Friday, 31 May 2013

They delivered the lab stuff today. There's a lot. The trucks turned up this morning and the soldiers carried a load of equipment into our lab. They didn't set much of it up, though, or even organise it; there are huge piles of crates all over the place and a byzantine checklist detailing the contents.

Val and Mo started setting up the equipment they wanted, while I went through the checklist. Crate 7B contained some new computer peripherals, including a webcam. I took the webcam and hooked it up to the computer in my bedroom, then put it on the windowsill to give a good view of the outside. I should be able to record the thing as it approaches, even if it recognises the camera when it gets to the window. Once I know what I'm dealing with, I can start planning how to track it.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

I radioed the military base to ask them when we'd get our lab equipment. They told me they'd had the equipment sitting there for a week, and were waiting for us to requisition it. Typical bureaucracy. I took a deep breath and asked for the equipment; they said it'd be delivered tomorrow.

There should be equipment I can use to find the thing that's been tapping on my window. I woke up this morning to find a disintegrating cardboard box outside. The box was full of mushy brown goo that I think used to be paper. I'd love to know where it's getting the stuff it leaves out there. The old station is gone, and the only other places with paper are here and the military base. I can't believe it gets the paper from a manned base, and I've seen no signs that it finds the paper here. It's intriguing.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I worked on the broken Jeep all day. Replacing the tires was easy enough: we have a huge pile of spares in one corner of the garage. The glass was trickier, and the electronics proved impossible. In the end, I decided to repair another old Jeep with working parts salvaged from the Jeep I used yesterday. The repaired Jeep should be reliable enough as a back-up.

Val came into the garage to ask me something while I was working. I don’t think she realised that the Jeep I’d been in yesterday had been damaged; she and Mo were both in their bedrooms when I got back. I’m keeping the information to myself for the time being. It’s frightening to think that something out there attacked the Jeep, and I’d rather not worry them.

My suspicion is that the Jeep was damaged by the same thing that’s been tapping on my window and leaving paper outside. I’m trying to think of a way to catch or track it, but I’m not sure how. I could leave some food out and see if it gets taken. That might be a good first step.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

We went into the deep Green, taking two Jeeps with full kit. My hope was that we'd manage to get close to the Yellow Zone; we didn't.

Mo began to feel sick as we went deeper. Val pulled their Jeep over, and Mo staggered away to throw up. I was impatient and drove on. My Jeep broke down about a hundred yards ahead of them. I couldn't start it, so I walked back to the other Jeep to get a tow.

Mo was more ill than I'd thought. I was worried, and decided I'd take them back to the station before towing my Jeep. I had to drive very carefully. When I'd dropped them off, I went back. The round trip had taken a few hours; it was long enough for something to wreck my Jeep.

The tires had been ripped apart, and all the windows were broken. The bodywork was covered in scratches, and all the kit from inside was missing or destroyed. Severed wires hung from the dashboard like loose threads. I connected the tow rope and dragged the ruined Jeep back to the station.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Val asked when I'd be taking them deeper into The Sick Land. She's bored here without a lab to work in, and she'd like to collect some specimens. We discussed it with Mo over lunch, and agreed that tomorrow we'll go as far into the Green as they can manage. I hope we can get close to the Yellow Zone; it's only a small step after that to go into the Yellow. I want to explore as deeply as I can, the sooner the better.

I didn't hear tapping or see a shadow last night, but when I opened my curtains in the morning, there was a blank sheet of paper tucked between the bars. It was dirty and soaked. I don't know what to make of this. My guess is that I'm being sent a message, but I have no idea what it is. I'll just have to wait for a clearer signal.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Last night, before I went to bed, I picked up the prehistoric tool. It felt smooth and cold. I sat staring at it before getting into bed. It didn't surprise me that I dreamt about the tundra. My dreams are consistent since I came to The Sick Land.

The tundra was huge and bare. The fire flickered, casting quick shadows over the old woman's face. Without turning to look at me, she spoke. She told me she had once had a buckskin, many winters ago. Her third husband had killed the buck with a single spear wound, and she had skinned it. The buckskin had outlasted her third husband, but had worn in the end. The wound in the skin had pulled and torn and widened, until the buckskin was destroyed. She looked at me fiercely when she finished her story. I opened my mouth to ask what she meant, but the words that came out were meaningless. The old woman looked disappointed and pointed at my empty hands.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

I don't understand what I saw at the old station today.

