The 616 Diaries: Entry 26 by Kevin Kauffmann
Visit Kevin Kauffmann's page

November 5th, 2019

Okay, I know it’s been a week since the last entry, but a lot of stuff has been happening. I didn’t even notice that I had missed Halloween or that it’s the 5th of November until I wrote down the timestamp.

I love V for Vendetta. This is not a day I forget.

But as much as I love my hero in the arsonist’s mask, that’s really not important now. Hell, what happened in the last week isn’t even that important, and I’ve actually been recognizing the symbols.

What’s important is the vision I just had about twenty minutes ago and what it fucking meant.

Or, what it means, or what it will mean. Look, I don’t fucking know—I’m not sure if it even was a vision—but it really fucking looked like one. I’m goddamned shaking here as I’m writing the words, my fingers are trembling and making me put in typos that I have to delete and fuaskojlakhjsdgflkhjadgkjh

lkaksjdlkasjfklj, goddamnit.

Alright, I’ll try to make sense of it, at least for myself. It might be too late for anyone else.

So it’s no surprise that things have been devolving, so to speak. After that conversation I had with Amin last week, we all kinda retreated into our shells. I’ve been working on trying to read the text, starting to make a little progress—dreaming way more than I should considering how little I sleep—but that’s expected. Baum definitely isn’t looking down on it, even if it makes it so that what sleep I do get is not restful in the slightest.

But again, I’m doing way better than Amin. Half the time I see him he’s wrapped up in a blanket, a cup of coffee going cold next to him. He twitches a lot now, and I don’t think it’s because of a caffeine dependency. He looks like he’s just losing touch at this point, and I’ve asked Baum a couple times how often he stays til early in the morning.

Thing is, Amin hasn’t been staying late, recently. He goes back to his room by midnight, which is earlier than usual, and he comes in later than me. I thought maybe exhaustion was finally getting to him—anybody human wouldn’t have been able to keep up the hours he was working—but it seems more like… well, it seems like he’s just losing it. Sometimes I look up from my screen and notice that he’s just staring at the ceiling. Other times he’s back to murmuring his nonsense at the screen, but everybody, including him, knows there’s no point to that.

I haven’t been helping on that front. With each small success I get, I can see it wearing on him. Each one affects him more and more, even when I’m just recognizing a name. When I started actually lining up a paragraph of the raw text with one of the translations, Baum and Fennsler were excited enough to get out from behind their desks and double check my work. I was proud, almost glowing with satisfaction, but that was until I looked over at Amin to share my triumph.

All I saw was the hope leaving his eyes.

And it fucking bothers me, alright? It bothers me that I’m affecting him just as much as the rest of this goddamn secret society bullshit! I actually care about the dude; even if we’re practically strangers, we’re in this thing together. Yet here I am, grinding him into the dirt, showing him that he’s not the special one; that he has no real place here. I’m sure it’d be different if his programs had worked—if he had found a single clue as to the real nature of these prophecies or how people were able to translate them—but that’s not the fucking case now, is it? He’s stuck here under the ground with me but he doesn’t even get to see what’s on the other side of this stupid mystery.

Yeah, stupid. That’s what it is. It’s just fucking stupid that I’m the only one who can even start deciphering this shit.

But that’s just how I feel about it; it has nothing to do with why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post because I saw something that is really putting me on edge and making me rethink this whole 616 business.

I left the Zodiac office about 45 minutes ago, leaving Amin with our handlers, and made my way through the hallways that make me think I was in some stupid sci-fi flick. No goddamn imagination, this Order; they had to rip off all the clichés. I was on edge through the entire elevator ride and I was just in a rotten mood as I made my way to the dormitories. Anybody who passed by me was lucky to get a nod and an awkward, forced smile. Most I ignored, but that’s alright.

We’re all practically strangers, here.

