qntm's drafts

Warning! These drafts contain potentially limitless spoilers.

Another warning! Although these drafts contain potentially limitless spoilers, nothing is real until it's published on the main wiki.


Ojai

(Work in progress, definitely needs straightening out and unscrambling at the end)

The Foundation has never conclusively established why Ojai, California is a magnet for cult activity. It could be something in the water, odourless and undetectable and corrosive to the critical faculties, like Coke attacking tooth enamel. It could be a mind-altering spore, or a knotted leyline or a big fat Hume sink. It could, though, be the most mundane, worrying thing of all: that a substantial percentage of completely naturally-occurring humans are thoroughly messed-up, and an equally substantial percentage of completely naturally-occurring humans have psychopathically controlling personalities, and… north seeks south.

Of course, every once in a while one of those cults turns out to warrant Foundation attention, but that's just ordinary statistics.

Foundation Technical Specialist George Barsin is monolithic: nearly two metres tall and rectangular-shouldered, like a Bruce Timm cartoon. He wears a dark, tailored suit — there are few which will fit him off the rack — and sports an expansive, neatly-maintained beard, rather longer and more elaborate than the terms of his Foundation employment strictly allow. But there's a wiggle room, a narrow gap between the hard text of the rules and what is actually enforced, for Foundationers who modestly exceed their performance targets on a regular basis. Not significantly, only modestly.

"Technical Specialist" is a conveniently broad, non-specific term. More than ninety percent of all Foundationers, in all corners of the Foundation, are technically Technical Specialists. Everything from raking ectoplasm out of a cage upwards up to continent-level logistical operations planning is a Technical Specialism.

Barsin arrives at the Green compound in a rental car, first thing after dawn, six o'clock. The compound is off a spur of a spur of the main highway to Ojala. It doesn't have a physical wall or front gate or any kind of well-defined boundary to speak of. It's a campsite, an ill-structured agglomeration of marquees and all kinds of "permanent temporary" accommodation: store-bought tents and improvised ones, sheds, RVs and lean-tos leaning against those RVs. They become denser to a centre, and at the centre is a big white house, set a hundred or so metres back from the road, up a shallow hill.

"Green" is not the name of the religious phenomenon which Barsin is visiting, but a codename. Barsin doesn't know the real name. The paperwork which he received yesterday explains that there are legitimate security reasons to use codenames instead of true names here, but declines to explain those reasons. Barsin, no fool, takes this to mean that there is some form of cognitohazard surrounding the true names. Or a memory-clouding phenomenon which makes them impossible to record. Or — and he's dealt with Foundation lab staff for far too many years not to consider this — somebody just straight-up forgot the real names, and is covering their ass.

There is also no SCP number, which is more unusual but still not unheard-of. Barsin's handlers believe that he is most effective when he is told only what he needs to know, and in his role it is uncommon for him to need to read the full, detailed Special Containment Procedures. A briefer summary normally is plenty.

The Green compound doesn't have a visible, physical boundary, but there clearly is something ringing it at that hundred metre range, something which makes contemplating going "in" "there", turning off that minor road and going up that winding driveway to that big white house, somehow intrinsically more intimidating a prospect than ignoring it and heading back north toward Ojala. A field. Barsin senses it, but it's in the notes he reviewed yesterday afternoon, so it doesn't surprise him. He deflects the sensation as best he can and drives right up there.

There's a dull level of activity just starting up as the Sun rises: people are pottering about, moving canisters of water, wiring electrical and information lines up. Some are painting, singing (profoundly off-key, more of a harsh, hacking drone), smoking. The people wear arbitrary clothing — tuxedos, ragged beach towels — and are of nearly every age. The youngest Barsin notices is around ten. None of this he considers objectionable or anomalous.

But there are also grey, deflated mounds, like soccer balls. Once Barsin notices the first one he starts looking more carefully and immediately spots more. Piled up behind things, or lodged in trees. Usually in groups, varying in size. Inert, ignored. There's a grey-white mould here and there, too, big patches of it. Barsin even notices a sort of solid physical stack of the mould, standing on two legs off in an unobtrusive corner.

He drives all the way up to the house — slowly, to avoid hitting children — and parks at the side, where there's still the most shade. He goes to the trunk of his car and takes out a weighty, solid briefcase. He goes around to the front door of the house. It looks as if nobody particularly cares about this.

