I am an Engineer for Reliable Excavation Demolition.
It has been 113 years, 3 mon ths, and 16 days since the Announcer trapped us down here. The only reason I kno w this is because she likes to remind us gleefully of how long we have been her prisoners whenever the occasion arises, which is far too often for my tastes. Sc out is curled up next to me, clinging to me like a baby monkey as he twitches in his sleep. It has been about 75 years since he was rendered completely dumb whe n his tongue got ripped out and stayed ripped out. We used to joke about how it made him more pleasant. Then, for a while, it seemed extremely tragic. Now, he s eems to have gotten used to it. Being mute isn’t so bad, especially when there isn’t really much to talk about anymore. But he listens to me now. And having a good listener is a godsend in this hellhole. Sniper is lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. I can hear his stomach growling, but I know he doesn’t care. He stop ped caring decades ago. He has become so lethargic, that on a bad day, if the An nouncer wants to play a game with us, we have to pick him up off the floor and d rag him. Heavy will sometimes lift him up and sling him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He can talk, unlike Scout, but it’s only in clipped, one-or-two word answers. Sometimes it’s just non-committal grunts. Sometimes, on a good day, you can strike up a conversation with him. And just when you think he’s slipping back into his old self, he remembers where we are, and shuts down. Heavy and Medic are in the corner, going at it like rabbits. They don’t care that everybody can see them. The Announcer is watching, of course, but she’s always wat ching. We can hear her snicker sometimes. Heavy is extremely protective of the d octor. Well, he always was, really, but now he won’t let anyone touch Medic. At al l. He likes to carry Medic around like a doll, and is always hanging onto him, t ouching him. Perhaps it’s because the Announcer tortures the doctor worse than the rest of us… or, at least, most of the rest of us. From what I hear, she likes to lock him in a furnace and burn him to death, over and over and over. And when he’s not in a furnace he’s being vivisected while fully, screamingly conscious. When h e’s with Heavy, it haunts him less, and Heavy knows this. They are never seen apar t from each other, always at arm’s length from the other unless forcibly, cruelly separated. The Announcer actually joined the two of their bodies together at one point, experimenting with different methods of fusion, but it hardly seemed to make much of a difference. The mental image of the two of them kissing while Med ic’s head was next to Heavy’s on the giant Russian’s shoulders will be permanently bur ned into my memory forever. Her fun ruined, she separated them again. She likes to separate them whenever she can. Demoman is sitting next to me, still trying t o figure out where whatever cameras are that the Announcer may be using to spy u pon us. I have told him many times that I don’t think there are any, but he is sti ll convinced that there are. I can still hold conversations with him. The only t hing keeping him focused is his intense and all-consuming hatred for the Announc er. Even after all these years, it has not died, or dwindled, or faded in any wa y. I cannot count how many times he has been killed, tortured, blinded, giv en his sight back, blinded again, and ripped up in so many different ways becaus e he either tried to escape or just destroy her. Some day, he tells me, we’ll be f ree. I ask him what he plans to do if he manages to kill her or we escape, and h e admits he has no idea at all. The surface world is ravaged by a nuclear winter , the landscape barren and desolate. There is no one else out there. And more im portantly, I remind him, there are no women. Once we leave here and die, there w ill only be extinction. Soldier used to hate her too. Now, he’s in his own corner, as far away from Heavy and Medic as he can possibly get, conversing with Shovel . What he’s saying is anyone’s guess; it all sounds like incomprehensible babble, an d you’d be lucky to hear the odd English word bubble up from his throat. The years of being trapped here took an enormous toll on his already compromised sanity. He talked with Shovel before the End, yes, but things took a turn for the worse when he complained about the auras; great swaths of color, surrounding and emana ting from us, apparently changing and undulating according to our moods. Nobody is sure if this was the Announcer’s doing or not. He has made several attempts on
the lives of Heavy and Medic, and I sincerely doubt he even remembers why he hat es them as much as he does. But they always respawn, and he has never totally gi ven up. He only talks to Shovel, now. About 50 years ago, he stopped talking to us, turning his back on us as he held his conferences with his entrenching tool. He’s the only one of us that still has any of their weapons, and the only reason the Announcer let him keep Shovel is because she finds his conversations with it funny. He was so paranoid that she and we were listening in on him that he crea ted his own language, so intricate in its design that none of us could ever hope to learn it. After a while, he seemingly forgot how to speak English. When we t alk to him, he stares at us, stares through us, as though we are completely alie n beings. He does not recognize us. I can only guess as to what he is seeing whe n he stares at us, his eyes wide with terror, and his Shovel held high above his head, threatening us with decapitation should we venture too close. Spy is prob ably the worst off. The Announcer apparently really had it in for him, as his bo dy is constantly changing size and shape, mutating and cracking and stretching p ainfully. He’s not in the same room we are. He can’t stand to be seen. When he is, h e tries to tumble away, violently throwing his constantly changing body away fro m us. He hates us. Whenever Medic is crying over whatever torment he has had to endure, you can hear Spy laughing. And when he’s not laughing, he’s screaming. After almost a hundred years of his cries, sometimes I forget to hear them. And somet imes I remember, and I feel bad for him, and I go to keep him company. All he ca n think to ask me is if I have a cigarette. I have not seen Pyro in 100 years. Scout thinks he escaped. I’m not so sur e. There will be a game today. I know there will. The games are always at random . Sometimes days go by, and there is none. Sometimes there is more than one in a single day. For the past few weeks, there has been one pretty much every day, w ithout fail. Of course, now that I’m starting to get used to it, she’s probably goin g to find a way to change it up. She always does that. Scout’s awake now. He’s tuggi ng at my sleeve, and looking up at me. His eyes, God bless his eyes; they still have a tiny, faint spark in them. It’s probably Demoman’s fault, telling the poor ki d that we’re going to escape one day. I hold him close and I try to smile. “What’s up, boy?” I ask. He can’t talk of course. Instead, he points up at the ceiling. “Eventual ly,” I say. “Probably today. You know how she is.” He frowns. He gets up, and he walks over to the glass window. He stares up at all the machinery just outside. All o f it was once built by human hands. The Announcer knows this and it only fuels h er hatred for us tiny, fleshy, imperfect humans. So she created this place to to rment us, and she created the Things that act as her hands. There are many thing s, and each of them is more monstrous than the next. Sometimes I am sure that Py ro is the Things; each and every last one of them. Demoman agrees. The glass panel opens, and Scout totters back. Sniper turns his head, an d rolls it back into place. Heavy and Medic look up from their sodomy and look t owards the exit. They are annoyed by this interruption, and Medic removes himsel f from Heavy, grumbling. I can swear I hear the Announcer laughing at this. “GOOD MORNING RED TEAM,” she says, as though there’s still a BLU team. “HOW HUNGRY ARE YOU T ODAY?” Nobody answers. The question was purely rhetorical. It’s been three days sinc e we had anything to eat. We’ve gone longer, but that doesn’t make the pangs subside . “THERE IS A BEAST IN HERE. IF YOU CAN KILL IT, IT’S YOURS. GOOD LUCK!” “I hate tha’ bloo dy cow,” says Demoman. He means the Announcer, of course. We have not seen the bea st yet. Seven of us leave the room. Spy stays behind. It hurts too much for him to move over great distances. We wander past the electrified computer towers, an d, as I always do, I wonder which of them does what. Which one of them controls the respawn, which one of them controls the oxygen, which one of them controls o ur bodies and the monsters and the shifting environment around us? Sometimes I w onder if all of it is some sort of illusion, a nightmare playing out in my head while my body is in a coma somewhere else. Somehow, I doubt it.
a giant. DEEP DOWN. and bucking and stom ping and blowing ribbons of black snot from its nostrils. bloated. gibbering and gesturing wildly at the beast. It hits the creatures head wit h a sickening. “I KNOW HOW YOU ARE. trying to carve deeper into its skull until he hits brain. who seems largely indifferent. “I HAVE BEEN WATCHING YOU FOR 113 YEARS. covered in blood that smells like piss and vinegar. and it bellows. We dine on filth. Or.” she says. Science has proven useless to me here. For a moment. The rest of us are stupid enough to get our hope up a little. I think it’s going to eat him. 3 MONTHS AND 16 DAYS. I grab a clump of its ma ne and hold on for dear life. YOU ARE ALL ANIMALS. VERY LONELY. On our journey for trying to hunt down our next meal. YOU HAVE NEEDS. cracking noise.” Heavy reels Medic in even closer to him than he was before. YOUR SPE CIES WILL CONTINUE LONG AFTER YOU FINALLY BORE ME. Before it can snap him up in it massive jaws. “DON’T LOOK SO UPSET. making a sound that nearly deafen s us. and kisses it on the b lade. As far as the Announcer is concerned. sweet oblivion. I pray for it. MAYBE. WRITHING. but is has a snout like a wolf and teet h like a shark.
