Now I'm Here
rating: +16+x

This is the second part of the Misfire series. First part can be found here.

« Flick of the Wrist | Now I'm Here | Stone Cold Crazy »

So let's see, if I start back a couple weeks ago, that should be fine?

Oh, you have a different account of the lead-up to the elevator. This is why you're coming back to ask me about it. Okay, let's hear it then. I'll clear up whatever you want. How do you think it went, then?

"How come he gets two weeks off at a time? I've been working for the Foundation as long as him and I'm lucky to only get one," May stated. Her flat tone conveyed it all; she wanted someone to validate her frustration.

"Because he's a Senior Researcher with Level 3 access who gets treated like he's Level 4, and you're only Level 2," Brian retorted. May looked away. "Hell, considering how hectic Site-19's been lately, we should feel lucky that we even still have the option to take vacations."

"A tropical resort really does sound nice though, doesn't it?" Jenna sighed. Everyone in the room had a look of contentment on their face, clearly imagining what it'd be like to go to a resort for once. For safety reasons, especially during periods of unease at major sites, Foundation staff could rarely vacation to luxurious or tourist destinations without some kind of security, if at all. It was enough to pretend the sun was shining down on your face.

"What are we supposed to be working on, anyhow? His video didn't really touch on that." It was Vincent's turn to speak up. "I assume the same projects, but he was doing solo work for a couple of them."

"Don't be an idiot, Vince. That just means he gave those projects to people who aren't us." The atmosphere got tense as Dean stared down Vincent. An argument was bound to erupt.

"Look who's talking."

"What'd you —"

"Enough," Brian interrupted, walking over to Vincent and grabbing his shoulder. "Do we have anything else to discuss before going to work for the day?" He gave Dean a sharp look. It was enough to defuse the situation at that moment. "The last thing you two need to be doing is fighting, unless you want me hovering over your backs all week."

"Didn't realize you were our dad, sir."

"I can call anyone who's been working with Dr. Carlson and see if they took over his projects. If not, I'll just see how we can split up the work."

"Thanks, Vincent. We should get to work on our projects if there's no objections." Brian looked around the room.

Harrison shook his head; everyone else stayed silent.


After the morning meeting, everyone would go to their stations and work on their assignments. Usually, Dr. Carlson would try to supervise each of them when possible, as a way to prepare them to become project leaders or senior researchers, regardless of prior experience. Since everyone worked relatively close to each other (especially considering how big Site-19 was), it was easy to look over everyone.

  • Vincent was working as an advisor to various Mobile Task Forces specializing in dealing with artistic GoIs, specifically Are We Cool Yet?. Agent Navarro assisted.
  • Dean was assisting MTFs with more combat experience.
  • May and Harrison were studying chemical-based SCPs. As they both ranked high in tests pertaining to mental resistance against cognito and infohazards, the three SCPs they were undertaking research on were SCP-3104, SCP-2022 and SCP-1711. During that two-week span in particular, they were focusing their attention on 2022, as Carlson couldn't alleviate the workload for them on the other two skips.
  • Brian's main project was SCP-2620, although he was preoccupied with helping Researcher Min on SCP-2211, as it had just entered containment.
  • Jenna was assisting Doctor Yamada with research into SCP-3224.

This time was slightly different. With Dr. Carlson on vacation, it meant a lot more solo work and less hand-holding.

Vincent had to place a number of calls before doing anything else. He went to Carlson's office; he was one of the two researchers working under him with trusted access to his office, Brian being the other one. Six calls were made. Five were to Dr. Carlson's colleagues.

"Hey, Ms. Anderson! Yes, yes. I'm calling about Dr. Carlson and his outgoing projects. Do you know if he assigned anything of his to you or others while he was on vacation today?"

"Hello, is this Researcher Piotrowski? Yes, it's Vincent Madyson. I was wondering if you had spoken to Dr. Carlson recently about anything he was working on? Do you know if he assigned that to you or others?"

And so on. The final call took multiple tries before it connected; once it did, his tone, demeanor, and posture dramatically changed.

"Hello? Hey. I was wondering if — no, no. Just be careful coming back. Yeah. I was planning for a party that day, second floor. Tropical-themed. Yeah, yeah. No problem. Bye."

After that, Vincent left to meet Agent Navarro.

Two weeks later, Dr. Carlson arrived back at Site-19. The party was held on Floor Two, Wing A, in a spare office.

"Heyyy, welcome back! Still wearing that cheesy Hawaiian shirt?" Jenna went over to hug him.

"Heh, what can I say? It is a comfortable fit. Vincent, Brian, Dean, May, Harrison, good to see you all as well." He went around to hug everyone. The mood was a lot lighter with Dr. Carlson, since everyone was able to behave. "Am I really this special that you would all hold a party for me?" He chuckled; a rare sight despite his positive demeanor.

"Of course." Vincent grinned. "Might as well give you one more day of a vacation, so to speak. Fruit punch, spam musubi, Hawaiian pizza —"

"Now now, you didn't have to go that far."

