The man with the terrible eyes stumbles into work bleary-eyed and disheveled. His hair sticks out, unwashed, and there's a thin layer of stubble growing on his chin. Beneath the sunglasses, his eyes are sunken with dark gray shadows underneath them. Sam, the security guard, smiles as usual and says, "Rough night?"
"You don't know the half of it," he mutters.
"You should try sleeping on the floor," Sam says. "Used to have trouble at night, too, 'til the doc recommended it. Works wonders on the back. Just one night and that's all you need."
The man with the terrible eyes stops and stares at Sam, though the guard can't see him through the sunglasses. He tries imagining the chubby guard with the open, smiling face fighting a creature made out of sentient, malevolent nothing, and can't. His imagination, never particularly strong, utterly fails him.
"Yeah," is all he says. "Floor. I'll try that sometime."
And he goes into the office. Above, the security camera whirrs just loudly enough for him to notice. He thinks about flipping it the bird, but refrains. He sits at his desk, rests his forehead against the fake wood, and tries to think.
They know, he thinks. They have to know. They have to know that he knows that the creature came from here. Only an idiot wouldn't make the connection. Strange, overly classified security breach at work right before a monster attack? No way it's a coincidence. And someone has a security van outside his house, monitoring him. Whoever that belongs to saw the fight, and saw the dog kill the creature. So they had to know that he knew that they have- well, had, now- some crazy shadow monster.
Now just to figure out what that meant.
What the hell did this company even do? He'd never asked; he'd been too happy to have a job at all to bother asking. Hell, he didn't even know the company's name-
He gets to his feet and goes to the door. The camera follows him from its corner. He opens the door and says, "Hey, Sam? What's the name of this place?"
Sam looks surprised. "What, the building, or the department-?"
"The company itself, though the other stuff would be useful, too."
"Iotech. We're building B, Archives, Data Entry, and Human Resources. Are you feeling alright?"
He tries to smile, but it doesn't work; he's just stretching his skin over his teeth and it feels all wrong. "Never better," he says. He closes the door and returns to his desk.
Iotech. He works for Iotech, and for whatever reason, Iotech has- or had, haha- a shadow monster.
He does not question why they have (er, had) a shadow monster. Strange, inexplicable, things happen, he knows, so it would follow that people sometimes did strange, inexplicable things, and there was no use questioning it.
But he did question how this would affect him. Would they be mad the dog killed it? Wasn't it technically company property? Would they be upset he knew about it at all? It seems like a thing they were trying to keep secret. It's not like he was going to tell anyone. . .
He waits. He waits for his Supervisor to come in and make him swear to silence, or maybe fire him. He's always secretly afraid of being fired.
Someone does come in eventually, but it's not his supervisor. It's a stocky man in a blue pinstripe suite. The man has blond hair, pasty skin, and a narrow face that seems made for scowling. His sullen eyes look at the far wall, rather than at the man with the terrible eyes.
The man with the terrible eyes scowls. "Randall," he says.
"That's Mr. Hollobush," Randall says, his voice flat. "You're needed."
"I told them I'm not working with you-"
"You're needed," he says again. Randall's eyes are dull. There are dark circles under them.
The man with the terrible eyes frowns. Something is off about the man, but he can't put his finger on it. In any case, there's no sense in arguing. He gets up and follows Randall to the interrogation room, butterflies in his stomach. If he was in trouble, they'd take him to his Supervisor's office, right, not the interrogation room, right?
There are people waiting when they get there; a smug-looking, red-headed man in the chair, and two big bodyguard types on either side. He recognizes one of the guards from the last time he worked with Randall- Anthony? Antonio- no, Anton. The guards avert their eyes when he enters the room, but the man in the chair watches with interest. He sits down in the chair opposite.
"That's it?" the red headed man says. "That's the Iotech Eye? This skinny little shit-"
"Remove your glasses," Randall says in a voice devoid of all emotion.
The man with the terrible eyes does as he's told, and the red-headed man gasps. "Jesus," he whispers. "It's true."
He stares, awe mingling with horror on his face, his head tilted slightly. The man with the terrible eyes shuffles uncomfortably in his seat. Normally people would have tried to look away by now. They'd be forced to look at him by the guards. They weren't supposed to want to look at him.
"Iotech Eye?" he says to the red-headed man.
"Don't talk to him," says Randall, voice dead. To the man in the chair, he says, "What is the order planning?"
