Director Emerald Reynolds' Guide To Containing Reality Using Tetris
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Director Emerald Reynolds' Guide To Containing Reality Using Tetris

The morning started like this:

On the metal beam where concrete sidewalk met the cold facilities of Site 404, Site Director Emerald Reynolds keeled over, pain stabbing through her abdomen without warning. Her vision flashed white, crackling and filling her ears with a flood of static.


She hadn’t come to work prepared for this.

Quickly, she looked through the small tinted window of the site entrance - a dizzying sense of emptiness confronted her, and the situation clicked into place.

Reality Breaches - they were common enough, when you got to upper management, and realised that when you worked with anomalies, reality was less of a given, and more of a hope. Younger researchers weren’t high up enough to remember any of the shit that went down, but Reynolds certainly was.

It was really a problem, the way the Site was run. They’d learned that after twenty years of using the same containment room for all and any reality benders who passed through the site on the way to their final destination, enough of a residue had been left in the room to cause a sort of “core” to form. Keep an anchor in there, and it’d be fine. But on the off-chance that the anchor malfunctioned or ran out of juice, it would show an aptitude for becoming a generator, and flush most of the Site with patches of… nothing.

To acting Site Director Reynolds, it was a damn pain.

Picture a cow, colour it blue, turn it 90 degrees, now fit it inside a box- Reynolds ran through the grounding exercises they’d learned for combatting Reality Failure Events. Put the box inside a red sphere without changing the size of the cow or the box- turn them all to the- fuck- keep the image- picture a cow-

If she could find Lost, this would be over pretty soon. Though that was relying on Lost’s ability to keep calm, and not throw themselves into such a panic they somehow made it worse.

Reynolds hated reality science with a passion- you can make as much of a fuss as you want about Hume levels and anchors and stabilisers, but at the end of the day, nothing will turn it into more than a garbled hunk of pataphysics covering up something that was more art than maths.

Keying herself in through the door, she stepped over the threshold, gasping for breath as her soul prickled with pins and needles, before the world before her seemed to… twist itself. Instead of the front entrance, she was in the second floor hallway, which slowly spiralled as it went, the floor climbing its way up the walls, and the walls shifting to fit the new dimensions.

Turn the purple picture frame around twice, keeping the white stripe in the centre equal to the length…
When she was younger, she liked playing Tetris, in the rare moment where she wasn’t in charge of keeping her sisters and brothers from killing each other. That was how she learned how to quantify things. By sizing them, and then figuring out how they fit into the bigger picture, no space unaccounted for, no room for failure.

Biting her lip, Emerald touched a hand to the wall, testing it. The consistency still felt mostly solid. Taking a step forwards, Reynolds squared her shoulders, then vaulted her weight forwards, planting her feet onto the floor as it wound upwards and shoving a hand to the wall on her other side. Her mind ran through a list of names - people who were physically impaired or recovering, people working near the core - all people she’d need to get treated, and find good explanations for their injuries if they were wiped.

Push the smaller circle out of the larger one, without damaging the surface of either shape, and keeping both on a 4-dimensional plane…

Leaping forwards again, pushing herself in a sideways crawl, battling up the twisted floor. It constricted around her, teasing at her claustrophobia. The claws of reality tore at her sides, and Emerald felt an actual scratch tear itself across her skin. She jammed her foot through the end of the distorted hallway, pushing herself through the rippling hole, and climbing out. Faint streaks of red stained her lab coat.

Reynolds stopped, gasping raggedly. A lock of blonde hair fell from her ponytail - “Tight enough to give her headaches” was a joke Dr West liked to make - and stuck to her forehead, glued by beads of sweat. Reynolds brushed it out of her eyes, and looked over her new situation.

She’d made it through the sector into a containment hallway. A sharp tang of panic rose in her gut, and she quickly flashed her eyes to each door, making sure it looked locked. The one-way mirrors seemed to have been warped by the Reality Breach. Reynolds’ peered closer, reaching out. Her fingers brushed against the glass, and passed into the foggy surface - cold, like water and smoke. She grabbed her hand back.