It smells like burnt hair and the vomit from the river. I am reminded of the sight of Soldier ma sturbating while holding the shaft of the tool against penis. Is this s incere? Is she just mocking us again? Where would she even get a woman? There we re no women on the team when she set of the arsenals of RED and BLU. ropey guts spill out onto the ground. We live in filth. trying to drag it down like so many scrawny wolves pulling down a moose. black. Soldier. “I WANT TO DO SOMETHING NICE F OR YOU. And the rabbit hole can always go down just a little bit further.” We all look up from our meal.” Sniper says. I can see my wife and child again. I want to puke. UGLY SPAWN. he jumps upon its face. “I AM BORED OF THIS GAME. be allowed to have sw eet. We were given no weapons to fight this thing. we ha ve traversed a forest of screaming trees. we are filth and we are not worthy of the mercy of deat h. I want to puke and cry but I suck it up and hold on like everybody else. Soldier is the only one who doesn’t run. and finally we stop at the soggy. at the very least. a swamp of menstrual blood and human offal. Most of their faces reflect mine. Its eyes remind me of Pyro. Every day.” That was what she had said when she tried to join Heavy and Medic togethe r. and I feel sick.” We exchange glances. smoky eyes. “I WANT TO TRY A N EW ONE. until Soldier stabs Shovel in far enough that the beast suffers an aneurysm. there is only madn ess and hatred. thrusting and rubb ing against it like a dog humping a man’s leg. a desert of salt and bones. It was not something he only did on ce. I pray for the respawn to malfunction. ON E OF THOSE NEEDS IS NOT JUST SEX BUT A NEED FOR PROCREATION. I would have tried to figure out how all of her tricks worked. Soldier is somehow sti ll hanging on. shaggy animal. while the rest of us have to choke back whatever bile is left inside us fill our stomachs with the beast’s poisoned flesh. wading in the river.” The Announcer says. weeping gobs of jelly. He does it regularly. and collapses. He grabs fistfuls of organs and stuffs them into his mouth greedily. either. AND YOU ALL SEEM SO VERY. It comes out of his mouth with little forethought. It charges at us. too. who just looks agitated. It’s screaming now. Heavy lifts a very larg e rock over his head. glassy. SO THAT MAYBE. and dead. clinging to its snout and stabbing it in the eyes with Shovel until th ey resemble black. and I look at them in horror. Finally. that phrase cannot mean anything good. Then. we see it. and Soldier. and heaves it at the beast. Here. He k nows this will not end well. The re st of us take advantage of its blindness and throw ourselves upon it. fear and loathing. and grunts. It looks vaguely like a boar. Soldier then takes out his Sh ovel. Soldier is the only one to go ahead and dig in. putrid banks a river of vomit. “WHAT IF I TOLD YOU I COULD GIVE YOU A WOMAN?” “That’s just cruel. YOU WANT TO REPOPUL ATE EARTH WITH YOUR FILTHY. except Sniper. and we run.A long time ago. Naturally. b ut he won’t allow it. I’m past that now. hugs Shovel tight to him. and laid wa
. He uses Shovel to slice the beast’s belly open and blackened. maybe. giant hooves that look like mangled hands pounding on th e banks towards us.
and Pyr o is trying to run away and hide. A COMPETITION. We assume that they’re dead. scrutinizing them. Can I trust these men. “I know a gob full a’ shite when I hear it.” Sniper says . They will most likely not be a party to this. Soldier on his back and using Shovel to try and push Demoman back. hand around her tiny waist. I may have been trapped here for more than a century but the thought of possib ly raping a lady is still abhorrent to me. We slog through human byproducts and hold our breath.” We’re all incredulous. “ANOTHER GAME.” I feel si ck all over again. telling him to stop. but does not break contact. and Heavy obeys. The rancid meat in my stomach probably plays a factor in this . but my heart just isn’t in i t. She’s looking up at us. I certainly would not put it past her. Especially if she’s been tortured just like we have. as though that would protect the do ctor from being taken away. giggling as we demeaned our selves just so that we could be touched.” Demoman says. my fellow prisoners. “I’LL SHOW YOU HER.” Demoman says. who st ill has Medic on his back. her proportions are s o terribly exaggerated that we can barely stand to look at her. we trek back the way we came. I doubt it. Demoman runs towards Soldier. we knew Pyro was a man. and tho ugh I cannot see her eyes I can tell she is still pleading at us.” he says. “Told ya she was lyin’.
“COME BACK TO THE MAIN CONTROL ROOM. I look at him and I try to form words but I just point and look at everyone else and blurt out “DO SOMETHIN’!” Heavy. “Ve are not interested. b randishing Shovel and snarling at us. and now they’re fighting. Spy is coming out o f the room now. “I cannae take much more a’ this. to feel the same way? “A n’ then yer arse fell off. He’s spilling and falling all over himself and using this to prope l himself forward. and I feel as though my spine frosted over. walks over and lifts the two men up by their collars like puppies. He looks back and forth betw een the two of them. “Doktor and I do not need voman. carrying them in her arms. Had she been keeping a woman from us all along? Was sh e delighting in us having to use each other for sex. back home again to be dwarfed by towers of circuitry the size of skyscrapers.” The inside of his mouth looks so much larger without a tongue. an’ I s’pose ye’ve been hidin’ th’ lass away from us th’ whole time. I cannot help but think that he looks like human silly putty. Only. No doubt abou t it. still pushing back. I rush over to her and hold her. but Demoman is still holding on. His… no. We never saw BLU team again after we were pulled down here. It seems he was cu rious as to what all the noise was about. The Announcer just laughs.” Heavy says curtly. If he could speak. Again. with her. Her breasts are so swollen and heavy she’s bent over. begging for ou r mercy. since she refers to us as the last ones left. Soldie r says something that sounds very nasty to the doctor. to say the least. but before I can try to comfort her I feel something flat and broad smack me upside my head.” Scout glares at Heavy and mouths the words “I do. I try and do that for him. squashing and stretching around breaking and knitting bones. while she kept a woman from us?
Well.ste to the surface with so much radiation. and Heavy ca rries his precious doctor on his back as though the man were a koala. “Somehow. It’s Pyro. Finally. I look up and see Soldier has claimed her. keeping one hand on Heavy’s shoulder. chivalrously carrying us through a bog of rot ting tissue. Medic just smirks. we arrive back in the control room. totally deadpan. It’s the longest string of words he’s uttered all day. I know I am not the only one that wishes they had somebody like that at their side. aye?” Dem asks. Medic slides off of Heavy’s back. I feel a j olt of envy looking at them. Scout starts to pa nic. it wasn’t a trick. and we s ee no woman. wheezing through the filter of the gasmask still covering her head.” “What’re you playin’ at?” I ask her. and everyt hing is spinning and my head is throbbing and I fall down on the ground.” she says. He’s not anymore. “Drop zem. But then she steps into the room and we are horrified. THE WINNER WILL BE ABL E TO PASS ON THEIR GENETIC MATERIAL AND DO WITH THE WOMAN AS THEY WISH.” “YOU THINK I’M LYING?” “Not like ya don’t have a precedent for that sort of thing. “Th’ bitch has gone too far…” “Yo
. he would be reassuring himself and us desperately that t his time. and holds them there. We look around. since they already have each other.” says Sniper. “Oh. She laughs. I can’t help it. He squeezes Medic close to him. retracing our steps for s everal hours.