The red-headed man snorts. "You think I'm gonna tell you just because you got a guy with weird eyes to look at me? Did you forget who helped contain the-" he snaps his mouth shut. The red-headed man suddenly realizes that, as he looks, he is also being looked at, and collects himself. "Well I guess they got something right, then," he says.
"Who?" says the man with the terrible eyes.
"Don't talk to him," says Randall.
"Our people. The ones you look at, the ones whose minds you break like nothing. How's it feel knowing you're Iotech's pet monster?"
"I'm not a monster."
Anton and the other guard exchange glances.
"Don't talk to him." says Randall. There's a hint of anger, the first bit of emotion he's shown. To the red-headed man, Randall says, "What information about Project Erebus have you divulged to-"
The red-headed man ignores him. "That's not what I hear. You drive people nuts on a regular basis and don't think that's the tiniest bit monster-y?"
"I'm not," he says again.
The man shrugs. "Murderer, then."
"I never murdered anyone!"
"Don't talk to him!" Randall snaps. The man with terrible eyes glares at him. Randall shrinks back, but says, "Do your damn job."
"You killed Jackson," says the red-headed man. "What did you do to him? We never saw you dump the body."
The man with terrible eyes remembers the man who broke into his house, the man with the filtered face. "I didn't kill him."
"He walks into your house and he doesn't walk out. His monitor's dead- completely offline. He's dead, but there's no body. Is he still rotting in your basement? What did you do, eat him?"
"I didn't kill him!"
"Like hell you didn't-"
He stands and slams his fists on the table. "I didn't kill anyone!"
They watch him. He feels all of their eyes, even the guards', weigh down on him. He sits back down.
"But I did watch him die," he says quietly.
"Enough!" says Randall. "Anton, Markus."
The two guards grab the red-headed man, holding his head still, facing the man with the terrible eyes.
Randall says, "Bridges, you will cooperate-"
"No," the red-headed man says. "I don't think I will." He flicks his tongue and one of his teeth drops onto the table. Randall's eyes go wide.
"Watch out, it's-"
The tooth explodes.
The man with the terrible eyes flies back into the concrete wall behind him. There's a loud crack! and he has enough presence of mind to hope it's nothing important.
Someone grabs him by the hair and drags him to his feet. The person turns him around, wrapping their arm around his neck in a choke-hold. He feels cold metal against the side of his skull, and someone's heart beating close to his back.
"Walk," says the red-headed man, pushing forward. "And keep your eyes open. Try anything, and we'll get to see if weird eyes make you bullet proof."
He walks. They exit the room, leaving Randall and the two guards groaning on the floor. Alarms blare over the intercom.
"Nice and easy," says the red-headed man, Bridges. "No sudden movements or I'll make sure you die first."
The man with terrible eyes can barely hear him over the ringing in his ears. They walk down the hall. Through the pain in his head, he notices that Bridges walks with direction, as though he knows where they are going.
They stop by a locked steel door across the way. There’s a keypad on the door. Bridges types in a code. There’s a blinking red light, and bridges curses. He types in another, and then another. On the fourth attempt, there is a hissing sound and the door slides open.
“Get inside,” Bridges says, letting go of his neck. “Hands on the back of your head. Forehead on the wall. Don’t you dare think about looking at me.”
The man with terrible eyes goes to the wall, but out of the corner of his eye, he watches as Bridges rummages through a box of stuff. Among the things he takes are a belt with small pouches on it, a bandolier, and a black backpack. From the shelf nearby, Bridges takes a case full of glass or plastic capsules and puts them in the slots on the bandolier. Then he grabs a few devices from another box. One of the devices looks like a gun, but made out of slick-looking glossy material with odd wires sticking out. It has too many buttons and barrel that looks pointed, like a water-hose attachment. Bridges checks it, slipping a few of the capsules into the cartridge. Then, he casually points the gun at the security camera in the corner and fires.
A bolt of white-hot light strikes the camera, sending electric spikes and sparks everywhere. After a moment, the electricity recedes. The camera looks unharmed.
“Hey,” Bridges says, pointing the odd gun at him. “I told you to face the wall.”
He turns quickly back to the wall; he hadn’t realized he’d moved his head so far.
“Well not now,” Bridges says. “Come on.”
They leave the room, the man with terrible eyes in front, Bridges behind him, holding the odd gun to his head. They head down the left hall, Bridges shooting every camera along the way, until they find a room with a plaque reading, “Switchgear Room” and a DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE sign on the door. There’s a number pad attached to the door, above the lock.
Bridges enters a four digit code. Then another when the first doesn't work. The third one works. The door eases open.
The room is devoid of people, but full of whirring machinery and electric looking things the man with the terrible eyes has seen in pictures numerous times, but doesn’t know the names of.
Bridges shoots all of it. The man with the terrible eyes ducks, arms held protectively over his head, as everything in the room sparks and smokes and, in some cases, catches fire. The alarms that had been sounding since bridges blew up the interrogation room suddenly stop.
“There,” says Bridges, slipping a few more capsules into the gun. “That’ll make it harder for them. Come on.”
“What are you doing?” say the man with the terrible eyes.
“I'm kicking ass and taking names. Let’s go.”
Into the hall they go again. Several times they almost run into security guards, all of whom, the man with terrible eyes notices, are carrying guns. But bridges knows the building better than they do, and finds back halls, discreet closets, and all the unnoticed nooks and crannies Iotech has to offer. He navigates the halls easily and soon they come across an elevator.
“Why the hell is there an elevator way out here?” says the man with the terrible eyes.
“Super secret reasons. Get in.”
The buttons on the elevator are odd. All the floors have strange names:
Sub basement A.
Sub basement B.
Sub sub sub sub basement Q.
As well as several lower floors with aged masking tape covering their numbers, and a floor simply labeled V.
He has the overwhelming compulsion to press “V”, but Bridges makes him stand in the corner. Bridges chooses the -1st floor. It is an awkward ride down.
* * * * *
The elevator spits them out into yet another hall. The walls here are dull gray, and the floors are clinical and white. They arrive at a metal sliding door. Like the last room, this one has a security scanner. It hums gently.
“Damn,” says Bridges. “I guess it’d make sense they have a backup generator for down here. Ah well.” He gestures to the scanner. “Open the door.”
“You heard me, open the door.”
“I don’t have a key,” says the man with the terrible eyes.
Bridges snorts. “Don’t give me that.”
“I mean it! I don’t have any key or- or code or anything. They don’t let me wander around down here.”
“They don’t-“ Bridges stops and rubs his temples. "Jeez. Put your hand on the scanner," he says.
"Why? What are you doing?" says the man with the terrible eyes uncertainly.
"We're going to visit some of your friends. Now put your hand on it."
He places his hand on the scanner, confused. Suddenly, Bridges tases him in the arm. Pain floods his senses and light floods his vision and for several seconds the world is drowned in white.
** * * * *
Bridges smacks his face. "Come on," he says. He smacks again. "Wake up."
"What the hell," snarls the man with the terrible eyes. He's on the ground, sitting up against the wall. Bridges is crouching over him.
"Good, you're up. Don’t look at me. Come on."
“Why the hell did you do that?”
“To get the door open.” Bridges pulls him up and, once he’s standing, walks him over to the door. He presses a button on the console, and the doors slide open.
Immediately, the man with the terrible eyes is bombarded by shrieks of rage. He shouts and falls, hands clutched uselessly over his ears.
"What?" says Bridges. "Get up."
"Screams," he gasps. "They're screaming."
Bridges drags him up. “Let them scream. Walk,” he says. “I still need you.”
He walks. It hurts, but Bridges is happy. It doesn’t occur to him to run away; Bridges is clutching his wrist, and his head hurts too much. The floor swims before his eyes and he notices red drops dotting the linoleum. He feels his nose with his free hand. It’s bleeding.
“Worry about it later,” says Bridges, jerking him forward.
The hall is lined with windows. Long, tall, wide windows with thick glass and, upon closer inspection, tiny tiny wires running through the inside of the glass. Inside every room is darkness.
He stops suddenly.
“Hey-“ says Bridges.
“Oh my God,” he says.
“What?” says Bridges.
He doesn’t answer and stares into the dark. The creature in the dark stares back.
The creature is like the one that attacked him. It is pitch black, the same sort of physical absence as the last one. And it gives off the same pressure, the same feeling in his head and his chest as the last one. But that is where the similarities end. Shape-wise, this one resembles a snake. It has a long, coiled body, and on the top. Under its reptilian head, are six thin arms that remind him of lobsters.
The creature stops screaming. He feels its “voice” go silent while the rest of them- and yes, he realizes, there must be more- continue to howl. The creature looks at him, swaying slightly. he stares, hypnotized. He can't look away.
