Todd felt the rising sun lay its morning light onto his face; a new day had begun. Slowly getting up from bed, he takes a look around at his "cell". Naming formalities, they'd told him. In actuality, it more closely resembled a fairly-sized apartment. He even shared it with someone else. Although that someone was still soundly asleep, as noted by the bump beneath the nearby bed. After all, they'd told him that he wasn't here as punishment. And while untidy at the moment, it was everything he could've wanted. Not that he knew much about apartments, however, especially given his living conditions prior to his encounter with the "Authority".

Living on the streets, subsiding from soup and sleeping under bridges. It was a quite unremarkable - if a bit depressing - existence. But he couldn't complain all that much. At least he had good health. Somehow. And for a pretty considerable portion of his life, his routine consisted of those three things. That is, until a drifting lemon truck crashed onto him. Having come to terms with his existence a long time ago, he'd thought there wasn’t a more fitting end to his life. Maybe he’d reincarnate as a snake or something cool.

Which is why, when his severed head (thank you, flying metal sheet) and body refused to follow the common practice of "dying," he began to question life. When the doctors (medically-savvy junkies he was friends with) took both his halves into the hospital (reformed junkie-hideout/construction site), they were as baffled as he was. They had tried placing his head back onto his neck, only to find out that, without any real attachments, it would just slide off.

One of the present medical students (a random meth-head), even went as far as to vomit on the floor when Todd got the incredible idea of juggling his head around like a circus ball. Not very hygienic! At least the poor guy would wake up tomorrow thinking it was all a bad trip. And, while not a user himself, Todd quietly hoped for the same.

The chief surgeon (Larry), alongside the nurses (Blondy and Stacy), were as lost as he was regarding the unintuitive nature of his body. Larry had to slap himself several times to make sure he wasn't tripping out of his mind. “How the fuck did this happen, chief?!,” where the first words to come to his mouth upon seeing the spliced man enter the operating room (the basement). Todd thanked his shitty down-town neighborhood for being an easily-accessible outlet of gore and violence. Otherwise, the “medical” staff would’ve all passed out.

Choosing the most reasonable thing in unreasonable circumstances, Larry decided to stitch his head back into his neck with (borrowed) office tools. And… it worked! Sure, it felt a bit stiff, and his head was tilted more to the left than before, but it’s not like he had any other options. Larry had even offered him some painkillers (heroin), which he politely declined. Weirdly enough, this whole ordeal hadn’t hurt as much as it had upset him. It upset him to spend the entire day in the “hospital,” that is.

Todd was still bleeding profusely from his neck, although it didn't bother him. The whole thing didn't really bother him, in fact. Was it some type of curse? Blessing? Genetic oddity? He thought back to his early years and remembered all the times he had gotten badly hurt, only to feel mildly annoyed, then recover shortly after. Whatever it was, at least it wasn't annoying.

Leaving Trashtown General Hospital with stitches all around his neck, Todd made his way back to his favorite alleyway - and, in turn, his favorite cardboard box. It was getting late, after all, and the entire ordeal had tired him greatly. Thanking the cosmic-whatever that took pity on him, Todd laid his head back in the crusty mattress that carpeted his DIY residence and drifted into peaceful rest. Maybe he could get some cash by showing off his detachable head. Yeah, that would be nice.

As it turns out, junkies weren't the most trustworthy people when it came to keeping their mouths shut. This fact was revealed to him by the presence of three too-casually-dressed, dark-glasses-wearing men that towered over him as he woke up. Despite his morning dizziness, he could very clearly see the men's - metaphorical - bioluminescence. The hell had he done to piss off the feds? It's not like he had to pay taxes, right? And the events of the previous night couldn’t have traveled that fast, now could they? Whatever the case might be, Todd raised up his fists in a traditional street-fighting style, ready to take on the Agents of Doom single-handedly. That is, until he was knock-out cold by the bigger of the trio. Not with violence, mind you, but by flashing his eyes with a weird lantern-thingy. His face met the floor before he could make out what the flashing symbols even meant.

The next time he woke up - God knows how long after - he was inside a small white room. Most definitely a cell, he thought to himself. And instead of his usual attire, he was wearing a light-yellow jumpsuit with the identifier "LP-01772" plastered on its front. Oh God, maybe Kevin wasn't a schizo after all. He was in a CIA black site. They were going to open him up and stuff him with experimental drugs - or maybe they were just going to open him up for fun like they (allegedly) did Kevin’s dog. Fuck, it all made sense. They found a hobo that couldn't die and they were going to enjoy the shit out of it.

