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Rodger caught himself scratching at his neck again.

He didn’t know when he had started doing that. There was also no itch there, so he didn't really know why either.
Perhaps he was having another episode?
No, no. That wasn’t it. That would have been more interesting than this.
He sighed.
On the wall the tally he had been keeping said that he had been in quarantine for a very long time. Or at least, it had been when he lost count. A year and twenty three days if he remembered right.

The trouble was, he had already been through all the fun points.
The initial depression and guilt.
The numerous failed suicide attempts.
Being convinced by the site therapist that the events of the breach had not been his fault.
Becoming angry with the Foundation for keeping him like this.
Becoming grateful to the Foundation for not terminating him.
Becoming paranoid that the Foundation would simply leave him in here.
Becoming convinced that an XK had occurred and he was the only human left.
Descending into incoherent babbling.
Descending into coherent babbling.

But now? Now he was just bored.
His work for the day was already done – reports filed, research collated.
The meager handful of computer games the firewalls would let him access were already at 100% completion.
New theories about the interaction between physics and the occult practices of key tribal groups had been posited. All parts of the database he had clearance for (and some bits he didn’t) had been memorized. Countless books lay read to the side and shows he would have once never spared a glance had been marathoned.

And yet, here he was.
Still incarcerated.
Still bored.

He scratched his neck and began to pace.

What else was there for him to do? For a time he had made frequent use of the site's video chat, but by now most of the staff were sick of him. There was only so much furniture one could assemble and only so much Lego or Mechano one could fumble with before the novelty wore off.
He had even tampered with the odd email to pull pranks he would not be present to enjoy.

Frustrated, he scratched at his neck again.

It wasn’t like he didn’t know why he was still in here damnit. He remembered well what happened to the staff who found him post-breach, and he hoped that whatever deities they may have served (be they Abrahamic, Animist, Lovecraftian, Pasta based, or otherwise) would cut them some slack in the next world.

He was also quite aware of the nature of his affliction - he had after all documented most of it himself, and whilst he felt that terms like "highly virulent memetic infection" were in some ways misleading buzzwords slapped on by management, he accepted that it did have a rather… unpleasant effect on anyone in direct contact with him.

What he was still unsure of was why they hadn't just killed him.
It would make sense. Shit, he had even tried to do it for them a few times.

Maybe he was a long term study of the anomaly's effects, or a poster child for the ethics committee?
Considering that his network privileges had never been revoked, perhaps the Foundation just valued his expertise, for all the good it had done him.

But despite knowing (and indeed understanding) the circumstances that lead him here, and why for the sake of site safety he must remain in here until the effects eventually wore off, it did little to change the fact that he was now completely, inconsolably, incomprehensibly bored.

Nearly everything in this room had become detestable in his eyes. The creaky chair over by his desk, the now rather pungent smelling frame of his bed, the intercom grate that occasionally warbled at him when he was not at his terminal. It had done so a few minutes earlier in fact, just sort of made made a sudden garbled noise and cut out.
It did that too sometimes, usually due to some newbie who didn't know how to use a mic properly.

He ignored it and once again clawed at his neck.

He hated this place. He wanted to get out. He was sick of putting the shower on cold and pretending it was rain, or standing by the air vent dreaming of wind. Every now and again another batch of paranoid delusions would come to take his boredom away, but clarity would always return and he would once again be alone in this accursed room with that accursed bathroom, infernal security camera, and that bored asshole that stared at him from the mirror.

If it wasn't for the computer, that magnificent piece of human ingenuity, he would have no link to the outside world. It armed his deprived brain with stimuli, like an angelic arms dealer selling guns to the warlords of thought.
At the moment something was flickering on the screen, presumably his screensaver.

He lay down on the dirty floor amidst the discarded food packets started fidgeting with an empty soda can and sighed again.
This time when he scratched he noticed blood on his nails.

For a few minutes he just lay there like that briefly fondling an empty wrapper. AS they often did, his thoughts drifted back to what he would do when he got out.

Firstly, he was going to punch that oaf Jeffrey in the face, partly because he was an overrated hack, but mostly for that stunt with the expired ham in the food chute. Grudges Rodger had found, were a fine way to pass the time.
Then he was going to run outside - The running part was important, he had not had enough space for a good sprint in so long - and bask in the fresh air. It didn't really matter if it was night or day, both the stars or sun would be equally refreshing.

Then he would… wait was he hearing an alarm?
Alert, Rodger sat up and listened carefully.

It was very faint, presumably deadened by the walls, but he could swear he was hearing an odd whining noise. How long had that been going on for?
Getting back to his feet, Rodger walked over to the cell "door" - in reality a slab of metal welded into place - and put his ear to it.
From the other side he could hear the telltale wail of a breach alarm from somewhere outside his cell.

