I stare out into the dimly lit Gulf of Mexico as the sun's last rays peek over the horizon. One thought goes through my mind, as a glimmer of light illuminates a sign welcoming me to Orange Beach, Alabama.
What in the hell have I gotten myself into?
I'd spent the last few years working as a researcher at Site-73. But this… this place was something else. Something completely different. I'd gone through the motions with my soon to be superior, Dr. Jacobs earlier today. He'd told me about the drowning man, Event 2047, and Han, the talking hand. To Jacobs this was just another day. For me, it was my first ethics assignment. For me, this was Bedlam.
Site-88 contains more than just a few safe anomalies. There are world enders here, there is evidence of the world almost ending, more than once. There are aliens, someone buying and selling senses, and there's a minister who offered just a little too much to fix a mistake he'd made. And something else was here that had taken him up on that offer.
One of my predecessors doesn't even exist. There are ethics papers on file and no one knows who wrote them. Reality at Site-88 is so fluid that they set up hume detectors just to make sure everything stays real.
Who am I? Why do I care? I'm the Ethics Committee Liaison. Just some guy with higher access than everyone except the site director. It's my job to look over the containment procedures for every scary ass object at Site-88 and then contemplate the deep ethical questions.
The sun's last glow finally goes out, and the darkness drops again over the water. I sigh, and sit down in the sand on the edge of the ocean. Somewhere out there, a church sits uncrushed by the untold pressure of the water above it. And every Sunday, a whole building full of people are born again just to be drowned. A perverse baptism, like the Reverend I'm responsible for but on an even larger scale.
The worst part of all? As I stare out and imagine the horror of drowning I can't help but smile. Because that one isn't my problem. Someone else handles the drowning church. The ethical implications of the decision to let them die over and over again isn't my purview. I'm free of guilt. For that at least.
Tomorrow Jacobs leaves. Tomorrow I have to find an apartment near the Site. I stand up, dust myself off and walk back to my car. I grab a flyer off my windshield and toss it into the passenger seat. I sit down on the driver's side and open my glove compartment. The Gideon bible inside has brought me solace on a number of occasions. Solace is something I need in this moment.
When you work for the Foundation, believing in something larger and grander than yourself is easy. Believing in something larger and grander than the stuff around you is a bit harder but it is something I've done for years to stay sane. I open the bible to a random page and select a passage. Ezekiel 20:29.
"Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day."
I wrinkle my nose as I look up from the pages. The half crumpled flyer in the seat beside me is bright red, and catches my eye.
"Check out 'Bama Boat's Gulf Tours! Only 20 bucks at Pier 8!"
That is just unsettling.