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.

Monday, 7 October 2013


The doctors came and took more blood today. They said I'd be able to leave tomorrow. I was told to stay hydrated, and to eat an extra meal every day, at least until I've gained some weight. I told them I felt fine, and that I was surprised at how quickly I recovered. I noticed them looking at one another before anyone answered. One of them said he thought my body might be stronger as a result of resisting the mal. Another doctor pushed forward, and said his theory was that the mal had shut down some of the systems in my cells that could have caused damage. I asked which it was, and the two doctors started talking at once. In the end, they walked off to another office, bickering as they went.

I'm coming to the conclusion that, despite how advanced the tech seems to be here, most of the researchers still don't have a very strong idea of what's going on. I thought there'd be a much larger basis of theory underlying the technology and experiments I've seen, but if the doctors here are anything to go by, all they do is promote their pet theories and ignore the bigger picture. Starting tomorrow, I'm getting as much information as I can.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


I dreamt about Bob last night, but it didn't feel the same as the other dreams. I was dreaming about something else when I heard Bob's voice. It was faint, almost a whisper, but I forgot about what I was doing and set off to find the source of the voice. I didn't find Bob, but I did reach a windswept cliff overlooking the sea. From there, I could just hear what Bob was saying. He told me I had to find the answer, and soon, or the world would perish. I asked him what question I was supposed to be answering. I didn't get a response.

The dream didn't feel as strong, or as real, or as compulsive as when I've dreamt about Bob before. Those times, I've felt like the events of the dream have been almost real, somehow. This time, I could believe it was just a dream. I'm planning to investigate the facility and find out more about the work they do here. Maybe my subconscious just wants me to hurry up and get out of bed. I'm hoping to be able to leave tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


The chief doctor came and spoke to me today. She told me they hadn't found any evidence I'd been permanently damaged by my prolonged exposure to the mal. I asked her if that just meant that my symptoms were yet to manifest, and she waved the question away. She said it's best not to think about these things. Apparently, I haven't suffered too badly from the more mundane effects of being stranded, either. They don't think I've done any permanent damage to my body.

I asked when I'd be up and about, and the doctor said it should be any day now, and that I'm surprisingly healthy. I asked her how it was possible; she fobbed me off by saying I was lucky, and the effects of the mal aren't understood. I'm not happy with that response; it makes me wonder whether they're withholding information. It's easy to tie yourself in knots thinking like that, though, so I've been trying not to. The first thing I'll do when I'm out of hospital is get as much information as I can about what they're doing here. Then I'll be in a better position to speculate about possible adverse effects in the future.

Friday, 4 October 2013


I spent today in a hospital bed. I feel okay. My throat is sore, and I've been hooked up to an IV so I can hydrate as quickly as possible. I've eaten a few meals, and the food is as good as hospital food generally is. After being hungry for so long, it's amazing to feel full again.

I've got a team of doctors working on me. They seem to be moonlighting medical researchers, and it means I've been subjected to all kinds of strange tests. One of the doctors painted my chest with a pink powder. I asked him what is was for, and he said the powder would discolour if I was carrying any particulate matter from The Sick Land. Nothing happened - I'd been sprayed in a decontamination shower when I came in. I asked the doctor how the powder worked; he told me he wasn't sure and I should ask a chemist. The answer didn't fill me with confidence.

The medical team took blood samples and urine samples, as well as running me through a rusty iron scanner that looked like it was built during the cold war. I should find out tomorrow if I have the all clear. None of them would tell me anything about the tests they were running, or what exactly they were looking for. I've decided I want to know a lot more about the advanced technology they have here.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


I'm writing this from the passenger seat of a Jeep. They did their best to slow me down, but I've still managed to drink enough water that my stomach feels swollen.

I was picked up a couple of hours ago. The facility had a few teams running experiments in the area, and the driver of the Jeep told me that everyone has been searching for me since I reported emerging from the cavern. If I'd stayed there, I'd have been found earlier.

It's amazing that I've survived; the question now is what damage my extended stay in The Sick Land has caused. We don't understand how the mal works, why it affects certain people in certain circumstances immediately, while others remain untouched. I just have to hope that I'm one of the lucky ones. After this much exposure, though, I'll want them to run every test they can to make sure I'm clear. I never really got to have a good understanding of the work that goes on at the facility, but they must have some pretty advanced medical science for dealing with the effects of the mal. My best-case scenario now is that I'm fine, and I can get back to work. Having seen The Sick Land up close, I feel even more driven to investigate its mysteries.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


I dreamt I was drinking cold water from a huge, frosted jug. I dreamt I was swimming in a crystal-clear lake, and every time I went under, I'd drink as much of it as I wanted. The third dream, the worst one, was that I was lying in my bed. I was thirsty, and all I had to do was reach out and get the glass of water beside me. I knew the glass was there, and it was a sweet torment to get thirstier, certain as I was it would be quenched.

I woke up on the ground. My throat felt like I'd been swallowing gravel. I drank the last mouthful of water in my bottle; it was sweet and pure and soothing, and nowhere near enough. I walked roughly in the direction of the facility. I didn't see any sign of human life. I might as well have been alone in the universe. The only sounds were the wind, and the crunch of my footsteps on the dry earth.

 I trudged along until it was dark. I hope I can sleep. It's my only respite.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


There's light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope you'll forgive the cliche; I'm in a somewhat unstable frame of mind. I followed the cave without stopping to rest. I've got one mouthful of water left, and I'm saving it. My throat is burning, but, honestly, I don't feel as bad as I might, under the circumstances. After I'd walked for a few hours, I began to see a glow ahead, different from the glow of the cave walls. As I got nearer, it brightened. I started wondering whether this was it, whether I'd finally lost it. I kept walking.

The cave I walked through opens into the cavern. The cavern where we lost the researchers. The cavern that is days of travel by Jeep from the furrow, and weeks of travel on top of that from Victoria. Time and space are different here. I knew that, in an intellectual sense, but now I feel it in my belly. Phillips, the lost researchers, and the thing that was chasing me must all have made similar journeys.

The stupid thing is that I'm now so much closer to the facility, but I might as well still be at the furrow. There's nothing here for me, and I don't have enough water to walk back. I'm going to die here, closer to the facility than I've been for weeks, after everything I've been through, everything I've survived.