SCP-4231: The Montauk House
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Meat

On 8/29/1989, Commander Richard ABLE (IO) was requested to interview Commander Allen HALL, who lead the first team of responding Foundation personell into the town of North Access, Cornwall after recieving a direct phone call to the response and dispach office of the Site-34 outpost in the outskirts of London, approximately 1.3 hours south of the city. The Interview took place at the Site-34 Investigation and Interview lab on 9/02/1989.

IO began an initial line of questioning with HALL regarding the general nature of the phone call to the outpost. HALL indicated that he had recieved the phone call on the main line at roughly 2000 hours three days before the initial mission. HALL clarified that he had no teams dispached at the time of the call, and that the phone number was for responders only and was not given to non-Foundation agents, leading him to believe the contact was “of anomalous orgin”. The call consisted of the sound of rushing water. HALL could not recall if any other background noises could be detected in the audio of the call. Suspecting a computer error, HALL ended the call prematurely and returned to attending work.

At approximately 0800 hours the following day, the main line of the Site-34 outpost recieved a second call, which was revieved by dispacher David SHMITT, who indicated to HALL a simmilar parcuilarity with the sound of rushing water. SHMITT indicated in subsequent interviews that although he was unaware of any distinct voices or background noise, he was under the impression that the call was being made from “a cavernous space or cave”. HALL instructed SHMITT to trace the call, which was narrowed to the general area of North Access, Cornwall. Once a location had been determined, the call was terminated. HALL stated that he did not believe that there were any changes in the content of the call by the time of the termination. IO inquired as to why the investigation was not persued immediately after the second call. HALL stated that under normal procedure, a phone call is not sufficient to warrent an investigation, but that the audio of the phone calls showed abnormal background radiation consistent with unstable weak hume fields.

HALL stated that following the two calls, he suggested that he take a crew to investigate the address on the call’s tracking, concerned about possible anomalous activity affecting the address. HALL assembled a team consisting of SHMITT (dispacher), Amy WEATSTONE (containment investigator), Ron SHULTZ (MTF), and Rodrik GRIMSKY (technical analysist). The five drove a standard Foundation response vehicle and left the facility at 2000 hours. HALL reported that because of the size of North Access, the town was not listed on standard maps and had to be located using Foundation estimation prior to depaurture.

Allen had worked at a meat packing plant in college. He hadn’t minded it much, actually; most of what he did was a lot of slicing and butchering, and when you really came down to it, that wasn’t a terrible way to make a little over minimum wage per hour. What had bothered him was the smell.

The meat was killed and skinned next door, and he’d cut them up fresh in the fridge and hang the carcasses up on hooks to drip. It was a bloody, fresh kind of smell at first, and the meat they actually packaged was relatively fresh save for a little of that, and all things considered he could work with the bloody smell. The smell that bothered him came from the disposed parts he pulled out with a gloved hand and threw into buckets to his left or right- entrails, organs, a stomach here, a heart there, the biology part of the job wasn’t really something that they taught them in training. What he pulled out was relatively nondescript, without definition- an all encompassing substance of bloody, homogenous gore. Slice and dice, motherfucker. Open the stomach and out with the guts. Like carving a pumpkin.

All the nondescript entrails went into the nondescript plastic trash bin. He dreaded when it would get full once or twice a shift, and then the time would come and he would push it on it’s squeaky wheels over to the grinder. Dump it in, let the machine roar and cough at bits of bone and flesh, and then out would come the pink paste like a bloated, infected finger, a tube of pink shit interlaced with hair and bone between crushed flesh. God knows what they did with it, but that- that would smell. Shit from the entrails, piss from the bladder, blood from everything the fuck else. Another breed of nondescript, homogenous gore.

So on that warm August evening as Allen drove the team into North Access, he denied smelling it at first because he’d thought, truely, that he’d never smell it again.

But it was there.

And when they got closer, it got stronger.

HALL stated that approximately half a mile from the outskirts of the town, WEATSTONE inquired to him about the increasing smell permeating the vacinity, to which HALL responded, quote, “Oh, sweet Jesus, it’s bodies”.

“Should we-like- god, I don’t know, call for backup or something?” asked David from two seats back. The van bounced over a pothole, and Allen could hear Amy in the passenger’s seat suck in a quick breath of fear.

“Not yet,” said Allen. “I might be wrong. Ron, you’ve seen some shit, what do you think?”

“It’s something rotting, yeah,” answered the Task Force agent sitting directly behind him. He sounded harrowed, but certain. “It has to be.”

Allen nodded silently, anxiety gnawing at his stomach. The five of them sat in silence. Suddenly he wished more than anything that he waited until morning for this- the van’s brights illuminated the road directly in front of them, flanked by sparce trees and farmland on either side. The road was deserted.

“How many fucking bodies does it take to smell like that?” whispered Rodrik from the far back of the van, and he heard it and almost wished he hadn’t, because that was exactly the thought that was churning his insides. How many cows did he have to butcher before the grinder meat happened? Two? Three? And that was relatively fragrant to start with. How many fucking bodies did it take to smell it before they even entered the town?

“I don’t know,” He responded. Because he didn’t. And he was scared-

“Oh my god,” exhaled Amy, “Oh my god, Allen!”

He slammed on the breaks just in time to bring the van to a screeching halt in front of a large, low shape, resting on the road. Illuminated by the headlights, Allen was initially terrified because of the sight of fur- he remembers, briefly, the parade of cow hides, the matted sight of hair and blood.

It was a dead horse, and it was rotting.


Chapter excerpt from the textbook "Reality Altering Beings: Socioeconomics, Mental Illness, and Diagnostic Criteria" published 2014

The Cornwall Incident: What Happened?

On the early morning of August 1st, 1989, a small team of containment investigators from London entered the small town of North Access, Cornwall- a town of roughly 1,000 residents with an occult history- after recieving several suspicious calls from the location. Upon entering the outskirts of the town, the team quickly encountered a rotting stench so strong they were apprehensive as to their own ablilty to handle what they might find, and before they are able to enter the town itself, their path is blocked by a dead horse in the road, severely rotted and desicated. It is at this point that the team calls for backup.

By 2 am, three additional containment vans arrive at the enterence to the town. Together, they are able to move the animal’s body from the road.

By 3 am, the four teams are able to inch forward roughly a quarter of a mile down the road before they come across the body of a severely dessicated man in his early 40s. They must move his body to proceed. Dutifully, Commander Hall and his crew drag the rotting body to the side of the road to allow the vehicles to pass.

By 4 am, Site-34 in London recieves word that there are more bodies.

