Cyantreuse's Sandbox

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608 Lamb's Tail Circle
Wilmington, North Carolina
11:59 PM, December 31st, 2020

"Ten! Nine! Eight!"

Janelle Frazier is sitting outside on the red brick patio, trying to tune the partygoers' noise out of her phone call. "Well fuck you too then, if you're going to say shit like that to me. First of all, you never paid your rent on time. If I had more time on my hands I would take you to small claims court, you piece of shit."

"Happy new year!"

Janelle scurries around the side of the house, away from the noise of people yelling and celebrating. The drone of the AC units isn't much better. "Look, I'm at a fucking party right now. I don't give two fucks that you're stranded. Why can't you get that chick you fucked last week to pick you up?"

"She's in class right now."

"You're one low motherfucker, you know that? I think you should hop your ass back on that plane and fly back out of town instead. I'm hanging up now. Oh, and mail me the checks real damn soon, you got that?"

"Fine."

Janelle taps the end call button angrily, not finding the action satisfying at all. She shoves her phone back in her pocket and leans against the vinyl siding, curls frizzing up in the humidity and bouncing into her eyes. She spits on the ground, trying to calm her breathing. Ty Frazier: star basketball player of UNCW, constantly awarded grants and gifts, same last name as Janelle as if it was just meant to be… and too busy picking up bimbos in his 2020 V8 Dodge Challenger to pay his half of their rent for God knows how long.

"I should have ended that shit with the money, man, fuck," she tells the empty trees across the yard. "But I had to wait until he cheated." She huffs and bites her lip, leaning forward as she feels her gut clenching from stress, amplifying the thump of her pulse all throughout her body. She can't panic here. She fumbles for her car keys, thinking perhaps no one will pry if she just leaves for 20 minutes and comes back with a new bottle of liquor.

Her left arm is stuck inside the siding of the house, at least up to the elbow.

"Fuck."

She closes her eyes briefly before focusing hard on the dark foliage across from her as she moves slowly forward. She thinks about the streetlight she can see across the yard, casting a blue-white glow on her dull tan Toyota. She thinks about the fact that there are plenty of guys she can flirt with inside the house if she can just calm down. She thinks about anything other than the fact that the molecules composing her body are occupying the same physical space as the outer wall of a building.

She yelps and stumbles forward, the skin of her left hand burning like she'd just reached into an oven. She grips her wrist and shakes it, telling herself the sensation isn't real. Sweat forms under her makeup, cloying and damp. She leans against the AC unit, head spinning. Stop thinking about it. Stop thinking about it.

The wooden frame of the AC units sticks to her hand. "Fuck you! I'm not even panicking!" she hisses at the universe, her therapist's words echoing in her mind: "Just practice mindfulness and center yourself when you feel it coming on. Agitation brings it on. Just remember that you're okay. This will pass."

She pulls herself off with a force that sends her into the adjacent wall. She winces and closes her eyes. Fiery heat sears her skin for a split second, and then she's looking at the basement.

"Fucking hell."

She closes her eyes again and slowly pulls the last of her right shoe out of the wall, staring intently at the pile of beer bottles in front of her, focusing on the way the light refracts through the glass. Her foot slides out, and she stands upright with a sigh.

At least she's inside now. She takes her powder and mirror case out of her back pocket and inspects her face. It's pretty obvious that she was teary; she really should have worn waterproof eyeliner. She moves slowly up the stairs, making sure every step feels solid, and scoots into the hallway bathroom before more than a few people can get a good look at her face.


Brittanica McDonald leans her head out of the upstairs bedroom window and eyes the wall by the AC unit. "Y'all did see that, right? Kayla, you saw that?"

"What?" one of the girls says, leaning her head off the bed upside-down. "Is it that chick you said you hate?"

"Janelle. Yeah."

"Is she, like, a bitch?"

"She's just kind of a cuck. You heard her phone call."

"Lull. Yeah, sounds like she's got some drama," Kayla says, flat on her back with her phone above her, contorting her face to play with front-facing camera filters. "I think I look hot in the puppy one."

Brittanica rolls her eyes, standing up off the windowsill. "Allie. You paying attention?"

"I was leaning out the window right with you, bitch. How drunk are you?"

