Stone Cold Crazy
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This is the finale of the Misfire series. First part can be found here.




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There's only two other points I can think of, even further back than that, where the story is still relevant. It's only fair to tie up the loose ends of these mysteries, if only for my sake rather than yours. Pay attention this time, please? I definitely won't repeat this twice.

Let me just lay this out right now; no one was to blame but myself. If there is one thing I'll ever take blame for1, it'll be this one. Sort of my fault I'm in this mess, but then, who knows if the lovebirds wouldn't have tried their murder plan anyhow. So let's start at the very beginning of my story.



I don't remember when, maybe eight or nine years ago, when I tested on an anomaly with Brian. The Fifth Dimension guys. What a pull, right? It's obvious why we worked on it together. Oh, I have to state everything for the record? Might as well.

The whole reason why I regularly work with Navarro and MTFs formed specifically for art groups is because I came from one before working for the Foundation. I wasn't anomalous then, or even had any interest in making anart. My thing was just organizing exhibitions and meeting up with other people. Hard to believe, but I know how to talk to other people and keep the unnecessary shit to myself. I think sometime after I started here, my old groups got assimilated into Aussie. It's a dumb pronunciation, but only two syllables instead of five or six. So I have the knowledge.

Brian knows technology. I don't know the specifics of it, but that's his main thing. He's been around for a while, hasn't he? Even comparing our ages, he's got at least a decade on me. Surprised he hasn't gone to work for some big tech company or whatever. Probably a better gig than the Foundation. I don't know what we were doing working on 92 together. The technology side of it just slipped by me.

I do know that, at some point, something got fucked up with the soundproof room.

The first issue was with the structure or padding. This is why we wear soundproof headphones as insurance. But whoops, I misjudged the amount of time that passed. If only I waited another 40 seconds or so. He noticed when he moved to get my attention and he heard me say those cursed words:

"Wow, that was real cool."

They tested me in more ways than I thought possible for contamination. They did other sorts of tests with a few more D-Class as well, but they didn't seem to show anything, so I was probably fine, right?

It's not like it's a bad ability. The best way to describe it is — I can manipulate a little bit of matter at a time. Like make small objects disappear and reappear with my hand if I think about it for long enough, or spontaneously, uh… "drill" a small amount into objects. Yeah, the longer I have to hide something, or the deeper I drill, the more I can feel it in my head, my thoughts. Plus, I can only really make it work under certain conditions, but it's fine. If the CD just gives you random abilities, I probably got the best of it. Hell, it's not like the Foundation even wants to do any more testing on 092. As it turns out, not worth the money and effort to go through 3000+ CDs.


I noticed for the first time about four months ago, while I was filling out some forms by hand for Upsilon-23. Without thinking… poof. The pen was gone. I just assumed I dropped it or something. When I couldn't find it, oh well, I just got another. Then it happened again. When the pens came back… that's when I started to worry.

Humanoid anom — people, people don't get to tell us this that often. What it feels like when you discover you have powers. In my case, it was a number of things. Fear that I'd be found out and locked up immediately. A rush of adrenaline. Mind racing at all the possibilities. A sense of, uh… satisfaction, even, that I could do stuff that others couldn't do because I could do practically anything compared to them. It's terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

Okay then, what would you have done if you were in my position? Just turn yourself in to the Foundation? The idea of a containment cell really sounds so appealing to you, right now, that you'd jump in one the instant you gained powers? It's easy to think that until you get them.

Anyway — no, I'm not going down this road. You can ask me another time.

The only thing I could think of doing at that moment was to rush over to Carlson's office. He was the only one I felt like I could trust with what happened. Unfortunately, he wasn't there when I arrived, and I wasn't about to go running around to look for him. No way in Hell was I going to call him either. It was almost the end of the day; he'd be back eventually.

I don't remember how long passed before he came back to his office. He found me doing a lot of pushups. What? Even I get nervous and have to work away that energy somehow.

"Vincent? What are —" The moment I heard his voice, I jumped up and ran to shut the door. "Are you —" I held up a finger to him, and waited to see if anyone else was walking by or listening in. At the time, I didn't assume was listening in, but those two probably came by later on. Who knows when, but they heard enough to figure it out.

"I need to tell you something, Dr. Carlson. Please don't freak out when I do. Keep it a secret. Please. Promise me?" I think he saw how serious I looked, because he only hesitated for a second before nodding. "Okay. Look at this." I held up a pen and concentrated really hard to make it disappear.

Nothing happened.

"Hrmm…"

"No, no, please, wait, please." The pen was still there. I felt humiliated; I felt like a fool. I felt defeated.