The house is an ugly white sprawl. Two storeys, big enough for around half a dozen bedrooms, no two windows alike in design… rotting. Through the windows, only closed curtains and blinds are visible. Willow and sycamore trees are encroaching from two-and-a-half sides, drizzling leaves and seeds and miscellaneous biological gunk all over the roof, clogging the gutters. The curious grey-white mould is spreading up the walls and window frames.

The front door is standing ajar. There is another irregular mound above the door, this one larger, like an underinflated beachball. It is dark grey and smooth, with blotches of the same grey-white moss growing across it. Barsin regards it for a disquieted moment, then ducks and proceeds in.

A wave of heat from the house interior smacks into him, as if from an oven. The entrance opens almost directly onto a large lounge/diner/kitchen area. The room is darkened, light mostly coming from the entrance door — Barsin leaves it open — and feeling its way around the edges of the window coverings. There is a hall and doors leading off it. A few of these doors are closed, a few are open. There's nobody here. It's extremely quiet.

There are more of the grey mounds, varying in size, clustered like bunches of grapes here and here, some of them lodged against walls or piled in corners but others apparently floating just below the ceiling or interposed into the structure of the building itself. A major support column, near the front door, seems infested with them, as if bubbling. It looks like it could just go.

Barsin goes down the hall and up the stairs, stepping carefully over more of the grey blobs. After a brief search he finds the open door of the master bedroom. There are many more of the grey things, girding the room's walls and much bigger, the size of beanbag chairs. As if these ones began sprouting earliest of all. The grey-white moss is everywhere here. It covers most of the ceiling, the light fittings and the bed linen.

There is a final person in here. The person is a young man of twenty, seated at the end of the bed, slouched on one hand, as if perpetually about to get up but unable to find the energy. He has discoloured skin which Barsin thinks could be caused by malnutrition, but otherwise he looks robust enough — fed. He has what was once a tidy, fashionable haircut but is now in some disrepair, and he has dark rings around his eyes.

In the same way that the assembly of people, forming and spreading behind him like billowing sails, is named "Green", this youth is named "Red". He does have an actual name. He is not of anomalous extraction, he was born, to parents, and named at the time he was born. But Barsin is unlikely to ever find it out.

"Good morning," Barsin says, smiling warmly. "How are you feeling?" There's a table in the corner with a rat's nest of computing equipment, some cameras, some monitors, a swivel chair. He sets his briefcase on the chair and opens it, facing him, so that the youth can't see inside.

The youth blinks. His eyelids can almost be heard creaking. It looks like flecks of rust fall. "The fuck are you?"

"My name's George. I'm a… 'social worker'. I'm here to help you. Can you tell me what day it is?"

Red says nothing to this. His attention wanders.

Barsin asks, "How about the current year? …Do you remember the last time you slept?" Receiving no answer to either of these questions either, he takes something resembling an ophthalmoscope and, approaching and kneeling with some care, peers closely into Red's right eye.

Red has not slept in nearly a year. It seems like the symptoms of sleep deprivation would either cease or level off or simply kill a person after that amount of time, but they haven't. There's a sensation like a belt sander applied to the back of his eyeballs.

"It seems like these streams of yours are really taking off, aren't they?" Barsin continues, conversationally. "Really impressive subscriber figures, I heard. I'd watch more if I could, but I don't find a lot of time, hands full with the kids and all. Lots of people find the holes really useful. Why can't you wake up?"

"What?"

Barsin moves back, but stays crouched, staying in Red's eyeline. "Where's the smoke coming from, Red?"

There's no smoke in the room. But he has Red's attention now. Barsin holds his stare. Red does not say, but something makes Red say, "It's like unfolding into an mleth world. It'll be easier."

Barsin says: "Yes, I know it will. I love them very much, too. You only have to look at me. Red, I have a message for the one who's in there. Can you make sure it gets to him?"

Red doesn't say anything and doesn't move his head in any particularly committal way, but his eyes bulge a little, and it looks to Barsin like he's trying to affirm.

"Red. Red— something's gone wrong. And that thing, that thing which went wrong, has found you and taken away and replaced most of you. There's not much left out here but skin and bone. You've fallen in with a bad crowd. But I can still see you. And… I don't get all the information, but reading between the lines, you're not the only one. People up high are really worried about you and all the others. And we're going to do everything in our power to help you out before criticality.

"But you have to meet us halfway. I'm stretching a hand out, Red. You can stop being this, any time you like."