"You better try it at least! I even helped him cook most of this shit." Dean looked overly confident for doing such a simple thing.

The party went smoothly until — half an hour into it — they realized Vincent and Dr. Carlson were missing. No one had seen them for a good ten minutes.

"Does anyone know where they went?" May inquired. She sounded concerned. Harrison shook his head.

"Beats me. Their loss though."

"Does, uh… does anyone want to look for them then?" Even with Brian asking, he didn't seem too worried about leaving.

"Harrison and I can go look for them. It shouldn't take too long. I don't think they'd have gone back to their work already. Are you all fine with that?" Everyone shrugged; Harrison nodded. The two left. What was a nice, calm party became nothing more than eating food in silence. This time, it took another five minutes before someone spoke up.

"I don't feel right about this. I think we need to go find them."

"What? Why?"

"I agree with Brian." Jenna rolled her hand on the table, looking up at the ceiling. "You don't just stay gone from a party for fifteen minutes without telling anyone. And those two should have found them by now."

"Fine, fine. Let's go. Not my fault if this food goes to waste."

"Your mood already went sour, huh." Everyone quickly got up and went to the elevator, heading to the first floor, before stumbling upon the gruesome scene waiting for them there. Had they waited any longer, Dr. Carlson would have certainly died.

Ohhh, so Jenna told you that.

I mean, it's obvious. Brian doesn't eavesdrop on people and was too busy with a new skip, Dean would rather bully information out of people than be sly about it, and, well… dead bodies can only metaphorically tell stories. Plus, she doesn't work that far away from the old man's office.

It's mostly correct, though I don't know if she lied to you about some of it because she wanted to try and cover up for Carlson and I or because she's genuinely naive about it. It'd be nice if it were the former, though she's too nice to do that. Here's how it actually happened. I won't cover up any information this time. After all, I'm implicating myself in this. Who would be so arrogantly dumb to do such a thing if they were lying?

Everything was correct up until the calls. I did make six calls, but the last one was completely different. It only took one call to reach him. Turns out, when you care about someone, you'll more likely than not answer their calls quickly. It sounded like he was leaving some dining hall, since I caught a faint sound of chatter and plates the moment he answered.

"Hello? Are you alone?"

"Vincent? Is everything alright?"

"Not particularly. I was wondering if you could do me a favor when you get back."

"I… I can certainly try, although to be calling me to ask… are you sure you don't want to send a message over a more secure —"

"No." I looked behind me. I didn't see anyone, although I felt some kind of presence. Knowing what I know now, it wasn't just the lovebirds listening in. Why Jenna was listening in, I don't know, but I wish she hadn't got caught up in this. "How soon do you plan to get back?"

"Erm, exactly two weeks. I would need to catch an extra flight to get back to Site-19 safely and more covertly."

"May and Harrison are going to throw a party for you when you come back. The party itself should be fine, but I don't think it's well-intentioned."

"Vincent." He stopped me just when I caught my breath to continue. "Are you feeling okay? Usually, you aren't paranoid like this." There certainly wasn't anyone near him now. All I heard in the background was the ocean - I guess he was at the docks, isolating himself from anyone trying to listen in.

"Please, trust me. I don't know exactly what they're planning, but I really don't know that it'll be any good. They've been acting particularly standoffish the past couple of days, you've seen that for yourself. Just… just be prepared when you come back, okay? After the party, meet with me. We'll talk with them."

I didn't hear anything for a minute. It was just the ocean. He had to be thinking. And then he started thinking real deep. You know how he did those… those "hrmm" and "huh" sounds when he was lost in his thoughts? There was quite a lot of that. At least three or four minutes of that. Probably weighing every single possibility, because he didn't know when to stop thinking.

By that point, I didn't feel a presence nearby. I just assumed at the time that he was right, and I was feeling paranoid, but, well, you know. He finally got back to me after I wanna say… five minutes or so.

"I believe you. Allow me this vacation, and concentrate on your work. I'll talk to you when I get back."

"Can I at least ask how it's been so far?"

"Good. Relaxing. I always forget how it feels not to be on-guard for monsters or bureaucracy until I look at the waves. It's serene."

"Glad to hear." I couldn't help but smile. He got on my nerves a lot, but he was nice. Trusted me too. That helped. "Yeah, yeah. No problem. Have a good vacation. Bye."

"Take care, Vincent." And he hung up.

There's two other corrections I need to make about Jenna's account. One; I didn't plan the party. May and Harrison did. Those rat bastards probably did it as a way to more conveniently confront us. Why the fuck else would they plan the party? They certainly didn't like me, and they got more sour on the doctor the longer they worked with him. It's pretty obvious as well; we never threw a party for him when he got back from vacations before. There was no good reason to do it now.

Here's the other thing Jenna got wrong, or at least didn't realize; if they didn't take the elevator down to the first floor, at least three more of us would still be alive right now.

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