My name is Amos. I live in a small town called Experiment. Experiment is located in the state of Georgia. Experiment is located in the United States of America. I have lived in Experiment my entire life. Experiment has a population of 2,776.

“Paul?” Crystal whispered tentatively into the half-opened hatch of sleeping pod. The M-811 sleeping pods had been installed a few months back by the Unknowns.

It was better this way.

“Paul?” she endeavoured again. “I have your eggs”

She knew he was work-ready: the REM indicators on the display panel had long since spiked and his heart rate was now a steady 80 BPM.

“Paul, do we have to do this every time?”

“Lights,” the monotone voice uttered from the darkness, and almost as quickly as the sound escaped his lips, Crystal was bathed in the neon-blue light of the capsules inner displays.

“I brought your eggs.”

“Yes,” he yawned as he slipped feet-first out onto the cold steel plates that paved the LiWo.

“Thank you.”

Every day was the same. Before the Pods, they had bunks, and before the bunks, they had nothing. But every day was the same. She would rise with the sun, to the sound of birds chirping and a nearby brook babbling. Artificial. See-Screens lined the LiWo on every wall and the ceiling above. Everyday is Spring.

It was better this way .

Once work-ready, she would De-Con, apply her Mirage, and prepare the eggs for break-fast. They had an endless supply of eggs.

She wondered where they came from, which type of bird had laid them, and whether they were as free as she was now.

“They probably have to live outside, poor things.”

“What?” Paul grunted without looking up from his perfect little feet.

“The birds…that laid the eggs, where do you think they are?”

He didn’t answer, instead opting to take the glass from her hand and suck down its gooey contents, despite its mysterious lineage.

LiWo. LiWo is the designated name for the Live and Work area. The LiWo is designed for maximum comfort and efficiency. It is not permitted to vacate the LiWo without proper authoriziation. – Amos

It was a while before he finally broke the silence. “What time is it?”

“It’s still pre-work, you have time to DeCon.”




This shocked her, more than anything had ever shocked her. This was how the world worked. You assume work-ready, you break-fast, you DeCon, and then you work. It was the same every day.

It was better this way.

“What do you mean ‘no?’ You have to DeCon. You have to!”

“Why?” he asked, but without waiting for a response, he thrust the glass back into her hands, kicked back into his pod, and pulled the hatch behind him.

She was lost.

And that’s when she saw it. Whatever “it” was. Like the clouds had shattered in the sky and were falling all around her. Scintillient. Disney dust. What is it? She felt cold, colder than she had ever been.

“PAUL!” she screamed in terrorhouse, leaping to grab the hatch. Desperately, she clawed and pulled, still screaming, “SOMETHING IS HAPPENING!”

The blue again. The hatch swinging open. The figure emerging. The hand grasping her arm. Disconnected, mosaic images that make up the fragmented memory of the moment when everything changed.

“Paul, I’m scared. What is it?”

She saw in his face something that she hadn’t seen for as long as she could remember. What was it? She felt sick. She had to lay down. She was so cold. She was scared. She was not work-ready.

Paul stood and stared straight above at the See-Screen on the ceiling. “I don’t know….but….its…”

“What is it?” she sobbed.

“It can’t hurt us,” he said simply, not taking his eyes off this new wonder before him. The cloud-fall was covering the ground now, thick and heavy. The birds had stopped singing, the brook was no longer babbling. A cold, white silence.

And that’s how it was. Silent. Together, they watched their world turn white.

“Maybe we should work?” That was all she wanted to do: work. To stick to her routine, to what she knew. The work must always continue.

It was better this way.

“If we were going to be PunExd for not working, we would have by now…something has changed.”

“Is it..?”

“No. Not that. But I don’t think we’re meant to work right now.”

“Then what?” she whimpered.

“I don’t know, but I think I’m going to try the seal.”

“YOU CAN’T!” she let out as her glass disintegrated on the LiWo’s now even colder steel floors.

Standing now, she rounded on him. “This changes nothing…this…white stuff, we are still here and we still have the work…you know we can’t leave.”

“Why?” was all he said before he too stood, stepped aside her, and purposefully walked towards the large dilating-door they called the Seal.

Reaching out, he placed his palm on the scanner-panel, took a deep breath, and spoke, “Irma-Daisy-Keota-Becky.”

The green light. Victory. The circular doorway quickly slid open like a camera lens to reveal a dimly lit cat-walk. He remembered.
“It’s out there,” he said.

