My Strange Visit

Unfortunately, I am in no position to elucidate the location of the SCP Foundation in any way in this memo. It was roughly a year ago now, yet the memory of the experience has lodged itself into my mind like a bullet fired from the gun of confidentiality. All I can tell to whoever reads these words is that the building stood on a high piece of land, and would have had a person without a map stumbling about in the dense fog until eventual mindlessness or starvation. I was sent an invitation slip from an anonymous sender (the name was blanked out by black boxes) and a sentence-long explanation of why they'd be sending for me, the font that of an emotionless and blotchy typewrite.

Along with the letter was a small, fine square which, upon peeling off the bottom, I could stick permanently along the paper; I was to use this "ONLY ONCE" to blank out any specific details if I wanted to send a reply, for when they received the letter I imagined they had a special tool to remove the incredible stick and trace the words. Apparently they already knew my name, though any recollection I had of giving them it had been lost in the tangle of car keys, passwords to my emails, feeding the cats and so on. I suppose the Foundation harboured some secret fear of having private letters fall into unwanted hands, such as the public, who, with no blanks to conceal the words, would conclude that something was up.

Or perhaps it was just rules - plain, simple rules.

I replied to the letter as anonymously as I could - given that the writing box on the reply slip was the size of a space bar - and tried my best to inform them of my booking date, which I will also wisely choose not to include, and that was that. I would then have to wait three days - max.

Six days later I got the acceptance to join a secured tour through a section of the Foundation's facilities. I would have jumped for joy - banging my head on the chandelier in the process nonetheless - and cried a victory jeer, only I realise too late that I actually had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Looking back, perhaps when the heavily-armoured truck zig-zagged down my street, stopped outside the driveway and spewed out a man in a lab coat and two armed guards to escort me to the Foundation, I might have raised a finger in inquiry, or said "Uuuum."

But no. When van arrived, I was gazing out of my living room window with a mix of uncertainty and excitement, which I had been doing for the past few days. I said goodbye to my wife and kids, my cat and favourite lampshade, and was hauled into the back of the vehicle which, if I must include the description, wasn't the kind you'd want to see a candy seller luring a child into.

The vehicle banged around like a dishwasher for most of the journey; I and my tiny suitcase were thrown around the place, while the "personnel" sat on either side of me on the bench like statues, barely flinching even at the worst bumps.

What was the oddest part, however, was the professor type. He too never moved an inch whenever the van rocked back and forth. He looked like a man one of my children would draw upon hearing the word "professor" or "scientist" - thick glasses concealing his eyes, clearly not washed his hair for the past week, attires that touched the ground when he stood … and whenever he said something it was always very quiet, as if he was scared that speaking aloud would sound hideous. I wouldn't have been surprised.

I might have included his name, too. But he said it was "classified".

"Typical," I murmured.

"I'm sorry?" he queried.

"Nothing. Nothing …" I shifted on the bench, attempting to wedge myself between the armed individuals so the next takeoff into the air wouldn't launch my head into the ceiling. I side-glanced one of them. "So … you ever clean that?" I nodded to his weapon. The thing was long and black, sort of oily.

"I wouldn't look to the Foundation personnel for conversation if I were you, Mr Hugo," the professor advised. "Their positions have been carefully chosen, and they take them very, very seriously." He smiled - a crack on the surface of a tombstone.

I said, "Don't they get dizzy in here? Or hot?"

The professor seemed to consider this. "Just try not to think about the things that bother you too much. Think of people and place you like. Then you will have mastered their techniques."

"About as efficient and crossing my legs and saying 'Uuuuuum' then?" I meant to ask the question with a smattering of sarcasm.

"If you say so. For your information - I will be only a part of your guide through parts the building, you see."

"So, can I ask why you've come? I suppose it’s … Foundation stuff."

"No, Mr Hugo. I chose the option myself, in the hope that you would be full to bursting with questions during the journey. I was right."

"Like a … therapist, then?"

"Yes. Though not quite; it is therapists who ask the questions, and I would suggest roleplaying, only I am quite mentally sound. I am a deputy of most of the tests and procedures at the SCP Foundation. Psychological treatment is beyond my immediate knowledge, I'm afraid. But I do know every single person at the Foundation - their names, their occupations, and so on."

"Do you know these guys then?" I jabbed both thumbs at the guards.

