The Tidal Trespasser

He was a trespasser there. That oppressive, floating base. The fog grimly obscured the looming concrete obelisks around him— making him feel as if he was being watched. The great, peering eyes of the titanic rubber duck innertube that kept the complex afloat did little to assuage this feeling. This forced his anxiety to bubble to the surface— though it was only a brief moment before he once again calmed himself. It helped to have the calming sound of the ocean behind him, a reassuring presence. As it had been all his life. For he was at home in the sea, he belonged to a collective consciousness— that of the being known to many as the ancient god Poseidon.   Rather than possessing control of the seas, he was, in truth, no more than a glorified water filter. He was given life by the Greeks, who worshipped him as a god— though they also built a well over his body and drew up filtered seawater to sustain themselves. Years later the Romans would use his powers to fill their aqueducts— though they would call him "Neptune" as "Poseidon" spoken through a torrent of water is distorted into this name. Try it. Right now. The story will wait.   Did it work? If it didn't, you weren't trying hard enough.   Like water, however, Poseidon learned that he could "liquefy" himself into many bodies, allowing him to escape and live life on his own terms. Somewhere where they already had clean water, preferably. Each of these separate bodies remains connected to the core, no matter how far apart they may be. It was only through this connection that he was able to find his way to the looming oceanic fortress— the central headquarters of the Anomalous Containment Foundation. A clandestine organization dedicated to capturing and containing the strange and unexplained. A strange property-turned-security-feature of the floating structure was that none could hope to locate it without being guided there by someone already occupying it— which is where his other self came in. The rest of his consciousness had guided him there through the waves, a language few other than the oceanic being could understand. He glanced over his shoulder— wondering for a moment if another could have followed him. A wave rose and fell in response. He was alone.   He wasn't actually sure how he could even get inside. From what the waves had told him, the rest of himself was locked somewhere deep in the complex's containment sector. Exactly how or where he was kept— he did not know. The fact that the rest of his body was able to communicate with the waves told him that it must somehow be connected. Yet again, it seemed, he had been chained and used to filter large quantities of water. It was best, he figured, to determine his exact course of action from within the containment sector. But how could he sneak inside what must be a secure building unseen? Even if he was lucky enough to slip through an unlocked door, the possibility of traversing the edifice's innards without running into its personnel was next to impossible. As a mere piece of his whole self, he couldn't hope to put up any more of a fight than a regular man, either. Before another method could appear in his mind, a shout from behind tore him violently from his thoughts.   "Larson! The hell are you doing out here?" The figure paused and leaned in. "And...without your uniform?" He blinked, confused. Larson? He knew no one by that name, no one that should be alive, at least. The last Larson he had known was a particularly odd fisherman who once caught a piece of Poseidon on a hook, and refused to believe he was no mere fish.   "It ain't the first time ay've 'erd a fish talk ta me, them talkin' ones fetch a pretty penny, too!" He said, through rotting teeth that reminded the once-god of an old shark. Poseidon was kept in a barrel with the man's other catches for a week before he finally believed him. This was back in the 1930s, however— the old fisherman was no doubt dead by now.   "Ma'am I've no idea who you're— " he was cut short by the woman's boot clipping the side of his head. "I'm not falling for that one again, you drunk!" She barked, and drew out an accusing finger as one would a sword, holding it just under his nose. "They need you over by A-79, it's feeding time soon and you KNOW Song-Jook will lose it if you let him take over your shift again. God, put your clothes back on so you at least look like you're supposed to work here. You're lucky I found them AND your ID when I did— they were about ready to fall over into the drink." The woman tossed a crumpled uniform towards him, which landed disgracefully over his head.   It appeared to be a dull white jumpsuit, with three dull vertical grey stripes running down its entire length— the middle one being twice as thick as its sister stripes. It fit well enough, and was fastened along the top portion with a series of buttons on the chest. An ID card was haphazardly clipped to one of two front pockets, the other of which was stained red, appearing to have been used to store— Poseidon pulled it close for a moment to smell— some sort of pasta? A colorful brand logo was barely visible beneath the encrusted sauce. He readjusted the clip and nodded his head, apologizing.   "Yes...sorry. I'll get there as soon as I can— and A-79 is...where, again?" The woman groaned. "God, I have no idea how you're working here. They probably scrubbed too hard during your brainwash." She pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration before sighing, and continuing. "Go through the main hall of containment, past the whirl, and take the perwinkle painted elevator to floor -4. It's self explanatory from there." She began to walk away before turning back suddenly. "And if you go off an another drunken bender like that, I swear to god, I'll feed you to A-79 myself." With that, she left.   Poseidon took a moment to repeat the directions in his head, before starting towards the containment sector. At least, he thought he did, having started in the same direction the woman had left in. Before long, stenciled paint along the great concrete walls beside him pointed the right way in a foreboding dull blue pigment and five different languages. Surprisingly, no one he passed along the way gave him so much as a glance— each absorbed in their own work. It couldn't be this easy... He thought to himself, though only briefly. He walked between titanic structures lit from below in blinding spotlights. The cool evening air found it difficult to meet him here, where he was barricaded from its embrace. Finally he came upon the entrance to the containment sector, and stepped forward to swipe his newly-obtained ID card after spotting the scanner. He stopped, however, as a hushed voice urgently called from behind.   "Hey guy! You gotta help me! I...locked myself out somehow. Totally unrelated to drinking, I swear— my uniform just got away from me!" The man's voice sounded believable enough, yet the stench of alcohol told Poseidon the truth. This had to be Larson. He avoided turning around to meet the figure, so that he may avoid being caught.   "Tough luck, buddy." He callously replied, and entered the building before the drunkard could follow. A dull thud sounded behind him as Larson tried and failed to slip through. Poseidon kept looking ahead as he passed through the cramped hall, whose dull concrete walls and smooth concrete floor were accented only by the dull blue markings in their center— guiding him towards the lobby. Eventually, the rectangular walls beside him curved inwards, and he entered the high-ceilinged lobby of the headquarter's containment sector. It was hard to forget where he was, if the dull blue wasn't already obviously exclusive to this area— the word "containment" was stenciled every few yards. In the center of the great, circular hall, stood a tall, proud statue of a clown in ACF uniform. A brass plate at its base proudly proclaimed "The Agnew Sr.'s Containment Sector thanks their sponsor, Agnew Sr.'s. I'm enjoying this!"   Vivid memories came to Poseidon's mind of Agnew Sr.'s latest and greatest double stuffed nacho burger, which tastes so good you'll have to fight off everyone else by saying "It's nacho burger!" Now available for only $11.99 at your nearest Agnew Sr.'s., I'm enjoying this! Poseidon licked his lips and continued onward. Past the whirl. He thought back to the directions given to him. Looking around— he saw no such thing, just personnel going about their business. Carts carrying files, computers, Agnew Sr.'s orders, or other objects passed by every now and again— curiously avoiding a mosaic circle on the floor at the far end of the hall. Growing impatient, Poseidon approached a man pushing one of these carts.   "Hey...what's got you spooked about the circle down there?" The man gave him a tired grin.   "First day huh? Well— why don't you step on it and see for yourself?" Poseidon gave him a look to say really? Are you sure? to which the man gestured a hand forward. Poseidon sighed. From the man's demeanor it seemed obvious that whatever the mosaic did— it had to be harmless, if not uncomfortable. He stepped forward. Poseidon quickly found himself pulled to the mosaic's center by an unseen force. Before he had time to even think about asking what had just happened— the mosaic began to spin, fast. The colors around him blurred into indecipherable streaks, the grey of the concrete and the blue paint upon it, the various personnel moving to and fro, and the great statue before him all blending together to create a very particular shade of turquoise that gave him a splitting headache. His body screamed from the rapid movement, begging to collapse— but was kept upright by an invisible hand. He shouted, begging for the spinning to stop but his words were spun away from any ears that may receive them.   Just as he had resigned to his fate of eternal rotation— it stopped. He was back on the edge of the mosaic, on the smooth, un-spinning concrete floor. He had to stop himself from kissing the ground as he fell to his knees. "By the sea...what was that?!" He cried out. The man who had led him to the whirling torture was laughing to himself.   "It never gets old!" He grinned. Poseidon opened his mouth to insult the man— but quickly shut it to suppress a wave of nausea. The man continued laughing, eventually stopping to finally answer the quivering Poseidon's question. "That, we call the whirl. The color you saw in there? It's stuck in your head for the next 12 or so hours— it keeps memetic hazards from getting out. Standard procedure for the poor souls tasked with handling those anomalies. And, laughing at newbies!" Poseidon didn't respond, still trying to keep his guts from spilling across the concrete floor. The man gave him a halfhearted pat on the back "You'll be fine in a few minutes." He chuckled lightly to himself as he walked away.   Past the whirl. He thought, as he regained his strength and finally ventured to stand— nearly tripping, and falling back to his knees to regain his balance. Like a newborn calf taking its first steps. Another moment passed, and he could stand once more— albeit shakily. He cautiously eyed the mosaic as he walked around its perimeter, the audible snickering of various witnesses to his humiliation sounding around him. Once on the other side, he passed through a large doorway with a dull-blue elevator symbol stenciled above it. After a moment's walk, the large corridor opened into another hall about three times its width and length.   A dazzling rainbow of elevators stretched before him upon each wall, split into sections based on hue. A brass plaque above each denoted the particular color's name. Hotdog, mustard, yeti, alien— few of these seemed particularly fitting, especially considering how many likely led to floors wherein lay anomalies with the power to end the world as he knew it. Several colors were sponsored, even, with labels such as Zoomi Blue, Agnew Yellow, or Moleman Co. Red. Poseidon spent what felt like hours walking down the hall before finally coming to the periwinkle elevator.   Thankfully he didn't need to wait a moment longer for the elevator to arrive, its doors opening promptly as he pressed the button beside them. A thought came to him before he stepped inside, however. I'm not here for A-79. He had, without question, been following the woman's instructions from earlier— almost forgetting his entire purpose for being there. This is exactly how I keep getting caught! I can't just blindly obey everything everyone tells me— focus, Poseidon. Focus. Breathe. You're here to rejoin and free your body. Don't forget your purpose. Next time someone tells you to do something, you don't do it— focus on the goal.   "Hey, buddy, mind helping me with this?" A small bespectacled woman called from beside him, carrying a large metal crate on her shoulders. Poseidon smiled politely.   "Of course!" He reached for the crate, only to receive a kick to the shin. "Not with the crate, thank you, with the door." He gave her a puzzled look. "Why would you need..." he quieted himself as he saw two ID scanners along the sides of the elevator beside him. Ocean blue. Ocean couldn't be this easy, could it? With no other leads, he walked over to the door and scanned his— Larson's— ID. It was extraordinarily convenient that the ID he had managed to obtain had what seemed to be high clearance. Poseidon chose not to dwell on this much, and silently thanked the drunkard for his idiocy before shuffling into the elevator alongside the woman.   "-6." She said. It took him a moment to realize she was asking him to press the button, and he fumbled, accidentally pressing -3, instead. She gave him a confused glance.   "That's uh...that's where I'm headed." He laughed nervously before pressing -6, correctly this time. He cleared his throat to regain his composure. Feeling as if he had to talk, somehow, he probed his mind for something to say. Before he could open his mouth, however, the woman responded.   "Don't talk. it could get out." She tapped the metal crate lightly, making a dull, reverberating thud. A sluggish knocking responded from within shortly after. She gave Poseidon a weak smile before turning her attention back to the door. They were getting closer to his body, he could feel it. -1, -2, -3. While he didn't expect to find himself on this floor, he feared that he may raise suspicion if he stayed behind, and so, he politely nodded to the woman with the box, and stepped out onto the floor. "See you later!" He shouted nervously, turning back towards the closing elevator door. Somehow he had thought not doing so would be suspect, though he quickly realized that his shout was much more strange than the alternative silence.   This was enough to irritate whatever was in the box, which began to thrash about wildly. The woman screamed "OH GOD N— " whatever happened after that was carried to a lower floor as the doors slid shut. Did I just... He stared in stunned silence for a few moments at the unmoving metal doors. If's all my... He pushed the thought from his mind as best he could. She's probably trained to deal with this, no distractions— focus. He took a deep breath and turned around to gain his bearings.   