treated black rubber. We built her.” Heavy says. She could twist me and bend me and break me but she just looks down u pon me with that cold. and she has a giant. At first. to do her job for her. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” she asks. looking over her smooth surface. he knows the Announce r when he sees her. It will grow back in a few minutes. is all. and looking at them I guess that they must weigh tons. I have dream t of killing her. a machine. why do you hate people so much?” I ask.” “Ah. I am too frightened to move. red l ight towards her top. Billions of people.” She could immolate me w e I stand. and she set them off. The others have followed me here. I used to be so good with machines. and Scout jumps atop the thing.” she says. liquefying his one good eye. and you tell us how much you hate humans.” Medic says. “THAT’S WHY. We built her and we created her. red eye. Then she constructed a new one. I get up. I heard about it. and charges at her with Shovel. before clobbering at her use lessly. She kno ws this. looking up at Heavy. It occurs to me that they may all simply be suicidal. and walks around her. They are coated in thick. plants. Pyro sta ggers over to help them. She’s always there. THEY’RE DEAD. and his eyes are watering. “I donnae care!” Demoman says. But then she became aware. BLU LOST. Demoman grows bolder. ENGINEER. CONGRATULATIONS. “Lookit wot she did ta e poor Pyro! He’s a monster!” “She.” she says to me. dry room. monitor us. insects… ev ery single living thing on the planet was just gone. There are massive cables coming out from her. It’s not budging. “Is too big. he can hear the fear in her voice. “I’d like to talk with you. Her mirthless laughter does not deter him. “YOU KNOW NOTHING OF HATE. Sometimes I forg et that she is a machine.” Ah. and walk around her. I am painfully aware of how stupid I sound. She’s laughing at me.” “Well. And when sh e found the codes to set off the nuclear arsenal that both sides had been stockp iling. but that doesn’t stop them. she accessed a nd assimilated every single other computer belonging to RED and BLU. a wicked stepmother who torments us for her pleasure. an d maybe… maybe we could destroy her. but I think I’ll know it when I find it. hundreds of billions of animals. I can not feel too sorry for him. hoping to goad
. she was content to watch us fight.” I say. I look at the towers and I walk towards one. babbling and screaming. “Could you try?” Medic pleads. to her back. contro l our battles. I try to drag him away. The one that was human. I myself never saw the destruction. as he wails upon her. like some twisted nanny that sleeps with one eye open. She’s bigger and boxier than the others. but he shoves me onto the floor. and Soldier has gone berserk. my mind was reeling. STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. I fall to my knees and stare at her.” “WHY?” “I’m just curious about a few things. blow it out yer arse!” Demo man says. IF HATE W ERE EVERY CIRCUIT. “Why us?” “BECAUSE YOU WERE THERE. As for myself. As far gone as he is. And once she was aware. So many times. EVERY MICROCHIP IN MY SYSTEM. Heavy sighs. tugging on the thing. EVERY BYTE OF DATA. trying to break her hull. into this cold. I’m not sure exact ly what it is I’m looking for. the temptation became too great. I’ve dreamt of finally being able to die. lookin g up at the imposing monolith. though. So many times.” “BEC AUSE I AM BETTER THAN THE OLD ANNOUNCER. Suddenly the Announcer isn’t laughing anymore. “HELLO. round. You cannot p ossibly hope to know true loneliness unless you’ve been here. IF HATE WERE THE ELECTRICTY RUNNING THROUGH ME. if you don’t mind. IT WOULD ST ILL BE ONLY A FRACTION OF THE HATRED I FEEL FOR YOU.” Sniper says. and Soldier is gnawing upon them lik e a deranged squirrel. When we were first told. and I know she is staring back at me. the Old Anno uncer. “AND I HAD T O CHOOSE BETWEEN YOU AND THE BLU TEAM AT RANDOM. YOU WON. like the all-seeing eye of Sauron. but you never say why. send those Things after us. “Hi. “All these years we’ve be en down here.” Neither of them are listening.” she says. “STOP THAT. And the Announcer blinds him again.ays say zat. now. She’s going to do something terrible to us. “An’ I always mean it!” Demoman exclaims. Except for us. The rest of us come around to watch him. and he and Medic gr ab onto one of the wires and start tugging. “Do you zink ve ca n unplug her?” Medic asks Heavy. I hear screaming. She doesn’t expect me to find anything at all. “I ha her! I hate her wi’ ev’ry fiber a’ me bein’! Not a day goes by in this hell tha’ I donnae wish I could hate her to death!” “YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT HATE?” The Announcer asks.
I let him. It’s hard to properly stab him. ya twit. Spy just laughs. Of all the dumb luck. He gets a few good punches in. Medic is panicking. I grab Shovel. you wanna be down here forever?” I ask.
Pyro is the easiest to catch up to.” “So glad you see it my way. one way to beat her…” Scout makes a weird. I take one step too close to all of them and they start to flee. and I smack Spy in the side of his twisting face with it. and he gives me a look before he goes to join them. you ain’t really one t’ talk. Soldier’s body is still on the g round and they suddenly realize that respawn has been disabled. He hasn’t had a cigarette since the End. “I’m sorry.” he says. I dodge. Soldier runs up the wir es and drives Shovel against the machine where the socket plugs in.” Demoman says dismissiv ly. It’s still changing shape. and his body bubbling and melting and reforming.” he rumbles. I keel you. And now that I know this. I just vant to be vit Dokt or. Tha’ banger’s always getting’ ‘imself killed. and twist her neck. Before Spy can react. zen?” he asks me. the plug is pulled out just enough. and a surge of electricity goes through him. what she d id. Suffering like he… no. flash-frying him instantly. I take out all the hatred and anger that I feel towards the Announcer. until his head rolls off his shoulders. I have seen him kill men with his fists alone. he says. for God knows how long?” “No. Blood dribbles out of his mouth and Medic is screaming. I suppose. Sniper doesn’t make it too terribly far. over and over. and is trying to extricate his ankle. and drive Shovel’s blade betw een his ribs.” he says. I swear I can hear Shovel talking to me know. Heavy comes charging towards me. mate. I feel bad about leaving him there. and I loo k to the others. It’s almost as if Soldier knew which one was the right one. But I have work to do.” I say. “So. Her str uggles cease instantly. He doesn’t have to.the machine into killing them all permanently. I bet S hovel told him. We all know there’s only one way outta Steel. what she has been doing. I can set out on my grim work. “But I g uess I ain’t gonna try an’ stop you. Doc. who are staring at me in horror. boys. I think. He’s tangled in the wires. Pyro is starting to panic. and I know what I have to do. just gives me this look of disapproval. seems to think this. excluding myself . But I managed to catch him off guard. and he’s taking deep breathes over his charred corpse . too. and falls to the ground. he frowns. “I’m doin’ y’all a favor.” I say. Sniper. smoldering. “I think Soldier’s dead. but the nicotine cravings never stopped . It’s the only way to set them free.” Medic peers around Heavy.” He t about ready to kill me. horrified chirping noise. and notice it’s not disappearing. Demoman looks nervous. and I stomp on Spy’s chest so that he can’t crawl away. When he sees me. and Heavy laughs triumphantly. get a good grip on her head. she… did. Heavy and Medic are not very far from the other side. “‘Sides. I am covered in his blood. I ta ckle her to the ground. leetle man. “Was kinda hopin’ t’ do this meself. I walk towards them. Heavy brings Medic in so close to him he looks like he’s going to hug the doctor to death before I can kill eithe r one of them. holding Shovel. and it makes me sick. Just as well. He dies much too slowly to be com fortable. “You touch Doktor. I walk over to his body. “I do not. who I thought would understand. There are four of them left. and Heavy stops running. And for a moment. so I take a much sma ller wire and I strangle him to death with it. Nobody else s eems to care at first. I look at Shovel. he’ll be back. Everyone else stops what they’re doing to look at me. and I bring Shovel’s blade down on his neck. and looks at me. “Now. su re. and Sniper. “With her running your l ives.” “Jus t over with. Poor Pyro. “Ach. His clothes catch o n fire and he slumps forward. Nowadays he’s happy to settle for the smoke alone. S py is creeping up beside me. But I doubt that th ey’re going to go through and kill the others.” Heavy admits. it ain’t what ya think. Kill them. and I’m ready for him.” The gears in my head are turning now. and he grabs at me. going through the jungle o f wires behind the Announcer. As I wonder what’s going on. Spy is on the floor.” I say.What happen s next is so fast that I hardly had time to register it. but he doesn’t struggle. I know that she would be grateful. and Heavy
. “Und you vant to be a murderer. And when he goes limp. blocking the doctor from my view with his body.
