Cheers, Kiddo!
rating: +1+x





— huh? Oh… yeah, that's right. Now I remember where I am. Need to state the facts clearly. Have to remember clearly.

One. It's December 31st, 2018.

Two. It's after work at Site-19. New Year's Eve party.

Three. You went with the other members of λ-11.
It came too.
Four. Its object class used to be Keter. It's now Safe.
Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.
Five. It was determined to be the most harmless anomaly in containment, and currently roams the facility, and…

"Haha… hey, J.C.!" Huh? I look up, and across the table is Melina. It's hard to tell exactly with only a small amount of moonlight coming through and her head staring down at the table, but her eyes seem bloodshot and baggy. That can't… be right. How could that be right?

"Hey!"

"H-Huh…?"

"Jayyyy seeee… what a great night. How long have we been here?" Melina giggled to herself before going quiet, rocking back and forth. Is there any kind of response for that? She seems so out of it… She never mentioned working long nights to plan the party, right? No, that's not possible. I just need to collect myself and assess the situation.

This is Wing-0 of Site-19. We were going to have a party to celebrate New Year's since no one had plans. It's the first time in our entire nine years together that all ten members of λ-11 had no plans. Memetics rarely has breaks for any one member to begin with, after all. Melina was going to host and organize most of it, along with Jarod.

He doesn't seem to be anywhere though. No one else is in here besides Melina and I. The room is still way too dark. Even if it's too dark to make anything out, it's obvious that stuff seems incredibly disorganized and all over the place. Did something happen?

"J.C.!?"

"Y-Yeah?" Just as I reply, she reaches out and grabs my shoulders. I wince, but I can't help but bear through it and not aggravate her more. Her nails dig into me, and her hands are clamped tight. She's trapping me. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts…

"Please… stop." At that, her hands squeeze harder. Breathing starts to be painful.

"Melina…"

"Listen. We'll still have a party. Stay here. Please, don't —" Her nails pierce harder, and I bleed just as quickly. " — think about it. You don't need to understand anything. Let's just have our party."

She lets go. I can finally breathe. Air hasn't felt this good in a long time.

"Our party, yeah…" I need to play along until I get my bearings better. That's the best way to navigate the situation. "Knowing you, it's pretty much going to be the War and Peace of parties."

"Mmhm!" A faint smile crosses her face, despite how tired she looks. "I even managed to strongarm Matthew to help me get really nice ribs ready for everyone. I ate already half of them, but you can eat the rest."

Matthew…? Oh, probably a friend of hers from another department. It's miraculous that she's always managed her social life so easily.

"Ribs for a New Year's party seems weird, but that's definitely something you would do."

"They're grilled though! I thought that was everyone's type." I can't help but chuckle; even if the situation seems strange, she still seems enough like herself, at least.

"It was a compliment, I swear. Everyone will love it, I'm sure."

"Yeah… you're right. Let me find the lights." I nod. Maybe it's nothing. We both probably drank too much. That has to be the most likely thing. "There it is."

The lights flip on.

That's how I see Jarod's body, partially sticking out on the floor behind a couch.

"Jarod? Hey, Jarod, are you okay? Melina, something's up with Jarod, do you know —"

My body slams against the wall and slumps onto the floor before I can react. Melina is looking down away from me, her body shaking and her sobs audible. There's nothing to say. God, if you're there, please let me know what to do or say. I need that very badly.

We're both silent, frozen in fear. I can't bear to break the silence, so I decide to wait. If anyone has to make the first move, it'll be her. The clock on the wall on the other side of the room reads 9:02 PM. But that can't be right either… most of us got here at 4 PM, except for Alyssa and Brent who were going to be late, and Melina and Jarod who were supposed to already be here. Then that means I shouldn't have been drinking. Five hours disappeared completely and utterly.

"J.C…." I look back at Melina. Her voice is strained. She must be choking on tears, but it sounds more hoarse than before. "You… shouldn't have. If you just ignored him… He's sick, remember? Please tell me you remember? It's been days… please say you remember. J.C.. Can't this be the last time? Let's just have our party. Please, J.C…."

Each word etches itself onto my mind, even if it shouldn't. Dumb. It's so dumb. All of that sounds like nonsense. But…

"N-No, I don't remember anything. Melina, can you explain —" A knife flies by me and smashes into the oven behind. My body screams at me to run, but I can't. Moving is impossible.

