Therapy – Season 3 Episode 17

See Content Warnings
General horror, death, attempted murder, murder
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Jeremy goes to an in-person therapy session. His regular therapist is nowhere to be found, instead he is visited by Dr. Adhira Patel. Dr. Patel wants to learn more about Jeremy. Jeremy asks her about the dream killer. She admits Project Hydra studied him, but states all records of him have been erased and implies that Brianne has them. She also admits that she studied Malcom for Project Hydra. Jeremy admits that he’s drawn to the papers and doesn’t entirely know what his intentions are.

She tells a story about an interdimensional room that appeared and disappeared at will that turned out to be a monster that consumed people who entered the room. She thought it was beautiful and wanted to study it, and fed her assistant to it.

Dr. Patel then tells Jeremy that Malcom is waiting for him and wants to talk to him.

This week’s episode is a bit different. I normally use this time to describe the contents of these boxes-upon-boxes of transcripts and notes, and discuss my research and possibly noteworthy interactions with some of the people and… otherworldly entities contained therein. To be honest, in that respect this episode will be fairly par for the course. I guess what makes this episode different is that I want to talk a little bit more about myself. Before you turn this episode off and move on with your day, there is an interesting story I’d like to share, but it only seems right that I first get this off of my chest. 

I’m willing to admit that I’ve been a bit vague about my personal life… and that’s been mostly intentional. My personal feelings on these subjects don’t affect their outcome. In most cases there’s little I can do to change the often horrible and unforgiving circumstances contained in these documents, and so for my sanity I choose to put a wall between myself and this show’s content. 

Behind that wall is my life: everything and everyone that I hold dear to me and strive to shield from the gnashing teeth of the cold, dark, and unusual world that lives just beneath the surface; one that occasionally reaching out with its gnarled hands to pull those naive enough to venture off of the path, down into its drooling maw.

To avoid waxing prose just to keep reiterating my point… this is dangerous, and I don’t want to expose the people closest to me to the mess I’ve gotten myself in to… at least not any more than I already have. For this reason I tread lightly. 

After what happened with Malcolm and… the Grinner… and what my role in all of it was, I wasn’t sure I wanted anything more to do with the papers and I had considered removing all trace of the podcast and its content. I asked myself for a while why I was really doing all of this, and when Brianne reached out to me for help, and my own strange dreams began to get the better of me, I thought I’d found an answer… but maybe that was just an excuse to keep going. I foolishly thought I could resume my backseat role and keep my distance from the show’s contents, but I’m not sure if that’s really possible… at least not anymore. 

The truth is – going back to the question of why I’m still doing all of this – I’m not sure I really know. It’s like something in the papers keeps drawing me in, and when I close my eyes, I picture myself going through the contents of one of those boxes before I even realize I’m doing it. Other times when I close my eyes I still see the Grinner, his bubbling melted flesh writhing and twisting around jagged bones, calling out to me with its cackling laugh. 

I don’t like to talk about it… and maybe it’s because I don’t like to admit it to myself, but what happened that day and the weeks leading up to it were pretty traumatic for me. The things I saw still haunt me, and resuming a normal life has been an uphill battle. I’ve recently started seeing a therapist in hopes that it could help in some way, and for the most part it has. 

I started off with appointments over the phone, but it was difficult to make the call… too easy to run away and ignore it (something I’ve been doing for months). Recently I’ve found an office where I can make visits in person, which are a lot more difficult to run away from. Inside it’s small and outdated. There’s a kind of uncomfortable nostalgia. Framed prints of scenery from the late eighties dot the walls: picturesque beaches lit in soft purple pastel colors with pinkish red sunsets trickling in ribbons across the water. They sort of blend in with the faded teal wallpaper, and they remind me of the pediatricians office I’d go to for check ups when I was kid. The chairs are old but without much wear and the flat wooden armrests are too far apart to comfortably place your elbows on. There’s that clinical feeling in the air that makes it feel much more like a dentist’s office than a therapist’s office.  

Nonetheless, I’ve found therapy helpful. I never get much further than the stress, the anxiety attacks, the nights I wake up frantic, searching through the house and ripping open closet doors and peeking through the blinds. And the days I spend just sitting, frozen while the whole world just keeps moving around me like everything is normal. It helps to talk it out, even if I can’t share all of the details. 

Yesterday was… different. 