"But she just walked through a wall. Like, that did actually happen, right?"

"Yeah. But I mean, are you gonna report that shit? I've got half a mind to pretend I didn't see it. I'm here to chill and kick off 2021 and all that," Kayla says, frowning.

Brittanica sucks her teeth, tapping her nails on the sill with one hand and checking her notifications with the other. "Should I?"

"That shit's not supposed to be out here in public, right?" Allie says. "I don't know. Oh, and in senior year at Ashley, she wore the same prom dress I wore. We were shopping in Belk together, and, like, we agreed that I was going to wear the red one and she was going to wear the blue one, but she bought herself a fucking red one, and of course because she's skinny everyone was paying attention to her instead."

"Holy shit, the two of you used to be close? No way."

"Not after high school we weren't!"

Britt shakes her head. "That's petty. I don't like petty people, you know?" she says, typing anomalous stuff organizations into Google. "Also, she totally wouldn't accept constructive criticism from me in our art course. Like, she had this ugly pastel pink 'fro last month and I was like 'girl, realtalk, dark colors suit your skin tone waaaaay better.' But you just can't say that kind of stuff these days, apparently."

"Mmm," Allie adds.

"I'm looking up 'anomalous stuff organizations', I don't know if that makes sense or I'm drunk…" She hiccups and giggles. "Excuse me ladies. Okay, that worked. Do you guys know anything about this shit?"

"Hell no. You think I read the news, with how depressing it is these days?" Kayla laughs, flipping her blonde hair across her glasses.

"God, same," Britt moans. "Okay, let's see here." She taps the first result. "Here's someone's list. There are like, a billion, holy shit."

"How many?"

"I mean, there's like twenty. Ish."

"Uh-huh. Which one is just, like, the cops?"

"Word. Let's see. Uh… the Global Occult Coalition? Let's look at their website. 'Report an anomaly.' Well, I'm not gonna fill this out until-"

Allie rolls upright. "Don't call them, don't call them. My dad said they kill people. That name sounds familiar."

"Okay word, word. I'll go back. The Chaos- Oh hell no, these people shouldn't even have a website with a name like that. What are they, a cult?"

"Is there anything useful on there or not? Are we supposed to just call the normal cops?"

Britt stares at the results page for several seconds. "Uh… You say something, Al?"

"Do we just call 911? Like, are we overthinking this?"

"Well, this isn't an emergency. Right?"

"I don't know, that shit can hurt people. It sure as hell didn't look like she can control it. Look how she was stumbling around and shit, the poor bitch."

"Dude, maybe she's just drunk."

"A drunk person with superpowers? Not good."

"I'd hardly call whatever that was a superpower. More like just a freak."

Kayla glares over her phone, sitting upright on the bed and hunched over. "I wasn't gonna say it, but I mean, yeah." She snaps her gum with a loud pop. "I want some goddamn pizza, I don't know about y'all."

"I'll order some for the party after I call…" She scrolls down to the bottom of the alphabetical list. "The SCP Foundation."

"Isn't that, like, the boring science one?" Allie says.

"One of them."

Britt taps the URL and looks for anything reminiscent of a 'contact' link on the stark red-white-and-gray page. "Oh here we go, I can search by area." She types in Wilmington and waits for it to suggest results. Site-42, Seabreeze, North Carolina, the search bar reads. She taps it. "What'd your dad say about these people, Al?"

"I don't know, they have some drama sometimes because they were secret for so long, but they do a hell of a lot and they have an Ethics Committee."

"Oh wow, a massive corporation has an 'ethics committee' and hires queers, capitalism is solved forever." Kayla puts her phone in her pocket and stands up off the bed. "Uh, no shade or anything, but this is making me feel a little weird so it's shots instead. I'll be downstairs."

"They're not a corporation, they just have a lot of front companies," Allie tells her as she leaves the room.

Britt puts her phone to her ear.

"Oh Jesus, girl, I thought we were gonna talk about that a little more, holy shit," Allie whispers.

"Shh."

"Site-42 Offsite Response. This is Trauss speaking. Is this an emergency?"