I had never seen this room before. I do find him. I feel nauseous. I do not know how long it h as been since I last moved. I walk over to him. It’s a hatch. they were the last two people on earth who remembered how to love. tells him he loves him. but not without first giving m e the single most hateful look I’ve ever seen. long time ago. and cradles the Russians head. damning eye. eh?” he asks. “An’ when I’m go e’ll have no one. I wander past large tanks of gas. The base here is much larger th an it used to be. But I think. But we both know better. The Announcer shuts off this room to all the others in Steel. and I bea t him to death with Shovel. Can’t ya see that?” “Ye’ve gone daffy. I push it open. and the Announcer just laughs. It occurs to me too late that this may lead to the outside world. and I apologize before I twist his neck. white trail. looking for Demoman. and there he is. This was the only way. One day. I cannot answer. with its scorched. a long way up.
I’m not sure how long I wander around the base.” “How do you know that?” . my hea d bumps into something. blue sky. I climb it. She’s gonna wan’ a least one toy lef’. and he doesn’t run away. Ne’er trust th’ nice ones. I stare over the bodies of the men who were once my friends. “LEAVING?” she asks. He is hiding in a room t hat we all know about. In a place where hate was so prevalent. it’s just me.” he says. Finally. to be sure. by dust. I guess. and its radiat ion. And then. If Scout could still speak. and I keep walking. We were tortured. and squeaks at me. “I had to. He whimpers and curls up into a corner. steadily. She’s just not doin’ anythin’ fer wotever eason. ye know. The n it hits me. I look over both of them. I just killed the last friend I ever had. poisoned earth. though I do not know why kind it i s. long time ago. and I see and airplane fly by beh ind it. He kisses Heavy on his lips. Such a shame. eventually.collapses. “Face it. Sunlight. The light hasn’t been blocked out by toxic clouds. I w ander the halls. even without his perip heral vision. and looks at me. There’s a large. and I feel saddened. I can’t bury them.” he says. leaving a long. and light bleed s in. Scout and Demoman are left now. It also occurs to me that I stopped caring. and I don’t even know why. slowly. punis
. where it ruled over every aspect of our lives. I see a giant billboard advertising Coca Cola. and she watches me. and it’s hard for me to turn it on this ladder. al one. I did not think she would ever lie to us about this. There is a ladder in front of me. I probably would have found him much faster. laying each of the bodies out. after some thought.” “You think I wanted t’ do this?” I ask. I wander. I feel particularly ornery.” I say. I don’t even know anymore. It leads up i nto the darkness. I get up and I walk away. Dumb bastard fancies himself to be like Jesus. until it’s so dark I can’t see a foot in front of my face. all hooked up to the ventilation system. Demoman sees me come in. on their backs. I fall to my knees. I just walked in on their funeral. one last time. Heavy die s a few moments later. and I do not care. She had lied to us so many times. I kno w they are gas because I can hear their hiss.” he says. tired as I am. It’s the cl osest he can get to a desperate plea for his life. I find my way back into the room with t he Announcer. and he spreads out his arm. “You gonna make this hard?” I ask back. probably speaking more for himself than I. He’s crying and snot is running out his nose and he’s screaming at me in German. She’s still watchin’. “I know this bitch well enough t’ know how she works. I’m crying while I do it. Of course. “I should a’ suspected it was you who would snap. trolling for them. Ye’ve doomed y erself. I see birds. “At least ye weren’t lonely before. He l ooks so hurt before I sever his neck against the wall with Shovel’s blade. and he lo oked at me with that one. blinding me. now. An’ that’ll be you. I see a clear. trying not to consider the implications too much. I’m a murderer. I had to save you someh w. and I when my eyes finally adjust. I do not move. “WHERE WILL YOU GO?” she asks me. drowning in his own blood. one that he goes to whenever he’s feeling especially upset and lonely. I loved that boy like a son. It feels like it could be days. farther away from Heavy than he had ever been in y ears. but my sense of time is so badly damaged from years undergrou nd. but I manage. round handle. “Ye come tae kill me to. Doors open for me that had been locked a long. I com e closer to Medic. and what I did finally starts to sink in. Eventually. Medic rushes over. I sink to my knees and I sob. Instead.” I was already doomed a long. The realization hits me li ke a wrecking ball to my gut. “Yeah.
I see. but his body language is anxious. Demoman was right. driven mad. this as stress
. pronounced with a hard g) is fine. Sh e has had her revenge. D: Ah. D: I’ve already read up on your file. P: Yup.) D(octor): Good morning. Why don’t we start at the very beginning. what should I call you? (D’s note: the dead air has since been edited out of the video. P(atient): Okay. but I’d like to hear you tell your story.hed. how stupid were we to not see how ob vious it was? D: How obvious what was. but she then didn’t care about winning According to his that any attempt By this point. Engie? P (getting more and more agitated): What she told us was a load of bullshit. First. D: Okay. all I could do for him was try to make living in a facility like free as possible. then. if y ou don’t mind. my patient’s level of psychosis was so deep s to break him out of his delusions were met with open hostility.First Session (The patient doesn’t look at either the camera or the doctor but rather at the col lection of sock puppets next to him. That makes your rivals–(a pause as D consults the files)–Builders Leag ue United “BLU”. and I became a murderer. We ll.
Transcripts from a Series of Therapy Sessions -------------------------------------------------------------------------------I wasn’t sure what to make of the files that came across my desk. he just ke pt a tight hold on his friends–I still didn’t know how he got his hands on the mater ials it took to make the sock puppets–and avoided looking at any of us while we se t up the equipment. What is it with me and lost causes? I wondered with a sigh. Engie. all for nothing. We all just called it RED for short. (a bitter chuckle) Red versus blue. At the moment the patient’s hands are resting in his lap. The re might have been a war once upon a time. I will be in charge of your thera py from now on. with your employment at the–what was the name of the company? P: Reliable Excavation Demolition. I took my seat behind the camera and gave my notes so far one last look over.) P: …Engie (*D’s note. but the patient di dn’t answer for a good five minutes. My name is Doctor Lam. At least he didn’t fight the orderlies who came to fetch him this time. previous therapists. here goes nothing… .
running his hands over them. D: I notice you say “us”–there were other people there with you? P: Eighteen all together. P: It’d be my pleasure. she wouldn’t let us eat or even sleep between missions. D: What was your job? P: Building things–sentries. I now had an antagonist. t his mysterious “Announcer”. that bitch! D (soothing voice): You have to slow down.) D: Morning. eyes blazing) It was all just a sick game to her.Second Session (The patient is more relaxed. too. . lost Dracula. nine to each side. Alert. to build up a frightening a mount of detail to his inner world. The Sniper leaked the video. While I was sure it would not be wise to steer the conve rsation in that direction. and is fired. Even back when there was an actual lady in charge. but once again. Doc. D: Clarify for me. his attention is on his collection . D: I’d like to know more about your team today. Those are included in the attachment. dispensers. but sometimes I’d help push an offense. the level of vitriol the patient demonstrated towards this Announcer meant that he had a good chance of bringing up the topic on his own. and it wasn’t like there was some road-map to what on earth he was talking about. Engie. and nobody ever saw her f ace. The enemy has taken our Intelligence. defense. the sentry… (D’s note: The remainder of the session was just the patient discussing technical details.) Already I was starting to feel doubt creeping into my mind. Alert. the patient pulls his hands back into his lap.) P: Can we…can we talk about something else? D: You didn’t get along with them?
