Agatha Rights looked up from her desk as the man in the gray suit entered her office, her hand instinctively reaching for the lamp to her left. The man looked at her, his mustache twitching slightly. He pulled a file from under his arm, and dropped it on her desk. She looked down at the large, red stamp in the corner.
Her head craned back up slowly, calculatingly. "Termination orders? For who?"
"You, of course," he replied, reaching into his suit pocket.
Dr. Timothy Burns got up from his desk and stretched, looking at the clock on the corner. He was surprised to see how late it'd gotten, especially since he was supposed to meet with—
'Oh, fuck me,' he thought, jumping around the desk and rushing toward the door. 'I can't believe I forgot about this…'
He dashed down the hallway, narrowly dodging two security guards eating cake, reaching for the doorknob and throwing it open.
The office was empty, freshly painted with new carpeting. It reeked of redecorating. He leaned backwards, looking over the door at an empty spot where a placard had been. A tiny part of him leaped with joy at the prospect of having an excuse for being late. He closed the door and looked around, stopping a passing Junior Researcher.
"Can you tell me where Doctor Rights' office is at? I didn't realize she was having hers redecorated."
The researcher looked up at him, setting down her fork on her plate. "Who?"
"Rights. Agatha Rights. She used to be in here," he said, gesturing toward the door. "Now, I can't find her, and I'm late, and she's usually very easily irritated."
The researched looked at him sympathetically. "I'm sorry. I just can't help you."
Burns sighed and turned, hurrying down the hallway. One of the sector supervisors secretaries should be able to help him. He passed through several hallways, glancing occasionally and looking for her name on one of the doors.
He stopped, eventually, at the desk of a stern looking woman in her early forties. Burns gave a sigh of relief, smiling and nodding at the woman who, after she finished a bite of her dessert, looked up at him questioningly.
"Sorry to be a bother," said Burns "but I'm looking for Doctor Rights. He office is being redecorated, and I don't know where she relocated to."
The secretary nodded, and reached for a large, white binder. "A new researcher to the site?" she asked.
Burns cocked an eyebrow. "No, she's been here for years, now. Rights. Senior Staff."
The woman looked at him distrustfully, her finger running down the page. She eventually stopped, looking up at him smugly.
"There is no Doctor Rights on the Site-19 roster."
"Are you sure?"
The woman spun the book around with the skill of one accustomed to such questions and laid it at the front of the desk. Burns looked down the list, frowning. It went straight from Rath, to Rapp, to Sharp.
He turned away from the desk, muttering an absent minded thanks, as the wheels in his head began to turn. There was no way she had been transferred. Any transfer would have required some sort of approval, a transfer of records, probably a party in Agatha's case.
In a few minutes, he'd returned to his office. As he walked in and turned, preparing to put his coat on the hook by the door, his eyes passed over his scheduling calendar. The day was blank.
Something had happened, something had gotten loose, broken free. Something had happened to her.
His mind whirled with the different possibilities. He ran through the SCPs he knew she was working on: the weird surgeon, the tiny pterodactyl, nothing that could cause this. A temporal anomaly? Probably not, as he wouldn't remember her at all then. Maybe it had something to do with—
A sharp knock on his door broke his reverie. He walked toward it cautiously, carefully turning the lock and peering out into the hallway.
A slender, young woman with purple eyes looked back at him, smiling in her Foundation fatigues. "Dr. Burns?"
"Yes," he answered quietly.
"Your mail, sir," she said, holding up a pile of envelopes and memos. "You should really come down to the mail room to get it, sometime."
"We have a mail room?" asked Burns.
She smiled, shrugging her shoulders.
She made to slide the letters through the crack in the door. "No!" yelled Burns, starting her. He looked at the pile of mail in her hand and back at her. 'Of course,' he thought. 'A memetic.'
"How do I know you're legit?" he asked.