We drove out early in the morning. I took one Jeep, Val and Mo another. They've adapted enough to the Green Zone that I don't need to be in the vehicle with them. We stayed on the edge of the Green, passing through areas that used to be outside of The Sick Land. I saw bare earth carpeted with rotting plants, where there had been fields only months before.

I drove to the site of the old station, stopped, got out of the Jeep and stared. When I heard the other Jeep pull up behind me, I turned and looked at Val and Mo. They were both confused. Because the station wasn't there.

I walked over to look more closely. Where the station had been, there was nothing but a deep crater. It looked as if a giant hand had pulled the station from the ground. Heading away from the crater, deeper into The Sick Land, was an enormous furrow. The furrow was the width of the crater and ten feet deep, stretching as far away as I could see.

I wanted to follow it, to see where it led. But not today.

Friday, 24 May 2013

I dreamt I was on the tundra once again, staring into the fire. I was clutching something in my hand, and I knew it was the prehistoric tool I'd found. I could hear the old woman's rhythmic breathing beside me. I turned my head and saw she was asleep. The fire crackled and danced. The old woman's breathing changed; she was awake now. I turned to her again, and she met my eyes and scowled. She spoke to me, but I didn't understand, and her scowl deepened. She held up her hand and showed me she was holding the prehistoric tool. Not my tool, but the other, the dream tool that looked as if it had been carved the day before. She looked at my hand. I held it up to her so she could see I was holding the tool. My hand was empty.

I woke. The prehistoric tool sat on my desk. It would be easy to fetch it, and clutch it as I fell back to sleep. I didn't. Instead, I got up. I've decided it's time to go and see the old station. See what it looks like now. See what's inside the room with the metal door. We'll go tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Last night, I was sitting at my desk preparing a draft of our findings. Over the hum of the PC, I heard something scraping. The sound was like marbles grinding together in a cloth bag. I turned around slowly and stood; the sound stopped. Holding my breath, I reached out for the light switch. I paused before I flicked it, my hand hovering. Three quick taps at the window broke the spell. I flicked the switch and caught a brief glance of a shadow behind the curtains. The shadow disappeared. I stood there for a minute, straddling the chair, my arm still stretched out to the light switch, my heart racing. I went to the window and opened the curtains.

There was nothing there, of course. Whatever had been there, whatever had cast that shadow, was long gone. I switched my computer off and went to bed. I didn't sleep for a long time.

Today, I walked around the station. Lying on the ground under my window was a thick sheet of brown cardboard. It looked old and faded. The cardboard was grey, but one side was covered in a material that would once have been a rich brown. One edge was ragged, as if it had been torn away. It looks like the cover of an old book.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

We still haven't found out what animal the skeleton belongs to. The body could be from any small four-legged mammal; the skull is the interesting thing.

The skull is attached to the body by the spinal cord, so it's not from a different animal. A skull that looks similar - roughly spherical with three large holes - was found by an Edwardian scientist called Howard Phillips in 1906. When I saw the picture Val found, I thought we had our answer: the similarity was striking. But there are some confounding factors.

The skull Phillips found in 1906 was tiny, no more than half an inch across, much smaller than the skull we found. Also, it was attached to a skeleton that was clearly that of a small snake, not a mammal. The oddest thing about the 1906 skull was where it was found: inside the skeleton of a fossilised whale. Phillips and his team were working on the whale skeleton after it had been uncovered by an earthquake. The scientific consensus was that the snake with the unusual skull was something the whale had eaten.

I don't know how to reconcile the differences between our finding and Phillips's. The skulls, though, size aside, are identical.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

We've identified a few animals that might match the skeleton we found. We downloaded every paper we could get on animals of The Sick Land and spent the day drinking coffee and reading. I felt like I was back at university. We haven't found any animals yet that fit the skeleton exactly.

Mo came up with the best theory so far. He thinks it might be a juvenile example of an animal described in some legends from five hundred years ago. The name translates as 'scalebear', which is a pretty good description. The natives at the time lived in fear of scalebears taking their children. Cryptozoologists speculate that a scalebear is probably a gigantic form of armadillo; the skeleton we found would be from a baby scalebear. 

There are a couple of problems with Mo's theory. The body of the skeleton seems right, but the skull is all wrong. Also, there hasn't ever been a confirmed sighting of a scalebear; we don't know if they ever actually existed. Maybe we'll come up with a better guess tomorrow.

Monday, 20 May 2013

We drove into the mid-Green today, and we found something interesting.

Val and Mo both felt okay, apart from brief spells of nausea, so we were able to explore for a decent amount of time. We got out of the Jeep and walked along a dried-up river bed. There were a few scrubby bushes along the edge, but not much else. About ten minutes away from the Jeep, we found a skeleton.

