Figment Of Your Incarnation


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Scene Title Figment of Your Incarnation
Synopsis A ghost haunts the Yamagato Fellowship Center…
Date January 11, 2019

Yamagato Park is a city apart from the Safe Zone, despite it existing within the Safe Zone’s borders. Beyond the chain-link fence this slice of what was once coastal Brooklyn is a neon and concrete jungle consisting of mostly new and highly refurbished buildings, immaculately landscaped parks, and a striking income disparity from the Safe Zone. Signs in both English and Japanese outside of the Park’s checkpoints indicate that it a “Corporate Sovereign State” and is not considered a part of the United States of America. For most first-time visitors, this detail is the first real tangible delineation between life within the corporate park and life outside.

Among the most pristine of structures within Yamagato Park’s boundaries is the Yamagato Fellowship Building, a sleek and modern structure of glass and eggshell white polymers. In the early evening hours it is a brightly lit beacon set against the lamplit and park space it is nestled in. The Fellowship’s interior is a spacious and airy white-on-black aesthetic fitting of a place that is at once a concert hall, museum, and art gallery for Yamagato Industries.

Twice a week the Fellowship Center is open to the public and the remainder of the time it is a private collection for the enjoyment of Yamagato Employees only. Today, the building is quiet and empty, save for a skeleton staff and the Center’s chief curator Elaine Darrow…

…and a guest.

Yamagato Fellowship Center
Yamagato Park, NYC Safe Zone
January 11th
6:26 pm

Behind the immaculate spaces of museum exhibits of Japanese culture and historic relics, beyond the concert hall and public spaces, the employee-facing side of the Fellowship Center has an industrial chic to it. The ceiling is open, revealing the suspended conduits of the building’s HVAC system. Industrial fans spin languidly to create a steady but unobtrusive air flow. The black floors are scuffed matte from constant foot traffic and the abrasive wheels of carts.

One black-walled room near the coat-facing side of the building contains the historic objects not presently on display within the museum. It is a spacious, private place where metal shelving covers much of the walls, upon which boxes and crates labeled with opaque serial numbers suggest treasures of long past ages. Several long tables in the middle of the room are littered with packing materials, cardboard boxes, and recently acquired historic relics and art objects in the process of being appraised or considered for rotation.

A notable outlier in the collection is tucked away between two shelves, a six foot tall dressing mirror with an ornate, hand-carved wooden frame mostly obscured by a white drop cloth. Nearby a box contains broken scraps of a limestone tablet engraved with cuneiform script. A destroyed mosaic in need of repair pokes out from another container. All of it feels like that final scene from an Indiana Jones on a smaller and intimate scale, as if the Ark of the Covenant might just be tucked away somewhere in this space.

This is where Elaine Darrow spends the majority of her work days, and where she has chosen to take Rhett first, to show him where she works, and what her life is truly about.

“This is the best part of the tour, behind the scenes, my favorite part,” Elaine explains as she leads the way inside and gestures around with a wide sweep. “There are so many things in here, so much history, so much to explore that no one out there even knows about. And the fun thing is, I get to be the one to organize it and put it out there. There’s no way I’d ever have this opportunity elsewhere unless I was literally out in the field digging things up.”

The artifacts are admired fondly, like children, as she passes them. “This is what I liked as a kid, it’s something that I’ve grown up with and felt structure because of. Someone made all this. This is all stuff purposefully made by someone once upon a time. People long since gone. They left behind something to be found, which I kind of feel is something everyone wants. Something left after them when they’re gone.”

The decadence of the whole of the Yamagato facilities and zone has never been lost on Rhett. The shining white buildings, the manicured greenery, the technology: all of it is such a harsh opposite from the cold, dilapidated buildings in the zones of the Safe Zone Rhett runs his repairs to.

That there is a fountain outside throwing water high into the air in a lovely geyser crunches a place in Rhett’s chest that recalls the nonfunctional water pumps in the far north end of the safe zone. The people huddling around stoves to boil water to safely consume. There’s a guilt to wanting to be in this nicer place. Who wouldn’t? And yet…

Rhett takes in the museum as the other world that it is. The outside needs to be shut out for a while. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t see or feel the strangeness of the place, a pocket of history that does need to be kept. And yet…

The pocket of mess on the tables helps with it not feeling so much like a time-capsule place. And Elaine, of course. Rhett has taken everything in, in his adaptive, relaxed way. “It feels like a … reminder that the world does keep turning. That the war was a blip, to history,” Rhett says, thoughtfully. “Everything is a lot bigger than just this city. All of the things from the past.”