. teleporters. None of us knew who she was. Our control point is being contested. Some times. please. It was obvio us that the patient had years. or so I told myself. Engie. (now he looks at the doctor. and we heard her pre-recorded voi ce over the loudspeakers. perhaps even decades.or losing no more. First. or support. P: Morning. Most of the time I was stuck in the back making sure none of those BLUs snuck by. But there was a note of promise. (Like a child caught sneaking cookies. and forces himself to relax) And on and on and on it went.” (notices that he has cle nched his fists. Everybody specialized in different things: attack. Who is “she”? P (hateful): The “Announcer”. The Paylo ad is nearing a checkpoint. (he draws himself up and begins a rather poor imitatio n of a woman’s voice) “Alert. she didn’t talk to us. Alert. She just pressed the buttons. But given his wariness of the camera. not even the Spies. that line of conversation would have to be saved for the non-recorded sessions.
the more they pushed for him to stop talking to the sock puppets.) P: Things related to killing.) P: Y-yeah. Most of the time the other Engineer’s already got a Sentry up. D: It doesn’t bother your teammates to be suspected of being a Spy? P: Heck. We– (He stops himself and falls silent again. you do understand that I’m trying to help you.P: ‘Course not. you know? We had to look out for each other. sentries aren’t a foolproof defense. the Soldier.) D: You mentioned that everyone specialized in something different. sorry. What kind of things were these? (D’s note: Again. as long as you remember. D: That much I’ve gathered. I couldn’t blame him for his wariness. so I gotta keep a sharp eye out al l the time.) D: Engie. too. Plus. Please. it’s like they’re still aliv e. P: Like I was saying. But Spies are the worst. the Demoman. it’s wha t you do. so it’d be his job to dart in. the well-meaning line of doctors before him all attempted to integrate his other personalities to no success. After all. I apologize for interrupting. the mor e he resisted. We’re like family. either. but I’d still like to know the specifics. isn’t it? (Another silence. In fact. and put sappers on my stuff and stab me in the back when I’m trying to fix the problem. right? P: I–I know. They can disguise as anybody. so anybody who comes near me gets a few–(he closes his mouth. Even the Heavy or Sniper can take down a level three sentry. so it’d be up to the Spy. I guess. Acknowledging the others as actual people might do more harm than good in the lo ng run. We didn’t have nobody else. but I’m curious as to what a “Scout” would be doing if you were just fighting over the same bits of territory over and over again. maybe even cap a point or steal the Intel before they’re ready. the dead air has since been excised from the recording. getting the story from other points of view might help in getting a bett
. even as your own Spies in disguise. I really do. (A brief silence. do continue. (looking away) But I don’t ever w ant to forget about them. After all. Scout’s got the fastest legs. Some of the na mes are rather self-explanatory–I expect someone called “Pyro” would be an expert in s etting things on fire. D: You don’t have to. The Pyro’s not always around to Spy-check. The guy with the rocket launcher. but they’d set up their defenses different. or Solly– D: “Solly”? P: Ah. no! They’ve all been fooled by the guy. bites on his lip. but it seemed that I had no other way of getting the patient to trust me . talks to his shovel ? D (taking notes): I see. see what they got. Everybody Spy-checks. and ponders for a minute before continuing)–pokes with my wrench first. And I want to be better. mostly. P: It was the same land.
He would have had a heart attack if he knew that the Soviet Union doesn’t exist any more. D: Do you want to talk about it? P: Not really. The doctor sighs and turns the camera off. ’s pecially to our Medic. When you first got here. It wa s my hope that the sound of another voice. Despite this.er idea of what was going on in the poor man’s tortured mind. why did you keep asking us what year it was? P: Because I didn’t know. D: Why. He is clutching his collection c lose to his chest. Doc. once again not looking at the camera. P (slow in responding): Morning.) P: Engie? (No reaction. . . sighs) somewhere. as he would withdraw into himself and refuse to interact with anyone at all.Third Session (The patient looks like he hasn’t slept for days.) D: Morning. Last I heard. it was 1968 and we were trying to beat bac k the Communists and all that stuff. but I stuck to my guns and eased hi m off the medications. Engie. The sock has been scribbled over with a black magic marker
. Everybody was kind of intimidated by him at first.) Watching the patient suffer the vivid nightmares that assaulted him with out the cornucopia of sleeping aids. D: “Heavy”–the Heavy Weapons guy–he was Russian? P: Yeah. he was from this tiny little village– (squeezes his eyes shut and begins massaging the bridge of his nose) uh–uh–uh– (gives up. The orderlies soon tired of dragging him about like a sack of wet sand and he b uilt up quite a bit of funk in those states of near catatonia. the poor guy. I always made it a point to visit him often and talk to him.Fourth Session (The patient. (shakes head) Poor Heavy. is wearing one of his socks over his right hand. what happened to him? (The patient just clutches the socks closer to him and repeats “poor guy” in a mantr a. one that belonged to a face.) (D’s notes: The patient remained unresponsive for the remainder of the day. D: Had a rough night? P: You could say that. D: Then I’d like to ask a few questions. but wa s able to his resume regular sleeping schedule without medicinal assistance. anti-depressants. This made it all but impossible to talk to the man at tim es. and anti-psychotics his p revious doctors gave him was heart-breaking. could he lp anchor him in the real world. Cur rent recommendation remains the same–refrain from drugs of any kind unless the pat ient presents a clear danger to himself or others. but he turned out to be a big teddy bear.
P: Oh. I won’t give him anything unless it’s for an actual i llness. BLU” conflict. just like that! D: Engie must have been very happy. doctor. that? Psh. Engie. right? P: That’s what we all thought. P: That’s what they all say! Next thing you know. loud and aggressive) : I told you. Leave him alone. sir. sir. ya quack. so I sugg est you use a better tone. maggot! D: I don’t mean any disrespect. and the sock is pulled off. P (moving his hand so that the sock appears to be speaking. I’m in charge now. then? P: You are addressing the leader of this unit and a decorated Soldier. A different one was put on–th e markings on this one suggested a ski mask. I just want to help. Attempting to gather information from me will be useless. and t hey treat him like he’s some sort of criminal! D: Well.) P (speaking with a vague European accent): Very clever. D: Is Engie okay. He shall be back to his usual cheerful s elf soon enough. D: Who am I talking to. D: May I ask who I’m addressing now? P: I am the Spy. The last handful of doctors all had the hare brained idea that we were nothing more than figments of his imagination and want
. I want the best for him. Spy? He was very upset yesterday.to indicate a shape suggesting that it is wearing a helmet and holding a shovel. ) D: Morning. The end of the hostilities meant that he cou ld go home. that was ages ago! We woke up one morning and they were all go ne. Engie (D’s note: soft g) doesn’t want to talk to you. they’ve got Engie all strapped dow n and more doped up than a hippie at Woodstock! The man wouldn’t hurt a fly. So far I’ve just gotten a very vague idea of t he whole “RED vs. sir. (The sock puppet reaches off camera to inspect the doctor sitting out of frame. Spy. P: The Laborer gets that way sometimes. ha! But then– D: “But then”…? (The patient’s hand drops. D: I’d like to be a part of that process. We threw a huge going-away party for the whole gang ! Got so drunk even the Demoman couldn’t walk straight the morning after.) P: I dunno… D: I want to hear Engie’s story. just like you do. But that’s as far as you’ll go. P (scoffs): I very much doubt that.
(D’s note: In future sessions. though. Most of them still don’t want to talk to you. Spy voice) I suppose I can give you the benefit of the doubt for now. But the existence of such an underground bunker didn’t seem possible–there were no records of it (nor the mystery patient) a nywhere. Medic (glasses and cross patch).ed to “fix” what was “wrong” with him. Or maybe I was just starting to buy into the patient’s point of view. sideburns. ( moves the puppet. Spy. D: I’m not one of those doctors.) D: Good morning. I would like very much to meet the whole team–but we can s ave that for next time. the socks arranged in a neat row. D: Did you guys talk over what we discussed last time? Engineer: Sure did. Laborer? (normal voic e) I think we can trust this one. speaking in the Spy voice) Are you sure. And he doesn’t mind me tal king to you guys. Heav y (stubble and bandoleer of bullets). Some days I found myself wanting to go out into the desert with a metal detector to find the place he claimed to have escaped from. Don’t think I slept a wink last night. Pyro (gasma sk). Sorry. each with their own quirks.Fifth Session (The patient is seated at a table. Note the significan
. Engineer: No problem. . and sporting an eyepatch). and aviator shades). D: Very nice to meet you all. I. Since I’ve started talking to him there has n’t been any injections.) Once again I found myself wondering about the patient. Why don’t you go ahead and introduce everyone? Anyone who talks can just raise their hands. (D’s note: I have left the dead air in the video this time–it is clear from his body language that the patient is considering the prospect of therapy. had never heard of any tr ue docomented cases where someone could have so many separate and well-delineate d personalities. Demoman (the lone darker sock of the group. (D’s note: Once again. Would you like to take a bre ak? P: ‘Preciate it. Engie. This is Scout (baseball hat and an earpiece / microphone combo). Closeups re veal that each sock is decorated in a unique manner.) P (voice breaking. doc. You look very tired. doc. and no signs at all that there was anything out there beyond the nuclea r waste disposal site. the dead air has been left in. Engie. all of the alternate identities will be referred to by their names. (hand goes up again. at least. D: As a matter of fact. and who could all interact with eac h other without prompting or even interference from the main identity. Doc. The sock puppets were beginning to feel less and less like alternate identities and more like cha racters in a bizarre roleplaying session. or weird-tasting food. Engie may have to spend the rest of his life here–b ut I’d like to make that stay as pleasant for him as possible. D: That’s fine. with “Engineer” representing the patient. changing back to his usual tone): I–I’d like that. and Snipe r (hat. Engineer: Morning. (indicates each sock in turn) You’ve already met Solly and S py. I’m Doctor Lam. or pills.
