The Plateau, Once more,
I begin this entry with new found life. It’s felt like centuries since I’ve taken a breath with my own lungs. For the past twenty-odd years, if you can really call them that, I’ve been nothing more than a number, a blot of ink, a mechanism used by the Foundation, like so many before. 92-61-41. That was my official name. You’ll never find a scrap of paper with anything more than that — provided the Foundation did their job, and they always do.
There were ten of us when we started: Rachel, Israel, Jean, Ralph, Brendon, Youssef, Michael, Tae, Stephen and Sophie. It’s funny, even after we’ve come this far, those words hardly carry a thought with them. Our names, our past, our lives, they were all taken from us — No, perhaps taken is the wrong word. At the time, we were willing. We were naïve. We sold our identities for trite sentiments; pride, glory, comfort, respect. Hah! To think we valued such things as we did! Nothing could amount to what we lost as we shoveled those failures and paradoxes into depths of oblivion. But I believe I’m getting ahead of myself now… .
Operation: Undertaker. That was our first and only assignment. I doubt a single one of us could even begin to understand the extent of what we were getting ourselves into — and how could we? We were drunk with the ambition of Youth, stumbling into the shadows of theory, hired by the Foundation to assess and correct temporal anomalies, whether they were the product of failed experiments or dangerous scips.
This was no great honor achieved from years of dedication or any tribulation to treat capital defiance: We weren’t courageous heroes. We weren’t ground-breaking theorists. No, we were utterly average, despite our education. I guess that’s why the Foundation chose us. We weren’t zealous enough to exploit our findings, nor were we as defiant as the D-class personnel. We were honest workers, nothing more than that.
And so we accepted our task with grace.
Our families were treated with the strongest amnesiacs at the Foundation’s exposal. Our birth records, transcripts, everything was expunged — not that there was much to it anyway. It’s as if we never cried out to this world, drenched in blood, scared out of our minds, screaming with life. From that moment on, we were units of vague maths, waiting for the day they'd be computed and erased.
Some of us weren’t ever going to make it that far, though. The few O5s that knew about us did a damn good job at blotting out the miscalculations:
Israel took the best subway ride of his life. Rachel decided that she never wanted be “back again.” Jean, Ralph, Brendon and Youssef, they all took a long walk on a historic pier… They all made use of their times, I suppose.
As for the rest of us, we buried on. We grabbed those shovels and continued to pile up those travesties. Until one day, the handle snapped, and we were no longer capable of digging…it was the day we found it…though I can hardly remember which.
We were passing by a small town , en route to another researcher’s regret, when Stephen saw it.
On the outside, it was just a shitty little chemical factory. Nothing special, but maybe that’s what caught our eyes. After all, Narcissus had a captivating gaze, and we ourselves found a reflection. We notified our superior responsible for us, telling him that we we came upon the temporal abscess a little unexpectedly, and that we'd relay information accordingly — Tae’s idea.
We were all enthralled with the factory.
But something was just off about the entire place. At the time, I couldn’t quite explain it, but there was something alluring about the whole thing. Like coming home after years away.
Sophie was the first to find it. A huge generator below the observation room, in mint condition, letting off a faint glow. Naturally we grabbed the necessary equipment and scanned the object. The Foundation had taught us a lot along the years, including how to operate their nifty gadgets. Maybe that’s where they went wrong? They trusted in our inclination to be average. They never thought we’d create anything for ourselves. Hell, we were used for just the opposite!
Our equipment found a questionable amount of radiation emitting from the generator. Michael, our barely-engineer, began investigating in the hardware of the generator. This was our, maybe any one’s, first encounter with this SCP. The one that would go unreported, unnoticed, along with us. Further inspection concluded that the generator was physically incapable of creating the radiation present. Something was definitely wrong. Stephen confirmed our suspicions; we had been in the factory for at least four hours, yet our watches indicated that only twelve seconds had passed. No matter what we checked, the conclusion was the same.
Time wasn’t working right, not that it ever did. We were used to that, crazy enough as it sounds. But this enigma, it was different. It was beautiful. It was so foreign to the eyes of the Foundation, it was ours. We decided not to leave the factory. Instead, we invested ourselves into the generator. It might’ve been memetic at first, but I’d like to think it became willing. There were many resources in the factory that emitted a similar radiation that seemed to alter the scip and contribute to its functioning. It was as if we were just meant to be here, to finish this machine. As Michael and Tae did just that — though none of us could even conceive what we fell upon — Sophie and Stephen noticed the other capabilities of the generator; it didn’t just alter the relation of time around it. It altered the property itself. Forward, backwards, sideways, anything we could imagine! It was pure control. It was the collection of strings that bound us to the puppeteer's hold.
Our experiments, our obsession with this device, nurtured our nostalgia.
I was first to propose the idea. See, we grew tired of shoveling, that was for sure. We felt it in our bones, in our hearts. We missed our past, our parents and our family, however mundane they were. They were ours. That’s all that mattered. And now we found a way to climb out of the pit.
We hypothesized that if we got the calibrations just right, we could go back to that day that we whored ourselves out to the Foundation. We’d have a chance win our lives back.
We’d be given amnesiacs to redact their visit and we’d have our world again.
Well, our efforts have paid off. Five burning souls — that’s all it took to destruct time, to correct our mistakes, to completely rework everything! Michael is calling me now. I suppose I should rap this up, and let Sophie have her turn. We'll keep these last logs as security, should anything happen
Soon, we will begin our trip
Soon, we will breathe again.
Michael primes the machine, Tae checks the math. Sophie finishes her final log on the computer. Stephen stands in the corner of the room, praying. Sophie turns, calling out my name.
We’re prepared to shed our numbers and don our flesh.
Four men rush in. I’m shot in the back of the head for the 176,680,132nd time. Again, Stephen is shot as he prays. Again, Sophie cries as she dives underneath the desk. Again, Tae and Michael plummet to the ground, filled with metal. All of this I witness, once more, as blood pours from the back of my head. A stray bullet damaged the equipment. The task force begins to fret, but there’s no saving it now. They found us out. It was only a matter of bastardized time.
They thought they could stop it. How wrong they were. Now we're trapped together
Four men rush in. I’m shot in the back of the head for the 176,680,133rd time. Don’t they see? Our task was complete the second we stepped into that factory. Stephen bleeds as he recites his prayers. No longer would we reach into the backend of time, fixing others’ mistakes, others’ misfortunes. Sophie shrieks, Tae and Michael fall. We abandoned our numbers. They’ll never change that.
We’re free. We are alive. Bullets fly through Stephen’s faith and Sophie sings her fears at the top of her lungs. We aren’t afraid. We’re happy. We have control. Tae and Michael snow onto the linoleum floor. We have our lives. We have our names.
Its ringing endlessly through my mind.
Stephen is enlightened with lead. Sophie called it out to me, before we embarked on this journey. Tae and Michael sink into floor.
What was that chime? How did it go?
176,680,137th. Psi Syhus … My boulder to bear …
176,680,138th. They’ll never take that from me.