Treatment 43 - The Warning

When a government lab comes under assault by interdimensional invaders, a young researcher must venture into the invaders' home plane in order to survive.

RANDI (29) is a new hire at a top secret government lab in the middle of nowhere. CHARMAINE (56) gives her the tour, shows her the basics of the base. When Charmaine mentions a "time-shift" lab, Randi makes her pause: "What exactly am I going to be working on here?" Charmaine smiles - "Get used to having your mind blown."

Charmaine shows Randi to her office and gives her a few minutes to get situated. When Randi turns around, there's a figure standing next to her - androgynous, glowing, beautiful, eerie. All the lights in the room angle towards it, as if it's drawing light. Randi tries to roll with it, but is freaked out when the figure tells her it is a HARBINGER. "We heard a cry," it says, "And we come in answer." Randi tries to tell it that she isn't the one who cried, but then it's gone.

When Charmaine returns, Randi tells her about the Harbinger, and Charmaine isn't sure what she's talking about. "It's a big lab, I'm not always up to speed on what everyone's working on. Let me show you the cafeteria." When Randi insists this seemed potentially dangerous, Charmaine takes her to the head of security, DARREN (43). Darren immediately takes her to LEON (50), the head of an investigation into an interdimensional being captured a decade ago.

Leon asks her everything there is to ask about the Harbinger and then some - she does her best to answer, but can't possibly answer him to his satisfaction. So, he takes her to the SUBJECT - a vaguely-humanoid shadow projected onto a wall in a magnetically-contained cell - nonferrous objects (like humans) can pass in and out easily, but whatever the Subject is, it is fully contained. When Randi enters the cell, all of the light she can see bends towards an androgynous humanoid form, much like the Harbinger - this is definitely the same sort of being.

Leon consults some other scientists and ultimately comes to the conclusion that they need to activate lockdown procedures. The entire facility is closed off; nobody in or out until they feel the threat is contained. The facility has a water treatment plant and sufficient food stores and farms to last for decades if necessary. No sooner has the facility locked down than reports start coming in of bodies - the bodies of several elderly people are being found all around the facility - and it seems like they're employees, having been aged to death. Sure enough, many employees are missing, and some of them are found as elderly corpses.

Leon cautions aainst the chauvanism of assuming their project is related to all of this, but Randi is convinced it's related and suggests they free the Subject. Leon is opposed to the idea, but the other scientists convince him that there's too much they don't understand here, and just the data they've gained from the last decades of research can itself be studied for at least another 20 years.

They release the containment fielt holding the Subject, and suddenly find themselves in the wilderness - rolling hills, great forests, tall mountains in the distance. Charmaine identifes their location as… their location, just without the Facility. A VOICE speaks to them, commenting on how interesting it is that they're blind here - "If only you could be given eyes to see."

Then they're back in the facility, but the entire facility is left-right reversed, like a mirror image of itself. Leon posits that they're in an alternative dimension, a mirror dimension. One of the scientists disappears from the midst of all of them, making them realize they're not safe here.

They move together through the facility, encounter mirror versions of everyone else - it seems like this mirror facility is going through the same thing as their original facility, except worse - people are disappearing and not being found, rather than being found elderly.

Then Charmaine checks a computer - difficult, given that all the text is reversed - and comes to a horrifying discovery: the President is currently considering whether to activate the failsafes built into the facility, destroying it and killing everyone inside.

They decide they need to get back to their own universe, but the only theory they have on how to do that is terrifing - they need to disappear like the others have been. If anyone's location is ever unknown to everyone else, they disappear - so they all need to turn around and not look at each other. Who knows where they'll go, though?

Everyone but Randi and Charmaine do it, but Randi and Charmaine don't take their eyes off of each other. Then Randi sees something - an elderly body. She and Charmaine hold hands and examine it, and come up with a theory - they aren't in a mirror universe - they're mirrored, in their original universe.

Before they can discuss the ramifications of that, Randi trips, breaks contact and vision with Charmaine - before she even lands, she's back in the wilderness. Then she's in an entirely different facility, then she's in a snowswept field, then she's back in the original facility - she realizes she's shifting every time she blinks.

Randi strategically uses her blinks to run in a straight line away from everything - every time she approaches a wall, she blinks until the wall isn't there, and keeps moving. Soon, she's outside the Facility, looking down at it from a nearby hillside. She sees the facility start to explode, but the flash blinds her, and she hurtles through an everchanging void.

Despite her blindness, she can see herself clearly, and she's changing - her hands aging, growing youthful, not existing, all simultaneously. Then suddenly, it stops - she's trapped in place, locked in a small room, watching the facility exist in all possible states and configurations around her. SHE IS THE SUBJECT, untethered from time and space, existing in all realities and none of them. She watches the Harbinger approach her throughout all of reality, then stop outside her cell.

The Harbinger asks her who she is, asks why it doesn't recognize her - it exists in all possible times, so it already knows everything it will ever know. It shouldn't be possible for it to have novel experiences. Randi theorizes it's the facility's magnetic cells, so the Harbinger somehow MOVES THEM THROUGH REALITIES until Leon deactivates the mag cell holding her.

They return to the void, and Randi is overwhelmed - the Harbinger explains that she isn't meant to have the same knowledge that it has, and it's likely her ever knowing all of this is why she became untethered in the first place. She begs it to help, so it puts her back in the facility, minutes before she ever arrives - and then it's gone.

Randi, apparently invisible to everyone, finds her past self just before she walks inside, and discovers her past self can see her which is obviously confusing and terrifying for her. Randi tells herself to leave and never come in. Her past self obeys, confusing the Charmaine. The "real" Randi then disappears, never having existed at all.