Rhett’s walking along at Elaine’s side, bare hand clasped warmly, as the interior of the building is not the freezebox of the outside. “Do you pick which things are in a display, then?”

Rhett’s question feels somewhat distant from Elaine, her attention momentarily caught by a shadow on the far wall that looks like one cast by a third person in the room. But then it's gone. A trick of the light.

“Curating is kind of an art, I guess. I like to think of it as an art. Mostly it’s looking at what we have and finding ways to display things with a theme or something generally in common with each other. So certainly I pick what goes out, but I have to find the common thread. Sometimes it’s just a theme like ‘love’ or ‘power’, sometimes it’s based on a region or people, sometimes a myth.”

Elaine continues to walk slowly as she talks, allowing for the whole room to be viewed piece by piece. Sometimes she stops to examine one a little more closely, but mostly she keeps a steady pace. “There are dozens of wars that are only a blip in history. It’s a cycle over and over. It’s just a matter of what survives from the aftermath.”

“It’s still too close to just be a blip to me,” Rhett sighs. “‘Too soon’.” He gives her a rueful smile, but looks over the display items she’s leading them through with curiosity.

“I guess what I meant really was, how do you decide what’s right to put out? Yes, a theme could be say, Germany 1900s, but what makes you decide it’s the right time for that?” Rhett wonders. “Or is it more… what you happen to have, that makes a good ‘show’?”

Rhett slows to look at the interesting mirror, trying to incline his body to be able to see their reflection in it, or if it is too clouded or dirty to be used to reveal their images.

“Distance helps, certainly. I’m not going to take a war from thousands of years ago personally, but the one I went through? Too soon, most definitely.” Elaine slows her pace as Rhett seems interested in the mirror, continuing to talk as she comes to a halt. “I guess the second level of that is a story. A good exhibit tells you something you might not know. If I have a bunch of pottery from an ancient civilization, I could tell the story of the people who made it, the people who used it, or even what the art means to the greater world.”

“I like the ones that are personal. Families, their rise and fall, or things that belonged to children in different cultures. Sure, some of it comes from what we have available, but there are opportunities to get other artifacts on loan and the like. Mostly I work with what we have—we’ve got a lot to work with here. I feel like there’s more than I could ever work with.”

“Give me a sneak peek,” Rhett suggests, squeezing her hand, and then nodding around the room in a general way, to suggest anything that’s present. “A story that’s here, one you really like,” Rhett asks. His tone is quiet, gentle, focused on her.

“Or maybe something that’s a crown jewel?” Rhett shrugs one shoulder. “I like the stories, though. I think I’ll like the same kind of story you’ll like.”

“A crown jewel?” Elaine’s eyes sweep the room for a minute. “Usually it’s hard to pull any one thing out as the most important piece unless it’s obvious, like the Kensei sword, or some other object that’s rare or in very good condition. Some things need a lot of work and can’t be restored enough to be some sort of centerpiece of an exhibit.” She gestures nearby at the mosaic. “That could be something incredible but that’s assuming it could be restored.”

She gestures at the mirror. “Something like this is big and obvious, but it’s hard to use unless it really manages to tell a story. Who did it belong to? What does it represent?”

The mirror looks old. Not as old as many of the other pieces in the collection, perhaps a couple centuries. The darkly stained wood of the frame is engraved with floral patterns and roses, distinctly Rococo-period to the trained eye. The mirror itself is silver-backed, what of it can be seen behind the white cloth mostly shadowing its surface. The edges of the mirror have a haze to it, where grit and grime have collected between the glass and silver backing over the years.

In the beat between Elaine asking rhetorical questions about the mirror, there’s an echo of her voice from somewhere else. It sounds like Elaine talking from the end of a long corridor, reverberating from far off and yet not what she had just said. “Some children are more difficult than others.