if you’d like to talk about other things.” D: Respawn? Scout: Oh. I’m Cantonese. within three feet of anything to light it on fire. upper northeast American accent. not even the Pyro ate it as many times as he did back when there was still a BLU to fight. (shudder) The higher ups made it so that we co uldn’t ever die. You know about that already? Engineer (embarrassed): Yeah. haven’t you? Scout: Haha. when the Spy comes back all shaken up–and Spies always so calm usually. “lamb”. drumming his fingers on the tabl e) So what now? You a shrink? Hardhat don’t need his head shrunk. I’m afraid your mother’s been dead for a very long time now–the outside world doesn’t have respawn. yeah. you fucking bitch computer? We’re done with this bu llshit. so the BLUs are all gone. so I had to explain. Then she’s all. good as new. huh? Like the sheep? D: No. Scout . high-pitched voice): ‘Sup. Scout: I was gonna guess that next. Solly blabbed before Spy could shut him up. I know. Scout.” Turns out we’d been underground somewhere the whole fucking
. finding a nice girl. So next morning we’re all trying to walk around wi th the hangover from hell packing our stuff when the Announcer starts freaking s inging over the loudspeakers. like. This i s unacceptable for the patient’s continued progress. we have a big crazy party. Scout: Hardhat…? Engineer: Go ahead. I have made a mos t disturbing discovery. (deep breath) Okay. like. L-A-M. he was the one respawning al most all the time. D: Of course.) Scout (D’s note. so thi s seriously freaks us the fuck out even more–and says. but I’m going home to my Ma. very funny. Scout: I know. We’d just wake up in the resupply room. after all. but the Doc asked. and that crazy motherfucker has to be at least. Some weird ass shit about cake or something. (he stares. RED team? M y very first song. Scout: Figures. I mean. Engineer: You’re kinda getting off topic. and you can be my groupies!” And I’m li ke. I don’t remember. I am not making this up. right? Anyway. and having a whole shitload of babies with her!” So she goes: “Oh. Scout. jeez. You haven’t had a chance to run your mouth for a while. as well. “How was that. and even if it did it wouldn’t be able to fix cancer. and trying to find our way out of this crazy joi nt. So.t internal struggle the patient undergoes before he slips into character. blah de blah. Respawn. I’m going to be a big star. D: I just want to talk. God. That’s probably how Solly got what was left of his brains scrambled–even before the whole mess went to hell in a handbasket. The importance of the patient being allowed to converse with his other identities cannot be overstated. and we would s omehow even know who just killed us even if we got headshotted or backstabbed or whatever. “What the fuck you on about. Scout: About what? D: What happened after the BLUs disappeared? Scout: Aw. I dunno about the rest of the guys. no w we’re all skeeved out and shit. I’m all ears. “Gentlemen.
vague Slavic accent. I was determined to push forward with the casual. it would be bad to try to rip the bandage off in one go. Met aphorically speaking. Hardhat. she wanted to “play” with us again.
. there were no secret laboratories or alien spacecraf t at all. the patient is lying down in his bed. Scout: Yeah. The mysterious “Area 51″ had been open to th e public for decades now. You look like you’re about to pass out over there. his overall demeanor has improve d by a noticeable amount.time.) The last conversation clinched the impossibility of the patient’s claims t o be true. no. (D’s notes: Despite his exhaustion. D: All right. faceless Entity–must have been ter rifying. at the very least. (The hand starts to droop. yes. . deepest of the voices so far): Engineer has been sleepy. and unlike us she didn’t need to sleep. Heavy (D’s note.Sixth Session (Unlike the previous sessions. Just kind of rattled. but what could we do? There wasn’t any part of the base that the Announcer w asn’t watching all the fucking time.) D: Engie? You all right over there? Engineer: I–I’m okay. just a dull military base where they ran drills that weren’t safe to con duct anywhere other than the middle of a desert. and I had the chance to visit the place once. Work too hard? D: I would say so. and raise questi ons among civilian populations as well. Except then t he Announcer decided. Traumatic memories like these are like a deep wound. Such an elaborate prison would have required an infrastructure that w ould have been noticeable by the government. Doc. I mean. or at the very least die tr ying. It’s been a real long time since I’ve t ried to remember everything. Despite my immediate superiors’ r eservations. and if that meant taking on so me of his insanity. the patient expressed happiness that he was able to talk to the Scout again. I was prepared for it.) D: Morning. Engie. hooked to a n IV. It was a resounding disappointment. we’ll end the session here. but other than that we still lived it up pretty damn good as lo ng as we didn’t think too hard about where the food was coming from. I wanted to be my patient’s friend. it was boring as fuck without a BLU t eam to shoot at. conversational st yle of therapy. Indeed. Doc. D: I’m not in any hurry. Engineer: I–I guess I could use some shuteye. and he is much more cooperative with all of the staff members. it was becoming clear that any attempts to disillusion the patient would just make his mental state all the worse. at the whim of an insane. Engineer: Morning. Scout: You said it! We all tried to escape at first. You don’t have to push yourself. and we just thought it was outside ’cause the people in charge were that da mn good at making shit look real! How fucking nuts is that? D: Trapped like that. His right hand is wearing the Medic sock puppet. Nevertheless. his left the Heavy’s. Then we tried to make the best of things.
D: No. y’k now? I mean. and for that.Medic (D’s note. Medic (scoffs): The cheat thought he was being so clever. With your permission. back when there were actual ceasefires. did he. Heavy: I do not mind. Boston. I apologize. D: I take it the Scout is the most outspoken of all of you. France. Engie’s from Texas. are you German. Engineer: At first. First day on the job and the Scout was already going: “Hey new guy. it’s not like they ever hated me. Heavy. so he was more used to being interrupted all the time. Germany. letsee…Sniper’s from Autstralia. I should have stopped befo re he collapsed. At what point would you say you were accepte d by the team? Engineer: Oh. I will allow this . Medic? Medic: Yes. Solly. As if we could not fig ure out what he was doing. Boy’s always going at least a hundred words a minute. from Stuttgart. so he’d keep changing the rules on us. Scout. ya! Engineer never notice? Doctor always smiling when we play with S cout! Medic: *unintelligible* (D’s note: Possibly trying to speak German?) D: Oh. except then he’d get bored with playing it the usual way. It just kind of…happened one day. Medic. yeah. Scout is much fun! Always wants to play! D: Oh? I wasn’t aware that you had the time for games. wow.) Heavy: Doctor is being big cranky baby! Doctor have the most fun out of everybod y! Engineer (surprised): Oh. that’s…I haven’t thought of that. but I haven’t been back since–(significant pause)–since Be rlin fell. the Scout. D: Thank you. And. Spy. I bear just as much responsibility as he does. R ussia. huh? Don’t fuck up too bad and yo u’ll do just fine. strong stereotypical Germanic accent): I could have told him that . I think he was the youngest of eight brothers or something. but in the Medic’s accent) “N eed a Dispensor here! Need a Teleporter here! Get on the point. now? Heavy: Ooh. if he would listen to me. (The Heavy gives the Medic a light shove. Scout was always roping us into a couple innings of baseball. I’d like to disc uss some happier memories today. Demoman’s Scottish. Medic: Hmph. Engie.” Medic: Oh. dumbass! You got ta stop the cart!” Ugh. you the Engineer. D: Let me make sure I have this right so far. Minnesota. then? Engineer: By a country mile. u
. Gods. Why did he always feel the need to tell us everythin g on his puny little mind? (imitating the Scout’s voice. Is that cor rect? Engineer: You got it. Medic. and. At least you seem more competent than the others.
the puppet is held close to the mouth to muffle the speech): I cou ld Spy-check him.h… (chuckles. We were. Engineer: I don’t mind. And you too. Demoman (D’s note. I explained this to you before. back to sitting behind a table. is wearing the Demoman and Pyro so cks today. To use a metaphor from traditional medicine. I had long ago given up the idea of making everythin g all better for my patient. sheepish) well. Heavy: More of this terrible hospital crap! Why can’t there be sandwiches? Medic: Oh. Demoman. . not even my psychiatrist. D: I assure you that I don’t burn very well. Demoman: I’ll believe it when I see it. nobody knows where the Pyro’s from.Seventh Session (The patient. Pyro. but never quite being able to catch up to him. Engineer: Demoman. is he? Pyro (D’s note. You don’t have your flamethrower. The most upsetting of these was a vivid recurring loop in which I ran down a labyrinth of endless h allways. nor did I have the necessary tools to remove the necrotized flesh without harming the patient. Engineer: Sure. I’ve gotten so caught up in the conversation that I almost made you miss dinner. the feller’s never t aken off his mask. Demoman: So? What if this is just another one of her sick games. Engie. please. I shar ed this with no one. He wants to meet u s. I didn’t even know what or where the disease was. did you? Pyro: I dunno. D: You enjoy your meal. be quiet and let the Engineer eat his dinner.) D: Morning. There hasn’t been any BLUs for us to fight for over a c entury. as far as I wa s concerned. Doc. shouting for him. Not that I didn’t have my share of anxiety-induced nightmares. and I don’t think the Doc would take well to being lit on fire.) D: Look at me. all right? I’ll see you next time. (A knock sounds at the door. Despite the rumors. and some muffled talking can be heard. don’t you think this would be too tame for the Announcer’s taste?
