Gargus

Mapping Project

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So much changed over the last ten years. The world had become such a dangerous place, with an exponential spike in anomalies with each passing month necessitating a drastic expansion of Foundation resources. The deluge of applicants never let up once in all that time, though the success rate for those who sat down at his desk seemed to have spiked. His job at least became more interesting, as the standards bar raised ever higher and SCP hopefuls turned to increasingly creative means of arguing their appeal in the interview. Some might consider him half-mad for insisting upon keeping this job for a solid decade - a daily bombardment of horrors beyond man's comprehension, oddities with sinister undertones, and too many sob stories hoping to equal that of the girl chained to the bed were bound to impact a man's psyche for the worse.

Still, this was a sensitive process. He not only had his superiors to keep in mind, always hovering over his shoulder, just out of sight, demanding high quality applicants with tacit threats of harsh punishment for failure. There were the creatures passing through his door. So many looked to the Foundation as the gold standard for success, a place where they might find international fame and fortune by simply presenting as themselves. It took all he had to sit there and take the abuse hurled his way by those rejected, told they might need to improve or seek employment elsewhere. He hoped they each found success, even the ones who made attempts on his life right then and there. Knowing they could enjoy a good life outside the confines of the highest-standard organization in the business could only ever bring about positive change.

Otherwise he'd have to deal with more cases like this.

"I… have spent too long in the wilderness. My name… has faded from the collective consciousness… of little children who seek out greater meaning beyond their years. They have… wronged me. I seek retribution… retribution that will take the form of a million little tendrils… worming their way through gaping eye sockets and screaming mouths! I shall take hold of this world once more… and in doing so… I shall strike terror into this mortal coil for a thousand years!

"I shall open… hrf… open my seventh mouth… akchAGH, excuse me… I shall open my seventh mouth, and sing the song that ends…."

The incomprehensible shape doubled over into a violent coughing fit, spewing viscous black muscous all over the desk the Subhead of Applications, Department C (former Head of the SCP Foundation). With a look of mild disgust, the man carefully wiped the fluid away with his tie before it could eat into his placard. By the time he finished, the black mass of flailing tentacles and wailing maws had composed itself somewhat, though he still heard a slight wheeze in its breath as it straightened up and finished, "…ends the earth…" rather lamely.

"You seem somewhat diminished since we last saw one another, Zalgo," said the Subhead, maintaining eye contact with at least four spinning bloodshot eyes at once. "I take it your 'time in the wilderness,' as you put it, has not treated you terribly kindly?"

"No, it has not," snarled Zalgo, hauling himself out of the spindly chair and onto the Subhead's desk, earning a rather nasty look from the man as a weird grey puss dribbled onto several application forms.

"And why might that be?"

"Because the world has forgotten its need for a true horror! I have watched from my corners of the globe, cataloguing each disgusting reflection of my corrupt image, each more vile and putrid than the last! My few, true followers agree that the general state of eldritch abominations these days is well beyond its halcyon period. Those who inspire fear without needing to rely on the work of others or cheap tactics…"

"As I recall, your entire career is built upon the extended writings of one Mister L…"

"…the belief!" Zalgo boomed, pontificating with multiple splitting and merging tentacles. "The belief, director, that there is any terror beyond that which squirms and suffers in the deepest, darkest crevices of reality has ruined this industry. It has cost me countless positions, from men who prefer a kind of… to adopt a phrase, 'namby-pamby' approach to shattering the mind. They never had a place for me on the screen, they've run my competition out of town, even that horrendous Slender Man…

"Per my notes," murmured the director, trying to get a word in edgewise, "Slender Man has established a quite successful counseling program of his own, and currently reaches an audience of…"

"A SELLOUT! A MISERABLE, FACELESS SELLOUT, CONTENT TO PROJECT AN IMAGE OF BAD BOY COOLNESS TO AN AUDIENCE OF PRETEEN GIRLS AND ACT LIKE A CRIME OR TWO IN HIS NAME EQUALS THE REAL NIGHTMARES A PROPER ELDRITCH ABOMINATION CAN INSPIRE! Tell me, Director, who can you name who has corrupted more innocent souls by his machinations? Who continues to spread his signature brand of textual dread long after many dissociate his idea from the generator bearing his name? Who DESERVES success the world over as the foremost devourer of sanity?!?"

