Chapter 10 - The Last Dying Remnant of the Imperfect Past
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rating: +4+x

Contains themes of suicidal ideation.

Why the fuck was Huxley Williams still alive?

He believed that he had died in his sleep so much that he couldn't fathom the possibility that it didn't happen. He must have succumbed to the dream. He must have chosen not to leave. That was the only conclusion his mind could come up with, until he realized that he had come up with it. He was thinking. If he was thinking, then that meant he was still conscious. And if he was conscious, then that meant he was still alive.

The world came back to him slowly: buzzing fluorescent lights, high-pitched caws from birds in the distance, and grating beeps from a heart rate monitor. There was blood in his nose. When Huxley opened his eyes, he was met with the lifeless sight of a hospital room.

On either side of the room were large cabinets fitted with glass-paneled doors. Through the blurry windows, Huxley could see strange calming devices, mesmerizing plants, and vials filled with dark liquids. He turned slightly before wincing in pain. His head was burning. And that damn monitor kept making it worse.

“God…” Huxley groaned. He grabbed at the side railings of his bed and pulled himself up to a sitting position. There was a quiet voice inside him that told him to lay back down, but he buried it with pointless thoughts and annoyances until it was silent.

“Hey, you’re alive.” The voice was familiar enough to fully awaken Huxley. It was Emma’s voice. Emma was here.

She was sitting on the far left side of the bed, slouched comfortably in a plastic chair in the corner. There were sunglasses on her face again, more to block her eyes from view than to protect them from light. As her body unfurled from its sleeping position, Huxley saw that she was still in uniform.

He quickly mounted a defense. “I am…”

Emma laughed. “Does your voice do that every time you see me? You keep pulling back like you're scared of me."

“No.” Huxley pushed himself back slightly, unleashing a torrent of pain that he had to suppress. “I just didn’t know you were there.”

Emma stood, stretched out her back, and walked around to the other side of the bed. She examined the machines. Each one was vomiting out a different chart about Huxley’s health. She wasn’t focused on any one of them, electing instead to browse whichever one looked interesting to her for a few seconds before moving onto the next.

As Huxley looked on, she took a seat at the very edge of his bed. Her weight caused his legs to slide towards her. By the time she had peered over her shoulder, Huxley had already yanked them away.

“Sorry.” He turned a half-shade redder. “Your body is… I mean, the weight of your body is making my legs move.”

She smiled, close-lipped so as not to show her teeth.

As minute by minute edged by, Huxley slowly sank further into his pillows there were now stained with sweat. Emma poked at the heart rate monitor once or twice. Eventually, she crossed her arms and just watched the green line jump up and down.

Huxley couldn’t think of an introduction, so he said, “Where are we right now?”

“At your home facility. Somewhere in Texas. Site-49, I think the name was.” Emma continued staring at the screen.

Huxley smiled. It was born out of relief, but there was a horrifying guilt that was slowly building up behind it. He had got himself out of that camp, at least far enough to where it couldn't affect him. But he couldn't show his happiness, not after nearly dying.

He said, “Oh. Why aren’t we at the settlement in Arizona?”

“Their medical facility doesn’t have a subtherium section.”

"A sub—”

His smile disappeared. In its place was a face of frenzied paranoia as his mind went into overdrive. He examined every perceivable emotion on Emma’s face: her posture, the wrinkles beneath her eyes, the way she picked at her fingers as she spoke. It all clicked at once. His body started to shake and under his breath, he murmured, “You fucking…”

Emma's face lit up bright red with embarassment. “Oh, wait! No, no, not like that. Like, a section that handles injuries caused by subtheriums. I misspoke. Sorry.” She chuckled to herself. In the span of a few seconds, Huxley’s mind ricocheted between screaming in terror and never speaking again.

He instead chose to let out a harsh, shaky breath into his hands. When he spoke, he acted like he hadn't even realized she made a mistake. "Did something… happen to me?"

“You don’t remember?” Emma stood and retrieved a small mountain of papers that was sitting on the ground. She fingered through them before producing a folded, coffee-stained, crumpled-up report that looked like it had been written the previous night.

Incident Report #: SUB-87451
Personnel Involved: Interviewer Huxley Williams, Interviewer Emma Sandaran, MTF Commander ███ ██████ (Alpha-1)…

“We were kidnapped. It was, um… something that couldn't have been avoided. Don't worry. They took a few other soldiers and Commander Enrique hostage. We were tasked with saving them." Her voice became darker as she continued. "They did something to you, Huxley. They placed this… this leech on your head. They tried to murder you. We don't know exactly what it did to you while you were unconscious, but your brain activity…"

(Alpha-1 holds up three fingers and gives a countdown. When he closes his fist, the team penetrates. An explosion is heard, followed by gunshots, screams, unintelligible screaming, unidentified bangs, and a loud monstrous roar.)