The snake creature lunges, and he cannot move, though he sees it coming. He is frozen.
The creature hits the glass. Suddenly light floods the room where the creature is being kept. The tiny wires in the glass burn white-hot. The creature howls in pain and falls back into the corner of the room, curled and quivering.
“Hey,” says Bridges, tugging his arm. “Play with your friends later. We’ve got work.”
Bridges drags him along, and they pass room after room of the creatures. This one looks like a crocodile with too many legs, that one a giant spider with only four legs. That one, some kind of toothy fish. That one, humanoid, like the one from last night. Some are big, taller than he is. Some are small, the size of dogs. All of them stop screaming when he walks by. All of them watch him.
There’s a console at the end of the room. It takes up the entire wall, and glows dimly with colored buttons and wires. There’s a screen taking up a portion of the middle, and a several gauges on the side, all of which appear to be stable.
“Put your hand on the console,” says Bridges.
Bridges points the gun at his head. “Do it.”
He does, and gets tased again, this time in the side. When he comes to a few seconds later, Bridges is on the apparently unlocked console, pressing buttons and snipping wires with a pair of cutters from one of the bags he'd stolen.
"Why do you keep doing that?" says the man with terrible eyes, struggling to his feet. His heart hurts. He wonders how much electricity the human heart can take before it gives up.
"To open the doors, I told you." He's fiddling with the console, his hands flying over buttons in a sequence too fast for the man with the terrible eyes to catch.
"That makes no goddamn sense. Do- do all the locks in this place just hate me?" He says it angrily; it's not meant to be serious, but as he says it, he realizes that, given how everything else in his life is going, it might actually be true.
Bridges glances at him, though his hands never stop moving. "Huh," he says, flicking his eyes back to the screen.
"What 'huh'? 'Huh' what?"
"I'm just surprised you don't know. But then I guess Simon was always fond of his memory wipes." The screen goes black, and he presses a blue button in the middle of a dozen other blue buttons. "It's odd to think you might not remember this, either, if things go sour. Ah, there.”
The screen goes completely white. Bridges smiles.
“What?” says the man with the terrible eyes. “What did you do?”
“Turned off the safeguard for all the rooms.”
“Hey-o, come out monsters! Come on, we’re right here-“
The man with the terrible eyes grabs his shirt and shakes him, gun be damned. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Glass shatters. The bigger creatures have broken out, though the smaller ones are still in their rooms.
Bridges shoves him away. "I let all your buddies out," he says. "Here's what's going to happen. You're going to tell them all to chill the fuck out, shut the fuck up, and follow us the fuck out of here. We're going on a little field trip- what?" he snaps. "What's so funny?"
The man with the terrible eyes is giggling. "Oh God," he says through the giggles.
The void creatures notice them, but to the man with the terrible eyes' surprise, they do not attack him. Instead, the big ones that have managed to get out break into the rooms of the smaller ones. Black blood spurts out, splattering the walls.
"What are they doing?" Bridges says. "Tell them to stop it!"
He's laughing. It hurts to laugh, but he can't stop it. "That's your plan?" he says. "Oh my God. We're dead."
"What?" Bridges grabs his shoulders and shakes him. "Make them leave!"
"You idiot! They don't listen to me, they want to kill me! One tried to kill me last night!"
“What did you think was going to happen? The man with the terrible eyes snaps at him. “It’s like letting tigers loose at the zoo-“
“I thought you’d be able to communicate with them! I thought you were on the same side!”
“You thought wrong!"
More monsters have broken out of their rooms. They fight each other, the large ones preying on the smaller, but some of them have noticed the two men. Some of them are getting closer. They slink towards them, oozing smoothly along like liquid.
"Shit," says Bridges. He shoots one of the big ones, the snakey one, with the light gun, and it falls. The other creatures, large and small alike, fall onto it, tearing chunks of it out with mouths that weren't there a second before.
"Run!" Bridges shouts, grabbing his wrist.
They do, leaping past the mass of writhing shadows. A few of them notice and follow after, apparently deciding a short chase is worth a less crowded dinner.
Bridges leads the way. At the end of the hall, there’s a set of double doors. They charge the doors and find themselves at the bottom of a stairwell. Neither wastes time on words and they start running. Behind them, monsters howl. They hear them thrashing in the hallway, tearing plaster and breaking glass, and when they’re part way up the stairs, the man with the terrible eyes glances down and sees the double doors ripped from their hinges.
