Ihp's Talebox 2

Black Autumn 4: Immortal Panic

In the battle of love and fear, fear will always win, because humanity always forgets the love, but is incapable of forgetting fear.

- From the notes of Isaiah Pickman, Former Archivist, Site-87.


September 12th
Superior, Wisconsin

"Really wish that they'd sent someone else in." Agent Robert Tofflemire is oddly dour— but that may have just been because his partner literally hadn't seen him smile in months, due to the constant covering of the mouth that had been required at Site-87.

"I know. I'm tempted to just flash my S & C Plastics I.D. and get them to all go away." Allison Carol bundles herself closer as she watches the NBC news crew pontificate about the dangers of societal decay in front of the ruin of what had once been a complex of storage units. "That's not even mentioning the cops…"

Said ruin is crawling with the local police force, who were giving the investigation all the due diligence of a six-year-old trying to speed read War and Peace. The neighborhood they are in is poor, so a bit of arson wouldn't really hurt anyone. But the fact that it had burned down without anyone noticing is enough to draw Site-87's attention.

"Think we can get in unnoticed?" Allison pretendsto look at her phone— just another bystander, nothing to see here.

"Maybe if Blake were here. Dude's scary on the stealth course." He looks at Allison. "Or…"

Allison sighs. "Never tried it this far out of town before. Might not even work."

"Don't know until you try." Robert squeezes his partner's shoulder. "C'mon, Alice. Just give it a go."

Allison Carol shuts her eyes. For most people, the world is made up of atoms. For her, it's made up of dominoes— chains upon chains of them, going off into the distance, forever. Every now and again, her mental dominoes try to resolves themselves into their actual forms— she fights back by knocking over two or three smaller ones, causing a bird to fly from the tree, or a leaf to fall off of a branch. She's not meant to know what the chains of dominoes actually look like.

A particularly interesting chain came in the form of a utility pole, rotted through almost entirely thanks to a combination of insects, mold, and budget cuts. If it was prodded in just the right way, it would fall, but the wires it left behind wouldn't be live because it would fall right onto the neighborhood junction box. She didn't understand electricity, but she knew the power would be cut. But the chain couldn't start there— it had to have an element of payoff to it.

There. New cop, mid-twenties. Looking around nervously, probably his first assignment. Jumpy. She flicks her finger, and his attention is suddenly drawn to that particular utility pole. She can't make out the exact words of the conversation, but there's a note of worry in his voice.

The wood rots further as he speaks— years of decay happen in seconds, all invisible to those outside, all for the sake of a single slapstick moment.

A squirrel walks across the power lines, jumping onto the utility pole at the exact moment that the young cop has his concerns alleviated. There's an unholy kkrrrruunnnchhhhhh of wood as the structure topples over, taking the wiring with it. The blow to the junction box isn't clean, but it hits it hard enough to knock out the power.

The news crew, and the police, and all bystanders are all scared off by the possibility of live wires. Alison opens her eyes before she follows the chain any further, getting a hint of a badge and a gun on a desk before she does so.

"You okay?" Robert's holding her.

"Yeah." She rights herself. "Just remind me to fill out the paperwork when we get back to the Site."

"Can't believe how many forms the Foundation has for 'Usage of Anomalous Abilities'." Robert goes against the grain of the crowd, managing to dash into the U-Stor-It lot before the police can notice him or Alison.