Charcoal
rating: +8+x

"Alright. Dee Five O'Ten," Junior Researcher Perez began. "We will now present a series of photographs. All we want you to do is write a brief description of each photo, no more than a few sentences. Okay?"

D-5010 nodded and looked ahead at the screen. Simple stock pictures, as might appear on the covers of greeting or birthday cards, ran in a slideshow. A city street at night. Neon lights reflect off everything wet from rain. There are people with umbrellas out walking. *click* A red and white lighthouse with a clear blue sky behind. It's sunny, and a wave is crashing on the rock. *click* An aerial view of tropical islands surrounded by water so clear and blue you can see the sandbars. *click* A child hopping over a puddle. The picture is in black and white, except the rubber rainboots are bright yellow.

At the conclusion of the slideshow Perez stepped forward to observe the sheets of paper spread on the desk. D-5010 looked at the sheets too and furrowed his brow. Exchanging a glance with the researcher he preemptively answered what he knew was about to be asked. "I didn't write that part. Those parts. Or … I didn't try to. I mean… each picture was on for not even a minute. Right? I didn't write that much, I don't think."

Perez suppressed an exasperated sigh. Not just for this moment; she was exhausted from working so many extra hours recently. That was due to another Junior Researcher named Wren, recently transferred to the Site; an insufferable brown-noser who had danced his way into everyone's spotlight, then just as suddenly seemed to have deserted without a trace. Rumors of spying and espionage, despite the absence of actual evidence, had quietly circulated amongst some of the staff. Perez had swiftly volunteered to take over one of Wren's uncompleted projects, but that had led to more, and more, until she was the only one picking up all the slack. The extra workload only exasperated an already stressful situation for her.

"It's fine," Perez returned her focus to the subject before her. "Thank you for your cooperation and efforts today." With that, she dismissed them from testing; there was nothing more to say. Perez wrote the words 'Results identical to previous test' on her notepad, again because there was nothing more to say.

There was one more avenue of testing to pursue, then this should finally be done with.


Junior Researcher Perez was calm now.

She had lost her temper with the D-class research assistant in the chamber earlier. They had simply been asked to draw an impression of the picture on display with the materials provided. It wasn't a difficult task, and their profile was tagged with 'visual art experience' so easier still. But they took so damn long with it, and kept fussing over details, and then they acted frustrated with it all and - Oh! One of the guards had interjected and walked her outside for a minute, until she regained her composure. Returning to the test chamber, Perez found the D-class artist to be less combative as well. The guard resumed his position by the door, Perez returned to the subject.

"I just-" D-5154 stuttered as she began. "I just was having a hard time getting the… the texture right on certain places." She gestured toward her charcoal-print recreation of the landscape photo propped on an easel. "I don't understand what's happening… when I'm trying to do the shading for these darker parts it just… it…"

Perez peered closely at the drawing. It looked like the original photo, as it should have. But if she squinted at the darkly shaded sections… she could almost make out… a pattern. "Damn it!" Perez slammed a hand on the table, making D-5154 (and even the guard in the corner) jump with a start. Before anyone else could speak she called an end to the testing and excused herself. She would return to her own workspace and consider how to, yet again, express for the record: 'Results identical to previous test'.


"Knock knock!"

Researcher Patey announced his presence without actually knocking; a habit Perez found almost as annoying as the way he immediately launched into whatever he was going to say without waiting for any response.

"So, the gents upstairs are still waiting on the final assessment of that Object-862 that you had been working on." A moment of silence passed as Perez expected Patey might elaborate, while apparently Patey expected a string of numbers to suffice. "It was one of the assignments you took on after Researcher Wren's disappearance," he added, barely helpfully.

"Oh, I thought I'd already worked through all of those!" Perez scrawled 'AO-862' on a notepaper so she could look it up momentarily. "What ever came of that, do you know? The business with Wren, I mean."

"Inconclusive," Patey shrugged. "Far as I know, anyway."

"Huh… Well give me a few minutes here to check on that file, and I'll send a copy up to the Senior Researchers' office straight away." She smiled as she said it, but seconds later her expression reverted to neutral. Patey recognized the conversation was over, and fled accordingly.

Once he was out of sight Perez opened up her database and tracked down the appropriate file. 'Huh…' It looked as though she had marked it as completed, but hadn't actually submitted it. Some time had passed since those tests, she couldn't recall all the specifics of the case; probably noone could. She reviewed her research notes and typed a hasty summary of findings to include with the description file. She quickly composed all parts of the report and sent them to the inboxes of the appropriate Senior Researchers. The description file would eventually be entered into the Log of Anomalous Objects; the extraneous communiques and surrounding circumstances would be redacted for reasons of practicality.

To: Site-112 Senior Researchers Office <4 contacts>
From: Perez, Researcher (Jr.) <Sa.Perez>
Subject: FA: AO-862
Here is the summary of my Final Assessment: Object does not react to its environment at all. Its effect only manifests when another party interacts with the object. Only one specific result has ever occurred, despite all variables applied. Further testing is unlikely to yield new results.

Placement in standard medium-value storage would be appropriate.

Item Description: A piece of vine charcoal that causes "Someone help me! I'm trapped in the charcoal!" to be written every several seconds whenever used for writing or drawing.
Date of Recovery: █-██-████
Location of Recovery: ████████████, Scotland
Current Status: In storage.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License