The bones had been picked clean, although I don't know by what: I haven't seen any animals. The skeleton was small, a couple of feet long. Mo thought it looked like a fox, apart from the skull. The skull was almost spherical, four inches wide with three evenly spaced circular holes. The holes didn't look like eyes sockets; they were too big, and went right around the skull. We picked the skeleton up with a shovel and put it in a specimen box.

When we got back, we left the skeleton in the lab and started collecting papers on mal fauna. We'll find out what the animal is, or we'll have discovered something new.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Last night, I dreamt that the old station was completely enveloped in white fungus. It was pulsing rhythmically and oozing slime. Nothing of the old station was visible. I've resolved to go back there and see it. 

Val and Mo are recovered from their first trip out. Neither of them had very severe symptoms, which bodes well for trips deeper into the Green. We discussed it today over lunch; they don't object to going tomorrow. We'll head the same way we went before, but deeper. It's quite soon for another trip, but until we have a lab, there's nothing for us to do apart from see The Sick Land. I didn't really get a chance to start any research before, so I'm eager to see as much as possible. I might write a book. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

I've come to expect unusual dreams. Whatever it is The Sick Land does to the human mind seems to manifest itself in my subconscious. Last night's dream was unlike the other dreams I've had here.

I was standing on a vast tundra. It was empty in every direction, apart from a small fire in front of me. I approached the fire. The ground under my feet was frozen dirt. As I got closer to the fire, I could see a figure behind it. An ancient, weathered woman sat on the ground. Her hair was steel grey and hung limply to her shoulders, which were wrapped in a filthy animal skin. Her pale eyes were fixed on me. She told me to come and sit by the fire. I sat down next to her, cross legged on the dirt. Between us lay the prehistoric tool. The old woman stared into the fire. I stared too. The flames wavered and the wood crackled and spat. The woman turned to me and looked down at the tool. I followed her eyes. There were two tools there now: the one I had pulled from the ground, and one that looked as if it had been carved yesterday. The woman stared back into the fire.

Friday, 17 May 2013

I took Val and Mo into the Green Zone for the first time today. We explored the area around the station. I didn't see any tracks, or signs of large animals; whatever came to my window the other night was stealthy. Val got a headache, and Mo was sick, but other than that, they had no problems. I walked about while Mo was feeling bad, and found something interesting.

A white object poked out of the ground; I went over to it and pulled it out. I think it's some kind of prehistoric tool, carved from a tooth or bone. The tool is roughly cylindrical with rounded ends. It's yellow-white, about three inches long and an inch wide, with symbols scratched into the surface. I'm sure Xi would have known what it is. I took the tool back to the Jeep to show Val and Mo.

They were excited by the find; Val wants to take a sample and run some tests once the lab is equipped. Mo was feeling pretty bad by that point, so I drove us back. My plan is to take them deeper into the Green as soon as I can.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Last night, I heard tapping at my window. This time, I was awake. I rolled over and stood. The tapping continued. The floodlights outside the station create a gentle glow behind my curtains; whatever was tapping on my window cast a shadow. I stepped toward the window. The tapping stopped. I crept forward slowly, walking on the balls of my feet, barely daring to breath. I was a step away from reaching the curtain when the shadow vanished. I leapt forward and tore open the curtains. There was nothing there, just the wet concrete reflecting the yellow floodlights. I pressed my face against the window; I could see the concrete was dry under the overhanging roof. A single wet mark discoloured the ground. The mark was a rough 'V', about a foot long with a thick point. I stared out for a while longer.

Tomorrow, I'll take Val and Mo into the Green Zone for the first time. Maybe I can find some more evidence of my nocturnal visitor.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

I dreamt I was flying last night. I looked down on the new station, then flew to the old station. Though I was far above, I saw inside as if I were there. The lab was blanketed in fungus, and white tendrils stretched out to the stairs. The alien mass that had consumed Bob was consuming the old station. I woke up.

I walked to the kitchen and got some water, then went back to bed. I found it difficult to fall asleep; when I did, I had another bad dream. I dreamt I was in bed awake, and something was tapping at my window. The sound was like a small coin hitting a beer glass. Three quick taps, a pause, three more taps. The pattern repeated. I wasn't able to move; I couldn't even turn my head to look at the window. I hope I'll sleep better tonight.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

We've arrived at the new station. It's miles from the old station, and farther back from the centre of The Sick Land. The new station is a low building that sprawls over a large area. There's more space, and it seems much bigger because everything is spread out. Barbed wire surrounds the building; there's no one around to keep out, but the military stick with what works, I guess. While the other two were unpacking, I explored the building.

