That Insidious Beast: Incompatible Format
Things are breaking down, Chief. Too many-
Too many holes.
Yeah. Yep. Too many holes, Chief. Too many holes punched through.
It's not holding together anymore
It's okay, Tom.
No, it's not okay.
It's okay, just try to relax.
You're not Chief.
Yes I am.
There's something different about you. Something I can't-
You've been through a lot, Tom. Try to relax.
Did you give me something? Some shots?
Just a couple vitamin tablets, Tom. Lay back. You're injured.
What happened, Chief? After the...what was it, Chief?
There's no word for it, Tom.
It was like...like when you get the negatives for your vacation pictures, and they're all in a stack, and you can see through all of them at once. But it's dark.
You said it was light.
There was a light, yeah. Don't you remember, Chief?
I don't remember too well, Tom. I need you to tell me. Tell me about where we were.
The bleed. Near the bleed.
Miami Valley? Worthington? I don't remember. There's so many of them now.
Try to remember, Tom.
It was Polk. That's it. The new one.
And something was different.
Yeah. Yep, that's right, Chief. Hey, why am I so cold?
Just look at me, Tom.
But I'm real cold.
We'll get you another blanket, Tom.
Where am I anyway? I need to call Christine.
You're in the hospital, Tom. Christine is on her way here.
Good. That's good. She was worried sick.
Tom, we don't have a lot of time. I need you to look at me and focus. Tell me exactly what happened at the Polk Bleed.
You really don't remember, Chief?
No, Tom, I really don't.
Well, we were flying patrol routes. Me and you and then Custer and Lasser. They came on the radio-
Who came on the radio?
I...I don't know, Chief. It was just a voice. They said "BACK!" but it was like there were pictures and all sorts of feeling and other stuff in that voice.
Are you sure it was on the radio, Tom?
Yeah. It had to be, I mean...well...no, come to think. No. It was like that tone that gets in your head sometimes.
Plurisubharmonic cerebral oscillations.
The sound the angels make, Tom.
Y-yeah. What was that other thing you just said? I've never heard of that.
Don't worry about it, Tom.
Okay. I'm cold as heck here, Chief.
They're bringing you a blanket. What was the angel warning you about, Tom?
The holes. Polk. It was expanding, out of control. It was...I could see the broadcast towers falling and burning.
And that was when you saw the light?
Yes, the flash, and then I woke up here.
Try to remember the flash, Tom. What did you see?
Hey, Chief, my legs feel real funny.
Don't worry, Tom. Tell me about what you saw during the overlap event. When the negatives became layered.
I saw myself.
You saw yourself?
Yeah. But I was different. I didn't have the scar. I looked younger, but somehow I know I wasn't younger. And then there was me again, and I looked real bad. Pale.
You're certain you saw three of yourself?
Yes. I mean, well...
What is it, Tom?
It was real quick, you understand?
So I can't be sure.
Yes. What did you see, Tom?
I saw people, made out of shapes, that are&they can't be. I mean. It was me.
You saw a fourth version of yourself?
I guess. I don't know. I was made out of weird shapes and the light was...
What about the light?
Well, it was like sometimes with the angels or what they say about the Unfolders if you just see them out of the corner of your eye. The light was bending all around and through me. And-
Look directly at me, Tom.
It's okay, Tom. Look into my eyes.
Oh, no, Chief. What have you gone and done?
Tom, relax. Relax for me. Christine is coming.
What happened to my legs, Chief?
Why am I so goddamn cold, Chief?
Tom, you need to-
Oh, god! Help me! Somebody! Please, God.
Tom, calm down.
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Tom, you're going to go now. I'm sorry. Shh. Go on. Go to sleep.
Captain Thomas S. Donaldson has elapsed.
Confirmation of ahistorical divergence. Further evidence for the growing consensus that our presence is teratogenic. These two conclusions cannot be easily reconciled.
The complete eradication of all progenitors.