Saturday, 21 December 2013

The End

This is my last post.

The facility is dark. Eviscerated bodies lie face down in the deepening water, their insides gradually rising. In places, the water is no more than ankle deep. Elsewhere, I'd have to swim. I couldn't find where the water was coming from. It's saltwater.

I splashed my way to the map room. Bizarrely, the map is working. There's no power, and some of the components are submerged. Nevertheless, it flickers into life every so often. The Red is just touching the facility. The Yellow seems to be everywhere. I don't think many places will survive. The people at the Antarctic research station, maybe.

The lift I came up in was open, but the water in the corridor was waist deep, so I didn't bother going to look at it. The other lift is still closed. When I checked it, water was seeping through the crack between the doors.

The whole facility creaks and rocks like an ancient ship. I guess it won't be long before it collapses in on itself. Being crushed to death is a better way to go than the alternative.

I haven't dared look in a mirror. My skin, what's left of it, hangs from my stinging flesh in folds. Occasionally, I spit out a tooth. There are foxes in my room. From the wardrobe, I can hear them splashing and yelping. I wonder if they'd be there if I looked out. I can barely see to type these words. I'd have thought the air would be getting thin, but I can feel a sea breeze blowing onto me.

I passed out.

There's something out there.

It shines like the sun.

Friday, 20 December 2013


I'm in hiding.

Last night, I heard a huge crash. I'd been waiting for it. I knew that whatever had been coming up the lift shaft had made it onto our floor. I grabbed the bottle I'd left by the bed and squirted bleach all over the door, walls, and floor of my room. Then I jammed myself into the wardrobe, where I'd left a bag of supplies. My only hope is that the things from below hunt by smell, and that the bleach confuses them. I didn't know what else to do.

I waited there, shivering in the wardrobe, my mind conjuring up terrible images. I heard thumps and bangs, but no screams. It died down for hours; my guess is that the creatures still go dormant in the day. They haven't come back yet. If they don't return by tomorrow, I'm going to try and go out and see what's happened. Maybe they'll have done some damage that might help me escape. Though that seems almost impossible now.

My sickness has passed, replaced by a dull, gnawing pain that fills my whole body. I drift off into vivid fantasies that last hours at a time. Hiding here, all I can see of my body are the backs of my hands. They look like old mince. I think I'm done for.

Thursday, 19 December 2013


Whatever is coming up through the lift shaft is getting closer. I stood by the doors for a few minutes, listening. I was spooked, and ran around the corridors looking for a way out. There isn't one. Nothing works; not the lift, not the doors. There aren't any stairs. I'm going to die here.

I went back to the lab. I thought I might be able to convince the others to help me. They all look as bad as I feel. A few of them have open sores. One man has a growth on his nose. None of them were interested in escaping. I don't think they believe they'll be rescued. I think they've given up. At least they got the map working.

It worked intermittently, flashing up data that made me want to cry. The Red Zone is almost touching the facility. The outer edge of the Yellow brushes against Moscow. The Green is covering New York and London. I hope we're caught in a bubble, that the map isn't showing the truth. But I don't believe it. I think the world as I knew it is gone, and the only mercy is that I won't live to see it. Maybe humanity will survive. Maybe not.

My hair has fallen out. The sores on my scalp are weeping.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


I made another pointless circuit of the corridors. There's nowhere to go and no way out. I went to the toilet to throw up, and I thought I saw a snake disappearing down the pipe when I lifted the lid. I didn't, of course. There aren't any snakes here. It doesn't stop me catching glimpses of them.

I went back to my old lab. The scientists there were working to fix the map. They're like the band playing as the Titanic sank. At least music has intrinsic value.

I helped them twist in a few bulbs and replace a circuit board in the control panel. The map is a mixture of comprehensible parts and some black boxes they were told not to tamper with. I know why, and I said they shouldn't open them now, as it wouldn't help make the map work. We concentrated on the parts we could fix, and on routing as much power through the map as we could. They let me flip the switch.

The map went bang. Before it did, it lit up. It showed that The Sick Land had expanded enormously. The facility was now in the Yellow, and the Green stretched halfway into the nearest city. They shook their heads and started changing the burned-out components. They told me it couldn't have been working properly. I'm not so sure. The Yellow seems about right.

There was a fox in my room when I got back. I saw the white tip of its tail disappear as I opened the door. I couldn't find it, though. I spent an hour throwing up blood.

When I changed to go to bed, I noticed the skin above my left leg was starting to slough away.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


I couldn't find a way out.

I checked every door, and even took the front panel off of the lift. Nothing worked. There are no stairs I can access from the parts of the facility that aren't sealed off. I might be able to get through one of the sealed doors with some heavy-duty equipment, but it would take hours, and I'm so tired.

My bones ache. I haven't been able to keep food down for days. All I can do is sip water. I want nothing more than to lie down and go to sleep, but I can't. I just stare at the ceiling all night. I feel like I'm falling apart. Today, as I walked through the corridors, I felt like something was following me. It was always just out of sight, but I could hear it breathing as if it were right behind me. I spun, and realised it was my own breath. I sound like I've climbed a mountain.

I went back to the secure lift, the one I came up in. It's not working now, and I know how lucky I was to be able to use it. I can hear thumping and scraping through the doors. I can't tell how far away it is or what's causing it. I'm not even sure I'm really hearing it. I think it's the creatures. I think they're coming for me.

I need to find a way out, but I feel like I'm running out of time. Staring at this screen is making my head spin.

I've just come back from the bathroom. I vomited. There was blood in it.

Monday, 16 December 2013


The power went out entirely, emergency lights and all. I was vomiting at the time, and had to find my way from the bathroom back to my room to get my torch. As I walked in the dark, my stomach clenching and sweat dripping from my face, I kept hearing things skittering around me. Small, malevolent things. The walk seemed to take days; when I switched on my torch, there was nothing there.

I went to find some of the other scientists. They were huddled together in one of the corridors, gathering all the tools they could find and planning a trip to fix the generator. I felt terrible, but I wanted to see what sort of state it was in. I went with them.

The main generator doesn't look like it'll ever work again. As far as I could tell it was entirely dead. The backup generator is more primitive; we topped up the diesel and cleaned it out. It started. It coughed and spluttered, but it started. The emergency lights came back on and everyone cheered. Except me.

The lifts won't work on emergency power. Lots of the doors will stay sealed. I tried to raise the issue of whether we could get the lifts working, but the others didn't care. They think we just need to wait and someone will come to get us. I'm under no such delusion. Though I'm shaking, exhausted, and nauseated, I'm going to do whatever I can to get out.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Last night I dreamt.

I was standing on an empty plain under a starless night sky. A huge moon filled one side of the horizon; it wasn't the moon, though, as I could look closely and see the people, and cars, and buildings on its surface. The ground beneath my feet was sandstone, or at least, how I think sandstone would look.

Behind me, on the opposite side from the moon, was something gigantic and dead. Though the rest of the plain was brightly lit, and my eyes were keen, I couldn't make out any details of the vast corpse. I was afraid of it, so I turned back. The space in front of me now held a smaller corpse, back lit by the strange moon.

It was Bob. A fox stood on his body and stared at me calmly. Bob was dead. But then, he'd been dead for months now. I don't know why it surprised me so much. The fox growled, but I knew it wasn't growling at me. I turned.

The dark, dead shape began to twist and writhe. I blinked, and my perspective changed. The thing in front of me was no bigger than a man. I still couldn't see the body in any detail, but I could see the snake coiled on top. It slithered over to me and wrapped itself around my leg. The fox padded toward me.

As one, the animals sank their teeth into me. I knew it was coming. I stared at the moon as pain blossomed. They pulled me down.

I woke up shaking. I feel too weak to get out of bed. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Rather than spend today wandering around looking for a flight of stairs that may or may not exist, I visited every scientist I could find. None of them, not a single one, knew of any stairs. I'm starting to think I'll be trapped down here until the lift is working again. Maybe I ought to find something explosive and blast it open. It seemed to work for the other lift.

Most of the scientists I spoke to were desperately trying to get their equipment to work. The lack of power isn't the main problem; most of the strange-looking stuff draws its power from alternative sources. The problem is that nothing works anymore. Or at least, it works sometimes, but those intervals seem random.

I watched one scientist tinkering with a device that looked like a piano with a brass satellite dish on either end. He hit some keys on the front and the dishes began to rotate. He gave a little cheer, but they stopped almost immediately. Frustrated, he grabbed a screwdriver and opened a side panel. I could see right into the device. Thousands of metal ball bearings rolled out onto the floor, leaving the device an empty wooden shell. The man fell to his knees, his face empty.

I'm going to get a team together and see if we can get the generator working. If it's a lost cause, I'll have to think of some other way to escape. It's painfully clear that the facility is breaking down.

Friday, 13 December 2013


I wandered around today, trying to find some way to get out of here.

The power is intermittent. The lift to the floor above isn't working, or at least, it was never working when I tried it. Every time the power came back, I'd jog over to the lift to check, but I could never get it to work. Maybe it needs a sustained period of power to reset its systems. Or maybe it just doesn't work anymore.

Some of the doors are sealed shut, too. I'd have thought the default position would be for them to open in the event of a disaster, but apparently not. Some of them unseal when the power is on, but not all of them. I got caught behind one for two hours when the power cut out. I have to be more careful.

There must be stairs somewhere, but they aren't marked on the maps, and no one I've asked has known how to find them. Exploring is risky, but I can't see a way to get up in the lift unless I can get it to work.