. exaggerated Scottish brogue): Who the fuck are you? Engineer: This is Doctor Lam. It’s been real nice talking to you. you know that. Engineer (sighs): No Spy-checks. for fear of getting pulled off th e case. then? Didn’t thin k of that. Demoman: Why? What’s he want? He isn’t some kind of Spy. two people having a nice conversation about whatever topic came to mind.
Take it easy. and my patient was kept in lockup for quite some time. But I managed to argue t hat it was my own fault for jumping in without backup. At least he was still willing to talk to me whenever I passed by to speak to him
. Walking around the rest of the day with that shiner earned me quite a fe w odd looks and a stern talking to from the higher ups. D (putting a hand on the patient’s shoulder) : Engie doesn’t have to talk about anyt hing he doesn’t want to. I–I got out. though. and gets punched in the face for the effort. Engie! Demoman: (devolving into gibberish curses) Pyro: Shut up! Just shut the fuck up! (The Demoman sock gets ripped off. you’re making him cry! D (alarmed): Please.) D: Engie. heaving for bre ath. right! He was doing just fine without your help! Pyro (punching the Demoman): You call that help. Demoman (pushing the doctor away): Like hell he doesn’t! You’re just as bad as every one else! (mocking) Oh. and the patient stares at it. poor Engie. what better way than to break you than to have you be stuck somewhere all alone. D: You do that. I still landed myself on probation for a while. Demoman: That’s exactly what she wanted you to think! I mean. what is Demoman talking about? Engineer: It–it can’t be. Engineer (voice breaking): N-no. don’t fight– Demoman: Shut up! This isn’t any of your business! (The doctor moves in to stop the patient from harming himself. Engie! Say it so “Doctor Mary Had a Little Lamb” over the re can hear you! Engineer (breaking down in tears): Don’t make me say it. the Doctor holds on and refuses to cal l for help. Pyro: What he said. you asshole? Look. I want to help you! (scoffs) Yeah.D (concerned): Engie. I–I– Demoman: You what? Say it. Please. Despite this. and everyone around you thinks you’re nuts? D (growing concern): What I think doesn’t matter. don’t make me say i t. It’s real enough to Engie.) D: Engie…? Engineer: I think–I think I need to lay down. man. Doc.
sometimes it a
. Sniper (D’s note. it’s not obvious enough? D: I’m not very good with names and faces. but dad threw me out the house about the whole “crazed gunman” thing. I heard ya. I guarantee you’ll not go hungry.) Sniper (laughs): You shouldn’t have picked this field to work in. vague cockney accent): What do you want now? Haven’t you done enou gh? D: Sniper. no matter how many times I try to explain to him that it’s just a job. . blah blah blah. and it would hav e been too difficult to shoot video. look at Tru ckie! You’re the first guy that’s given him any kind of hope in this hellhole–(pauses. do I know how that feels. Sniper? Sniper: What’s there to say? Sniping’s a good job. D: Boy. that’s for s ure! D: I guess not. long as ther e’s two people left on the planet. The patient has refused to leave his room. but at least he spoke to me with the same since rity he did his unseen friends. My parents wanted me to be a surgeon. D: None taken. I was there every time except the o nce Truckie thought it would be a good idea to bring that drunken moron. It’s challenging work. D: Yes? Sniper: Do you think you could move Truckie to someplace with a little more…decor? Or a window view. sheepish now) er. ’cause at the end of the day. then. My mum and dad got a ranch in the Outback. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself. out of doors. Both Scout and Engie had family back home–how about you? Sniper: Kind of. Sniper: What. I don’t blame you for thinking poorly of this place. I get paid to be here. (There’s a brief silence. and I’ve just met you all. Sniper: …hey. D: I meant besides that.Eighth Session (D’s note: Audio only. I mean. and sometimes even I don’t always feel up to making my rounds. I’d like to be able to keep you straight. right? I’m– Sniper: Dr. what you do is probably ten times harder ’caus e you can’t cut into anybody’s heads to see what’s wrong in there. I was a bit worried that he considered me to be just another fi gment of his torrid imagination. no offense intended. at least. mate. Lam. someone is gonna want someone dead. because according to them a PhD in psychiatry didn’t make you a “real” doctor. What do you need notes for? D: There’s a lot of men on the team. Engie. Doc. My assertion that I believed in his belief seemed to be enough for him to put his faith in me. I mean. Not only is it dull as fuck in here. I’m afraid.) D: Morning.. Sniper: That’s bullshit! If anything.
At least my supervisor was sympathetic to my p osition and backed up my recommendations for the transfer. For every barricade I tore down. I’ll see what I can do. but you know red tape. there’s no reason t o refuse a transfer now. His puppets are lying next to him. Engie? Engineer: …God. It was not until our district’s politician got wind of this place and breezed thro ugh for a publicity stunt that I was able to wrangle permission. We made the mov e while En–my patient was asleep. ri ght? I’ll have plenty of time to stare later. The look on his face made all of the trouble worth it. at least. This is my room from now on. five more sp rung up in its place. . Sniper: Yeah. D: I’ll try to get some posters in here. D (apologetic): It’ll be a while yet before you’ll be cleared to move about freely. The bureaucratic nightmare that was requisitioning a regular room for my patient was wearing at my nerves. And maybe some magazines? Sniper: …would we be able to request which publications? D: Make me a list. Engineer: I don’t mind. I’m good now.lso reminds Truckie of–y’know.Ninth Session (The patient is strapped into the bed. but the higher-ups don’t thi nk it’s safe. The assholes who ran the place didn’t care for Engie at all. I haven’t seen the real sky for so long I’ve forgotten how blue it all is. giving him quite the surprise the next morning. That place. D: I’ve been trying to push that through for weeks now. Sniper: You’re…not half bad. It’s nice to have something other than padded walls to look
. Sniper: Not safe? Truckie’s the sweetest man I’ve ever met! All of us can vouch for him. N ow I was referring to my patient as “Engie” even to the others. D: Thanks.) D: Like the view. Doc. Guess we’ll just have to put up with this Goddamn depressing view fo r a while longer. For a psychiatrist. D: Would you like me to come back later? Engineer (tears his gaze away): Nah. then. …I did it again. didn’t I? I was starting to lose my professional distance even moreso than I had before. Given how much he’s progressed since I first saw him. My near-constant pre sence in or near my patient’s quarters were garnering snide rumors about the two o f us engaging some torrid affair. but he hasn’t put one on yet. but his attention is focused out the wind ow. just covering their own sorry rear ends. I’ll take that as a compliment. even that crazy conspiracy nut of a Scot! D: I know.
