita was wrapped in her large quilt, her eyes slightly sunken as she silently looked at the children scurrying from dry doorway to dry doorway. Edgar offered her a mug of spiced cider, but she waved it away. He silently sat beside her, and joined in on watching the trick-or-treaters pass.
"Happy Birthday," Edgar said softly. He gave his wife a peck on the cheek. There was no hair to brush behind her ear this time.
"Happy Halloween," she eventually replied with weak smile. "You… you didn't have to call in too many favors to get today off… Right?"
Edgar remained silent for several moments.
"Not at all," Edgar finally whispered. "They begged me to stay away."
Edgar felt for his wife's hand, and gently worked his between her fingers until they were clasped tightly. Her skin was clammy in his grip. She turned to look at him with an apologetic smile and then rested her head on his shoulder.
October 8th, 2017
Hello, you've reached Karen and Ted Holman. We're not available to come to the phone right now, so go ahead and leave us a name and number and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
"Hey Ted, it's Dad.
I was wondering if you and Karen had plans for Halloween. I know the twins are getting to that age where they're old enough to go trick or treating… and I was hoping you'd wouldn't mind if I tagged along. You know? Something to get me out of the house…
Anyway, hope to hear from you soon. Give Karen my best."
October 31st, 2016
Edgar sat in his living room alone. He was at Site-64 when the hospice worker called him earlier that month. Due to a security breach at the time, it had taken him another four hours before he had managed to get home.
Edgar watched the trick-or-treaters go by his house silently, stopping only when a mug of spiced cider came into his view. He turned to face his eldest.
"Mom would kill you if she knew you stopped this tradition," Ted said, handing his father the steaming cup. Edgar took it half-heartedly.
"Thank you…" Edgar whispered. "And thanks for being here…"
Ted put a hand on his father's shoulder.
"Any word from your sister?"
Ted shook his head.
"I don't think she's coming. She's… still pretty raw. Give her time. She'll come around."
Edgar nodded in understanding.
"Happy Birthday…" he eventually whispered.
"Happy Halloween," Ted answered.
October 12th, 2017
You've reached the voice mailbox of: Edgar Holman. Please leave a message after the tone.
"Hey Dad, it's Ted.
I apologize that it took me this long to reply. Things have been really hectic at work, though I'm sure you know more about that kind of thing than I do…
I'm sorry to say Karen and I were going to a Halloween party at one of her friend's places that night. Karen's folks agreed to watch Arthur and Laura.
Listen, give me a call back when you get this. We'll set up lunch. Catch up. I know this time of year is a little hard…
Talk to you soon."
November 15th, 2016
"I guess I just don't understand why this is necessary," Holman sighed, the psychologist who sat across from him nodded, and jotted something down in his notebook.
"Loss of a spouse often hits people hard, Edgar," Dr. Aeslinger replied. "The higher ups just want me to make sure you're okay."
"What… do they think I'm going to contract some demon to revive Rita?"
"Are you?" Dr. Aeslinger replied with a sympathetic chuckle. Holman frowned.
"Rita fought the good fight for years. The hospice workers made her comfortable in the end, and she had her friends and family around her when she passed. Few people can say that. I'm fine, alright? I'm not going to fly off the handle. I'm not going to release the skips. I'm fine. I just want to get back to work."
Dr. Aeslinger jotted down several notes.
"Ed, I do need to do a complete evaluation, so we're going to be here for a bit. Care to answer a few questions for me?"
October 14th, 2017
Hey. It's Linda. You missed me, so go ahead and do your thing after the beep.
"Hey Linda, it's Dad.
I was wondering if you were free this Halloween. I know this is last minute, but I figured maybe we could use this chance to catch up… maybe watch some of those horror movies you love. I still haven't seen Cabin in the Woods.
Anyway, let me know if you're free. My number is still the same.
October 18th, 2017
Researcher Conwell and Researcher Cooper looked into the exam room through the one way glass. Inside the room was a gurney which bore a single cadaver. In a few moments, one of Site-64's few D-class would be sent in.
"Here goes nothing…" Conwell sighed, and grabbed a small vial from a nearby rack. Inside was an electric blue powder.
"Think it will work?" Cooper asked, eyeing the vial curiously.
Conwell gave an exaggerated shrug.
"I have literally no idea," he replied. "Chemically what we cooked up is identical to the PL stuff, but we won't know if they did additional hocus pocus to it until we run the tests. At that point, until we get the original PL documentation we're screwed."
"Ah…" Cooper frowned. "Fingers crossed then."
Conwell handed the vial to one of Cooper's assistants and watched at the observation window as it was given to the waiting D-class.
"D-1260," Cooper spoke into the microphone after the D-class inhaled the powder. "In a few moments you may experience visual and auditory hallucinations…"
October 22nd, 2017
Director Holman idly scanned reports on his computer when his secretary buzzed in Agent Sasha Merlo. With a heavy sigh, the director's tired expression quickly faded into one of professional indifference. He adjusted himself in his seat, fixing his posture, and waited for the door to open. Sure enough, a few moments later, the agent slid into the room.