By 5 am, Site-56 in Ireland is contacted to send additional vehicles. In fact, they’re contacted to send in a list of squads. North Access is now a locked down crime scene. It will remain so for the next six months. This will become the single most deadly Type Green massacre in history, with an estimated 1,200 people found dead- 1,000 residents and 200 GOC responders from the notorious Ichabod campaign, notoroious for killing hoards of reality benders throughout the 80s using the now outdated four class Kant-based diagnostic method. No plants animals in the area remained alive aside from eight individuals- six pregnant women and a man with a baby- recovered in poor condition. There were signs of heavy flash flooding, but the lake was completely dry. It couldn’t have happened more than three days before. What happened?

The truth- as it would soon become apparent- lay in a heavy romantic interaction between two reality benders, dubbed “A” and “B” by investigators.

A: 5’ 7” female, 28 years old, 150 pounds. Fair skin. Brown eyes. Blonde hair. Recently pregnant at time of death. Died of strangulation; body found in upstairs bedroom of SCP-4231.

B: 5’3” male, 27 years old, 145 pounds. Fair skin. One eye blue, one eye green. Blonde hair. Exhibits extreme mental distress; not able to speak to responders coherently. Nose repeatedly broken. Blunt force scars on back of head, back shoulders, buttocks. Repeatedly vomiting water, blood. Kant counter readings indicate level 4 at time of rescue; readings reconcile to level 3 after subsequent hospitalization. Shows signs of heavy phycological trauma…


Item #: SCP-4231

Object Class: Elucid

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-4231 exists inside containment area 4231. Containment area 4231 is to be surrounded by a 4 mile long fence under the guise of government occupation. The front and back doors of SCP-4231 are to be replaced by class 6 metal containment access doors, and all windows on the first floor are to remain boarded up to prevent entry. The enterence to SCP-4231-2 is to be contained by a 34 foot by 34 foot plywood slab placed over the lakebed opening, disguised as a sinkhole repair mechanism. SCP-4231-2 is only to be accessed via the basement of SCP-4231. SCP-2317 is to be removed and placed in separate Foundation containment.

Description: SCP-4231 is a three story house and residential buisness building in the former town of North Access, Cornwall. The effects of SCP-4231 are reffered to as a direct result of violent and extended Type Green occupation of the building, compounded by the effects of the activation of SCP-2317, initially located in SCP-4231-2 directly under the lakebed of North Access. The surrounding town shows signs of extreme flash flooding and decay, and has not been occupied since incident 4317-CORNWALL. The lake itself is entierly drained of water.

SCP-4317 sits at the top of the lakeside of containment area 4231, and consists of a top story apartment, a ground-level shop area appearing to be that of a local florist, and a basement, which extends into the earth under the adjacent lake to join with the chamber of SCP-2317 via a narrow passageway. The top floor of SCP-4231, designated SCP-4231-2, shows extensive Type Green trumatic imprinting, to which it owes it’s anomalous properties. This pocket dimension is considered the most complete case study on imprinting to date, and is widely studied and referenced in conjunction with issues regarding Type Green psycology. SCP-4231-2 consists of a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, a nursurey, a living room, and an interconnecting hallway. Activity within SCP-4231-2 varies in intensity with time, with seemingly little pattern. For list of events, refer to document SCP-4231-2-A.

The basement of SCP-4231 is an unfinished basement housing miscellanious storage, behind which an entryway to SCP-4231-3 is hidden.

SCP-4231-3 is a tomb structure dating to midevil Europe that lies under the lakebed of North Access, Cornwall, bridged by a stone staircase descending from the basement of SCP-4231. It consists of eighteen rooms

The ground floor of SCP-4231 is an inert flower shop.


Regarding the Montauk Chamber: Excerpt from the confiscated 1994 document “Notes on Montauk”, by POI ‘Lady Agora’

The Foundation does not neglect it’s chambers.

It is easy for us, as onlookers, to see the chambers as a relative footnote to a more complicated piece. Largely this is what we see; in the report overview we see the Containment Procedures, a short paragraph brushed over by the report writers and those being briefed on what the chamber is holding alike. The safe object is contained by a locker. A humanoid, contained in a room. The chambers are second hand entities; we are not interested in the box, but rather the jewels it holds, and it’s in this way that the procedures are neglected by those who it does not seem to affect.

It’s a given that the Foundation is strict in its following of the cover paper, that awe-inspiring summary article with sheafs and sheafs of raw test data, paperwork, months or years of observation behind it. No, it’s silly to think that that the Foundation would invest so much time and effort into something that would not matter, and in reality we as the cover page people we are miss the extreme amount of Disney World Magic that goes into the chambers, most of it kept from the summary reports we see as unimportant details. The Foundation has people for this job. If you are reading the summary report, you are not one of those people. If you are one of those people, your job does not lie in the main report, but in the interpretation of the report. Foundation Containment Engineers review the containment team’s sheafs and sheafs of files and design something that borders on a prison, a feat of architecture- some might call it art- and they do it every day, with each SCP we see a report for. Isn’t that grand? A 5x5 cell for an electrochemical anomaly becomes a purely mechanical containment vessel void of electric components. A little reality bender’s room uses pink wallpaper to cover steel reinforcements and the occasional strategic pressure plate and panic button. The engineers read the endless papers and discuss amongst themselves; they find the essence of what is needed. They are building a prison cell and a home and a tool for science and altars, yes, they build altars too, and the altars are oh so carefully tended, so methodically pacified.

There is not a hair out of place on a Foundation altar. It is the bridge between science and religion. The pig’s blood is measured in liters with graduated cylinders in a prep room and the black cats are purebred for the purpose of the slaughter. The irony in how relentless the Foundation is with it’s worship of a hundred, two hundred, three, four, five hundred different angry deities is. Not even a contained god’s most devout followers on the outside are as ruthless as this; there are no murders on the altar of a decaying backwoods church and no blood spills on the floor. This is part of the chamber, part of the grand design, that sweet Disney Magic that makes it all happen. The chambers of the Foundation are made to maximise the effect; the magnifying glass using the sun to fry an ant into the pavement.

I do not know of the men who built the Montauk chamber. I do not know if they forgot, if they were allowed to forget. Montauk- and I will say this many times in many different ways- is an illness in that it spreads to all who touch it, and this is a perfect demonstration of this principal. Who were they? Where did they live, and where did they go? The hands who cure the altar metal are the hands that praise the god; the men who draw a row of little boxes and label them SCP-231-2, SCP-231-3, all the way through the 7th with their fine felted drafting pens and cruel straight edges are the men who locked those girls in the hell they made.

But I digress in my ramblings. The chamber, yes.

The chamber discussed in the 231 document does what it is allotted to disclose. We are told the following:

-The Foundation needs two sets of operational staff: staff to complete procedure-110-Montauk, and staff to watch it. This is aside from all the staff that aren’t usually discussed in the Foundation- matinence staff (at least one crew per SCP), containment medical staff to work on anomalies (especially important here), a warden and guards (this factility specifically is one of the highest security sites in the world), and janitorial and cafeteria staff. You will wonder why this is important. I promise you that it is important.