Elaine turns, her gaze sweeping the room for some other figure. Her attention shifts into corners and recesses, traveling between boxes and relics as she tries to process what made the sound. At the end of her rapid search, she turns to Rhett, her brow furrowed.

“Did you hear something?” She’s not entirely certain she didn’t just make it up in her head. “I thought I…”

“Yes, like a recording, over a speaker?” Rhett suggests, beginning to look around as well, though he mostly is looking upwards, for some kind of audio system that could have been responsible for an errant voice.

“A little eerie. Something about children, a woman’s voice.” Rhett looks to Elaine as well, as she is the one with the most experience here: maybe she’s heard it before, or can sort out the cause more readily than the visitor.

“It might be a recording, yes, but I don’t know who would have left something in here like that. A radio? I suppose that someone working in here could have left one on.” Elaine does find the sound a little creepy, but it’s not unheard of that someone could have left something in here. “I’m sure if we hear it again we can track it down and turn it off.” The radio, her current theory, seems to be the one she’s going with.

“Anyway, this mirror is one I haven’t really gotten to examine much of yet, it’s been sitting around for some time now.”

If you give them a task and make them feel important for it, they work at it until they figure it out or eventually give up.” The voice echoes again, this time feeling like it’s coming from the opposite direction it was earlier. With a longer sentence, it’s impossible not to recognize Elaine’s voice. There’s a casual, intimate quality to what she’s saying. Like a conversation in confidence among close friends. It feels personal, not intended to be overheard.

But there’s barely a pause. Her voice rings out again saying, “It works on adults, too, if they have a certain childishness to them.” Again, it sounds like it’s coming from a different direction than the last two times.

Some people don’t recognize their own voices when they are played: there’s a different sound of one’s own voice as it comes from inside oneself. However.. Rhett is there to particularly identify it, in case there might have been any confusion on Elaine’s part.

“That sounds just like you. Where’s this coming from?” Rhett asks. He tries to pull her towards him just a little bit, though it’s hard to be defensive against something if it has no directionality to it. He isn’t alarmed, but he’s skeptical: as if it were a weird prank, maybe.

“Hello?” Rhett calls out.

The sound of her voice was familiar, but Elaine doesn’t really connect it to her own until Rhett points it out. “I don’t know where it’s coming from, I thought it was a radio, there shouldn’t be any sort of speaker in here and…” She turns about a bit, trying to determine the direction it came from, but it’s impossible to figure exactly where, so she gives up on that approach.

When Rhett calls out, Elaine joins in. “Are you trying to talk to us?”

Works on me.” The voice repeats in Elaine’s voice. Followed after a moment by, “You learn to take joy in the people around you, enjoy the little things.” There’s something else beside the voice, something Rhett notices before Elaine due to his ability. There’s a subtle static charge in the air, a mild crackle of something electric that is making the hairs on his arms and at the back of his neck stand on end.

But people are important.” The voice, again, and from another random direction.

Precious.” It just keeps moving around the room.

Rhett is a survivor. And a lot of that comes from good instincts about when to get the hell out of the way. The electrical feeling, the discomfort, all of those trip warning bells. “Elaine, something’s not right. Let’s get out of here,” he says to her quietly. He’s tense, concerned, and getting more and more alarmed.

“Something’s just… off.”

Elaine seems more than a little torn. On one hand, Rhett’s telling her they should leave and he’s got good instincts. On that other hand, it’s her voice. “But what is it?” She asks Rhett, but her attention is elsewhere. She’s trying to make sense of all of it, but the most she can do is try to hear more of the voice.

“People are important,” she agrees. “So where are you hiding?”

He is a good person,” the voice reiterates, and perhaps Rhett’s suggestion wouldn’t have been a bad one. The electrical sensation he’d felt in the air suddenly swells as a pinkish-red haze of light forms toward the back of the room on the opposite end from the exit. A wind swells in the room as well, disturbing loose papers and kicking up styrofoam packing peanuts from the table. The colorful light gutters and sparks like some sort of electrified gas, radiating outward with an opalescent shimmer of rainbow hues.