"Uh, hi sir, it is not. Well, like, I don't know what you would define as an emergency or not. I'm at a New Year's party and I looked out the window and saw this girl I know just go through the side of the house. I watched her stumbling around like she was freaking out about it, like she couldn't control it, you know, and then she just disappeared into the wall, clothes and all."

"Okay. Has anyone else noticed this?"

"Me and-" She looks at Allie. "One other friend."

"What is your current address?"

"608 Lamb's Tail Circle, 28409."

"Okay, one moment."

"Are you seriously doing this? You're calling the Men in Black on this bitch?"

Britt faces the phone away from her and scowls. "Please just wait a second."

"Okay, I'm about ten minutes away from you. If you and your friend will just walk out quietly and meet me by the street to discuss details-"

"Yeah. Yeah. We'll be there. Sorry."

"No, thank you. See you in ten minutes."

She ends the call and looks up from the phone, the purple lava lamp on the nightstand casting a strange glow on Allie's pale face.

"Dude."

"What?"

"I just can't believe that happened."

"It's not like I saw her do something intentional and, like, cool. That was like watching a video game glitch. That poor chick clearly can't control it. What makes you think she should be around people? At least, like, until she can control it? What if she freaks out about her ex in the party and starts phasing through people and shit?"

Allie wipes her eyes. "You've got a point. Just, ugh."

"Let's go drink for eight minutes and then head outside."

"You wanna feel the drunk come on while you're in the middle of a conversation with this guy?"

"Bitch, it's New Year's Eve, everyone's drunk. It's not like I'm driving. Mikey downstairs is a highway patrol off-"

"Oh my god, fine. I guess you don't sound that drunk."

"That's because I've only had, like, some beer."

"Alright, shots."

"Word."


"Girl, I adore your hair. That pink is fabulous."

Janelle looks up from her phone at the man talking to her. "Oh. Thank you!" She makes an effort to smile. "I, uh, like your Hawaiian shirt."

"That's the culture, babe." He lingers for a split second with a grin on his face as if he's considering sitting down with her, but struts away when he realizes she wants to be alone. She looks back down at her phone.

"Janelle, right?"

She looks up again, startled. "Uh, Brittanica? Hey, what's up?" She coughs, hoping her tone didn't reflect her feelings. "I haven't seen you since last semester. Happy New Year."

"Happy New Year! I hope this ain't weird to say, but sweetheart, I overheard a tiny bit of that phone call of yours outside on the patio. And I just wanted to say that your ex sounds like a dick. So you go get 'em, alright? There are other honeys out there."

She pauses. "Oh. Well thank you, I appreciate that. Sorry I was so loud." She feels panic rising in her throat again.

"You got it girl. And no worries, I don't think anyone else heard." She snaps her fingers and prances off, Allie trailing behind her. The two of them weave through the few clusters of people talking, Janelle's gaze following them.

"That was kinda weird and maybe not necessary," Allie says, mixing Everclear and apple juice in a shot glass. She points at it. "This isn't happening until after we talk to the guy, by the way."

"Oh shush, I meant it. I may not like her but she's not a bad person. She's just pretty fucked-up. And you know what, you're right; I can wait a few more minutes to get plastered. Thanks for having my back, bitch."

"You're welcome, bitch."

The two of them chuckle as they migrate toward the front windows to watch for a car pulling up. "Her boyfriend was cheating on her," Britt ponders. "But she's cute. Do you think she can't touch people sometimes? Like, maybe she can't fuck or she'll get all spatially intertwined with the person's body and shit. Maybe if she gets emotional she can't control it."

"Uh, I don't know about that. Maybe he was cheating because he was a dick."

"Fair enough, fair enough. But I gotta wonder." She leans against the wall by the window and squints, watching a white SUV with black lettering parallel-park on the street. "Bet that's him. Let's go." She rushes to the front door, not feeling a need to hide her hurry given the bustling and loud environment. "See, I told you they're not the Men in Black," she says as she closes the front door behind them. "That is clearly a white vehicle and he is wearing a white shirt."

"Oh my god," Allie whines as the driver approaches them, smiling.

"Hi, I'm Agent Trauss. Which of you did I speak with on the phone?"

"Me. Hey. I'm Brittanica." She brushes her bangs to the side and shakes hands with the man. Allie grimaces and looks elsewhere.