The professor frowned, but it vanished a second later. "I know their positions at the Foundation, but personally, that information I cannot give."

"What'll happen when we get there?"

"A tour, Mr Hugo. You will have to go through a brief narcotics examination in order for us to maintain our unbroken reputation of secrecy; though I'm sure you didn't skim the Health and Safety questionnaire on the registration leaflet."

I stiffened. A … health and safety checkup? And what was up with the way he rolled the word "narcotics" around on his tongue?

"Sure thing," I blurted. "Drugs - I can do that."

"I hope so, Mr Hugo."

The vehicle continued to rattle; we were going fast. The lack of windows hadn't escaped my notice. Even the doors presumably leading to the front of the van were absent of a switch, window or handle, but were of a material you could smash concrete on. We were about forty-five minutes into our journey when the guard on my right began to shift. He left his rifle in one gloved hand so he could reach round his back with the other.

"Got an itch up the ham flower?" I asked him cheerily.

I assumed the guard was a male since the replying grumble from under the pale green visor sounded low and deep. He stirred against his seat, as though restricted by an invisible seat belt, and when his arm re-emerged he was holding a small device appearing to be a remote control.

He thumbed something on the side, spoke into it - sounding like one of those megaphone safety briefings before a water park ride - and got up.

I leaned toward the professor, and whispered, "What's happening now?"

He purred back, "We're right outside, Mr Hugo."

That's when the second guard stood up; the two of them now loitered at the rear exit doors, as if preparing for a skydiving procedure. Then there was a bang and a loud screech, and whatever happened next I wasn't aware of due to being completely and utterly unconscious.

The next section of this memo I have saved for its own purpose - the tour itself. The last part was just something to get off my chest as it was one of the few times I felt I was legitimately being held hostage. Thankfully, that uncomfortable little ride was replaced with a much simpler and smoother one. Only …

Aw, screw it. Also, I'm restricted from cursing; so here it is.

Upon waking up again I was planted in another seat. I blinked into the light, raised my head and instinctively raised a hand to clear away any substances left around my mouth. Dry. I sat up and peered at either arm on the chair's rest. No restraints. Phew.

I was practically giddy for something unknown reason by the time the "receptionist" entered through the double sliding doors. Unlike the professor, her name tag was clear and white: "Leila - receptionist."

"We'll be through to you within the hour, Mr … ?"

'Um. Hugo, maaaa—!' I meant to end the response politely with "ma'am", but my jaw locked on the syllable like a steel trap over a deer's shin and it wouldn't budge. My tongue did the same, lolling out of my mouth desperately. The rest of my body felt rigid, too.

"That'll be the side effects of the narcotics, Mr Hugo. You were meant to remain asleep for a while longer, but oh well! Please try to relax if possible; there's a souvenir stand in the corner, so feel free to help yourself once the drugs subside."

And that was it! She just left me in there, looking like a petrified child without his star-shaped nightlight! I turned my head - one working limb at least - to scan the room. There were no other occupants in the room but me, no-one else undergoing the same endeavour I was. I'd got this far, I knew that much, and wasn't about to keel over just yet. But after several minutes of patient sitting, the receptionist's hypothesis proved correct, and my jaw gradually relaxed until I could swallow normally again without having to crane my head back.

Being the curious sod I was back then, I got up from the chair to further explore the room. From the short encounter I'd had with the Foundation's team, I knew enough not to venture through the doors. Unlike the back of the van, this place was very roomy, the walls a glowing marble white, containing a row of chairs down every side. I took the receptionist's other piece of advice and strode over to the small stand in the corner. One of the larger "souvenirs" was a humanoid figure, which, as I picked it up, appeared to be a regular teddy bear that had ketchup squirted on its face, and stumps for hands. Yet it had no ears, and where the eyes might have been were four little yellow pimples.

"Maybe I'll take this one home," I said to myself. "Tommy could do with this in his new alien spaceship set."

Among the other merchandise was a white mask shaped like a bird's beak; an identifiable green jello, which wobbled like crazy if you so much as poked it; a tray containing many sheets with the letters SCP in bold font, along with a pen; and a plastic miniature chessboard.

I must have been occupied in looking through the random objects for at least an hour, because before I knew it the doors had been flung open and I was being hurried into a wide, dark, musty corridor by another set of guards, these ones marked as "Class D". I spotted the professor skulking among them, though I wasn't sure where we were heading to now.

