Despite everything – despite having lost everyone – you proceed on in the cellar, suddenly aware that you're weeping. The tears are hot and unfamiliar, but you don't care. Nothing makes sense anymore, and you cannot see; guided only by the feel of the stone against your feet and your hands.
Breathing. It's slow and rhytmic – but up ahead is breathing. Your heartbeat quickens and you run forward, hoping and praying that someone, anyone else has survived.
The electric lights of the cellar flicker to life as you find yourself in a large antechamber. It is empty, save for the ceiling – which is alive. It is alive with a pustule-riden morass of flesh; a movable feast of rose-accented and wriggling skin stretched so far as to compose all of the ceiling as a globule that might have once been a face detaches and brings itself close enough to you that you can almost smell the breath that it does not breath.
Gaping eye sockets and toothless maw stare at you without emotion or understanding – hollow sockets simply staring at you, past you, over you. An immense pain jolts through your body as something is carved onto the nape of your neck, slowly and methodically, and by forces unseen. You black out, only to wake to the thing staring at you with that same emotionless and featureless mess of flesh, time and time again.
Finally, you wake up once more – this time not in the hell of a cellar, but in the study, with your friend and ally, Inspecteur Général Duplessis, who is staring at you with great concern. You nearly lash out, but relax in relief as you realize the nightmare is over.
“My friend!” Duplessis begins, then sighs.
“I knew I shouldn't have sent you. We realized things had gone poorly, and I sent the national police to look after you. They were successful – but the building was razed, apparently by dynamite or some other explosive force. We were lucky to recover you, but the damage to your legs...”
You panic, wheeling to the side in fear that your legs will be nothing more then the brackish slime you saw and felt in that room, time and time again; but they are just scarred and broken, and the fear leaves your face – much to Duplessis' surprise.
“We have arranged a pension for you – I swear on my honor, for this mistake, you will live well and comfortably, for the rest of your days.” You nod weakly, but barely able to conceal a laugh. You've lived, and you'll live well! You've triumphed against all odds! Giddy, you feel like spitting – but the bile in your throat is stuck, and stays stuck in your craw as several soldiers in nondescript uniforms help you out of Duplessis' office.
The Major's belongings were found to contain a cable to be sent on the event of his death. The recipient had died several days prior in a spate of violence directed by the German colonial administration against those of mixed racial background. The cable was confiscated and the Major's rank post-humously removed.
The Financier was investigated after his death, and found to have been involved in numerous organizations that profited directly from human trafficking and influencing the balance of power. His holdings were confiscated, but brought bad luck to those who purchased them, and his name became a byword for profiteering and corruption.
The Aristocrat had no possessions left besides an unfinished letter. It begin, “Monsieur F, Mon Coeur,” but had no other content besides lines that had been crossed out and inked and crossed out again. Of the recipient, nothing could be found; and of the Aristocrat, nothing remained – not even memory.
The Reporter was quickly found to have been creating sensationalistic news, and collaborated with the old republic in an attempt to bolster her reputation. Having laundered money, she ran to Ireland. On revelation, her family cut ties to her, and her grave grew untended and overgrown.
The Singer's music, considered melancholic and pompous in the upbeat twenties, was held up as a hallmark of wasteful words and imagined suffering. Her image was repatriated for use in advertising and sale of products, until of her music and her woords, little remained.
The dreams abate after several years of therapy, and though it takes you many years to learn to walk again, you conquer that as well. However, you constantly feel as if you are being watched from the corner of your eye, until the day you arrive home to find that it has been waiting for you, patiently, mouth fixed permanently in the lack of a smile.
Case File C – In Service: