Inside the cave, Alan sits in chair looking out at the hideout that they had created but not really seeing anything, less than two years ago it had been a small cavern underneath the manor. And now it had become a home from home, a place that Alan was finding himself in more often than his own manor. He was deep in thought, thinking about the voice of his dead brother as Charlie walks up to him.
Alan?” Charlie said. She had witnessed his decline over the past few days and was starting to get slightly concerned. She knew what happened to people that lost their minds in this city and she was determined that it would not happen here. Alan stirs out of his dreams and looks up.
“What.” Alan said. he wasn’t angry for being interrupted. If he was being honest, he was just exhausted, he felt stretched, like he was trying to deal with too many problems at once, and these visions he feared would become the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“You seem a little, weary. You don't seem yourself.” Charlie said, she had noticed it over the past few days, as Alan had spent most of the time in his room, having conversations with people who weren’t there.
“Was it that obvious. Yes, I haven't been myself. I've been hearing voices. Voices of a person I know to be dead.” Alan said, h knew how crazy it sounded, although what with recent events what was crazy or not, was no longer a basis for whether or not something was the truth.
Is that even possible?” Charlie asked, she was aware that Jack had been receiving messages from a god, and although receiving messages from the dead wasn’t that much of a stretch from what was happening to the kid. It was certainly unusual.
“No.” Alan said, even though it had happened, it still shouldn’t be possible. “Well, it shouldn't be at any rate.” Alan said and sighed before continuing “I want to find out more, but I can't make the voice come back.” Alan said, he had tried back at the boardroom, but there had been nothing. He had even considered the fact that he had never heard the voices in the first place and that he was in the beginning stages of madness.
“There might be away. It's a dangerous procedure but will allow you to go to the source of the voice whoever and wherever that maybe.” Charlie
“What procedure?” Alan asked, he had never heard of such a test, and was already sceptical, although if it worked. Then they would have all the answers they would ever need.
A large cylindrical tank of water stands in the middle of the room where Charlie is finishing her setup and Alan walks up a ladder and stands on a platform looking down at Vernon and Jack. The lad had taken the day off school for this and was starting to wonder whether that had been the greatest idea. But the idea of his father drowning himself, was a lot more interesting than anything that he had been planning on doing today, so what the hell.
“This chamber to deprive the patient of any stimulation expect from within. Alan will be taken into an induced unconsciousness.” Charlie said as she was addressing Vernon and Jack who were observing the seen with at best mild interest and at worse genuine alarm. Alan looked down into the tank, wondering what in the gods name had possessed him to try this experiment. But Charlie continued to explain the procedure. “Which will allow him to go deeper than what he can do by himself.” Charlie finished.
“Alan. You don't have to do this.” Vernon said, looking at the tank, he had seen this experiment in action and knew how dangerous it could be if performed even slightly wrong.
“This is the only way. It will help us. Trust me.” Alan said as he puts on a breathing apparatus and steps onto a platform. Charlie presses a button, and the platform begins to lower itself into water. After the hatch at the top is shut, a beep signals that the tank is secure, and Charlie checks the readings on a small monitor. His heart rate was slightly elevated but that was to be expected.
“Life signs are normal. Let's begin.” Charlie said and presses a button on the screen. Bubbles start to swirl around Alan's body as Charlie gradually drops the oxygen levels inside the tank, to the point where Alan will black out.
“What are you doing?” Vernon asked.
“I'm reducing the amount of oxygen his body is receiving. This will force the body into a deep mediative state. It will take him to close to death as possible.” Charlie said continuing to monitor his vital signs as the oxygen levels continue to drop.
“This is a shit idea.” Jack said leaning up against the wall. He knew what it was like to get visions, but this was a little to rash and dangerous. When there was a much easier option, that being waiting for the visions to naturally come back.
Inside the tank Alan's eyes begin to close. Once they are fully closed, Gerrard's voice once again comes forth. Sounding slightly panicked by the way in which his younger brother was going about things.
“Alan. No, this is not the way.” Gerrard’s voice said inside his head. When he opened his eyes, he saw that he was no longer in the tank. He had been transported to a large mountain range. He guessed somewhere in the north. Alan hovered above the ground surrounded by blue mist as his older brother’s voice continues. “Come home. Go to Normanguard. The answers you seek are here.” Gerrard said
“Why there?” Alan said looking around although the mist was starting to envelope his vision to the point that it was all he was able to see.
“You must complete what you and I started.” Gerard’s voice continued.
Back at the manor things were starting to go downhill, and fast. The monitor had started to flash. As Alan continued to float, his eyes still closed.
“His vital signs are dropping too low.” Vernon said limping over to the tank.
“But the procedure.” Charlie said and the old butler span around.
“I want him out of there now!” Vernon shouted before returning to the tank. “Alan get out of there.” Vernon said, wondering if he could be heard wherever Alan was at right now.
In the dream version of the north. Alan continues to float and can indeed hear Vernon's voice, but he tried to tune it out. That wasn’t why he had come all this way.
“Alan come back!” Vernon shouted, from what seemed a very long way off, as if it was coming from another world, which he thought to himself. It was.