The bedrooms are similar to the ones at the old station, but with one difference: they have windows. The windows are small, made with thick tinted glass, and barred. It's great to have some natural light. The garage is bigger than the old one, with more vehicles. We've got motorcycles and a few beaten-up cars, as well as some decent Jeeps. There's also a huge personnel carrier, which looks like it saw action in some war decades ago. I doubt it works, but it's a good source of parts. There's a large area set aside for a lab, but at the moment, there's nothing there but furniture. We'll have to wait for a delivery of equipment.

I hope this place is a bit luckier than the last one.

Monday, 13 May 2013


We're staying.

We were briefed via Skype. The three of us have been assigned to another station, a different abandoned military outpost. With the change in the boundaries of the Green Zone, it's now on the outskirts, but should be far enough away that we don't have any of the problems we had with the old station. The staff here have been outfitting the new place.

It should be very similar to the old one, but the lab won't be fully operational for some time. They don't have the equipment at the base to replace what we had at the old station, and they can't get it from there because it's off limits. To the military, at least. I'm interested in going to see it; I have a lot of unanswered questions about that place and what happened there. I've got a more pressing assignment, though.

My job over the next few weeks is to take Val and Mo into the Green, and then into the Yellow. It's pretty funny that I have to train them when my training is only just finished, but I guess researchers here have had to do that a lot in the past. If my experience is anything to go by, anyway.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A new researcher arrived today. He's a young guy, a third-year PhD student called Mo. He's bewildered; he'd just sent off a grant proposal for a year's study in The Sick Land, the idea being that he'd finish his thesis and spend the next year doing post-doctoral work here. But they've offered him the position now.

It was sudden. They asked him if he'd intercalate for a year and fly out to The Sick Land. They needed an answer right away. Mo agreed, and within a few days he was on a plane. So now there are three of us again.

This bodes well. They must be planning to continue the research if they've flown someone else out. We were told we'd be briefed tomorrow on what's going on. I hope it'll be good news.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The new researcher is a woman named Val. She's been trying to get out to The Sick Land for fifteen years, and she says she only got accepted because they're desperate. Val is older than they normally recruit; she's a professor at Yale. Used to be, anyway. They wouldn't give her leave to come here, so she resigned. I really hope she gets to do some research. Val's a chemist, but she doesn't work directly on the mal; she's more of an enthusiastic amateur. It's why her department head wouldn't approve her sabbatical.

The staff at the base are very busy. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing. Every day, convoys of trucks roll out, coming back just before dark. We've mostly been left to our own devices. There's nothing to do here except browse the internet and run laps in the yard. I'll be pretty fit if we have to stay much longer.

I don't think there's much chance of that, though. Whatever is happening, it'll be resolved soon. My guess is that we'll be put back onto a Jeep and then a plane. It's a shame. Despite everything that's happened here, I want to learn more.

Friday, 10 May 2013

They debriefed me.

Xi is dead. They found her corpse torn apart on the bed in her room. They don't think any of it was eaten. Sergei is missing; there's no sign of him at all, no remains, no blood, nothing. The creature I shot wasn't there either: the gun was fired, and they found one of the bullets in the floor, but no body. They didn't search thoroughly, though. Because the boundary has shifted.

The station, which was on the outskirts, is now a mile into the Green. They're abandoning it. I don't know what happens to me now. I don't know if the research program will continue. I tried to ask in the briefing but I didn't get a response.

I just have to wait.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

I'm writing this from the base, not from the station. I can't believe what's happened.

Last night, just after my previous post, the lights went out and the base locked down. I felt too sick to get out of bed, so I didn't react. Then I heard the screams; it sounded like Xi. The screaming stopped, and I rolled out of bed and staggered to her room. By the emergency lighting, I could see something, some creature, hunched over her bed. It was vaguely human, but the skull and the spine were wrong, and it had something hanging from it in ragged ribbons. It was eating her, tearing into her flesh with its face. I ran.

I ran up the stairs. I knew there was no point going to the entry level: the building was locked down. I ran to the lab and grabbed the bunch of keys. I was fumbling for the right one when I heard screeching. It terrified me; there was something so alien about the sound. The next sound was worse.

The sound of clawed feet skittering up the metal stairs.