The waiting room was silent, barring the hum of the fluorescent lights. The front desk was devoid of the usual smiling receptionist. Stationed at either side of the room were two uniformed police officers. I met the first with a nod, and in response his eyes shifted elsewhere. I sat down and waited to be checked in, nervously eyeing a poster on the wall detailing the signs of grief. 

I heard a trembling voice calling out from the hall ahead of me. Tt took me a moment to realize they were calling my name. I stepped into the hallway and I was greeted by the receptionist. Her face was flush and her eyes had a kind of pinkish hue. er eyeliner had separated into tiny black droplets that dotted her bottom eyelashes. It looked like she’d been crying. 

“She will see you now,” she mumbled before slinking back towards the waiting room. My stomach knotted with the thought of what I might find behind the door as I made my way to my therapist’s office. Nothing about this was normal, and while that certainly hadn’t just dawned on me, it’d finally started to really pull at my nerves. 

When I entered I was relieved to find that I wasn’t staring back at the jagged picket fence teeth of the Grinner, but instead sat in my therapist’s office was an… impostor: a completely different woman who I didn’t exactly recognize. She wore a dark grey pantsuit and her black hair was formed into a neat bun. Her horn-rimmed glasses sat at the end of her nose, showing off the neatly applied makeup under her eyes. She was pretty in a way that sort of makes you feel uncomfortable. 

I raised my hand to knock on the frame of the open door, before nervously lowering it, with the intent of apologizing for almost walking into the wrong office. Before I could do or say anything, the woman spoke.

“It’s okay, Jeremy. Have a seat.” 

I was put off, but not wanting to make for a more awkward situation, I complied.

“Do you know who I am?” the woman asked warmly. I replied that I did not. She smiled. “That’s perfectly okay, Jeremy, we’ve never formally met. I’m Doctor Adhira Patel.” 

The blood moved like toothpaste, my heart throbbing and constricting to pump it through my veins. In hindsight I could have just gotten up and walked away, but the unexpected turn of events left me feeling like a deer in headlights. Plus I’d now started to put the pieces together regarding the strange presence of the police officers in the lobby… if they even were real police officers. Dr. Patel evened a stack of papers on the desk in front of her before leaning back and crossing her hands over her lap, and when she spoke it wasn’t dissimilar to a mother consoling a child over the death of a pet. 

“I learned a lot about you recently.” 

She smiled when she said this, much in the way you might think; the smile felt genuine, and lifted up the crows feet beside her eyes… but behind those eyes was a malicious glint. I didn’t respond; I wasn’t sure what to say. 

She continued, dipping a teabag into a mug as she spoke. “But there’s one thing I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on: your intentions. After all, the contents of your head don’t show up on a background check, and you’re not exactly an open book. I know everything about you… but at the same time, I don’t really know anything at all about who you really are.” 

 I wasn’t sure how to respond, and to be honest I’m not so sure I really know the answer to that question. I had a feeling that I’d eventually have to chew my own leg off if I were to get out of this trap. I cleared my throat and took a breath, my trembling voice still betraying my confident demeanor. “When I walk out of this room, are your men going to detain me?” 

She laughed. I think she’d have even blushed if she had practiced moving the blood to her cheeks beforehand. “Of course not,” she said, “You’re free to leave if you wish. You have my word that absolutely nobody wants to hurt you… or your family.” 

I sat back down, recognizing the card that she’d just played. She carried on as a sort of subtle acknowledgement at the success of her intimidation. “Like I was saying, I’d pictured you as a loner. People like us don’t generally get married or have kids or keep an average day job. People like us are married to this thing – this thing that no one else can see. When you know that there’s so much more and it’s just beneath the surface, you can’t help yourself but keep digging. Friends and family come and go, our basic needs become a lot more basic, we lose touch with everyone and everything… but not you. You’ve managed to juggle it all. Aren’t you worried that it’s not going to last? Worried that you’ll lose your grip, and by the time it all burns to ashes you won’t even be there anymore to scoop it all up? That’s what makes you so interesting Jeremy. That’s why I want to know more about you.” 

I choked a bit on my words. “It seems like you already know everything that there is to know.” 

She gave me a look that was sort of indescribable: a look that was equal parts curious and full of pity. “That’s the thing, Jeremy,” she said, “that’s not what interests me. What interests me is what’s going on inside your head.” 

I could tell that she was looking for something deeper than my personal life, but for no other reason than to talk me out of researching the papers, and put an end to all of the unintentional – but completely justified – interference I might have had with her work and Project Hydra in general. 