Todd was jolted off from his well-founded paranoia by the sudden opening of his cell's door. There, in the threshold, stood a blocky man with garments proper of a maximum security guard - rifle included. The only other noticeable quirk of the man was the overpowering orange of his shirt and chest highlights. He wasn’t going down without a fight, no boy, he was ready for everything.

The guard took a step forward.

"M-Mercy, please! I'll do- ahhh, I'll do anything!" Cried Todd as he uselessly covered his face with his hands. Maybe the feds were like dinos, and they wouldn’t see him if he couldn't see them. Or wait, wasn’t the saying about not moving. He fucked up.

The guard simply looked down at him with tired eyes and sighed, as if this was the most common thing in the world. "Rise and shine, buddy. Someone wants a word with you," said the guard, stepping off to the side of the door, silently telling him to get his ass off the bed and out the room.

Fearing the worst, Todd slowly began making his way into the hallway. Now next to the guard, his eyes made their way down into his waist, and then into the pistol buckled to it. Maybe he could go for it. It sure was better than whatever was waiting for him out there, and momma didn't raise no coward. Although, momma didn't raise him, period. Either way, with enough speed he-

"Don't even think about it, buddy. Out the room," whispered the guard, fully aware of his intentions. Todd let go of the little courage he'd mustered, and stepped outside.

What he saw was… concerningly not concerning. Wooden walls, paintings he didn't recognize, potted plants, water dispensers. The only thing he could consider out of place were other doors similar to his own every now and then on the walls. Hell, there was even a poster in front of him, featuring a British short-hair hanging from a tree branch, with the words "Hang in there, baby!" spelled at the bottom. This sure didn't look like a CIA black site - not that he'd ever been to one before. It more closely resembled those fancy offices in the city.

The guard began making his way down the hall, nudging him on the shoulder once, urging him to follow. The two of them slowly strode along, passing by people in differently colored attire, more guards, office-men, scientists (?), and other people dressed like him. The more they walked, the less threatening the place became. He could’ve sworn he’d seen a Subway when going past the cafeteria. However, there was one group of people that left him quite confused. Five figures, covered head-to-toe in KKK/Cultist/Satanic robes and other mysterious garments. Although, those were far more colorful and fancy than anything he’d known, and he was pretty sure one of them was black. The fact that from their necks hanged symbols from almost all religions he knew didn’t help ease his nerves.

The events that followed were… weirdly nonlethal. First, he was taken into a room with a table and two chairs to be questioned by a Dr. O'Connell. “Good luck with Doctor Freeze,” whispered the guard before he left the room, chuckling to himself.

Todd sat on the plastic chair opposite to the Doctor and waited. The small man with wide-rimmed glasses studied him coldly before saying anything.


“Uhhhh, Todd,” was all he could muster at the time.

“Full name, please.” The doctor pressed on his pen before writing something in a notebook.

“I-I don’t know, man. Everyone just calls me Todd. Where the hell am I, anyways?”

“That will be answered in time. Residence?”

“Cardboard box No.411. Can I ask for a lawyer?”

“No. Any relatives or close friends?”

“Not that I know of, and kinda? I don’t know, I’m not a guy that sits badly with people. Now, why the hell can’t I ask for a lawyer? What happened to democracy?” Todd looked around the sterile room to find cameras in its four corners.

“You don’t meet the required clearance for me to answer that. Have you ever felt physically, or mentally, different from your peers? Have similar accidents to your beheading occurred in the past?” Dr. Freeze said without looking at him, simply writing down in his notebook.

“Will you short-circuit if I throw some water on you?”

“No. Answer the questions.”

Todd and O'Connell went back and forth for a good hour. The former was trying to get a reaction from the latter, while putting the pieces together in regards to his current predicament. Apparently, he was an "anomaly" - aka a natural abomination of sorts -, and they were currently in a site owned by the "Authority" (God, what a horrible name). O'Connell assured him that this was for his own good, and that, unless he tried to kill personnel, there shouldn't be any issues. The possible-robot’s coldness wasn't exactly reassuring.

