She was seeing someone else in her sleep, now, whom she didn’t recognize. “I’m not in the atrium with him,” she wrote:
I’m in an office, a bland place. The man’s in a brown suit, brown hair, blue eyes. Not young, not old. He’s not talking. I’m talking. I don’t hear his voice, don’t know how it sounds. I’m telling him everything. I say something about “our last meeting” but don’t know anything about that.
I am going to be sick.
Ellie consulted a lawyer, one she used to go out with, a woman twenty years her senior who used to say she liked her “energy.”
She agreed to have dinner with me again and in her e-mail she seemed excited.
But she didn’t seem excited when we met in the flesh, a year after the last time. She hardly touched her food across that white tablecloth from me. I had to keep checking to make sure my bandage was still over my left ear (bleeding again).
She looked at me like I was not myself. Was quiet a long time, then said I looked like I’d “aged a decade” in the last year.
I tried to tell her about the dreams, about the door. Didn’t know where to start. Every time I opened my mouth, I knew if I started talking I’d sound crazy- crazy-crazy. I think she was holding back tears while I fought with myself.
I finally mention Uniport. She says, “It would be best if we just stopped there.” Puts eighty dollars on the table. Leaves. Doesn’t look at me again.
Ellie tried returning to Uniport to confront Daniel to get answers out of him, but there was a new security guard in the atrium. Whenever she came near the front door he marched after her, muttering into the walkie-talkie on his shoulder. She scurried away.
Ellie waited outside Uniport for Daniel, but never saw him emerge.
She might have considered posting something to the message board, outing Daniel as the probable author of the black site, admitting she was Subject 61—telling her story to the only people who might believe it. But моллюски was on the message board. He would see what she had written and know it was she who wrote it. She thought she knew who it was; she thought it was Daniel. She was wrong, but she was right to worry what would happen if it knew she had begun to remember certain things.
Instead she wrote in her diary. She wrote more and more of what she remembered of what Daniel had told her, the things that reemerged in her dreams. She made drawings, of the parts of Uniport she could still see, of half-remembered images of Vonwürdig itself. She speculated a lot; she said Uniport must have a military contract, “or something like that,” that there was no other way to explain Vonwürdig.
The more she wrote, the more she remembered. Soon she could finally decipher more of what Daniel was trying to tell her in her dreams, in the atrium. It was a warning, and an apology. With the “saddest eyes” Ellie had ever seen, he said he was sorry she wouldn’t remember what he was telling her, it would be like he hadn’t told her anything.
She wrote that someone was in her apartment at all times, watching her and putting things in her food when she wasn’t looking.
Ellie never found Vonwürdig. She tried.
She learned as much as she could about Uniport. She dug up floor plans for the headquarters, scoured product information, searched for personnel files—anything she could find that might help her determine where Vonwürdig was, and who the man was she kept meeting with in that bland office she returned to in her dreams. He seemed to matter more to her even than Vonwürdig itself did. She was so certain he was real, she hired a private detective to try to find him.
It didn’t work. By the time she was brought in, there was almost nothing left of her.
When she still had access to paper and pen, Ellie wondered in her diary how many more subjects there would be before the end, how long Vonwürdig would remain standing, wherever it was.
She might have been relieved by the answer. There would be no more subjects.
Vonwürdig didn’t last, and no thanks to Ellie. Soon Uniport began spiraling into bankruptcy, and the local office was demolished with the rest of the building, taking that horrible doorway with it.
The black site and message board are still up, but people don’t look at them. They are two more of the Internet’s dead ends—dead letters to nobody.
Those who had obsessed over Vonwürdig moved on to other things. God only knows what happened to Daniel.