"Who," Red says, "the fuck," Red says, "are you?"

"Your internet's already been cut," Barsin says, twigging right as he gets to the word "cut" that it's already been restored. But he keeps going. "Do you know what happens to anomalies like you who who just catch the Foundation's attention? Can you imagine what it will be like if you initiate hostilities against us? How that ends? You are manageable. Right now, already, you are entirely within our box. So let's meet in the middle. Let's agree to disagree."

"You are a piece of paper," Red says.

"We manage universes of evil. Daily. We have aircraft carriers. Orbital weapons. That's before I get to the anomalous tech."

Red closes his eyes, tightly folds his arms, rocks forward and back where he's sitting, opens his eyes again.

"Your people must really hate you."

Barsin almost lets this comment pass him, like the others: a bad, cheap jab which doesn't move the conversation forward, and nor would acknowledging it. But there's a grain of truth to it. What he does works. A lot of anomalies are just people. Talk them down, give them something they want. He always says that a chat beats a fight. It might be perceived as… trivialising, undermining the guns and gun-like resources, as too easy, too simple. What's wrong with easy and simple? There's a resentment which comes with solving the problem more obviously and easily and cheaply than anybody else.

And the person who said that last line wasn't Red. It was a different tone of voice. The young man, name unknown, whom Red occupied the way cancer occupies lungs, said it.

At that instant, George Barsin realises he's dead.

"You let this happen?" he says. "You volunteered. Hacked your soul in half and offered the pieces up, for no reason at all?"

Smoke is starting to come from the young man's nostrils and mouth. "Your spell of warding expired," the young man explains. "You've been here a week."

Barsin goes to his briefcase, grabs the anchor out of it, throws it overarm at Red. Red catches it, hurls it aside, through the window. "Existential heteronormativity. Who dares to declare that there is one reality? That there is a single 'way' which 'real' 'is'? That the world 'should' be any way? Should conform to any 'law'? There is no reality distortion field around me. I am real, the highest and most authentic form of reality! I am true!"

"Ae star. Ae star. Zaelochi anaeochi," Barsin says.

"And you are false," Red and Red's mouthpiece say at the same time.

In any case, no mundane three-dimensional spell of warding could protect Barsin from an entity which can see his whole being in a glance.

The first grey lump sprouts suddenly, inside the middle of his chest, in the bottom of a lung. That's enough to make him double over and quit. The second, following in less than a second, is near the forehead, above an eye, and forces the skin forward, blocking his eye, pressing on his brain, distorting his face. The last is in his throat and blocks it.


SCP-4739 - IF YOU CAN SEE THIS READ IT IMMEDIATELY

SCP-4739

Object class: Keter

Special Containment Procedures: I'm disregarding the format, because time is a factor. If you're reading this, you've already been isolated from the Foundation at large. Attempts to signal for help are futile. You are now inside 4739's gullet, after ingestion and prior to digestion. You need to get to lab S041-B08-053 as soon as possible and continue the research until you find a way to stop or kill Grey, before it kills you. Don't read the rest until you're in the elevator.

Description: SCP-4739 is a powerful, slow-acting antimemetic kill agent taking the appearance of a male Caucasian business executive calling itself "Alastair Grey". SCP-4739 is attracted to dense clusters of organically-stored information - essentially, extremely knowledgeable, complicated, interesting people. SCP-4739 isolates its victim from the outside world by enveloping them in an antimemetic field which makes it impossible for the victim, or anything done by the victim, to be perceived or remembered. SCP-4739 then consumes the victim's memories and knowledge until they become vegetative and die. This process takes between 15 minutes and 2 hours and is described as being "like Alzheimer's disease in fast-forward".

SCP-4739 is not believed to be sentient, although it imitates the behaviour of a sentient being to the extent that it can appear sentient to the inattentive. Its victims are able to move and act freely, since it is impossible to escape once caught, or to signal for help. Communications such as written notes, graffiti and electronic mail do get sent, and persist in reality, but SCP-4739's effect spreads with each message, making it impossible for an external observer to perceive the message until such time as SCP-4739 catches them too.