“Speak of this to no one. Trust no one. Come to Normanguard, alone.” Gerrard’s voice said as Alan’s eyes begin to close on this world and reopen back in the world of the living.
Alan wakes up coughing on the floor soaking wet next to the tank which has a massive hole in it. Vernon had taken a gun and shot the tank, spilling all of the water and more importantly Alan out of the tank.
“Welcome back. We thought we'd lost you.” Vernon said looking pleased, there had been a moment when he had thought he had been too late.
“You didn't lose me. I was only speaking to the dead.” Alan said with all the confidence in the world, as well as that. There was a sense of peace in his voice. As if he had finally discovered the great secret of the world.
As Alan limped out of the cave, Vernon turned to Charlie. He looked as weary as Alan, and to Charlie’s eye, a little ill as well.
“Are you alright Vernon? You look a little peaky.” Charlie asked pulling out a chair for the old butler to sit on, which he did, placing his walking stick up against the table.
“I think my age is starting to catch up with me.” Vernon replied.
“How much rest have you been getting?” Charlie said. she was very conscious of the fact that Vernon was insisting on continuing to work. Which was commendable. But the fact remained that he was getting older and had suffered a major injury less than six months ago.
“Regular sleep.” Vernon responded and wanting to move away from these potentially dangerous waters. He changed the subject. “Where did you find out about this experiment.” He asked gesturing at the broken tank.
“I read about it whilst studding back home. But I’ve never seen it in action before.” Charlie replied. Whilst she had not failed to notice Vernon’s effective change of subject, she decided not to pursue it. If he didn’t want to talk about something, no force would get the old butler to change his mind.
“So, you didn’t know if it was going to work or not?” Jack asked, leaning against one of the pillars, he had so far managed to stay out of the conversation, but now he had decided to step in, due to the fact that Charlie had allowed his father to do something so dangerous that it could have cost him his life.
“No, I didn’t, but that is the nature of my job kid.” Charlie said. “I wouldn’t have helped with experiment if I thought it would put your father in any harm.” She continued, trying and by the look on the teen’s face, failing to reassure him. So instead, she turned to Vernon. “Would you mind bringing Alan to the lab, I want to run some tests. to make sure that he is indeed alright.” Charlie said and limped off to fetch him, leaving Charlie and Jack alone. “He’ll be alright kid.” Charlie finished. Jack looked up, like he wanted to say something, but chose to just leave the room.
Later that evening, after having successfully managed to convince Alan to get some rest in the medical bay. Vernon, Charlie and Jack stand in-front of a hologram of Codsworth. The technology was still in its developmental stage, but Charlie had deemed it ready for testing.
“You did what exactly?” Codsworth asked, he had struggled to believe his ears when they had told him about the experiment.
“Put him in a tank and drowned him effectively.” Jack said, he still wasn’t happy about it but had managed to calm himself down enough to the point where he had realised the truth behind what Charlie had told him.
“Alan was the one to request the procedure.” Charlie said, wanting to clear that matter up straight away before it could rear its head.
“And how did this. Erm” Codsworth said, thinking on the best word to use. “Procedure go then?” Codsworth asked. The hologram flickered but otherwise remained online.
“We're not certain. Alan is under the impression he contacted the dead and spoke with them.” Vernon said, hardly able to believe it himself. Codsworth puts his hand on his chin stroking the small beard that had begun grow there.
“What are your thoughts on this Charlie?” Codsworth asked, he knew that this was not his area of expertise’s and wanted the thoughts of someone with a lot more knowledge than he had on this issue.
“Medically, Alan seems fine, but I can't speak for his mind.” Charlie said. she had run all the tests when Alan had eventually conceded to going to the lab, and she could find nothing physically wrong with him.
“What Alan claims to have happened is not possible.” Vernon states with the utmost confidence. Whilst he wanted to believe him, talking to dead was impossible outside of the films.
“As far as we know.” Jack said. the old butler sighed, he had counted on Jack’s support, the lad had never subscribed to this sort of nonsense before. Which meant that he was siding with his father for some other reason.
“This isn't good. First Dmitri and now Alan.” Codsworth said.
“What do you mean?” Vernon asked. This was the first that they had managed to make contact with Dmitri’s group since he had left for the front. Codsworth doesn't answer immediately, choosing to ponder his answer.
“Dmitri has been acting oddly, he said he saw a figure on the nearby mountain. He’s currently out on patrol at the moment, and I don’t know when he will return.” Codsworth replied.
“That's not good.” Charlie said, more to herself than to the rest of the group. It was bad enough that Alan seemed to be going insane, that at least they could control. But Dmitri was out in public with his apparent insanity.
“Although in fairness we’ve all been out of it over here.” Codsworth said, thinking that he had been too harsh on his old friend.
“Why?” Jack asked.
“The troops are growing more and more nervous, due to the mountain.” Codsworth said, as he turned his attention to Charlie. “But it does seem to be effecting Dmitri the most.” The commander said and both Vernon and Charlie nodded. “Until we figure out what is going on. I want guards placed in the medical bay, day and night.” Codsworth finished, before ending the transmission.