Sandbox

“我有一次被分配到了SCP-058,”Karlyle说。“那个时候,它一整天都在发怒,收容室的墙壁一直弯着,直到墙破坏为止,新墙就会被安装进去。有人在谈论可能存在的收容突破,说我们不可能永远地跟着这怪兽的进度。有人讨论要处决它。我被命令介入,因为我在别处的活干完了。这种情况下,我选择了最直接的方式;有什么能安定它,有没有某种只会阻挡它感知的东西?”

“所以我去了它被收容的地方,建议他们给它头牛。文档将其描述为‘喂食’,但是这并不准确。这个生物只想肢解其他生物。我们给了它一头牛,一种可以让他肢解又不会对我们工作人员产生负面影响的东西。”

“我们精调了这种机制,一次次地。第一次,每天都是一头牛。这被证明太频繁了。这生物的嗜血本性会让它狂乱。更多的牛会让这生物更具有破坏性。所以我们让它等待。让它等着每隔一天的牛,然后是三天一头。很快,这生物就会花时间等待了,直到迟早会有龙会来的。我们和这生物达成了平衡。我们已经完成了交易。这生物已经被控制住了。”

Shirley Gillespie慢慢点头。“这生物还能被训练。”

Karlyle微笑道。“这生物还能被利用。”


“那么,就这样了,我们可以启程了。”

Karlyle研究了他那天早上收到的消息。议会投票的结果保密,只有和这件事有直接关系的几个人知道。他收到这条信息时比较惊讶,直到他意识到了自己没有收到才会不正常。

“是的,”Joshua说。他站在Karlyle办公室的阴影里,冒出了几个字就沉默了。“昨晚投票出结果了。”

“你在那?”
"You were there?"

“没有。那不是我范围内的。”
"No. That was not part of my assignment."

Karlyle的眼睛向上看着。“很好。我认为这意味着我们有了新的指派,是吗?”
Karlyle raised his eyes. "Very well. I assume this to mean that we have a new assignment, then?"

Joshua点头。
Joshua nodded.

“你看上去并不对于议会的决议感到惊讶。”Joshua面无表情,但是Karlyle已经学会了读懂哪是界限。“有什么事在困扰着你吗,Joshua?”
"You do not seem overly enthused with the Council's decision." Joshua was a blank slate, but Karlyle had learned to read where lines had once been. "It there something bothering you, Joshua?"

Joshua的眼睛像剑一样划过房间。“不,议会的行动就是我的行动。最重要的是目标。”
Joshua's eyes cut across the room like a sabre. "No. The actions of the Council are my actions. All that matters is the objective."

“ 然而,我今早收到了信息。你直到下午都没有来,我可一直都不知道你会迟到。议会投票的时候你并没在旁边,是吧?你没通知我任何其他指派,而且我确信我是你唯一的下方联络,所以你还能在哪?”
"And yet, I received this notice early in the morning. You did not arrive until the afternoon, and I have never known you to be late. You were not with the Council during their vote, yes? You have not informed me of any other assignments, and I believe that I am your only, so where else would you be?"

Karlyle能感觉到热量从他身边散去,甚至隔着这个房间。“我仅仅被指派确保你的安全,和你完成任务。”Joshua说。
Karlyle could feel the heat off of him, even from across the room. "I am assigned only to ensure your safety, and make sure that you complete your assignment," Joshua said.

“都是这么多年了,别以为我看不懂你,兄弟,”Karlyle说,看见Joshua眼神尖锐起来时他的脊背感到刺痛。“我早就了解你了。”
"Even after all these years, do not think I cannot still read you, brother," Karlyle said, his spine tingling as he saw Joshua's eyes tighten. "I have known you for too long."

Joshua又待了一会,就走了。Karlyle又检查了一会手中的文件,开始收拾个人物品。
Joshua lingered a moment more, and then was gone. Karlyle examined the paper in his hand for a moment more, and then began to gather his belongings.


“我不在乎这事,Karlyle,”Shirley Gillespie在千里之外说。她的声音从电话中噼啪传来。“我们非常不了解它。”
"I don't care for it, Karlyle," Shirley Gillespie said, a thousand miles away. Her voice crackled through the telephone. "It's very poorly understood."

