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Lotus Eaters

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ARCHIVIST

Alright, I don't know if this is going to be anything. It could be nothing. But Elias has been trying to hide this letter from me. I don't think he really knew that I knew until now, when I'm making this, and he's likely watching me. But I have to know. What is so important about this damn letter that seems so...inconsequential.

I mean, I've encountered unsigned letters before, but this one is particularly strange because it isn't dated. It also appears to have been...written in blood.

Well, no use delaying any further.

[Deep sigh]

Unsigned letter found on a beach submitted to the Archives by an anonymous individual.

Letter begins.

 

ARCHIVIST (STATEMENT)

I don't know if anyone will find this but I need to warn someone, and my time is short. I will tell my story to the best of my ability in the hopes that nobody else will end up like me, trapped in this....mellow hell.

There were ten of us, that boarded the ship.

We were off to war. With the fog in my head I can't remember where or when but it was something we had to fight. There was a (Archivist's note, here there is a dark scribble over a few words) rough patch though, as we were making our way.

Look, I've been on a ship for most of my life. It's not like I've never experienced this before but something about this one felt different. It was like we passed a threshold, like the atmosphere of a planet. We got shipwrecked, but everyone survived the crash. The air was breathable, and we all got out safely. We didn't know where we were, but we knew that we needed food and water. We split off, I was the captain so I designated teams of people, and I myself led the team that was going to make the shelter.

To this final day, I am glad I made that decision. Otherwise I would have lost myself long before now.

We gathered wood from the trees around us, large and unnatural but sturdy and made for a nice shelter for the small crew I had. Then after a while the food people came back.

I didn't notice anything off at first but now, after all this has happened, I could see all the warning signs.

They were happy, and had found a lot of berries for us to eat. They said that the natives had told them they were safe to eat and we ate them that night, when the water group came back with some drinking water that sparkled in the sun. I should say that this place was beautiful. It was like nowhere I'd ever seen in all my travels, and it is still beautiful, almost hypnotisingly so. The berries were nice, but I wasn't very hungry, and I didn't eat many of them. I didn't drink much of the water either. Even now I'm not sure why I didn't. Maybe it was intuition.

I slept strangely peacefully that night, and had pleasant dreams. I remember them clearly. I was standing in a field, surrounded by pink flowers. My mother was there, and she smiled and offered me a few. She had one in her hair, and she laughed like the wind and her dress blew out behind her but never touched the flowers around us. There was a tree in the distance, and I began walking toward it, thinking knowing it was my home. But I woke up before I could reach it. And I remembered that my mother was dead.

The next morning I said that we should start working on the ship, start preparing to continue with our journey.

I got blank looks in response.

I said again that we should be planning to leave and none of them responded. They all just stared. It was like they hadn't heard me.

After a minute of silence, one of the food gatherers, Charles Hunt, his name was, I've known him for years, went out without a word, and the rest followed him. And then, everyone else got up and left the tent.

I knew something was wrong, I could feel it but I also was having trouble keeping my wits about me. I wanted to follow them, go find more berries, but I didn't want to do that. It sounds confusing, and it was, so I was really starting to get a headache from it.

I didn't eat any berries for a while though. I stuck to the rations in the ship, and eventually I think my crew caught on and started sneaking the berries into my food. They often asked me to come to some sort of gathering with the natives, to just relax and let go.

I refused. I tried to wake them up, shook them, but they all looked dead. Their eyes were blank and unmoving. They only saw me when they turned their heads and stared.

I gave up on leaving. I tried so hard to fix the ship, but they sabotaged me. And the berries are really taking hold of me now, and it's painful to keep fighting so I have to let go.

I'm not happy about it, though I'm sure I will be when I do. They're all singing now, I think they're waiting for me. I'm launching this with a rocket and this is my final plea.

This place is a trap. Warn your children to fly lightyears away if they find this planet. Don't eat the food, nor drink the water.

Run.

 

ARCHIVIST

Letter...letter ends.

I...

I'm sorry. I'm afraid I was just hit with an overwhelming sense of deja vu.

There...are supplemental materials here, including a small glass bottle with the top missing and a...what is that?

It looks like a rocket but it's unlike any I've seen, and seems like it used technology I...ugh. I'm starting to get a headache.

I know this story. I've heard it. I don't know where or when but I have.

This requires looking into.

End recording.

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ARCHIVIST

[irritated] -don't understand. How can I remember something that hasn't happened yet, that doesn't even make sense.

 

HELEN

Of course not, Archivist, your perception of time as a concept is linear. Tell me, Archivist, do you have a mechanical heart?

 

ARCHIVIST

No, I...I don't....but...don't I? Shouldn't I? But I haven't...no, I don't, I, whatever you're trying to do, Helen it won't work!

 

HELEN

Take your time, Archivist. You have plenty of it.

 

[sound of a door closing]

 

[beat]

 

ARCHIVIST

Great.

 

[beat]

 

I...she's wrong. I...don't have a mechanical heart, I-

 

[soft almost inaudible mechanical hum]

 

ARCHIVIST

[sharp intake of breath]

 

[door opens]

 

BASIRA

Jon I found- are you alright?

 

ARCHIVIST

Basira, I'm going to ask you to do something that sounds crazy. Put a hand to my chest and feel my heartbeat.

 

BASIRA

Jon, are you-

 

ARCHIVIST

[desperate] Just do it, please. I don't trust myself.

 

BASIRA

I, uh...okay.

 

[beat]

 

It feels normal Jon.

 

ARCHIVIST

[relieved sigh] Thank you. You can go.

 

BASIRA

Jon, I-

 

ARCHIVIST

[forcefully] Go.

 

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