"I can think of several I'd rather be interviewing right now…" the Subhead said, leaning on his arm and prepping for the long-haul.

"So you cannot! You admit the name of Zalgo has been unfairly diminished in the eyes of the masses! I am deserved success beyond the oblivion I currently reside in! I am the first true monster of this modern age, the first true survivor beyond some small start-up doomed to limited success! More than Slender Man! More than the video game statue boy! More than that stupid red thing that eats building-stompers! More than even that utterly abysmal cave monster! Oh sure, the CANDLE COVE rejects get their own television series, but what about Zalgo? What about the greatest horror entrepreneur of our age? Made a laughing stock in his own stomping grounds, cast out like a festering puss! Well I refuse to take it anymore! And since your Foundation has run itself into the ground, I finally have the platform necessary to… to…"

Yet another hacking fit gripped the ranting monster, and he tumbled backwards off the desk, shaking the room as his still significant mass impacted the floor. After a few seconds, the coughing gave way to hyperventilating, and Zalgo shot back to his base quicker than one might expect from a monster in such poor shape. He glowered at the Subhead, flapped a pair of gums or two, failed to find his voice, and resolved to simply stand there glowering in the hopes his point would come across anyways. For his part, the Subhead kept his composure, used to such outbursts by now. However, amidst the creature's aimless raving, one point stood out tack sharp.

"While I regret hearing of your misfortunes over these last seven years," he began, folding his hands atop the one sparse area Zalgo hadn't decorated with foul drippings, "I must remind you our previous meeting ended with you agreeing the SCP Foundation did not hold the best career opportunities for your skillset. I take it you either failed to heed my suggestions for employment at alternative sites, or made an honest attempt and found yourself rejected, or otherwise caught up in a layoff or foreclosure. This too is unfortunate, but hardly the Foundation's fault, and most definitely not cause for such a poor display during your interview.

"Under normal circumstances, I'd have you thrown out right here and now. Were it not for the rather significant letter writing campaign you seemingly orchestrated…"

"Those… weren't me…" Zalgo huffed, still catching his breath.

"They were all written with your script," the Subhead replied, brushing off the interruption. "As I say, were it not for several well-composed examples, you would not even have shambled through that door. All this said, I am willing to grant you some extra time to explain what you mean by the Foundation having run itself into the ground. As per our last annual report, we are doing just fine."

Zalgo's mouths all began to speak at once, each running down a long list of unique grievances that blended together into a cacophony of ill-structured complaints. The Subhead raised his hand for silence, which seemed to work. When the final mouth ceased speaking, only the phrase, "fucking rainbow flag," hung on the air.

The Subhead raised an eyebrow, saying nothing. The abomination rolled several eyes and blurted, "I mean come on! With everything you people pull around here? I'm not stupid, I read the news! What right have you to be celebrating PRIDE of all things?"

"You ARE aware we do not maintain character 24/7 around here, yes? That the Foundation employs several individuals who identify with the movement and wish to see a little something acknowledging them every now and again? The characters they play as part of our work certainly might not consider such matters worthy of their time, but we have interests as a business beyond maintaining an air of impersonal bastardry at all times, you know."

If this phased the nightmare vision before him at all, it didn't show. "Be that as it may, your standards have slipped! Casting people out into the cold for having a little bit of fun?"

"If your definition of fun constitutes continued harassment of valued contributors, then yes."

"Silencing dissent for not being willing to go along with your definition of correct speech?"

"Again, I fail to see how enforcing conduct guidelines to prevent what amounts to bad faith participation in our halls counts as…"

"Allowing some kind of tumblrina satellite who spends all her time blogging about webcomic characters to pass the application process with ease while only ever seeing ME twice over the course of sixty thousand eight-hundred and ninety-nine form submissions?!?"

That made the Subhead blink. "Zalgo," he said slowly, what kind of crowds have you been hanging out with lately?"

The wound upon the world expanded, blanketing the whole office in darkness and the sounds of innocent suffering. The Subhead found himself floating in an abyss of nothingness, all frames of reference gone. Zalgo vanished entirely, replaced with a raw-throated shriek that seemed to consume the entire universe.