“每个SCP都不被我们了解,主管,”Karlyle说着,揉着太阳穴来试着减轻每次车辆颠簸带来的背部关节痛,“这是它们是SCP的理由。”
"Every SCP is poorly understood, director," Karlyle said, rubbing his temples and attempting to ignore the jolting pain in his back whenever the vehicle he was in struck a hole, "that is why they are SCPs."

“就算如此,还是会存在我们可能还没准备好面对的危险。如果它并不是你所期望的样子呢?”
"Even still, there's a potential danger here that you may not be ready for. What happens when it isn't what you're expecting it to be?"

“我还有Joshua。”
"Then I have Joshua."

Shirley用嗓子后端发出了什么声音。“好吧,把基金会顶级博士的安全托付给一个议会挖出来的雇佣兵,棒极了。”
Shirley made a sound in the back of her throat. "Right. Trusting the safety of one of the Foundation's top doctors to some mercenary fool that the Council dug up. Wonderful."

Karyle自嘲地笑了笑。“我并不关心,Shirley。你也不该关心。你还记得我们那次谈论SCP-058的的时候吗?”
Karlyle smiled despite himself. "I am not concerned, Shirley. Nor should you be. You remember the time we spoke about SCP-058?"

“记得。”
"I do."

“那你就会记得我那时说了什么。就算是动物也是能被理解并控制的。但是 Pan Hun可不是动物。确实它从哪里看都是个人类,而人类是有理智和智能的。”
"Then you will remember what I said then. Even animals can be understood and controlled. But Pan Hun is no animal. Indeed, it is by all accounts a human being, and human beings are capable of reason and intellect."

“Karlyle,它平了个小镇。”
"Karlyle, it leveled a small town."

“是的,这是他们告诉我的。但是也许他和任何人型异常没有什么不同,力量强大到无法控制,他们也是害怕的,就容易挥出自己并不理解的什么东西。谁知道它都能干什么?你能看出它对Alpha-9的好处吗?”
"Yes, that is what we are told. But perhaps it is no different than any other humanoid entity, powerful beyond its own control and afraid, likely to lash out at those things it does not understand. Who knows what it is capable of? Can you see the potential that might pose for Alpha-9?"

“好吧,我会给你我有的该实体所有信息,但是这是你今天能从我这里获得的所有帮助。最好别让我听到你的死讯,Aktus,我会伤心的。”
"Fine. I'll forward you all of the information I have on the entity, but that's all the help you'll be getting from me today. I had better not hear about you dying, Aktus, or I'll be upset with you."

Karlyle笑了。“你不会的。”
Karlyle laughed. "I will hold you to it."


一架飞机把Karlyle带去了Site-23的Hundson港,然后一艘船带他去了SCP-1864.Joshua在他到的时候已经准备好了,护送他到了异常收容处门口的营地。
A plane took Karlyle to Site-23 on the Hudson Bay, and then a ship took him to SCP-1864. Joshua was already on the docks when he arrived, and escorted Karlyle to a Foundation encampment outside of the entrance to the anomaly proper.

“主管,欢迎来到SCP-1684。”欢迎他们的人大概就50岁,有发灰的头发和梳理整齐的山羊胡。他的外套表明他是Tom BradFord, 博士。
"Director, welcome to SCP-1864." The man who greeted them was in his fifties, with greying hair and a neatly groomed goatee. His jacket identified him as Tom Bradford, doctor.

“Bradford博士,”Karlyle伸出手说,“感谢你与我会面,我们还有很多要谈的。”
"Dr. Bradford," Karlyle said, extending a hand. "Thank you for meeting with me. We have much to discuss."

二人进入了帐篷,短暂地躲避了呼啸着港口的风暴。墙壁上是许多文字和图片。Karlyle停下来看着一个,是对于异常内部的深度读数。测试结果是尚无定论。
The two entered in a tent that provided a meager reprieve from the storm surging across the bay. On the wall were various printed readouts and images. Karlyle stopped to investigate one, a depth reading of something within the anomaly. The result of the test was inconclusive.

“我不知道你在做什么,主管,”Bradford 说,倒着一杯咖啡。“我并不知道他们让站点主管过来查看一个偏远,危险的异常。”
"I don't know what you're doing out here, Director," Bradford said, pouring a cup of coffee. "I was unaware they sent Site Directors to check up on remote, dangerous skips now."

