It Feels Like I Only Go Backwards

by DarkStuff

rating: +11+x

Dorer started. "Hello, Victor LaFerrier."

It was back to routine.

"Oh, hello. Dr. Dorer, Dr. Davidson."

One more Agent LaFerrier interview to do.

"Hello," Rachael slammed a folder onto the table, "Victor."

They were getting very tiring by this point.

Dorer interjected. "Agent, did you know that you have no birth certificate?"

Rachael and Dorer were very near calling it quits.

"No job history, either." Rachael added.

They had decided to keep at it for one more week.

Dorer: "We can't find your adoptive parents — or their graves, for that matter."

That allowed them space for four, maybe five more interviews.

Rachael: "We have no records of ever hiring you. Did you know this, Victor?"

This was the fourth. They decided to call it quits after this one, so they made it their home turf: Site-31.

Victor's face swelled with anxiety. "I-I-I swear I've never —"

Seeing as this was the last stop, they had decided that they could be a little more risky. Free form.

Rachael: "Lied to us? Well, that's hard to believe. Do you think this amount of records just disappears overnight? It's not just our own records, LaFerrier. Nowhere that you've ever claimed to be has any documentary proof of your existence. Can you explain that, Victor?"

They figured that they could bring up…

Dorer: "That's honestly not as important as our next line of questioning —" Rachael huffed "— which is… well…" Dorer opened the file of GoI-███ and laid it on the table. "We know of your involvement."

█████ Industrial.

In reality, Dorer and Davidson knew absolutely nothing about Agent LaFerrier's connection to █████ Industrial. As far as they knew, the original URA-1902's reaction with him was entirely coincidental. In fact, they had no clue what had happened there, either. They only knew that Agent LaFerrier was an anomaly that met with another anomaly and was the only body of MTF Sigma-10, "Working Man", that they never found. So…

"Yes! Yes, I worked for them, for a time…"

…that was interesting to hear.

Rachael and Dorer made very brief eye contact. Then, Rachael seamlessly switched back into a demeanor that said "of course, yes, I knew that already". She crossed her legs, lifted her clipboard, and clicked her pen open.

"When did you work with… with…" Rachael paused a moment. "With this company? And if you lie to us, we'll know."

"I-I uhh, it-it-it couldn't have been more than… it was…"

"Spit it out, Victor. We don't have all day." Dorer had to suppress his smile to maintain the ridiculous tough guy vibe.

Agent LaFerrier's pupils bounced around like basketballs in washing machines. "It-it-it was 1929." His eyes suddenly sat in a forward facing position. "The stock market was booming. At least, that's what they told me. Everything was working. Everything was perfect."

Dorer looked to Rachael to see if she showed any recognition of the impossibility of 1929.

"Go on." Her face was completely unreadable.

"But-but-but…" LaFerrier's face contorted into pure agony. "But then that day came, the day, oh, the day… the 29th of September." He returned to that forward facing look, as if the next words came to him from an outside source. "Five — or six, or more, who were one, and wanted to be one again. From many to one. Howard. Howard █████." Rachael and Dorer suddenly winced as a sharp pain stabbed through the base of their skull. "The CEO. The father of the company. Who hadn't always run it but had always been it. They saw. They saw something they shouldn't have seen. Howard. He saw the arms."

Rachael's eyes widened with interest.

"The arms? Elaborate."

LaFerrier's face twisted into a horrible frown. "The arms, the arms! The long, reaching arms! He made us see them. He made us see them too. And we've been working, we've been working ever since."

Rachael: "Did you see anything else?" LaFerrier blinked with concerning frequency. Rachael glanced at the surveillance camera. "A frozen world? What were the arms reaching for?"

Dorer side-eyed Rachael.

LaFerrier nodded, and wiped his eyes. "The grass was stuck in place, the hoe was mid swing, but I couldn't move it. Its weight was pressing down upon me forever. Eternally. I couldn't blink, but my eyes didn't dry. And the arms… the arms…"

"Go on."

