The beeping device’s tempo became indistinguishable from her heartbeat pulsing within her ears. Transfixed by the scene, she found her fascination and her instincts at war, her body unmoving in horrified shock while her thoughts raced onward with nothing short of scientific rapture.

“This...this can’t just be corrupted aether, right?” She listened for the sound of her own voice, grounding herself, as if saying it aloud would make the discovery less harrowing. “No, the aether has form...some new type of spectre, maybe? No no no--it’s discarnate but complex, almost like it’s its own independent--God, is that even possible?? It must be, I’m looking right at it! Look at it! Of course we haven’t been able to control the spread! If it’s a discarnate organism--all we’ve been doing is, what, destroying their host bodies?? Sternly shooing them back into the wild to let them start over again?? Sure, they’re harmless to us at this size, but how many have we let escape over the years, patting ourselves on the back afterward for a job well done? No wonder why the Reapers are struggling...they’re fighting an uphill battle, blissfully unaware they’ve been on Sisyphus’s mountain since the dawn of their profession...”

She watched the strange aetherial apparitions--once invisible to human sight--manipulate the corrupted bodies of the rats, their countless wraithlike tendrils controlling every movement, one at a time.

“All this time we’ve treated corruption like an infection,” she whispered. “Blight isn’t a disease, it’s a parasite.”

She knelt down in front of the swarming pack, keeping her movements slow and smooth so as not to disturb their presence.

“Still...” she began. “As thrilled as I am that our inventions work, corruptions this small shouldn’t have triggered such a massive--”

As she approached the rats with the Breadbox, however, the readings on the device died down.

She glared at the screen.

Then she smacked it a few times.

When percussive maintenance didn’t budge the reading, she returned to her tried-and-true scientific method of flailing it around.

“I was just bragging on you!!” she shouted, all previous discretion cast aside. “You’re embarrassing me in public! In front of the corruptions, no less! You absolute waste of--”

On cue, the Breadbox reconnected, revealing that the original, stronger readings were coming from inside the building.

The unassuming plaque on the side of the building read:

Central Borough

Department of Investigation
Community Resource Headquarters


Chapter 0, Page 16

 5th Dec 2020

Ma'am, it appears the calls are coming from inside the house.