He quickly noticed something odd— despite the elevator room above containing possibly hundreds of different elevators, there was only the one in sight behind him. He thought that, perhaps, the other elevators simply passed by unseen behind the concrete walls— but the one he had arrived in was already offset from the wall. It would be impossible for the other elevators to exist in the same space— and yet, they surely must have. He waved a hand through the empty space beside the outcropping, and, feeling nothing out of the ordinary, abandoned the thought and turned to the hall before him. The dull-blue paint he had seen above was replaced with a deeper, darker one, the words stenciled before him read "-03 Childhood Objects".   He thought for a brief moment about calling the elevator again and trying another floor— but imagined that whatever was in the box may still be there, and that he was better off exploring the current floor instead. He walked down the hall, and into a small security checkpoint. The hall beyond was blocked by an odd sheet of purple glass. A man seated at a desk behind the glass was embroiled in a vigorous battle with a colorful puzzle cube, and barely looked up from his work to regard Poseidon as he approached. "Hey pal, don't go by A-473, they're doing some crazy testing right now. Let's see your— PIECE OF— " He slammed the cube into his desk repeatedly, unable to discern its secrets. Poseidon timidly approached and held up Larson's ID. The guard glanced just enough to check the security clearance, and nothing else, before focusing himself on the baffling cube once more. Poseidon could hear him shouting angrily as he was let through and walked out into the hall beyond.   The entire space was different than it had seemed from the other side— through the glass he saw no more than another concrete hallway. Now, he walked on a suspended pathway overlooking a dark chasm. Bright white light shone from above, below, and on all sides by floodlights embedded in the walls, hidden behind translucent white panels. On the other side of the pathway was a series of symmetrical concrete ramps, leading to five levels of what appeared to him to be various cells. Each level extended further into the distance via various hallways. The cool air itself tasted oddly familiar to Poseidon, something sweet and sugary and yet at the same time like bedtime at 7PM and not being allowed to watch that one movie. This was somehow nostalgic, despite the fact that he had never been a child, and if he had been, it would have been long before these things.   He walked forward, not having anywhere else to go, and towards the cells. While they varied in size and structure to meet the varying requirements to contain each and every anomaly contained within, most were concrete and possessed either a reinforced glass window or an electronic screen attached to a camera kept inside. Objects were kept on square concrete pedestals and lit from above by a small bright light. An acrylic plaque fastened to the left of each listed the anomaly's number, threat level, and a basic description of its properties. Below this hung a clipboard with notes on the object's containment and how to handle it, alongside experiment logs. Much of this information was covered with black ink, however— even with the level of clearance needed to visit this level, there were still many secrets withheld from personnel.   On the right side of each cell was a door, which appeared to lead to a small office before allowing entry into the cell proper. Some cells had no door, however, and Poseidon wondered how the objects had been placed inside to begin with. Every now and again as he walked, he spotted a red lever along the walls, which he assumed were some sort of emergency protocol, and didn't pay much mind to. He idly read some of the object descriptions as he passed them, hoping that, perhaps, he may find something to aid in his quest.   A-277
-Peppermint-   A brightly colored lollipop that tastes like broccoli.   A-283
-Gum wrapper-   A children's toy truck, with horsepower and strength comparable to the adult-sized vehicle it was modeled after.   A-317
-Rust-   A cartoon cow plush, which constantly begs for the flesh of the living. Feed twice weekly.   Poseidon made sure to give this cell a wide berth as he passed by.   A-356