"Th-they held, they, the hands… the hand! On my head!" LaFerrier held his temples. "In my mind!"

Rachael's breaths began to shudder, but she worked very hard to not change her expression.

Dorer felt the need to speak up. "Rachael…?"

Rachael: "And this Howard? He gave you this vision?"

"He gave it to us all!"

"Victor," Rachael's mouth began to twitch, "where did you work?"

He buried his face in his hands. "I-I don't know!"

"Rachael, are you alright?"

"LaFerrier," Rachael held back her volume, "how old are you?"

"I'm," Agent LaFerrier cried without sobs, "I'm th-th-thirty, thirty-eight…"

"And when were you born?"

"19… 19… 1964."

Rachael put both her hands on the table and leaned forward. "Say that again?"

"19, 1964."

"Say 1929."

"1929."

Rachael had a mouth half open and eyes wider than Dorer had ever seen. Was he supposed to be getting something? "Rachael, calm yourself down, you're going to —"

"You don't know where you worked?"

LaFerrier shook his head.

"Say 'Paris'."

"Paris."

"Say, say, 'London'."

"L-London?"

"Say 'New York'."

Agent LaFerrier looked befuddled. Dorer had never connected to a URA-1902 instance more, and for the first time he really felt the humanity that laid behind those sunken, grey eyes.

Rachael stood. "Say 'New York'!"

Dorer stood to meet her: "Now hold on, Dr. Davidson! What are you doing?"

"New Y-York?"

"Rachael, Rachael, get a hold of yourself —"

"Shut the fuck up, Dorer." Rachael had spoken with such an intensity that Dorer felt the need to sit back down. "For the remainder of this interview, you will remain seated and compliant, do you understand? You are to sit there, and do nothing, unless I tell you to."

Dorer looked at her like she was a growling dog.

"Good. Now, Victor. Your task is simple. Repeat after me, and if there are any delays, I have it well within my power to hurt you."

Dorer wondered when security would arrive, and looked to the camera only to find its standard red light mysteriously off.

"Say 'Broadway'."

"Broadway."

"Say 'Wall Street'."

"Wall Street."

"Say 'New York Stock Exchange'."

"N-N—"

"Say it!"

"New York Stock Exchange!"

"Say 'to the right of the Stock Exchange'."

"To the…? To the right of the Stock Exchange."

"Yes, yes, say, say how far? Say 'a kilometer to the right'."

"A kilometer to the —"

"No, too far. Say 'half a kilometer'."

"Half a kilometer."

"'Half a kilometer to the right of the New York Stock Exchange'."

"Half a kilometer to the right of the New York Stock Exchange!"

"Close enough." Rachael reached into her bag and pulled out the syringe, quickly uncapping it before stabbing it straight into LaFerrier's eye.

Victor screamed, and grasped at her outstretched arm.

Dorer yelped and fell out of his chair.

In another moment, Victor had fallen, dead, to the floor. Rachael picked up her bag and strode quickly past Dorer, who scrambled to his feet just to see her waltz through a door that he could have sworn was electronically locked from the other side.

"Rachael! Rachael! Wait, what the f— where are you going? Rachael? Rachael!"


Rachael bust open the door to her room, where she had unpacked most of her clothes, work papers, and the few useless amenities she allowed herself to keep purely for their own sake. Her laptop was closed but plugged in on a desk, folders were stacked neatly besides it, and several copies of the same white shirt and black pants were hung up on hangers in the open closet. She had a picture of her parents pinned to the wall next to her bed, a bottle of sleeping pills on her bedside table, and several nonfiction books stacked upon each other next to the pills, but besides that… the room was horribly barren. She had fully prioritized function over form, and left the walls, floor, desks, and bathroom mostly characterless.

As soon as she had stepped inside, she began to pack her few belongings. She started towards the laptop first thing, unplugging it and cramming it inside a slick, slim computer bag.

Dorer followed soon after. "Rachael Maria Davidson! What do you think you're doing? What was that back there?"

She pulled a rolling suitcase out from under the bed, zipped it open, and laid it on top of her sheets. She promptly inserted the computer bag in it, and made her way towards the bathroom. Due to the small space, this required Dorer to move out of her way. She hadn't shown a single sign of recognition that he was even there.

"And what is this about arms? And a frozen world? Is this important? Seems like you know something I don't, and as partners in this operation, I am really uncomfortable with having something like this kept from me. Is it classified?"

She took her toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, electric shaver, floss, and mouthwash, and stuffed them all into a small plastic box. As soon as this task was complete, she pushed past Dorer once more, and made her way to the suitcase on the bed.

"And what was that? Asking him to repeat things? What was that supposed to do? You're keeping things from me, Rachael. And I'm not having it."

She shoved Dorer out of the way to access her closet, but as she reached for the first hanger, Dorer grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. Her eyes were squinted, just a little bit, but otherwise she was just as legible as the name of a dead company.

"Rachael, you do know that I have to report strange behavior to the

/ / /

H
u
h
.
.
.

W
h
a
t
?

I
.
.
.

For a split second, Dorer had the strange sensation of packing a suitcase, and then it was gone.

As he slowly regained a sense of his body, he lifted his leaden right arm to massage his temple with his hand. "What?" His dry, sticky mouth barely pushed out air, and though he had opened his eyes (with much effort), his vision was still fuzzy with the blue-green-red splotches iconic of a headrush.

"Rachael…?"

He still had no volume, but feeling had returned across his body — not wholly, but just enough to discover that he was laid down in the closet. His head was painfully pressed against the back wall, and a dull ache in his left arm told him that it had been bent an odd direction for as long as he was out.

As his hearing faded in, he could tell that Rachael was still in the room, pushing her clothes into the suitcase. He must not have been out that long, then, if she was still there.

"What's going…?"

This time, he could hear himself. Hopefully that meant he was loud enough to be heard.

Sure enough, Rachael's packing seemed to cease. After a brief pause, he could hear her approach, and soon she was standing right in front of him. His vision returned enough to make out the colors of her skin, shirt, and pants — enough to know she was there.

"Rachael, Rachael, what just happened, why am I

/ / /

W
h
a
t

t
h
e

h
e
l
l

i
s
.
.
.

a a a a a a a aaaaaaaaaa!!

Dorer had the sudden feeling he was staring at herself in the mirror.

AAAAAAAAAA A A A A A A A!!

Dorer jolted awake. His eyes were watery, his lungs and chest hurt like a motherfucker, and this time he knew not to move. Dorer was a doofus. But he wasn't an idiot. He should have guessed the first time, but Rachael was not his friend. Logged. He wouldn't make that mistake again.

It was more important to prevent whatever was happening than to understand whatever was happening. Working with the Foundation taught you that pretty well. This was just much closer to the source than Dorer had ever been. As his hearing returned, more quickly than before, he listened for the sound of Rachael. So far, nothing. But he knew not to take that for granted. She could be standing still, and his hearing wasn't back enough to find footsteps. He only knew he had it because he could hear the air conditioning.

He measured his breathing. Kept it quiet, and slow. Every inch of his being wished he would breathe faster — his heart was pounding, but he was trying his very hardest to slow it down. He needed to look dead.

Whatever she was doing, it wasn't working. She wanted him either unconscious or dead, and neither was keeping up.

Slowly, methodically, he opened his eyes. Across from him, the bathroom door was open, and Rachael was staring at herself in the mirror. He shut his eyes. He was to her right, she could easily look over and notice him moving. He needed to be still.

Absolutely.

Still.

So what was the plan? Was the plan to wait for her to leave? It could be. Was she going to leave? She must be leaving, she packed a suitcase. Remain still until she left. That was the plan.

Alright.

So he was going to remain still.

.

.

.

Some shuffling in the bathroom.

The sound of an electric shaver came on.

Dorer remembered her packing that?

She was rethinking the plan. Fuck. She might not be leaving. She was being frantic, and she had realized it, and now she was spending more time in the room.

Sounds of the shaver running through her hair met his ears.

She had somehow disabled the security camera in this room, clearly, or else someone would have been here by now. Why had no one found the camera turning off in the interview strange? Why had no one followed them? Why why why?

The answer was simple.

Whatever she was trying to do to Dorer, she had succeeded in doing to others. She was… turning people off, or something. Somehow. That was the best conclusion he could come to. And he was the only person it wasn't working on. Shit.

Shit.

He had a responsibility. He was the only person who was pushing through somehow. He didn't know what she was planning. It couldn't have been good. But she thought he was unconscious or dead in the room with her and he wasn't. He was in a unique position. He needed to stop her.

God damn it.

Dorer never handled responsibility well. But did he want to be known as a coward? No, he didn't want to do that either. He seemed to have a type of anomalous resistance to her, uh, her… whatever she was doing, and that was enough to get questioned. He might as well get in on their good side before they locked him up for a month. Or more.

She had put down the shaver. Dorer became aware that his legs extended into the room, out of the closet. Due to how small the space was, to get to the bed she would have to walk over them. Or the front door, for that matter. Either way, he knew what he had to do.

Rachael began to walk out of the bathroom.

Game time.

Dorer swept his legs and tripped her. She fell and hit her jaw on the bedpost, stunning her, at least temporarily.

Dorer leapt to his feet as best he could (he wished for a moment that he didn't love eating so much), and made for the door — maybe he could find someone who she hadn't downed, he could explain her threat, and the site could go into quarantine. Keep her locked up. That sounded like the most reasonable thing to do. But as he jiggled the handle, he found it locked. Locked? In a moment of panic, he searched his mind for an answer, and briefly remembered that she had opened an electronically locked door before.

She had done the opposite.

He was stuck in here with her.

He turned around to see her slowly rise to her feet, and knew, with a fear rising in his heart, that the only way he would have enough time to do anything was to knock her out. As she balanced herself on the bed, he kicked her in the stomach. An "augh!" burst from her mouth, as she was knocked to her knees.

Dorer sweat floods and breathed hurricanes. He pulled back to kick her again, but she reached out and grabbed his leg. He lost his balance and put his hands behind him to prop him up against the closet for a second, but the stability was lost when she brought her other arm to twist his leg. He fell, and struck his elbow against the door frame of the bathroom.

She rose, and was suddenly standing over him. For the first time since he was out, he saw her face. And it frightened him into paralysis.

She was bleeding from striking her jaw, but she paid it no mind. Her mouth was curled into a glower fiercer than a drill sergeant's. Her upper lip was pulled up, and half her teeth were showing, briefly reminding Dorer of an unfortunate childhood run-in with a neighborhood dog. Her breaths were deep and strained. She looked about ready to strangle the life out of him.

But instead

/ / /

NO!

Dorer felt rage at heights as he had never reached before, and Rachael stumbled back as his fist drove itself into her chest.

Dorer surprised himself by being upright, and fully conscious. The expression on Rachael's face told him the feeling was shared.

"What is it," she spat blood, "did they know? Were you chosen to counteract me?"

Dorer figured she could pick out a lie, but he didn't want to show any weakness, so instead of speaking, he approached her.

"Why won't you stay down?" Dorer thought he caught a quiver in her voice.

"I told you we were fated." Dorer's confidence had returned, and with it came his idiot grin. Rachael winced at it in this new context. "Unlock the door, Rachael, or I'll be forced to — pah!"

Dorer lost his breath and felt the first hints of bile as Rachael punched him in the throat. As he cough-barfed, she grabbed the back of his head and smashed his face into the wall. He struggled to regain his balance against his head's bruising, throat's burning, and temporary shortage of oxygen. As he blinked the water out of his eyes, he heard a rummaging through the suitcase. The moment he regained his vision, Rachael had pushed him against the wall, pinned by the shoulders, too close to her to get a good kick.

In her right hand was a pen. Dorer couldn't hold back a yip, like a small dog. He also couldn't hold back the embarrassment that came with knowing that that would be his last sound. In the face of certain death, he wasn't brave. He yipped.

