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Honestly, who hasn't woken up in a hospital bed with no memory of how they got there? Like, that's a universal human experience, right? It's not weird? I'm asking because I actually don't know.
-- 3, first line in the story.

Wow, if I had a nickel for every time that happened to me. CORDYCEPS: Too clever for their own good is a novel length original tale (written for NaNoReMo) of mystery, psychological horror, and pink elephants. The story begins with the protagonist waking up in a hospital with no idea how he got there or where he is. After attempts to contact the staff with the rooms phone fail (the answering machine message is disconcerting) and some lite reading from a rather boring medical binder that has very clear instruction that it's not to be read by patients he does what anyone would do in those circumstances and wanders out of his room in search of answers. He finds an internet acquaintance, user name archive5 or just arc, in one of the other rooms. This is weird on two levels, one they live in different parts of the world, and two Arc has no recollection of the protagonist. If that weren't strange enough Arc faints only to awaken having forgotten their prior conversations. The appearance of a doctor doesn't help matters since she refuses to explain what's going on or even why she can't explain. Eventually, bad, terrifying things happen and they both end up with their memories reset. The story progresses from there with Arc and the protagonist starting from scratch trying to unravel the mystery of Saint Shelbert Hospital and the unspeakable ailment of its patients.

The story uses multiple first person points of view which is a touch confusing on the first read through. Each character has a distinct voice and outlook all of which contrast nicely with each other. The protagonist is curious and impulsive, Arc is paranoid and contrarian, and the doctor is motivated and conscientious. Arc's paranoia drives the plot but is fueled by the deeper question of why they can't know what's going and the even deeper question: why would you need to keep information from someone if what you are doing is something that aligns with their goals and values?

This wonderful mix of mystery, horror, and speculative fiction can be found on Archive of Our Own.


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