Her reflection looked normal, though she could swear something was shifting in the space behind her, somewhere in the depths of the mirror. That it had seen her. Turning, Reynolds kept walking, trying to look for the sign that would tell her the hallway she’d stepped into. Her gaze latched onto another mirror, where her face reflected in shreds - her eyes black, a large gash of black static torn from the edge of her mouth to her earlobe.

The dark thing that had been just at the fringe was closer, and a word screamed through Reynolds’ mind. Run.

So Reynolds stopped.

Flip the shape 3 times, pull it down into the puzzle frame, then flip each piece at the same time, without turning over the puzzle itself…

Turning around, she peered behind her, thinking fast. The end of the hallway had begun to dissolve, a blinding darkness, crumbling away. Checking one of the containment doors, she saw the number - and it clicked. The core was in the centre, slightly towards the East Wing - below where she’d been moments before.

The darkness moved closer. Making a decision, Reynolds turned, and ran towards it, turning at the last second to launch into the mirror. It was like drowning in dark water, like liquid mercury engulfing her. Her ears popped, lungs burning, and she felt one of her ribs completely crumble into static within her.

Then she was standing in one of the two temporary containment hallways, just over from the Core. Before she could celebrate, Emerald felt a surge of nausea flood through her, and she turned, vomiting up a thick black puddle of ink, which reflected silver in the flickering containment LED’s. Wiping her mouth, she stumbled back, steeling herself.

She’d worry about personal injuries later. She was going to protect her Site, goddammit.

Turning, she went to move towards the next hallway- and saw the wide-eyed face of Dr Lost, whose reality shield was going off like a strobe light around them. “Director! West is unconscious, she got her hand trapped in one of those patches that’s been opening up on the walls.” They bit their lip hard, chewing on their cheek.

Reynolds looked to see the short, boisterous ginger in Lost’s thin arms, her eyelids fluttering rapidly, her mouth open. She looked fine, sans her hand - which had turned a wobbling black, shifting in and out. “Have you checked respiration and pulse?” Reynolds asked, raising an eyebrow.

Lost nodded, and Reynolds gave a nod, her mind whirling to take Lost out of the solution to the Site’s lockdown - obviously, the reality anchoring researcher was rather preoccupied. Which was fine. Just not ideal.

“How much of the Site is unstable? Do we have a head count of everyone yet?” Reynolds asked, still thinking.

“Um,” Lost fumbled, still panicked. “Hemlock, Levi, Sycamore. Agent Pepper is on a MTF op. The records girl is missing. Novak’s missing, Simes disappeared to look for her, haven’t seen them since-” they broke off, staggering a bit. “They sent me out with Sage to get them, but then…”

Transpose the nervous system over the motherboard, securing nerve endings to the grid and merge the two concepts using a colour scheme…

Novak was missing. A senior researcher - a department head - was missing. That was scary enough.

“Reynolds?” Dr Lost cut in. “What’s going on?”

“Reality Breach,” Reynolds explained. Dr Lost stared blankly, and Emerald cursed the clearance system. If they weren’t allowed to know the truth about the shit they worked with, then they shouldn’t work at all. It wasn’t even a safety aspect, as much as common sense, in Reynolds’ eyes.

“Just- head back where you came from. Nobody leaves until I give an all-clear. Got it?” Reynolds said, gaze hard. Lost gave a sharp nod. “Right. Yes.”

“See if you can get someone from Medical to help West. We’ll be back to normal soon.” And then she turned, and walked away. She didn’t have time to babysit her researchers or make sure they followed through. She didn’t have time, period.

She could feel Lost’s shield slip away from her, and the momentary safety was broken. The hunt was on again, and it was Reynolds against the Site. She sprinted forwards, the echo of her sneakers swallowed up by the dark patches of emptiness that dripped from the walls. A Lichtenberg figure had branched out across the floor, branches of a fractal biting at her heels.

A large section of the ceiling fell out, and Reynolds threw herself just out of the way, stumbling before righting herself again. In her momentary struggle, another chunk of plaster fell, hitting her in the shoulder, and sending her to the floor. The fractal hungrily swarmed underneath her, the bits of emptiness biting into her palms, and leaving large lightning cuts. Wiping the excess blood dry on her pants, Emerald got to her feet, the plaster falling to the ground with a thud, before being swallowed into the melted floor.

Twist the two spires around each other, and then merge them at a singular point on the sixth constructed axis from exercise 72…

Her shoulder ached, but she pushed onwards, gritting her teeth and feverishly continuing the exercises in her head.

Use the contour of object 7 to rearrange the other points of contact around it, until the shape resembles an Escher waterfall…

She saw the door.

Her vision flashed. The floor beneath her was slowly dissolving, and the left wall had inverted itself into a staircase somewhere far away.

Reynolds walked faster. She keyed the door open, and launched herself in. Two of her fingers twisted like licorice, and she hissed, as the skin burned white hot. Pushing through it, she forced her gaze up, locking eyes with the core.

The Scranton reality anchor on the wall that normally contained was blinking red - out of commission - and the core was writhing, nearly the whole room covered in thick black vines of something endless and waiting.

Reynolds hit the emergency lock, punching in the code, and the door slammed behind her, the extra security measures activating. If things went wrong, she would be locked inside, but at least this might help protect the rest of the Site.

Pushing her hair back again - she ought to cut it sometime if it was this much of a nuisance - Emerald stepped over to the anchor, stepping gingerly even as the movement sent shocks of pain through her shoulders and rib cage, her fingers still melting actively off her hand. Shoving the hand in her pocket, she reached up, using a nail to unscrew the lid of the anchor, then throwing off the lid. Her nail threatened to snap, but stayed intact, to her relief.

She should’ve been more prepared for this. This was her mistake costing them.

As she looked over the figurations of the anchor, her mind began to quickly calculate, every shape and equation she’d been running her mind through fitting itself over the wires until it was a Tetris board.

47480010 - emergency override - safety lock off - ah. There it was. A black dust collected itself in one of the sockets, clogging it. Moving her leg as a white-hot tendril of abyss tried to hook itself against her. Reynolds disconnected the pink wire leading out, twisted a section of her coat, and jammed it inside, sweeping it out, before replacing it. Flipping the safety back on, she jammed the lid back on, hastily trying to screw it back on.

The tendril hooked itself against her leg.

Reynolds jammed her nail inside, twisting it forcefully.

Her nail snapped off.

The light blinked green.

A wave flooded the room, strong and tasting like cold jalapeno salsa. With a wash of light, the void shrank and cowered, shrinking back to its small quivering shape on the floor.

Somewhere in this, Director Reynolds sat up.

She surveyed herself first. Her pointer finger was still missing its nail, and her shoulder ached. But her right hand no longer was melting off the bone like before. Her ribs ached, and she wasn’t sure whether the dissolved rib was gone for good or not. Flattening her hand against her stomach, she didn’t feel much but her own heart’s pounding.

She breathed in.

And out.

In, and out.

And then stood.

There were hurt people to attend to, places to clean, and researchers who needed to forget they were in the building at all. Staggering to her office first, Emerald sat down, opening up her email, and preparing herself to write up the official incident report, a thing that would take hours to finish, and be seen once by two old men and her at most.

Close the box, without changing the size or dimensions. Now lock the contents and shelve it away for good…

The morning ended like this.

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Dive further into the world of the Twin Sites - Site 403 with Levi and Sycamore's Tale, or get spooky with Site 404's finest researchers in SCP-7218. Or, just check out my author page! It's right here. And of course - have a lovely day.

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