Perplexed, he shuffled over to his terminal to see what was going on, and was met with a big fat Site Alert flashing on the screen. A line of ice crawled down his spine as he saw the site status had been updated. There was a breach going on alright, bad one too from the looks of it. The site network was in total disarray, warnings were going off everywhere, the message systems were a flurry of panicked pleas for help or information. Something had broken containment in deep in the facilities' bowels.

Gripped by an invigorating sense of dread, he desperately tried to scrounge up what info he could.
What was loose? What was compromised?

He hacked into the camera feeds for the hallways in time to see the aftermath of a bloodbath. The corridors were lined with bodies. Bodies that he recognized in the dusty annals of memory as once being his friends, from long before the world had forgotten him.

Alarms screeched. In another hallway panicked personnel screamed and ran before something used them to paint the walls off screen. He could see that Site Security and the MTFs had mobilized and were rushing to contain the breach.

On another feed Rodger found Simmons, banging against a door in complete terror. His lanyard swung back in forth in a comical fashion, and the sweat on his bald head was only matched by his bubbling tears. Oddly, Rodger vaguely remembered meeting Simmons' daughter once, in another life long ago. An adorable wee child. She would be sad to loose her father.
For some reason, the thought of that seemed to make Rodger sad too.

For a brief moment he paused. Did Rodger have a daughter too? He couldn't remember.

He awakened the back doors his idle hands had placed throughout the network and accessed the door controls.

Simmons became more and more frantic and panicked as the sounds of the creature began to billow down the hallway.
Then the door slid open, and after he fell through, it seamlessly closed again after him. Something large and shadowy slammed into it, wailed in frustration and then darted out of view.

It took a moment for this to register.

Holy crap.
Had Rodger just saved Simmons' life?

This was something new.
Something unfamiliar, something he had not yet done since he was locked up and the key was tossed away.

But the best part was that there was ample opportunity for more.

Rodger had something to do.

He put out feelers into as many systems as possible, and set about assisting any way he could.
After all, so long in total boredom meant he knew the site network better than those who built it.

Staff trapped in the air lock suddenly found themselves freed. A helpful voice on the intercom warned those in the access shaft which ways were blocked. The cafeteria staff found the bulkheads had locked themselves when the creature tried to get in. And every time the creature poked its head before a camera, the MTFs received an update through their equipment.

Not for months had Rodger felt so stimulated! So absurdly real and grounded! So wonderfully fuzzy when the staff… no, his colleagues escaped! So gloriously traumatized when they were eviscerated! The game was afoot, and the stakes were oh so high!

And then it all seemed to stop. He checked the cameras. All of them. And saw not a blip of the skip. An eerie silence save for the wails of the alarms and moans of the wounded filled the facility.

Surely not.
It can't be over already can it?

For a moment Rodger was frustrated. Agitated. Desperate even.

Just like that?
That wasn't fair!

But the silence drew on and he decided the skip must have somehow escaped the facility.
His hope faded. Morose, he turned away from his terminal.

But once he had begun to calm down, a resounding bang struck the long sealed door to his cell.
A splitting wail of rage and frustration seeped through the walls.
Another impact struck the welded frame and a massive dent sprouted in the metal's center.
His once eternally static confines suddenly seemed weak and malleable.

Rodger retreated to the far side of the room.
As new dents began to sprout he screamed.

He didn't want to die.
He had already stared into the darkest parts of the psyche and turned away from the oblivion they promised.
He wanted to be free.
Yet true as this was, deep down he had never been so excited in his life.
He had never felt so alive.

A small hole was torn in the door. Wispy claws snaked their way through and began to work it bigger. It was the first direct visual contact Rodger had had since his internment and despite its murderous intent he willed it to work harder.

Metal screeched and groaned as the entity worked the hole bigger, as angry and desperate to kill the man within as he was to meet it face to face. To meet anything face to face.

It stopped.


Gunshots followed and the claws retreated. A great howl, a crack of thunder and a flash of light roared forth before all went quiet. Boots began to scuff. Radios buzzed out words and other words were barked back into them. Something heavy was being dragged away.

An empty pause.

Then Rodger heard a knock on the door.

For days afterwards Rodger was occupied. Filing reports, processing the oven fresh trauma and checking up on the wounded. For a week he was busy, conversing and supporting, suggesting and researching. His colleagues would message him, thank him for his help. Some organised a crate of beers to be dropped into his food-chute.
There was even talk of a promotion for him when he got out.

But, as time drove on the excitement began to fade.
As the tension began to thin, so did his involvement.
Gradually the messages from the… staff began to subside and the horror went stale.

Before long he was once again alone in his room.

Once again he was bored.

He let out a deep sigh.

Having finished his work for the day once again, he began to pace around his room, surrounded by items that he hated.

Once again he scratched his neck.