It only took a few seconds for Cody Redd to realise that something wasn't right.
He had come to in his office, the same place he had fallen asleep- only it wasn't really
the same place, was it? It couldn't
be. It couldn't be the same place because something wasn't right, and his office was usually
fine. How strange
, Cody thought. Maybe if he looked around for that one wrong thing, then his mind would be put at ease.
And so, he looked. He looked inside cabinets, inside shelves, he looked under the desk and under the chair, behind the stacks of paper he had yet to file, only for his search to come up unnervingly short
. Everything was exactly as he had left it- right down to the ballpoint pen that had fallen from his desk when he himself had fallen against it. He picked up the pen, scrutinising its detail under the dying light of the sun through the window. It was his pen, alright. It was his pen, exactly as he had left it... but it seemed as though he had left
it for an awfully long time.
He dropped it on the floor. That was what was wrong, wasn't it? Now, in spite of the resources he was given, Cody didn't make a habit of counting every second he spent asleep. That kind of thing was a pointless waste of dying time, he thought, and not an activity a man as busy as him should be fixating on in times of crisis. Even so, this was quite the long nap. Things didn't usually change
this much after a few hours of shut-eye, did they?
Cody's eyes began to wander, drifting from setpiece to setpiece, taking note of the thick cloak of dust
draped over each and every one of them. That was strange. How did he not notice that before? How did he let time slip away from him so easily? How could someone even survive
a slumber that long without any sort of medical or technological assistance? Maybe he was anomalous
. Oh, he could just picture it now- being locked away in a box with a bed for the rest of his life, his name and title stripped from him like a falconer clipping his wings. 'The Long Rest'
, they could call him. 'The Sleepwalker'
. 'The Man Who Never Wakes'
. Far less grandiose
, don't you think?
My, what a miserable
existence that would be.
He dragged himself towards the door, pulling it open with a grating creak
. It required quite a bit of persuasion
to open fully, far more than he was used to. Perhaps time had finally gotten to the hinges. Perhaps time had finally gotten to him
. He would have to study this later, he thought. If there even was
to speak of.
The hallway was a lot longer than he remembered. A lot longer and a lot darker
. Even when the main lights were off, Cody was used to seeing the faint glow coming from each individual office, but this time there was nothing there at all. It was a miracle that he was even able to see
in such conditions, but that was by far
the least strange thing about this whole situation.
There was a light at the end of the hallway, and Cody decided to follow
Where was everyone? How long had he been asleep for? What on Earth was going on here? Cody tried his best to answer as he walked down the corridor, his mind running over every wild possibility that could explain all of this. Had they moved to a new location? No, that couldn't be it- they wouldn't just leave him to sleep in his office for that long. Was this some sort of anomalous prank? No, none of them had a sense of humour like that (anomalies, he thought, were nothing to joke about). Was he an anomaly himself? Maybe his eternal rest had gone on so long that the rest of the foundation had to turn their old offices into some sort of massive containment unit just for him...
Oh, come on, Redd. Surely you must've come across Occam's Razor
at some point in your studies- and, sometimes, the simplest answer is hiding right under your nose.
Cody looked down. The amulet
- oh, of course
it was the amulet, that bloody thing was the source of almost all of his recent temporal troubles, it had
to be the reason why everything was so bizarre. In fact, it was precisely this sort of thing that gave it the honour of being a documented anomaly in the first place. He smiled, somewhat relieved to have solved this little mystery, but that relief did not last long.
He really was alone
. As he passed by the offices, peering through the dust-coated glass into the scenes that lay within, he saw not a single set of eyes peering back. Everything was exactly how everyone
had left it, and it seemed that everyone had left
it. Eventually, he stopped checking every door he walked past and just headed straight forward. He wasn't going to find answers in empty rooms, was he now? He had to look for one that was occupied
The hallway was definitely
a lot longer than he remembered.
Still, it was finite, as most
things were- and, before he knew it, Cody had reached his destination. He sighed, steeling himself for what lay beyond the rusted door, and pushed his way into the office.
The office was strange, but that went without saying at this point. What was particularly strange about it was its familiarity
- the room had the exact same layout as his own office did, right down to the placement of the desk and the view out of the window. It was as if, somewhere along the walk, he had turned around and doubled back on himself, but he couldn't remember that happening. How odd. This was all very odd.
He took a few cautious steps into the room, peering over the shelves and cabinets to catch sight of a strange figure at a desk by the back wall, hunched over in his chair and typing away intently at a flickering computer screen.
Cody called out.
Again, no response. He let out an exasperated sigh. Whatever the stranger was doing, it seemed to be more important than talking to him. Perhaps he should walk over and check what was going on- maybe he would get a better response if he could actually catch the attention of the man he was trying to talk to. Somewhat hesitantly, Cody walked all the way to the back of the room, reaching a hand out to touch the man's shoulder before he caught sight of what exactly was on the screen...
Y'know, for effect.