By the time I made it back to my room and slammed the door behind me—or as much as I could slam the fucker—I was grinding my teeth and generally just displeased with the world. Knowing that I couldn’t help Amin was really starting to get to me, and I admit that I even punched my pillow a few times just to try to get out some of that frustration. By the time I was panting and sweating, which was pitiful considering that my assault lasted all of twenty seconds, I realized that a headache was starting to form right above the bridge of my nose. I pinched the skin there, but all it did was cause the pain to spread along my sinuses.

Soon enough all I could think about was this infernal goddamn pain that felt like my brain was swelling, and after a few minutes of lying down on my should-be-relaxing mattress, I realized I had had enough. I rolled off the bed and went to my desk to open the top drawer, which was where I stored a small bottle of ibuprofen. Pitifully, it took me a second to get past the childproofing on the cap, but eventually I poured out some pills and tried to judge how many I would need.

You never need just two, no matter what the directions say.

After sighing in disgust at myself, I kept three of them in my palm while letting the rest slide into the bottle, immediately throwing them into my mouth and swallowing. I should have taken them with water—I got that swollen feeling in my throat that doesn’t go away no matter what you do—but there was nothing I could do at that point. I just screwed the cap back onto the bottle and then sat down in my chair. Lying down wasn’t going to help—not until the painkillers took effect—so I propped up my head on my left hand and shook my computer’s mouse in an attempt to wake it up.

All I got to see was a flicker on the screen before the entire world disappeared and was replaced by a scene tinged in blue.

I’ve experienced the blue visions before, but only once. Just that one, last conversation with Andrew that made it painfully clear that I could see the future. So yeah, the first thought that went through my head was that I was having a prophecy of my own. The second was that I might just be going crazy or sleep-deprived or something mindlessly rational, but that one didn’t last very long.

Especially once I started watching the scene unfold between Teresa Slagen and Samir Almasi.

“You think he’s a mole?” Samir asked, his deep voice unable to hide his doubt. The massive man in the silk suit was leaning up against the side of yet another sterile hallway, even if it looked blue at the moment. Teresa, on the other hand, was standing in the middle of the empty space with her arms crossed, clearly displeased.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying. It’d be easy if we just had a mole,” she said, looking away from the man and shaking her head. “I could get rid of a mole and it wouldn’t be an issue. This one is a little more complicated. Not to mention that he doesn’t deserve it.”

“Oh, because you don’t have a history of hurting people who don’t deserve it,” Samir teased, but Teresa gave him a quick glare and the smile disappeared from his face.

“Not fair,” she quipped, but Samir shrugged after he took his arm off the wall.

“Rarely is, but you know as well as I do that we’re not tasked to keep things fair or balanced. Hell, we have friends who do that for us,” he said before stepping forward and setting a massive hand on Teresa’s shoulder. “Our man in grey may be overly grumpy, but he’s steering us right.”

“He’s just human. It’s too much of a burden and he’s… struggling,” she argued, but Samir shrugged again as he stepped back.

“He chose it, and I’m determined to believe in him. He’s had plenty of opportunities to screw it up, but we’re still here. Don’t worry about him; he worries enough for all of us,” Samir joked before looking down at the floor and crossing his arms. After a weary sigh, he lifted his gaze and seemed to stare into the distance. “And we have other things to consider.”

“Tell me about it. I’m not sure what to do here. It doesn’t… it doesn’t feel right to even talk about it,” Teresa said, drawing a chuckle from the giant.

“It shouldn’t. It should never feel right and it should never feel easy. That you feel that way gives me a little hope, you know,” he said, accenting the statement by lifting her chin with a curled finger, forcing Teresa to make eye contact with him. “Anybody else been through what you have, it’d be easy to them.”

“Yeah, don’t I know it,” she muttered as she grabbed his finger and pulled it away from her chin. Holding his hand and looking over the wrinkles of his skin, she seemed ready to admit defeat. “Don’t you miss when it was black and white? We knew where people stood, or at least we knew the sides. Now we’re just using people, and I mean using them. They’re just another resource…”

“Yeah, seems that way,” Samir admitted, letting the woman caress and examine his hand to her heart’s content. “The greater good argument seems a little worn-out.”