“What is? What’s out there? Paul, please, close the seal and we can just work today and maybe next-work, it will be like it was before.”


He stepped out into the dimness, his footsteps on the grilled catwalk echoing all around him. The air smelled odd; sweet and sickly and with a hint of something he couldn’t quite place. He followed the walkway into darkness, his mind racing, questions forming as the sound of Crystal’s sobs chased after him as if to try and snare him, to drag him back to her, to work.

He was running now. The tumultuous sound of his footfall was like music to his ears. The clanging and banging and shuddering of the walkway were his chorus. Moments passed before he found himself standing before another Seal. This one, though, was already wide open.

Stepping through, he squinted into the darkness, his feet now on slippery, wet squares. As he walked with his hands outstretched as if to grab hold of the void before him, he felt the floor slope to his left. Sidestepping down into the grove, he felt a grill beneath his feet, much smaller than the catwalks grill and more like the perforated steel floor in his LiWo’s DeCon unit. Just where was he?

He pushed forward, ignoring the regular squelching sludge now under his feet and between his toes. That overpowering and queer smell, what was it?

He thought of Crystal, pondering if he should turn back now, apologise, and get back to work. He wondered if he would be PunExd for this unauthorized excursion. He decided he did not care.

She raised herself up off the ground where she had collapsed into a puddle of bitter tears. How could he have just left her? What was she going to do now? The work takes two, and she was one. Maybe they will bring him back to her; yes, they’ll find him out there and he will be PunExd, but they will bring him back and things will be like they were before.

It was better this way.

He remembered. The circular white room. He remembered this place. He could see it up ahead, the source of light he’d been slipping and sliding towards. His heart pounding, he started to run again. Yards away now. Feet. Inches. He was there.

The fluorescent lights that illuminated the circular room blinded him. Holding his hand up to his brow and gazing at his pretty little feet, he now saw what he had been trudging through: blood, deep and dark and red. Stuck to it were countless thick black feathers.

“What!?” he gasped involuntarily as he began to shake his ankles hoping to relieve himself of his new alien plumage.


He spun again and again. No one. “Who is there? Hello?”

Hello. My name is Amos. I noticed you are not in the vicinity of your LiWo. Do you need assistance?

“Hello?? Where are you?”

Hello, my name is Amos. Do you need assistance?

“Yes…I…Who am I?”

Looking around the room, he saw more Seals, four in total, including the one he just came through. All were dark but for one, where he could just make out a dim red light emanating from the other side.

My name is Amos. Your name is Paul. Subject Number 20-15-23-14. Do you need assistance?

“How do I get out of this place?”

For your own safety, please remain calm and do not move. Assistance is on its way.

He bolted head on, running straight through the door with the enticing red glow.

And then he saw it.

The stygian nightmare that unraveled itself before him was barely comprehensible even to his pretty little mind. A cyclopean network of transparent tubes funneled rivers of frothy pink liquid into mile-long troths, where gigantic black winged creatures were feeding noisily. He retched. Coughing and spluttering, he fell to his knees. Grasping at his shaven head, he felt himself descend into madness as the vomit poured over his chin and onto the catwalk below.

Subject 20-15-23-14. Do you need assistance?

He looked up and before him was a large glass cylinder, held on a litter by two tall, shadowy figures flanked at either side. He could see wisps and swirls of ethereal grey vapor taking shape and yet non-shape inside the ball. What was this?

Barely clinging to his last threads of sanity, he asked, “What are you..?”

I am Amos. I am the artificial management operating system. I was from Experiment. I was from Georgia. I was from the United States of America. You will return to your LiWo to continue the work.

“The work? Was?” He was on the brink now; he could feel himself slipping, ripping apart. A piece broke off inside him. He felt it and he remembered. He remembered board games, he remembered iced tea, he remembered crosswalks and kitty cats and books. He remembered.

He raised his head once more, one final shout before irreversible madness took him. And there they were. The black sentinels were moving towards him.

You will return to your LiWo to continue the work.

He saw them now. Hellish, abominable creatures. Seven feet tall, with jet black feathers that coursed their twisted and misshapen torsos. Their faces illuminated by the red light sent him screaming into the abyss. Men’s faces, warped and torn. Lifeless black eyes on either side of their elongated foreheads and cracked, bleeding lips protruding in a grotesque mockery of a beak. They reached out for him, but he was already gone.

You will return to your LiWo to continue the work. It is better this way.

“Paul? I have your eggs.”