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Dispatches From The JRL

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Yekaterina wakes to a staccato of pings from her computer and resolves not to care about whatever it shows her. She reaches for the coffeemaker by her bed, extracts a mug of lukewarm Turkish drip, and lies back as her brain grindingly boots up. The lamp overhead simulates the sun well enough to give her a headache, but poorly enough to remind her of how long it’s been since she saw the real thing. Or, at least, what she knew was the real thing.

Six more pings come through by the time Yekaterina shuffles to her desk. Either the text is vibrating off the screen, or her biochemistry is acting up more than usual.

26:13:47
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
KATYA HELP IM YKU AND IM LOST AND SOMETHIGS COMING

26:28:51
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
okay i think im safe for now but that could change - i woke up in a room ive never seen before and i *know* i went to sleep in our normal bed

26:30:34
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
i have a phone fingerprint-locked to me - that ive also never seen before - and as i explored the area outside (concrete halls, no overtly impossible physics) i heard wet gnashing getting closer

26:31:02
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
i found a door i could deadbolt behind me but idk how long i have

26:31:54
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
oh fuck

26:32:40
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
oh fuck oh fuck oh FUCK

26:32:58
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
the door wont hold much longer and theres nowhere to run

26:33:29
Yekaterina Tarkovskaya
i dont expect to survive but heres where i am:
[img] [img]

Yekaterina stares at the screen, desperate for messages but almost relieved when no more come. She opens the pictures when her heart rate settles - two shaky shots of a dim concrete corridor covered in pseudo-Cyrillic nonsense. The type of room the JRL makes when it can’t be bothered to get creative, distinguished only by an unusual amount of grime.

Yekaterina has not done any cloning research lately, nor had any especially dramatic identity crises. Perhaps the Ratmaze is just fucking with her for the pure joy of it. Such exegesis can be performed later, or not at all.

With two clicks, the message log dissipates like a bad dream. She does not especially care if she’s the “real” or “original” Katya. She’s not the one who died in a piss-stained hallway, and that will suffice for now.