A while later, another light appeared in the corridor. This one was a soft yellow glow, illuminating small specks of dust that drifted in no particular direction. The glow came from within a very modern-looking door, specifically the square glass panel. Etched on the glass panel in plain and sensible letters was the phrase, REGISTRATION BRANCH.

Beyond the door was most likely the softest waiting room Matthew had ever seen. Save for the oak desk behind which yet another assistant beat his keyboard, everything in the room was incredibly plushy. The couch Matthew sat in nearly engulfed him, collapsing under his moderate weight. The floor appeared to be made from a trampoline and the walls were covered in some bizarre felt design. Matthew had a sneaking suspicion this was the type of room you might wear a straitjacket in. He saw out of the corner of his eye two other lumps in the couch, one of which had a newspaper seated in front of it.

A bell rang. The assistant called out someone's name, and the lump shifted. After much struggling, a man emerged from the couch to walk past the assistant into another room. A bit later, another man's name was called, and the second lump escaped from the sofa and entered the same room as the first. At last, Matthew's name was called, and with great effort he entered the second room.

"Mr. Blake?" Yet another one of the blue buggers was seated behind her own oak desk. Instead of a typewriter, this one had a whirring computer and keyboard to work on. Matthew took a seat in the small yellow stool directly in front of the desk, so that he was eye-level with a small tablet that had the single word DOLORES carved on it.

"Yes, I'm here for registration."

"Good." She took the paper Matthew had been given at the previous desk and inspected it carefully, then turning back to her monitor. "Name?" Matthew shifted uneasily on the stool. Dolores either ignored his reaction or was entirely unaware.

"Don't you already have my name?"

"Just standard procedures, no worries. Name?" Matthew sighed.

"Matthew Harrison Blake."

"Age before death?"

"Lessee… Twenty-seven."

"Twenty-seven… All right, let's see what your file says…" Dolores rested her hands from the keyboard to click a few items with a thin gray mouse. She began reading off the items on the hazy-blue screen.

"Matthew Harrison Blake, Age: Twenty-seven. Time of death: April twenty-fourth, eleven-fourteen AM. Cause of death: Gunshot wound to the chest, shot by…" Dolores quickly fell silent as she hurriedly scrolled to the next items.

"Hang on a second, what was that?" Matthew's stool balanced on one leg as he leaned forward.

"Sorry, sir, that's classified."

"Classified? I just want to know who shot me!" He leaned closer, causing Dolores to swivel the monitor away from him.

"Sir, that information is classified." Dolores uttered that word with a certain amount of piety. "You're not authorized to access that at this moment. If you'd like to fill out the paperwork, I could send in an application to request the proper authorization." Matthew sat back on all four legs of the stool in disappointment.

"That's fine, Dolores, I'll do it some other time. Is there anything else you need from me?" For a minute, only the sound of the clicking keyboard could be heard. Trevor broke the silence abruptly.

"Matthew! You'll never believe this!" He waved a newspaper in Matthew's face occasionally smacking him from excitement. Matthew snatched the newspaper from him to read the headline.


Just days after the death of Wossname's fiery lead singer Matthew Blake, the rock star's former flat has been burned to the ground. Where the modest apartment complex once stood in downtown London, there remains nothing but ashes. Police reports indicate that the cause was most definitely not arson and further investigation has been deemed unnecessary.

Matthew skimmed the rest of the piece, until a section caught his eye.

Among the thousands of vintage record albums lost in the fire, Matthew Blake's own legendary guitar, bestowed the odd and endearing nickname The Walrus was also destroyed. Custom-built for Blake and lovingly hand-crafted, a piece of rock history has gone on to meet its maker- and player.

Matthew turned to Trevor, tossing the paper out of his sight.

"How in the bloody hell is that fantastic news?" Dolores shifted in her own seat uncomfortably. Trevor snatched the paper back up again.

"It means you can reclaim your guitar!" He declared ecstatically.

