They Stand. They Watch. They Wait.

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Digital drawing. The silhouette of a person facing forward stands at center with arms to the side. The eyes glow with the color of the sunny halo behind the figure’s head and torso. The figure stands on ground that is cast in dark shadows. The ground fills the bottom fourth of the image. Scarce shrubbery is visible to the left of frame. A bush or small tree is visible at the right of frame. All in shadow. The sky fills the top three-quarters of the image and is streaked with sunset colors.

“What would happen if I accidentally looked at one of them?” Adira asked.  “Or if I spoke by reflex, before I could stop myself?”

She was the passenger.  With a sudden swerve, the driver pulled aside.  Ignoring the horn of the car that just missed side-swiping them, he gripped the wheel.  His shoulders heaved in a single breath.

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What Is Permanent Damage?

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Digital drawing. Front view of the top two-thirds of a closed door.  A hazy glowing light emanates from bottom left across the face of the door. Scattered bits of redacted text appear over and around the door. The visible words are as follows: Science…in its current state. Project Manager. Project No. Existent…charge and…key…fakery. The first letters of “project” and “existent” are cut off.

Every day on my way to my desk, I passed by a door with the words “PERMANENT DAMAGE” written on it.  

No one ever went in or came out—not that I’d seen anyway, and I’d been working at the firm for about a year.  I asked people about the door, and the sign.  They said there used to be another firm occupying our floor and the two below it.  That door supposedly led to a defunct elevator that shuttled executives between the floors, leading directly into what used to be their fancy offices.  Or it led to a laboratory space.  Or some sort of obstacle course?  The rumors abounded.  Now those spaces were claimed by other firms.  The words referred to the project that resulted in the shuttering of the company.

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