The Glow and The Door
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September 14th. Dusk. Dr. Zapata sits on his office alone, a bottle of whiskey on one hand, a handful of papers on the other. A small window on the side of the room displays the last few rays of sunlight before night falls. The only other light sources being the light shining from the corridor though a crack under the door, and the bright computer screen just to his right. He sits in silence, quietly viewing the papers in his hand without really reading through the information. Not like he has to, he has already gone though it 47 times this evening, and a couple hundred more over the past week. Hell, he’d probably be able to recite it by heart at this point. Every single word written in the documents is made in such a way that even a junior researcher might be able to understand its contents, and yet, the one part he’s looking for shows the dreaded [DATA EXPUNGED] block. In his 11 years in the Foundation, few things he's ever cared about have ever been above his clearance level, but this one piece of information still evaded him.

He thought back to his time as a meek intern working on useless anomalous items and menial SCPs. It still felt like no time had passed between then and now, but in truth most of the time elapsed since his first days at the Foundation had come with massive changes in his life. He lost his family once he was offered the job after getting his degree in Linguistics, and being found by Dr. Cimmerian in the wrong place at the right time (namely unknowingly reading an anomalous book hidden within an anomalous library). He lost the love of his life after having to let her go in order to protect her from the dangers of working with the Foundation. Lost his friends from working overtime for 3 months in order to get promoted from Junior Researcher. All this loss, and still no progress.

He took a sip from the bottle, and kept on thinking back to the past. He remembered the first time he came into contact with what would become his obsession after all these years. It was an uneventful day at Site-27. Then Junior Researcher Zapata stood behind a group of doctors studying a number of books extracted from, coincidentally, the same place where he had been introduced to the anomalous. While cataloguing and uncovering some of the writings they had found, he noticed a faint glow coming from the outside of the room they were in. He remembers having tried to ignore it at first, but, after throwing a few glances at the door, he couldn’t help but ask the girl standing beside him if she could also see the glow. Her look of confusion answered the question well enough. He excused himself, claiming he had to go to the bathroom (very unprofessional, yes) and moved to look for the source of the glow. After leaving the room, he noticed the light was coming from some place further than he had anticipated, down the hall and possibly going down a flight of stairs. At the same time, he noticed how nobody seemed to notice the glow but him. Ignoring both his gut feeling and his logic, he headed towards the source of the light.

After maybe 20 minutes of walking, and having already gone down 16 levels, as well as having passed by three or four Keter-class containment cells, he finally saw the source of the light, now brighter than before, coming from behind a closed door. He moved to open it, but was stopped by a guard. “You can’t enter this room. You don’t have the clearance”. He attempted to enter again, but the guard simply repeated the phrase again, before pushing him away and returning to his stance. He returned to his post and apologized for the delay, and slowly, the glow faded away from both his sight and his memory. It would be another 6 months before he would see the glow again. This time it would be during lunchtime at the site cafeteria. Once more, he excused himself, telling his mates that he needed to attend some important business, and once more descended into the facility’s deepest floors. Again he would reach the door from which the light emanated, and yet again he would come face to face with a guard telling him that he didn’t have the clearance. This incident would repeat itself a couple of times over the next year, until, eventually, he set out to get the clearance he required.

The road ahead wasn’t easy. It took him nearly three years to finally get to a position to ask about the glow, and it was one of the first things he did as a researcher. He remembered the face the Site Director made after being asked about what was behind the door. “You aren’t supposed to know about that, how did you learn about that place?” It took some convincing, but the Director eventually believed the glow that brought him to the door. And yet, he was met with the same answer: “I can’t tell you what’s behind that door, you don’t have the clearance”. It was clear that he did not look happy with that answer, because the Director continued “At least, you don’t have the clearance yet, but if you do get to the right rank, I will show you what’s behind that door”. And so, he set out to climb the ladder once more.

And yet, after all this time he hadn’t made an inch of progress. Once he got the title of Doctor, he managed to get his hands on some documentation related to what was only referred to as ‘Anomalous Item 6A616D-636F6E’, and even that was only a couple of files filled with [REDACTED]s, [DATA EXPUNGED]s and █████s. But even then, the ever-elusive Level 4 Clearance remained unattainable. And the glow remained ever-present in the periphery, or in the back of his head, always calling out to him. He couldn’t wait another three or four years for a senior member of the staff to vacate their position, he had to know.

Doctor Zapata took a big gulp of what remained of his drink, and headed out of the office. By then it was already late night, as he had spent nearly 5 hours inside his office brooding, and yet, undeterred by the few remaining lights left in the facility, he headed to the Site Director’s office, and went in without even knocking. “Zapata, what are you doing here?” His desperate face yet again did the talking for him, as the Director replied almost immediately “Oh, you want to know what’s behind the door?” He nodded. The Site Director took a long breath. “Alright, you have done enough to warrant more answers than you have gotten. I’ll take you to the door”.

The walk down to the lower levels of Site-27 was a long one, filled with both dread and anticipation. The glow was now strong enough to burn through his eyelids, and many questions burned with it. What was behind this door? Why did it glow only to him? All this passed through his head as they reached the bottom of the facility, and came to stand in front of the door. The guars was nowhere to be seen, and the only light source he could find was that which remained behind the closed door. The Director looked at him with caution “Are you sure you want to see what’s behind this door? The glow is only seen by a few for a good reason” His silence settled that issue, and with determination he moved towards the door. He took the card given to him by the man besides him, and swiped it upwards though the scanner.

1…

2…

3…

The scanner’s light turned green, and the door clicked. He slowly pushed it to the side, finally able to see that which had tormented him for the past 9 years…

But what that was, I can’t tell you, you don’t have the clearance.

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