I'm worried that the lift doesn't work for the same reason the power isn't working properly: the mal is no longer being held back, and the technology here is breaking down. If I'm right, I'll have to find those stairs. They must be here somewhere. I hope.

Thursday, 12 December 2013


The power came back.

The main lights were flickering all morning; by mid-afternoon, they were back to normal. The control panel on the lift was lit up, and I pressed the button. The lift came down, the doors opened, and I went up.

The corridor at the top was empty, but I didn't see any other evidence that anything had happened. I walked through a few corridors, and eventually I found some people.

A group of scientists were in one of the conference rooms. I walked in, and nobody took any notice of me. They were discussing the power failure, and what to do in future to ensure that the backup generator and the main generator never went out at the same time. I coughed to get their attention, and asked if anyone had heard from their superiors about the rest of the facility. They took it as a joke and laughed at the very idea that they'd know about what was happening elsewhere. Then they went back to talking about the generators. I slipped out and went to my old room. It was unoccupied, so I took it back.

What happened below hasn't affected the people up here yet, but it can only be a matter of time before they realise something's wrong. I need to get out of here before anything else happens.

The power's gone again. Getting out of here won't be easy.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


They're all gone. Everybody's gone.

I climbed the recessed ladder up the lift shaft. I climbed in complete darkness; sometimes the ladder would be slick with fluid. After what seemed like hours, a dim glow appeared above me, and I climbed toward it. I pulled myself out of the lift shaft and into the corridor.

The corridor was lit only by the flickering emergency lights. The doors to the lift shaft were jammed half-open, and dark liquid puddled around them. I couldn't see anybody. There was blood and debris everywhere, but no bodies.

I explored. The whole floor was deserted, the scientists gone and the holding cells empty. Parts of the floor were dark, or lit only intermittently. The bodies might have been in one of those dark areas; there was no way I was going to check, though. They felt wrong. Twice while I was exploring, the main lights flickered on with a burst of sound from the equipment nearby. Both times, the lights went straight back out again.

The last thing I checked was the lift to the level above. If that lift were destroyed, maybe the whole facility had been taken down. I turned the corner and saw the lift. The doors were intact and closed. The control panel was dark. I walked up to it and hit a few buttons. Nothing happened.

I found a utility cupboard and hid. When the power comes back, I'll go up in the lift and see what happens.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


The noise died down last night. The tunnels were silent by morning, so I crept out of my hiding place. I'd spent days wandering through this maze before, but getting out was easier than getting in; I just followed the stench of decay. I walked for hours. I found bloodstains and gore, but no bodies or equipment.

I got to the lift in the end. I must have been going in circles before. The area surrounding the lift stank of smoke. The lift doors were on the ground in front of the lift, mangled and blackened. The lift itself had buckled. I leaned in and looked up; the ceiling panels had been ripped out, and the shaft was visible above me. I couldn't see how high it went.

I got into the lift, my heart racing when the floor shifted under my weight. I pulled myself up into the shaft. The cables that moved the lift were severed; I could see the ends dangling limply above me. I shone the light of my spare torch around. A recessed ladder was built into one wall. I shone the light up the ladder. The first bloodstain was only ten feet above me. It looked almost like a hand print.

I lowered myself back down and went to find a hiding place. I'll climb the ladder tomorrow, when there's less risk of one of those things appearing above me or below me. I'm not going to speculate about what I might find up there.

Monday, 9 December 2013


I've stayed hidden in the alcove. It's too dangerous to go out. I can hear gunfire, and screaming, and the rasping howls of the creatures.

The mayhem started shortly after I made it back into hiding. I heard the creatures screaming and running. After about half an hour, it went silent. I thought maybe it was over, maybe the creatures had all killed themselves. It wasn't that. A huge explosion echoed through the tunnels, making my ears ring.

The gunfire and the human screams started after that. I curled up in my hiding place. I kept expecting to hear boots, to see the barrel of a rifle come around the corner. I didn't know what would happen then. They could just as easily kill me as save me. But no one came, so I never found out.

The noise has been dying down, as if the battle, or whatever it is, is moving away from me. I guess I'll soon know what's happened, one way or another. I'll stay here tonight, at least. Tomorrow, if it's quiet, I'll go out and see what I can find.

I haven't heard any more from the thing in the lake. I hope I never hear or see it again.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


I hope what I write here makes sense. It's almost impossible to concentrate after what happened.

I forced myself to go back to the underground lake. I had to see what was out on that spit of rock. I passed the ashes of the fire. The bowl was gone. I walked along the spit, shining my torch on the slippery surface. I was terrified of plunging into the dark water. When I was close to the end of the spit, I could see what was there.

It was a wrinkled bag of flesh about twice the size of a basketball. I knew what it was; it had the remnants of a face. The bowl the creatures had used was underneath, collecting the blood that dripped continuously from the thin slits I knew were eyes. My stomach turned. A voice echoed through my head, one I recognised from my dreams of the tundra. The old woman's voice. She told me to kill her. I had nothing with me. I closed my eyes and used my foot.

The water began to bubble and the spit began to shake. I realised what was happening and ran. I didn't make it. The huge thing in the lake smashed into the spit and the rock exploded, sending me spinning into the dark, freezing water. My chest clenched. I swam blind in the direction I thought would lead me out of the lake. It did. I climbed out and ran to my alcove. The huge thing bellowed behind me, and as I hid myself away, I heard the skittering sounds of the creatures running, dragged out of their slumber.

I won't sleep tonight.

Saturday, 7 December 2013


I found a cave surrounding an underground lake. A narrow spit of rock jagged out over the lake and disappeared into the gloom. I wanted to investigate further, but it was getting close to the time the creatures normally appeared, and I felt exposed in the vast space. I found an alcove where I could hide and still be able to see the cave if I leaned out.

I'd dozed off, but was woken by the sound of chanting. It was the same sound I'd heard before, but now it was close. I leaned my head out of the alcove. Dozens of creatures stood around a fire near the lake, chanting in their horrible, rasping voices. One of them was walking slowly down the spit of rock, back toward the others. It was carrying something. It put it down next to the fire: it was a bowl containing a small amount of dark liquid. The creatures came to the bowl, one after another, and bowed to it, before taking a small sip. The chanting grew louder as each creature went to the bowl. When the final creature drank, the lake began to bubble. It felt like the whole cave was vibrating.

Something huge rose from the water, and my heart shot up to my throat before sinking down to hit my feet. I ran. I ran blindly, without thinking, directly away from the cave. I was lucky. I didn't run into any of the creatures. When I'd calmed down, I found a place to hide.

Nothing that big should be alive.

Friday, 6 December 2013


I can hear chanting. It sounds far off, and I've started walking toward the sound. In these black, endless tunnels, it's impossible to tell whether what I hear is miles away or around the next corner. All I can do is walk, and brood on the sickening certainty that has buried itself in my head: the creatures down here make the facility's equipment.

I've been telling myself it's insane, that there are other explanations, but nothing I try works. I think the things down here make all of the equipment for the facility. I think that's why nobody above understands how anything works, and why no two devices look even remotely similar. They haven't discovered some secret technological method to control the mal. They haven't discovered how to make technology work in The Sick Land. They've discovered nothing but another quirk they don't understand. Who knows if any of the results they have are accurate? The machines look like they work, but maybe they don't do what the researchers think they do. It's utterly clear to me now that the only true research happening here happens on the level above; they obviously have no ideas on how to hold back The Sick Land. They just want to make sure that humans are changed enough to survive when it comes. The rest of the facility is a sham. It's probably only there to provide research subjects.

As I type this, I'm looking at my laptop and wondering if it was built down here. I think it was. I think if I opened it up, random parts would pour out, and I'd see that nothing in there was connected up. I'm not going to do that. This is all I have.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


I continued through the tunnels and caves. I found a machine. It looked exactly like something they'd use upstairs for one of their more esoteric experiments. It was utterly dead, of course; it looked like it had been put together by the creatures. I opened up one of the panels and looked inside. Cogs, spools of wire, and other disconnected parts were stuffed into the casing. It was as if a child had tried to copy an adult without any understanding of what was happening. It was getting close to the time the creatures normally appeared, so I tucked myself into a small tunnel and hid.

The creatures came soon after. Five of them, each carrying a bucket of hot coals. Something about the way they moved disturbed me. They were like spiders that suddenly scuttle toward you. The creatures began to howl, and the sound made me shudder. They moved jerkily around the machine, in a way that made it look almost like a dance. I saw them grow more and more frenzied, until they fell on one another, ripping with claws and teeth. When only one of the creatures remained, it scattered the blood and entrails of the others over the machine, burning the offal with the hot coals and creating stinking smoke. The creature began to babble in a hideous, grating voice, the sound growing louder and louder until it hurt my ears.

The machine lit up. I can't believe it, but that's what happened. The machine, the box full of disconnected parts, lit up and began to hum. The creature fiddled with it, and it responded as if it were a working device. Eventually, more creatures arrived and removed the machine and the bodies.

I can't help but feel that this makes a terrible kind of sense.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


I was disturbed last night by sounds coming from behind me. I'd hidden in a narrow tunnel that looked like it tapered off. I crawled back to look when I heard the sounds, and found that it led to a large open space. The tunnel opened near the top of a dome-shaped cave.

The cave was lit by a few piles of glowing coals. I looked down and saw there were creatures in the cave; I couldn't make them out in any great detail, but I could see they were carrying machines and parts. Some of them even seemed to be working on the machines, combing through piles of components until they found what they wanted, then banging it haphazardly into a device.