I found the right key and turned it. The emergency lights went out with a pop, and I felt like an idiot for not grabbing a torch when I ran out my room. I pulled the metal door open and felt for the pistol. It was where it always was in my dreams. I pulled it out and snapped in the magazine. Then I stood and waited. The door to the stairs was visible as a faint grey oblong. I listened to the roaring in my ears and my rasping breaths, and tried desperately not to think about what might be behind me. I prayed that the lights wouldn't come back on while the metal door was open. It would be more than I could bear. The skittering stopped; the creature was silhouetted in the doorway to the lab.

I fired twice.

I saw the creature tumble back. Stepping out, I slammed the metal door closed, then locked it. I crept forward. From the top of the stairs, I could see the mound crumpled at the bottom. The creature twitched like a swatted wasp. I fired into it until the gun was empty.

The relief crew found me in the morning, sitting in a Jeep. They wrapped me in a blanket and brought me back to the base.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Dreamt last night that I went to the room in the lab. The metal door was open. I stood in the doorway, staring at the globular mass of fungus and the grey scar that ran down its middle. With a wet tearing sound, like soup pouring on a tile floor, the seam began to split. Sticky strands of white held, then broke.

It was an eye. A huge, red eye.

I fled.

I woke up feeling sicker than I've ever felt. My head was pounding, my stomach squeezing rhythmically. I've spent the whole day in here. I'm going back to bed.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Yellow Zone

This morning, we dressed in our hazmat suits, started our Jeeps, and drove out into The Sick Land.

My Jeep was in the middle of the convoy, with Sergei in front and Xi at the back. I couldn't see my knuckles through the rubber, but I know they were white. Sergei led us on a winding route, sticking, he said, to the areas with the weakest mal. I don't know if he was right; I had a flux detector switched on in my cab, and the pitch changed wildly.

When we were deep in the Green Zone, I left my Jeep and got in with Xi. Then we followed Sergei to the outskirts of the Yellow. The part of the Yellow we'd chosen to enter looked like a dried up swamp, somewhere that had been flooded recently, but was now in a drought. Most of the plant life looked melted. We drove into the Yellow Zone for ten minutes.

My head was spinning, and I felt dehydrated and sick. My guts were clenching. I kept swallowing, but my mouth was dry. Sergei got out of his Jeep and walked over to something. I was having trouble focusing, and couldn't see what it was. He waved us over. Xi looked at me and shook her head, the whites of her eyes enormous through her visor. Blinking, I stepped out of the Jeep and went over to Sergei.

He was crouching by something. Stepping carefully, I went over to him. He was looking at a fish. It wasn't the sort of fish you saw in a pond. It was armoured, with a jutting underbite and a dangling appendage on its head that I knew was a light for attracting prey in the deep dark. It appeared to have burst. I felt my stomach drop. I staggered back to the Jeep and waved for Xi to drive off. She was happy to do so. Sergei stayed with the remains of the fish for a while, then followed us.

When we were back at my Jeep, in the Green, I felt better. I still had a pounding headache, but didn't feel anywhere near as sick. We drove back as a convoy.

At the station, we radioed the base to send the relief.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Sergei has started wearing a hazmat suit all the time. I'm worried about his mental state. My impression is that he thinks the station is out to get him. He's had so many injuries, injuries that haven't healed. And now his face. I haven't seen it; he'd bandaged it before I got to him. But I think it's bad. Maybe more psychologically scarring than his other injuries. He's determined that we'll go to the Yellow, though. After that, I don't know what will happen. We found out over the radio that the relief is ready. The new researcher is at the military base, waiting to be dropped here. They'll come as soon as we've been out. For Xi, or Sergei, or both, the nightmare will be over. All of our preparations are done. We'll head out tomorrow, assuming there are no more accidents.

Last night, I had a dream, and a dream within a dream. In my dream, I went to Bob. Or to what was Bob. The swollen hemisphere was pulsing. A long, dark seam traced vertically down the centre of the bulge, like an old scar. I saw a vision. In my vision, I took the pistol from the door behind me and fired. The swelling burst apart, showering cloudy semi-solids over the room. Bob, whole again, climbed from the mess. My vision ended, and I was staring back at the fungus. I turned and looked at the gun. Then I walked away.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

There was an accident.

I was reading a paper in my room when the lights went out. They came back on quickly. I went into the corridor, and Xi asked me if the lights in my room had flickered. We knocked on Sergei's door, then pushed it open. He wasn't there.

