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.
Five. It was determined to be the most harmless anomaly in containment, and currently roams the facility, and…

"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 she seemed fairly tired. "J.C….?"

"H-Huh…?"

"Are you okay?" Melina went quiet. Is there any kind of response for that?

"I guess so? I just woke up anyhow. Sorry sorry, I must have fallen asleep." That didn't seem to cheer her up. The expression her face carried deepened, if anything. She seems 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 eleven 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.?"

"Yeah?" Just as I reply, she reaches out and grabs my shoulders. I wince, but I can't help but bear through it. If she was upset, I wasn't going to aggravate it.

"Please…" At that, her hands squeeze harder.

"Melina…"

"Listen. Stay here this time. Don't leave me. Please —" She grabs me tighter. " — stay here. Let's just have the party."

"Melina?" I was confused. 'This time'? "What are you talking about? Isn't this the party?"

The room stood still for a few moments. She wasn't breathing; neither did I. For a few moments, I thought I was lost in a fever dream, trapped by the dread building up. Eventually, she let go. I can relax a little bit.

"You're right. This is the party. Sorry, we both fell asleep while everyone else had fun, ahah…"

"Oh, I see." 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."

"Hah." She sounds enthusiastic, but she can't pretend to smile. "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."

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

"They're grilled! 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 must have loved them, 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. "Here they are."

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. Melina has a hold of me, as she looks down and away, her body shaking. 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 holding back tears. "Please. Believe me. He's sick, remember? Please tell me you remember? It's been a day… please say you remember. J.C…. 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 —" She slams me against the wall again, pinning me there. My body screams at me to run, but I can't. Moving is impossible.

"I…"

Impossible. Of course. All of this is impossible.

"I need to just… be by myself."

"Melina? Can't you explain?"

"You don't remember. There's no point in explaining anymore. That's… just how the situation is." She lets go of me and sits back down, lying her head on the table. "It's better to see for yourself at this point. I can't bear to look anymore."

"Melina…"

"But you already looked for me before, and now everything is like this. Whatever. If you figure out what's behind this, please let me know." 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, Matthew, 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 Matthew's corpses there? They all look like they've died in different ways and Matthew's looks the oldest and Brent's looks old as well and Tom's body is so bloody and no no no no no nonononono

"J.C.?"

I snap to attention. That's Alex's voice. She's huddled underneath Brent's body, broken and still. Tom was next to her, but I could tell he had trouble breathing.

"Alex? Hey, are you and Tom okay? And why are Brent and Matthew like that? What's —"

"You're here again…" I wasn't sure what she means by that. "Tom's done."

"Done?"

"Done." She didn't elaborate further than that. "You don't remember what happened to Brent or Matthew?"

"No…" I moved closer, but Alex edged herself away from me. Her face was pained. I'm sure she wasn't expecting me to provide solid support.

"No. Are you okay? What's happening?"

"I don't know… if you figure out, can you save us? Tom might not make it further."

"I'll try." I knew my promise was empty for now, but there wasn't anything else I could offer. "Don't you two want to come with me? It might be better than staying here."

"No." She spoke adamantly. "Sorry. We shouldn't be here in the first place. Can't you remember that?"

"Remember what?" My stomach was dropping. "Alex? What are you talking about?" She doesn't respond, nor does she try to distance herself from me when I move close. "First Melina, now you… what's gotten into you two?"

"Please, just help us. Please." She shifted her body to face away from me. There wasn't anything more I could say to help, most likely.

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 act weird, or even die. 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. I don't know.

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, Alex…"
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 won't be anything friendlier.

What time is it anyhow?

"It's not."

What day was it still?

December 31st.

"Huh? Who are you."

Me.

But…

Even the small desire in you to learn… is that not enough to keep on living?

I don't know… the situation seemed new to me, but it was right. I wanted to live. I could stare it down and be sure I knew I wanted to live, but in the awe of its splendor, I wasn't sure it would let me.

Memetics. Nine years, and all you've learned was to cower.

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

Do you wish to cheat death and live?

What a question to ask. I knew it could oblige in whatever answer I gave. It was that kind. And yet… everyone alive seemed miserable. But I don't wanna die. There's no way I would want to die now, before I figured everything out.

"Cheat death…? I don't know. But I want to live. Please… let me live…"

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

Live.

That is my blessing.






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