(Alpha-2 sustains a wound in their shoulder. More gunshots. [REDACTED] They collapse to the floor, their right leg having been shattered. Alpha-3 assists them.)

“They sent someone else in. Exterminators. It only took them ten minutes to clear out the camp. I heard… screaming from the woods. There was a lot of crying. It sounded like a pack of screaming animals.”

(Another explosion, followed by sparks.)

Alpha-3: What the fuck… Hit it! Hit it! (gunshots). We should be able to make it (indecipherable). It got caught on (indecipherable).

Command: Team Alpha retreat. Repeat, Team Alpha retreat. Alpha-1 help Alpha-2 and -3 escape—

Alpha-2: Holy shit!

(Loud screams. Distortion. Static. More explosions, followed by a loud suction sound. [REDACTED])

Emma grabbed the paper out of his hands. She said, “Most of that isn’t important. It’s just banter.”

She slotted the page back into its place in the mountain and pulled out another. It was cleaner, no folds or creases, like it had came out of the printer moments ago. Emma's face softened as she looked down on it.

“Here,” she said, gifting it to Huxley. “This is when they found you.”

Command: Is the subject a threat?

Alpha-1: No. They look like they’re ██ █ ████. They’re not moving. Are they dead. Hey █████, do you think they're dead? They're still ██████. Look at their face, it's pink.

Alpha-3: It’s probably a ██████. It has that… ████ ███ leech, see? Like the soldiers back there.

Alpha-1: God. Imagine being alive in one of those things.

Alpha-3: You really shouldn’t. ███████ ████ ███████, so it doesn't matter.

Alpha-1: No, wait. I-I think they’re breathing.

Alpha-3: What?

Alpha-1: Look at their chest. It’s real slow. Up, down, up, down. That's breathing. Command, I’m requesting permission to extract the subject.

Command: If you can manage to get the █████ ███ ███ ███████, ████ █ █████ █████ ██.

Black ink drenched the rest of the page.

Huxley looked up. “They flew me back here to have surgery?”

Emma nodded. “We couldn’t do it out here on the field. We didn't have a clue how dangerous it was.” She laughed, and this time it was genuine. “You flatlined a few times. It was amazing. Well, no, it was terrifying watching that. Really, really terrifying, but now that I think back on it it was kind of funny. Watching the doctors scurry about like that. Hey, don’t do something like that again, okay?” Emma playfully punched Huxley in the arm. It hurt just as much as the real thing.

Huxley grumbled. He glanced about the room. There were dust particles floating in the air that glowed in the sunlight. Now that he noticed it, the whole room seemed to be glowing from the cabinets to the walls and the ceilings. Everything had a thick layer of saturation on top of it. He blamed it on his eyes.

Emma continued laughing and talking quietly to herself as she dug to the bottom of the stack. When she did, her face froze before tightening up. “Hey, Huxley?” she asked.

He didn’t respond.

“While you were under, your brain activity was… wild. I don’t know how to describe it. I’m not sure if I can. If anybody else had had half as much activity, they would’ve dropped dead from the stress. But your brain kept going, up until we removed the leech. The doctors said that the parts of your brain that were lit up were associated with dreaming. Do you remember seeing anything while you were unconscious?"

Huxley's his lips tightened. He started to shake slightly. The subtle hints of emotion on his face disappeared as he stared into space. His voice was casual, robotic. “No.”

Emma didn’t look into his eyes, choosing not to question his answer. He was glad she didn’t. It would have been easy for her to see that his eyes were quivering. His pupils were massive pits. His face was covered in sweat.

He remembered everything.

The lynching, the alien, the man by the sea — he remembered it all like it had just happened to him. He could feel the rocks beneath his feet. He could feel the oppressive air pressing against his chest. His heart weighed heavy in his chest. It was a dream, he knew that for certain, but it felt more real than the world that was around him now. A part of him wanted it to be real, all of it. Even the pain felt desirable over what reality Huxley woke up in.

An idea entered his head. Maybe this reality, this hospital, was just another illusion his mind had created for him. This was its way of punishing him, of casting him out of paradise. He wanted to believe that, but he knew he couldn't. Huxley could never be certain of anything. The people and things closest to him could be ripped away or transferred to another facility in a matter of days. His greatest accomplishments would be forgotten in weeks.

Huxley hated that because he knew that that was reality. This world was a predator that delighted in slaughtering its prey.