There's a connection between the facility and the creatures down here. I wonder if the facility is protecting them. Maybe this is where the experimental subjects go if they survive their treatment. Maybe the terrible shapes I think I can make out in the gloom are the future of the human race. Whatever they are, they all seem to be involved with the machines. Perhaps they need something to keep them occupied, to stop them going insane from being trapped in these caves.

I saw Smith go down in the lift. She could have experienced a rapid change, and they wanted her away from everyone else. Or she could have been pushed out and ripped apart by the creatures. I don't have enough information. All I can do is keep exploring.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


I left my hiding place too soon. I didn't know exactly when sunrise would be, or even if that's what controls the lives of the things that live down here. I'll have to be more careful in future: I almost ran into one of the creatures.

It was standing by a metal bin in which something was burning. That was what saved me. I smelled the smoke and saw the glow before I was close enough to see the creature. I crept over to look, ready to run at the first sign of movement in my direction.

I saw the creature in silhouette. It was roughly humanoid, though the head was misshapen and too big, and the limbs looked out of proportion. It was standing next to a pile of mechanical parts, bending over to examine them, putting some back and throwing others on the fire. I watched it for a while, unable even to guess what it was doing. In the end, I forced myself to leave and found a hiding place. I waited there for an hour. I didn't hear the creature come past, but when I went back, the fire was extinguished and the creature was gone. There were no more parts on the floor, but there were still some in the ashes of the fire.

I walked deeper into the tunnels.

Monday, 2 December 2013


There are things down here. I can hear them walking, their feet skittering over the rocky floor. I can't tell how many there are, or what they look like; it's too dark, and I can't let them see my torch. It sounds like there are only a few of them, or maybe the cave is just so big that they're spread out. I don't know. They seem to be somewhere else during the day - though that term means nothing down here, except to my watch - and they move around the tunnels at night.

There are lots of small spaces for me to hide while those things are out there. That's not a problem. The problem is that I have no idea where I'm going, or where those things go during the day. I walk through the tunnel in constant fear that my weak beam of light will shine onto something horrible and wake it.

I don't know how long I'll be able to last down here. I feel like the tunnel is pressing down on me, and the terrible sounds of things moving around me as I hide at night are destroying my nerves. I'd go back, but there's nowhere for me to go back to; I don't want to think about what must have happened to those guards outside the lift. I'll keep going.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


After a dreamless sleep, I woke up next to the lift. The guards were gone, and I had an access card with a crimson smear across one side. My fingernails were caked with blood.

I knew I had no time, so I swiped the card through the slot and got into the lift. I felt my stomach shoot up as the lift accelerated, and it descended for longer than I would have thought possible. The doors opened, and what I saw made no sense.

There was no building. I stepped out and looked back. The lift was embedded in a craggy rock face. The only light came from the instrument panel on the lift. I brought out my torch, wound it, and shone the light around the area. I was in a tunnel carved into the rock. There was a pile of equipment and parts by the lift. I recognised some of the components from machines I'd seen on the floors above. I had no idea what it was doing there. I needed to get away from the lift, as it was the first place they'd look for me. I headed into the tunnel.

There was no light anywhere, and I wondered how the tunnel was used. It branched multiple times; the cave system was enormous. I walked and walked, until I was lost and exhausted. I found a small alcove off the main tunnel where I could hide.

I'm too tired to think about what this means.

Saturday, 30 November 2013


For the first time in a long time, I dreamt about Bob.

The dream was weak, and grey, and flickering. I strained my eyes, but I could never seem to see as well as I wanted; there never seemed to be enough light. I was in a walled garden, standing on the lawn. Bob was sitting down, stroking two foxes who rubbed against him. Their cubs frolicked around us. Bob was a desiccated husk. His eyes were milky white, his skin paper thin. His hair and beard were patchy, reduced to white wisps. He told me he was dying.

He said the battle had been fought, and both sides had lost. He held out a fox and said I should embrace it. I stayed where I was. Something moved over my foot. I looked down and saw a snake. Bob saw it too, and nodded. He said it was clear. One was a gift, the other a prize. The burden would be mine, the endless burden that had destroyed him and twisted the other, if only I would take it. The end was coming, or was here, and the choice was mine. Carry the burden or end everything. He held out the fox again; I took it.

Bob said he would help me, one last time. Then he would wake from his nightmare, his burden gone. He told me to pack my bag and sleep in my clothes. Then he said goodbye.

I woke up soaked with sweat. It was mid-afternoon, and I was exhausted. I'll do as Bob asks. I'll take my laptop. If I can, I'll post. I feel like this will be my legacy.

Friday, 29 November 2013


I don't know what's going on. I'm pretty certain the figure under the blanket must have been Smith, and I can think of a reason why she was covered up. We work with the mal here, and though the researchers seem to have an uncanny resistance, there must still be cases where they become afflicted. Smith was displaying signs of paranoia when she met with me, which is a point in favour of my theory. On the other hand, I'm not sure it was paranoia; her observations might have been accurate.

Assuming Smith has been afflicted, I can't help but wonder whether it was just an unfortunate accident, or something else, something worse. There were a lot of scientists waiting in the corridor, and it did seem as if Smith had done something - maybe by talking to me, maybe through her general attitude - that might necessitate punishment. But then, I don't know anything. Maybe she has been promoted.

I can't stand this. I don't know what's happening here, and I don't trust it. No one I've spoken to knows what's going on, and anyone that does know is somewhere I can't get to. My mind keeps going back to the lift they took Smith down in. If I could get down there, maybe I'd find some answers. But I don't see any way to get past the guards.

I don't know what to do.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


I went back to the executive area. I couldn't get to the room I'd seen Smith go into, as there were scientists and soldiers in the corridor. There was no way I'd be able to get close. I loitered at a safe distance, and if they noticed me, they didn't care.

Something seemed to be going on, and the people in the corridor looked like they were waiting for whatever was happening to finish. I had a choice: I could wait with them, or I could go back to my room and give up on my investigation. Smith was my final lead; if I stopped now, I'd have nothing to do but go back to work and trust that the people running the facility knew what they were doing. I waited.

I circled around, finding a place where I could watch without being entirely obvious. I wasn't hidden as such, but someone in the corridor would have to look closely to see me. I waited there for an hour before anything happened. Eventually, a man opened the door.

He leaned out and delivered some information to the nearest scientist. The scientist spoke to a number of people, who left after they'd been addressed. Soon, only a couple of soldiers remained. They went to the door and opened it. Someone came out, covered with a blanket that reached almost to the floor. The two soldiers led the blanket-covered person away. I followed them to a guarded lift; they went in and the doors closed.

When the doors opened, the person in the blanket was gone.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


I explored the rest of the corridors. Most of the space is taken up by researchers, all of them doing vivisection. I didn't bother speaking to them after a while; I was hearing the same story over and over again. They were studying how to manipulate the mal. I thought about going into G section, but I couldn't see the point, as I already knew exactly what they got up to in there. The only part of the floor that was any different was the executive area.

Some of the rooms in the executive area were windowed, and I could see people in suits sat around large tables, their mandatory scrubs and masks hanging from hooks by the door. There were more soldiers around, too, who looked at me with suspicion but never said anything. I explored as thoroughly as I could, though I found nothing of any interest, and didn't see anyone who'd stop to speak to me. I spent hours there, and though I didn't find the information I wanted, my persistence paid off.

I was walking through a corridor I'd already been through several times when I heard boots. I pressed myself into a corner and waited. I didn't see any point in pushing my luck, and I'd been hanging around for long enough that the soldiers might have been getting edgy. Between the footsteps, I could hear someone. She was distressed. I was tucked away, so the soldiers didn't notice me as they came through. They were escorting Smith somewhere. I followed as closely as I dared, and watched them put her through a door into a windowless room. I don't think she's been promoted. I got out of there before the soldiers could see me. I'll try to get back tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


I found out today that Smith has been promoted. I didn't ask anyone; I just received an email saying that she'd been moved to a different part of the facility to undertake a role with more responsibility, and that I'd be assigned to a new supervising researcher shortly.

I wonder if her "promotion" has anything to do with how she was behaving yesterday. I doubt anyone knows that she spoke to me, but she seemed upset and scared, and I don't know what to make of the things she told me. I don't want to believe that the scientists at the top of the facility have given up on holding back The Sick Land. But I can't think of any other way to interpret what I've seen. The research on this floor is focused on treating and manipulating the mal. Unless there's yet more to the facility that I haven't seen, that's everything. There's nothing else.

I don't know what to do. The world as we know it will end, maybe not in my lifetime, but soon. And the survivors, if there are any, will be monsters, people we've altered haphazardly, with our limited understanding of how the mal works. The human species will be extinct, and whatever's left in its place will be something new and frightening.

I don't know if I'm being melodramatic. There must be research here that I don't know about. I'm going to explore the rest of the floor, the parts I haven't seen. I need to find some evidence, any evidence, of research to stop the expansion. If I find it, I'll settle back in, get my head down, and make whatever contribution I can.

If I don't find it, I don't know what I'll do.

Monday, 25 November 2013


I met with Smith again this morning. She was agitated, and explained that she could only speak to me for a few minutes. We met in a small, windowless room. She kept turning to look at the closed door, as if she expected us to be interrupted at any minute.

She caught my gaze and told me to ask the question I wanted to ask. She said she'd do her best to answer it. I didn't have to think. I asked her how the research here related to the expansion problem, and how close we were to having anything that could be used to hold back The Sick Land. She looked away, her eyes fixed on a point miles in the distance. She told me I should have worked it out by now. That there was no escape, no holding The Sick Land back, no resisting the mal. All we could do, all the facility did, was try to find ways for humankind to survive the inevitable. I stared at her, my mouth falling open, and wondered if this was the official line, or just Smith's personal take on the situation. I started to ask her but she cut me off. She said we had to adapt as a species, had to find ways to keep the human race going while The Sick Land washed over us. Change was coming, and death for billions. I didn't know what to say.