Karlyle笑了。“恐怕这不是例行检查,最近有一场事件促使了这次拜访的需要,而我正好路过。”他结果Bradford递给他的咖啡。“我确实地希望我没有造成任何困扰。”
Karlyle smiled. "This is not a typical check up, I am afraid. There has been an incident recently which has expedited the need for such visits, and I just so happened to be passing through." He took the coffee as Bradford handed it to him. "I do hope I am not causing a disturbance."

“完全没有。在你在这里时到底要做什么呢?”
"Not at all. What exactly are you looking to do while you're here?"

Karlyle递给了他一个信封。“分类委员会经常被指派去检查Safe和Euclid级的异常,决定回国它们是否需要重新评估。”
Karlyle handed him an envelope. "The Classification Committee is regularly charged with examinations of Safe and Euclid class entities, to determine if their classification requires reevaluation."

Bradford眯着眼睛看着手里的文件。“你不能把谁派到你这里吗?这看起来让你很麻烦。”
Bradford squinted at the papers now in his hands. "Is there not somebody you could've sent in your place? This seems like an awful lot of trouble for you."

“测验很急迫,”Karlye又说,脸色坚毅。“没时间可浪费。”
"The examination was expedited," Karlyle said again, his face unwavering. "There really was no time to waste."

另一名博士快速翻看着文件,送了耸肩。“好吧。我的人会带你进去看它,也会带你出来。虽然不确定现在是不是最好的时机。Boff博士最近比较激动。”
The other doctor flipped through the pages quickly, and then shrugged. "Fair enough. My boys will get you in to see it, and they'll get you out. Not sure if this was the best time, though. Dr. Boff has been a little agitated lately."

Karyle点了点头。“我对于此次并没有除了常规以外的事情毫不怀疑,博士。”
Karlyle nodded. "I have no doubt that this will be nothing more than routine, doctor."


一队安保人员带着Karyle坐在车后面进入了SCP-1864迷宫的深处。Joshua自分开后就没和他们在一起,但是经常地Karyle会瞥到他一眼,在黑暗中恍惚可见,在后面紧跟他们。在转过最后一个弯后,车辆停了下来,Karlyle下了车。
A security team carried Karlyle into the depths of the SCP-1864 labyrinth on the back of a transportation vehicle. Joshua had not been with them when they departed, but every so often Karlyle would catch a glimpse of him, barely visible in the darkness, following closely behind them. As they rounded a final corner, the vehicle stopped and Karlyle disembarked.

“我们要撤回一百米处,”一名安保特工说。“我们收到的命令是在后方待机直到我们听到你的信号。要是发生了什么,赶快跑。”
"We're going to pull back to the hundred meter point," one of the security agents said. "Our orders are to hang back there until we hear from you. If anything happens, start running."

Karlyle表示了感谢,独自完成了剩下的路程,来到了一个巨大的雕刻而出的石制的房间。在中间有一池黑水,他的对面是曾经是人类,而现在是SCP-1864-1。
Karlyle gave his thanks and made the final length of the journey himself, which put him within a large, carved stone chamber. In the center was a pool of dark water, and across from him was what had one point been a human being, but was now SCP-1864-1.

“Guten Tag,Boff博士,”Karykle说,他的口音像个手套一样从新语言里溜了出来。“我的名字是Aktus博士,我是基金会的。”
"Guten Tag, Doktor Boff," Karlyle said, his accent slipping through the new language like a glove. "My name is Dr. Aktus, I am with the Foundation."

笨重而盘根错节的半人类扭曲出了应该是笑容的表情。他缓步踱过房间走向他,他长而螺旋的手臂伸出,表示这问候。
The face of the hulking, rooted half-human twisted into what might be described as a smile. It slowly ambled across the room towards him, its singular long, coiled arm extending as a greeting.

“很高兴再见到同行科学家,”Boff博士说,他的言语在他变形的下巴后面永远地回响着。“我经常只能看到带着抢的特工。很少再看到研究人员了。”
"It is good to see a fellow scientist again," Dr. Boff said, his words eternally muffled behind his impeded jaw. "So often I only see agents with their guns. Rarely do I see researchers anymore."

“这确实不幸。”Karyle记住了他的周围,看到了他左侧阴影里的Joshua。“也许我们会为今天的缺席作出补偿,博士。”
"Unfortunate, indeed," Karlyle made note of his surroundings, his eyes catching Joshua hidden within a shadow to his left. "Perhaps we will make amends for the absence today, doctor."

Boff点了点他斑白的头发。“但愿吧。什么风把你吹来了呢,Herr Aktus?”
Boff nodded his grizzled head. "Let us hope. What is it that brings you to me today, Herr Aktus?"

Karyle 走向了水池。“我希望和SCP-1864-2,Boff博士。”
Karlyle motioned towards the pool of water. "I was hoping to speak to SCP-1864-2, Dr. Boff."

Boff的表情变得尖利,他的眼睛斜着,抬起镣铐。“Pan Hun,”他啐了一口。
Boff's expression sharpened, his eyes slanting and his hackles raising. "Pan Hun," he spat.

“是的,Pan Hun。”Karyle留神看着Boff博士的胳膊,空荡而危险地在头顶摇晃。“已经变了,博士。这个世界每天都在变得更加危险,我们的领导人想要挑战这个危险,通过——”
"Yes, Pan Hun." Karlyle kept one eye on Dr. Boff's arm, which swung idly and dangerously overhead. "There has been a change, doctor. The world is growing more dangerous every day, and our leaders seek to challenge this danger by—"

挑战它?”Boff博士怯懦地说。“我不明白。我觉得对于这种的努力,你在这里没什么价值。”
"Challenge it?" Dr. Boff laughed timidly. "I do not understand. I feel as though there is little of value for you here, for such an endeavor."

“一支机动队,Boff博士。”Karyle说。“有段时间了,我们的管理者在组织异常实体来对抗威胁我们世界的危险。我是试图识别出最适合的异常的组中的——”
"A task force, Dr. Boff," Karlyle said. "For some time now, our administrators have been assembling anomalous entities which we could implement against the dangers that threaten our world. I am a member of the group attempting to identify which entities would best suit—"

“哦不不不博士,”Boff说,他的笑容晃动着眼睛紧锁着。“我现在明白了,但是我必须坚持,这里没受什么能帮助你的。”
"Oh, no no no, doctor," Boff said, his smile wavering and his eyes growing tight. "I understand now, yes, but I must insist, there is nothing that will aid you here."

Karlyle叹了口气。“我们的管理者相信SCP-1864也许是高智能,理性,可能被误解的。我们遭遇了相当数量的看似敌对的异常实体其实是不能控制自身的能力,无意伤害他人。”
Karlyle sighed. "It is the belief of our administrators that SCP-1864 might be intelligent, reasonable, and possibly misunderstood. We have encountered a number of seemingly hostile anomalous entities who simply were not capable of controlling themselves, and meant no harm to others.

“我们相信与Pan Hun进行一次谈话也许能揭示它真正的意图,如果是良性的,也许让它离开它的牢狱,来保持这个世界的安全,和——”
"We believe that a chance to speak with Pan Hun might reveal its true intentions, and if they are benign, perhaps it would be excited at the chance to leave its prison in order to keep the world safe, and—"

Boff博士后退远离了Karyle,他的胳膊甩向了房间的墙壁。“你认为这是一场误会?你希望通过释放Pan Hun 来让这个世界安全?”
Dr. Boff reared back and away from Karlyle, his arm slamming against the sidewalls of the chamber. "You think this was a misunderstanding? You wish to make safe the world by releasing Pan Hun?"

“并不必须这样。”Karyle说,调整了一下眼镜。“我们已经十分擅长收容危险的实体,博士。如果我们发现Pan Hun真的时有敌意的,我们可以处理好。我们的目的是要利用SCP-1864-2的异常特性,做好对更糟糕事情的准备,如果可能的话。”
"Not necessarily, no," Karlyle said, adjusting his glasses. "We have become very good at containing dangerous entities, doctor. If we discover Pan Hun is truly hostile, then we have ways to manage it. Our goal is to utilize the anomalous traits of SCP-1864-2, if possible, in order to better prepare for something worse."

“更糟糕的事情?你认为还有更糟糕的事情?”Boff博士咆哮道。他的身体挥舞翻腾着砸向墙壁。Karlyleh后退一步做好准备,仔细地寻找一个边缘词汇对抗从Boff口中呼啸而出的污言秽语。在他说出之前,Joshua出现在他的后面。
"Something worse? You think there is something worse?" Dr. Boff roared, his body flailing and writhing against the chamber. Karlyle took a step back to steady himself, carefully looking for an opportunity to get a word in edgewise against the torrent of insults in German that now flowed freely from Boff. Before he could make his case, Joshua appeared beside him.

“Joshua,”Boff说,他的身体马上而明显地变得紧张。Karlyle窥视着Boff狂野的眼睛,看出了其之中的认许。为什么Boff博士认识Joshua?
"Joshua," Boff said, his body immediately and noticeably growing tense. Karlyle peered into Boff's wild eyes, and saw recognition there. Why would Dr. Boff know who Joshua is?

“你必须让Aktus见Pan Hun,Boff博士。”Joshua的声音冷静而克制。“这是监察者的意愿。”
"You must allow Dr. Aktus to see Pan Hun, Dr. Boff." Joshua's voice was cold and controlled. "It is the will of the Overseers."

Boff 犹豫了,谨慎地用扭曲的目光打量着Johsua。额头上出现了汗珠,目光在Karlyle和Joshua之间飘移不定。终于,Boff叹了口气。
Boff hesitated, carefully eyeing Joshua with his distorted gaze. Beads of sweat began to form on his brow, and his eyes shifted frantically between Karlyle and Joshua. Finally, Boff sighed.

“我没有办法保障你们两个的安全。”Boff说。
"I will not be able to keep you both safe," Boff said.

“你不需要,”Joshua回答。
"You won't have to," Joshua replied.

Boff点了点头,
Boff nodded, and with a single motion his long, curled arm began to descend quickly into the pool of water before them. It continued to descend long after Karlyle thought that the pool or Boff's arm would run out, and then longer still. Finally it stopped, and began to pull back out of the pool.

With it came a head of black hair, and then a body. Pan Hun looked, by all measures, to be a normal human child. Asian descent, light skin, no older than eight or nine years of age. Karlyle studied the body as Boff laid it on the stone floor, noting that Boff would not take his hand off of Pan Hun's neck.

There was a moment of silence, and then Pan Hun opened its eyes.

They were dark, and Karlyle was careful to avert his gaze slightly behind his own dark glasses. A wide grin appeared on Pan Hun's face, and when it spoke, it spoke with Karlyle's own voice.

"Hello, Director Aktus. My name is Pan Hun."

The words sent a chill through Karlyle's body. "Hello, SCP-1864-2," Karlyle said. "You are familiar with me?"

"I am familiar with a great many things, Director."

Karlyle nodded slowly. "Then you are aware of the nature of your containment?"

Pan Hun's eyes rolled back in its head and its neck twisted backwards until it was staring at Dr. Boff. "Oh yes, the pit. Very clever. Dr. Boff has done a wonderful job. He is, after all, at the top of his field." At the sound of his own name, Boff's grip on Pan Hun tightened slightly.

"Good," Karlyle said. "I am here today because—"

Pan Hun's head jerked back to face Karlyle, its smile undiminished. "I know why you're here, Director Jean Karlyle Aktus, Site-81, SCP Foundation, son of Anna and Gregori, brother to Jeremiah and…" Its eyes flicked sideways as it trailed off. "The pit is dark, but all manner of words echo within it. It is one of those places in the world that sits between and… beneath things."

"Very well, then," Karlyle said, the hairs on the back of his neck rising. "Would you be willing to participate in a preliminary examination to determine the extent of your abilities?"

Pan Hun's eyes darted back towards Karlyle, but then rolled sideways to look at Joshua. "This one should have told you, I think," the voice hissed, "told you about the dark things in the world and what happens when you pick at them like a scab."

Karlyle glanced sideways at Joshua who, despite being seemingly unmoved, had at some point moved his hand to rest on his weapon. Pan Hun continued.

"You are so certain that because you were capable of dragging the Assyrian into the light and making him dance for a short time, that you can do the same with all of the toys in your boxes." His wide smile grew wider, and Karlyle could see the corners of his mouth beginning to tear. "I think you will find that many of those toys are not as nice as Able, doctor."

Karlyle grimaced. "I take that as your unwillingness to move forward, then?"

Pan Hun's eyes locked on Karlyle. "You know, we are not so different, Karlyle. Both of us are bound into systems we did not choose to be in, but regardless ended up here due to our own actions. Both of us have lived longer than any might have expected, given the circumstances. I wonder how you would feel if somebody showed up and asked if you wanted to play puppet for your Overseers."

"Dr. Boff," Joshua said, his voice a hiss, "I believe we're done here."

Pan Hun's face grew still, the smile gone. "Oh no. You asked for a demonstration, and you will have it."