-Everyone who enters SCP-231 has to be transported through several different routes and means of transportation. This begs the question: if you’re blindfolded, and I’m blindfolded, then who’s flying the plane? There are people out there in the world who know the exact location of SCP-231’s facility, and I must admit, not even I have seen it with my own eyes. I know where it is in theory, although I am not at liberty to say that here. As for the route itself- well. That doesn’t matter here. Some say that it doesn’t matter at all.

-The personel who are in the observation booth wear full-body protective covering that obscures not only their face, but also their voice. It’s implied that even menial staff on site must wear this clothing.

-The personel who are in the observation booth are to remain in their own provided quarters when they are not attending the booth. So for two months, these individuals see only their own face in their bathroom mirror and the girl’s face in the chamber. They hear only their own voice in their quarters and the girl’s voice over the observation booth microphobe.

Those are the two major things discussed. You will notice here that we aren’t told about the chamber itself. It’s typical in cover documents for the authors of the containment teams involved with sapient entities to disclose both the means of external containment- special procedures that allow the SCP to remain contained- and the means of internal containment, the mental protection, books, entertainment, the regulations of interaction. We are given the vauge external containment methods, and nothing else. So we’re left to speculate- that is, unless you’ve heard the stories, or done some slightly illegal digging in the archive site in Qubec. You would be suprised what the Foundation keeps around at those low-security archive sites.

The chamber of SCP-231 is a concrete monstrosity in an undisclosed desert. It’s entierly subterrainian, but boasts a maze-like array of hallways and dead ends to reach the real contianment site at all; not suprising in modern Foundation terms, I know, but very innovative for when the site was constructed in late 1989. You may be wondering how they managed to build it so quickly, and the answer lies in the fact that the site being erected in that plot of land at the time was a small safe-class site, which was quickly readapted to the keter arrangements after the famed Cornwall Incident. So the layout of SCP-231’s containment is unusual even outside the norm of unusual; there are abandoned lockers in deadend hallways, empty rooms with eternally pending designations, lights that are never turned on. Think a cave. A long, winding, claustrophobic cave.

At the heart of the building are the chambers and the dormatories.

The chambers are a set of seven- yes, seven, but only six are filled- humanoid containment cells. They are made of concrete. There isn’t much more that I could descern from what I was able to steal, and from what I’ve head through the grapevine, except that each chamber is neighbored to an investigation room for the pourpuses of the montauk procedure. The one-way glass lies to the right of each chamber, with the next chamber on the right from that, and the adjoining room, etc. When the investigation team assigned to this SCP watches the procedure, they see it from the ground floor looking in, so the danger is only a sheet of glass away. I’ve heard conflicting reports over wether or not there are bars on the window. On one hand, I suspect that they are; generally on larger sites, all ground-level observation booths are reinforced. On Site-17, for example, all windows have a carbon shield on top of the reinforced glass; but on Site-19, many ground-level containment booths are reinforced with metal bars. That being said, Site-19 is the older of the two, and has a history based in the stalin era, complete with running ins with the Russian government- but again, I digress. The history of these buildings are a subject for another essay altogether.

What is vital to note about this setup is the focus on visibility. Visibility- and what it causes- are part of the core of the procedure, a hallmark of Montauk as an age-old religious rite. Could you see the procedure through the bars? Most likely, but would they risk it? Again with the fixtation on precision, the exactness of worship. I suspect there are no bars between the observers and the subject.

In the observation booth, there are five personel. It’s not clear how the comittee behind this containment decided on 5.

So I would like to lay out a scene for you, dear reader, of what it’s like to work on SCP-231.

You arrive at the site, and they have you change into your new uniform before you leave it, upon which you are greeted by a member of support staff, also in suit, who then leads you through a shabby-looking diguised outpost under the ground. There’s an elevator for the first three floors, and from there you must proceed on foot. How far down do you go? How long does it take? You see empty lockers, empty doors, remminents of a site that does not hold what it believes it holds, or of residual humanity. The way you are taken is nonsenical. You are not informed of how to behave, or what your job is; they take you to your quarters and they hand you a booklet, and that booklet outlines your job for the next two months. The quarters have no internet or radio, because access to local channels might hint to you as to which desert you currently reside in; although you do have a TV attached to a single DVD player. It cannot connect to channels on the outside. They bring you food. You have a list of DVDs and books you may request, and this is what you may do when you are not working. You do not have a phone, but you have a bed. And you have a bathroom with a mirror. And before you leave each morning to watch the girl, you have your uniform that you wear. And it obscures your face, and your voice. And everyone else also has their face and voice obscured. So the only face and voice you see in your two months there is the girl’s and your own, and it’s in this state that you see the Montauk procedure. Multiple times. Over and over. And then you go back to your cell- sorry, your quarters- and you sit.

After your two months are over, you are shipped back to the real world. And most likely, that experience has changed you. Most likely, you are much different. Most likely- and this is the kicker, this is the thing that they fucked up with- you will never be the same. And this is what they call the Montauk procedure.

It isn’t about what happens in the chamber. The god doesn’t care about that. What it cares about it that when you leave, you are not the same, and that is the essence of the procedure. It is tourture for not only the girl, but also for yourself.

Think about how many people go through. Two months. Five people per girl. So in the begginning, in 1989, that would be 30 people per two month period. 360 people per year walking away with the red right hand of god on their shoulder. In less than 3 years, 1,000 people are changed. The will of a god is the control of the worshipper, and it’s a funny thing, Montauk, because what do you do? What does it mean to be controlled by fear? Do you cure yourself of it? Do you learn to live alongside it? Do you kill yourself? Do you strive to live? How do you free yourself from the Montauk procedure; how do you kill a god?

I have been a sigilmaster my entire life. I am a witch of the old breed- I have been taught many things about gods, and I have seen many in many forms. In 1967, when I was pregnant with my first and only child, I was approched on commission by the Foundation to decrypt the _ codex. This was not my first commision for a consult from them or a related agency, so I took the job and translated the best I could.

The codex itself is a subject for yet another essay. The runes were old and strange- I recall it being very difficult. I finished the job shortly after my son was born. If I had known to what conclusion my translation of the work would lead, I’m not sure if I would have taken it. If I had known it would find it’s way into the hands of my son’s childhood friend- if I had known what would happen to him- If I had known. If I had not left him early. If I had taken him with me when I ran. If his father was still alive. If I had killed him as soon as I knew of his abilities, instead of raising him to never lift a finger in the face of danger to himself. What would be different?

See how Montauk has spread to me, dear reader? See how this procedure operates? How many people see it and are changed…and how many are changed from seeing their loved ones changed? How many people wake in the night, their fear feeding a hungry god?