We found him sitting on the floor of the entrance level. He was trembling, his face covered in bandages. He'd been in the decontamination shower when the lights went out. I didn't ask why. In the darkness, the shower blasted scalding water. It was only for a second, but it burned his face. He crawled out and grabbed a first aid kit. Xi and I looked at one another. I could see what she was thinking, what she didn't want to say, so I preempted her.

I told Sergei that both of them should go with the relief. He needed to get out of The Sick Land, and he needed proper medical attention. The new researcher and I could hold the fort until another volunteer came. Sergei nodded. Xi tried to look happy, but I could see a flicker of worry.

She's right to worry. The men who work the relief have orders, and they're armed. I don't know what will happen if they're told to pick up one person, and we send out two. Xi might have a breakdown if she has to stay. I don't know what will happen to Sergei. He can manage at the moment, but he's not healing. He's falling apart.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

We inventoried the equipment we'll need for the trip to the Yellow Zone. The vehicles will be fully loaded, with every piece of kit doubled, or even tripled, across the Jeeps. Going into the Yellow Zone is high risk; with Xi's nerves, Sergei's injuries, and my inexperience, we need to be prepared for anything. Sergei even managed to dig up another pair of flux detectors from the lab. He doesn't think they work, but he's prepared to try anything that might improve our chances. For a while, I stood in front of the metal door in the lab with a flux detector. I didn't switch it on.

I dreamt I went to Bob. There was nothing but the white fungus. No eye hole. The centre of the mass had swollen grotesquely, like the belly of some huge, ineffable creature in the final stages of pregnancy. The bulbous shape was roughly spherical, and as tall as me. Something seemed to be moving under the surface; perhaps it was just the rhythmic pulsing of the thing that used to be Bob. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Great news! They have a viable candidate to replace Xi as soon as we've made our trip into the Yellow Zone. Sergei told them to prepare the relief for immediate dispatch; we'll go out as soon as we complete our preparations. Xi could be on a plane home by the end of next week.

She's trying not to raise her hopes after what happened last time, but I can tell she's excited. None of us expected them to organise a replacement so quickly. I think the promise of escape is helping her tolerate the current situation. I wouldn't say she's positive about the trip out, but she raised the topic herself for the first time, which is a step in the right direction. Sergei is hopeful that he'll be replaced soon, too.

He opened up to us about his worries. He feels like he's been here too long, that it can't be good for a human body to have this much exposure. He isn't recovering from his injuries as quickly as he'd expect; he thinks The Sick Land might be interfering with the healing process. He doesn't want to go back to the university covered in scars. He showed me a paper he thought might be relevant. It covers some research on mitosis in mal cells. Seeing the paper upset me, as one of the coauthors was Bob.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hanging up in the lab, there are twenty-one keys. I tried them all in the metal door. Three of them fit the key hole. One of them turned. A big key. I turned it back when I heard someone coming out of the lift. I'll look in there another time. It's not something that bothers me; I just had another dream about Bob.

The dreams are getting more frequent, and they're so vivid. I feel like I'm really there. Maybe I am. I've sleepwalked before. Maybe I'm half awake, standing in front of the closed door, imagining I can see Bob. Last night's dream continued the previous one. The whole back wall throbbed with white fungus. Cilia squirmed out all over, some of them nearly two inches long. Strands spread along the corners of the room. There was no sign of Bob in that mass, apart from the tiny hole that led to his eye. I knew the hole would be gone the next time I was here. I stared for a while, and wondered whether he could see me.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

We've started planning the expedition to the Yellow Zone. Sergei has a circuitous route in mind that passes through the areas with the weakest mal. Then we'll dart into the Yellow. Safety is the priority, so we're taking three Jeeps, all with full equipment. The Jeeps will be roped together; it's set up so you can release the rope without leaving the cab. When we get to the middle Green, Xi and I will double up in one Jeep, leaving the other back where we know it works. It's not fool proof, but it's the best we can do.

Xi is nervous but focused. She's planning a book on her experiences. She thinks it will sell, and I agree. Maybe they'll even make a film. She's going to give me her first chapter if she finishes it before she leaves. I'm hoping they relieve Sergei pretty soon after. He's been in The Sick Land for a long time now. Also, he's annoying.

I walked in on him in the lab today. He was filming the skull, describing it into the microphone. His greatest discovery. His brilliant find. His theory about whatever. I didn't mind when it was our discovery, but he seems to think he dug it out the ground over our protests. Xi and I have started calling him the mummy behind his back. He cut himself shaving today, and came in with a bandage on his jaw. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing, and Xi had to leave the room. At this rate, he won't have any skin left to bandage.