She told me she had to go, and left the small room in a hurry. I sat there for another quarter of an hour, brooding on what she'd said. I only left when two soldiers opened the door, looked in and saw me, then went without a second glance. Something is happening.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


I met with Smith, and we talked about G section. I asked her about the man I'd seen yesterday. Nothing more than that. I left the question open. She said he was a test subject, someone they'd purposefully manipulated with the mal. She told me his leg had been nothing but a rotting tube of flesh when he'd been brought in. They'd taken some of the samples from 83 and managed to implant them into the man's leg. 83's affliction had taken over, covering and repairing the putrid flesh, transforming the leg back into an appendage. She told me it was a breakthrough, the first instance where they'd managed to use the mal to do something good, to help somebody.

I asked her why his leg was so big. She said she didn't know, but they suspected it was some kind of interaction effect. I asked whether he was any better off now. She shrugged and said it was the first step. I held my hands up and said I didn't get it. I said I didn't get what the point of any of this was, how it was supposed to help us hold back The Sick Land. It felt like we were trying to stop the tide with sandcastles.

I didn't get an answer. Smith was paged. Her face went white when she got the message, and she told me we'd have to continue our talk tomorrow. She ran out in a hurry. I feel like I'm starting to lose whatever tentative grip I ever had on what's going on in this place.

Saturday, 23 November 2013


I went back to G section. The soldiers on guard weren't the two I saw yesterday, but luckily, I still had my pass. I showed it to them, and they logged the number before nodding me through. I didn't go the way I'd been yesterday, as I didn't think I'd get much out of staring through the window into the experimental drugs lab.

I wandered the corridors aimlessly. Most of the labs were behind heavy doors. The few areas I saw that were windowed showed nothing but scientists mixing chemicals or studying computer screens. I kept my head down when I passed people. There didn't seem to be anything prohibiting me from being in G section, but I thought it would be a good idea to keep a low profile. I turned a corner and saw directly into a large, glass-sided room.

A man was suspended from the wall, a thick metal band passing around his waist, with an attached nylon strap between his legs holding him up. Other nylon straps held his arms and one of his legs. His other leg was enormous, and encrusted with cracked, yellowing skin. I stared through the glass at him. I couldn't hear any sound, but it looked as if he was screaming. I could see no one else in the room. I stumbled away.

As I passed back through the checkpoint, one of the guards stopped me then moved away to speak on his radio. I was made to wait for a few minutes. Smith arrived. She told me to meet her tomorrow, so we could discuss what I'd seen.

Friday, 22 November 2013


G section is separated from the rest of the lower floor by a narrow corridor. The corridor is supervised by a couple of soldiers. Supervised, rather than guarded: they don't seem to stop people, but they do check your details and log that you've passed through the checkpoint.

I spoke to the guards, and they asked me my reason for entering G section. I bluffed and said that I wanted to talk to some of the scientists about 407, and discuss the effects of the drug and some biopsy results. The guards weren't particularly interested, and just noted down a few details. They gave me a pass and sent me through. I checked the floor plan on the wall; the experimental drugs section was nearby.

A scientist was leaning on the wall outside the lab door drinking water from a paper cup. He looked at me suspiciously, so I took a risk and told him I wanted to speak to someone about the drug 407 had been given. He obviously thought I was supposed to know about it, because he told me the whole thing was a bust unless they could learn to control it. Then he said everything in G section was a waste of time anyway, as nothing they developed would ever work outside The Sick Land. He asked me if I wanted to come into the lab and talk to someone, but I pretended I had to leave. He watched me until I'd gone past the guards and back into the main corridor.

I'll come back tomorrow and look around.

Thursday, 21 November 2013


I spoke to the project leader responsible for 407. He was very apologetic about what happened, and seemed genuinely shocked; he said she'd always been a model subject. His attitude changed completely when I told him about the drug, though.

I said that 407 had seemed to have a bad reaction to a drug I was told to give her, and that it came in a red-banded syringe. The project leader's face darkened, and he said she wasn't supposed to be involved in any experimental protocols. He started ranting about the research being seriously delayed, and how they were close to identifying the muscle growth factor that caused her affliction. I tried to commiserate with him. I said it was terrible that a single mistake could destroy a research program. He looked me in the eye and said it wasn't a mistake. I asked him what he meant, and he told me to go to G section and ask. As soon as he said it, he stopped talking, rubbed his eyes, and looked back at me. He said he'd spoken out of turn and asked me to forget it. I said I would.

I'm going to look for G section tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


I followed the drug trolley. When the scientist delivering the drugs went into one of the rooms, I had a look at the information on his clipboard. The syringes are colour-coded based on what they're used for. The syringe I have from yesterday has a red band around it, which, according to the chart, means it's an experimental compound. I looked at the contents of the trolley; there were fewer red bands than any of the other colours.

No one told me they were testing experimental drugs on 407, though maybe they wouldn't. The important thing for me to find out now is whether the drug was given to 407 by mistake, or deliberately. If it was given deliberately, I need to find out whether they knew it would have that effect. I have to know whether they knowingly put my life at risk to test a drug.

Even if there's an innocent explanation for what happened, I have to wonder what they're doing with that drug. I've heard 407 is still trapped in an animalistic frenzy. I hope they had no idea that would happen. I can't see how a drug that causes murderous rage furthers our research into curing the mal.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


There was an incident today.

The drug trolley came round as usual, and I was given a full syringe of something to inject into 407. It's something I've done the last few days. I wiped 407's arm with alcohol and gave her the injection. We were chatting normally as I did it. I turned away to discard the syringe, and 407 grabbed me by the throat.

I turned to face her. She was snarling, though that term hardly describes it; her expression was like nothing I've seen before on a human being. Her normal hand was clamped around my throat; I was starting to panic and see spots. She was trying bodily to drag her giant arm around so it could grab me. I knew if she got hold of me, I'd be crushed to death.

I kicked and punched and pushed my fingers into her eyes. My throat slipped out of her hand and I ran out the door, slamming it shut and locking it behind me. 407 stared at me through the glass.

I've been checked out by the medics. I'm fine, apart from bruises, and the shock of what happened. They've signed me off on compassionate leave while I get over my near miss.

I don't think anyone noticed, but I still have the syringe. I might use my leave to find out what it is. I'm certain 407 changed when I injected her with the drug; I want to know what it was.

Monday, 18 November 2013


We did a lot of medical stuff on Amanda today, taking blood and tissue samples from her afflicted arm, as well as similar samples from her healthy arm. She took it well, sitting patiently while people in white coats bustled around her and jabbed her with implements. I was in charge of a small meter that measured her blood pressure and heart rate, among other things.

Amanda told us a story about something that happened to her when she was on duty at the military base. She'd been assigned to guard the gate, which she hated, because nothing ever happened. She was speaking to the other guard and keeping an eye out front, when out of nowhere, the rotted carcass of a whale dropped onto the ground a hundred yards ahead of them. She was almost crying with laughter as she described the horrendous stench and the deeply unpleasant clean-up job that followed. She got to stand there and watch while every unassigned soldier on the base was sent to mop up whale guts.

The scientists taking the samples obviously enjoyed her story. It gives me hope for the state of things here. As long as they realise they're working on human beings, rather than empty bodies, I can't believe there'd be many ethical problems.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


We stress tested Amanda's arm. We had to figure out a way to brace it just under the shoulder, so that it wouldn't rip away from the rest of her body. We did it using an adjustable frame and some straps. Once the arm was braced, we began loading a barbell and seeing how much she could hold onto. We ran out of weight before she lost her grip. She told me she could hold on all day, so we tried a different test. We helped her lift her arm up and grip one of the chinning bars on the ceiling. Then we timed how long she could hang. We ended up having lunch while we watched her. In the end, she said her ribs were starting to hurt where she was dangling, so we helped her down.

Her condition is extraordinary. By most accounts, she's hideously deformed, but her distended arm is unbelievably powerful. She seems in high spirits, too, and was laughing and joking while we tested her. I really hope most of the patients here are more like Amanda and less like 83. It would make the research activities much easier to accept.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


I've been assigned to patient 407. She has an enormous, prodigiously strong right arm, but is otherwise normal. She told me to call her Amanda. My job is to test the limits of her afflicted arm, and to do various simple medical things, like drawing blood. I also have to observe muscle biopsies and other complex procedures.

407, Amanda, is stoical about her situation. She was military, stationed at one of the bases on the outskirts. She thinks she got affected by the mal after a single extraction mission that took her into the Green Zone. It's certainly possible. Sometimes, people do get struck down that quickly. But now that I know about fluctuations, and the rate of expansion, it's difficult to avoid speculating. It's quite possible that her base was inside the Green Zone and they never knew. I didn't mention my suspicions. I think she's better off believing it was just a terrible piece of luck, rather than a systematic failure by her employers to protect her.

Working with Amanda should be a lot less harrowing than working with 83. I hope so, anyway.

Friday, 15 November 2013


I went to the lab where they're experimenting on 83's skin samples. I watched through the glass wall as the scientists inside ran various tests, standard biological stuff as far as I could tell. I loitered outside until someone came out who I could speak to. I asked the scientist what they were doing with the tissue, and she told me they're searching for the mechanism by which 83's skin regenerates. She said it's a particularly fascinating case because they don't know where the energy or protein for the regeneration comes from. 83 eats nowhere near enough food, and they suspect he draws on the mal in some way.