Which was the moment the pen disappeared.

"What was — Vincent?"

"I don't know. This just happened to me all of a sudden. I don't know why this is happening."

Carlson went to his desk and stared out the window. Fitting that the rain was pouring down real bad.

"I'm an anomaly now. What do I do? This is about the full extent of it, I think, but still."

He didn't answer. It was a lot to take in, I'm sure. One day, your subordinate tells you that they have anomalous abilities. Do you just lock them up? Hide it? I guess the situation would vary, wouldn't it. It was his compassion for, well… people that made me trust him. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come to him.

"Have you told anyone else about this?"

"No."

"Do you intend to?" I wanted to say 'What do you think?' but I couldn't get those words to leave my throat. I needed his cooperation if I was going to avoid being contained.

"No."

He got lost in thought, and the rain came down even harder. There was a flood warning that night; it'll help you get the exact date for this.

"Hrmm… hmm… Vincent. Do you intend to continue your work as per usual?"

"Yes."

Carlson nodded to himself. "Do not tell anyone else. If you discover anything else about your anomaly, tell me immediately. In secret. I trust you, Vincent."

"Trust me with what?" I questioned.

He turned around to face me, and I saw that warm smile of his. If you saw it, you'd believe as well that the rain let up for a brief second.

"I just trust you."



So that's one mystery taken care of. Is that fine? Sure, I'll get to the real juicy one now.



Three days ago. July 5th. The party was fine. Boring. I felt more anxious than anything else. There was no way to tell what was being planned, and I wasn't going to wait for them to make the first move. Twenty minutes had gone by before I went over to Carlson and tugged at his sleeve.

"Hey, Dr. Carlson, can we talk? In private." We quietly left. I have no idea how no one noticed, let alone for a whole ten minutes. I practically dragged him to the elevator.

"Where are you taking us?"

"First floor. I figure at some point, they'll try and find us for a confrontation, and it's better if we're able to get a headstart on that. There isn't a security camera right in — " whirrr " — front of the first floor's elevator door, so we can talk to them without making a scene. If we have to get the attention of guards, all we need to do is drag them fifteen feet to the intersection — " ding " — and alert someone. I'm not paranoid. I promise." The elevator door opened, and we hurried in.2

"I trust you. What happens if —"

"I'll improvise." Neither of us spoke for the rest of the way down. He didn't seem worried. Honestly? It was infuriating. I don't know if he didn't trust me still, or if he genuinely believed in his crew so much he treated it like a walk in the park. Who knows if I'll ever understand him, no matter how much I try to think about it.

We arrived on the first floor and waited. Jenna said it was ten minutes, right? So they must have actually been looking on the second floor for a couple more minutes before taking the elevator down. It felt like a fucking eternity to me. I had to do pushups, or else I was going to explode. Carlson… whenever he felt mildly anxious about something, he would tap his left heel real soft and slow.. I've heard it so much that I realized he was thinking of Free Bird whenever he needed to work out his energy.

I heard the elevator come down first. It'd arrive in twenty-three seconds exactly. The elevators take way slower than they need to just to go from one floor to the next. Enough time to mentally prepare, or so I thought.

"Hey, they're almost here."

Sure enough, there they were. May and Harrison. They stepped out and pretended to be worried.

"Are you two okay? You've been away from the party for a while now. We're waiting for you to come back." May was looking at Carlson, not me. Harrison stood back and said nothing. Like usual.

"Oh, we're fine. We were just talking and catching up real quick. Didn't want to distract anyone there." That was my best excuse. Nothing I came up with would have mattered, though.

"That's alright. Do you want to head back to the party now, then?" she questioned.

"Don't worry about us, now." Carlson smiled and nodded. "We were simply wondering if —" That's when Harrison grabbed him and forced him against the wall. I could see the faintest of greys sticking out past Harrison's jacket, and I knew what was going on.

"Hey, what the fuck are you doing?"

"Please, let us talk to Dr. Carlson first," May spat out. "We're worried about him, that's all. Probably going senile in his old age. We should move this discussion elsewhere. The storage room is right there, we can talk about our concerns there."

"M-May, Harrison, what's —"

"Please, let's move this conversation somewhere quieter. No one here wants others to know that Vince is a walking skip and has been looking at classified documents for months now, right?" May gave a soft smile. Carlson's face turned from shock to dread.

"How did you —"

"Just because doors get closed doesn't mean no one can hear through them. Why would you be so loud talking about confidential information? And you're still treating it like a human. You know the danger that presents to others, right?"

"Fuck you assholes. You know what doing this shit will entail for the both of you, right? You'll be lucky to be transferred with heavy amnestics, and that's if you drop this shit right now." Harrison pointed the gun at me right then. I knew I wasn't the initial target at that point, so I wasn't too worried, but his audacity caught me off-guard.

"First, it's harboring a skip — not just that, but nurturing its abilities. Then your trainees start talking about a goddamned… a goddamned washing machine. Like it's a person. Fine, they'll terminate us. If it gets the Foundation to start treating freaks of nature like freaks of nature, it'll be worth it. Plus, Dr. Carlson…" Harrison turned the gun back to the doctor. May's breathing got caught in her throat for a brief moment. "Your dumb demeanor and attitude garnering respect from others… it was always maddening to —"

whirrr

"What the fuck?" The words left my mouth before I realized it, and everyone stopped to look at the elevator. Sure enough, seconds later, the others could hear it coming down.

"Oh no."

"May, Harrison, I implore you, put the weapon away and I will personally forgive this." Harrison leaned in, and moved the gun up to his shoulder.

"Sorry." That was the first and last time I ever heard his actual voice. Do you know what he sounded like? Neither did anyone fucking else. His voice was raggedy, broken to all fuck. But not only was that intelligible, it was almost hypnotizing. Why didn't he talk more? We'll never know.

I got sidetracked, but… he pulled the trigger, and Carlson crumpled almost immediately. The sound wasn't anywhere nearly as loud as I expected. I knew what that meant. I felt absolutely hopeless in that moment. If I didn't do anything, they'd have killed me too. So I did the first thing I could think of.

I sprinted to his body.

It's sort of a blur, what happened. I think uh… I turned around in like, half a second? And grabbed the gun. It vanished. Pressed my fingers against one of their heads and they fell. And then the other. And then I heard the ding, and the doors opened, and those three came rushing to the scene.

Dean was being… himself through it. Brian was trying not to have a panic attack. So was Jenna, but to her credit, she went to the lovebirds' aid before realizing they were dead, and then she and Brian went to help Carlson. Everyone helped carried the bodies back to the elevator, and I pushed the button to the basement so that we could get to the medical ward more quickly than going up to the second floor. Apparently, I had been babbling about what happened ever since they got there without realizing, because I got interrupted.

"Hey, Vince, what the fuck really happened here?" Dean sounded amused.

"I… Carlson… They had a gun, and shot him, but Carlson killed them, and I went to his aid, and —" It was a bullshit excuse, and the doctor knew it as well. Why did he go along with it? I think that was his last way of protecting me.

The elevator halted. Dean had hit the emergency stop button.

"There was no gun. Don't lie now. I don't like liars." He grinned. "Are you a skip? You can kill people now? How cool!"

"No, I didn't do anything. It was hectic, but…"

"I'm sure it was." And he pinned me against the wall. What a bastard.


He… the old man… Carlson died a couple hours later? Huh. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference either way.



There you go. That is the entire story. The truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me Ethics Committee. Huh? Okay, I left out a couple of details. But I didn't lie. Everything I said was pertinent.

Yeah. I feel a little bad about what happened to Carlson. I want to blame Dean moreso. No one's told me what happened to him. I don't know what would happen to him, but I'd be very surprised if he wasn't taken out back to be put down by someone. I stand by what I said to him. But… I almost don't think it's his fault, even through all that. Almost.

…huh. Er… hrmm.

You know what I did when I woke up in the medical ward upstairs? They took me to the second floor after I passed out down there in the basement. I don't know why they didn't take the doctor up there and let me get treated in the basement. Only room for one of us up there, I suppose. Anyway, I came to and even with all the other patients in there, it felt lonely. It's the same feeling I got whenever I left my family after the holidays and went back to my shitty apartment to stew by myself.

It was storming that night. The view was incredible, honestly. Trees blowing in the wind, threatening to be pulled by their roots, thunder making its presence known constantly, rain barely visible even with the lights on outside… serenity is what I would describe it as. Before then, I never cared for nights like that. My perspective changed, body battered, knowing I could never see this sight again. It made me sad. Real fucking sad.

I got out of bed, and felt pain coursing through my body like no one's business. Nothing ached that badly when I got the shit beaten out of me. But I managed. I stumbled my way to the window right next to me, and opened it. The wind felt miraculous. I'll never forget it. So I climbed onto the ledge right outside of the window. You know what I did? I let the storm fall upon me, and soaked in its terrifying rage. It healed me.

It made everything feel worth it after all.




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