Black shadow pours into the room. He ignores the pain in his chest and legs and speeds up. On what he guesses to be the next floor up, Bridges pulls him through entrance there and down another hall. This one’s walls are white blurs as the two run past.
Up ahead, there are voices. They turn the corner and come face to face with a dozen armored guards, each armed with larger versions of the light gun.
"Stop!" shouts one of them.
In one fluid motion, Bridges grabs the man with the terrible eyes and swings him in front.
"Can't!" shouts Bridges. "Sorry!"
"Don't shoot!" shouts the man with the terrible eyes. "Oh God don't shoot!"
But the guards aren't listening. They are staring at the space behind him. The void creatures have made it up the stairs and into the hall. Bridges pushes through the mob and everyone lets the two pass. A few start yelling into their walkie-talkies, but all the others shoot at the shadows.
Bridges lets him go once they're past the guards, and he can't help but turn and look. It's chaos. Monsters, several huge ones the size of bears and running the gamut from lobster-snake to spikey black boar-thing and bat-winged lizard are tearing through the guards. The guards are running, ducking, dodging and shooting. The walls are alive with writing shadow and bursts of light.
One woman falls back, talking into her walkie-talkie with one hand, shooting with the other, when a gargantuan claw reaches out of the fray and snaps her in half. He watches dumbly as the top half is dragged into the shadow's gaping mouth.
"Don't just stand there!" Bridges says, smacking his shoulder. "Run!"
Someone's gun slides across the floor, stopping near his feet. It's covered in blood, both black and red. He picks it up and runs after Bridges, who is already part-way down the hall. They pass more guards, but they don't pay any mind; all of the guards are on their way to the fight. They all have bigger things to worry about.
The hall twists and turns and they wind up in another stairwell on the other side of the building. One flight of stairs later - how did bridges know where everything was? The place is a rat's nest- and they start to feel a little safer. They duck into an open room, some kind of meeting room, and catch their breaths.
"We have to get out of here," Bridges says.
"How?" says the man with terrible eyes. "There'll be guards at all the doors. Even if they contain the- the things, they'll be looking for us too-"
"Just get me to the A-wing. Uh, it's nearby. We're in the C wing now, so it'd be . . .that way." He points right. Before the man with the terrible eyes can ask how the hell Bridges knows where they are, the pressure in his head returns at full force.
"Look out!" he shouts, tackling Bridges.
They fall and roll and the spot where Bridges had been standing a moment before crumbles away as three long arms claw the air, searching. Snakelike tendrils rise out of the hole.
They turn and run, Bridges leading the way. The creature pulls itself out of the hole and follows them. it's the lizard-like one, with jaws large enough to swallow a man, if not whole, then in only three bites, tops. It follows them, snapping at their heels, unhindered by the confines of the hall; it climbs on the walls as well as the floor.
They run. Bridges yells and stumbles. Without thinking, he grabs Bridge's arm and pulls him forward, barely registering the blood soaking his sleeve. Up ahead, there's a door. He swings Bridges into the room- some kind of utility closet. When the void creature comes after them, he blasts it with the light gun from the doorway. Shrieks fill the air, and the creature falls back, steam flowing out of the gaping hole in its torso. Three other void creatures descend upon it.
"Come on," he says, dragging Bridges forward. There's an oozing gash along his side several inches long. "Can you walk?"
Bridges nods, face pale and drawn. The man with terrible eyes doesn't think he'll make it, but to his surprise, Bridges starts running again, easily keeping the pace from before.
The thought of leaving Bridges behind to be devoured doesn't occur to him, and if it did occur, it would have been drowned out by the much louder thought of, oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit!
"This way!" Bridges shouts, suddenly veering left.
There's another door with a scanner. Without thinking, the man with the terrible eyes puts his and on the scanner, and again the world flashes white. But this time, he isn't knocked out. This time, the whiteness only lasts for a couple seconds, and they enter the room, leaving the scanner a smoldering wreck. It won't register until later that Bridges didn't need to tase him this time.
The door slides shut behind them.
“Hopefully, those guys will keep them distracted,” Bridges says. He digs through his bag and starts pulling out equipment. Strange, mechanical looking devices with wires and buttons and wires with little clamps on them to connect everything. "Listen. I still think you're a monster, but I don't think it's your fault, and maybe, if they'd stop fucking with your head for thirty seconds and gave you a chance to think, you might change your mind, so here. Take this."