I told her I thought the research sounded fascinating, and that it had obvious applications in medicine. I asked her if she thought it might produce something that could be sold, or used in other applications. I was thinking of how much money could be made from cellular regeneration. She looked at me as if I were an idiot, and said that whatever mechanism was involved in 83's regeneration wouldn't function away from The Sick Land, just like everything else they study here. I was embarrassed; I thanked her, and left.

I've been worried about possible cynical motivations here, but the scientist I spoke to made a good point: whatever they discover here only holds here. The research, though unpalatable, is obviously aimed at helping people survive the mal, which is a noble goal. I'm still not sure how it relates to stopping the expansion, but I'll continue speaking to people until I find out.

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Today was my final day in sole charge of 83. He was still knocked out from the injection, so I took the blowtorch and removed the rest of his thickened skin. It smelt like pork cooking, and I had to leave a few times to get my breath back and stop my head spinning. When I was done, 83's flesh was bloody and inflamed. I injected him, and recorded the relevant data. As I was finishing, Smith arrived to debrief me.

She looked at 83 and nodded. There was no satisfaction on her face. She looked at my data without comment, and asked if I had any questions. I told her that 83's brain damage was much less severe than had been assumed, and that I'd been communicating with him. Smith told me she knew, and that it was always at the back of her mind that 83 was a human being. I got angry, and asked why she and Miles had tricked me, and led me to believe 83 was brain damaged. She said Miles didn't know, and none of the scientists she'd had under her had known. She said that for their peace of mind, it was better that way. My anger disappeared; 83 needed his treatment to stay alive, and the facility needed the research. It was right to ease the burden on the researchers.

Smith called Miles and we transported the burned remains of 83's skin to a lab for analysis. I have tomorrow off, so I think I'll go to the lab and see what I can find out.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


83's skin had thickened during the night, and I found him on the floor, unable to move. I couldn't bear to see him like that, so I tried to scrape away some of the skin as gently as I could to free up his joints. As soon as I touched his skin, he started to moan horribly, and I knew he was in excruciating pain.

I didn't know what to do. If I left him as he was, 83 was trapped in his motionless body. He was struggling to breath, and I didn't think he'd live for much longer. But removing his skin caused him terrible pain. In the end, I did what I had to do. I grabbed his arm, sliced away some skin with a knife, and injected him with the sedative. When 83 was out cold, I grabbed the blowtorch and burned the skin on his arm away. I didn't do any more than that, because I needed to see how he reacted. Tomorrow, I'll clear the rest of the skin away. It'll hurt him temporarily, but he won't be in as bad a situation as he is now. I don't feel good about it, but I can't think of any other way to solve his problem.

I need to know what's going on. I have to get a fuller picture of what they do here on the lower level, how their research is progressing. Once my week in charge of 83 is over, I'll be in a better position to investigate.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


I brought 83 a pad of paper and a marker. He took them and began to write. He wrote that he used to work as a researcher in the top level of the facility. He went on repeated field trips; one day, he found a small patch of thick skin on the underside of his arm. He saw the medical team, and they told him it was the mal. They made him sign papers before he could receive care; when he signed, they moved him down here.

At first, he was treated as a patient, but as his condition grew more severe, he was transferred to different teams of researchers, and began to be treated more like a lab animal. He wrote that his current team have never seen him looking human, or spoken to him, until now.

83 was flagging badly as he wrote, the activity exhausting him. Before he fell into unconsciousness, he managed to tell me that he is kept sedated almost all the time, and that the treatment he receives is like torture. He started to write something else, but he passed out before there was anything legible on the page.

I think it's possible that no one really intended for 83 to be used in the way he has been. At the very least, I need to find out what discoveries have come out of the research conducted on 83. If he's being needlessly tortured, it needs to stop. In the condition he's in, though, it's easy to imagine there's only one way to help him.

Monday, 11 November 2013


When I arrived at 83's cell, he was sitting on the bed. His skin was broken and bleeding, I guessed from the effort of getting up there. I almost went to get someone else - Smith, or Miles - but I didn't. 83 sat on the bed with his hands on his knees, his head down. I opened the cell and went in. 83 looked up at me with his single, milky eye.

I stood by the door, staring at him. 83 raised his arms, and I could hear his skin crackling and tearing. He held his left hand flat in front of his body and moved his fist over it. I realised he was miming writing. I was frightened. He made the writing gesture again; very carefully, I left the cell and got a pad of paper and a marker. I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to go near him, so I clipped the marker to the pad and slid it across the floor to 83's feet.

He bent to pick it up, and I felt bad about the pain it obviously caused. He took the marker, held it clumsily, and drew something on the pad. Then he slid it back to me; it was blood stained. The shaky writing on the pad said 'NO INJECTION'.  I was amazed, and nodded to 83. I went to give him back the pad, but he shook his head. His eye was already closing. It had obviously taken an extreme effort for him to write. I'll come back tomorrow. If his recovery continues, he might be able to tell me how he came to be here. Has he somehow recovered from brain damage? Or are the experiments here more sinister than I thought?

Sunday, 10 November 2013


I don't know what's happening. Something obscene is going on here, and I need to figure out what.

I resolved in the night to give 83 his treatment. The research has a noble goal, even if the methods are questionable. I shouldn't let my repulsion at what they do here hamper their pursuit of a way to combat the mal. I arrived at 83's cell intending to do what I'd been asked. I took the blowtorch and entered his cell.

83 was in what seemed to be his standard position, sitting slumped on the floor by the back wall. If anything, his skin appeared thicker, with even more cracks splitting its surface. I moved toward him to shackle his arms, and he raised his head.

I froze. I'd never seen 83 move in such a purposeful manner. I began to doubt what I'd seen. I stepped forward. 83 lifted his arms, the skin splitting and oozing pus, and held his hands up to me, a clear, unambiguous gesture. I left his cell.

I'd been told 83 was badly brain damaged. That's not what I saw today, and I can't get out of my mind that yesterday was the first day he didn't receive his injection. I wonder if the injections are why he seems brain damaged. I don't want to think about what that means.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


I didn't manage to finish the work I was given today.

In line with the experiment Smith and Miles have concocted, I was supposed to burn away a small patch of 83's skin and administer an injection there. I couldn't do it. When I arrived, 83 was sitting up, no longer comatose, exactly as he was the first time I saw him. I started by following the instructions that were left for me. Maybe I thought it would be better if I was just mechanically following orders.

I shackled 83's arms to the wall, and ignited the blowtorch. When I touched the flame to 83's arm, he screamed horribly, and I realised I couldn't do it. I extinguished the flame, unshackled 83, and left him in his cell. He was making quiet, rasping noises, and I wondered if he knew about anything other than pain. I sat outside his cell, staring in.

I don't know what happens now. I can't do the work they want me to, and I don't think that'll be tolerated here. I'm in trouble.

Friday, 8 November 2013


Today's task was simple enough: give 83 an injection he needed before the treatment proper begins tomorrow. As far as I could tell, 83 was comatose when I arrived; I guessed he'd been like that since the ordeal of his change cycle. Neither Smith nor Miles were there, but they'd left detailed instruction on how to give 83 his injection.

I walked into his cell and lifted his arm in my gloved hand. His skin is like incredibly thick callous, and moving his arm required a lot of force. When it finally did move, the skin ruptured and oozed translucent fluid. With my stomach churning, I took a metal implement and began to scrape away at the skin. I was sweating by the time I'd removed enough to give 83 the injection. The room smelt like an abattoir, and I couldn't look at the bloodied chunks of flesh I'd left piled on the floor.

I injected 83 and left the room, heading straight to decontamination, where I threw away the scrubs, gloves, and mask I'd been wearing, and stood under a hot shower for a long time. I couldn't get what I'd seen, what I'd done, out of my mind. I'm beginning to hate myself.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


Smith took me to one side today and spoke to me in a nearby office. She said she was concerned that I wasn't adapting well to my new role, and that I was allowing squeamishness to override my desire to contribute to the research. She said that if I wanted to help people like 83, I had to be willing to make the hard choices, and do things that might seem cruel in the short term. I don't really understand how torturing 83 is helping, but I kept my mouth shut; Smith is the scientist in charge of our group, and I don't know what happens to me if she decides she doesn't want me. I must be on my last chance.

Smith put me in sole charge of 83 for the next week. The idea is that I get used to every aspect of 83's treatment, and I get over my squeamishness. I'm going to have to do things to 83 that I'm not comfortable with, but it's better than the alternative. I was told I could be kept prisoner here if I was considered a risk; I've had a lot of exposure to the mal over the previous months, and I know what would happen to me if I manifested symptoms as a prisoner. I don't want to end up like 83. At least as a scientist here, I can try to reduce the amount of suffering.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Against my better judgment, I went back to work. Smith told me 83 was about to undergo his change cycle, and that all three of us would be watching. Miles set up monitoring equipment, and we sat at the desk in front of 83's cell. He was lying on the floor, his arms spread out, still coated in dried blood from the day before. I wouldn't be comfortable keeping a rat in those conditions. After a couple of hours, the cycle began.

83 writhed on the floor of his cell, his body contorting into positions that looked almost impossible. He began to scream, and I watched as his skin rippled. He bucked once, his heels driving into the floor and lifting his back, and thick yellow matter forced itself out from underneath the surface of his skin. His screaming choked off as the yellow crust thickened, cracking and splitting as it grew. The whole process was over in a few minutes, and 83 was back as he was when I first saw him. He lay on the floor of the cell, motionless except for the ragged rise and fall of his chest.