"Are you okay?" Emma asked. Huxley's thoughts clouded his vision, and he realized that his hand was slowly moving up his chest. It was at his neck now. His body was still trying to squeeze the life out of itself. He forced his hand down to his lap and flashed a pitiful smile.

"It's nothing."

Huxley always remembered the way Emma flashed that grin at him when he answered.


The moon streamed into the room with just as much ferocity as the sun. Whenever Huxley closed his eyes, he would feel an invisible pair of pliers wrench them back open. His mind still hated sleep. Exhaustion did nothing to quell that primal fear. Huxley didn't know why it despised it so much if it was the only thing he wanted. He knew why, though. His brain didn't want sleep; it wanted the real thing.

He whispered some awful profanity, and turned to his other side. Every night he would repeat this ritual. He would twist and turn and contort his spine until he found a somewhat comfortable sleeping position on the bed, close his eyes, hope his body would take the cue, then be disappointed when it would reject sleep. That wasn't the worst part though. The worst part was the short period of time between the failed attempt and the next one where his body was weak enough to let every thought inside his head express itself. He would rather somebody enter his hospital room and slit his throat in the dead of night than go through those few seconds.

However, his body disagreed. It rejected another chance at sleep.

He had to tell Emma the dream. He should tell Emma the dream. She took his confession well enough, so why would this be any different? It doesn’t matter if she knows. She has probably figured it out already. She's not stupid. What she was was Emma Sandaran. She was still the daughter of that hateful woman, of that evil plague disguised as something human.

Huxley pulled the pillow closer to his face. The cycle restarted again. More contorting, more twisting, more accepting, more rejecting. He had done it so many times it's become muscle memory.

People don’t change, Huxley knew that. It didn't matter how long he had known her or how close he thought he was to her, Emma still had murderous blood flowing through her veins. If she hadn't reported him already (something that was near impossible) it was because she thought she could gain something from him. But if that was true, why not be upfront about it? She danced around the question for days.

“Stop…”

She was an employee of the SCP Foundation, and he was a subtherium. She was a model interviewer and an inspiration for her coworkers and he was the thing that kept children awake at night with fear. He could only imagine the things that would happen to her if she chose to accept what she was destined for. She would be one step closer to accomplishing her mother's dream. She would truly become the perfect human. She would be on every television screen and every monitor and every advertisement. They would worship her like a god — because she was a god.

"Please…"

Another rejection. He had to stop thinking like this. This was how Huxley would lose the narrative. This was how people would discover what he truly was: a monster. They hated him. No matter how hard he tried to imagine that their thoughts were different, that was how the world was. It was made up of people patiently waiting their turn to see monsters like him be hanged. He could see it in the eyes of his coworkers, his heroes, his friends. He could see it in the eyes of Emma.

"Shut up!"

There was a knock at the door.

Huxley looked up and saw a shadowy figure standing on the other side. The translucent glass only allowed him to see their outline. For a second, he assumed they were a figment of his imagination, and waved them off. That was until the door opened and he caught a glimpse of Emma, shoulders sagged, head hanging low, face black from the shadows. It was the dead of night and she was back. A new folder of papers was in her hands.

"Why are you here so late?" Huxley's soul fell.

She was crying. Emma, the woman who had remained stoic despite being kidnapped only a night or two ago and witnessing Huxley be dragged past the brink of death, was crying in a hospital room miles away from any threat. Tears flowed like waterfalls down her face. It took several minutes for the wells to finally dry up. The entire time, Huxley sat as if he were a guilty man. He was still convinced he hadn't committed a crime. Knowing his mind though, that didn't matter much. It would lash out and insult and defame all the same.

"Huxley…" Emma lowered her voice until it gained some authority. "Why didn't you tell me you wanted to do that?"

"What?"

"You know what I'm talking about." She leaned forward, using the bed as support. "I don't want to… say it."

"I-If this has something to do with the kidnapping—"

"Are you serious?" Emma lit up a harsh red like a firework. "This isn't a fucking interrogation, Huxley. I know you remember, even just a little bit. I see it in your eyes."

Huxley grabbed his knees to stop them from shaking. He felt so cold that he might freeze to death in a few minutes, but he knew he wasn't. His room was warm. It was too warm for comfort. He didn't answer her.

When Emma looked up, he was finally able to see her eyes. They were pale and lifeless. There were two red patches beneath them. She said, "When they took you back to the Site, they did a toxicology screening. Shotgun tests mostly. They were just trying to hit as much as possible." She sniffed and tried to hold it together. "And they found benzodiazepines in your blood. They're tranquilizers."

