| ATTENTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!!|
This article covers events up to episode 101 and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.
Michael is a manifestation of the Spiral creature known as The Distortion, created when it was merged with former archival assistant Michael Shelley as part of Gertrude Robinson's plan to stop The Spiral's ritual.
Michael's appearance is flexible in nature. It can appear as a 6.5 foot tall male with long curly straw blonde hair and a round face, or as a human-like being with a thin, limp body with huge, pointed hands that are as large as its torso. Its distorted form is visible if it is viewed through warped glass or in a reflection.
It is also a series of windowless corridors covered in paintings, photographs and the occasional mirror. It has electric lamps about every ten feet and carpeted floor with a rug running down the middle.
When Helen Richardson first encounters it, the corridors have green wallpaper covered in a swirling pattern, yellow carpeting, and a black rug. These colours are mutable and seem to shift over time.
The Distortion is first referenced in MAG 8 when Ivo Lensik's father claims that he is being followed by someone who looks like "all the bones are in his hands". This would have occurred prior to it being forced into the form of 'Michael,' implying that it has taken humanoid form in the past, though whether that was its choice or not is unclear.
Its first appearance is in MAG 26: A Distortion, where it warned Sasha about the oncoming attack by Jane Prentiss and the Flesh Hive, going so far as to show Sasha that fire extinguishers could kill the worms, and then removed a worm from her.
It appears again in MAG 47: The New Door, showing up to the house tour Helen Richardson is giving, refusing to shake her hand while in human form, and in its distorted form in the coloured corridors that she later got lost in. 'Michael' approached Jonathan Sims after he took Helen's statement, taking her back to the corridors. When asked if it owned these corridors, it suggested that it owns the corridors in the same way that your hand owns your stomach. It alluded to a war that was going on, and that the destruction of the Magnus Archives would sway the war too much in one way, although it claimed to be a neutral party.
It next appears in MAG 74: Fatigue in the statement of a woman with insomnia losing her grip on reality. It repeatedly appears to her to taunt her.
It returns to the Magnus Institute following the destruction of the web table by Jonathan Sims in MAG 78, offering him a doorway away from the unbound NotThem. It compares its viewing of the events to a "sport." It then traps Martin and Tim in its corridors for a period of time to prevent them from assisting Jonathan.
Michael Shelley worked for the Archives as one of Gertrude Robinson's assistants, and is heard on a tape of hers in September 2007 trying to be helpful, while she hides her true activities from him (MAG 99). The exact date of Michael’s merging with The Distortion is unclear. Gertrude had lost all her assistants by 2011 and according to MAG 126, The Great Twisting took place some time after October 2009. However, according to MAG 167, he was merged with the Distortion before the death of Agnes Montague, which occurred in 2006.
The creature "Michael" appears to Jonathan Sims after the latter is captured by Nikola Orsinov where it explains how Gertrude sacrificed her assistant Michael Shelley in order to bind The Distortion, creating an avatar of The Distortion that was merged between them. Michael says that it is here to kill Sims, but before it gets the chance, it screams and is replaced by Helen Richardson. Helen says that Michael had gotten distracted, and now it is gone, and she will take its place.
Bold marks episodes where Michael has given a statement.