His legs struggled.

His arms tensed and released.

His heartbeat was more like a constant drum roll.

She picked up her right arm, and began to shove it down, straight towards his —

Eye.

But then she collapsed.

What?

She was laying down, her shaved head pressed on the hardwood floor. This was the first time Dorer had really noticed it was hardwood. Her room was nicer than his? That was unfair.

Wait, that wasn't the most important thing right now. Dorer turned around. What was the thing to do? Wait. If she was down, maybe the door was no longer locked? He reached for the handle, but was taken off guard by Rachael's arm wrapping around his neck and pulling him back.

"How did you do that?"

Dorer couldn't talk through his struggling and choking, but he could hear the blemish of pain in her voice.

"What are you?"

He wasn't strong enough to push her back into a wall and she knew it.

"If I can't turn you off —" He knew it! "— I'll just have to take you out the old fashioned way." Oh no. "Now, if you could kindly…"

She walked him into the bathroom, and stopped him in front of the sink.

There he was. In the mirror. For once, he really understood why Rachael looked down on him — and not in the physical sense, he knew she was taller than he was. In his reflection, he could see his own chubby face. He was beet red. He was older looking than last he remembered. And, at this very moment, he was pretty beat up. The side of his face was bruising, his elbow was bleeding, his clothes were rimpled and torn in a place or two. He was a mess, an absolute mess.

"You're still trying to use it against me."

Dorer wasn't at all aware of himself trying to use any type of power against her, except his own physical might, which was of course failing him.

"Well, you won't take me down that easily, Robert. I've been at this a lot longer than you have, and if you don't think I don't know how to counteract myself…"

His head began to ache from lack of air, among other things.

"If you give me a good explanation, I'll consider not killing you. Alright?"

She loosened up on his neck, and he gasped for air.

"Don't take too long catching your breath. I don't have time to waste on you."

After another deep breath, "I don't know! I swear, I know, I know that you won't believe that. It sounds like the first excuse anyone would give, and I know that, but I swear to you, I didn't know I could do anything! In fact, I still don't know if I can! Are you sure you're not just screwing up? Think about it! You failed at killing me three times, and then it looks like you knocked yourself out! Don't you think that's plausible?"

Dorer couldn't see Rachael's face, but she hadn't yelled at him or bashed his face into the sink yet, and he decided that that was a good sign.

"I've never failed," she said finally. "I have mastered this craft. I did not fuck up. Something is interfering with me. And you, Robert, are the prime suspect."

"It-it's not me! It can't be me, Ra— Davidson! You know me, heheh? Right? I'm a doof, I'm a doofus, Rachael. You just beat me in hand to hand combat, you know I have no formal training, I wasn't sent here to make sure you didn't get out of line! I wasn't! And what makes you think that if I had your powers, they'd use me but suppress you? Don't you think they'd just put you in whatever mystery program I would be in, too? Come on, it doesn't add up!"

Another horribly stressful pause.

"You do have idiocy on your side. Surprisingly, it strengthens your case. Still, something's going on, and it wasn't happening until we fought. Perhaps…" Another pause. Dorer wondered if now was his only chance to catch her off guard. "Perhaps you didn't know you had powers, and they activated under extreme stress. It's possible. Not likely, but possible." He thought he might have made out the bright tone of voice that gives away a smile.

But it was gone the next second.

"That would make you too valuable to give up. But, you're too against me to trust. What do you think I should do with you?"

Dorer searched his brain. He didn't even know what she was doing.

"Well, heheh, I don't, uh, know what you're doing, and I wouldn't want to make a misinformed decision —"

"Do you really think you've earned my trust?"

"Well, it's just…"

"Time's up." Rachael pulled his head back, and his resolve gave way.

"I'll do anything! Anything you want, please! Please, just, don't kill me, please… please…"

"Hmm." She seemed to consider.

But the next thing Dorer knew, his head had made contact with the cold, clammy porcelain.



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