Sands Of Time
rating: +18+x

The person formerly known as Dr. Amanda Richards walked across her little secluded section of the beach, allowing her feet to feel every inch of the sand, letting it seep in between her toes. She breathed in the sweet and fresh Hawaiian air. It was nice to be up and about for a change. It was closest she had felt to being alive in a long time — ever since The End.

The End.

She stopped for a moment to look at the ocean. Light reflected across it from the sun, which was setting across the horizon. She remembered back to when it didn't rise the next morning. Back when things were 'normal'. Back before The End.

It had been 2,312 days since The End. 2,312 days since the demons disappeared. 2,312 since 'normal' disappeared. 2,312 days since the Foundation was dissolved and everything was supposed to be 'normal' but they weren't 'normal'. Not for Amanda.

She tried pushing the thoughts out of her mind. They were bad thoughts — and weren't those thoughts the reason she was here in the first place?

She continued walking, attempting to think of 'normal' things. Think of the footprints she was leaving behind. Think of the beautiful trees and cute animals and fresh hair. Think of the socio-political implications of increasing taxes, of the increasing tensions between Russia and the United States, fuck, anything aside from the obvious.

But those thoughts just kept coming back to her.

She thought of that day.

The day The End (as she liked to call it) began.

She was in the cafeteria that morning — reading some shitty James Patterson novel, she recalled — when The Announcement began.

The Announcement was straight-and-to-the-point, as her father liked to say. It was delivered by a board Site Director, probably thinking of some alone time with his readheaded assistant. She remembered those words that stopped everyone in their tracks.

"Staff of Site-43. I have a special announcement to make. Yesterday, over 95% of all anomalies within the Foundation's possession disappeared without any trace. What few were left lost all their anomalous properties. Today, at 1100 military standard time, the O5 council have, after interactions with other Groups of Interest like the Global Occult Coalition, Marshall Carter and Dark, and the GRU-"P", come to the conclusion that all anomalous activity has ceased. Over the next couple of days, you may experience many changes, but do not worry, the O5 council are handling any and all — "

She blanked out after that message. Was…was everything gone? Was it true? Was — was everything really 'normal' again?

She looked over at her fellow staff members — all with similarly shocked expressions on their faces. Dr. Kirk, the former PL scientist, had gagged on his Big Mac. Dr. Kennedy's beady eyes were bulging out of his skull. Dr. Carol had her hand covering his mouth, attempting to hide her gaping mouth. Dr. Henderson was, well, still Dr. Henderson. The old man could barely see, let alone hear.

Then someone yelled.

"It's over! It's finally fuckin' over!"

More yells, and cries, and eventually singing as the entire cafeteria — and by extension the entire Site began cheering in unison.

As for Amanda, she remembered her face permanently cast into a smile for the rest of the day. She smiled so hard it began hurting, but she didn't care. Something in her — some part of her brain that was responsible for detecting bullshit — told her that, yes, this was true. And she felt relieved. Relieved and happy.

Amanda kept walking along the beach, occasionally side-stepping some broken glass and underwear left behind by some couple trying to pitch a tent.

She remembered the parties after The End. It was a happy time — a time before fully comprehending a world without the anomalous. She drank for the first time since her college days — and it was a fine bottle of whiskey she drank. She couldn't remember the brand, only that it was fan-fucking-tastic.

She cracked a small smile. She looked up at the trees — palm trees. They swayed back and forth in the wind. She stopped to look at it, letting the swaying of the trees send her mind at ease.

She walked towards it, laid herself beneath the trees. She felt cool here. She felt at peace here, like some guru achieving internal harmony and peace. She knew this wouldn't last, but that didn't mind. It felt good nonetheless.

wouldn't last

Those two words echoed across her mind. It stung every part of her mind — stung the same way lemonade stings your open wound.

She should have known that this victory wouldn't have lasted. She shouldn't have hoped — hope got her into this situation in the first place.

"Thought everything would finally be fine for ya, wouldn't it?" she said under her breath, laughing at nothing in particular.

Dr. Amanda Richards — former biologist for Site-43 — was now a general clerk for the retirement division of what's left of the Foundation. The division has to deal with tens of thousands of people all clamoring for retirement checks and benefits for their loyalty to the Foundation. Some of them had worked for the Foundation for decades — and in certain cases centuries, if you counted the robot ones.

She looks over a file. Young man, late 20s early 30s. Got to Level 3 status within 4 years of employment. That was a rarity — it usually took one that long to get to Level 2. She glanced over his record. Various awards for scientific progress within the Foundation. Then she looked at his human rights record, and refused to read anything further.

It was there that she learned that the Foundation was more than an organization for protecting humanity. It was a mad house for the sick fucks of the world to have their outlet in a productive manner.

It was working here that she learned of the 'post-foundation-depression' — a phrase to describe those who finally understood the full ramifications of the situation. Everything they had fought for — every death, every test subject, every piece of goddamn work they all had fought tooth and nail to getting, every person who died for the 'greater good' — was all for nothing.

She tried not to think about it. She was good at that — her years of work taught her that. But as time went on, that ability began to wore off. As if, without those everyday monsters, they weakened.

She was heading for a crash, and she knew it.

Amanda was at a bar near the beach now. She dug her feet into the sand, feeling the cool sand bury her feet. She would have been okay if she just dug her entire body beneath the sand of the beach and just slept. She wouldn't have minded sleeping there forever. Till the end of time itself, in fact.

She shook her drink around in her hand — a Bud Light. She grinned, realizing that it was the same way her father used to do it when she saw him drink. He used to drink a lot of it back then. It was shitty beer, but it was cheap and plentiful. He was the nice drunk of her family — he'd never yell when drunk, unlike his sober self. It was her mother that served the angry drunk archetype, even if she rarely drank.

She took another drink of her beer, savoring the bitter taste. She remembered her father — a large, tall man with a permanent 5 o'clock shadow on his face. An electrician by trade and part time coach for the local football team, he was a loud man with large hands. He worked hard, and drank even harder. Her mother was a factory worker with stocky shoulders and thin as a rail, and it only hit Amanada then how strange it must have been to see that short, thin woman work large scale industrial machinery. She smiled a bit.

They're dead now. Both died in a car wreck two years ago. On the anniversary of The End, in fact. Life's strange, ain't it?

Their deaths didn't matter anyhow. There was no use crying for them — they died, and she was alive. The world moved on. It didn't acknowledge them.

the world moved on

Amanda shuddered again, feeling that tingle up her spine. It was uncomfortable.

The young man across from her fidgets in his wheelchair — a survivor of a monster. It was strange how after The End, 'skip' no longer entered into normal Foundation lexicon anymore — they weren't skips anymore, but monsters. Monsters didn't exist. Skips no longer existed.

Amanda looks through his file. Kariuki Zuberi. African, 6'2'', dark blue eyes, married. Just adopted. Former Agent of Site-19. Survivor of The Breach of 89', just when containment of 682 was being fine tuned.

"Do you know when I will get my first retirement check? I — I haven't been able to find another job — not a lot of demand for crippled sharpshooter ya know?"

Amanda typed into the office computer in front of her. She was lucky that the bosses hadn't sold the retirement division's computers yet. All non-essential assets were being liquidated. Before, she would have shuddered at the thought of 'liquidation'. Now, it was just another fancy word for 'selling things' — which didn't include people, thank god.

"You'll receive your first check on the 1st of April, Mr. Zuberi."

He sat for a moment, his eyes widening as he remembered the order of months — something he regularly forgot about.

"B-But that's four months from now! You gotta listen ma'am, I need that check. My wife, she's also looking for a job, but is also having bad luck. Please, is there any way I cou —"

"No sir, I'm afraid I can't do that. There's only so much money we can send out at a time."

The man looked down, his hand up to his face.

"This…this is the thanks I get, huh?"

He put his hand down, and she saw his face. She could see water swelling up in his tear ducts.

"I killed people. I burned down entire villages — to protect humanity. I kidnapped children from their parents — and parents from their children. I hurt people," he stopped, putting his face back into his hand in an attempt to stop crying. "I hurt people. I lost my leg trying to stop that oversized fucking lizard from killing everyone — from destroying the whole site. And this — this is what I get?"

"I'm truly sorry sir, but I ca—"

"Fuck off. Just fuck off."

He backed out of the office in his wheelchair, with the same finesse as a Olympic gymnast.

She sighed, mentally counting the event. It was the fifteenth time this day.

She left the bar — she needed to get away from drinking for a while. She walked along the water now, letting the cool water brush up to her feet. It felt cooler now than the sand. She hated how the sand would stick to her skin after stepping into the water for a moment. It itched and it was generally annoying.

She remembered the first time she went to the beach. It was a paid vacation by — what else? — the Foundation. She had been shot in the neck by an Insurgent during a raid on Site-42 — Site-43's sister site — and left her bed bedridden for a month after that, and another month of counseling due to the event. She didn't need it, but saw it as a good exploit for a vacation.

She mostly stayed locked up in her room, eating and watching TV and occasionally doing something productive like attempting to get laid or binge watch some terrible Netflix show she'd forget in a week.

As she walked, she saw a man. The man was walking with a small dog — probably a pug or something similar to that. It had a leash, less walking than being dragged along for a ride it really didn't want. It seemed tired and probably wanted a nap.

being dragged along

Again she shuddered and looked into the dogs eyes. She saw his boredom, but beyond that she saw something more important — fear. Fear of what, she did not know.

"You are Mrs. Amanda Richards, yes?"

