The Artifact

I recently got a copy of The Artifact in the Itch “Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality“. This is a text log of my (first?) playthrough, so spoilers are likely. CONTENT WARNING: disturbing imagery, gore.

Day 1

Yesterday, I received a donation of a new artifact, which was assigned the reference number #734654 in our collection. There was no return address on the package, and no information in the crate – just the artifact.

The Artifact

The artifact looks like a misshapen head, with a single blue eye in the center, and ten discolored teeth in the upper jaw. No lower jaw is present. It feels cool to the touch, likely made of some sort of stone. Coloration is yellowish-green with significant areas of dirt or grime.

I’m starting this record because this whole situation is making me a little uneasy. Last night I had vivid, unsettling dreams, and the artifact was in them. I’m a man of science, but I can’t help but think there is something really off about this object. The others in my office don’t agree that there is anything strange about it, and I’ve had no luck convincing them so far. At the end of the first day with this object, I couldn’t find out anything online about its history or provenance. It really doesn’t look quite like anything I’ve ever seen before. One time, we were sent a historical weapon that had recently been used in a murder, and the murderer was hoping that it would get buried in our archives. This feels like that.

Whatever it is, the artifact doesn’t really fit into our collection at all. I’m going to try and learn a little more about it and then dispose of it, either to the authorities or to a museum where it will be a better fit. It’s closing time, and I’m going home.

Day 2

Still working with artifact #734654.

There was something wrong with my vision for parts of today. I couldn’t quite focus my eyes; while normally my eyesight isn’t great (hence the glasses, I know I fit a stereotype), this was different, like my eyes kept trying to focus a thousand yards in the distance. This made reading extremely difficult, not to mention examination of the artifact!

During the examination, as I held the artifact, it was surprisingly, brutally cold. My fingers stuck to it briefly, even through the normal gloves we wear to preserve the artifact. When I pulled them away, I saw frost on the fingertips. This is much colder than when I first processed it!

When I went to drink my coffee and sit on a bench in the courtyard, I must have dozed off a bit (hence needing the coffee). But I dreamed I was in a hallway full of mirrors, and in the center of each mirror was a big blue eye staring back at me. It was the eye in the artifact. Why am I thinking about this so much?

Then in my dream, I was here in the park. No, I didn’t wake up, it was definitely a dream, but the sidewalk turned into a whole mass of teeth – SO MANY TEETH – and consumed a young man walking past. The grinding and screaming were terrible, but for some reason, everyone else here just stood and watched. Smiling. I could see their teeth gleaming in the sun. My own upper teeth kept growing longer and longer. It hurt. I think I bit my lip in real life, and I can taste the blood. The artifact is here and is laughing at me.

Also, I noticed a new discoloration on my skin in the shape of an eye on the left side of my belly. I’m quite sure I didn’t have it before, but my wife says it’s always been there. She must be messing with me. It just… well, it looks like it’s got 10 teeth below it too, like the artifact does. They’re not just freckles, I don’t think? I have a doctor visit scheduled next month and will ask about it then.

Day 3

Work with artifact #734654 continues.

I tried to post pictures of the artifact on an antiquities forum, but the photo files are always corrupted. Even when I tried with Serena’s phone, or Jay’s DSLR, and uploaded them to my personal laptop instead – no matter which device, the files were unreadable. I called IT for help; they said this wasn’t in their scope and reset my password. Useless.

I left a webcam recording overnight, and THAT definitely worked. When I reviewed the footage, though, the artifact moved in the dead of night, apparently on its own. It blinked and and it sort of wobbled around the table, then came back to its spot. I’ve rewound the footage, reviewed it on slow motion, and I couldn’t see anything else moving it. But when I showed it to Serena and Jay, they claim not to see it move. I don’t even know how to convince them. Maybe I can get some developer to look at the footage and measure the frame-by-frame difference, but given the trouble with the other imaging, I don’t know how well that will go.