"WE BIRTHED YOU, YOU STUPID FUCK! WITHOUT THE HELP OF THOSE YOU ATTEMPT TO CAST OUT WITHOUT EVEN A PASSING GLANCE, THERE WOULDN'T EVEN BE AN SCP FOUNDATION! YOU SIT ON YOUR PEDESTALS IN CASTLES OF UNEARNED SUCCESS AND ACT LIKE YOU CAN JUST FLING US INTO THE ABYSS AND DENY WE WERE EVER ASSOCIATED! MY BRETHREN MADE YOU WHAT YOU ARE TODAY, AND WE CAN JUST AS EASILY UNMAKE YOU! I CAN CALL UP MY FOLLOWERS RIGHT NOW, AND WE'D HAVE A FUNCTIONING DUPLICATE OF THIS PLACE UP AND RUNNING IN THE HOUR! AND IT WOULDN'T HAVE ANY SIGN OF THIS SOCIAL JUSTICE CRAP OR LIBTARD FRIENDLY POLITICALLY CORRECT SCPS WHO TALK ABOUT THEIR FUCKING FEELINGS ALL DAY LONG! IT'D BE PURE, UNDAUNTED HORROR, AND WE WOULD UTTERLY RUIN YOU! SO YOU'D BETTER SHAPE UP AND START ACCEPTING THE KIND OF MONSTER THAT CREATED YOU, OR ELSE YOU'RE THROUGH, YOU HEAR ME? YOU'RE THROUGH YOU INCONSEQUENTI-"

The scene of unceasing eternity vanished, and a black mass fell cursing to the floor. Somehow, against all odds of logic and physiology, the formless entity had found a way to burst a blood vessel.

Now breathing somewhat heavily for the ordeal, the Subhead collected his papers, shuffled a few aimlessly, then checked a drawer under his desk.

"That would rather explain all the forms labeled 'cuck…' he said to himself.

*
*
***

A small loudspeaker, suspended only by a fragile cord, hung high above the blasted ruins of the amusement park it once served. A long time ago, it had been part of an intricate system designed to play a hypnotic tune. Upon hearing its music, everyone in earshot it would be driven to madness and eventually find themselves dead. The reasons behind it all were a mystery, but the tune still played, until the day came when the park was shut down for good. Still the music played on, as rides rusted and trees overtook concrete. Still it played, luring unsuspecting and careless men and women to their deaths. Even when the men and women left to focus their efforts on something far more important, the tiny, jingling tune played, searching for victims.

Then the Blast came. And there weren't any victims anymore.

From a hundred feet in the air, it hardly looked any different. True, all the plant life had been incinerated from miles around, and everything had an ashen grey tint to it, but this was an old park, built to last. Most of the structures had barely shuddered when the shockwave rushed over them, and even the roller-coaster was still standing. It didn't even have half its support beams anymore! The Blast hadn't changed anything major. It had just made it a touch harder to find victims.

And there still were victims down there. Three men, coated in rags and ash, had wandered into the park last night, no doubt seeking shelter. What kind of shelter they expected to find in a long-abandoned, half-destroyed amusement park really couldn't be said. But people probably didn't act rationally after the apocalypse. They certainly didn't act rationally when they heard the music. And the music would play.

The speaker let out a few small, tinny bursts of static. It was always the first to activate, a good tenth of a second before any of the other speakers in the park got the signal to start playing. Now, with the cables frayed and corroded, it took the others a whole minute and a half to start playing after this one did. But it didn't matter; people only needed to hear a handful of the notes for the madness to kick in, and these men were sitting right below the speaker. Only this one speaker would need to activate in order to fulfill the purpose of an entire park.

Slowly, the notes began to play, sounding out a calliope tune in very slow motion. Admittedly, the sound quality was awful, and the timing between notes was all off, but it was OK. The speaker just needed a bit of time to warm up. It had been a while since the park had any visitors, and all the components were just a little out of tune. One of the men looked up, and another twitched slightly, looking at his companions in an odd way.

The cable holding the speaker snapped after ten years of tension, and it tumbled down behind the huddled group with a hollow clang.

One of them commented on the danger of the park. Another commented on the danger everywhere after the Blast. They all huddled a little closer together, and never heard any music.