The sun shines through your apartment, blocked only by the curtain you tied to the corner of your bedframe.

Another day without issues.

You lie with your arms crossed over your chest. The habit was picked up from months of sleeping in a couch, and it has never gone away. You shrink from the edges of the bed, remaining as still as possible.

You haven't been outside in months. You really should go back to work.

An alarm tries to rouse you from bed every five minutes. It starts at 8:30, and lacking the energy to turn it off for good, you extend your hand over the nightstand and set a timer for 5 minutes, before nodding off again. You repeat this process anywhere from ten to twenty times every day. By the last few times, you're trying to turn it off. You finally leave the phone just out of reach, and five minutes later you are forced to move just enough to make sleeping too uncomfortable.


You spill out of bed, the sun now clearly visible through the window. You don't check the time on the phone, leaving it on the nightstand as you walk through your apartment.

You step on a box. It contains takeout. You got chinese from that nice place down the street. After all, yesterday was a special occasion. Another month since you got out of—

You feel it in the way you catch yourself. Better not to dwell on the past.

The important thing is that the paychecks keep being sent. Cost of living within the Veil can be steep, more so when you are in a hurry to procure an apartment isolated from spatial anomalies. Your one bedroom apartment in Portland— whichever one you're on— eats at your savings immensely.

You make it to the kitchen, where you pour yourself a glass of water. In lieu of glasses, you have a big bag of plastic cups, and instead of grabbing a new one, you pick up a used cup you leave at the same spot next to the tap every day. The water has a metallic taste to it you never get used to, although it could be the aftertaste of sleeping in until the afternoon.

You drag yourself to the bathroom. Your reflection stares back at you.

You consider how easy it'd be to take a shower right now.

You're in the kitchen now. The fridge is almost empty, a casualty of figuring out food delivery and subsequently staying inside the apartment altogether. A pack of beef jerky takes the spotlight as the most edible thing left, alongside a loaf of bread that could be used to punch holes through drywall. A jar of mayonnaise sits in the back of the fridge, not suitable for human consumption. You decide to skip the meal.

You now lie in the middle of your apartment.

Your daily routine goes unmoved. It's a true sign of freedom, especially when fresh out of a turbulent time. You are now free to remain bored for as long as you like, forever. Nowhere to go, no people to meet. No need to take notice of the things you see through your eyelids. No duplicates, no sense of dread standing above things that would rip you apart in seconds.

The pit in your stomach has receded. You have accepted life on your own terms, and within it, you are immortal. The days of wandering around, of looking for some immaterial connection to the world around you, it all led up to this space, this time. You are finally at peace with yourself.

You don't know how much time has passed. The sun is now rising, which betrays the illusion that no time has passed at all. It has been at least a full day now. You haven't moved.

You try to move, to no avail. Your arms lay flat on the ground, which seemed so warm just a moment ago. Your legs won't accept any conscious input. You aren't sure you're breathing.

The signals your brain is communicating feel all too familiar. Your eyes aren't open, but the light of the sun through your window is still blinding. You try to turn your head, and immediately recoil at the sight of another human being towering over you. You don't immediately recognize the figure as human. A surgical mask covers the face, a cap covers the head. You don't recognize the location, and it all goes away as soon as you open your eyes. Your apartment is there. Your life is still there, until you close your eyes. You can see through your own eyelids. You watch as the figure you now recognize as a surgeon takes a scalpel, and you realize what's happening. As he makes the first incision to the abdomen, you try to scream. You snap awake, and immediately slam your arms on the ground. You start crying. Life is ripped out from your terms once more.

Incident Log [AUDIO ONLY] — Site-19 | Within Mx. Thorley's office.


[02.35 AM] Keyboard taps.

[02.35 AM] Sigh.

[02.36 AM] Door opens.

[02.36 AM] — Alex Thorley: Whah—

[02.36 AM] The sound of footsteps can be heard, as well as the sudden movement of a chair.

[02.37 AM] — UNIDENTIFIED: Alex.

All recording equipment is lost for a period of 2 minutes 40 seconds. Video cameras are rendered irretrievable during this time, as is every piece of technology in the room, save for Mx. Thorley's personal voice recorder, which was on prior to the event. It reactivates.

[02.39 AM] — Alex Thorley: Can— Can I just, close my— um— eyes?

[02.39 AM] Silence.

[02.39 AM] — Alex Thorley: I'm scared of blood.

[02.39 AM] Silence. Some rustling can be heard.

[02.40 AM] Multiple gunshots.

[02.42 AM] A door closes.


Mx. Thorley pronounced dead in situ.