"Merlo," Holman addressed her, already knowing the answer to the question he was going to ask. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Got plans for Halloween, Ed?" Merlo asked with chuckle.
Holman raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"Myself and several other members of the site staff are going to be at the Secret Crest Pub on the 31st. Unofficial Halloween party of sorts. You are more than welcome to come. We figured you'd like some company."
Holman looked down at his desk and then shuffled a few papers in silence before he replied.
"Thank you for the offer Sasha, I really do, but I already have plans. I'll be fine, trust me." Holman gave his best reassuring smile. Merlo gave an amused nod.
"Suit yourself, offer's still on the table if you change your mind."
Agent Merlo gave a half wave and began to take her exit.
"Thanks for looking out for me, though. It's… it's appreciated," Holman said as she arrived at the door.
"Anytime, sir. You take care."
Holman watched her go and then looked to his personal phone.
"At least, I hope I have plans…"
October 28th, 2017
Holman whistled as he looked over the numerous vials of the electric blue powder neatly displayed on Conwell's desk. The young AMAT specialist held a satisfied smile beneath tired, sleep deprived eyes.
"So your team pulled it off, huh?"
"Sure did," Conwell sighed. "Took us multiple all-nighters, but we got it. If budgeting wonders why we burnt through so much coffee this month, the reason's right here."
Conwell gave a small chuckle at his own joke.
"Give us a day to catch our breath, and another to type up the synthesis instructions, and you should be good to send this in for its designation."
"You drive a hard bargain, but I think we can manage with that. Just don't take too long, Cooper's chomping at the bit."
Conwell held up his hands in exhausted mock terror. Holman noticed the titanium ring on the researcher's left hand.
"I didn't know you had tied the knot," Holman pointed at the silvery band. "How long?"
"A year in November," Conwell replied. "Seems like just yesterday, though. Time sure flies when you're trapped here."
Holman gave an awkward chuckle in response. "It sure does… Two of you got plans for Halloween?"
"I'm afraid not," Conwell shrugged. "I didn't know if we'd be done in time, so I told her I'd likely be busy. Kate's already taken a shift that evening. I'll probably go to that thing Merlo invited me too. You?"
"Ah, well, you have fun." Holman answered after a few moments of silence. He then gave a nod and began to make his way toward the lab's door.
"I look forward to reading the synthesis report," Holman said on his way over the threshold. "And savor the time you get top side. You never know when you're going to get stuck down here for a bit."
Conwell watched his superior leave, blinking a few times in confusion.
"Alright then…" he said to himself. "Weird."
October 30th, 2017
You've reached the voice mailbox of: Edgar Holman. Please leave a message after the tone.
"Hey Dad, it's Linda.
I'm… sorry I haven't responded to you sooner. I'm afraid I traded shifts with a coworker at the hospital so he could take his kids trick-or-treating. So I don't think I'll be around.
Heh, just like old times, huh?
Erm, sorry. That was mean.
Teddy already told me about you two getting together on the 4th. I'll see if I can join you guys then.
Take care, Dad."
October 31st, 2017
Before he started climbing the Foundation's administrative ladder, Edgar Holman had been a field agent, and a decent one at that. For this reason, he had found it to be particularly easy to sneak into Conwell's lab and skim enough of the electric blue powder off each of the prepared samples. Then again, he was the Site Director, and had access to most of the facility. Perhaps his espionage skills were not quite as sharp as he remembered. Either way, he made a mental note to propose security improvements for the facility as he settled himself on his living room couch in the dark.
Holman looked across the room at his mantel, toward the plain silver canister that resided at its center. He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes, then inhaled the powder. Several minutes then passed in silence. He looked down at the floor and sighed.
"Edgar?" A familiar, but distant voice broke the silence.
He turned his head, and there she stood. She was barefoot and wearing a plain dress, her entire form colored in sepia. Her hair was done up in ponytail as she often wore in life, but her eyes still had the sunken appearance they had acquired near the end. Edgar's mouth hung open for several moments.
"He… hey, Rita," Edgar finally stuttered, and got to his feet. "Ha… Happy Birthday…"
His wife's lips turned in a melancholy smile.
"Happy Halloween," she replied. "You didn't have to call in too many favors to get today off, I hope."
"Not at all. They begged me to stay away."
She grinned, and he felt himself do the same. He watched as she looked him up and down.
"You look like death, sweetheart," she finally exclaimed.
Edgar gave a tired laugh and quickly crossed the room, spreading out his arms wide and attempting to wrap Rita in a bear hug, only to have his arms close in around himself, and his entire body sheathed in cold.
He looked around in confusion briefly, his wife was standing on the other side of the room.
"I think this is a look-but-don't-touch kind of deal, Ed," she replied with a frown. "I'm sorry…"
Holman gave a chuckle and sighed.