"And what's your name?"

"Oh, sorry. I'm Allisyn."

He shakes her hand. "Thank you both. Are you acquainted with the individual you reported? Is this someone that you could ask to speak with us?"

"Uhh…" Britt glances at the house. "I mean, we know each other, but I really doubt it."

"Okay. Ideally I would not have to go inside. We prefer not to draw much attention."

"Well, uh-"

Britt is cut off by a man yelling various profanity from inside the house, followed by several screams and curses from other people and a glass shattering. The three of them look at each other and hurry up to the front door as Trauss takes his tie off and stuffs his ID lanyard into his shirt.

Britt opens the front door and is met with a crowd of people congregated in the living room, a circle formed around something. Britt pushes through it, earning several swears.

"Don't get near me," Janelle spits, panting. She holds up an arm, her lower body swinging in the floor, only her body above her hips visible. Her clothing moves into and out of the carpet seamlessly as if simulated in a modeling program. She strains, holding herself up by her arms, and crawls forward. She winces, her legs and stomach searing under her clothes.

"Janelle, you-"

"I'm fine." She stands up and walks forward, not one of the dozens of people saying anything. Another glass drops. Just get outside. Just get outside. "Sorry guys," she mutters, stumbling over to the front door. The silence lingers well after she's closed it.

"Rogers, Shaw, that's her that just walked out the front," Trauss says aloud.

Britt turns to Allie. "You hear that? I knew they wouldn't just send some twink." She moves over to the window, but most people have the same idea.

"Oh my god, how did the skippers get here so fast?" someone mutters. Several murmurs of 'oh, shit' and other profanity follow as they watch Janelle storm toward her car, Trauss following closely.

"Oh, she's fucking gone," the girl beside Britt says, breath reeking of booze. Britt turns away from her and presses her face against the window.

Janelle looks over her shoulder as she approaches her car, keys in a death grip: faces staring from all the windows, and one of them actually had the nerve to follow her out. "I don't want to talk to anyone," she calls out, yanking open her car door.

"You are not safe to drive. Just stop and calm down. There's no rush."

"And who the fuck are you, huh? Just left a fucking office meeting?" she looks him up and down. "Or a gay porno set in an office?"

"My name is Cyrus. I work for an organization that can-"

"Aaaaand that's all I need. I'm out." She jumps in the driver's seat.

Trauss curses under his breath and sprints to the SUV. "Type yellow, no idea about behavior yet," he says as he starts the engine and pulls off after her.

"She drunk?" the passenger asks, his multiple layers of tactical equipment making him appear twice the size of Trauss.

"She is most definitely drunk, and she appears to have limited control over her effects. She can pass through solid matter but she gets stuck. From the sound of the phone call, she doesn't do it on purpose. She was stuck inside the floor in front of all those people." Janelle accelerates and swerves out of the neighborhood and onto Highway 421. Trauss swings out after her. 35 mph. 45. 55. 65.

"She's going ten over. Alright." He sighs and reaches up to flip a switch, the full color spectrum flashing out of the lightbar at the top of his windshield. 75. 80.

"Not good." The two vehicles swing into the left lane.

"She's going to end up in Carolina Beach eventually. She'll slow down."

"You run the plate?"

"Janelle Frazier, 22 years old, no criminal record or traffic infringements."

A car's length ahead of them, Janelle grips the wheel, head reeling. Every second is three, her eyes fixed on the road as she swerves around the obstacles in the right lane. Alcohol dulls her perception and response time as she feels her butt sinking through the seat. "Nope!" she says aloud, focusing solely on the road. She looks in the rear view mirror. Rainbow lights are flashing behind her. Fuck, fuck, where can she go? She slows down from 70 to 60 and switches to the right lane.

Coming up on a green light as she approaches the bridge into Carolina Beach, she slows to 40 and abruptly turns onto River Road without a signal. The vehicle careens past her and brakes, tires screeching. She watches it turn around in the concrete median and drive the wrong way back to the intersection, the few other cars present stopped and allowing it plenty of space to do so. She turns her headlights off manually and creeps into the park under the bridge, hiding her car as far into the foliage as she can manage without sinking its wheels into dirt and underbrush.