My biggest fear regarding the rituals of SCP-231 is this: that it is not about the children, and has never been. That the chains break when the red god wants them to- when enough people are fearful.


December 2nd, 1988

He arises from bed in the early hours of the morning when Lily is beside him but the baby has not kicked yet for the first time. He still feels what she’s done to him- what she did to him in the dusk by the water- bruises down his back, then on his pelvis, then- he didn’t want to look that closely at himself. It’s the first time he’s gotten out of bed in two days. He feels disconnected, like his arms aren’t his arms and he exists slightly to the left of his body. It’s the first time he’s experienced that sensation since the night on the lake shore. It is not the last time he will experience it.

Francis stands near the bedroom door for a moment, trying to decide if the ringing in his ears is real or not, then if his body is real or not. He isn’t sure where he’s going, but when he opens the door to the bedroom into the hallway he finds that there isn’t any place to go. The bathroom door across the hall has disipeared. The kitchen to the left is gone.

if they ever existed in the first place, he wonders. But Francis is not one for wandering to check. Not now.

“Hello?” he calls absently, soft and confused. The word doesn’t sound like his own. It echos: hello? ello? lo? lo? lo?

And if his voice hits a boundary- somewhere far into the hallway that’s extended past the house, past the tomb, past the lake and past North Access into a place he’s constructed without knowing it, where the water expands in an endless tide and to where all roads in his life now end- he does not hear it. And if Lily hears it, she doesn’t stir. And if anything else were to hear it-

Well.


Excerpt from the confiscated document "The curious case of SCP-4231-B" by POI "Lady Agora"

And then, of course, there is B.

The Foundation never seems to know exactly what to do with B, the placid Type Green who trapped himself at the top of the montauk house with his newborn child to escape the ritual floods. He sits in a grey area between something containable and an innocent bystander caught up in something he could not control. B- upon interviewing- is not aware of SCP-231, or SCP-2317, or, quite frankly even SCP-4231, the reality construct he has accidentally created to escape the abuse inflicted by his closest childhood friend. When the initial teams reach SCP-4231, a chase ensures; they run B down through miles and miles of repeated passageways and winding cooridors streching from the roof of SCP-4231, and he simply expands it further. When the teams find that they are no longer able to contact base in North Access, they smoke him out with sleeping gas and drag him back to the world of the living. There's debate among the teams on the ground at wether or not he should be handcuffed onto the stretcher they hold him on. This is the first debate of many.

The problem with B is that he is something that- according to norms surrounding Type Greens at the time- he should not be: traumatized. It's evident as soon as they get him on the ground. Here is a Class 3 Type Green with PTSD and extreme dissociative symptoms so severe they manifest in recreating his own trauma in painfully evident symptoms: B vomits filthy water originating from the flood he attempted to escape. He wakes up from nightmares with bruises and cuts in very specific places on his body. His dissociative episodes cause mild spacial abnormalities in his surroundings. Certain traits about B become more solidified as time goes on, when he goes about adapting an entirely different personality to combat the trauma; the new B is eccentric, flambouyant, even bordering on inflamatory towards others. The deep mental distress and accompanying physical illness that keeps him bedridden in the two weeks immediately following his extraction from SCP-4231 disappear. The new B knows nothing, or, at least, appears to know very little about what has transpired to put him in this situation. He no longer inquires about the child, or about A, or the town of North Access where he has lived all his life. The signs of body dysphoria stemming from the Montauk Procedure are either gone or deeply hidden.

But the nightmares, the flashbacks, and the dissociative episodes- along with their accompanying reality bending freudian slips- persist.

In fact, the new B seems to embrace certain aspects of his inability to control himself as well as he did before the Cornwall Incident. The most evident symptom doctors notice while B is still in medical containment is his newfound reaction to cameras. He does not want to be filmed. While he asserted this verbally before his transition, doctors treating B chocked this behavior to his mental instablility and refused to comply with his distressed pleas to remain anonymous not only on camera, but in all aspects of the investigation, a reaction which seemed to intensify his mental symptoms dramatically. After his transformation, he simply obscures his face in any form of recorded media.

So this presents the Foundation with another interesting situation. Here they have placed an individual suffering from severe trauma in a cage, and begin to build an altar to fix it. The individual requests anonymaty, including expunging of his birth name from all documents. The Foundation refuses to comply, citing accuracy and the continued tracing of his wearabouts throughout the rest of his life. He requests that he not be filmed. The Foundation refuses to comply on the grounds that his interview sessions are vital for study, and include his facial and body language and behavior. He requests that the Foundation stop probing for more information regarding the violence and abuse leading up to the Cornwall Incident, including information regarding A, SCP-231, SCP-2317, or SCP-4231, as much of his experience is highly distressing to him and/or has been forgotten or forcefully blocked out during his mistreatment, and some of it he was never made aware of at all. The Foundation does not comply, insisting that his continued compliance in the investigation of the Cornwall Incident and all related items and beings in containment is vital to the success of the Foundation's interferance. He asks that they not test his vomit. He asks that he not be touched. He asks that they remove hume reading electrodes and equiptment from his neck and spine, and that they remove the reality anchor from his hospital room. B is accepting of treatment for his trumatic disorder and is responsive to medication and the begining phases of grief and cognitive behavioral therapy- so long as anything he says remains confidential to him, and not recorded in Foundation record. All of these requests the Foundation denies, and B's condition in the first two weeks of his containment worsens significantly. He asks- in stunning, repeated detail- that he be left alone and out of the Foundation's documentaion. Not only for now, but for the rest of his life. And the Foundation treats him more as an animal or as a test subject then as a person, and refuses to comply.

So he simply stops allowing it.

This is not technically a breach by Foundation standards. B still stays in his chamber and does not use his abilities to injure or attempt to leave the chamber. 'Breach', in Foundation terms, only applies if the entity leaves the chamber without the explicit permission of Foundation staff, meaning that many forms of civil disobediance by entities, including hunger strikes and refusal to speak to staff or move from chambers when requested, are commenly utilized. His radical transformation into a new personality appears to be less of a worsening of his dissociative condition and more of a transition into a being so blatently disrespectful and infuriating that staff interaction results in only frustration. He now refuses all medication and therapy to control his condition, attempts to abruptly derail any conversation relating to his condition, uses his powers to obscure his face from any recorded imagrey, and simply goes about breaking any equiptment placed in his cell for monitioring his condition. He rips out IV lines and EKG patches, smashes Kant counters, and deliberately insults and belittles staff. The symptoms of his PTSD continue with consequences ranging from night terrors and panic attacks to dissociative episodes and reality affecting events, but he learns to mask the affects as soon as staff step in to respond, leading to a comical sort of whiplash: on one tape we see a nurse rush in to wake him from a nightmare as his trumatic injuries reappear and begin to bleed. She wakes him and helps him vomit up floodwater as usual, then inquires as to his condition, to which he responds- and I quote- "Nice legs, daisy dukes". When she leaves, B uses the resulting isolation to cry.