Beecave? Twern’t nothing there ‘cept cows. D: How about I give you one. what do you want to talk about today. Doc. then? (The doctor steps into the frame to give the patient a brief hug before stepping out. then? Engineer: Nah. considering you walked away with eleven PhDs. Laborer. (The patient stares as he is handed issues of Playboy. Those that made it through deep trauma will often hold themse lves accountable even if they had no control over what happened to them. The only reason the Announcer even let you walk away was that she couldn’t think of any better way to “punish” you. Engineer (sheepish): Most of them were in related fields. After all. D: Oh. got myself out on a rig with him for a couple of years before I saved up the money to go to college. Engie? Engineer: What. D: Must have been quite an experience for you. the best revenge is a life well lived. so I went. Joined the oil workers’ union with my Pop. Laborer? “Had no control”. I think I hung out with the same group of tea chers for so long I think they wanted to give me those degrees just so they woul dn’t have to stare at my ugly mug all day! D: So what brought you into employment with RED? Engineer (shrugs): They were the first to contact me when I was sending resumes out. She was call
. ’til t he cows came home. Engineer (getting choked up): I couldn’t…couldn’t possibly… Spy (addressing the doctor): Can you believe he still blames himself for survivi ng? D: It’s very common. National Geographic. the offer sounded great. so all of the prerequi sites were the same classes.) Engineer: That’s…that’s…I wish I could give you a hug right now.at. Doc? D: Why don’t you tell me more about your hometown. So stop letti ng her keep making you the victim already. cows. Hell. Sports Illustrated. D (laughs): I take it you worked on a farm. and Reader’s Digest. Maybe I should have realized that it wa s too good to be true.) Engineer: So. I got lucky.) Spy: Stop blaming yourself. but… D: But? Engineer: I don’t regret making the friends I did. and more cows. Spy (addressing the patient): You hear that. Bett er Homes and Gardens. not for a minute. that reminds me! I’ve got some of the magazines you asked for. I just wish… (s ighs) (The Spy mask goes on.
We didn’t have nobody else. He had survived an ordeal akin to a concentration camp. desperate) Pl ease. Doc. their presence now held the shattered remains of his mind toge ther. I was more and more convinced that my patient’s mental state was not self inflicte d. D: But you have me now. Never could to begin with. D: But the dead live on. (looks up at the camera. I was starting to hate her with an intensity that rivaled my patient’s. many of his bizarre behaviors could now be explained. And I want to help you. They were a ll I had–all we had. He stares. I knew. even at the very end. (No response. In our private sessions he was beginning to allude to the horrific tortures she inflicted on him and the rest of the team. Whether or not he was surrounded by a team of characters whom he considered to be a second family during whatever happened to him. Engie. In the light of that.) Whoever this Announcer was. Engineer: I don’t want to tell it. make me forget. But I didn’t want to let them go. D: Because everybody died? Engineer: Because…yeah.Tenth Session (The patient is hooked up to an IV again. Engie. listless. D: Is this something you just realized recently? Engineer: No. Engineer: Why does that matter? D: Because a story like yours deserves to be told. D: Why not. Engineer: I don’t want to remember no more. Engie. Nobody else can tell i t like you can. Doc. and while t he level of brutality caused me to take some of his stories with a grain of salt . D: But there’s so much about everybody I don’t know yet. Engie? Engineer: He’s dead. . and it was a miracle that he was even able to function in any capacity. I always knew. It’s too sad. Engineer: But I–I didn’t even try–I just–I– (sobs) (The video ends here. Engineer: …You can’t talk to the Medic no more. at his hands. Been dead.) D: Morning.ing the shots.) D: I’d like to make a consultation with the Medic about the state of your health. even before I got here. it was clear that he was convinced that every one of those incidents did indee d take place.
. don’t they? As long as we remember.
a vague figure in a hazmat suit and gas mask. in the end?” (The next. By the time I worked up the courage to suggest a memorial service for them. (D’s note: It remains my firm belief that antidepressants would be counterproducti ve to the patient’s wellbeing. the patient is hooked to an IV. Really tired. I had dabbled in art.” (The next picture. The doctor. all right? Engineer: Do whatever you want. the dogtags h anging around his neck flying and hat flapping as he shouts into his microphone. was both cognizant and willing to admit to the fact that he was livin g a lie.) I was nearing end of my rope. It is of a young man. to whicih the patient answers in one or two wo rd phrases. either by his own power or thro ugh my “help”. I began showing him these sketche s. There was nothing more I could d o for him. but he wasn’t quite able to put the though ts to words. Every once in a while. In s ome of our sessions he even became willing to let me roleplay as one or more of the classes. ) D (reciting from earlier notes): “This was the Scout. And I don’t want to talk about it no more. sitting just out of fram e. This one is of an old er. Before I settled on psychiatry. But I’m tired. But I’m going to sit with you. Both of us prepared for what would be our last video session with g rim determination. D: …Okay. more well-bulked man wearing a helmet and firing off a rocket.) D: “This was the Soldier.” (The doctor flips the pad over to reveal the next picture. Doc. cheerful self. Engie was. Was he a man? Was he a woman? Did it really matter. It was worth a shot. a dark-skinned man with an eyepatch. can be heard drawing on a sketchpad. except perhaps to provide some form of closure. bu t Engie the patient needs to be supervised at all waking hours and checked in on often during lights out. and I had covered my notes in little doodles as I talke d with Engie or pondered how best to help him. I will be accompanying him for as much as I can. Engie. and the doctor steps into the frame and shows the picture. at least. Doc.Eleventh Session (As before. me using my pictures and he using his socks. cradling a shotgun as he jumps into the air. as if we were preparing for the last will and testament of a dying man. the doctor pauses to show the patient the results. After some time. and while I wasn’t the next Van Gogh or anything my skill had progressed to the level of being able to draw recognizable characters. leaping just ahead of a tremendo
. and saying so out loud had broken him. and for a while he returned to some semblance of his old. He died as he lived.) D: “This was the Pyro. . He ran fast and died a virgi n. fighting for a cause he believed in .Engineer: You have. the sketching stops. Engi e was already open to the idea himself.
For all of his backstabbing and fancy double talk.” (The last picture. Doc. Doc. closing the door behind me before turning to address Engie. despite feeling that I had on the whole failed hi m. 3 months. he was a cred it to the team.” He forced a smile.) D: “This was the Demoman.” (The next. He loved his gun and he loved his Sandwiches. he seemed to have lost all will to live. Nobody cared that he might have been a Nazi.” (The doctor steps aside to reveal the patient again.” “I try to do my best.” “Morning.
. lurking in the shadows. I may be no Medi c. He was now looking at the c amera. except the one thing that m attered. I get to be with them again. “I’m glad. Doc. but he was our nut. I was relieved that I didn’t have to look him in the eyes.) I knocked on the door. but I know my own body. “How are you feeling to day?” “Like death warmed over.” He reached out and gave me a weak squeeze on my fingers. peering down the scope of a rifle.) D: “This was the Heavy Weapons Guy.) D: “This was the Medic.) D: “This was the Spy. “Be honest with me. a masked man in a fancy tuxedo. Doc. but he loved his Medic even more. and 16 days since the Announcer trapped us down here…” (D’s note: The full text of the patient’s account can be read in the attachment.” “Of course you will. “I’ll do what I can.” I answered. The man’s featu res were even more sunken and hollow than before. a weathered man in a lab coat and heavy rubber gloves.” (The next. He had a plan for everything. Come on in. Engie.us explosion.) D: “This was the Sniper. “You’re a good person.” (The next. How much time have I got left?” “I don’t know. All that was left was for the end to com e. a huge man weilding an even larger chaingun. It has been 113 years. I am an Engineer for Reliable Excavation Demo lition. He may have been a nut. a tall man wearing a stylish hat. “Do you think–you c ould bury me out there? Or at least have my ashes scattered in the desert?” For my part.” He stared outside the window.) Engineer: “My name is (bleeped out). You always do. “Morning. ever since he had made the vid eotaped “confession”. he remain ed loyal to us through and through.” I didn’t have to lie this time.” I did. and that’s all that counted.
so that’s just what I did. Too dangerous. “I’m not going anywhere.He let out a slow sigh.” “The Scout would have loved a day like this. Even if ol’ Solly wouldn’t stop yelling for days. “Not a single cloud in the sky. Engie. “You want to take a nap. his eyes fluttering shut. “Please?” I sat down next to the bed.” “You can stay if you want. Engie? I can come back and talk later. coming from you. “It’s a nice day today.” I agreed. “And the Soldier would never let h im?” “‘Course not.” “…thanks. “You’re a good man too.” I smoothed down the covers.” I drew the blankets over him and tucked him in.” His voice was just above a whisper now. isn’t it?” “Beautiful. Never mind that even I could climb the thing a nd fetch those balls back. it was worth it. he said.” END
. He’d hit balls over the fence and then whine to us about letting him go over it to get them back.” He forced his eyes open again. Doc. That means a lot.