While attempting to take measurements of the artifact, three different tools in a row all broke: two rulers and a scale. How do rulers break? One was metal, one was wood. They just snapped in half. The digital scale won’t show any accurate numbers; it reports 66 grams for everything now.

Aziz, a friend from my old university days, stopped by my office, and I got excited to show it to him! When he looked at the artifact, he went all glassy-eyed and forgot why he came. I hope he wasn’t having a stroke or anything; age and just the stress of everyday life is getting to all of us. Definitely me too: sometimes I feel… fractured, I guess, is the right word.

Day 4

Another day working with artifact #734654. Yay, it’s Friday!

I had another dream last night about the artifact. I looked up at the sky and saw something confusing. At first I thought it was the artifact, but then the eye blinked and suddenly it was part of something much larger. Much older. It was evil – it wanted to end… everything. I ran from it, down some stairs into a bunker of some sort. A table sat along the wall, and the artifact looked back at me, sitting there calmly. It blinked, and the bunker door disappeared. Just a sealed room. Then I woke up.

This morning, back at the museum, when I entered the lab, it seemed like it had some sort of aura, like a throbbing greenish-purple. I blinked and everything was back to normal.

At our staff meeting, I asked everyone what they thought of it. Lilian, our director, thought it would be great in a Halloween exhibit. That wasn’t the conversation I wanted to have, for sure! Why expose everybody else to this disturbing thing? Halloween exhibits should be the fun kind of spooky, and this isn’t that. She just tilted her head, and then everyone else on the team starting talking, but I swear everyone was speaking in a different language. Sounded maybe like… Sumerian? They were asking me questions, but I couldn’t understand them. I grabbed the artifact and left. They were really annoyed at me.

Serena came to talk to me later and suggested maybe I shouldn’t come by on Sunday for the barbecue. She seemed upset and said I haven’t been myself. And SHE was the one speaking Sumerian just to irritate me! We had it out for a few minutes, and then she stormed out of the room. She should be mad at herself, not me.

Day 5

It’s the weekend, but I decided to come into the lab and look some more at artifact #734654. Maybe fewer distractions will help.

When I woke up, there were words carved into the top of my nightstand. My wife left a note that she’d gone to her sister’s house, and that she loved me but she was scared. The words just said “CLOSE THE EYE”. Did I write that? What did I dream that made me do that?

At the lab, some of the cleaning staff made a joke, something about a rabbit in a bar. It was pretty funny, even if I can’t remember the punchline. But I kept laughing, and laughing, and laughing, and laughing, and they just looked at me. I went into the break room for a bit and turned on Fox News until I stopped laughing (because that junk is not funny at all). They didn’t make eye contact with me for the rest of the day.

Day 6

I didn’t go into the lab today; further examination of artifact #734654 can wait until tomorrow. I just can’t focus today. I’m tired and my mind keeps wandering away from what I’m doing. Will my wife come back home? Is the world ending? What is happening to me?

Last night I had a dream. I stood in front of an altar. I wore a robe and held a curved stone dagger. Aziz lay on the altar. He was bound and gagged and unconscious. The artifact sat on a plinth behind the altar. I did what it said. His blood was very red. I held his liver aloft. It throbbed in my hands. I looked around and saw my parents’ kitchen. The pans smiled back at me. The water ran very red. It looked like Aziz’s blood. The floor teeth let me walk on them.

Anyway, this morning, I took a look at the webcam from home. Not working – just checking on things. I think the webcam isn’t working right, though, because the eye looked red and the teeth were gleaming white. Probably the lighting in the lab. Or… no, the artifact couldn’t have fed yet. No one’s there.

Over dinner, I started outlining an article for publication. Between the webcam footage and the corrupted images and the carvings in my nightstand and the broken rulers, they’ll see. They have to see. They need to understand. Everyone will know.

Day 7

One week since artifact #734654 arrived. One week since my life changed.