"I guess the whole 'drugging' process is over then?" I stammered, as the door at the other end raced forward to greet me. My only answer was the constant clatter of heavy boots on hard floor, and something resembling the groan of steel gears in the background.

Into the next doors we flew. I was eager to see the receptionist again, only because she was first person I'd met today who wasn't completely mental. Bright lights shimmied past, as well as other guards - some standing, some perambulating down the isle, all of them stopping to look at us one way or another. Hands groped my shoulders and back, and I was shoved around a corner, to where a red light glowed over a gigantic metal door.

"I don't suppose a wheelchair would come in handy?" I cried in vain.

"Welcome, Fredrick Hugo," came a calm, smooth voice somewhere off to my side.

I relaxed. The grips resided … we'd come to a halt.

I looked over and there stood a carmine-haired women around her early twenties. I only mention this because it was a pretty byzantine change from the Foundation's sophistication in attire and age; even the receptionist had had the odd wrinkle or five. The person, however, wore clothes that you would see on any other girl of her age passing you in the street jamming to her iPod. The most she carried was a clipboard and pen, and a army-coloured hat labelled "L5".

"W-w-w-w-w-w-w-what?"

The young women gave me a half-quizzical, half-frown, half-smile look and examined her clipboard, muttering "Strange - thought she'd said the drugs laid off an hour ago…" Then she looked up at the guards surrounding me. "Off you go now, thank you," she cooed, beaming.

I hesitated until the shuffling of feet passed away before I relaxed again.

"Welcome, Fredr—"

"Yes, yes, you said that already. Look, just how is this tour supposed to start off?"

There was that quizzical-frown look again. "Well, let me start off by introducing myself. Heh heh, sorry - sometimes get a little awkward around visitors. Ahem, anyway - the name's Dawn."

I looked down at her extended hand.

"What?" said Dawn. "Never seen a hand before? Look!" She waved it in the air in front of my face. "OOOoooOooOOOohhh!"

"Uh … Right. Hello, Dawn." I took her hand. She took mine, crushed it for about three years, and when I finally piped out "And how lovely it is to meet someone else here," she let go and nodded vigorously. "Were there meant to be more people?" I added.

"Very soon. Excuse us for the rather guileless way you were transported from your home to here, by the way."

"Really, it's alright," I reassured her. "Though, to be fair, I think the traditional bag round the head would have done better." I flinched when she let out a bout of laughter, so sudden was it, and watched slightly horrified as she repeatedly slapped her hand on her bent knee. "Um, your not one of the SCPs escaped, are you?"

Dawn stopped, taking in a breath. "Of course not! Why's that?"

"Nothing."

"Anyhow, I'm glad your still so willing to cooperate. I'm quite new here too y'know - about a year and a half, I'd say. God they're strict around here; if you ever need to use the lavatory you need to file in a slip fifteen minutes in advance."

"But, but…" I stammered. "What if I need to go some time earlier, or a bit later?"

She shrugged. "Tough luck, I'm afraid. Fail to do it once - shame on you; fail to do it twice - shame on you but instead with a permanent ban from the Foundation."

My jaw hung open.

She tucked the clipboard under one arm and clapped her hands. "So then, we should be just fine together. I'll start off by leading you through to the general sectors, and from there it should be pretty straightforward."

"Straightforward," I echoed, as she sliced her key card through the panel and led me through the door.

The first to join me and Dawn on our expedition was a man who I mistook as the professor upon first notice, only he wore no glasses. He too wore a lab coat, had the same muzzled hair, but his eyes were kindly and his smile less crooked, and whilst the previous professor's hair had seen the gradual wear of time, his was a very light brown.

"Glad you could make it, …" But Dawn stopped short, unable to say the man's name aloud.

"Call me Sam," said the lab-coated man, nodding to me. "Fred, is it?"

"Yes. Lately, a lot of folks round here have been calling be Mr. Hugo for some rea—"

"Nice to see you on your first public tour, Mr Hugo. I'm the technician of this facility, one of many who monitor the SCPs in their enclosures on a regular basis and repair the live feed equipment should it ever be damaged …"

"Yes, P— I mean - yes, sir, I think you've boasted about your occupation quite enough now," said Dawn levelly. "Even Freddy here would know what a security camera would be used for."