What I don’t understand is why neither her nor Hydra have made any other attempts at stopping me. Not that I want to give anyone any ideas, but I’m certainly not hard to get to, and there are much easier ways to do it than this less-than-persuasive way of trying to scare me off. Frankly it’s got me wondering if Project Hydra wants me to continue my work. Maybe I’m just not much of a threat, but I’ve been getting this feeling – like a balled up mass of tapeworms in my stomach – that I’m somehow helping them. That same mass in my gut told me that if I allowed it, Dr. Patel would make every attempt to carry on the burden of conversation… or rather, what felt like my interrogation. If I let her, she’d pry open my skull and carve out a section of my brain just large enough to insert herself into it, and I’d never be able to get her back out. She’d stay there forever, whispering threats and uncertainties, and everything I’d worked towards to uncover the dark and twisted world around us would remain under the veil. 

I felt naked. There was no way of knowing how much she knew about me, but I didn’t know anything about her. I wasn’t prepared for any of this, and that gave her the ultimate advantage.  I decided to take a chance.

“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”

She nodded.

“How do you know the dream killer? And what’s his connection with Project Hydra?” 

She rolled her eyes, but I’m certain it was just for show. “The dream killer – a rather unimaginative name I should add – is not quite how you imagine him to be. He’s not some rogue experiment from Project Hydra, or some kind of mystical otherworldly being, he’s a human being with a real face and real identity just like you and I. As far as I can tell, Project Hydra studied him, found that he wasn’t all that remarkable, and sent him on his way. However, this is where things get interesting: all of the records regarding him, including his identity, were stolen, and all of our backups were erased. Now you wouldn’t happen to know where exactly those records wound up would you? Certainly not in the hands of some chain-smoking emotionally-damaged nurse, right?” 

I was caught off guard. “That’s impossible, Brianne followed up on every lead we had in those medical records. There’s no way the killer was in any of them.” 

She laughed. “That’s assuming of course that those were all of them. Who’s to say she didn’t stash some of them away? After all, she doesn’t exactly remember how she obtained them.” 

Though I hate to admit it, that was a fair point. How could we ever know if that was all of the records? Dr. Patel eyed me, waiting to see if I was satisfied with that answer. 

“Now I’d like to ask you a question, Jeremy.” 

I adjusted myself in the chair. Patel’s words thus far have felt like a thorn bush: they stick to you and dig in your skin and tangle you up. I wasn’t expecting this next question to be any different, and frankly I had questions of my own, and if I didn’t give her something then I wasn’t going to get anything in return.

“Okay,” I said, “what do you want to know?”

The look on her face was venomous; it made me question whether giving her an inch was actually a good idea.

“I want to know if you think you’re helping people by doing what you do. You see, I watched you when you entered the building – or rather, I had someone else watching you – and you did something rather curious. You walked down the sidewalk, casually checking over your shoulder, maybe a bit more often then the average person would, and then you circled the building. You looked at everything around you, and you watched to make sure nobody or anything…unsightly, was following you. You’re paranoid Jeremy. People like you and I… we know what goes bump in the night; it’s a curse that we both share. People live in blissful ignorance, and the type of knowledge that we possess simply poisons that. So my question for you is: do you really think that spreading this virus of carnal knowledge is actually helping anyone, or are you just expelling them from the Garden of Eden?” 

I didn’t like where this was headed. I wanted to give her some sort of an answer to make her feel like she was gaining something from this, but this wasn’t a question I could just phone-in or answer with a simple yes or no. I had to say something or risk letting her know that she was starting to get to me. I tried to relax a bit before I spoke.

“That’s sort of a loaded question, don’t you think?” 

“No,” she chuckled, “it’s a question with context.” 

I thought about it for a minute before I replied, “The truth is… I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m even trying to help anyone. I don’t know exactly what keeps pulling me in to this stuff. I just know I’m not ready to stop.” 

“Very good,” said Dr. Patel, doing a sort of condescending golf clap with her hands. “Now it’s your turn to ask me a question.” 

She crossed her arms when she said this as if playfully preparing herself for a flurry of hard questions, but there was only one thing on my mind and it was burrowing and twisting around the inside of my head like a centipede looking for the perfect spot to sink in its mandibles and chew its way out. 

I cleared my throat. “I want to know about the daycare… the psychic kids.”