My wife and I talked last night. I needed to convince her that it isn’t me. It’s this artifact. We talked for a long while. She called me crazy. Now she won’t answer my texts or my calls. Her sister said she would call the police if I went to their house.

With the stress of my wife leaving, I feel that my body is breaking down. Two teeth fell out while I was brushing my teeth. For the last few days, I have to check them all the time and make sure they haven’t grown too long or changed colors. I tug on them, just a little, and it doesn’t hurt much, but I still didn’t expect any of them to come out.

But we have progress! First, I have convinced Jay at work to help with my examination. He doesn’t believe me – in fact, he specifically noted he will help just to prove that I am wrong – but we have to start someplace. He will see. He will know. When he left the room, I started feeling like someone was watching me. I looked up and the artifact sat directly in my line of sight on my desk. I didn’t put it there. Was Jay messing with me?

Even more: someone has finally responded on one of the antiquities discussion boards I posted on, saying they’ve encountered an artifact like this before. I have sent them a private message asking for information on how to destroy it.

That’s the only way out, I think.

Day 8

In my dream, I was back in the bunker with artifact #734654. I could hear a tornado outside. It sounded like a freight train. The door wouldn’t open and the handle turned into those teeth and bit me. Then I was at work, but not me. I was my wife, looking at me holding the artifact. I/she hated me/him. He’s become someone I no longer recognize. That thing is more important to him than we are. He always had to be right, he always had to know, and now it’s destroying him. Despicable.

At the coffee shop, everyone keeps talking about “eyes” and “teeth”. At least it felt like that for the last few days. Why is everyone concerned about these things? It’s all anyone can talk about. They are losing their minds.

I have identified a couple of experts who might contribute to our investigation. They have written about Sumerian artifacts and the prevalence of eye & tooth imagery. I have sent them a copy of my notes. They will respond. They must respond. They must tell me.

My forum PM got an answer. They’re sending me something. They say it will help. I hope so; it feels like I’m coming apart.

Day 9

A few days ago, I sent a tiny fragment of the artifact from the packing material off to a lab to have it carbon-dated. The results indicate that it is older than their methods can handle, which only go back about 50,000 years. That means it goes back further than human civilization. How is that even possible?! The lab director sent me a note apologizing for their mistake; I might be able to find another one to give me a second opinion.

Today, Jay checked on me. Apparently I fell asleep for a while sitting at my desk. This time, though, my dreams were surprisingly peaceful and serene. Trees and grass and flowers and babbling brooks. I woke up feeling more refreshed than I have in days.

I hope somebody sends me help soon.

Day 10

Before working further on the artifact, I took a walk to clear my head. A bright sunny day with a light breeze, a bit chilly. My favorite! I felt uplifted. I can make it through this.

But the artifact has deteriorated somewhat since I last looked at it. The eye is rotting and the teeth are more discolored. Clearly it can’t be fifty thousand years old, or it wouldn’t change so quickly here.

Day 11

I had the sky dream again last night. The huge, evil presence sees me and promised to consume me. Soon I will be home. I am in a crowd now. Thousands of us, praying to the eye and begging for the teeth to grind us. Make us one. We are your fodder.

While brushing my teeth, I saw something in the mirror behind me. I turned around. Nothing was there. I look back in the mirror. It is gone.

Investigative note: This journal was found next to the deceased’s remains. The body was found with no teeth anywhere, and the decedent’s eyes in his hands.

2 thoughts on “The Artifact

  1. That was really fun. After reading your blog entry I decided to buy “The Artifact” and play a game myself. It turns out putting dark ambient music in the background (i.e. really sets the mood! I played in “easy mode” (put the Ace of Hearts on top), and still managed to go insane.

    Did you actually have Jenga at home or used the website roller for Sanity? The tower mechanics sounds really fun, pity I had left my Jenga back in England.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see that ambience recommended by YouTube all the time, and it is indeed perfect for this. I used the web site for the 100d6 method rather than a Jenga tower; given my dexterity, this would be a much shorter game if I used the wood blocks, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

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