Smith and Miles checked instruments and recorded notes. Then, as if they hadn't just seen a man in torturous pain, they began to discuss the next experiment. When Smith raised the issue of burning 83's skin away, I got up and left.

I can't take this.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


I've been assigned to work with subject 83. Before I went to his cell, I was told he was brain damaged, and had a degenerative skin disorder caused by exposure to the mal. When I got there, he was slumped against the back wall, his remaining eye clouded over with blue mist. His skin was a pale yellow, and inches thick. A network of deep, brown cracks covered his body. He didn't seem to be able to move. The other two researchers assigned to 83, Smith and Miles, explained that they're studying how his skin condition responds to different stimuli, and the growth factors that cause his problem. They told me I was about to see an experiment.

Smith and Miles entered 83's cell and shackled him to the wall. His skin split when they moved his arms, releasing thin pus. Once he was shackled, they took wire brushes and scrubbed his skin. The brushes quickly became soaked with blood, the bristles clogged with fragments of skin. While they scrubbed, 83 whined, a high-pitched, unsettling sound. When they were done, they unshackled 83 and he fell to the floor. He trembled, and his body was slick with blood. They told me to inject him with a sedative, which I did. His arm was slippery and hot.

I feel sick. 

Monday, 4 November 2013


I was briefed about the work they want me to do. I was told I'll be given much more responsibility than I've had before, and that I might find the work distasteful. I asked if there was anything else for me to do here, anything that didn't involve vivisection. Apparently there isn't. Everything they do is focused on discovering how the mal works, how it can be cured and controlled. They believe that every other avenue of investigation has failed, and that the only solid basis we have for our research is in the interaction of living, human tissue with the mal. I asked how it would help us solve the expansion problem, and was told that we needed something, anything, that was tractable to scientific investigation, and that thus far, there'd only been success in this one field.

There's a second reason for this research, one that nobody talks about because it's almost too horrible to contemplate. In the event that The Sick Land begins to consume population centres, our research will be needed to help the afflicted people survive the mal as best they can. To me, it seems like trying to fix a decapitation with a bandage, but I understand that there needs to be some planning for the worst-case scenario. I start work tomorrow; I hope I can stomach it.

Sunday, 3 November 2013


I was shown around the lower floor. The screams never stop here. I left my room in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, and I could hear them, faintly, coming through the ventilation shaft.

The lower floor is built around a large central corridor, with smaller corridors branching from it at regular intervals. Each smaller corridor leads to a research station with desks and equipment, and a glass-fronted cell. I knew what would be in the cells before one was shown to me; it was obvious from the terrible sounds that echo around this place. The cell I was shown contained a sedated woman. Her stomach was a bulbous pus-filled wound the size of a dinner plate. A hairy, segmented leg protruded from the centre of the wound, twitching. I felt bile rising in my throat, but I forced it down. I've seen enough, here in The Sick Land, that even the deeply wrong no longer affects me the way it would a normal person. Two scientists were working outside the cell, examining samples cut from the woman's wound.

My guide told me the research here is focused on discovering how the mal affects human tissue, and how the effects can be controlled. They believe this is the only way humanity can get some grasp of what it is The Sick Land does, and gain some insight into how it works. They think the only way we can gain enough information to stop the expansion is through the vivisection of human subjects. It's terrifying, and I understand why the outside world can never know what goes on here.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


The floor below is more like a hospital than a lab. Harsh fluorescent lights flicker above stainless steel and white-painted brick. I was given scrubs and a face mask before I entered the lift, and everyone I saw was dressed the same way. The air tastes horrible, and the smell of antiseptic is constant.

The first thing I saw when I exited the lift was a team charging through the corridor, pulling on rubber gloves as they ran. I turned to ask what was going on, but a pain-filled howl cut me off. I would have said it didn't sound human, if I thought there was anything else on the planet capable of so much despair.

I had a very bad feeling. The man who'd accompanied me down was looking at me, as if he was trying to read my mind. He said I'd probably guessed what research took place down here. I didn't need to respond; we both listened to a blood-curdling scream that ended with a thick, bubbling cough. He led me straight to a medical room, where I was checked for disease and parasites, thoroughly decontaminated, and given innumerable injections.

The medical stuff took all day. I'm in a tiny room, very much like the bedroom I had when I first arrived in The Sick Land. I'm dreading tomorrow. At least at the moment, I can kid myself about what they do here. Tomorrow, I'm going to have to see it.

Friday, 1 November 2013


I was offered the opportunity to stay. I'd move down a floor, to the level below. I've been led to believe that whatever they're doing down there is vital to the solution of the expansion problem, but also that the research is on the very edge of what's ethical and acceptable. I've been told that if I choose to go down there, I'll forgo any human rights I imagine might cover me. The work is apparently too important for them to allow you to leave if they don't think you're entirely trustworthy, and I could end up seeing out the rest of my days as a prisoner in the facility.

I think it's worth it. Whatever they're doing down there might well be humanity's final hope. If we can't hold back The Sick Land, and it continues to grow at its current rate, we're all doomed. I need to know what they're doing to hold it back, and I need to help if I can. I'm already buried in this too deeply to be extracted; if I left now, I'd spend the rest of my life worrying about what was happening here, and feeling as if I missed my one opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing of mankind.

I'm going down tomorrow, and I have no idea what to expect.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


I made my decision.

I went to the administrator's office and told him I wouldn't blow the whistle. I explained that I was passionate about solving the expansion problem, and that I'd let my personal feelings get in the way of finding a solution. I told him I had no desire to jeopardise the research taking place here, and that I would leave without any complaints. The administrator listened to my apology, and said it was a shame to lose a young scientist, especially one so dedicated. I told him I would like nothing more than to work in the facility on the expansion problem. The administrator seemed genuinely moved, and said he'd see if there was anything he could do to arrange a transfer to another group, as they never like to see a mind go to waste.

I hope he can find a place for me. If I have to go, I'll go quietly, but I'd much rather stay here and contribute. If there's any way I can help solve this problem, I'll do it.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


I threatened to go public. The administrator closed the door, then asked me if I understood how serious that would be. I said I did, that I felt I'd been left with no other option. The administrator told me it would ruin me, as I'd signed confidentiality agreements. I said I didn't believe him, that they wouldn't cover whistle blowing, and even if they did, it'd be worth it. He started to speak, but I cut him off, telling him the public had a right to know about the expansion. I told him the best minds in the world ought to be working on the problem, with unlimited resources, not a bunch of so-called scientists working out of a single bunker.

The administrator listened to me rant. Then he told me to make a decision. He said that if I went public, I would destroy the research on the floors below; he said I'd only seen the tip of the iceberg, and that the researchers on the lower floors were close to a solution, but that their work would be difficult to sustain in the face of public scrutiny. He also said that because the work is so important, the facility wouldn't hesitate to discredit me, to present me as a fantasist. They wouldn't allow me to damage their work.

I'm torn. As far as I could tell, the administrator was telling the truth. There must be something going on below, some fragile, incomplete solution to the problem. I don't know if I dare risk it. I don't know what to do.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


As soon as I got up this morning, I was taken to see one of the administrators. The administrator told me I was no longer on duty with the mapping team, and that my job with the facility was terminated. I was told I was a liability, and that I'll be taken to a military base at the end of the week and flown home. I was so angry, I could barely formulate a response; I just stamped away without thinking about what I was doing. I've had all day to sit in my room and consider it, and I know I don't want to leave. I want, I need, to stay here and tackle the expansion problem. I don't care about the mapping team - they aren't doing anything to help, anyway - but I have to do something.

If they're going to send me away, there's at least one way I can help. If they can't be persuaded to let me stay, then I'll blow the whistle. The world needs to know about what's happening here. I'd rather stay and contribute to the solution, but if I have to, I'll alert the media. It might well destroy me as a scientist - or worse, if they're as serious about security as they seem to be - but I have to know that I've done something, anything, to help.

Monday, 28 October 2013


I lost it today, and with good reason.

I was shadowing two researchers working on the map. They were entering data collected from remote sensors and updating the map accordingly. What I was seeing didn't make any sense; the map seemed to respond almost randomly to the readings. I asked them to explain what was happening. They just laughed and told me not to worry about it. I got angry, and asked them how they knew the results were accurate. They said it didn't matter what they knew, as long as someone knew how it worked. I started shouting at them, asking them to tell me which people knew anything. I called them idiots, and said they were a disgrace to scientists everywhere. In the end, they asked me to leave. I've been stewing in my room ever since.

No one in the team knows anything, and they all think someone else is in charge. No one wants to take personal responsibility. The Sick Land is expanding rapidly, and all I can see are docile researchers calmly entering data while the world is eaten away, miles at a time. It's making me question the ultimate motivation of this place.

I'm supposed to be shadowing them again tomorrow, but I don't see the point. I'm going to check out that secure lift. There must be people below who know what's going on here.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


I asked the project leader what our team was doing to prevent the expansion of The Sick Land. He looked at me as if I was an idiot, and told me that our group monitors the expansion. There's another team that deals with solutions to the problem.

I asked him what the solutions entailed; I was hoping he'd put my mind at rest for the immediate future. He didn't. He told me the research done by the solutions team was too far beyond his area of expertise. I asked him for the simplified version. He said he wouldn't be able to do it justice. I pressed him for an outline of what the solutions team do. He held up his hands and admitted he didn't have any idea what the team did, or how they'd go about holding back The Sick Land. He didn't know about the technology they used, or about their theories. But he trusted that the team were doing the best they could, and that they'd find a solution soon.