Her eyelids lifted a bit as her eyebrows raised and a sharp dimple caught the tail end of a crooked frown. 

“I don’t know anything about that,” she told me. 

I could feel a bit of anger in my chest, she had to have been lying. Not that I would’ve been surprised by her not telling me the truth about any of this. I tried my best to speak without gritting my teeth. “But you knew about it, right? It was Project Hydra experimenting on those children, wasn’t it? You experimented on Malcolm when he was a child and made him into a monster. How do I know that wasn’t your line of work?” 

Patel raised a finger to interject. She looked insulted, but I’m not sure how much of that was an act. “I studied Malcolm because he did something extraordinary and because his grandfather was a powerful psychic and magician… I never experimented on him. He drove himself mad, because of what he did. I had no idea he’d go on to do what he did and his actions certainly weren’t at the behest of Hydra. I don’t know anything about a daycare or any experiments on psychic children. I only know what I was supposed to know. Hydra didn’t go around leaking information to every single random person in the organization.” 

I was frustrated but I had to let it go. She was clearly frustrated as well, and while that might have been the key to cutting this conversation short, I’d be leaving with less information than I would’ve liked. I had to seize this opportunity, even if it was an uncomfortable one. 

“Okay, fine,” I said, “then tell me about Project Hydra.” 

She let out a sigh, followed by the type of laugh you might have given an uncle who just told you a dirty joke that you weren’t quite old enough to understand. “I thought you be more interested in SCIC.” 

I was surprised. The fact is, in some ways I’m definitely more interested in what’s going on at SCIC and if Patel is involved then that makes it all even more pressing. If I had been prepared for all of this, if I had the fortitude, if this didn’t feel like Patel was leading me towards a different path, while I desperately wanted to wrestle control…I might have followed that thread. I took a deep breath and tried to stay in focus. This was a distraction. 

“Right now I want you to tell me about Project Hydra. Tell me something I don’t already know.” 

I caught myself off guard at how quickly I’d blurted it out. I think the rage in my chest had given me a bit more confidence. A smile crept across her face like crack might spread across broken glass. “Of course,” she said, “Can I tell you a story?”

Reluctant to give up the authority I’d recently mustered in this conversation, I obliged. She took a long sip from her mug of tea, closing her eyes as she did, and when she opened them she began.

I was young… or at least much younger than I am now. The sun was still rising on my scientific career, and all around me were brilliant minds that bolstered my own: scientists with names you’d never see in the history books – even some holdovers from Operation Paperclip – that would go on to forever alter the world in ways that were never thought possible, only to end their careers in unmarked graves… forgotten to time. 

That’s how I saw myself and that’s how I approached my field of science: knowing that recognition and legacy are meaningless, forever lost in the shadow of progress. In that way we never feared the one hundred year plan, or the sacrifices we made to science, because after all, it was but a small formless piece in an infinite and ever evolving puzzle. If you want to understand this story, and more importantly if you want to understand Project Hydra, you have to understand this way of thinking. You have understand where our loyalties lay. 

At the time I worked in just one of the many locations that the project had procured at its height. We were all over the world. After all, it’d be a mistake to assume we received our funding from any one government. Hydra, in fact, predates most known governments. 

It should come as no surprise that our relationship with our predecessors wasn’t exactly mutually symbiotic. They foolishly and desperately clung to things like race and the destruction of everything that didn’t look or act like them, and that made them weak. While their fear and hatred would ultimately lead to their downfall, it also made them vulnerable to a parasite like Hydra. 

We fed from their blood and their money and their utter carelessness, and when that well ran dry we took what we wanted and left the rest to rot. We were not them, and as they were falling and scattering like the vile little roaches that they were, we were building – growing stronger and more powerful and extending our reach in to other spaces and governments. The building I was in was built during this time – a sort of golden age, if you will.

I was preparing to transfer to a different facility. A newer facility, not built off of the backs of tyrants, but instead by another arrogant and blood thirsty government. My personal effects were in boxes and my sights were set on San Diego. While I can’t tell you where I was at the time, this was certainly something I would classify as a major improvement to the quality of my life, and a testament to the efforts I’d made studying neurology on behalf of Project Hydra. 

The building was larger than you might think: nine floors of glass and concrete that sat abandoned to the naked eye – overtaken by vines and moss – starkly contrasting its sterile white interior. There were more rooms in this building than I’d ever thought to count: offices, meeting spaces, and laboratories that spanned every facet of the scientific imagination, each bustling with scientists and doctors and lab assistants. 

This particular story starts on the fifth floor of the building, following the peculiar appearance of a very strange but otherwise completely ordinary door. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact day that the door appeared. You’d think that a mysterious door appearing in what was previously a blank wall would draw more attention. 

I struggle to blame any one person for not noticing it at first. The building was vast and I’m certain almost nobody outside of the janitorial staff and possibly the maintenance crew could’ve told you exactly how many rooms or closets were on any given floor or where exactly they were located. I imagine even the most well functioning laboratories have some degree of complacency, and while that’s most definitely inexcusable in the event of some sort of incident such as this, it’s certainly to be expected to some degree within daily operations. 

It was actually a janitor who first discovered the door. However, while you might imagine this idea of concern or even a general sense of unease plaguing his mind, frankly he more or less forgot about it rather soon afterwards. After all, there was nothing necessarily ominous about the door; it didn’t even seem unordinary or out of place. 

The door matched the rest in the building: a wooden door, painted white and affixed with an aluminum door handle, and a foggy and rather useless pane of safety glass. If you were to jiggle the handle you’d find that the door was locked, and peeking through the glass afforded you only the blurry and distorted view of a flickering yellow fluorescent ceiling lamp. 

The janitor casually alerted maintenance of the presumably faulty lightbulb, and continued his business, skipping the room as he’d assumed there must have been a valid reason for his barred entry. 

The now-summoned member of the building’s maintenance crew felt differently, and took it upon himself to begin a crusade to find who was operating out of that room and why none of the keys on his comically large keyring would unlock it. It was only after questioning a botanist who operated from a laboratory neighboring the previously blank wall, that things got interesting. 

You see, the space behind this strange new door would’ve existed within the botanists laboratory. In fact, the botanists laboratory extended an additional six feet past the perceived space in which the room occupied. While within the context in which I’m telling you this story you can gather some rather negative connotations, to these two men this was nothing short of miraculous and fascinating. 

Somewhere in this building, some sort of scientific mishap had created what was arguably a pocket of extra-dimensional space, and these two men stood before it. Or so they thought. In a fever of arrogance brought about by childlike excitement, the two men – one a scientist and the other a lowly maintenance man – began experimenting and tinkering with the door. 

They tried knocking on it and on the surrounding walls, pushing and pulling on the handle, and even trying to pick the lock, all of which were to no avail. 

They checked security footage, looking for the day that door must have appeared. It seemed however, that according to the video, the door had been there as long as they could search back – which was years. Curiously, a set of blueprints and floor plans for the building, which I’m not sure how exactly they obtained, showed that the door and the room behind it had been planned for decades in advance. It was as if it had always been there, and they’d simply never noticed it. 

The walls of the room were drafted with dotted lines, as if the planner or the architect had planned for the room to not actually exist, or planned for the room to share its impossible dual-spacial-occupancy with the room it apparently existed inside of. Things became even more strange when the door disappeared. Had they just imagined the whole thing? Had they been mistaken or under some sort of spell the whole time? 

The two men – who had unbelievably continued to keep the impossible room a shared secret amongst themselves – checked the set of blueprints again in absolute bewilderment. The door itself was a novel case of sheer impossibility, but having it disappear completely opened up a slew of further questions, some of which now regarded their own sanity. 

However, this time the blueprints showed that the door was now on a lower floor. Unsurprisingly, after checking for themselves, the blueprints were in fact an accurate translation of the strange bit of otherworldly architecture that stood before them. It should come as no surprise that the same security footage now corroborated the idea that the door and the strange inaccessible and possibly extra-dimensional room had always been exactly where it was. 

Somehow overnight the door had moved, and everything else had changed to match it. It was only after trying the handle again and finding that it was freely moving and no longer locked, that the two men told their story and alerted higher staff. 

The first to enter the room were a pair of security guards.

Carrying riffles and clad in black tactical gear, the two men slowly entered the room. It was mostly empty, but for a set of three empty metal shelves and a large wooden desk. Upon entering, they reported nothing unusual, void for the fact that despite there being a fluorescent light on the ceiling, there was no actual switch present on any of the walls. Furthermore, there were no windows or vents in the room, and the floors sported a tile work that hadn’t been present in the building for just short of two decades. 

Interestingly, despite the appearance that this room may have been unoccupied for quite some time, at least judging by its emptiness and the white tile floors which reflected the buildings earlier years, there was not a speck of dust. No cobwebs marked the corners of the room, and by all accounts the room seemed to be sparkling clean. 

Another security guard soon followed, raising the rooms occupancy to three. When the others had deemed the room safe and made their exit, that same security guard remained behind, apt on judging the room under equal, if not more, scrutiny than his predecessors. It was at this point that I had arrived on the 4th floor to observe my own judgment and oversee any further study of the mysterious room. 

I was at the end of the hallway, still disposing of a suspicious smelling cup of coffee given to me by my assistant, when I heard the door slam shut. Audible gasps and quiet murmurs of speculation erupted as the remaining two security guards wrestled with the door handle and cursed into the personal transceivers previously affixed to their chests. 

On the other side of the door, I could hear the security guard fumbling with the door and panicking. Soon that panic escalated into manic screams for help, and then cries of absolute terror. Behind that door, the man begged for his life. His voice suggested he wasn’t clawing at the door anymore, but instead in the center of the room. 

The last sound we heard from him were screams of pain, accompanied by the sounds of tearing wet flesh and snapping bone. The glass on the door was now painted a dripping cacophony of brown and red, and blood pooled from the crack under the door. 

We stared in shock and disbelief, which believe it not were still emotions that I could’ve evoked at this earlier stage in my career. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the two remaining security guards – still waiting for backup – were the least fazed, despite personally knowing the man who was assuredly dead on the other side of that door. 

I was just as interested in those two men as I was the horror that had taken place in front of us, and so I hurriedly left the observation in the hands of another supervising member of our staff in order to interview them. I’d find out in a phone call soon afterwards, that the door had disappeared before their eyes. They blinked and it was gone. 

In most instances, we would’ve shut down the building in the event that a serious threat to life was present. However, important research can live or die in the time that it takes to address such issues, and so I was given an order from my superiors to put all witnesses on leave and to ensure that the project location was at full capacity, with the investigation remaining a secret to those not directly involved. 

We couldn’t have known at the time that the room was more autonomous than we had suspected, and as such it was quite clever and predatory. 

It was two days before the door reappeared. A laboratory assistant was making their way to a room on the eighth floor in order to access an autoclave when they were presented with two adjacent and completely identical doors. The room she was attempting to access was small, being that it was mostly used to store excess lab equipment, and it didn’t feature the large viewing and sign out window that characterized similar storage rooms. It’s rather hard to say whether it was curiosity or absent-minded complacency that caused her to open the other door and step inside. 

Her screams echoed through the hallway, and the two witnesses left trails of bloody shoeprints as they ran for help. By the time security and supervising personnel were brought in to investigate, a puddle of blood and those footprints were all that were left behind. I was made aware, and the witnesses were again put on leave, following a few neurological examinations that I was more than happy to administer.

Frustratingly, as the door vanished, the security footage was again altered to show that nothing had ever happened. We had no proof of what was happening beyond spoiled and completely ordinary blood samples. Pictures taken of the mess afterwards were also unfortunately altered. Instead showing a bare tile floor backdropped by a completely blank and unremarkable white wall. It was as if it was using any sort of documentation present to camouflage its existence. 

The fourth and final time I was made aware of the room’s sudden appearance was just a day later, as I was preparing for my departure from the facility. I discovered it on the same hallway as my personal office, as I was disposing of yet another suspiciously off-smelling cup of coffee in to the trash can. I couldn’t help but feel flattered that I was left with such a wonderful parting gift.

The door was no longer present and instead it stood as an open and welcoming cavity. A cavernous hole in the wall that resembled a rather average room, but for its flickering light and mismatched tile speckled with droplets of blood. From the room came the stink of rot. I felt as if I could feel the room’s very own hot breath bearing down on me. 

Good science often comes from an undying curiosity, and I believe that’s something that the two of us share. I told you at the beginning of this story, that we stood with no fear in our efforts and sacrifices to science. I stared down the hallway, towards the door to my office; inside, all of my things neatly packed and ready to be shipped away to another facility. I looked up at the cameras at either end of the long corridor. Soon the footage would vanish, replaced with the view of a long and empty hallway, and I was but a ghost in it. 

