I may (or may not) be a researcher within J- T-’s Surreal Institute. As such, you may (or may not) be inclined to give me an audience, what with the censure in place, but this is a concern of no small importance.
A month ago, a letter was delivered to the aforementioned Surreal Institute. The contents made reference to a building, and within the body of the message was this warning: “If [the building]’s 13th floor no longer exists, we have been successful. If, however, it remains, you will need to again send someone back to 1881 through the passage in America. Whomsoever goes, they will want to arrange for delivery of this message again for the first time, and then they must act to prevent the existence of the aforementioned 13th floor. Note, under no circumstances is anyone to visit that floor themselves! It would tip our hand, and possibly usher in a premature apocalypse. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.”
As the building in question was found to have no 13th floor, J- T- believed the message to be fraudulent in nature. Further, he claimed that it was an attempt to get him in trouble with The Archive, given the obvious temporal ramifications. So the letter was quietly buried. It has since been determined that the paper was indeed over 100 years old, that 1881 was in fact shortly before the first skyscrapers were built in our timeline, and that the letter arrived at the Institute via the usual channels for such messages, that being America’s Western Union.
None of which is my primary concern.
The key issue here involves a second letter which arrived shortly thereafter. It read simply: “Regarding prior message concerning 13th floor, the apocalypse trigger may have relocated away from the original building. Please take appropriate precautions around other buildings in the area which identify as having a 13th floor. Alert the usual authorities if you see anything unusual.”
While a routine follow-up was done, and nothing unusual was seen in the vicinity, my concern is that whatever this is, it has escaped out of the specified neighborhood. After all, the data we have available would seem to relate to triskaidekaphobia, which is fear of the numeral 13. A fear which I now believe to have been amplified by certain individuals back in the 1880s.
That said, if an apocalyptic trigger is being held at bay by superstition, I have no information as to why those behind it would not have considered a Chinese implementation in the first place. Seeing as their fourth floor is subject to similar superstitions, yet is naturally more prevalent. Perhaps whatever this is, it also involves some specific height requirement; I lack the necessary data to be sure.
Of course, J- T- continues to insist that this is all a hoax, yet I wanted to bring it to your attention, just in case. I regret that I cannot leave my name, as if I am a researcher at the Institute (or an employee of Western Union), this breach could get me fired. But know that I wish you all the best with your future and your past endeavors.
A Friend in (the Nick of?) Time
This guest post comes from Greg “Mathtans” Taylor of Time & Tied, a time travel web serial. Check it out!
If you enjoy the story please leave the author a comment, as this makes him very happy. You can also help the Archive research temporal anomalies around the number 13 by voting at Top Web Fiction. We drift on and off the bottom of the Top Web Fiction list, so a vote each week does wonders for our visibility!