"Well, shucks," he said. "There go my plans to take this to the bedroom."
"I've missed you so much…" Holman said, his tired smile turning to a frown as he sank into a nearby chair.
"I miss you too," she replied and sat on the chair's arm. She placed her hand near, close enough that he could feel the coldness of her skin, but not actually touching. The two looked at each other for a few seconds in silence.
"How are the kids?" she finally asked.
"Fine enough I suppose. Ted and Karen are busy with the twins. Linda… hasn't really spoken to me since you passed."
Rita looked down and frowned.
"When you passed… I was stuck at work for hours before I could get home. Guess that struck her as a final nail in the coffin. That I cared more about work than you."
"Ah… Yeah… that would do it."
Holman closed his eyes and turned away.
"Did you think that?"
"Sometimes, certainly. Others not so much."
She raised an eyebrow as Holman gave a relieved sigh.
"That's weighed on your mind a lot, huh?" She asked.
"Well…" she said. "You're here now. That's good enough for me."
"Thanks," Holman smiled, tears in his eyes. Rita bent down and gave him a peck on the cheek, the coldness sheathing him again as she vanished, and appeared across the room. It was there she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror. She frowned, inspecting her features, then broke into an amused smile.
"I take back what I said earlier," she said. "I'm the one who looks like death. How am I here, anyway? Did you pull some Orpheus bullshit?"
"That's one way to put it," he replied. "I took something. Its temporary. Eventually you'll vanish."
"Probably for the best," Rita sighed. "The dead gotta stay dead after all…"
"But they don't have to…" Holman smiled. "You don't have to. Even if I can't touch you, that's better than nothing. This last year was just so painful…"
"That pain eventually fades," Rita interrupted. "This is like picking off the scab. Keep doing it and you don't heal, or worse, you create an infection. Don't do that to yourself."
Holman closed his eyes and looked down. He could feel Rita return to sitting on the arm of the chair.
"Sweetie, whatever you think you need to be forgiven for, you're forgiven. But please… just don't."
Holman nodded and looked up, his eyes red from dried tears.
"Got to say, I thought you'd have been a little more ecstatic about all this…" He gave a sad laugh.
"Life's full of surprises."
"It sure is."
"Love you, hon."
"Love you too."
The effects of the powder lasted throughout the night. In the end, the two of them sat on the balcony of their house, watching the sun rise. She kept close enough that he could feel her cold. Eventually the cold began to disappear. He turned and looked at her. Slowly, her form was fading from sight. She gave him a warm smile and was gone. Edgar Holman was once again alone.
November 1st, 2017
Director Holman sat in Agent Merlo's office, wrapping up a meeting regarding MTF Gamma-13's most recent exploits. While he maintained a smile and eye contact, his head was pounding with a headache so fierce it put the worst hangover to shame. Once this meeting concluded his plan was to sit in his office, ideally undisturbed, for the rest of the day. He gave a subtle sigh of relief when Merlo handed him the file containing all the recent reports, and began to make his way to the exit.
"Oh, by the way," Merlo called after him as he made it to the door. "Conwell came by this morning. Showed me a little bit of security footage from his lab yesterday. I think you might want to see it."
Holman froze. Merlo maintained an amused smile as pulled out a little camera from within her desk and set it to play. The image of Holman taking the powder from Conwell's lab danced across the screen.
"He hid a personal camera in there…" Holman commented with a sigh.
"He sure did," Merlo chuckled. "Apparently one of the other researchers in the AMAT team lost someone recently. Conwell was afraid they might take some of the 'Séance Dust.' Didn't expect to find you with your hand in the cookie jar."
"So what happens now?"
"That's honestly up to you, Ed. I'm the only one Conwell has told, so far. It's funny. He's unsure as to whether this is an ethics test, or if you might have him offed to cover your tracks…"
"What are you going to do, Sasha," he interrupted. Merlo frowned.
"Are you going to try to pull this shit again? If you get the chance?"
Holman shook his head.
"Rita made me promise not to, not that I could get more if I was so inclined."
"Did you get the answers you were looking for?"
"Some of them, yes," Holman replied after a pause. "Though to be honest I'm not really sure what questions I wanted answered."
"So it was worth it then?"
"I'd like to think so."
"Fair enough," said Merlo, chuckling. "Heh, well, there go your chances at hitting Level 5 clearance."
"I have a hard enough time keeping myself sane managing one backwater Site," Holman replied with a tired grin. "I don't want to have to deal with all the others."
Merlo nodded in approval. She then quietly deleted the video file from Conwell's camera and made a gesture of zipping her lip.
"I'll talk to Conwell. We'll get him on the same page," she grinned.
"So that's that then?" Holman asked.
Holman began to head toward the exit.
"Do you meet up for Halloween at Secret Crest every year?" He asked, pausing at the threshold.
"Count me in for 2018," he said with a smile, and stepped out into the hall.