Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Topographical Anomaly: Empty_Map

Spaces that should be empty get a bit stuffy and quite uncomfortable when they're suddenly full of people. They lose their charm. Usually to the eighth plague of Egypt, rain of tourists, who are a lot harder to clean up than frogs since they are 50% plastic and clothing fibers.

People have an energy. The presence of people is a distinctly loud energy. When it disappears there is a void which is filled through osmosis by a quiet energy. The energy of emptiness. It's like the low buzz of an electric wire. When it is present in a normally crowded place we are put on edge by that energy. It has invaded a space that doesn't belong to it. The energy of emptiness is a lot more alien to us than the energy of people.

Art by Arthur Chaumay
"Empty_Map" is the classification label of a bizarre phenomenon that could occur in post-apocalyptic settings, modern settings, but really in any kind of setting. It's a large cityscape that is in tip-top condition, as if under permanent maintenance and impervious to erosion. In Empty_Map, it is always sunny but not warm, there is never any wind, and there is always the sound of cicadas. It is also completely and utterly devoid of any animals or humans. You can hear those cicadas, but you'll never see them.

Empty_Map does not look as if it has been recently used or left behind in a hurry. There's no signs of a sudden immaterialisation of the populace, like car crashes or clothing piles or anything like that. It's perfectly orderly, dollhouse-organised. Clothing is all folded and in drawers, sorted by colour. Cars are all perfectly parked. If you find a basketball court, the ball is sitting still exactly in the middle of the court.

Empty_Map has a kind of homeostasis mechanism. If you change something, like move the ball, leave a door open, something like that, it will seemingly have reset when you come back to it. When you alter something from its original configuration, it'll return to it once you are either far enough away, asleep, or otherwise not observing it for a prolonged period of time. If you take something from Empty_Map outside of it, the same rules apply, but the unobserved time it needs to disappear is a lot shorter. Any dead bodies in Empty_Map disappear as soon as you take your eyes off them, but bloodstains will require standard ignoring time to vanish.

Art by Arthur Chaumay
When you create a serious imbalance in Empty_Map, either by causing mass disorder or staying there for too long, it'll try to remove you actively.

Chambermaids are called this because they are kind of Empty_Map's maintenance crew. They don't speak, but they have to look at each other to communicate it seems. They'll show up randomly outside of your immediate field of observation. They have guns. They will shoot you with their guns. Then you'll vanish as stated above. If you kill them, they die and bleed like normal humans. But they'll vanish too. They wear white raincoats and hazard masks. Touching them, alive or dead, will give you a severe electric shock.

Art by Yun Ling
Empty_Map can come into existence spontaneously in a place where it shouldn't be, like in a desert. Or maybe, an area could have been converted into an Empty_Map version of itself: you could be walking through a derelict post-apocalyptic ruin, and suddenly stand at the border of a perfect and pristine Empty_Map.

What is Empty_Map? A reality glitch? An experiment of some kind, either being conducted on it, in it, or by it? A sort of weapon? The fallout zone of something? An alien lifeform? 

Hard to tell. There's just nothing to go on, really. It's just there. Any instance of Empty_Map seems to have been there forever according to locals, and has never been and is still not there according to any official documents or testimonies.

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