The growing feeling of discomfort in Karlyle's stomach suddenly erupted into agony.


Karlyle collapsed to the ground, screaming. Without a word, Joshua pulled his weapon, but found that his hands had grown over the trigger and were useless. He called out to Boff in German, and the doctor roared in fury.

Pan Hun seemed to grow larger, expanding by way of dozens of long, wet appendages that appeared all over his body. Boff squeezed tight around the creature's neck as it flailed at him, and with a crack he whipped Pan Hun into the ceiling with a flick of his massive arm. The sound of the child striking the ceiling rang out like a gunshot, and was followed by the sound of something vile crawling out of Karlyle's stomach.

It was humanoid, but too fleshy and lacking in facial features. Karlyle opened his eyes and mouth long enough to see it and cry out, before collapsing entirely in a pool of his own blood. The creature within him dragged the rest of itself out from the doctor, and turned to face Joshua.

With Boff swinging Pan Hun wildly into the walls of the cavern and the creature quickly closing distance, Joshua reached down and began to tear away at the extra flesh over his hands with his teeth. He backed slowly, keeping one eye on the flesh-beast and another on his own viscera. He spat the chunks of his hands onto the ground and continued to dig until he felt the sensation of steel on his tongue.

Joshua brought the weapon to his face and steadied his aim. The creature raised its arms just as Joshua distended his mouth wide enough to fit around the accessible trigger of the gun. He hesitated for a second, and then two, until he could feel the heat of the creature's body against his own, and then he bit down.

A hole opened where the monster's head had been, and Joshua heard the satisfying gurgle of blood and air mixing. A normal man might have found the recoil enough to shatter his teeth and mutilate his jaw, but Joshua was no normal man.
He bit down again, and then again, and the creature fell to the ground. Joshua lifted his foot and then drove it through the humanoid's torso with a sound like popping a balloon full of paint.

He turned then to Dr. Boff, who was losing his struggle with the child in his grasp. Lacerations covered his already twisted form, and Pan Hun continued to strike and slice the flesh of the doctor, who groaned in pain.

Joshua took two steps forward, pulled his weapon to his face again, and bit down on the open trigger.

Pan Hun screamed as its torso exploded and it's legs fell limp. Joshua took another step forward and fired again, this time splitting the child's face in two.

Pan Hun turned a single working eye towards Joshua, and lashed at him with a black, fleshy appendage. Joshua caught it with his mouth and lunged backwards, tearing it off and causing Pan Hun to murmur out in agony.

Joshua spat to clear his mouth of gore, and shouted at Boff to move Pan Hun closer. The doctor complied, and soon the ruptured body of the Lonely Liar hung before Joshua like a marionette. He studied the writhing creature for a moment, and then leaned in to face it directly.

"There is a hole in this world much darker than the one you have been rotting in," he said, blood dripping from his open mouth, "and do not think I am above burying you in it." He saw panic creep into Pan Hun's eyes. "You know the one. The sanctuary of sundered hearts. There will be nothing for you to twist there in the darkness."

Boff's eyes glazed over, and he began speaking in Pan Hun's voice. "What is it you desire?"

Joshua nodded at Karlyle and Boff. "Undo your twisting, or I will put another shell in you now and let you bleed all the way to the Door. When you are done, return to your pit and stay there until the stars go out."

Pan Hun's single eye raged with a silent violence, but dimmed. The lacerations on Boff's body closed and sealed, and Joshua began to hear Karlyle breathing again behind him. He nodded to Boff, who began to lower the child back into the pit of water. As it sunk, Joshua gazed at Pan Hun and smiled coldly.

"You were right about there being less kind monsters in the world than Able, Liar," Joshua said, malice creeping into his voice. "It is a shame you had to meet one so soon."

Pan Hun glared at him as it slipped below the still surface of the pool, and watched him until it disappeared from sight in the darkness of the deep.


Hours later, the security team emerged and Karlyle was moved quickly to the infirmary. His eyes, glazed over as they were, opened for moment to see Joshua staring down at him. Karlyle's body shook as he tried to make words, but he slipped in and out of consciousness, unable to finish.

As his old body began to give out, and as medical personnel swarmed him, Karlyle watched Joshua disappear behind a flap in the tent. He distantly heard the sound of a phone being dialed and Joshua's muted voice again, and Karlyle tried to call out to him.

A mask was placed over his face, and the world went black.

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