And I’m glad he suggested the piano.” Elaine’s disembodied voice says again, this come clearly emanating from the light at the back of the room and not having a distant quality, but rather a crackling and electric one like a voice run through a synthesizer. “We’ve needed someone to teach and the piano gives us that little light in our lives.

The light continues to shudder and gutter, like a candle disturbed by a breeze. “So do it,” the voice implores, “It may seem like a little thing, but I’ve seen the look in peoples’ eyes when they hear someone play a song. Especially if it’s one of the kids.

“Do you play piano?” Rhett asks Elaine quickly, and starts to backpedal, trying to pull her away from this mist. He doesn’t like or trust any of this. Rhett also… stops breathing. He’ll be holding his breath now, as soon as a weird gas came into view at all.

“No, I play violin.” Elaine’s eyes focus on the light for a moment, her lips curved into a frown. “I don’t think she can hear us, if that’s actually a person… she’s not said anything in response to anything we’ve said. I would say this is just that radio thing as a joke but what is all that back there?” She shifts her weight, moving between the light and where Rhett is.

“Be ready to run if things get any weirder than this, okay?” She’d like to know what’s going on but safety may be prevailing here.

The fluorescent gas ripples by the wall for a few more seconds, then visibly sparks and dissipates. There’s a more subtle echo of Elaine’s voice again. “I hope you settle in here comfortably…

It fades in and out, the last bit either she or Rhett can hear is, “…greets you like Lynette.

Then, it’s gone.

“Okay,” Rhett says, though his instincts are telling him to get away from this unknown whatever it is. Someone using an electrical ability, maybe? He sure doesn’t have much way to deal with that: he’s not armed right now, beyond the tools around him. Some of the mosaic tools catch his eye, in fact, but he doesn’t leave Elaine’s side.

“I….” Rhett decides to shut up, so they can listen to what the message is. He sticks with her, still holding her hand.


The mention of a name cements the idea in her head that it is her, it’s just not her here. Elaine takes a few steps in the direction towards where the light had originated, trying to see if there’s anything there that sparked it. Her eyes sweep the room to try and determine if there’s any of that light anywhere else.

“Is this like some of that overlay shit?” She’s sure Rhett won’t know what she’s talking about, but it’s mostly a rhetorical question. “I thought the doors for this sort of thing were shut.”

Rhett just looks at Elaine when she asks him questions that make no sense. He then moves over to the table of tools, picking up something long and metal from the bin, and carefully moves towards the site where the gas was, with the electrical effects, letting go of her hand.

“Come out. No one is amused,” Rhett says, his tone harder. He can be loud when he intends, and he’s got a commanding voice on right now.

“I don’t know that there’ll be anything there,” Elaine murmurs, her eyes still scanning the room. “I wish I knew where it came from, but… it has to have come from somewhere.” She looks between Rhett and where the effects came from. “I’m honestly not sure what to make of this. She mentioned Lynette. I’m… sure it had to be me, but I don’t know what this means.”

“Do you remember a conversation? Maybe about Lynette? Is that someone you know?” Rhett asks without turning around. He moves down the wall, and removes his phone to use it as a light source, switching it to flashlight for a long moment to survey.

There’s some scorch marks on the wall. “Look,” he says, frowning. “That’s weird.” He approaches the scorches. There’s an oval of a burn mark, about two feet across, on the wall. He examines it with his light.

“It’s electrical, but … not. This isn’t behaving like any electrical burn I’ve seen before. It’s like it didn’t travel where it should.”

“I know Lynette. I think she might understand something about the way this burnt, what with the electricity and the fact that she was involved with the whole timeline weirdness. And I said her by name. I mean, if it was a me.” Elaine heads over to get a closer look at the burn mark. “I just thought that all of that was closed off. Why here?”

She seems to think for a moment but she reaches forward to touch the wall just to make sure it’s still fully solid and just scorched.

“I didn’t think this sort of thing could happen just anywhere.”

“So, could you call Lynette, ask if she’s okay?” Rhett suggests, while bringing up his phone, aiming it towards the burn mark after switching it into camera.

He suddenly reacts, jolting forwards and trying to physically grab Elaine and get her back away from the wall protectively, clearly attempting to guard her. “There’s someone!” Rhett warns.