I asked him where the team was based; he said he didn't know. I followed up by asking him who the researchers in the team were. He'd never met any of them. Finally, I requested that I be allowed to join the solutions team. He told me it was impossible, that I would need a much better grounding in the relevant material.

I hate this. I feel like everything I try to do is obstructed. I'll have to push down my feelings of helplessness, my fear of the expansion, and try to learn what I can.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


I had a horrendous dream last night. Clearly, it was caused by what I saw yesterday. I spent today in a daze, sleepwalking through the work I'd been assigned. I don't think anyone noticed a difference.

In my dream I saw a city. People bustled along the pavements, while cars queued in the roads. The sky went dark, and the people looked up. A sickly yellow light washed over the city. A man burst. Two children huddled together, and their bodies melted into one, their screaming mouths widening until they met in a sickening, sagging grin. Enormous pulsating tubes ripped from the ground, hurling cars aside and latching onto people, turning them into desiccated husks. All the while, on the horizon, an enormous, dark wave approached, and I knew it would wash over the city, killing everyone who remained.

I can't bear it. I have to know what's happening, what's being done here about the expansion. I'm going to speak to the project leader tomorrow. And if he can't tell me what I want to know, then I'll find someone who can.

Friday, 25 October 2013


I saw the expansion in action.

I was working in the map room, struggling pointlessly with one of the computers, when I heard an alarm. The beeping was piercing, and I stood up to see what was happening. Quite a few other researchers came running in from elsewhere, and they all looked excited. They clustered around the map, and I pushed through the group to a point where I could see it.

As I watched, a small portion of the border between the Yellow and the Green began to waver. Then, the Yellow bulged out into the Green, pushing the Green into the area past the boundary. The researchers began to chatter, and a couple of them started drawing on the white board. I asked the woman next to me what we'd seen. She smiled, and told me The Sick Land had just expanded, and that it was rare to see a fluctuation in real time. I couldn't figure out the scale on the map; only a portion of The Sick Land was shown. I asked her about it; she said the Green had just taken about 200 square miles of the surrounding area.

I felt dizzy. I moved to a nearby wall and leaned against it, watching the others. They didn't seem concerned about the expansion in the slightest. I thought about the rapid expansion, about The Sick Land growing relentlessly while we did nothing to stop it. I started to feel sick, and went back to my room.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


They let me spend the day using the computers to work with the existing models. I tried to get some sort of grasp on what was going on, but I couldn't. All I was doing was feeding the computer numbers, then crossing my fingers and hoping it produced the output I was supposed to get. I found myself gently massaging the numbers, celebrating any movement toward the right answer, then trying to replicate what I'd done.

One of the problems is that the algorithms have an element of randomness. At least, that's what I've inferred from entering exactly the same numbers and getting different outputs. Unless there are other factors outside of my control that influence the result. I asked the instructor and he sighed, and said I clearly wasn't getting it, and maybe it would be better if I went back to work and tried to view the models in context. I asked whether someone more senior, with a better understanding, was available for me to talk to, and the instructor told me that anyone who achieves a good grasp of how the models work is moved out of the group onto other projects. I thought of the secure elevator, and wondered again what happens beneath us.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


I spoke to the instructor about the problems I've been having. He told me not to worry. He said nobody gets this stuff at the beginning, and that I should concentrate on using the equipment for practical purposes. Once I had a feel for the mathematics, I'd be in a better place to understand the theory. I asked him how I was supposed to do anything with mathematics I couldn't understand. He said I should use the established models. I pointed out that the established models don't work, and he didn't seem to know what to say.

I've got a lesson in computer operation tomorrow. I don't think it's going to enlighten me. I don't think the instructor has much more of a grasp of the mathematics than I do, and I think that reflects the general problem: none of them know what they're doing. They enter numbers and receive results, but there's no science going on that I can see. Since their black box approach is no longer working, I'd expect them to be trying to change it. But no one I've met so far has the chops to do that. There must be some people here who know what's going on. They're the people I'm going to have to find.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


I had my first lesson in the mathematics of the mal field. I was excited before we started; I thought this would be the beginning of my ability to understand The Sick Land, and the first step in helping to solve the expansion problem. I was wrong.

The models they use to describe the mal field are obtuse to the point of being incomprehensible. The simplest model, the toy example they gave me to work on, has thousands of continuous variables covering an enormous range of values. Slight differences in a single value can cause the model to generate wildly different predictions. I don't understand how anything gets done; if their sensors become slightly more accurate, the model can change dramatically.

It's even harder to get a grip on what's happening because of the computers they use. Obviously, it's impossible to solve anything by hand; I found I was just entering numbers and watching outputs, and I couldn't see any logic to the changes in the output as I changed the input.

I told myself I would try to understand, and I've spent the day studying the material they gave me. I'm none the wiser. I can't even understand the examples. I'll speak to the instructor tomorrow.

Monday, 21 October 2013


The device that generates the Red field wasn't working today. The scientist on duty told me that it takes an incredible amount of power to operate the device, and if the power level dips, the device automatically goes offline as a failsafe. He told me if I looked through the viewfinder, I'd see the device, rather than what I saw before.

I was reluctant to look at first, as I still had the remains of a headache, and I wasn't sure if they were trying to involve me in an experiment by getting me to look in there again. In the end, I decided to look, as I couldn't see any way around it. I saw four dark spheres. I think they were rotating, though I couldn't really tell, and blue bolts of electricity crackled between them. Whatever tech they're using in there is far beyond my current level of understanding. I asked for a layman's description of how it worked, and the scientist I spoke to pretty much laughed in my face, and told me there wasn't a layman's description.

It doesn't matter, though. Tomorrow, I start my primer on the theoretical basis of the mal field. Once I've done that, I'll be much closer to being able to understand the technology here. I'll still need to get more involved with the specific devices I want to use, but it'll be a start. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013


I spent the whole morning feeling nauseated and with a terrible headache. Whatever they've done in their lab, they've at least managed to replicate that aspect of the mal. I felt slightly better in the afternoon and went to find them. They offered me another look, but I turned them down. I wanted to talk about what I'd seen.

They told me the brain doesn't have the correct conceptual equipment to process the information it receives through the viewfinder. They said the reason I got a headache so quickly was because my brain was running through numerous approaches, trying to find a consistent representation of what I was seeing. Apparently, some people see black patches, because their brains give up trying to process the signal and just ignore it.

I asked for more details about the process and their theories about the mal, and they told me to come back tomorrow and participate in some experiments. Once I've done that, they think I'll be better equipped to understand what they're doing. I'm dubious about whether it'll make any difference, but it's their project, so I'll play by their rules.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


A couple of researchers in my group showed me around their lab. They told me their goal is to recreate the Red Zone under laboratory conditions. They claim they can magnify the strength of the mal using material recovered from a pocket of Red. They subject their sample to a barrage of electromagnetic radiation in a gas chamber full of organic compounds. I want to know everything I can about how they're controlling the mal, so I asked them to show me.

They switched on the machine, and told me to look through a pinhole viewing device. Through that, I'd be able to see their simulation of the Red Zone. I pressed my eye to the viewer. I wish I hadn't.

I saw a kind of grey mist, rising and falling in brightness. It was impossible to tell if it was right in front of my eyes or a hundred miles away. My estimations would flip without warning, as I realised that a wisp of black in the distance that I'd been trying to focus on was actually almost in my eye. There was something wrong with the way the mist moved, too, as if straight lines were no longer the most direct route between two points. I'm familiar with non-Euclidean geometry, but I couldn't make sense of what I saw.

I stared at it for a couple of minutes, until my head started to pound. It's still throbbing now, a piercing pain right between my eyes. I'm going back tomorrow to quiz them about it. If my head feels any better.

Friday, 18 October 2013


Today was a long day of safety training. I managed to chat with a few of my colleagues about their views on the expansion.

If the current rate of expansion holds, The Sick Land could overwhelm a population centre within my lifetime. There's no reason - at the moment, anyway - to believe that the rate of expansion would stay the same, but then, none of the researchers seem to have any idea about how or why the rate of expansion is as it is. The researchers here are taking it on faith that something will change; they aren't worried at all about the expansion. It makes me wonder whether there's something going on somewhere, maybe on the lower floors, that gives them this confidence. Perhaps whatever method they've discovered to ward off the mal can be used to hold back the expansion.

I want to be as confident as they are about curbing the expansion, but the thought of whole cities falling into The Sick Land terrifies me. I have to know what's being done about it; I can't just put it out of my mind like the other researchers seem to.

Thursday, 17 October 2013


The scientific part of my briefing was interesting. The researcher in charge gave a presentation on changes in The Sick Land. Elements were familiar, but some of it was unlike anything I've heard before.

According to geological records, The Sick Land was stable until about 150,000 years ago. There's evidence of small fluctuations prior to that, but nothing significant. The Sick Land began to expand, growing at a steady rate until about 200 years ago. At that point, the rate of expansion increased dramatically, as did the volatility of the green zone; fluctuations became commonplace. Recently, the rate of expansion has accelerated even more, to the point that the standard models used for predicting the growth of The Sick Land have broken down. I was told that the main goal of the project is to figure out why this is happening.

After the main talk, a few of the subgroups went through their theories about the expansion. One group think that the changes are simply a product of the more accurate data that are available now, and that the expansion is nothing to be concerned about. Others think that the rate of change is merely chance, and that the acceleration would be invisible on a geological timescale.

