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"Alright. Dee Five O'Ten," Junior Researcher Perez began, trying to make a name out of a number. "We will now present a series of photographs. All we want you to do is write a brief description of each photo, no more than a few sentences. Okay?"

D-5010 nodded and looked ahead at the screen. Simple stock pictures, as might appear on the covers of greeting or birthday cards, ran in a slideshow. A city street at night. Neon lights reflect off everything wet from rain. Just light rain, there are still people out walking. *click* A red and white lighthouse with a clear blue sky behind. It's sunny, and a wave is crashing on the rock. *click* An aerial view of tropical islands surrounded by water so clear and blue you can see the sandbars. *click* A child hopping over a puddle. The picture is in black and white, except the rubber rainboots are bright yellow.

At the conclusion of the slideshow Perez stepped forward to observe the sheets of paper spread on the desk. D-5010 looked at the sheets too and furrowed his brow. Exchanging a glance with the researcher he preemptively answered what he knew was about to be asked. "I didn't write that part. Those parts. Or … I didn't try to. I mean… each picture was on for not even a minute. Right? I didn't write that much, I don't think."

Perez tried to suppress an exasperated sigh. Not for this moment. Well, not just for this moment; she was exhausted from working so many extra hours recently. That was due to another Junior Researcher recently transferred to the Site; an insufferable brown-noser who had danced his way into everyone's spotlight, then just as suddenly seemed to have deserted without a trace. Rumors of spying and espionage were floated, but they didn't seem grounded in any evidence; merely speculation after the fact. Now Perez felt like the only one picking up any of the slack in the labs; she never wanted the task of handling all of Wren's uncompleted documents. Not on top of her already heavy workload.

"It's fine. Thank you for your cooperation and efforts today." Perez was aware of how much that sounded a rigid dismissal, but in that moment couldn't find the words to phrase it more naturally, so was beholden to the stock options of textbook phrases. The stock phrase 'Results identical to previous test' made yet another appearance in Perez's notes, which was also a stressful thing.

And there was still one more avenue to pursue, so this ordeal wasn't over yet.


Junior Researcher Perez was calm now.

She had lost her temper with the D-class research assistant in the chamber earlier. They had simply been asked to draw an impression of the picture on display with the materials provided. It wasn't a difficult task, and their profile was tagged with 'visual art experience' so easier still. But they took so damn long with it, and kept fussing over details, and then they acted frustrated with it all and - Oh! A young guard named Frances had interjected and walked her outside for a minute, calmly talking until she regained her composure.

Returning to the test chamber, Perez found the research assistant to be less combative as well. Frances took up a place at the door, the other guard remained stone faced in the far corner of the room.

"I just-" D-5154 stuttered as she began. "I just was having a hard time getting the… the texture right on certain places." She gestured toward her charcoal-print recreation of the landscape photo propped on an easel. "I don't understand what's happening… when I'm trying to do the shading for these darker parts it just… it…"

Perez came close and peered at the artwork. The picture looked as it should have. But if she squinted at the darker sections… sure enough, she could just make out… a pattern. "Aagh!" Perez shouted, making all other parties jump with a start. No! No, it didn't amount to anything more than yet another 'results identical' entry in the damned test log!

Perez called an end to the testing and excused herself. She rushed off to finally put an end to this burdensome extra work in what passed for her own office space. A feeling of tension lingered for the rest of the day.


Knock, knock.

"Knock knock!"

'What an annoying…' Perez thought harshly of the middling (in nearly all ways, both professionally and personally) Researcher Patey, interrupted however by his immediate transition to the task he had come for.

"So, the gents upstairs are still waiting on the final assessment of that Object-862 that you had been working on." A moment of silence passed as Perez expected Patey might elaborate, while apparently Patey expected Perez would recall all the pertinent information based solely on those numbers. "It was one of the assignments you took on after Researcher Wren's disappearance," he added barely helpfully.

"Oh, I thought I'd already worked through all of those!" Perez scrawled 'AO-862' on a notepaper so she could look it up momentarily. "What ever came of that, do you know? The business with Wren, I mean."

"Inconclusive," Patey shrugged. "Far as I know, anyway."

"Huh… Well give me a few minutes here and I'll double check that file, and send a copy up to the Senior Researchers' office straight away." She smiled as she said it, but seconds later her expression reverted to neutral. Patey recognized the conversation was over, and fled accordingly.

Once he was out of sight Perez opened up her database and tracked down the appropriate file. 'Darn!' It looked as though she had filed it as completed, but hadn't submitted it. Some time had passed, she couldn't recall all the specifics of this case; probably noone could. She scanned over research notes and typed a hasty summary of findings to include with the description file. She quickly composed all parts of the report and sent them to the inboxes of the appropriate Senior Researchers. The description file would eventually be entered into the Log of Anomalous Objects; the extraneous communiques and surrounding circumstances would be redacted for reasons of practicality.

To: Site-112 Senior Researchers Office <4 contacts>
From: Perez, Researcher (Jr.) <Sa.Perez>
Subject: FA: AO-862
Here is the summary of my Final Assessment: Object does not react to its environment at all.  Its effect only manifests when a third-party interacts with the object.  It's only ever produced the same words, over and over.  Further testing is unlikely to yield new results, I doubt we're dealing with anything sentient, let alone sapient.

Placement in standard medium-value storage would be appropriate.
  

Item Description: A piece of vine charcoal that causes "Someone help me! I'm trapped in the charcoal!" to be written every several seconds whenever used for writing or drawing.
Date of Recovery: █-██-████
Location of Recovery: ████████████, Scotland
Current Status: In storage.

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