"The same reason a security camera would be used in any other place?" I offered.

"Exactly!" cried Dawn, and I nearly dove for cover as she raised a hand for a high-five. "See, sir? Been here no longer than a minute and already learning the basics."

I half-rolled my eyes, only stopping midway because I caught the technician doing it as well. We were now passing through another hallway, this one displaying hatched doors like prison cells all down the length of one side. Each was marked with the similar letters SCP, along with a set of numbers going up one digit per door:
SCP-400
SCP-401
SCP-402
SCP-403
The rooms behind the doors must have contained a large space, since there was a door every five meters or so. But I said nothing in case they were of the less spectacular type. One room which did attract my interest, however, was the last door at the end; it was a gargantuan door, ten feet tall at the least, and made the interior of a battle tank look like damp styrofoam. Where the usual numbers might have been where 10 black dots: ●●|●●●●●|●●|●

Just before we went up the staircase, I said "What's behind that door?"

Dawn stopped and glanced over her shoulder. "That? You wouldn't want to look in there."

"I didn't mean I wanted to look, I just wondered what was in there."

"Explaining it would turn your mind to sap," said Sam mysteriously. "What's behind there may not stay behind there for much longer."

"I take it that it's a Keter type, then."

Sam put a hand on my shoulder. "We'll have a look at it later on. Come."

We left the gigantic door to its own devices, such that could stop a malevolent entity, and continued up a few flights of wide metal stars that twisted around in a spiral. Looking down through the loop at one point, I could see the ground level floor many stories below.

The three of us stopped when the flights of stairs ended. Now it was darker, the lights that had fruitfully provided the walls and ceilings with clear geographical vision now but a lone bulb dangling next a damp patch over another door. I peered over Sam's shoulder and read "Sector 2" a millisecond before hearing the cha-shink of the key card and being bombarded by a wave of bright light as it shunted aside.

Dawn turned to me. "We are now at the official start of the tour, Fred. I will now give you two options - you can choose to visit the testing sectors, where the site teams conduct research and experiments on Euclid-class SCPs; or we can take the next elevator and skip ahead to the Sites."

I hesitated. I only realised up until then that I was shaking with pure excitement. "And what are 'Sites' exactly."

"I'll read it to you straight from the dictum … Sites are covert facilities, meaning that while existence of the facility is known to the public, such facilities are often disguised under government or corporate fronts. Sites are often built in locations in relatively close proximity to civilian populations, where facilities would require such cover." Dawn lowered the clipboard.

There was a pause.

"In that case," I said, catching Sam's eye, "I think I'd prefer to visit the SCPs in their regular enclosures."

"Brilliant!" said Dawn. "Round here is where some of them are, most of a Safe-class nature. Though a few levels up we do keep one or two Euclid ones on display."

The first actual "SCP" I laid my eyes upon was a simple, mundane, everyday digital alarm clock, its yellow LED digits permanently set to 12:15. Its Object Class was deemed "Safe", although if I were in charge here I might've deemed it "Passe".

"What's so special about this?" I asked, just out of curiosity. "Apart from being a Koway brand."

Dawn sidled up to me, and we both stood ogling the device on the table in the soundproofed bunker. "At first glance, Fred, you see before you any old alarm clock. But never judge a book by it's cover! If this snooze button is not pressed within the next ten minutes and forty-five seconds, its beeper will go off, and continue as such."

I couldn't help but feel a pang of intrigue. "Sounds annoying, but go on."

"The room is soundproofed for a reason. At 95% noise-cancelling, these walls minimise an increased decibel level when SCP 498 begins beeping. No kind of sleep is actually possible as a result of hitting the old snoozer."

I took the time whilst Dawn was talking to walk round the table. It was identical to a normal alarm clock at every angle, and as I studied it I found an anticipation softly resonate through me. Headphones were to be worn if the beeping started, but this was to be only a quickie, and I didn't fancy looking like one half of an Eskimo much.

"When the alarm starts, it will continue at 30 decibels to 34 decibels ten seconds later," continued Dawn. "And so on and so on and so on, louder and louder."

"Why? Won't it brake after a certain volume."

"It's better safe than sorry, Fred. The material we've attempted to brake before, but it is unbreakable by any means.