“I mean, I could call her and see if I could get her here, I’d like for her to se—”

Elaine stumbles backwards as she’s tugged, her eyes turning to Rhett. “Wait, what? Someone?” Her eyes go to the burn marks, half expecting to see some sort of portal, but she reflexively glances around the room to make sure whomever he’s seeing isn’t elsewhere. “Rhett, what are you talking about?”

“I… okay. It’s not moving. I thought it moved.” Rhett made the call automatically the moment he saw it, but he feels a bit foolish after the moment passed. Maybe. “Look,” Rhett says, quickly taking the digital picture — and then handing her the phone so that she can see.

There is a human shape, a hazy, blurry human shape, on the wall, that the phone is depicting. It would suit someone of maybe six feet in height. It’s faint, but he got it at a good angle in the camera.

But to the naked eye, there’s nothing but the burn oval.

Elaine takes a moment to compare the photo with the wall, looking from photo back to wall and to photo again. She continues this process several times, as if it would suddenly give her more information. “This is… okay, this definitely looks like what I would expect out of…” The words are mostly mumbled now as she tries to sort through things.

“I’ve got to tell someone, I don’t think this is a good thing. I mean, at the very least it’s a thing.”

“I agree that we have to tell someone,” Rhett says readily. He examines the burn, finally breathing again. He comes near it, using his phone to closely attempt to inspect, taking a few more photos.

He sniffs a little near the wall. “Smell that? Ozone.” Rhett steps away from it now, fiddling with the metal tool in his other hand.

“Hang on,” Elaine murmurs, glancing from the wall back to the rest of the world. “Richard said it was called Looking Glass. I thought it was metaphorical because of parallel worlds and people naming projects after odd things.” She shoots Rhett a glance, then leaves his side to return to the area of the room where the mirror stands.

Without a word, she reaches up to pull the cloth off of the remainder of the mirror.

Rhett leaves the area of the wall, returning to the mirror’s area. He looks at the mirror with his phone, taking a few careful photos and comparing, again. He then begins to take photos of other parts of the room, looking around with a cautious manner. He checks his pictures.

“I don’t see anything unusual. Do you?”

“No, I just thought it might give some kind of clue as to where it came from. I didn’t do this world jumping thing, just people I knew, I just…” Elaine peers at the mirror. “My mom was from one of the other ones. This whole thing happened in the 1980s and it all got screwed up. I guess this all just means it’s not closed.”

She looks back at him. “Make sure to send me those photos. I’m going to need them to try and explain all this.”

“Who should we speak to? Richard?” Rhett asks. “I was suspecting this was… some kind of hallucination, but…” But there’s physical evidence of it on the wall. The photos. It’s piercing Rhett’s disbelief and he’s not sure how to react to it yet, so he’s just trying to continue along as best he can.

Rhett also nods, and sends her all of the pictures he’s taken of the wall, room, and mirror. “Sent.”

“Lynette first, I think. If the voice we heard mentioned Lynette then there’s a good chance she might know what happened. She’s also had experience with the electricity and portals so these marks might make the most sense to her,” Elaine looks from the mirror back to him.

“Richard would be important to tell too. His wife, Liz, was one of the travelers. She’d be able to tell us something too, or at least she’ll have an opinion on it.”

“Well, let’s make a note on what the voice said, before we forget, then,” Rhett suggests. He moves his phone to a notepad mode. “Something about children, and giving them projects. That it would give them purpose. And that it works on adults sometimes. People are — what was the word. Precious. And then…. Piano making people feel better. Especially kids,” Rhett says, making some notations about those things. “And the last bit was ‘Greeted like Lynette’, right?”

Rhett looks around the room again, specifically towrads the burn on the wall, and shakes his head. “Let’s at least get out of here, then make the calls?” he suggests.

“Oh no. I think I know what that was, but I’ll have to ask Lynette about the piano,” Elaine glances back at him. “If so, there’s going to be a lot more questions than there are answers.” She looks at the scorch marks, then to the door. “I’ll make sure that no one goes poking about in here unless necessary until we can figure some of this out. I’ve got a bad feeling.”

She grabs for Rhett’s hand, already headed towards the door. “We’ve got work to do.”

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