The vehicle turns in after her. She scrambles to get out, but her body is still a few inches into the seat; when she tries to move, it pulls against her and hot pain shoots through her.

Lightbar off, headlights on. They're circling around the park. She breathes heavily and looks forward toward a distant point across the river: graffiti on the base of the old bridge. What does it say? Does it just say 'fuck'? She can't read it, and she directs all her attention to that fact as she pulls herself off of the seat and out of the car. She thuds onto the ground and looks up as the car swings around to face her, stopping several feet from her face. She squints in the light and scrambles to her feet.

There's still a chance. She slams her car door shut and sprints to the right toward a trailer park, feeling like she's in a nightmare. Her shoes are sticking to the pavement. No they aren't. It's not real. It's not real. She stumbles across a yard with lights on and slams her hand against the flimsy door.

"I'm so sorry, please help me," she says over and over again until a startled elderly man answers.

"Well my lord, young lady, what's got you spooked at this late hour?"

"This guy is chasing me, please just help me I-"

The man steps forward past her as Trauss hurries up the steps. "What do you want, boy? You messin' with this young lady?"

Trauss pants, his breath making a cloud in the dim light of the porch. He fumbles for his lanyard and pulls his ID card out of his shirt, showing the man his picture. "Hi. I'm very sorry for the intrusion. The individual with you is anomalous." He removes his badge from his pants pocket, its anti-counterfeiting layer flashing the Foundation logo behind the raised text of his credentials. "I'm-"

"Oh hell. You're one of them new feds we civvies just found out about. Well fuck you, Roswell. Not on my private property you don't. Y'all scram."

"I'm afraid it doesn't work like that. This is outside of your jurisdiction."

He steps further in front of Janelle and flashes his sidearm. "And wow about the Constitution's? You think I was gonna answer some screamin' at the door at half past midnight unarmed? I said get off my private property."

"Sir, uh, first of all-"

The man turns around and ushers Janelle toward the door. "Get in there. I'll deal with this."

She darts in under his arm and runs down the hallway. He turns around to face Trauss. "Fella, my name's Leroy. What's your name? How about you and me have a talk about why you think you're gonna do your little containment game in my house."

"Standard?" Rogers asks through Trauss' earpiece.

Trauss holds one finger out discreetly, pointing left. "My name's Cyrus, Leroy. It's nice to meet you. And please, I've got all the time in the world."

"Wow. Well come right on in, fella."

Janelle watches the two men enter and drops off the window ledge as soon as Leroy makes eye contact with her, her feet hitting the gravel with a reassuringly solid crunch. She takes a second to breathe two deep breaths before darting toward the park, open-toes shoes caked with dirt and leaves.

"Janelle," a deep voice calls out. "You're not safe right now. Aren't you intoxicated? We know you can't control what happens to you. We're not going to hurt you; just let us talk to you." Shaw holds her hands up as she crosses the road after her.

Janelle spins around and eyes the equipment jostling on her belt. "Fuck off. I have full control of my effects. North Carolina state law states that a person with full control of their effects can- can-" She coughs, her vision swirling.

"You do not have control of your effects at all, and there's no need to lie about it. We witnessed this, as did everyone at that party. I know you must be reading Information Breach and all that, but there are a hell of a lot of groups and individuals that want to do really awful things to people like you. I get it, if you could control your effects, you wouldn't be a threat. Things are different these days. You don't have to hide your existence anymore. You just have to know how to contain your effects, or else we have to do it."

"Fuck you."

Shaw sighs, stepping closer. "You have not committed a crime. We are not cops. We are not going to charge you with a DUI and take away your license for going 30 over the speed limit."

"I ran because you chased me!" Janelle backs up toward their cars, maintaining a distance between them.

"Agent Trauss attempted to have a conversation with you. He approached you calmly with his hands in plain sight and tried to talk to you, and you got in the car and sped off before he could finish his first sentence."

"Right, and then you followed me!"

"Of course we had to follow you, because your actions are disruptive to normality and you could have hurt someone tonight at that party. We have to do our job. We're been doing it for a hundred and twenty years and publicity doesn't change that. We have to do what we do, but we do it because you're worth protecting."