She looked around the room uncomfortably, attempting to focus her eyes on something beyond the tiny little man before her.

"Y-Yes sir, I-I am."

"And you have been working for the Foundation how many years now?"

"Thirteen. Thirteen years," she stammered out, feeling some sort of pride in that fact. Then she cringed, feeling shame at having admitted that. Why was she proud of that? It was like being proud of being a member of the Westboro Baptist Church or Nazi or a jaywalker. It wasn't something admitted outloud.

"And you have been working in the retirement department for how long?"

"Three. Three years," again she stammered out, feeling some sort of pride swell up in her, and again that shame.

"What were you before the retirement department?"

"I was," she said, then stopped. It took her a moment to recall what she was. The days and weeks and years all seemed to mix together, to the point where she couldn't really keep track of the days anymore. There were only two days on her calendar — work days and rest days.

"Says here you were a biologist for Site-43. Experimented with SCP-3036."

"Y-Yes, yes I did. Sorry, I-I don't know how I could have forgotten that."

"It occurs. At any rate, I was requested to give you these — " the man stopped, handing Amanda a pile of folders.

"What are they?"

"Opportunities. For after everything is said and done."

when everything is said and done

She continued to look at the dog, continuing to be dragged along by its owner. Eventually, the owner stopped and picked the dog up.

"Everything is said and done?"

"When everything is gone. When the Foundation stops," he said, stopping halfway through the sentence, expecting Amanda to speak the other half. But she did not.

"When the Foundation stops what?" Her questions were less directed at the man than at herself.

"Stops existing."

On a very superficial level, she understood the Foundation didn't need to continue existing. If monsters didn't exist, what need was there for a monster hunter? But for some reason, she could not register it on a deeper, more fundamental level.

The Foundation not existing? How was that possible? The Foundation always existed, continues to exist, and will always exist. It was as ridiculous as saying the Catholic Church would stop existing, it just didn't make any sense."

"The selections have been chosen based on previous work experience and credentials. I suggest you chose wisely."

The man left her.

Amanda tracked her eyes from the dog to the man in front of her. She tried her best to not scream.

The Foundation? Not existing?

Again, she thought about that. It was like some strange, aberrant thoughts that one has on drunk Friday nights, like the asking 'what would happen if I stuck my cock in a blender?'.

But the more she thought about it, the more she considered the possibility, the more true it became. The Foundation wasn't eternal — it wasn't something that existed since the beginning of time. It had a strict beginning and end. Maybe this was the true End — not the end of anomalies, but of the Foundation.

It made her sick. She felt like she could throw up. But she didn't know why — shouldn't she be glad? Happy? Thrilled even?

Maybe I don't wanna leave.

That thought stopped everything in her body cold. That thought — that terrible, terrible thought — made her mind stop to a grinding halt.

It wasn't true. It couldn't be true. This organization — this horrible, evil thing — killed hundreds of people, enslaved entire populations, used children as test subjects, installed third world dictators to help them, rigged elections for democratically elected countries — all for their horrible, evil agenda.

But they were her evil organization. They had paid for her college, they had given her an apartment, they had given her a job and, most importantly, friends.

She remembered Dr. Kirk — his assholish behavior never ceased to amuse her. Dr. Carol and the terrible sweaters she used to make for her (she remembered the sweaters for the Christmas Eve Party, and how much it made her laugh). Dr. Henderson, for his incompetence but general niceness but always made things worse for them all. The Director, who always cared for his employees, even if it was only so he could get a promotion.

She remembered them all. She remembered, and it hurt.

You'll never see them again.

She tried pushing it away.

You'll never see them. You'll forget about them, they'll fade. Dr. Henderson will probably be the first to die — he's old, been around since the 40s. Then there's Carol. She's soft, and probably won't last two months without her friends. She'll probably off herself. As for Kirk, he'll join some crime organization to try and fill the void. And you? You'll blow your brains out. And no one will remember you.

The world moves on, you know?

After a moment, she realized she was tearing up. She tried to stop herself from crying.

They'll forget you. And you'll forget them.

She couldn't stop herself.

The man walked away from Amanda, freaked out at the woman. The psycho bitch just screamed of the blue and started balling like a baby. Some people were trying to enjoy their vacation, you know?

But Amanda, well, she saw something in him. She saw everyone there.

She saw Kirk. She saw Carol. She saw Henderson. She saw the director. And there she saw the janitor, the psychologists, Vincent Anderson, Robert Bumaro, Dr. Clef, Dr. Bright, 682, 173, 3036, Meme, the 3155 instances, Dr. Kain, 076, Money, everyone. They all flashed on his face, all at once.

And she missed them. She missed them all.

She wanted to be with them so much.

Every dream and memory and thought all wrapped together. She just wanted to be with them.

She loved them as much as she hated them.

She didn't want to forget them.

Please, god, don't let her forget.

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