Glass

Glass knew, that was the worst part. Foundation medical had found out when he’d first come to the Foundation, when they had tried to give him a prostate exam. It was around the anniversary of it, only was a couple years out, he was stressed already. Poor conditions. He’d fainted when they touched him. Looking back, Alto considers himself pretty lucky that he didn’t do anything more than that, seeing the state he was in at the time.

But that incident had put him on some kind of list. It was written in his file somewhere, he guessed, in his medical records. He’d never gone to the hospital after it happened; never did anything that would have it written down on his permanent record; but he was on a sexual trauma list nonetheless. He was exempt from prostate exams, for instance. In medical exams, they never made him strip below the waist and told him where they were going to touch him before they did. It was a kind thought, but to Alto it came off as dreadfully annoying, even patronizing at times. He hated that they knew, however bound by secrecy or medical ethics. He hated when they would start the appointment and would tell him to let them know if he was feeling scared of uncomfortable. Whatever this sort of tolerance was, it wasn’t a routine that he had been used to in the GOC; wasn’t even a routine that was used in the modern task forces.

It was special treatment because they knew, and more importantly, they saw- he wished he could burn down the damned house and take all the detailed records for all the shit that had happened to him with it. None of that was for them to see. Sure, they considered it a faction of SCP-231, and therefore they studied it because they were scared, in a way. And they kept his name off all the documents at his request, let him live a semi-normal life away from it. But they would call him back once a year without fail. Electrodes behind the ears. Turn this cube colors. Answer these questions our researchers drafted about the time she threw a plate at you.

Glass knew, too.

He’d had his first appointment with a Foundation psyciatrist when he’d first joined, and they hadn’t touched on it. They- two psyciatrists in Foundation garb with, as he noticed and tried not to take offense to, a handheld reality bouy between them- ran some reality altering and humology tests, had put electrodes behind his ears and told him to make a plastic cube turn colors, had asked him about his life, if he ever felt angry or overwhelmed or even- god forbid- out of control. He remembered wondering what they would do to him if he scored too high on the reality altering tests, or if they judged him too unstable- would they kill him? Incapacitate him? Put him in containment? Worse?

But they didn’t. They didn’t require him to go to therapy, at first, either, and then the incident with him having a panic attack and fainting in front of a Foundation doctor happened and they suddenly seemed a lot more keen on calling him back for a more thorough exam and a test battery. He’d come- grudgingly- and received the questions he’d expected: did he have violent, recurring nightmares or flashbacks about a specific event? Panic attacks? Heart palpitations? Avoidance of certain situations and objects? Trouble relaxing? Night sweats? (“I have day sweats, too, you know,” he’d told them when he’d been sick of the poorly veiled PTSD diagnostic questioning, “Sweating is kind of a 24/7 thing to me. It’s because I’m fat,” They’d been thrown by that. One of them wrote something down, and he tried not to laugh; he imagined, under sexual trauma, there was another tag in his file about body sensitivity, utilizing a different personality to cope, low self-esteem, something equally stupid and true).


Greyhound

It’s the mid 1980s, and he’s just gotten the blood washed off his arms from the last mission, patched himself up, scheduled himself for another so he wouldn’t have to go home, and he calls Lilly like he always does and there’s something about the way she calls him a liar for the millionth time that breaks him. Maybe it was the stress, maybe it was the six months of solid missions, maybe it was the lack of sleep or the way his hands trembled, but he’s Agent Ukelele standing in the telephone booth at the bus station and he starts crying while still on the phone, while she’s still berating him for some stupid little mistake he made on a check he sent home. He’s stupid, he’s fat, and no one will ever love him like she does, he’s so goddamn lucky to have her, he’s permenently indebted to her for everything she does for him, and more than anything he’s a liar. His memories are wrong, there are things she did not say and things she did not do. In a week this phone call will not exist, because Francis is crazy- yes- Francis is in the process of loosing control of his powers, and it’s only a matter of time before they find out, and he’d better come home away from where they could find him, he’d better come home where she could keep an eye on him, he was dying, he was going to die, and only she could save him.

It’s one of those moments that he’d see more in the Foundation, in another life far from now- a brief mental lapse, a break of a stich in a seam. He hangs up the phone and shakes and sobs and thinks about how he’s loosing control and wonders how long he’ll have left before his own fellow agents find out and murder him. He wonders if it’ll be fast, and if they’ll kill Lilly too, and how much of his life he was making up with unintentional little slips of hume malfunction. He wonders if he’s making this up, too. He wonders if he’s going crazy, or if he’s already too far gone. He can’t help but cry.

The breakdown is fast and complete. He sits on the floor of the phone booth at a dingy greyhound station and sobs through a mixture of panic and grief, and then just like that the announcement for the next bus comes over the intercom and he switches back from one person to another.

Francis stops crying. Agent Ukelele stands. He walks out of the phone booth more bored than anything, and gets on the bus to a remote Type Green liar in Huston.


July 7th, 1989, 1300 hours, Undisclosed Facility in Newcastle, England

‘Coda’- as they were known- leans close to the screen, knee bouncing intently.

They were an exceptionally young Coda to take that rank. Head dispatcher and Quartermaster wasn’t a job that was taken lightly at the GOC; at the right hand of DC al Fine, it was a monumentous role for even an experienced worker. But they were smart, this Coda. Exquisitley so. The best they could find on short notice- maybe the best they could find, period. Not one for people, but had focus like a laser beam, stamina like a bull. Focus and stamina had not been the strong suits of the last Coda, and it had been a gorey end for him.

The new Coda didn’t like to think about that. They were here to do a job- and the job had not been kind to them lately. The individual sitting hunched over the broad computer bank spanning the length of the room could feel the winding down of the Cornwall mission in the strain in their back, the tightness in their shoulders, the bags under their eyes. They have been up for nearly thirty-two hours. But it’s almost over, they tell themselves in the tight florecent of the command room, headphones blaring a harsh mix of radio feeds so bright and blunt that they know they’ll feel the throbbing buzz in their ears for hours afterwards; It has to be almost over now.

The last nine months of Coda’s work had gone approximately like this:

It was a routine Hume check, and the agents in the squad had reported to them what they had found. Coda had told them to persue the radiation (it had been mild then-

And this is when the new Coda makes their first mistake: they hesitate.


The 80 Hours

The doctor doesn’t come, and Francis vaugely wonders why- he does not hear the flood from the lake shattering the flower shop’s windows in a sea of boiling blood and flesh on the ground floor- but it ultimately does not matter, because the baby comes in less than an hour and suddenly there is three of them in the room: Lilly, Francis, and the little baby girl.