“At this point I’m not even sure if it’s greater good. Not sure we’re in the right anymore. Maybe it all should have just ended back then w—”

“Stop it,” Samir commanded, and it almost seemed like it pulsed through the hallway. The woman looked up at him, quivering, and from my astral vantage point, I could understand why she might be afraid. However, that’s not what it was; I could tell that it was more than that, that this woman could never be afraid of this giant.

Absurd, I know, but fear was not why she was shaking.

“We could have been wrong, we could be wrong,” she protested, but Samir shook his head and stopped her from going further.

“Could be, it may all be nonsense that they’re working on down on the 16th floor, but it’s our responsibility to cover all the bases, including that one,” Samir said as he wrapped her tiny hands in his paws. “But what I don’t ever want to hear you say is that it should have ended back then. What happened needed to happen—needed to happen the way it did—and we were in the right,” he said before pausing and letting his words sink in. “No matter the cost, we have to translate those prophecies, and we can’t undermine that effort at all.”

“I—I know,” Teresa admitted before turning to look at the floor to her right, anything to avoid Samir’s stare. “And I know I promised to pay the costs and carry this, but… god, my conscience is taking a beating.”

“Yeah, hon, I know,” Samir said before placing a dark hand on her cheek, which seemed to bring Teresa comfort. She closed her eyes and leaned into the touch, even bringing one of her hands to the back of his hand. As he smiled and brought her into a warm embrace, I almost didn’t realize what they were still talking about. However, when he set his chin on the top of her and looked into the distance, I could feel the sorrow hiding behind his cheery attitude.

“It doesn’t change what we have to do, though,” he said before releasing her, letting Teresa back away and wipe a tear from her eye.

“I wish it could be some other way, but we have to keep the project safe,” she said, drawing a sigh from the giant in the business suit.

“We will. I’ll make sure it’s handled well. Clean. He deserves that, I think. Something like this, it’s not even really their fault,” Samir said before shoving his hands into the pockets of his slacks.

“I wish it was. It’d be easier,” Teresa said before taking a deep breath and tilting her head toward the ceiling. After letting out the lungful of air, she looked back at her subordinate and seemed to deflate even further. “Thanks, sweetie. I’m gonna head back to Chicago and help out Will with that little nightmare. It’s nice to know you’re holding down the fort.”

“Please, if it was a fort, I’d be doing a better job,” Samir said with a smile, and that was enough for Teresa to break and give a smile of her own. Once she did, Samir opened his arms and waited for the woman to surrender to another hug, but Teresa just laughed and ducked under his left arm, even though she had plenty of room to walk underneath.

“Next time try to hide that glint in your eye. I’m not just going to let you cop a feel when I’m vulnerable,” she said over her shoulder, drawing a chuckle from Samir as he dropped his arms.

“Can’t fault a man for trying,” he said as he turned to watch her leave, but the woman shook her head and kept going toward the exit.

“Oh, you and I both know you’re much more than that,” she said, leaving the giant to stand alone in that sterile hallway.

And that’s when I saw my laptop screen flicker back to life.

I didn’t really know what was happening, but I was scared and flustered and confused enough that I jumped out of my chair, knocked it over, somehow got my leg stuck where it shouldn’t be, and toppled over on top of the thing. I knocked my head when I fell on the ground—it’s swollen now—but I was too disoriented to care or even really notice. I scrambled back to my feet—eventually, at least—and quickly tried to figure out what had just happened to me.

It felt like it had been five minutes since I had first started watching Teresa and Samir talking, and I tried to figure out if that was true. If I had fallen asleep I wanted to know how long I had been out, but that’s when things got even weirder. I looked at the display of the clock on my bedside table and assumed it had been a few hours. I would have even been satisfied if it had been half an hour.

It had only been a few seconds since I had sat down at the computer.