I know I made the right decision in joining this group. The expansion of The Sick Land could well be the greatest threat facing the world, and I'm in the right place to make a contribution.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


I decided to work with the mal mapping team, as they have the most advanced technology I've seen here. The team were pleased to have a new member, and gave me a more thorough demonstration of the electronic map they use for charting the strength of the mal. When I saw the map before, it was focused on the area surrounding the furrow. This time, they zoomed out, so that the map showed Europe and Asia. The Sick Land is much, much bigger than I'd thought. I'd always had the idea that it was a relatively small region; I remember the maps in most textbooks showing exactly that. Assuming the map here is accurate, I'd estimate that The Sick Land covers around thirty times the area I'd thought. I was shocked, and asked about the size. They told me it would be covered in my induction briefing tomorrow.

I took the opportunity to ask how the map works, where they get their data from and how they collect it, and about the theoretical basis of the mapping technology. I wasn't satisfied with what they told me; it didn't sound like science. I hope everything becomes clear at the briefing. Maybe, because of the influence of The Sick Land, I'll have to learn a whole new scientific vocabulary before I can understand what's going on. I really hope that's the case; I don't like the idea that the researchers using this equipment don't know what they're doing.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


They gave me a day to look around the rest of the lower facility and decide which team to join. I've looked at a number of different projects and spoken to a lot of scientists. It dawned on me around lunchtime that I was getting exactly the same impression of the lower facility as I did of the upper.

The scientists here make use of incredibly complex technology. Some of the technology, like the map of the mal field, looks cutting edge. I know from personal experience that sophisticated technology breaks down when exposed to the mal. So why does their technology work? It might be that the facility is outside of the Green Zone - I'm not sure - but how do the sensors that provide the data for the map work? I tried asking people about it, but no one had a good response. I think they've discovered something here, some way to circumvent the mal and keep their technology working. That would also explain why the field researchers are able to stay healthy. And why I was okay after all that time out by the furrow.

I want to know how they've done it. If they've discovered how to control the mal, maybe even gained some understanding of it, the information is bound to be top secret. If I want to know how it works, I'll need to prove I can be trusted. There are restricted areas down here, and I saw a secure elevator at the end of one corridor. It's no secret on this level that there's a level below. I'll have to go deeper to find what I want.

Monday, 14 October 2013


I was shown the Palaeontology department. The particular project they showed me was focused on Birdheads. They had a huge collection of skulls, far more than I knew existed. They took me to one bench where two researchers were running a series of tests on the skull I found. I have no idea how they got hold of it. I guess they must have gone into the old station between the incident when Xi was killed, and the formation of the crater. The two scientists were scanning it in a large machine to create a three-dimensional model of the skull. Apparently, they're trying to identify formations that suggest commonalities between the different skulls.

The skulls are radically different from one another. Some of them look almost human; others are unrecognisable - I wouldn't think they were skulls if I saw them in another context. I asked my guide where they got so many Birdhead skulls, and she told me the skulls are provided for them from the field. I don't remember anyone in the field team mentioning finding Birdhead skulls; having seen the lower portion of the facility, though, I wonder whether there's a second group doing field operations.

The pride of their department is a Birdhead skull that Phillips found. My guide showed it to me, and I asked why I'd never read anywhere that Phillips found one. She told me it was covered up at the time, but couldn't tell me why. I asked how the facility came to have the skull now, and she said the organisation had just kept it. I didn't get it at first, but now I do: the group behind the facility is some continuation of whatever organisation was out here when Phillips was found. I don't really know what to make of that.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


I had my briefing today, and was told I had three choices for an initial posting: Mapping, Ecology, or Palaeontology. Mapping is the project I got a glimpse of yesterday; they observe and model the mal field. After my briefing, I was taken to Ecology and shown around.

I was surprised, to say the least. They showed me a large, water-filled tank. Inside the tank were hundreds of small snakes. I couldn't get a good look, as they were fast swimmers, so the researcher showing them to me extracted one. Its head was almost spherical, with three evenly-spaced depressions around the skull. It had no other features, and they told me the depressions were the snake's sense organs. They saw my reaction, and I told them that Phillips had found an identical snake. They nodded and said they want to mount an expedition to Victoria to see if there's a colony of the creatures there. I didn't mention that the water, and the things in it, only seem to be there sometimes; I just asked them where they'd gotten these snakes from. They told me there's a huge colony of them living in a lake under the facility. They think the snakes are one of the most common life forms in The Sick Land. If they're right, it just goes to show how out of touch we were at the station, and how out of touch the academic community is in general. Back when I was at the station, I thought academic research was the cutting edge. Compared to what they've done at the facility, we look like children throwing stones in the dark.

I'm seeing the Palaeontology project tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


I've been taken down to the lower level. I went to the Chief Administrator's office in the morning; two soldiers came and led me to a lift in a part of the facility I hadn't seen before. They rode down with me.

The lower facility looks the same as the upper level, but the atmosphere is different. There are more soldiers here, some guarding certain corridors, others roaming the halls. There are black and yellow signs showing restricted areas, and I saw a few heavy-duty doors with what looked like fingerprint scanners. The researchers seemed different, too: more serious, slightly older, and always rushing. Upstairs was much more laid back. I was met at the lift by a man in a lab coat. He told me to call him Finn.

Finn took me to a large, dark lab, illuminated only by the flickering of an enormous electronic map. It took me a while to figure out what I was seeing: the furrow, and at the end of it, Victoria. Different colours overlaid the terrain; a line of very pale yellow spattered with blobs of green followed the furrow. Victoria was a much darker yellow at first, bleeding into orange, and then red at the far end. I stared at the map with my mouth hanging open and Finn laughed. He told me most of the model was a projection, as they hadn't had time to get the data from nearer Victoria, but they were confident it was a lower-bound on the true extent of the mal in that area.

I'm being briefed tomorrow. I'm excited.

Friday, 11 October 2013


The Chief Administrator called me into her office today. I was worried before I went in; I haven't produced any significant research while I've been in The Sick Land, and I know how competitive places like this are. I've been asking a lot of questions, too, and I might have upset some people. If those people wanted me gone, there wouldn't be many arguments I could muster in my favour. The meeting wasn't what I'd expected, though.

I sat down in a leather chair and spoke to the Chief Administrator. She told me she knew that I'd been looking for answers, and that my intellectual curiosity, and the grit I'd displayed in surviving for so long out in the field, had impressed the senior staff. She stopped talking and took some papers from her desk. She said that if I signed them, I'd be offered a new position. If not, I could choose to remain where I was or leave. I glanced at the papers, but there was no real question; I signed them immediately. Once I had, the Chief Administrator told me that the upper level of the facility is for field experimentation; the true researchers were on the floor below. I asked why no one had told me this before, and she said it was an open secret, but discussion of the matter without security clearance led to termination, so no one really talked about it. I'm being taken down to the lower level tomorrow. I hope I'll find answers.

Thursday, 10 October 2013


I found out which researcher has been here the longest. It's a man called Stefan, a scientist working on the mal field. I asked him whether he knew Sergei. He did; they'd been working together when Sergei had been recalled to the station. I discussed some of the theories Sergei had told me about the mal. Stefan said Sergei had been an invent thinker, but had struggled with the special form of calculus they use to create models. I asked whether I could borrow a book on the topic; Stefan told me that only the most gifted mathematicians could understand the calculus, and that there wasn't anyone currently in the facility with that expertise. I asked again whether I could borrow a book, and he said there weren't any, because the mathematics involved is so esoteric. I must have rolled my eyes, because he became flustered, as if I was questioning his abilities.

I tried to clear the air by asking him a professional question. I asked whether the mal field near the furrow is particularly weak. It's a theory I've been considering to explain my survival after that long in the Yellow. Stefan calmed down and said he'd consult the other researchers. I thanked him and left before any more of my frustration could show.

I don't know what's going on here. I don't see how any research can take place when the researchers don't have the knowledge they need to do their jobs.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


I talked to more of the researchers. I've identified an interesting trend: everyone I've spoken to is a field operative, an experimentalist who works in the field, or a former field operative who works with the field team. I understand that the point of having a facility like this is for in situ experimentation, but the range of skills is very limited. Of the dozen or so scientists I spoke to, all but one of them had made at least one trip out into The Sick Land in the past three months, and all of them were using technology they couldn't explain.

The impression they gave me is that every research project is controlled by a senior scientist. The senior scientist designs the experiments, provides the technology, and makes use of the results. There's nothing wrong with that model, but I haven't managed to find a single senior scientist in the building. I've only met the junior staff, and they seem to have much less knowledge than I'd expect. Given how frequently the scientists receive new equipment, I'd guess that the engineers, at least, must be here. But I've not met anyone who has the slightest idea who designs their equipment.

I can't believe that the scientists running these programs aren't in the building. They'd want to be here, and they'd need to be, not least because the researchers I've seen have been so passive and uninformed. Tomorrow, I'm going to find the most senior researcher I can. Someone here must know what's going on.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


I was allowed out of bed today. I feel okay, though I still need to gain some weight. I'm technically on medical leave, so I took the opportunity to explore the facility and get a better idea of what everyone does here. What I've found hasn't impressed me.

When I was first exposed to the technology here, I thought I couldn't understand it because I didn't have the right background. Today, as I went around the facility, I asked everyone I saw how they did what they were doing, and how their technology worked. If they said something I couldn't follow, or tried to gloss over details, I asked them for a reference. My plan was to use my free time to immerse myself in the research and get a thorough theoretical background. I hit a problem immediately.

No one was willing to give me more details, or explain anything in more depth than the most superficial analogies. I've spent my working life with scientists, and they usually love to explain their field to interested people. I don't understand what's happening. No one seems to have any books, or papers, either. It's like they exist in a vacuum, where they already know everything they need to know, but they can't, or won't, transmit the information. I don't see how this place can run. I'm going to investigate further tomorrow.