The world went white. Huxley felt himself disconnect from his body like he was a spirit hiding beneath somebody else's flesh. Maybe that would be better: to allow somebody else to take over. Somebody better, somebody that could handle this situation. Because right now, Huxley couldn't.

"H-Huxley?" Emma inched closer. Huxley was stuck in a deep dark pit in his head. He tried to scream, but every time he tried, it just made him sink deeper. "Did you… did you try to…"

"Did you try to commit suicide?"

The only thing Huxley wanted to do was speak. He needed to answer her. It was the simplest thing he could have done, yet it seemed impossible. His tongue swelled in his mouth. His throat twisted itself around dozens of times. All he could do was breathe. He slowly unwinded himself until he finally managed to mumble, "N-N-No."

"You liar!" She stormed onto the bed, grabbing him by the collar. He tried to dive away, but she was too quick. Her face was inches away, her tears falling onto his face like bombs. Her voice was so loud it shook his teeth. "I saw the bag, Huxley! I know what you did! You saw me."

Huxley finally mustered up some kind of protest. “I don’t know, okay? I was sleep deprived and I didn’t know what I was doing and everything was building up—”

Slap.

There was pain, a great red pain on Huxley’s face. Emma's face contorted even further in anger, then it retreated into guilt. She slowly climbed off of him and sat back in the chair and put her hands on her head and tried to stop shaking. Her foot rattled against the leg of the chair. She squeezed her face as if it was melting.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I'm really, really sorry Huxley. I can't… I can't believe you. You were never alone that day. You didn't have a chance to crush your sleeping pills. You crushed them back at the Site, didn't you? You held on to them for…"

She couldn't finish her sentence. He already knew the words she was going to say. Those words would have stabbed a hole in him and crushed his heart in his chest. Even just the thought was enough to take his strength away. He couldn't fight his memories anymore. He remembered the night he had first concocted his plan, the way he stared at it like an animal. Did he also want to die then?

"No. It wasn't… like that," Huxley said. "I didn't want to die. I-I don't want to die."

There were malformed tears in his eyes. They were the only thing his broken body could produce. He was made of makeshift parts, and every single one of them was breaking apart.

"Did you do it because of me?" she said. Huxley could not look at her. "Were you scared because I'm her daughter? What did you think I would do?"

Everything. She would manipulate him. She would string him along for days, weeks, months as the seeds she planted in his mind slowly grew. She would cull his mind of anything that would help him, that would give him hope that one day things would get better. That was the real game: seeing how many hoops she could get this diseased circus lion to jump through.

Emma took a deep breath. She stood. "I'm sorry." She started to cry. "I… I'm really sorry, Huxley. I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't do it to hurt you, Huxley. Please, please don't think that. I was just standing there in the surgery room and the doctors kept asking me and I couldn't stand there and say nothing and I was so fucking terrified that something was going to happen to you—"

"You told them."

Their eyes met. For the first time in her life, when Emma looked at somebody, they were looking back. He was staring at her like an inhuman would. It was as if he were a shadowy creature that had never gotten the chance to see the sun. There was a message in that stare, and it only had the patience to say one thing: you destroyer.

Emma felt her face. It was as if she had awoken from a dream. She suddenly felt the clothes she was wearing and she felt every move she was making. Emma searched for a way to stop this, to turn her mental autopilot back on, but it wouldn't. She would have to suffer through this along with him.

She lowered her gaze, giving Huxley more power. She asked, "Do you know why you flatlined three times?"

Huxley didn't make a sound. By now she knew that that meant he knew the answer, but would not say.

"They tried to take the leech off. I was standing in the viewing gallery. They laid you on this steel table with all of these sheets. And it was so dark I couldn't see any of the surgeons. They had a spotlight trained on your head. I could see the thing… pulsing. I could see it sucking your life away." The irritation in her eyes returned, although much weaker. "There was a man standing behind me. He kept asking 'why did he do this, why did he do this', and I kept saying 'I don't know, I don't know'. But he wouldn't stop. He kept asking 'why would he do this, why would your partner do this to himself'. I wanted him to stop. I was so tired, Huxley. I wanted everything to stop. I wanted it to be tomorrow so I could be doing anything else, but my brain kept my here. I was stuck feeling the seconds pass by."

She moved back, hand locked to her face. "Huxley, I don't want you to forgive me. I can't be forgiven for something like this. But… I need you to know that this will be better for you. Things will get better for you, I really believe that. I still do now."

"Shut up," Huxley sneered. "I know who you are. You're just your mother's offspring. You never gave a damn about me."

Emma turned. She expected this to happen, but she still felt the weight of shock. Her face was too exhausted to show the disgust she was feeling. "I don't know why I tried to help you. You don't even want to live."