"And you are…?" Dolores asked patiently.

"Trevor Arrow, official mortographer for soul number 13A42C, Matthew Blake." Trevor turned smartly and gave a mock salute. "I've been recording his activities for roughly three months now, as is required of all of us assigned to a soul."

"Do you have your equipment with you?" With a thick clatter, Trevor sat his beloved camera on the desk. Dolores inched back a bit and leered at the thing, in case it made any sudden movements.

"It's an older model, but I find it works remarkably well. The lens is a wee bit scratched, but other than that it's as good as gold." Dolores gingerly lifted the camera- she was surprised by how much less it weighed than it appeared- to note a worn-out sticker on the bottom. She glanced at her computer, to make sure it was the same. She sighed. It was.

"What exactly do you mean, reclaim? From what you just showed me, the thing went up in smoke!"

"Not quite. You're attached a great deal to that guitar, aren't you?"

"No! I mean, it'd be nice to have it back, but…"

"Just how well do you remember that guitar?"

"I remember it perfectly. The size, the weight, the sound, it's all there."

"What if I told you it's waiting for you, right now?"

"Excuse me, Mr. Arrow," Dolores interrupted, "but I don't tell you how to do your job."

"Fine, then, Dolores," Trevor countered, "but weren't you going to tell him about his Vault?" Dolores nearly argued, but stopped. She spun her monitor around with a great flourish, and began rattling off her speech in a distinctly preprogrammed manner.

"In Soluna, the City of Eternity, each RDP is assigned his or her own individual Vault. In a traditional vault, a user may withdraw or deposit select items for safekeeping. However, an RDP Vault does not receive items in an ordinary manner. Any object that the RDP held great significance in during the course of his lifespan will be transferred to his account, and placed in his Vault for him to retrieve."

"You see, Matt, every soul holds something near and dear to them." Trevor added. "There are things that they can never let go of, that become a part of them- technically, it does become a part of them."

"Due to the process of Soul-Item Memory Synthesis, a fraction of the RDP's soul is placed in the item they place significance in. The more significance an RDP placed on the item, the stronger the memory will be, and the larger the fraction of that RDP's soul."

"Basically, Matt, you remember that guitar so well, you can bring it back. It's extremely important to you, after all. Your Vault contains anything close to your heart, and your memory is the key to it."

"She keeps talking about the RDP. Who's that?" Matthew whispered as Dolores continued rambling obliviously.

"It means Recently Deceased Person. At least, that's what it means officially."


"Yeah, it's just kind of a work joke. We use it to make fun of humans we don't like, ones who give us a hard time."

"Really? And what's it mean then?"

"Royally Damned Prick."

"…And that, Mr. Blake, is how your Vault operates. Do you have any further questions?" Dolores retreated from her auto-pilot lecture with an overly-stretched smile.

"Yes. Can I go see it?" Matthew's question was greeted with a harsh whine as Dolores swiveled her computer monitor back around hastily. Her thick arms shielded it from Matthew and Trevor, and her face became a pale shade of aqua.

"No! I mean, n-not today. You see, the management has, it has not authorized you to have clearance to see it, and it's under repairs in any case. You'll just have to come back another time." Dolores slammed a knob on her desk to let a part of the wall to their left to slide open. Matthew leaned closer to try and look at the screen, but Dolores nearly hissed at him when he got near. Deeply unsatisfied, Matthew walked off into the new opening, not bothering to wait for Trevor as he snapped a picture of the frightened and angry worker, clutching her computer tightly. Trevor shrugged, and breezed out into the walkway.

It wasn't until ten minutes later that Dolores finally let go of her computer. She ran through all of the files, just to be certain. According to the report, the Vault was fine. All of the systems were linked up, the checkboxes were ticked, and the colored bars were all a very happy green. And yet, in big thick letters was a notice from her higher-up regarding the Vault, splattered all over the file:


In tinier, yet still menacing print, were the words: