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The storeroom that Samuel Lloyd had been calling home for the past 28-and-a-half hours was large, spacious, and crammed floor to ceiling with useful provisions. He bemoaned the lack of variety as he made his way through his third portion of just-add-water freeze-dried chicken stew, but his complaints were largely irrelevant — by his calculations, he was in a safer position than almost 100% of the remaining human population.

Lloyd leans back against the wall, and lets out an audible sigh. To his right, shelves full of bottled-water and weaponry stretch on a little way before running up against the bulkhead of the airlock. He currently guessed that, assuming the rest of the chicken stew was in-date, he could live here indefinitely — he was over a kilometre underground, and separated from the rest of the world by the aforementioned bulkhead, several miles of winding facility corridors, and numerous Safe-class anomalies suspended in a solution of-

His mind hits a brick wall of whiteness and he physically recoils, almost pulling the IV from his arm. He takes a moment to steady himself, and tries not to think about the live-feed currently playing on the console not-so-subtly hidden beneath a thin sheet in the corner. Eleven years in Memetics trained you well in terms of not thinking about things, and not thinking about not thinking about things, and not-

He jerks again, his mouth flooded with saliva and the nerves in his limbs blazing. The problem with eleven years in Memetics, he recalled with a wince, was that it left you able to remember about six weeks of it. He pushes himself from the wall, stretching out on the storeroom floor with the ventilator fan whirring above him. His eyes tug themselves closed, and he feels himself flooded with the numbness of chemically-induced respite.

Outside the door, someone cries out as their lungs fill with burning, searing pain. They bang against the airlock seal for a few seconds before falling silent.

The scream starts up again a moment later, in an altogether different voice.


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