A door opened, then it closed. Huxley was alone in the dark. He thought he might cry, but he had no tears left to shed. It was calm in a way. He thought, if I am going to die, then please let me die right now.


Huxley didn’t sleep that night. He only managed to get himself into a semi-lucid state where his dreams began to spill over into reality. Silhouettes of humans were sitting upside down on the ceiling. Weird fish were swimming through the air. An enormous shadow was making its way across Huxley's bed. He welcomed them all.

There was a creak from the door. His dreams vanished upon seeing Emma. There was a confidence to her gate. She planted each foot in front of the other as if she didn't have a single worry in her heart. The floor wouldn't dare collapse under her because she was a real human. A living, breathing human being. She was in a different uniform: gray shirt and pants, thick leather boots, and a small beret. It made her look like one of the nurses.

She placed a neatly stacked pile of paper beside Huxley's legs. Then she whispered, "These are for your treatment."

Huxley's face went white, but it refused to combust into anger. What was there to destroy anymore? Their relationship was barren now. There was no hope for it. He examined the first page.

SUBTHERIUM TREATMENT OPTIONS

“I can’t get out of this.”

"No."

Huxley sighed. He gulped down all the words he wanted to say. They didn't matter. They weren't strong enough to fly to her ears anyway. His mouth, with its last burst of rebelliousness, let them drip out in a deathly tone. "I trusted you once. I think I did, at least. That was a stupid idea. How long have I known you? A week, maybe less? And… I actually trusted you. I don't trust people. I don't trust David. But when I spoke to you, I felt like I could. And now you're the reason why I'm going to die. I hate you, Emma. I hate you so, so much…"

Emma almost dared to smile. "You have shown suicidal tendencies, so you'll be placed under increased security. You'll be transferred to a new room, one that's safer for you given your current mental state."

Physical Transmogrification: Subtherium is submerged in a liquid container composed of 5% [REDACTED], 17% [REDACTED], 77% sodium fluoroacetate, and 1% other nonanomalous mixtures. Activation commences, and the body is converted into a human.

He looked up at her. "I can't accept this."

She was smiling. It was meticulously subtle, but Huxley could see the invisibly small hints that gave it away. They showed what she was really feeling. That look on her face — she wasn't a predator anymore, she was a hunter. More advanced, better trained, colder. She said, "It's not your decision anymore, Huxley."

Then she gathered the papers and left. The room was quiet and undisturbed.

Huxley was grinning. That grin fell to a smile, which fell to a laugh, which fell into a hysterical bout of crying that left him desperately trying to hold onto himself. It was hilarious. It really was. It only took a single day and a few smug words for his entire fucking life to end. It didn't matter how well he had weaved his story. It didn't matter how many years he sacrificed to this organization that did not care if he came in every morning. He made one mistake, so he must die. That was how things worked.

He could see how it would play out now. Emma would walk right up to the Site Director's office. She would slip on her best expression. She would spill his secrets out on to the table. The Director would feel such immense pride for her. She was willing to give up a close friend to aid the Foundation — to aid all of humankind.

They would gift her holidays, spread her image, and manufacture discoveries for her like they did for Clef. They would scrub her history clean of all imperfections, of all mistakes, of all atrocities like they did for Bright. They would bury every witness, every historian, and every lying inhuman like they did for Trauss. They would love her like a god, because she was a god. And every time they stooped down to pray, they would spit on Huxley.

He couldn't blame them. They didn't hate him; they didn't feel disgusted. They just wanted to know what it would feel like to murder something that looked just like them. They wanted to feel the glee that came from dragging a body to a surgical room and watching its flesh get torn away and its organs removed. They wanted to hear it scream. They wanted to live knowing that soon its pathetic little brain would be forced to say goodnight. Then they would smile and clap. They would celebrate the doctors. They would say that those surgeons, those brilliant men and women, were the only ones left today willing to prioritize the human race over this scum.

And the world would smile and clap. They would celebrate his death. A few would cry, but only because they weren't the ones that had the opportunity to gun him down themselves. Their parents would console them and tell them not to worry. There's more to life than killing mutts. The point was the journey and the joy of knowing that whatever happened, humanity would always survive. Everybody kept that unshakable truth in their heart. Everybody except Huxley. That was what was funny about it. Every single person knew that this exact situation would happen except for the animal that it would happen to. It didn't have a right to complain. It didn't have a right to beg for another trial, for another chance. It should have realized sooner that things like him don't get second chances. It should have known that the last dying remnant of the imperfect past doesn't get to pass on to the future. Yet it was just too stupid to see.

And that made Huxley laugh.










Post-Foundation
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