Apparently, she'd been there long enough to get used to this question. "Listen," she said. "I'm just going to put his down here." She gestured toward the floor. "You can get it whenever you like."
Burns eyes twitched through the crack. "Fine. Fine, that's fine," he said, watching as she slowly lowered the pile of envelopes to the ground, took a slow step back, and turned away from the door, moving at a brisk gait back down the hallway.
Burns opened the door and poked the stack of letters slowly with his foot before jerking it back again. He repeated this process a few times before carefully stepping over the letters into the hallway, watching them. He sidled down the hall, carefully keeping watch on them as he moved toward the corner.
He took another, long hard stare at the pile of envelopes and dashed around the corner, running headlong into a hoard of butterflies.
He nearly inhaled one before stumbling out of the swarm, leaning himself against a wall as he coughed. He felt a hand slapping him hard on the back, followed by a deep laughter.
"Burns, do try not to eat the SCPs," smirked Kondraki, laughing as the bald man standing next to him looked at Burns impassively.
"Are you alright, Doctor Burns?" asked Dr. Gears.
"Gears!" he cried, "Thank God. Listen, I think something is wrong. I can't find Rights! Something has happened. No one I talk to remembers her at all!"
Gears set down his plate and walked closer to Burns. "Are you alright, Doctor?"
"I'm fine! I'm perfectly fine! One minute, I'm scheduled to meet with her, and the next she's gone! I can't find her!"
Kondraki licked his fork and turned his head sideways. "Who are you talking about, Burns?"
Burns felt the blood drain from his face. His eyes narrowed. "They got to you."
Gears turned and looked at Kondraki, who shrugged in return.
"They got to you two, too, didn't they?" screamed Burns.
Kondraki smiled. "Too much stress, Burns? Did your imaginary friend run away?"
Burns felt himself backing away. This had to be a joke. It had to.
"This is because I put that Class-D's hand in her chair, isn't it?" he yelled. "I swear, I thought she'd notice before she sat down! Seriously, this is getting ridiculous!"
"Are you alright, Doctor? Would you like a mild sedative?" asked Gears.
"What the fuck is going on?!" scream Burns, his eyes wide. "What the hell is wrong with you people? What happened to Agatha?!"
Kondraki and Gears both took short steps toward Burns, who found himself backing away faster, eyes twitching. "Don't touch me."
"I'm afraid I do not understand what the problem is, Doctor Burns."
"Fuck, Burns, have you been dipping into company assets?"
Burns pulled away from them, twisting. "Get BACK!" he barked, sharply, feeling his way along the wall. He felt the cold, stainless steel of the cafeteria doors, and turned sharply, running into them, looking to escape whatever had managed to free itself and—
"Burns? What's the problem?"
Burns was standing in a pile of confetti, looking across a nearly empty room at a woman in a smart, sharp business suit. She smiled, winningly, and waved at him.
"Hello, Burns! I wasn't sure you'd make it."
Burns walked forward, half tempted to reach out and poke her to make sure she was there. "Agatha?"
"Yes, Burns. You almost forgot to come to my party!"
"Party? What… what party?"
"My birthday, Burns. I sent you an invitation and everything."
"Oh, I… I must not have gotten it."
"Here," she said. "Have a piece of cake."
Burns walked out of the cafeteria, smiling and chewing. It really was very good cake. He saw Kondraki and Gears staring at him, waved cheerily, and continued eating. He was supposed to meet with… with somebody this afternoon. He'd have to check his calendar.
O5-2 sat down in her chair, looking at the monitor, drumming her fingers softly on the chair's leather arm. With a few quick keystrokes, she completed the process. Agatha Rights was quite thoroughly expunged from the Foundation. She smiled, leaning back into the comfortably overstuffed chair. 'Weird way to get promoted,' she thought. 'Killing yourself.' She laughed. Only one thing left to do.
She reached over for the plate and picked it up, happily sinking her fork through the creamy chocolate frosting.
It really was very good cake.