They notice it almost innately upon entering the room. The way the light flickers for a lingering moment before plunging the room into darkness. The lightbulb cries out in its last moments, before finally giving out. The figure in the recently acquired darkness darts up from their couch. A single utterance escapes their lips.

It's back.

They scurry along the now unfamiliar terrain. Their couch is no longer in the center of their living room, and now occupies a spot next to a wall they could've sworn wasn't there moments before. As they go along, they trip on objects they've never owned. They open a door, and freeze. Their bedroom is no longer connected to the living room. A kitchen occupies the space now. Desperately, they start ripping apart the kitchen, trying to find their belongings. Bills unpaid, notices and overdraft fees addressed to them, from nonexistent government employees, they're sure. Throwing their hands up in defeat, the figure starts sprinting towards the nearest door. They recoil at the sight of the doorframe. In a neat rectangular plaque, their name can be read above a smaller title. A way back beyond the Veil.

Alex Thorley
Department of Unreality

They throw themselves in the opposite direction, as far away from the door as possible. The sudden change in direction, as well as the instinctual self-propulsion, land them on their shoulder against the hardwood floor of the apartment. Back in the living room, they spare a glance at their shoulder, only to quickly get up as they realize the furniture has moved once again. The decor is efficient where it had been agreeable, cold where it had been warm. Through the kitchen door, they could see the unusually bright door to their office. They scurry to the other end of the room. The door out of the apartment. As they open it, they find their bedroom, intact.

A glint in their eyes appears as they enter. They hurry over to their nightstand, scrambling through a pile of clothes somehow bigger than it had been moments ago. They jump, a white linen bag clutched between their hands. They dump the contents onto the bed; an empty wallet, a number of coffee shop receipts, keys, and a vial of some kind.

They smile as they uncork the [container] (?), and the air turns stale. They down [its contents] (?) in a single gulp, recoiling while swallowing. They smile as they start fading from view. It works. The room fades in colors and shapes, all of them clearing as the [acid] (?) works its way around [an individual] (them?).

The world fades to grey.

Incident Log — Site-43 | Cafeteria.


[03.52 AM] A door opens. Alex Thorley stumbles into view.

[03.52 AM] They proceed to take a couple of steps toward the center of the room.

[03.53 AM] As they reach a table, they try to sit in a chair. The sound of it scraping against the concrete floor is the only sound present in the room.

[03.54 AM] They falter, choosing to use the chair as support instead. A red stain is visible of the front of their sweater.

[03.55 AM] They start to gurgle, and lose their grip on the chair.

[04.04 AM] They fall to the ground with a thud.


Mx. Thorley pronounced dead following an alert from Site-43 security several hours later. No abdominal cavity was present. Death attributed to exsanguination.

You sit outside your apartment.

It's just not fair. You have a life now. It's not a great life, you have no money and were a recluse until today. But it was yours. You know you don't have enough of it to do that trick again. And so, you're left with very few choices.

So far, this means crying on the streets of Portland.

You tried burning everything the Foundation sent, at first. Then you decided the paychecks were yours anyway. And now, it's back.

More than anything, you don't want to be back where you were months ago.

But every time you close your eyes, you feel the cold on your skin. The inability to move. For days now, you've dreamt of morgues. Of boxes so tight you can't breathe. Of metal cutting through your skin. And you could live with that. You could never return, and give up the night to the horror.

But you can't stand the guilt. You're dead.

You think back to when you thought you could get away. You were coming back from dinner. You saw yourself leave, and decided you could make a run for it. Now you can feel your actions every time you close your eyes.

You get up, towards a phone booth. Any door will do, really, now that you can no longer avoid being who you are. The small bottle helped, but it was never infinite. The street stretches out as you reach into the phone booth, recoiling at your name written on the front. You think of your small apartment, and the body you left there, peacefully sleeping, forever.

You reach for the door handle. Your hand trembles just before reaching for it.

You have to go back. But you need to be ready to be back. You have to have purpose.

You don't want to be alone anymore. You want to return to your life, at some point. If you're going back, it can't be for nothing. It has to mean something.

You will be back. You will be alive. And you will have a life you understand.

You open the door.

Incident Log [AUDIO ONLY] — Site-19 | Morgue. Anomalous individuals wing.


[05.48 AM] Pounding on metal.

[05.57 AM] Pounding on metal.

[06.35 AM] Pounding on metal.

[07.50 AM] Pounding on metal, intersped with an almost inaudible alarm sound.

Following this incident, Alex Thorley, located at Site-19, was brought in to analyze their remains. No cause related to the incident was found. The unit, containing an uncremated copy of the researcher, was found undisturbed inside its own metal locker. Following its cremation, all subjects related to EE-02395741 were disposed of.

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