Francis didn’t know there was any love left in his body to give, but his baby girl is heavier than he expected, warmer, more alive and lovable then he ever could know. He wraps her in linens from down the hall and holds her while Lilly doses. When he touches the palm of her tiny hand, her little fingers wrap around his own, and Francis is suddenly more fiercely protective then he ever thought he could be. He hadn’t felt love like this in years. It makes him want to cry.

Meri.

Lilly had chosen the name, because Lilly chose everything. She told him that they had discussed it, but Francis knew that they hadn’t truely discussed anything since he’d come home from the GOC full time. Just another lie that he hadn’t challenged. It wasn’t worth it. It never was. But he thought it would do, and it was growing on him: Meri, like something written in a forgotten latin script.

In his muddled mess of emotions Francis can’t help but picture a situation where this works out. Lilly goes back to her old self, the way she was when he loved her. They don’t use their powers anymore. They live here, in the house with the little backyard and the lake. They’d make ends meet because with Lilly working downstairs they wouldn’t need to pay for daycare, and he would probably have to go off for a while, back on the road with the GOC under his old codename with his old team, but he’d send the money home and it would all be worth it for the two of them. He’s suddenly calling up numbers that he hasn’t thought about in months: £1,000 for a class 4 Type Green if he can get it under a week. £500 if he can get it under a month. Up to £5,000 for a high stakes hunt. Less if he hunted with the team- the earnings would be split between them- but he had something to come home for now, and something to live for. He was good at being an agent, and he would get better and the stakes would get higher and he would have to hunt alone, eventually- would have to go undercover or something and really put everything he could on the line- but those missions could pay best of all. And if he earned enough he could come home and see his little girl, spend a month living as a normal person in a normal town with his gun and walkie talkie stowed away. And if Meri was a Type Green, too- like both her parents were- well. They would make it work. She would be okay. There would be Christmases and birthdays and all this mess between he and Lilly would heal up and everything might be just fine after all and they’d never talk about it again. Water under the bridge, little family unit. Ice cream in the summer. Swimming in the lake.

It could work out thought Francis, imagining a future where the rifle he’d slid under their bed for this moment was instead tucked away in the closet by the stairs where he kept it while off duty, leaned against the back corner with the umbrellas like a prop in a gallows humor silent film. He’d waited in the kitchen until Lilly had a customer in the flower shop downstairs before going to get it, and that had been a week ago now. Was he still sure that this was what he needed to do? Kill the mother of his child? Why? For vengence? Because she was too far gone and had been for far too long? He didn’t feel angry in the way he saw men murdering their wives on TV.

It wouldn’t work out thinks Francis next. The next step after this was marriage, and some deep part of him- some primal corner of his subconsious who knew how this would have to end- knew that he could not do this much longer. Meri would not fix Lilly, because nothing could fix Lilly. It was the same chain of events that he’d seen in all the Type Greens he’d killed in the GOC, and he’d never questioned those diagnoses, made by someone else behind a computer screen hundreds of miles away.

Yes, it was now or never. Now, or she wouldn’t stop for the next eighteen years, and when Meri moved out she would finally manage to kill him, if he didn’t manage to do it first. Leaving was out of the question- who knew what she would do in her condition? What if she went on some kind of rampage-

(francis does not hear the boiling water lapping the lowest step now, the baseboards around the cashier counter, trickling down the steps to the basement where he has not stepped foot for months upon months. they have been screaming upward and francis has been screaming downward. a missed connection. a dash of fate)

-or killed their little girl, or killed someone else-

(the GOC has been surrounding the outskirts of the town for weeks and at night they go marching in to the home where francis sleeps that they call things like ‘den’ and ‘lair’. from the apartment lilly does not allow him to leave he sees the same repeat of a clear fathomless sky with the lake below from the window in the bedroom and all is alright in his world, he has been so niave, him, with all his experience with type greens, with being one himself, how could he have let this happen she has killed forty eight people by the time the cornwall incident properly begins and no one knows, inside or outside, exactly how she did it or exactly where they went-)

-no, he needed to do this. For himself. For his little girl.

For Lilly, to end her suffering.

So here he is as the boiling water rises at the first day of the rest of his life. His girlfriend and best friend of as long as he can remember is laying in bed and she’s beautiful and terrible, a blade contorted to cut the thin flesh of reality with the percision of a surgeon’s scapel. The way she calls to him catches him offguard in its softness, it’s love, Francis, can I see her? and he smiles and sits on his side of the bed and she’s laying on her side of the bed and for a moment, he sees every reason he ever loved her, layed before him like a cartographer’s map. Here is the point where you became the frog, it says, and here is the point where she boiled the water. Here is the solar plexus of your desire. Here is your nadir in her eyes, in the way she lies so evenly to you, made you think you were the one spiralling into the grips of a class 4 condition. She’s built this house like she’s built her rituals, and she’s built her rituals like she’s reconstructed you- patched and reeling in endless contempt, an animal entwining itself only further, as sure as the water rises and boils for an old and hungry god.

“I love you,” says Francis.

“Touch me,” says Lilly.

The lake is red. It fills the streets of North Access and it floods all the forests, the little creeks and streams. It seeks out the hiding. It drags out the weakened. It boils anything in its path with the rightousness of the lord-

-and Francis touches her, first passing off the baby into her arms, then taking either sides of her face in his hands.

“I love you,” he repeats. He doesn’t know why he loves her still, after everything she’s done to him. Shouldn’t he hate her? Why doesn’t he hate her?

Because you would rather be treated like shit then risk being alone, says a voice deep inside him, and all at once he longs for the other life, the one where she’s magically repaired. He repeats it like a prayer in his mind, i-would-make-ends-meet-somehow-and-i-would-protect-you-and-meri-somehow-and-i-would-love-you-somehow-right-up-until-i-couldnt-anymore-whenever-or-wherever-that-would-be-i-would-find-a-way-to-believe-you-were-loving-me-and-treating-me-right-and-i-would-just-keep-letting-things-go-and-being-tired-and-not-knowing-why-and-having-you-tell-me-how-worthless-i-am-and-waiting-for-the-day-you-want-sex-again-and-again-i-cant-stop-you-from-it-because-i-freeze-with-terror-and-i-would-still-love-you-for-meri-and-for-that-life-and-for-who-you-used-to-be-no-matter-if-it-takes-ten-years-or-twenty-years-or-for-the-rest-of-my-life-there-has-to-be-a-way-i-could-keep-pretending-forever-

She turns away, abruptly, towards the door and suddenly the moment is here, because she is distracted by the water beginning to pool under the door to their bedroom, the water billowing steam.

