A young Wade Tillman gets off a bus with other teenagers in his group, and their elder tells them to pray. With one minute to midnight on the Doomsday Clock, the elder says that they're entering the whores' nest. Afterward he tells Wade that they have little time left. Wade walks nervously down the street, approaches a group of knot tops, and asks them if they're ready to hear the truth. Two of them assault him, knocking his flyers out of his hands. One woman, Roxy, brushes them aside and tells them to leave Wade alone and tells him that she wants to hear more.
Roxy leads Wade into a street funhouse and wonders why he's in Jersey. He says that's where the sinners are, and Roxy asks if he really thinks the world is coming to an end. When Wade says that he does, Roxy asks if he's afraid. He tells her that she isn't, and Roxy asks if he's afraid of her. When he says that he isn't, Roxy asks him what he is afraid of. Roxy undresses Wade and asks if he's a virgin, and says that it will be his last chance. Wade says that he doesn't want to, and Roxy runs off with his clothes.
Wade looks at himself in the funhouse mirrors and calls himself a dummy, saying that he's pathetic and a sinner and is getting what he deserves. An explosion occurs nearby, and Wade clutches at his ears in pain. After a moment, the mirrors shatter from the shockwave.
Later, Wade wakes up, blood dripping from his ears. His head ringing, Wade makes his way outside and finds the street littered with corpses. He takes his clothes from Roxy's hands and looks at her bloody face in shock, and sees a few other survivors walking among the piles of corpses. Shocked, Wade screams, asking what happened. In nearby New York City, a giant alien squid lies half-teleported in a building's wreckage.
Years later, an adult Wade is among a focus group reviewing NYC's campaign to get people to come back. Wade says that people despised their commercial, and nobody would admit that they were scared. He tells them that all their ad does is remind people that three million inexplicably died, gets up, and walks out.
Later, Wade drives to a storage unit, puts on his Looking Glass mask, switches cars, and drives to the police station. Laurie is meeting with the officers and tells them that they're going to do things her way because they've come up with nothing. She says that if they find the church the 7K video was made in, maybe they'll find 7K. Afterward, Red Scare asks Looking Glass if he's religious. Looking Glass points out that Red Scare is eating a sandwich with lettuce from the truck of the 7K member who shot a cop. Sister Night comes over and asks Looking Glass what his ex said about the pills. He says that she hasn't said anything yet, and Sister Night asks him to remind her again.
Laurie calls Looking Glass into her office and invites him to take off his mask. Looking Glass tells her that regs require him to wear the mask at all times, but reluctantly rolls it up. Laurie checks his file and confirms he was near NYC in 11/2, and asks if he still has nightmares. Wade tells her that he sleeps great, and Laurie notes that the reflectatine substance protects him from psychic blasts. After noting his cover identity, Laurie says that he can go. As Wade goes, Laurie asks him about the pills Sister Night is having his ex analyze. Wade says that it's a personal issue between them and it would be a violation of her medical privilege to discuss it.
Later at home, Wade discovers that he's received a letter intended for his ex, Cynthia. He puts on his mask, eats beans out of the can, and watches a porn video of Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis. An alarm goes off and Wade removes his mask and runs out to his bomb shelter, locking himself in. He notes the time and tries to shut off the alarm. When the shut-off doesn't work, Wade goes back to his house and finally rips out the alarm mounted in the closet, throwing it on the floor and stomping on it repeatedly until it stops.
Wade then calls Extra-Dimensional Security and complains that the shut-off didn't work. He insists that the machine malfunctioned and notes that he has used it over five thousand times. The operator promises that they'll ship a new unit in a week, but Wade tells him to overnight it despite the cost and include some reflectatine with it. After hanging up, Wade sits on the couch, puts his mask on, and goes to sleep.
The next day, Wade returns to his job as a focus group advisor. Cynthia texts him and Wade goes to Forever Pet to see her. He gives her her mail and she incinerates an imperfect dog clone. Cynthia asks him if he's okay with Judd being murdered, and Wade insists that he's fine and asks about the pills. His ex says that the pills are Nostalgia, which was outlawed because putting memories into pill form led to psychosis. She asks if Wade got them from a lady, and asks why he keeps getting messed up with women who abuse him. Cynthia notes that she spent seven years trying to convince him she wasn't going to run off with his clothes, and Wade says it was seven years of bad luck.
That night, Wade goes to a church and goes to an ED anxiety support group. The members talk about their fear of squids. A woman, Renee, comes in and Wade welcomes her. A speaker wonders if it's ever going to end, and Wade tells him that he was where the speaker was. He tells the group that he's no longer afraid, and notes that the squid united them against a common thread. Wade says that it eventually ends because they're in a tunnel and a tunnel ends with light. He says that he'll show them to the light if they trust him. They all join hands and recite their mantra about how they will not live in fear.
Afterward, Wade goes to his car and says goodnight to Renee. She says that she doesn't believe him and that he's still in the tunnel, and is just as crazy as the rest of them. Wade suggests that she share at the next meeting, and Renee tells him that she's not coming back. She invites Wade to follow him, and he does so. They end up at a bar and Wade talks about his work. and he says that he can tell when people are lying. Renee claims that she's a waitress and then works in foreclosure, but Wade realizes that she's lying and she finally says that she's a radiologist. Wade asks for her "squid story", and Renee says that she became obsessed by fear after Steven Spielberg's Pale Horse movie about 11/2. Watching the movie makes her feel better by letting her face her fear, and wonders why everyone isn't petrified. Renee tells Wade that she isn't obsessed by fear when she's fucking, laughs, and admits that she's drink. Wade offers to take her home, and Renee advises him to call a friend to get him home because he's drunk. As she leaves, Wade mutters that he doesn't have any friends.