-Rust-   A pink fluffy blanket which, when rolled around a living subject, transforms them into a burrito.   He was disappointed, though he didn't expect to find something perfectly suited to his needs, he still wished that he would. He decided to continue onwards for a little while longer and turn back if nothing presented itself. A-374, 382, 411, 430, 460...the numbers were blurring together as he passed each cell. Down the hall he could hear frantic shouting and banging. A figure appeared to be blocking the door to a cell with their own body as something desperately tried to get out. He recalled the guard's warning about avoiding A-475, and quickly turned the other way. Unfortunately, a distressed shout reached him before he could get very far.   "We need help over here! Cutie bear...she...she got--" the banging behind them got stronger and they threw themselves against the door in response. "They're gone! They're infected or mind controlled or whatever the hell that thing did do them— please! You just gotta sound the alarm— pull one of the red levers on the walls!" The door bent slightly with the force of whatever was behind it. "I SWEAR TO GOD IF I DIE BECAUSE OF A STUPID BEAR TOY, I'LL— " Something ruptured through the door-- and the figure's chest. Rather than blood, however, red colored cotton spilled onto the floor before them.   Poseidon managed to pull himself out of shock, and practically leaped towards the nearest lever— only to find it didn't work. The lever stayed still even as he hung his entire weight on it. He swore under his breath and ran to the next, as the sound of tearing fabric sounded from somewhere behind him. Again, the lever didn't budge. He started to turn away when something caught his eye— a coin slot, directly below the lever, labeled "Alert security: 25c :)"   "Who carries coins these days?!" He growled. Remembering that he was, in fact, wearing someone else's clothes— he desperately began rummaging through his pockets. "Come on..." he glanced over towards A-475's cell, and, seeing a large, patchwork stuffed bear picking at the dead figure's remains with what appeared to be a giant sewing needle, began to run the opposite direction while continuing to rummage through his pockets. Receipts, lint, bottlecaps— no coins. He could hear slow, plodding footsteps marked by cartoonish squeaks starting behind him.   He threw out whatever was contained within his pockets as he continued searching, glancing back every now and again to see the great, lumbering teddy bear picking up speed and making threatening gestures with its sewing needle while a prerecorded voice cheerily proclaimed "I'm Cutie Beaw, let's be fweinds!" Only one pocket remained— the pasta-stained one on his front. He winced, bracing himself to reach in— the crusty pocket made him want to gag. Thankfully, however, it did appear to contain some loose change— a couple quarters included. He thanked the sea as he ran towards another lever, and quickly inserted a sauce-encrusted coin. An audible click sounded, and he was easily able to pull the lever.   A blaring alarm sounded through the entire cell block, while lurid red lights spun over his head. The bear scraped its needle along the floor as it approached, "Let's have a tea pawty!" it shouted, as if to remind Poseidon that he wasn't alone. He yelped and quickly resumed his flight. Past cells he had casually walked by mere moments before, his lungs burning. He nearly reached the suspended pathway leading back to the elevator when a heavily-armed security force appeared on the opposite end.   "It's behind me!" He shouted to them, though it quickly became clear that the force did not care who or what was between them and their target— as they immediately drew their rifles. Poseidon had little time to dive out of their way before the deafening noise of gunfire echoed through the area, bright streaks of hot-yellow light flying through the air as a barrage of incendiary rounds found their mark in the giant bear's hide. "I wuv you!" It bellowed, swinging the needle to and fro to block what it could. The smell of singed cotton was overwhelming as the bullets found new homes within its body, and yet, the bear stood.   The beast began once more to move forward, though rather than continue to chase Poseidon, it was much more interested in those attempting to hurt it. As far as he could tell, he had no exit— if the bear could not be killed by such a well-armed force he certainly had no chance against it. Perhaps, he thought, there could be another exit on the other side of one of the cell blocks? A stray bullet landed mere inches from his back— and he decided that he had no alternative. Poseidon waited for the bear to pass, gunshots still ringing in his ears, before scrambling back to his feet and running for the next hall.   At the very least, he could find somewhere to wait out the chaos behind him. As he turned the corner he barely stopped to look at the cells passing by, running as far down the seemingly endless hall as his legs would carry him. As he continued, travelling farther and farther away, the gunshots became no more than echoes in the distance. Poseidon slowed his pace for a few moments before finally stopping to rest, sitting on the cold concrete floor with his back against the wall. The alarms' incessant ringing made it hard for him to think, and he clasped his hands over his ears to steal for himself an ounce of peace.   