She stops walking. Shaw stops too.

A black Yukon swings into the park, halogen beams bright and blinding. Shaw curses as it comes to a shuddering stop and three people dressed in the white version of her uniform jump out, black vests and gear contrasting against it in the glare of the headlights. The driver flips his visor up and approaches Shaw. "Director's sick of this."

Shaw crosses her arms as their coworkers rush over to Janelle, wrench her arms behind her back, throw a black bag over her head, and drag her kicking and screaming to the Yukon.

"God damn it!" Trauss yells from the trailer park, sprinting across the road. "God damn this! If Radford ordered that I'm going to rip my fucking head off!"

"Trauss, contain yourself," the driver says, leaning against the vehicle.

"Curtis, that was fucked up." Trauss approaches the driver and resists the urge to jab the taller man in the chest. "Fuck that. That right there is the shit of the past."

"You say that like it's a bad thing. You newer hires are so fucking oversensitive. The Foundation is cold."

"Not cruel."

"She went thirty over the limit drunk off her ass and caused a hell of a scene at a party, correct?"

"Correct, however I think it's important to consider the psychological circumstances-"

"Okay, then, problem? This is not a cooperative one. You can't smooth-talk skips like this."

"You don't even know who she is. We had this. Shaw had this. It is fucking possible to contain humans without having to forcibly kidnap them. I'm sick and tired of this; we're public and we can't afford it. I swear to Christ it is possible and it is worth it. And dammit, I had approval to do it this way, so I can't wait to see how you explain overriding it."

"Director Radford overrode it. I guess you and him are going to have a falling-out now, so you might need to find some other supervisor's desk to crawl under in your spare time."

Trauss levels his gaze, glowering. "Excuse you?"

Curtis opens the car door and jumps in, rolling down the window. "And listen, honey. Maybe that cute little necktie of yours is restricting blood flow to your brain, but hiring campaigns and eager little publicity whores like you aren't who we are. We do what we have to do, not what jerks off the Ethics Committee."

"You are completely off the hook, you know that? Does Radford know you talk like this?"

"How much are your hormone treatments costing the Foundation monthly, anyway?"

His expression dulls. "Four dollars and fifty cents. And I'll see you in Radford's office."

Curtis rolls up the window with a scoff and backs out, almost hitting Shaw in the process. He speeds off toward Site-42, only one minute down the road. The sandy dirt clouds in his tracks.

"I don't like him," Shaw says.

"No shit."

Rogers jogs across the road and wipes his forehead. "I had to Class-A that guy."

"Okay, and I will wait for the formal report to know why," Trauss sighs, kicking a rock into his tire. "Because I am too tired right now."

"Did everything I just heard on comms actually happen?" Rogers wheezes, leaning over.

Shaw rubs her eyebrows and sniffs. "It's fucking cold out here. Come on, let's go." She jogs over to the car. "Ain't no way I'm letting Curtis' team carry out the SecProcs." She clambers into the passenger seat and slams her hand on the dashboard. "Cyrus! Get!"

"Okay, okay," he stammers, jumping in.

Rogers sinks his gloved fingers into the side of Shaw's seat, the still, freezing air in the vehicle stinging his face. They ride the last half-mile in silence. "This dipshit's just using the main entrance, look at this," Trauss laments, pulling into the Coast Guard station after the Yukon and rolling down the window to input his code.

The two vehicles drive the straight dirt road across the open clearing behind the gate and veer off to the left, disappearing into a concrete tunnel with low clearance. They swing around into the parking deck and come to a halt in adjacent spaces. Curtis slides out of the driver's seat, boots thumping on the concrete. The other two get out of the back, holding Janelle between them by the each of her arms. She stumbles and rattles off various curses, voice muffled by the cloth.

"Shove off," Curtis mutters under his breath as he passes Trauss. "It's late. Just go home."

He stands in front of him. "We responded to the call, not you." Curtis skirts around him and keeps walking. Trauss walks backwards with him. "That means we do security check. Or have you elected to ignore that regulation because it doesn't fit your narrative?"

Curtis laughs and shakes his head. "Fine. Once we get in, it's all yours."