At once, my mind was thrown into chaos. There was no debating that I had seen them talking, had seen them conspiring to do… something. Almost immediately I knew what they were talking about—I would have been dumb to think anything else—but I really tried to deny it. I had a dozen theories, but most of me knew I was just trying to make excuses, trying to think up some other plausible explanation that would do away with the certainty I had, that I knew exactly why I had this gnawing feeling in my gut. Now? Now I can only think of one thing.

They were talking about killing Amin.

I tried to think up some other reason. Hell, I even tried to think up some scenario where they were talking about me, Baum, Fennsler—anyone that wasn’t Amin—but it just doesn’t make sense. Those two assholes were talking about killing my friend and I didn’t care how awful they were feeling about it. What I knew was that someone was in danger, and that person was probably the only other person working on demonic prophecies.

Of course, this is all assuming that this was a real vision, but I think it’d be stupid to deny that. That blue tinge came back and the only time that ever happens is when something monumental is about to happen in the future. I knew that conversation with Andrew word-for-fucking-word, which makes me think that’s it’s extremely unlikely that Samir Almasi and Teresa Slagen are not about to have a talk discussing the fate of someone close to me.

kajshfjkahgfkjh-fucking-asdlkajsdflkasjd! That gibberish is more comprehensible to me than the truth that my friend is about to die and knowing for fucking sure that I can’t do anything about it.

Or, well, maybe I can. I don’t really know at this point, do I? Räum was convinced that if he tampered with events that it would change the prophecies, but he was the real thing. Original seer and all that. Maybe he had the power to change the future, or change things that personally involved him or I don’t know. But that demon was ready to die, believed in that death.

I don’t want to die, and if those two can so casually talk about killing an innocent man, what’s to say they can’t have the same conversation about me? What’s to say that I’m not only just avoiding the executioner’s axe, myself? Hell, I’ve thrown away the theory, but maybe they were talking about me.

No, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m making progress—or something like it—and it’s obvious that Amin isn’t. They want the prophecies translated for some reason, so that means I get to stay alive for now. I’m not sure why they want them translated—what it all means—but I’m starting to think that it’s a little bit more important than just knowing what happens. There’s some end goal, there has to be.

And with the way they’re talking about killing Amin? I’m not sure it’s something I want to help them accomplish.

But I don’t want to die. I know I’ve said the opposite before—said that I wanted to find out the truth to 616 or die trying—but I’m scared and apparently a coward. I’m too scared to say any of this to anyone, I’m just writing in my diary day after day and… well, shit, that’s not even true anymore! I’m writing this when I get around to it after spending a full week sinking further and further into lunacy and delusion and I’m going the WRONG KIND OF CRAZY.

The wrong kind of crazy. What if that’s what’s going to happen to me? What if that’s what’s supposed to happen to me? What if my spiral into madness is one of those untranslated passages, and at the end of my days I get to see what happens to me? What if instead of one of those blue scenes that are ever-so-vivid, I get to read about Ms. Slagen’s final judgment?

What if it’s not there? What if I don’t even get a warning before Samir’s giant hand is clenched around my throat? I imagine that would be the kind of mercy he’d grant me. Hell, he might even do it from behind, just to surprise me.

No, no, that wouldn’t happen that way. Samir would come at me from the front; like a man. He wouldn’t disrespect a man he was about to kill, even if he was innocent. I bet that’s how he’ll come to Amin. It’ll be a sad occasion, though he’ll probably try to make a joke or two, first.

Fuck, that’s assuming that it’s even Samir who’s going to do it. The man is one of the higher-ups in a giant conglomerate and an ancient order and has thousands, maybe millions, of employees. I’m sure he has someone to order around, or could hire somebody. Make it look like an accident…

Goddamnit. Goddamnit, I know I have to. I know I have to, but I… I’m scared.

But being scared doesn’t mean I don’t get to warn Amin. He should at least know it’s coming.

You’d want to know if your friend knew someone was about to kill you, right?

laiksjflkasjf, goddamnit.



Amin's definitely in trouble now. Next entry goes up November 6th!