Wade goes outside and finds Renee waiting for him with a cigarette. He says that he doesn't partake, but admits that it smells good. Renee kisses him, and Wade says that he's not out of the tunnel. She says that at least they're in it together. Renee's ride pulls up and she tells Wade that she'll see him at the next meeting. As the truck drives off, a head of lettuce falls out of the back. Wade picks it up, curses, and calls dispatch to ask if they ever recovered the 7K shooter's lettuce truck. They confirm that they didn't, and Wade drives after the truck.
The truck pulls up to an abandoned department store and Wade watches from across the street. Renee and the driver put on their 7K Rorschach masks and go inside, and Wade calls in to request backup. He then checks the truck and finds a gun, and goes into the store. Wade finds a church inside and realizes that it's the one in the video.
A basketball drops out of a portal that opens briefly in the air, and Wade hides as a Rorschach tech comes in, notes where it arrived, and goes back. Wade follows him and sees the techs working on a portal mechanism, steps out, and cocks the revolver. Renee sees him and calls him by name, and Wade orders everyone down on the ground. She asks if they're opening portals, and Renee says that they rigged the lettuce to fall of the truck, all to lure Wade in. A man comes up behind Wade and he shoots him, but the bullets have no effect. Renee tells him that they put the blanks in the gun, and explains that they boosted his signal to dispatch.
Two 7K men grab Wade and drag him away to a room filled with TV screens. Renee picks up Wade's discarded baseball hat, which is lined with reflectatine. She then gives it back to Wade and removes her mask, and says that she's really a radiologist. Wade puts his hat on and Renee puts her mask back on, and a 7K man sits down with Wade and asks if Wade made his Looking Glass mask out of reflectatine.
Wade recognizes Keene's voice, and Keene removes his mask and apologizes for his rudeness. Keene assures Wade that he isn't going to kill him because he's a politician, not a murderer. He came to Tulsa to prevent cop killing from happening, and Judd did the same as chief of police. Basketballs drop out of portals, and Wade says that the portal he saw is the same one that the squid came through on 11/2. He figures 7K is going to drop another squid on Tulsa, and Keene tells him that they're going to do something new. Keene says that he's going to show Wade something that will set him free, and in return he wants Wade to take Angela off the board because she threatens the peace. If Wade doesn't then Keene will have to send the local 7K to kill Angela and her family.
Keene plays a CD and says that when he joined Appropriations they showed him what he's going to show Wade. He gives says that Wade can either turn him in and he'll convince his superiors that he's crazy, or he can press "Play" on a remote he gives him and be free.
Once Keene leaves, Wade presses "Play". A video of Adrian plays, congratulating Robert Redford on being elected President. The message is seven years in the past of Redford being elected in 1991, and Adrian explains that he planned it. He says that nuclear war is eminent and he used something more powerful than atomic device to stop the world's extinction. Adrian admits that he used fear as a weapon and create an extra-dimensional monster and unleashing it on NYC. He explains the hoax and says that the world will need time to heal while he maintains the fear with small extra-dimensional events. Adrian visualizes a stronger world caring for the weak, and says he did all he can to get Redford elected. In return he needs Redford to become his partner in building a utopia. But first, he'll answer all of the questions that he has.
Adrian dons his protective suit and tells the Phillips and Crookshanks that time is of the essence. They load him in the trebuchet and shoot him up into the sky. Adrian passes through the barrier and lands on the Moon, looking down on Earth. He piles up the frozen corpses of the Phillips and Crookshanks that he shot through the barrier before, breaking them apart and spelling out "Save me". looks up and sees a spy satellite overhead, and yells that he did it. His clones pull him back via the line attached to his suit.
The clones are there, and the Game Warden is as well. He tells Adrian that he warned him not to defy the laws of land, dismounts, and draws a sword. The Warden cuts off Adrian's helmet and tells him that he's under arrest, and Adrian tells him that God has abandoned him. Kicking Adrian, the Warden admits that God has abandoned them and isn't likely to return.
Wade watches the testing of a new perfume, "Mercy". He remembers 11/2 and later goes to the station. Sister Night calls and asks him if he found out about the pills, and he asks if anything is true. She walks over and tells Looking Glass to start playing around, and he gives her the pills and says that they're Nostalgia. Looking Glass wonders whose memories they are, and says that he wants to help. After a moment, Silent Night says that her grandfather was at the tree and claimed to kill Judd, but says that it's not possible so she covered it up. Removing his mask, Wade glances at the bug Laurie put on his desk and tells Angela that he's sorry. Laurie comes out, gun drawn, and arrests Angela. Wade tells Angela that he had to, and Silent Night swallows some of the pills. The officers cuff her and she glares at Wade as they lead her away. Wade looks at Laurie and pulls his mask down.
That night, Wade returns home and goes inside, leaving his hat in the car. He finds the new EDS alarm system delivered and tosses it in a dumpster, but after a moment goes back and takes it inside. 7K men arrive and go in, rifles ready.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 18, 2019