Trauss walks faster ahead of him and scans his access card at the steel door, holding it open for the other six people. They crowd into the foyer before Curtis opens the inner door and proceeds in. Someone in a lab coat passes by in the hallway, eyes wide in curiosity. Curtis turns right and leads them toward the end of the hallway to the elevator. He presses B4 after Shaw wedges in. They ride the 40-second drop into the Site's lower levels in silence.

"Right then, welcome home," Curtis says, stepping out of the steel elevator and into the dim gray hallway lit by red emergency lights. The halogen bulbs recessed in the ceiling power on one after the other as he moves down the hallway and turns left.

"Nuh-uh," Trauss quips, cutting him off at the door controls. Curtis looks up at the ceiling and sighs, eyelids fluttering.

Unused, the control panel reads. Trauss presses the green button on the number pad. Authorized personnel?" the screen asks. He scans his ID. Authorized personnel: (1) C-51174, it says. Add another?

He presses the red button and the door lock clicks. He grabs the handle with sweating hands and opens it, gesturing to the men holding Janelle. They let go of her after a nod from Curtis and walk back up the hallway. "Don't forget the cavity search," Curtis calls out.

"Ignore him," Trauss huffs, pulling the bag off Janelle's head.

"You sure do a lot of sweet talking for jack shit, bitch," she spits at Shaw, voice cracking as she storms into the containment unit. She walks past the closed security room and straight into the chamber, dropping her jaw at the sight of the bare mattress and lack of furnishings. "Just kill me instead," she mutters, standing awkwardly in the center of the room.

Trauss follows her in and unlocks her cuffs. "I am so sorry. My team didn't have any idea that order had gone out. Shaw would not have-"

"I don't care if it was you two personally or not. If your employer thinks that's okay then every single one of you can fuck off."

He blinks slowly and swallows. "What is the first thing you need? Are you hungry?"

"I need you to fuck off."

"Alright, but the only thing we absolutely have to do is make sure you're not carrying any weapons, okay? Can I pat you down?"

"Fuck no."

"Okay, then I'm gonna bring you a change of clothes, and I need you to switch to it and put everything you're carrying in a pile, can you do that?"

She wipes her eyes, hands shaking. "Fine."

"Thank you." He about-faces and exits, motioning for Shaw and Rogers to guard the hallway while he goes to the utility closet in the hallway to get bedding and a jumpsuit.


Brittanica leans on Kayla's shoulder as they rest on the couch, gripping a glass of ice water. "I drank too much."

"Same."

A man walks up to them and leans over them. "Ladies. Was it you who called the skippers on that chick?"

Brittanica freezes, her mouth open. "I- I'm drunk-"

"Shh," Kayla interjects. She turns back to him, hair swishing. "Um, does it matter?"

"I just wanted to say you did the right thing."

Britt gulps. "Okay."

"She could have hurt someone," he says. "That shit freaks me out. It doesn't need to be around people."

Britt nods and the man walks off. She puts her head in her hands.


"At least get some rest first," Rogers tells Trauss as they part ways at the first level's elevator.

"Nope." He rushes off down the hallway and toward the offices.

"Radford, this was such an atrocious idea." He walks into the largest office without knocking. "I'm so disappointed in you."

Director Eric Radford chuckles, scratching at his stubble. "You really do crack me up. Mostly because you just unquestioningly knew that I'd be in here at 1 AM on New Year's Day-"

"Okay, look, pretend that- ethics aside. Ethics aside, right?" Trauss brushes his hair out of his face, sticky with sweat.

"Please, Cyrus."

"No, really. Looking at containment methods alone. That was a bad fucking idea. Her body passes through other solid matter, and from what I saw, it gets worse when she's stressed. And Rupert's team just rolled up and kidnapped her, handcuffs and all. How she didn't drop out the bottom of the car and wreck everything is beyond me. Keeping her calm as we detained her was the only safe method."

"Well, you ran the show right up into 42's neighborhood from Monkey Junction, so good job on that. You're a good driver, Trauss."

"So you think this was safe just because it was a short drive? Are you serious?"

"No, of course not." He rubs his eyes. "SRAs are a thing, kid."