Next, he was taken into a more techy room where people in orange lab coats gathered. The older of the group - some Emmett Brown looking-grandpa with comically oversized safety glasses -, politely introduced himself as “Ethan,” before asking Todd if he and his team could run some tests on him. Following a loud argument spawned from Todd’s desire to live, Ethan assured him that nothing would be done without his consent, and that they wouldn’t open him up like a frog (at least, not unless he said they could). Seeing as running away wasn’t an option, he agreed to Ethan’s terms.

“Does this hurt?” Asked Ethan as he began to poke Todd’s arm with a pointy rod.


“Does this hurt?” Asked Ethan as he hit him on the chest with a baseball bat - nice swing, he had to admit.

“No, but if you keep doing it I’m gonna fall from the chair.”

“And does this hurt?” He asked while stabbing Todd with an ice-pick.

“No, but it feels kinda weird.” He wasn’t concerned about the blood loss, although he had sadly stained the only clean clothes he currently possessed.

“Fascinating…” were the words spoken by Ethan while holding a chainsaw.

Apparently, he was incapable of dying - or feeling much pain for that matter. Ethan had tested everything imaginable on that front. Old man sure made him feel like the sole actor for the new season of 1000 Ways to Die. However, he and his team were very kind enough to piece and stitch him back together - even giving him clean clothes. He’d be lying if he said a four-hour-long session of objectively-lethal scenarios wasn’t a unique psychological experience. Was this what that one Swiss guy meant by Ego Death? He sure had experienced "loss of the self," given he was taken apart a few times.

Touching his neck, Todd noticed the absence of any scars. Just like if nothing had happened.


When all was done, the guard - whom he'd found out was named Mike - took him into a more sizable room a few levels underground. It looked… nice? It surely was no jail. It even had a TV! Mike informed him of the eating hours, as well as reassuring him for the 50th time that, no, they weren't going to harvest his organs, and that he should be over that already after spending a day in Ethan’s butchery. Then… he just left. This sure wasn't what he'd expected from a kidnapping.

Days came and went as Todd adjusted to his “new” life. He introduced himself to his cellmate, one Carlos Cardozo, or was it Saul Inasis? No, no. He was Jules Yutensberg, yeah! Or, was he? She? It? He couldn’t quite remember. A bit quiet, but a good fella and a better listener. He liked to stab Todd in creative ways when he was least expecting it. They quickly became friends.

Mike, the upper floor guard, wasn’t as bad as he had first thought. Sure, he liked to mess with Todd's paranoia about feds torturing him, but he also helped him adjust to the fauna of the site. Places to avoid, food to eat, people to trust, suspiciously non-euclidean shortcuts in the corners, and more. All helpful information, given he wasn’t restrained inside his cell-apartment. It almost felt like a whole city there. Bad neighborhoods, nice old ladies, gang wars - although without the guns -, free food and even crack-heads! Fair enough, it was legal crack-heads, and their stuff was a bit more purple than what he knew from the streets.

There was also Ethan, of course, and Jennifer, another purple-colored scientist who tried to understand the reason behind Todd’s “condition”. Her efforts were pretty much fruitless, but she didn’t show signs of bending the knee. A type of passion he could respect, even if it meant needles and loud-sounding-machines. As the months went on, they developed a form of mutually-beneficial contract. She got to make papers about him, and he got books and other forms of entertainment for free. And all was good in the world.

Even O'Connell had opened up to him with time. Although it wasn’t much of a surprise, given he was in charge of him during the first months following his arrival. Making sure he didn't do anything stupid and such. His tone was still cold as ice, but he wasn’t a cold guy. Hell, he was quite witty when he wanted to, and liked to give advice here and there. The one he remembered the most was "Routines are the most effective method to keep oneself from falling into psychological distress." And, knowing the hidden wisdom behind those goofy glasses, he made an effort to.

And so, he began his daily routine:

  1. Get out of bed
  2. Tidy up
  3. Walk around and greet people
  4. Eat
  5. Help Jennifer/Ethan
  6. Enjoy fine arts (TV)
  7. Talk with people some more
  8. Eat again
  9. Sleep

It was a simple routine, but he was a simple man. Beats trying not to get robbed in the streets, at least. Talking about routines, Todd jumped out of bed and headed to his small bathroom. That was enough daydreaming for a week. No point living in the past when the present is a gift!

Todd dry-brushed his teeth. He assumed the site was having piping issues, as water hadn't been running as of late. It wouldn't last long, however. The people in charge always made sure to keep things running. And he was sure as hell that O’Connell wouldn’t let this fly.