He shut his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Air in, air out. Steadily slowing down with each breath, calming his nerves as best as one could mere moments after being hunted by a living teddy bear and narrowly avoiding bullet wounds. How do I get out of here? He asked himself. No new plans came to mind other than that he had formed in his panic— wander around until he stumbled upon an exit. He opened his eyes and leaned forward a bit to look down the hall. Its concrete walls stretched into the distance for a while longer, but he could see an end to it. However, he could make out no details of the other side— namely whether or not it housed an exit. If only I had a map. He thought to himself.   He stood up, carefully, only separating his hands from his ears after he was fully upright. The alarms came to him once more at full volume as he did so, prompting him to cover and uncover them a few times to readjust. Once he was done, je had the strangest compulsion to walk at an angle down the hall, which he followed for a few moments before realizing he had been doing so. He stopped and looked before him— the angle had left him in front of a particular cell. He quickly read the plaque beside it.   A-505
-Gum wrapper-   A toy GPS, with a printed cardboard "screen." The print on the cardboard changes periodically when held by someone who is lost, leading them to their destination via pointing arrows.   Poseidon looked at the anomaly through the glass. It appeared as the plaque said, it was a bright red plastic rectangle with large eyes and a "mouth" which hosted the cardboard screen. Worn white paint highlighted the letters "My First GPS!" raised in the plastic along the bottom. The printed cardboard itself displayed a colorful blue arrow, pointing somewhere down the corridor. He turned his head, following the arrow, to spot a short while down on the left-side of the hall a door proudly marked "EMERGENCY EXIT." He started towards it— though stopped himself before he got too far. I would be a fool to leave this thing behind!   He approached the door beside A-505's cell, and tested his card in the slot beside it. A satisfying click denoted his success, and he quickly opened the door. The small room inside contained a desk, an aged beige-box computer, and a small stack of papers. Poseidon had to turn himself sideways to fit behind the desk and open the door behind it, leading into the cell itself. He wasted no time in grabbing the plastic GPS from its pedestal and leaving back towards the exit.   It was only a minute's jog to reach the door, which, thankfully, required no more of him than to turn the knob and push through. "Finally!" He exclaimed under his breath as the door shut behind him, taking with it the dizzying red lights and the cacophonies of the alarm and distant gunshots. Before him was— not what he expected. Rather than an ill-maintained tunnel or tight corridor snaking around the facility— there was simply a small concrete room and a trio of elevator doors— each painted some shade of grey.   He looked to the GPS for answers, its arrow was already pointed towards the door on the left. Poseidon gave it a thankful nod and approached the door— finding this time no card scanner, but yet another coin slot. A piece of paper taped to the wall above it proudly proclaimed "Evac: 50c :)" he sighed and braced himself to enter the sauce-pocket once again. He closed his eyes as he retrieved two sauce-stained quarters and quickly placed them into the slot afterwards. The doors opened shortly afterwards, groaning in protest as they did so.   As he stepped inside, Poseidon was surprised to find only three floors available. "Top" "Surface" and "Bottom"— the latter of which had an ID scanner beside it. He looked to the GPS, whose smile remained ever-present— never one to lose optimism. Its arrow pointed towards the button for "bottom." He swiped his ID in the slot beside it, and a green light shone beneath the button, which he promptly pushed. As the doors groaned shut and the elevator began its descent he could feel it— he was getting closer to his body.   The elevator hummed gently as it continued to descend. Poseidon took advantage of the moment of respite, and leaned against the wall opposite the door, closing his eyes as he did so. Before long we'll...I'll be out of here. The thought made him smile. A smile that was quickly wiped off his face as the elevator suddenly jolted downwards, knocking his head against the wall as it did so. He splayed his arms against the walls to steady himself, looking like some sort of scarecrow, though the fall only lasted a brief moment. Another groan from the elevator doors signaled that he had arrived. It took him a moment to collect himself and step into the concrete corridor beyond, to find that it mirrored the one he had entered above, and lead to a pale-blue metal door just a few feet away. He took a deep breath and opened it— not sure what to expect.   