The Remains Of The Day

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Year One

Justine Everwood sat alone in their lab, poring over research notes of their new project. Their entire career had been devoted to knowing all about the various groups of interest which populated the anomalous world. At least, of course, until everything changed. Now, they found themselves alone in their office, grabbing piles and piles of documents and dumping them into black trash bags, soon meant for the incinerator. Their life's work, their passion; for nothing.

They stopped to look at a folder labeled 'Wonder World™' and sighed, pondering what became of the place. Had they even been affected? They chose to believe that the cheery little world of whimsy had been unaffected by the Shattering, and the employees of Doctor Wondertainment were still working on toys. They sighed, letting the folder fall into the bag.

It wouldn't be long before they were reassigned. Their position was long outdated, as most organizations under their watch had crumpled in the initial months following the Shattering. But not the Foundation. The Foundation endured.

Year Five

A gentle blanket of snow covered Boring, Oregon. Most of the townsfolk were gathered at the town center, idling by the newly constructed monument to the vanished. Molly and Ezra Albertson stood opposite one another, separated only by the digital monolith between them.

Ezra sighed deeply and looked through the list of names, quickly finding his family. His mother. His brother. His father. All of them gone. The last time he had spoken to his brother, they got into a fight. Ezra had thought long and hard about this fight over the years. He remembered it quite well; neither of them wanted to pick up the cow dung from the barn. They had gotten very heated over it. Robin cursed. Ezra cursed back. The two stormed off in different directions after the fact. They were both teenagers back then, just kids, but only Ezra had made it to adulthood.

Molly bit her lip, her eyes scanning the marble in front of her. She had been dreading this ever since the monument was announced last year. Finally, she found it. Albert McKinley. Tears welled in her eyes as she stopped at her former boyfriend's name and all the memories came crashing back. They stung at her heart and squeezed at her stomach, tearing the very life out of her. She missed him. She missed him very much. But she had to move on. She shut her eyes and circled around towards Ezra.

They hugged.

Year Twelve

D-1221 awoke from his sleep, feeling woozy. He wondered when his seemingly eternal servitude to the Foundation would end. It seemed to him that his month of being a guinea pig was running a bit longer than expected. Oh well. Another day meant he was closer to the sweet release of a reduced sentence. He got up but felt a slight creak in his knees. He definitely didn't feel 34 anymore. What were they putting in this food anyway? It must be low in nutrients, whatever it was.

The door opened and he could make out the figure of a guard beyond the portal, and he stepped out for another day of testing.

Year Thirty

A young couple watches the stars from a field in Arkansas. They are blurry and hard to make out thanks to the Shroud protecting Earth, but they are able to make out Polaris in the night sky. Following the splotches of miscolored light around, they are able to find what they suspect to be Mars. It was hard to tell if the oddly shaped fractal of sickly green light was the red planet, but according to their star charts, that should be it.

"What do you think happened to all the people living in the Hellas colony?" asks one young woman.

"I don't know. I think the same thing that happened to everyone during the Vanishing, I guess." her girlfriend answers.

"You don't mean they're all dead, do you?"

"I don't know. My parents think so. They say it was really bad when it happened here on Earth."

"Yeah. I'm glad I wasn't born for that."

"Me too. But you know what I am glad for?"

"What's that?"

"Being born just in time to meet you."

The couple laughs before embracing in the back of the pickup truck.

Year Fifty

Director Elias Shaw sat at the Site-19 canteen, nursing a cup of coffee between his hands. He thought about a time before the Shattering, when this place used to be full with the sound of researchers and scientists from every discipline. Now, many long decades later, a handful were all that remained. It was more than those first dark years just after the Shroud went up, but it was still nothing compared to the glory days.

Back when the world made sense.

The personnel shortage had hit the Foundation hard. Large portions were in ruin; the containment breaches were getting more dangerous, anomalies escaping their grasp in numbers. The smaller sites like 64 and 81 had long been abandoned, the few remaining staff being transferred here. Humanity might have started to recover population-wise, but there was little the Foundation could do to improve recruitment in this condition. These were the last days of the Foundation, and Shaw knew it.

But he would outlive it. He always did.

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