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The Afterlife of Liam Cipher

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He was asleep when it happened. It seemed as though the entire universe had been torn one end from the other. He'd never expected this to be the way the change would happen. He was confused, trapped deep within the complex and unable to do much of anything except wait.

So he did. He waited silently, curled into a ball, while the sounds of doomsday exploded around him. He waited for freedom... whether through death (finally) or ...

He'd fallen into an uneasy doze when the door to his cell just kind of... fell off. The clang awakened him and he found himself sitting in absolute silence. Not even the sounds of the running facility pierced the thick layer of absolute silence that settled around him now.

Nervously, Liam made his way to his feet. He quickly gathered everything that was of worth to him. It wasn't much; his cane, his journal and a few special books, including the very book that started Bill down his destructive path... the subversive journal of A. Square, called Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. Not a copy, this. It was the actual remaining journal which had been copied down meticulously during the Renaissance, a time when such things were enjoyed as quaint tales of fantasy, allowed to be published as storybooks to delight, rather than scientific journals of the extraordinary. He'd discovered it shoved in the ancient stacks of the prison's old library, when things were moved. He'd been quick to hide it in the shell of another innocuous book ('101 Delightful Recipes for Stewed Tripe', if he remembered correctly) when he was boxing the books to be moved. No one gave it a second glance.

Precious cargo in hand, stashed in his satchel, Liam crept out into the half collapsed corridor, stumbling over the rocks, dirt and fallen bits of rubble. It was silent still and he couldn't see anyone.

Knowing better than to call out, he instead made his way to the labs, hoping that the poor unfortunates in the testing area had either managed to make it out or had mercifully been killed in the attack.

He'd taken to calling it that, as he had no context for anything that had happened, he was too deep in the facility to have heard much of anything other than loud crashes, explosions and booming sounds that might have been voices, but they were too muffled to be sure.

He saw no one.

Wars amongst the Flatlanders were common. Usually petty territory disputes, between ruling families of Circles and most of the time it really didn't seem to affect the people, as it was rare for the fighting to get so far into the Cities. So though a direct attack on the Centre was rare, it had happened from time to time.

He still saw no one. Not even dead shapes. He heard no one.

It was creepy.

Still he continued towards the labs.

He recalled a newer 'project', a poor soul-souls..? who'd he recently been assigned to work with, a quiet, sad creature who'd been one of the facility's most ambitious projects yet. He was a ... well, the only word Liam could really think of was 'amorphous', being, composed of several ... parts of Irregulars. Ones that, unlike Liam, hadn't been able to avoid the deadlier fate of the Audit. What had stunned Liam was that the poor thing was alive, they were sentient. It was a dark, evil future that awaited Irregulars if the Scientists could do such a thing and coax some kind of life out of a monstrosity like that. He'd had to fight very hard to keep his horror buried deep inside when he'd been ordered to work with them.

Even so, he'd developed an affection for the tortured creature. He made a point of calling them 'them', rather than 'it', as their masters did. He'd come up with a name for them, who couldn't recall their names, a name they were pleased with as well. He worried for their safety in this frightening new world. He wondered if they'd even managed to survive the apocalypse.

He finally picked his way across the battlefield of the demolished labs, working his way up, towards the hospital's levels, the labs proper, where the test subjects were kept.

"Poly?" he called, "P-Poly are you alright?"

There was a soft moan from the wreckage up ahead. He hurried as much as he could with his limp, using his cane to push aside debris as he went. "Poly, it's me, it's Librarian, I'm coming to help you!"

Poly could only ever make soft moaning and groaning sounds. They'd been unable to speak otherwise. Liam suspected they might have telepathic ability, but whenever he'd suggested it to the Hexagon who was in charge of that project, it was laughed off.

He made his way into the twisted corridors of the detention area for the test subjects. Looking around, he winced. This was where the dead shapes were. So many of the test subjects were crumpled, shattered and broken in their cells. They'd had no chance, no way of escape. The masters had made these cells quite secure and escape-proof. Thus sealing the fate of anyone unfortunate enough to call those cells home.

Liam had to stop, to lean against a wall, closing his eye, trying to collect himself. He hated waste and seeing these lives snuffed out was hard. He'd never seen carnage like this and he'd spent several years in the facility. Granted, he'd never had to do a shift in the furnace; for which he was eternally grateful; but he'd been employed to carry out the corpses from the labs on many, many occasions.

Swallowing hard, he opened his eye. He had a job to do.

"Poly, I'm here," he said and continued across the rubble towards the cell Poly was in.

It was then that the multiverse played its grandest trick on Liam.

A crack in the fabric of the second dimension ripped across the landscape. It was the first of the 'dimension quakes' that Bill Cipher's chaotic and destructive presence would begin to cause Flatland.

If Liam had been a scientist, a physicist, he might have been able to reason out what was going on.

Maybe.

As it was, Liam wasn't a scientist, though he had a solid understanding of physics as it related to Flatland.

The entire facility shifted, rocked, shuddered as it was cracked and stressed in ways it should never have been. Things vibrated around Liam, warped and wavered, shook and exploded into color. It was too much for Liam at first and he squeezed his eye shut, clutching his cane and his satchel tightly to his frame. He stumbled, trying to just stay on his feet, as the world continued to quake around him.

When he managed to ease his eye open, he saw things he'd only ever read about.

I always wished I could see the colors.

He stared, watching the flashes and swirls and bouquets of color that exploded around him. He was entranced by them for a long, long moment. Many colors seared themselves into his brain in that sliver of time.

Another hard tremor shook the facility, sending more of the walls crashing to the ground, opening up a hole to the sky above him. He trembled, wobbling on his feet as that tremor was followed up by several others. The building would collapse and it would take him and anyone else still alive inside with it. Liam swallowed hard, trying to stumble quicker across the destruction.

And below him, a crack opened up in the debris of the floor.

And the wall.

And what remained of the ceiling.

It glittered and fluoresced in a million colors in front of him. He knew, almost by instinct, that this crack was some kind of temporal anomaly, most likely caused by all the destruction. He knew this, just as Liam knew

it was his salvation, his way out of this chaos that would most likely kill him. He had no idea where it led, only a hopeful guess that it was out of the second dimension and at the very least, away from here.

Clutching everything that he owned, Liam Cipher held his breath and jumped into the crack in space and time.

....