The door opened into another concrete hallway which appeared...identical to those above, save for the paint on the walls being replaced with a near-black blue. Stenciled every now and again were the words "-06 Anomalous Beings C." It appeared that he had entered another cell block, though those found here were larger, and the hall itself was significantly shorter— it seemed that only one cell remained on either side. He looked to the GPS, which directed him with an 'L' shaped arrow towards the open end of the hall.   He cautiously stepped out of the door, looking both ways to ensure he was alone, and finally closed it softly behind him before walking quickly down the hall. At its end he would find a breathtaking view— a vast, cylindrical concrete chamber containing myriad floors of cells. A similarly cylindrical black stone tower stood at its center, its smooth surface broken periodically by rows of curved windows. Blinding white floodlights from the ceiling and attached at each floor flooded the entire space, as if threatening to burn those who stepped outside to dust.   Beneath the foreboding tower sat a great dome, which surely housed something great and terrible. As Poseidon leaned against the small concrete wall that overlooked the open space, he looked once more to the GPS for guidance. The arrow pointed directly to the dome. The weary man sighed. At least it's not hard to find. In a strange sense, he was almost flattered by it. All these other beings were imprisoned in small cells, yet he was within a great dome! He scanned the area for a way down, noting several winding staircases— the nearest being a short walk away.   A sudden thump sounded behind him, and he nearly leaped over the wall before collecting himself. The thing living in the cell had taken notice— they appeared to be an average man in a suit. Except, they had the head of a goldfish, whose mouth idly popped open and closed as its fists banged against the reinforced glass. The banging repeated a stilted rhythm, as if it were trying to play a song. A long hit, pause, a short jab, a long hit, a short jab, pause, short, long, pause, short, long, long, short— it took a few repeats for Poseidon to realize they were attempting to communicate with him in Morse code. "T...R...A...P... Trap?" He whispered to himself, a look of confusion clouding his face before a quiet laughter broke it. "Of course! I can see you're trapped there! A sad situation indeed. I may help you later, friend. Until then— I need to focus."   He waved the fish-man goodbye and walked towards the stairs, the message repeating and fading into the distance as he did so. He barely glanced at the other cells as he passed by, briefly spotting some sort of eight-legged frog, a real estate agent, and a cat with human hands. A woman was staring intently before the latter, and furiously began writing something onto a clipboard before her as Poseidon passed by. He didn't stop to bother her. It was tiring, but it didn't take too long to descend the spiraling staircase to the bottom. He had to squeeze by two conversing personnel along the way, but they paid him no mind beyond giving his sauce-stained pocket a strange glance.   Eventually he would arrive at the bottom of the stairs, and glanced at the GPS once more to find the dome's entrance. He nearly tripped as he bumped into a large man before him.   "Are you lost?" The man grinned. This is the end, isn't it? Poseidon quickly scrambled through his mind for a response. "I...uh, no?" He winced. The man laughed.   "It's alright! I can give you a pointer or three— just tell me one thing first. What's your name?" Poseidon blinked. He opened his mouth for a moment to say "Poseidon" but quickly remembered his current disguise. "Larson." He said, calmly. The man studied his face for a moment as a serious expression clouded his own. He glanced at "Larson's" ID card, and then his face. Then, he gave Poseidon a jovial smile and patted him on the shoulder. "Ah, good! Can't be too careful, they found some naked guy trying to break in earlier today. I think he was claiming to be you!" Poseidon nervously shifted his weight. "Yeah...that is...huh." The man laughed again. "Alright, where are you headed? I can point you in the right direction." Poseidon pointed towards the dome.   "I see." Said the man. "You here for maintenance? Ah, doesn't matter— the pumps are accessed on the north end there, you'll find a steel door, it's real hard to miss." Poseidon thanked him, and continued on his way— feeling the eyes of the man following him as he did so. He passed by a small group of personnel discussing something fervently— which quieted as he approached. He tried not to think about it, otherwise he may lose his composure and thus his cover. The pumps? He thought as he approached the door, and sighed. This confirmed his suspicions— his body was surely held inside, and being used to filter vast quantities of water for the entire floating compound.   