“Francis?” she says without moving his head, and he takes his hands away and soundlessly draws on some lifesaving pool of GOC soilder within him to go for the gun, under the bed, and he almost misses it, “There’s something I need to tell you-”

But she doesn’t end up telling him, because in another few seconds she’s dead and Francis takes the baby and runs from the water. He bursts out of the bedroom to find it ankle deep on the top floor of their home, searing into his flesh like a hot knife. The entire town doesn’t rest in a crater- how the hell was the water going upwards? Meri is screaming from the sound of the gunshot and Francis is so shocked into scilence, between the scalding of his own flesh and killing his best friend in the world and the fact that the water has submerged everything but the hallway to his left, and there is no way to go at first and then suddenly, there is.

Francis does not register much of the next 80 hours. He doesn’t think that he’s ever run for so long in his life. Up the stairs at the end of the hallway and he’s next to the closest door with the umbrellas with the silent film black comedy gun and he’s running past the bathroom where he used to wake up and go to vomit in the nights after Meri was concieved, and he’s running past the kitchen where she would sit and tell him what shit he was, and he’s running past the bedroom where her body is layed out dead on the bed and past the empty nursery and up another flight of stairs and he’s at the umbrella cabinet again and up and up and up and the water kept rising and the baby was heavy in his arms but stopped crying eventually and every once in a while the bedroom door is closed or something big and obscured is writhing in the tub and Francis does not stop, does not look to see if the flood is coming, does not halt even for the men chasing him in armored gear. He runs from an old and all encompassing god in the lake below that he’s been chained to in a ritual that has not been attempted for a thousand years. He runs from something that he cannot place- his own fear, or from the house? From Lilly? From the men in black armor? From North Access? Does he think that if he runs far enough and fast enough that he will no longer surface back where he started? Is he running from an old sort of concept, a spirit of a flood and of endless passageways that will now prosue him for the remainder of his life:

Montauk? Was that what he was afraid of, even if he could not place it? Even when he runs the same track endlessly in his dreams? Montauk, as it’s written in the old texts. The presuring fear. The hand of the red god.

He runs until the gas bombs they throw up the stairs make him too tired to continue, and just like that it’s over.


Pigs (Thirteen Different Ones)

From: [REDACTED]

To: 05 [group]

Subject: re: SCP-4231-B

So it’s civil disobedience. I guess my reaction to that is that it really doesn’t seem like a big deal, seeing as -17 has dealt with full on hunger strikes in the past few years. One individual shouldn’t be a huge problem.

From: [REDACTED]

To: 05 [group]

Subject: re: re: SCP-4231-B

I was more under the impression that the question here was to contain or not to contain. Seeing the relevance of this issue, I think it would be best to lay out what we have so far here:

-Class 3 Type Green male in his mid-twenties. High control, placid temperment, abstienence code on his powers. Seems to see them as more of a medical disability than anything else.

-Worked in the now desemated GOC Ichabod campaign under the codename ‘Ukelele’. Apparently not too bad. Has a solid record under his belt- so solid that is borders on obsessive, and some of his latter kills are pretty gruesome.

-Was in an abusive relationship with another Type Green (SCP-4231-A, or SCP-231-1 depending on who you ask at the moment) for the past seven years. Unclear as to who the abuser was at the moment, due to the inherent abusive nature of many Type Greens in general. More info to come on that.

-Murdered SCP-231-1 soon after she gave birth to their child, who was taken from SCP-4231-B’s custody at the scene. Birth apparently coincided with the Cornwall Incident.

-Was pursued by task forces for roughly twenty four hours, but had been running from the scene for longer.

-Deeply disturbed. They’re saying PTSD right now, with some heavily dissociative symptoms. Reality bending powers coincide with flashbacks and psychological symptoms when they occur. Problems sleeping, problems talking, problems remembering things and remaining grounded. Pretty nasty stuff.


Sometime during Hanukkah in 1993

In his dreams, this is how Alto Clef sees Ben:

Director Ghost has just died and there is a shuffling among Site 17 in the early hours of the morning, a rustling of leaves, a whispering of anxiety kept quiet in a world governed by the countdown to the next guard shift rather than by the sun. In linoleum tiled corridors there is the distant slam of a door here, the grabbing of another staffer by the arm there, don’t tell anyone yet, but, but, but. Cold fluorescent flickering at the ends of hallways that do not come on automatically for another six hours. An undercurrent of disturbance, first and foremost. There is no grief in a storm.

Clef senses this from the 3rd level chemistry lab, and to this day he can’t pin down the exact beginning pinpricks of anxiety, or tell anyone what made him pull his arms from the fume hood to turn down the local Polish radio station playing some top 40s pop song for truck drivers passing through and middle aged Foundation scientists depositing mediated samples into rows of test tubes labeled RESTRICTED. He looks out the lab window first and sees the disturbance; here is one person walking quickly down the R-4 hallway, another on the phone. The song on the radio station ends. The radio hosts are now discussing something he can’t make out between his split attention and his meager knowledge of the Polish language. Clef leaves the micropipette pointed towards the row he’s just finished- intending to come back to the work later- and closes the shield on the fume hood, and just then he sees a janitor walking with a pair of fireman shears.

Something is happening.

His gloves come off, but he keeps his lab coat on as he leaves. The density of people walking, murmuring, a couple crying, increases as he follows the trajectory through winding pathways to the administrative wing. He almost expects there to be more people when he arrives at Ghost’s office, but only a handful of people work the night shift and even fewer have wandered this far for something so mundane as curiosity. The light in Ghost’s office is the only light on in the hallway, and he joins the huddle of spectators at the doorway apprehensively.

And there is Ghost.

He’s hanging from the ceiling by the back wall of the office, and the fact that the lights are on means that nothing is hidden from view; there are no cast shadows, no ominous aesthetic or signs of death other than the obvious in front of them. There’s a team of medics partially obscuring the body. A gurney is placed underneath. Here is the janitor, arriving with the fireman’s shears to sever the rope, a few people more important than Alto who stand in the room talking on phones, a crime scene photographer. The entire ordeal is being conducted in a whisper, like they’re all avoiding waking the site from it’s precarious slumber.

It’s like this- as he stands gawking at this procedure, useless and unnecessary- that Alto encounters Benjamin Kondraki up close for the first time.

Ben is a tall polish man of average build and decidedly disheveled features who enters the situation- as is typical of him- looking as if he was pulled from a gutter and given an ID badge. Clef knows he’s bullshitting his entire poise in this situation just by examining the shoes he evidently threw on in haste to get here: black, with tacky flames embroidered in the sides.

In his arms- huddled close to his body in an effort to protect him from the rain- is a small child in blue footie pajamas, asleep in an orange raincoat. Ben holds him tighter as he enters the room.

“Oh, fuck me,” he announces in a calm, soft tone as he sees the body. The child does not stir.

Alto Clef decided he liked this man.


SCP-4231-B Test Notes, 12/01/1989

On 12/01/1989, investigators begain a heavy series of questioning on SCP-4231-B regarding the specifics of the Montauk Procedure- which he had endured several months prior- and on the nature of his sexual molestation and abuse at the hands of SCP-4231-A. Upon beginning the operation, SCP-4231-B proceeded to remove his shoes and socks, as well as a small container of nail polish. He then begain to silently apply the nail polish (“Beach Pink” coloration) to his toe and finger nails. After 45 minutes of continuous painting, Agent Youlen was given permission by oversight to remove the paint from the vacinity of SCP-4231-B, as to better proceed with questioning. Questioning resumed 2 minutes later. SCP-4231-B allowed his finger and toenails to dry for approximately 10 minutes, during which he did not speak to investigators. After 10 minutes, SCP-4231-B removed a second bottle of nail polish from his left shoe (“Gecko Green” coloration) and begain a second coat of paint. This cycle of confescation and reappearance of alternative bottles of polish continued for 5 hours, at which point testing was abandoned. SCP-4231-B answered no questions in that time.


Leopold, Cornwall, Twelve miles from North Access, July 3rd, 2004

Dusk fell, and as they had since Monday night, the old men watched intently.

The Green was an old bar on the mainstreet of Leopold. It hadn’t changed since the 70s, and the men damn well liked things that didn’t change. There was the old stool so and so had a stroke on, over here, the knife gouges in the counter where some long and convelouted back and forth had ended ironically anticlimatically; there had been a roar of disapproval when they’d tried to add a wifi router for the younger clientel, a partial riot when they removed an old painting with dart holes in it. The men of Leopold- at least those who hadn’t moved on since retirement, moved on or passed on, gone to London to live in a home or decided to spend their final years abroad- were farmers and ranchers from just outside that refused to leave, and prefered to have everything just as it were while they were at it. There were four of them this night imparticular, and they wouldn’t have stayed so late if there didn’t appear to be change coming on the horizon for them to watch and complain about at the diner several doors down in the morning. The owner of the bar and its keeper- Dan was his name, a fat man of nearly seventy who’d run this bar just as his father had- occasionally leaned over the counter to see out the front window, where the other three were sitting silently, beers between them, waiting.

“Anything yet?” He called as grey light filtered through the old brick buildings, petering out to the highway beyond. He recieved a chorus of ‘no’s and ‘not yet’s in return.

“Oh, we’ll tell you when they come, Danny!” yelled Christopher. 80 years old and counting, Christopher was always loud. They’d been told he’d been hit in the head by a horse when he was young- that it’d struck him half deaf by age 8- but they’d never been able to tell if he was serious.

“Yes, we’ll tell you,” said Arthur, significantly softer. He was the youngest of them, at 53, and still worked the farm where he kept his cows and horses. He hadn’t bothered to change his overalls for this. He thought it too exciting. Part of Arthur wondered if he was getting old, indeed, if this was as exciting as his life got nowadays.

Dan dissapeared back into the kitchen. Peter drank long and slow, thoughtfully, watching the cracked road. He was a tall, thin man with large circular glasses the thickness of pencil led who had been a gardener in a past life, and it was strange for the others to think of, as Peter never had struck them someone who wanted to do something with his hands- he’d struck them as a schoolteacher type, the kind of person who knew a lot because he read a lot. Peter gave the impression that he was here not to watch things change, but because he had seen something delightfully unordinary in what was happening just south of Leopold. Maybe he had even anticipated it.

“They’re coming,” said Peter, putting his beer down on the table with a soft thunk.

“No they aren’t. Don’t get our hopes up, Pete,” said Christopher. “Look down the road. There ain’t noone coming yet.”

“It’s 10 o’clock,” considered Arthur. “When did they come last night?”

“Must have been around eleven,” scoffed Christopher, “I mustav been three beers in when they came last night, couldn’t have been-”

Peter put up his index finger. The two stopped talking.

“Look,” he said, transfixed. “They’re here.”

The three looked down the road, and saw the first truck on the horizon.

The vehicle was so astounding because it seemed so new. Shining and unmarked, navy blue in color. This one was a flatbed semi, barely fitting in the left lane of mainstreet with its brights on; the cargo was covered with tan tarp and cord, but when it bounced on the old pothole in front of the bar Peter squinted behind his glasses and could see the steel girters it held underneath. Ten or twelve, he estimated.

“Beams,” echoed Arthur, lowering his head to look underneath. “Didn’t they bring in beams yesterday?”

“You need quite a lot of beams to build a factory, I would imagine,” drawled Christopher, “Remember when they made the corn syrup plant over in Lenning? Christ, I’d never seen so much steel in my life- Oy, Danny! They’re here!” He bellowed into the kitchen.

“What?” Bellowed Dan back from kitchen. “What did you say? They’re here already?”

“Yes! Yes! Come look!” cried Authur. Peter tuned them out, hands thoughtfully rolling the cool bottle between his palms. They were here indeed.

Dan came bumbling out of the kitchen with a bottle of whisky, and took the seat at the end of the table, facing towards the window. Arthur and Christopher begain to fill them in, revaling in their shared horror of the situation as if the truck itself had somehow besmirched their home.

“Beams! More beams! You should have seen them,” cried Christopher. “God, how many beams do you suppose they need?”

More headlights flashed at the top of the hill. This one was a pickup truck, again new, again unmarked. White this time. The four of them squinted in unison to attempt to see into the back windows, only to find them tinted away from the light of the bar. The mumbled their discontent. The next one was a van of the same condition, and the next, a semi trailer. By the time the next flatbed truck came over the pothole- this time with two coils of electrical wiring loaded on the back- the four had started discussing again about what they supposed to be doing.

“A glue factory,” said Arthur in disbelief. “In North Access. Nobody’s been to North Access in twenty years, and they suddenly decide to build a glue factory there?”

“I’m telling you, they got bought out,” said Christopher, “Some company saw the property and bought it off the government.”

“You can’t buy land off the government, Chrissy! It don’t work that way.” cried Arthur. “North Access wasn’t even for sale. We would have known if it had been for sale.”

“You all are missing the point. A man don’t buy out an entire ghost town for one factory. And where do you suppose the workers are gonna live?”

“Not in North Access, that’s for sure,” said Christopher. “You suppose they know about the flooding?”

“It wasn’t flooding,” interrupted Peter. “They lied to us. It damn well wasn’t flooding at all.”

“Pete’s right, Chrissy. It was a fire that took it out, don’t you remember?” said Aurthur. Christopher tutted and shook his head.

“Bullshit

The fisherman described what he had seen, and the villagers scoured the basin. They found the pitiful body of his friend. The terrible women, however, were nowhere to be seen. And no one believed the man’s story.

Time passed. Memories grew soft. Then an event occured that the villagers could not so easily ignore.

-Tomie: Waterfall Basin, Junji Ito.

Rituals Chapter 1: End.