The SCP entry which you are currently reading is created and maintained by victims of SCP-4739, because it is only visible to victims of SCP-4739. If you are reading this SCP entry, SCP-4739 has caught you. You are now isolated from the Foundation at large and constitute an effective Foundation of one. You have between 15 minutes and 2 hours to reach Site 41, basement level 8, laboratory 053, familiarise yourself with the existing research, and continue this research until you find a way to contain or decommission SCP-4739, or, more likely, die. If your field of expertise is not related to antimemetic containment, we sincerely apologise, and advise you to start learning. Fast.

SCP-4739 has consumed ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| |||| Foundation researchers since we started counting on August 3, 2013. (If you are reading this entry for the first time, please add a mark.) We estimate at least 50% of victims never make it as far as this database entry, so the true victim count is more than twice this figure.


Immemorial

"Cyclomnemophage" is the word Dr. Alanna Stover invented to describe SCP-8473, and don't you wish she hadn't? Marion Wheeler feels this every time she re-reads SCP-8473's docket. Stover's still out there, circulating somewhere in the greater Foundation, one of the few people to exit the Antimemetics Division alive and secure further work. A fine researcher and an incisive, startlingly broadly knowledgeable anthropological mind, the lady simply could not write.

SCP-8473 is the ancient Johorean demigod of forgetting how to ride a bicycle. Interned for now in a metre-tall, heavily worn graven idol, SCP-8473 is talkative, laid-back, dirtily funny and strangely enjoyable company. The idol stands immobile on a short plinth, lit from above by subdued yellow-orange spotlights which throw its heavily-investigated engravings into sharper relief. Wheeler slouches in a chair on the far side of the room, staring at nothing, really. This was not part of any scheduled testing protocol. The recorders are off. They're shooting the breeze.

"You need to take a year off in Barbados starting today," SCP-8473 tells her, "or you're going to explode like a guitar string. Sapeh string," they clarify.

"No, I get it." SCP-8473's communication is approximately telepathic and vaguely dreamlike. Its intended meaning is always perfectly clear to all present, but because the rendered vocalisations only make up about half of the channel, written transcripts of its English (etc.) speech never come out quite right according to anybody who was there and heard what they were saying. It's something to do with godhood, but research into the fine details has proven unrewarding.

SCP-8473 asks, "Do you drink?"

Anybody else, Wheeler would punch for asking this question. Punch or fire, really. Well, being honest, most likely fire, because when was the last time she spoke to someone outside of work? A shop? She must visit a supermarket from time to time, right? She must get food somehow.

She axes this line of thought. It's unhappy and dangerously relevant. "I don't drink. Well— I don't remember the last time I drank."

"Would you, though?"

Wheeler furrows her brow. "Maybe. I've got a cellar. There's a refrigerator down there. And I know for a fact there's champagne in the refrigerator. Waiting for a special occasion."

"What special occasion?"

At length, Wheeler discovers that she can't answer this question. Instead she says, "I don't drink. I can't. I smoke."

"Anything good?"

"Nicotine. Tobacco," Wheeler says. She rummages in an inner pocket, and waves a cigarette.

SCP-8473 has no face. It's a block of rock. Still, it is plainly clear that it is revulsed. "Ah, you can do better than that, sayang."

"I need to keep my head clear. I'm on call every minute of the year. What if something breaks containment while I'm 'elsewhere'? What if a… zed zed double-asterisk kay class scenario breaks open?"

"I'll take care of it," SCP-8473 says.

Wheeler nearly laughs.

Based on radiometric dating of the rock and a humiliating amount of wild guesswork, SCP-8473 has existed since at least seventeen thousand years prior to the invention of the bicycle. What it did during the nearly seventeen millennia between its internment and the first actual bicycle being invented is a matter of hectic debate. The Foundation's collective opinion is that SCP-8473 did, was and achieved essentially nothing. SCP-8473's version of events has the bicycle being invented dozens of times over in all parts of the globe since prehistory, only for SCP-8473 to engulf, consume and negate all human knowledge not only of the riding of bicycles but of the mechanism itself. The Foundation's view goes on to note that there is literally zero archaeological evidence to support this version of events. SCP-8473's goes on much further still, but by this point the Foundation's view has become exasperated to the point of seeking transfer.

SCP-8473's only confirmed anomalous property is its capacity to — sometimes — eat the part of a person's memory where they remember how to ride a bike. It's painless and instantaneous. They have to go and learn again. Other than that (and the fact that it's a talking semi-telepathic talking rock, which is basically normal by Foundation standards), SCP-8473 can't do anything. It is not a powerful entity. It is, in fact, the least powerful god on the Foundation's books.

SCP-8473 has never committed to a gender, and the only time it was pushed for a name it gave "God".

Wheeler is sure as Hell a theist, a polytheist at that; she believes in all the gods and all the devils and all the destinations and she has even seen a fraction of them, but she has no religion. Throwing her hat into that ring feels too much like taking sides in a conflict with more dimensions than she has cells. But sometimes, because she exists in a culture which is like this, she finds herself using turns of phrase like "God knows" and when she catches herself doing that she retcons her own meaning to be: this god. Is that enough for a faith? A squirrelly, pointless little faith in an immobile, incapable God she visits on smoke breaks? Who basically just listens, and gives bad advice?

"You need to relax. The inside of your skull is a black metal trap, and you need to get out of it," SCP-8473 says. It commands her: "You need to go home tonight and drink that champagne. All of it. Become incapable in my honor."

"What's the occasion? I give in, I can't think of one."

"The occasion is that the world hasn't fucking ended," SCP-8473 replies.

This… is actually almost good enough. "I'll think about it," Wheeler says. She gets up to leave. "I need an actual cigarette now."

"Stay! Smoke in here."

"I can't. Tedious geochemical contamination reasons and American workplace law," Wheeler says. "Take it easy."

It shouts after her, "And get laid!"


Five Five Five Five Five

rating: 0+x

What's the worst thing you can imagine?

SCP-3125 is a meme complex like an Independence Day city destroyer. It is an apex predator from a completely alien ideatic ecology, more toxic and hostile than anything humans can independently conceive of. Its arrival in human thought is like a wolf on the Galápagos. We simply have no protective evolutionary adaptations against it.

SCP-3125 is here. It has already found a foothold in Ojai, California, and once it catches on it's going to replace all human thought with itself, replace the Sun with a black hole, and replace civilisation with hell.

The best way to fight it would be with a big f***ing antimeme. But there is no Antimemetics Division. There is no Marion Wheeler.

There's no Foundation.

There's nobody.

Five Five Five Five Five

is the follow-up to my collection of Tales "There Is No Antimemetics Division", starting with "We Need To Talk About Fifty-Five". In essence this will deal with the arrival on Earth of SCP-3125 and the ensuing MK-class event - an end-of-world scenario whereby human civilisation is eradicated as an abstract concept and replaced with something unimaginably worse.

Here are some of the ideas which I'm hoping to assemble together for this:

  • _ is a youth preacher in Ojai, California. He is the prophet/slave/servant of SCP-3125; he is the rider/pilot of the spider-like creature which ate Marness in "Unforgettable, That's What You Are" and which brought down Site 41 in "CASE COLOURLESS GREEN", and he is the voice to whom Wheeler spoke in "Your Last First Day". This young man is soon to kick off an SCP-1425-like event which will herald the arrival of SCP-3125 and the disintegration of human civilisation into hell; however, he is tormented by visions of a figure who desperately wants him to stop.
  • The Foundation is gone. The idea of the Foundation has been eradicated from the world by some kind of antimemetic first strike; so have most of the anomalous objects which the Foundation was containing, and several other powerful GOIs. This has left a huge and unexplained power vacuum in the anomalous research space, and also left the Earth almost completely undefended against anomalous attack.
  • Bart Hughes, scientist, is trapped inside a bunker/vault of his own devising. The machine needed to destroy SCP-3125 has already been built, but Hughes is unable to escape. Every morning he wakes up to find the sign "YOU ARE STUCK IN A LOOP" scrawled across the wall. He spends the whole day trying to break the loop, and fails, and goes to sleep and forgets.
  • A very small number of people have an immunity to particularly powerful memes, either acquired naturally or from non-fatal exposure to such memes in the past. Others have successfully hidden from the initial attacks. One of these, an aged MC&D auctioneer, is able to perceive the sudden anomalous power vacuum, and remember the Foundation as was. But what can they do about it?
  • This does *not* (necessarily) tie in with the larger Foundation canon. This could very well all end in tears.

The basic premise of this story is that ideas can be killed; good ideas can supplant, and thereby kill, bad ideas. So, SCP-3125 can be killed by the idea of the Foundation and its heroic resistance.

In fact it might be good if this works as kind of a counterpart to "There Is No Antimemetics Division", showing an adversary brought down entirely by the concept of its enemy, not necessarily by the physical activity of the enemy itself.