The door, thankfully, required nothing of him but to pull it open. A cacophony of various pipes, flowing liquid, and other machinery greeted him as he entered. The space itself was much tighter than the halls he had become used to, with various stains and rubber mats placed about. Pipes clung to the walls and ceiling like metal vines, carrying water to and from the rest of the compound, he assumed. He squeezed through the tunnel, checking the GPS at each junction or doorway he found himself at, eventually losing himself in the maze. He took a small rest along the way, during which a sudden rush of liquid in a pipe situated behind him caused it to bang against his shoulder— spurring him once more to action.   And so he navigated through the maze for what felt like hours, sometimes descending, something ascending— it really was a wonder how anyone was to navigate it without a supernatural plastic GPS. The lights here were dimmer than those found above, often yellowed or flicking— giving him the impression of now being evening. It would be an apt description, he thought, as he was nearing the end of his search. Finally, he was pointed towards a blue-painted steel door. I can feel it— I'm here! He couldn't help but smile gleefully. If entering this place had been so easy— he had no doubts that he could escape with little difficulty.   The hard part was over, and he quickly opened the door to find himself. In the center of a spacious dome he saw his body— ragged and chained to the floor. Myriad pipes were attached to his body and cheap nautical furniture was arranged around him almost mockingly— as he assumed they couldn't be used at all. "By the sea..." he said aloud, and quickly approached his body to begin pulling at the various pipes. So long as he did not touch his chained body he would not rejoin it, and so he had to go about his work carefully. He screamed— or, the him that was chained screamed. A pipe was firmly attached to his mouth so he couldn't make out any of his words— and turned around in case he was being warned.   Only to find himself forcibly shoved back into his own body by a large hand— the reformation itself was quick, and like a drop of water falling into a pond, seamless. He was whole again. His eyes darted around in panic— how could he free himself now?! He was trapped— there was no chance of escape! A man soon walked into his vision. The same from before, who had directed him to the maintenance entrance. Poseidon glared at him angrily.   "Look, I get it. You're thinking 'man I could really go for a gyro right now.' Sorry, wait, that's me— you are wondering how on earth this could be happening to you. Simple— your wonderful ability to cleanly filter literal oceans has cut our water bill in half! Do you know what kind of money that is here?! Anyway, we hit your capacity— at least...your incomplete capacity. So we let you message yourself so that you would come here to save yourself by your own hands...yourself..." He stopped for a moment, breathing deeply as if to dispel a fit of rage. "God this is ridiculous— anyway, point is you didn't break in— we let you get here. The executive offices needed a new water fountain, as...mandated by our sponsors, and now we'll drink like gods! Or...from a god? We have water, is the point. Seriously, they were going to pull funding from us without their stupid logo slapped on that water fountain, if you can believe it!"   Poseidon continued to glare as the man turned to walk away, before stopping. "I know it's not humane, but believe me when I tell you that the money you're saving us is going to save the world. Besides, for all we know you could actually have the terrifying power to create tsunamis, flood the earth, or talk with starfish. Anyway we'll be playing the same three songs on repeat for you because we couldn't afford the rights to anything else." The man waved, and disappeared into another door on the opposite side of the room. Poseidon was left there with his thoughts, a constant torrent of water pouring through him, and the same three songs on repeat. For as long as he may find himself trapped within the dome.   ***   Bin Folks passed by the new, glistening executive water cooler. A woman was standing beside it, enjoying a cool drink. She stopped Bin for a moment. "Bin, I don't know what you did to this water— but it tastes godlike!" Bin smiled, and continued on his way.


Author's Notes

Feedback is always welcome! This is one month late! But it's finally done! I am totally okay with this and not upset!

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28 Oct, 2020 12:57

I love your take on Poseidon!   I now have mixed feelings on Bin, however.   This was a really good story - great job! <3

Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
28 Oct, 2020 18:18

Thank you!   And yeah Bin was always kind of a hot headed garbage man, this just makes it more clear. I WAS a little conflicted about making that guy Bin though— since I have grown attached to him. (Which is why I then threw in the reluctance via "as mandated by our sponsors" thing since he's usually only cruel to anomalies that hurt someone he knows/knew.)

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