He takes something out of his belt pouch and then holds it out; it’s a wafer: small, thin, gray, and with a metallic sheen in the poor light.
"What do I-?"
"Put it on your tongue."
"Just shut up and do it. The cameras are down now- they won't see. Do it, quick."
The man with the terrible eyes shakes his head. "It's poison."
"It's not. Hey, look at me." Bridges looks him directly in the eyes, with only the briefest inkling of fear on his face. "It's not poison," he says. "Look, you don't believe me? I've got another." He removes another from the pouch. Keeping it in clear view, he puts the wafer in his mouth. "See? Safe."
The man with the terrible eyes believes him and places the wafer on his tongue. It tastes disgusting, but dissolves immediately.
"What was that?" he says.
Bridges starts rigging the explosives to the wall, sticking them there with some kind of putty. "Good for forty-eight hours. That's what that was."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
All the devices are on the wall. Now, Bridges checks the wires, making sure they're connected properly. "It means that for the next forty-eight hours they can't fuck with your head. At least, not the way they normally do. Means you're going to remember all of this, unless you're stupid enough to tell them about it." He grins and gives a thumbs up. "Okeydokey, for this part, you're probably gonna wanna plug your ears."
He pulls out a device that immediately files itself away in the man with terrible eyes' mind as "detonator" and presses the red button. It is the second explosion in as many hours, and, he notes as the room flies away from him, it's far more impressive than the last one.
He hits the wall, his ears ringing. When he can finally sit up, Bridges is gone, as is a huge chunk of the wall.
The door behind him collapses with a resounding thud. His Supervisor strides in, followed by at least a dozen men and women in hazmat suits and regular black suits and white lab coats.
Two people of indeterminate gender wearing hazmat suits grab him. Something sharp digs into his neck and the edges of his vision immediately go swimmy.
"Get him out of here," his Supervisor says. "Immediate memory reconstruction. Who knows what Joshua's been telling him."
They drag him away, and the last thing he sees is his Supervisor, surrounded by people, glaring at the gaping hole in the wall.
* * * * *
"There could be serious side effects-"
"Don't talk to me about that, Joanne. Don't you think I know the risks?"
Voices. Fuzzy voices sinking through the miles and miles of hazy water above his head. But they don't sink, they waft and wind, like feathers. He can't think. It’s too dark.
"Too many memory alterations can cause serious brain damage-"
"I know, but what do you expect me to do? He can't know any of it!"
The monsters. The thought is weak, only half formed. What monsters? What about them? No other information is provided.
"Just do it. He's still scheduled for another round of treatment tomorrow-"
"Oh no, nuh-uh. He needs at least a week to recover-"
"If we wait that long then we run the chance of ruining phase three! We're on a tight schedule-"
He tries to hold on. He tries to stay awake, to listen and remember what's being said, but it's a losing battle. And he's so tired . . .
* * * *
He wakes up with a start. Images flash through his mind, fighting for dominance.
It was a slow day-
Bridges. The red-headed man's name was Bridges-
Just another day in the cube-
Monsters, shadow monsters like the one last night being kept in the basement-
He fell asleep.
The nasty tasting wafer.
It was all a dream.
There's a knock. He peers over the top of his cubical. His Supervisor smiles from the doorway.
"Time to wake up."
"What?" says his Supervisor.
"N-nothing." he says. He flinches. Pain stabs through his skull like a needle. He falls back into his seat.
"Are you okay?" His Supervisor moves towards him.
"Fine!" he says, practically jumping to his feet. The pain flares, and he winces, but otherwise doesn't let it show. "I'm fine!"
His Supervisor looks doubtful. "Are you certain?"
He smiles. It doesn't feel real, but he hopes it looks real enough. "Yeah. Positive." And to prove it, he walks carefully out of the office, past his Supervisor. "Seeya tomorrow," he says in a hopefully cheerful voice.
"I think you may need to take the day off," his Supervisor says, keeping pace with him.
"Really? Alrighty then. See you Thursday."
"Are you sure you're fit to-"
He's out the door. "Bye!"
He doesn't run. Running would be a giveaway. But he does briskly walk to his car, now one of the only cars left in the parking lot. He gets in and buckles up, but does not start it for some time. His breath comes in short, quick gasps. His heart is trying to break its way out through his chest. He wants to vomit, but there’s nothing he can lose: he hasn’t eaten since breakfast.
Oh God, he thinks.
He remembers everything.