Author : C.Chatfield

“…so we trumpeted nonsense about it sucking up our oxygen and our water and the godda-, pardon me, the ozone layer until it brought in enough fear money to build the dome. We said all our equipment disappeared without any readings but, the fact is, we couldn’t get any machinery through the Pit’s protective layer. The membrane has so far proved impenetrable. We built this facility over the Pit not so we could get in, but in case anything ever came out, understand? Eventually, something did. A communication came through and, without the technology to respond, we decided to follow its instructions. Whoever, or whatever, sent the message wanted to follow up with an experimental envoy to the surface, although he or she wouldn’t be coming through the Pit. They communicated assurances that one of two things would then happen. The first and preferred outcome was that everything would work perfectly and the envoy, passing as a human, would get in contact with us, prove his or her identity, and then kick start real relations between our societies.”

The woman glanced up from the screen of her palm device at the ashen young man standing at the edge of the Pit. “You following this?”

The question seemed to take a moment to reach the man. “No. I mean, yes. But what are you implying? Are you trying to say I’m an alien or something?” A frightened yelp punctuated the last few words as he unsuccessfully searched for an ally among the suited men and women clumped on the observation platform.

The woman’s attention returned to her screen. “Outcome number two was that the experimental technology they used to send the envoy into a human body would mistranslate and the envoy would wind up not only without the information of his or her directive, but lacking any memories that he or she was not, in fact, human. In this event, our responsibility was to find the envoy and send them back so they can refine the approach and try again.”

The man’s breath sped up and he took a reflexive step away from the edge of the platform. Level with their feet, the membrane of the Pit glimmered like the oily surface of a bottomless black lake. “Send them back how?”

“Unlike anything else we’ve tried, the envoy will be able to pierce the membrane around the Pit and enter it. The instructions are very clear.”

“No, no. No! I’m definitely human. I… You can’t just drop me in your damn Pit!”

The woman continued with an air of completing a checklist, “So, do you remember anything? Anything at all?”

The man scrunched up his face in desperate concentration. “I’m a human. I know I am.”

The woman sighed, disappointed but not flustered. “We can’t be sure unless you try to pass through the membrane. We’ll send you down and the whole process will start over. If not, if you can’t get through, you’ll just stand there for a moment and then…well, you’ll have a lot of papers to sign.”

Two uniformed soldiers grabbed the man by his shoulders and forced him to dip a bare foot into the membrane. There was an audible gasp from one of the spectators.

The woman’s clipped voice cut clearly through the young man’s protestations. “I’m sorry it turned out like this. Hopefully, you all learn something from this on your end. Time to go home.”

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