"What? She's a type yellow! Also, Rupert said some fucked-up shit to me, can we talk about that-"

"It is a Class I Scranton-Type Anomaly and you would have noticed that had you paid attention to the manner in which its effects function. It it is not able to pass through solid matter as a result of some spatial or molecular anomaly, but rather because it is not limited to its physical existence beyond the fact that it thinks it's human and thus thinks it is confined to the space its body occupies. Why do you think its clothes and belongings always go with it? It's not about its body, it's about its influence on reality. Would you like to see the Hume spectography results? The real entity is a sphere of reality distortion two-point-five meters in diameter, centered around the human. It would seem apparent that there is a sapience in there which gained hold of Janelle Frazier's body at some point."

Trauss swallows. "Okay," he says quietly.

"Anything else I can do for you tonight?"

"…No," he says with a low side glance as he backs out of the room.

"See you soon."

Trauss lets the door fall shut behind him and ambles back to the elevator, head thumping and making him realize he hasn't eaten in six hours. He rides the elevator down to the residence wing, shivering.

"Hey Cy, happy New Year," says someone he doesn't recognize.

"Hey. Happy New Year," he says with a nod, scanning his access card and ducking into his quarters. He throws a frozen meal into the microwave and strips his uniform off, tears in his eyes as he gets into the shower.


608 Lamb's Tail Circle
Wilmington, North Carolina
2:08 PM, January 3rd, 2021

Dr. Adam Leeward interlaces his fingers as he leans his elbows on the hard plastic of the security desk, watching the monitor display a live color feed of SCP-7040 pacing around her room. "This is pissing me off. Get a television and some exercise equipment in there, for Christ's sake," he mutters to the lead researcher.

"Well, now that you're here, you can do whatever you want," she says curtly, exiting the room.

He scoffs and closes the feed, switching to the SCP document draft.

[experiment logs]

He adds Adam Leeward, Class B L4, Humanoid Containment Specialist to the top of the list of assigned personnel and scrolls to the bottom of the Special Containment Procedures. Requests for testing and interviews with SCP-7040 must receive prior approval from Dr. Leeward. He saves the document. That should keep people the hell away from her for at least a few days, he hopes. He straightens his bowtie, clears his throat, and walks down the hallway toward the containment chamber, stopping next to the intercom.

"Hey, Janelle? My name's Dr. Leeward. Can I come in and talk to you for several minutes?"

"No," the speaker crackles after a beat.

He pauses, tapping his clipboard. "Is an hour from now okay?"

"No."

"What is an acceptable time?"

"I don't want to talk to any of you researcher fucks. Just leave me alone."

"Don't let the fact that I have a doctorate of theoretical physics fool you. I'm not Scientific Department."

A few seconds pass. Leeward taps his shoe on the concrete, leaning against the wall.

"What's your deal, then?"

"I'm your containment specialist."

"Well? What the fuck does that mean?"

"My job is to make sure you're safe from your effects. If the researchers are science, I'm engineering. I do more than that, of course, but that's the gist of it."

"Okay, I guess," she sighs.

He scans his ID card and enters, closing the door behind him. "Hi. Adam Leeward. You're welcome to drop the 'Doctor' if you want." He extends his hand. "I don't worry much about the title anymore."

She takes it slowly, a confused expression on her face. "Uh, hi."

He nods and walks the perimeter of the room, taking in the barren furnishings. "Well. This is not great. What can I get in here for you? More than a pile of books, maybe?"

"How about a mini bar?"

"Definitely not, but a mini fridge with non-alcoholic food and beverages would be reasonable, don't you think?"

"How about my normal clothes back?"

"Sure."

She raises an eyebrow. "Well, you're alright I guess. How about going outside? Hell, how about leaving?"

"Not for a few more days, until we're certain that your current containment procedures are accurate. And no, leaving is not an option."

"So are these your 'engineering' questions?" She sits down on her bed and blows her hair out of her face.

"My job is to ensure your effects remain adequately contained. That extends to ensuring your psychological well-being."

"My 'psychological well-being'? Let me out of your custody, then."

"I cannot. Not until your effects are explained or proven manageable with discreet portable technology."

"Ugh," she rasps. "Just let me call my sister. Please."

"Right after a few quick questions."