Feeling fresh and new, Todd stepped out into the site proper. The partial lack of a roof gave the whole place a lively aura with the sunlight and breeze coming through. He greeted the many lab coats and button-up shirts that littered the hallway. There was Lincoln, Donovan, Hector and… wow! Even Frank had come out of the lower levels. He seemed to be in a hurry, though, so he didn't bother him.

Passing by Jennifer, Todd threw her some classic finger guns. "Looking good Jenny!," he said while trying not to laugh too hard. Her lab coat had gotten a few shades darker than last time. A promotion! Good for her, she worked hard enough. Couldn’t think of anyone better for the upper-echelons of the OAS (he had learned all of the soup-letter departments during their lab meetings).

Todd then made his way into the office he came to know by heart, the one with "Director O'Connell" graphed into a plate and plastered in the door. He peeked inside, and saw the good doctor quietly studying some papers. He seemed pretty focused, and Todd thought it'd be rude to take him off work, so he closed the door once more, slowly…

Hearing his stomach grumble, he set his sights to the cafeteria. Maybe he could sweet-talk one of the food ladies into a Deluxe Bedford Supreme. The cafeteria, however, was sadly empty. Maybe it was too early for lunch. Didn't matter, he had learned a long time ago he didn't need food or water to go through the days, even if he wanted both. Worst of all, however, was that someone had painted a huge, purple eye into the wall! He could already imagine Mike fuming at the sight of it.

Feeling bored and defeated, Todd went back to his cell/apartment and thought of mindlessly consuming sitcoms to pass the day. And, of course, the damn thing wouldn't turn on. God damnit! Had they cut the budget of this place or something? Whatever. Todd resigned to fight the hellish machine and turned to read. "The Hidden History of Viderics - by Robert Y. Ulysses," an incredibly interesting text of a topic he couldn't understand for the life of his. Although, that didn't mean he couldn't try.

Feeling the hours slip by as he immersed himself in the politics of the Van-Lyers Agreement (that had to do with Viderics, apparently), Todd began to yawn. Yeah… maybe it was time to call it a day. Laying down on bed, Todd looked up towards the crack on the ceiling. One that let him view the thick forest that now covered the site. Weird, but someone would eventually take care of that. He was sure of it.

“Don’t pretend I don’t see ya, buddy!,” said Todd looking at the bed to his right. “You haven’t gotten your ass off of the bed in the whole day!”

His cell/roommate, laying like a log beneath multiple sheets, didn’t answer.

“Oh well, I can’t blame you. There are days in which I don’t wanna get out of bed either. But as the good doctor says, routines are the best thing one can do to keep themselves straight! Maybe I’ll get you into one soon enough,” Todd chuckled at the thought of Connor (or Charlie?) doing anything more than sharpening soap bars and listening to Batch.

He didn’t answer.

“Alright, alright. I get it. You want to keep snoozing. But mark my words, Tyler! I’m gonna get you out of bed tomorrow one way or another!” In a fit of laughter, Todd finally laid his head on the bed’s old and moldy pillow, then drifted into sleep.

The man on the bed next to his didn’t respond. He never would. Just like he hadn’t answered his questions in the last 40 or 50 years. It was hard to keep track of time lately. Although, it wasn’t like the bones of the once-unidentifiable man could speak even if they wanted to.

Silence fell down on the site once again. Small creatures never seen before by men scavenged the moonlit cafeteria in search of food - knowing not it had rotten years ago. Clothing of different sizes and colors littered the floors, no traces of their wearers but dried black pools or misshapen bones. Some of the corpses were still frozen in place; a macabre photograph of their last moments. All around the site, the sprawl of a great forest covered what once was a rocky desert. The strange concrete trees were just the cherry on top.

And, in the office that once belonged to the dear director, sat a dried husk, looking over the dust that once formed documents. Whatever matters they held forever unfinished.

Since that fateful day many, many, many decades ago, everyone had left Todd alone. It wasn't their fault, however. Many left in the first hours or so. Others weren't so lucky, and had to wait days before parting away.

Perhaps it was a curse, after all. But Todd decided not to think of such things a long time ago. It wasn't healthy (happy thoughts, happy thoughts). And, like his old friend had once told him:

"Routines are the most effective method to keep oneself from falling into psychological distress."

Maybe he would eventually get over it, but he wasn't in a hurry.

He had all the time in the world, after all.

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