The light stopped flickering when I entered the room. I felt along the desk, its wood was soft and varnished, and its empty drawers were lined with velvet and slid smoothly along their tracks. I felt along the walls. The plaster felt warm,  and when I held still I could feel a sort of rhythm in them. 

“You’re beautiful,” I told the room, “and I’m ashamed that I won’t be able to learn much more about you.”

But that wasn’t true, at least not the second part. You see, I did think the room was beautiful. It was stunning; it was like a wild animal. But I was poised to learn more about it… and to repay its generosity. 

There was no denying that my assistant was jealous of my promotion within the project. After all, I was once bringing her coffee and handling her notes and appointments. That was before the higherups saw it fit that she be demoted. She was a talented neurologist and she once brought about industry leading research, and when she was brought on to the project she was seen by many as a shining beacon of hope for this department. 

However, the prospects of her work never saw fruition and over time more of her proposals were flatly denied. She was old and her research had become stagnant and redundant, and the new methodology I presented over her head saw more promise. I’d hardly call it underhanded, but what I had done led to her and I switching roles, and that had made her venomous. That poison within her soured her every intention, and as I’m sure you’ve already guessed… it made its way into my coffee. If she hadn’t been such an old fool, she might have chosen something that didn’t burn my nostrils when I smelled it. 

She’d tried for weeks to poison me, and if I had been as weak minded as her, she’d have succeeded, and I’d have been dead, and she wouldn’t have been dragged into that room. I remember her yelling and cursing at me, struggling with my arms wrapped tightly around her and pinning her arms to her chest. I can only hope she took a second to look at her ankles as they dragged across the floor, and felt weak and pathetic. 

She clattered to the floor, unsure of what my plans were. Fear danced in her eyes. If she hadn’t lay frozen for so long, soaking in shame and fear, while I backed away and out of the room, she might have gotten out before it was too late. 

Strings of yellow tinged saliva dripped from the walls as the room began to take its true shape. The sharp ninety degree corners rounded over with folds of dripping red flesh. Discarded viscera and forgotten limbs, rotting away and soaked in bile, floated up from a fleshy chasm below. Massive jagged yellow teeth pushed through from the twitching flesh above and beneath her, catching her at the waist and crushing her screaming body. Organs and limbs dangled from the mashing teeth. 

The illusion had slipped, and I was finally seeing what this beautiful wild animal really was. It was a hunter: a predator with intelligence, and I felt terrible that I wouldn’t be able to stick around and study it. A severed arm rolled from the beastly mouth and onto the floor in front of me. I tossed it back, wiping the blood and saliva across my jacket before tossing it in a nearby trash can, atop the very same discarded paper coffee cup that cowardly witch had tried to poison me with. 

I’ll never know what happened to the building, or to the room. After all the years I spent working for the Project, I was never awarded such a clearance. But what I do know is that my curiosity was satiated. I knew more about the world around us… probably more than I should.

“So if you’ll allow me to circle back a bit in our conversation Jeremy, does this not sound like you? Do the things you sacrifice and the damage that you’ve caused by doing what you do ever really eat at you? Or is it all worth it… just to satiate the curiosity that we both share?” 

I felt sick, and I quickly choked out a response. “I’m nothing like you.”

Dr. Patel laughed. “What you should understand about me, Jeremy, the lesson that you can take home to your family and your job and your podcast and your little dog is that I’m not lying to myself about what I am or what I’m doing. I have no delusion that I’m helping anyone with my work. I’m just picking at things that I don’t understand until I figure out how they work. I’m exactly like you, I just know what I am. There is something else you ought to know, Jeremy…” 

That twisted smile swept across her face and her eyes lit up. “I thought it was beautiful watching her body bend and fold while she was being mashed up by those teeth.”

I felt sick. I couldn’t tell if she meant it, or if it was just another thinly veiled threat. Either way I was done; I was done being intimidated, done being manipulated, and done being compared to a monster like her. Most of all I was done hearing her try to shoehorn in my personal life and dangle it above my head. I gathered my bearings and got up to leave.

Before I reached the door, she said, “You’re looking rather pale lately, Jeremy. You should really take better care of yourself.”

How did she… I resumed my pace toward the door when one of the men armed with an assault rifle entered the doorway to block my exit.

“Oh, and Jeremy,” she chuckled, “Malcolm’s been asking a lot about you. He wants you to let me know when you’re ready to talk. I’ll be in touch.” 

She motioned with her hand casually, as if shooing away a fly, and the guard let me out.





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