"I… I can't anymore. Please. Leave."

Impossible. Of course. All of this is impossible.

"J.C.. I don't care. Go."

There was nothing else she needed to say. It took me a minute to notice my body easing up, so I take the chance to get up and run out the door. I don't dare look back. The only thing on my mind is seeing if the rest of the Foundation is as crazy. My head hurts at the door. It wants to tell me something, but it can't, but I hear the words it says and —


Melina, Jarod, Alyssa, Brent, Silas, Tom, Liz, Helena, Alex, and I.

That was who made up λ-11.
Alas.
That's easy to remember.

There's only one Wing-0.

So why am I in a second Wing-0?

Why are Brent, Tom, and Alex's corpses there? There's a fourth I don't recognize too. They all look like they've died in different ways and the fourth one looks the oldest and Brent's looks the second-oldest and Tom's body is so bloody and no no no no no nonononono

I sit down, resting my head against my knees. What's going on? I need to collect myself. Breathe deeply. Go over what happened and what I know. I must be able to figure it out.

I lost five hours of my night. So far, three of my friends and colleagues are dead and one is sick, and there's another corpse that I can't identify. One has gone crazy. I don't know where the other four are, and I don't know where I am anymore.

What kind of anomaly caused this? There's some kind of rationale that'll help me figure it out surely. Memetics can cause people to lose track of time, and they can cause people to go crazy. But nothing seemed to indicate a specific kind of memetic anomaly. More than that, there's nothing that I could connect to another repeating room. And my mind being this sound when Melina's is busted? I dunno.

I dunno.

I don't know.

I… don't know?

I don't know…

"Something that doesn't make you know…"

Did we have anomalies that you couldn't know about? Theoretically that's possible, but conceptually… how could that be done? How can that be created? Too many questions to ask if I went down this road. That seemed impossible anyway.

Huh.

That's weird. Why am I at this exit? Did I not realize it?

"I guess not."

My hand was on the doorknob and twisted itself to open. My brain screamed as I go through the motions on my own.

That's right.

I remember.

It was Keter, and now it's Safe, and roams the facility, and —



There were the corpses of Alyssa and Liz in an identical Wing-0. Helena was still missing. But that's fair, I suppose. I was shocked, and yet I can't make myself dwell on it. Huh? Maybe my mind is sorting this away in a place that lets me not be bothered.

"Silas?" There was no response, as he stared off into space in the corner of the room. There was no point in bothering him; he wouldn't respond, most likely.

Why were all of us split up here anyway? That shouldn't have been possible as well. Only Brent and Alyssa should have been separated from us since they didn't arrive with us. But no anomaly can come to mind to explain it.

"Hahaha."

Of course I can't think of one. The whole situation felt absurd and nonsensical. It must have been a new anomaly, right? I wonder… if λ-11 wasn't in the state it was in, we would have all found this situation fascinating. Could we have all figured it out together?

"I wish I was smart enough to figure this one out on my own. Melina…"
You can still move.
I found myself at the exit again. Oh well.

As I open the door, I feel the screaming in my head again. It pounds and I don't know what it's trying to tell me, so when I look inside —



There was Helena's corpse. It looked the most pristine of all the ones I saw so far. No blood, bone, rot, bile, filth, or expression. It laid there, unmoving underneath it.

It?
Hello.
It was in the middle of Wing-0.

What was it?

It's Safe, formerly Keter.

It roams the facility.

It's in front of me.

Why can't I remember what it isn't?

I decide to move towards it slowly to see what it is. No, that's not right. I can't stop myself from moving to it. Why…? It's not particularly interesting, is it?

As I get closer, it "echoes" more intensely, more fervently. The more I stare, the more I feel it speaking. It discovered a tone within me and rang. Every note it plays is friendly. Of course; there wasn't anything friendlier.

What time is it anyhow?

"It's not."

What day was it still?

"December 31st."

I started to lose myself. I grab the wall and look at Helena. She seems at peace. The most peaceful of any of us. Why couldn't you tell me what happened? There's nothing to go off of when you're frozen like that. You were the core of λ-11, but…

But…

Nothing to worry about ultimately. Everything was fine. That's what my thoughts told me anyhow.

"Is this what it feels like to accept dying?"

As soon as I asked, everything became, and happened at once.

Since your will is strongest...

I'll let you stay free.






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