At The Corner of His Desk; the Foundation's Opinion on Mass Orgies
"Did you have a dream again?"
Claire Vudloom stood by Thomas' office door, momentarily regretting asking the question. Now that she'd started out this way, she couldn't pass of the meeting as just a friendly one, and then slip the question in later, in the middle of a conversation. But this was how it had gone, and so she assumed a serious expression on her face and walked towards Tom silently when he beckoned.
He seemed to realize that she wasn't just curious, there was something more. Concern, perhaps. "Yes, another one."
"Well. Could you-" she trailed off, now standing near the edge of the large wooden desk. Professor Vudloom would never sit down when she visited, but would always pop in for a couple seconds and mill around the corner of his desk, chatting amiably -surely these visits had to mean something- and just stand there, so close, making it hard to resist the urge to grab her by the waist and plop her down on the top of the table.
The impulse came from his days as teacher, years before he became a psychologist; the perky girls, his students, used the corner as a prop to show off their short skirts seductively while talking in singsong voices and kicking their legs. Was Claire wearing a -he glanced down- yes she was, but it was a rather professional one. He looked up and realized she had noticed, a slight smile around her lips. Did that mean she liked him? There was no rule against dating in the foundation, so he was fine there; the higher ups had to have a rather loose view on relationships in this line of work, and if there ever was such a rule they had probably just given up because it was almost impossible to follow. Incidents were happening every day, and they were hard to avoid or control, so it was better just to treat it as part of life and not get embarrassed or angry over it, for it was not uncommon to hear of whole research teams ending up in bed together because of some SCP that caused hormones to rocket, or an astral entity that possessed one person and decided to test out the new body, or strange experiments that went wrong, like horny clones (he chuckled inwardly at the memory of Rights' fiasco) or memetic weapons that accidentally stripped the target of all taboos along with the other affects, or just the simple human need to have someone to hold and comfort after almost dying and being in constant danger(or actually dying; a few researchers had returned from the beyond), just to convince oneself that they are still living. But still, even if it is allowed, he knew that their colleagues with would frown upon it, and while they wouldn't say anything outright, they would make it quite… awkward.
Tom coughed. "Ok… well, I was in a garden of some sort, and on a pedestal, there was 173. But i looked away accidentally and it didn't attack. It didn't even move… Then someone in the shadows informed me that that it was just a duplicate, a fake. The natives made them, and each tribe pretended their version was the real one, just to protect their territory. It was like a guardian. Each enclave had one. To scare each other."
"Natives… Tom, you getting deeper into this then anyone else"
"I know," he said softly, "with the others, they talk like like it's waiting for them. Inevitable, sure, but it's just there, looming. But with me… The Complex is calling to me. It wants me to come."
She paused for a moment and then said suddenly, "Tom, how are you? How are you doing?"
He instantly tightened, and noticed that he had begun nervously drumming his fingers. He thought he only started twitching when she spoke to him, but in truth his attention was only drawn to it in that moment. For many years now, he had been gaining more and more tics, and this one was actually with him all the time. He was a tall, willowy, man with long black hair, and he twitched in an increasingly deranged manner, and became shiftier and more furtive and avoided more eye contact as time went on, as if one of these days he could twitch enough and hard enough that he could jitter himself right out of this reality and into one without people.
"Really. You can tell me. How are you?"
That just confirmed it. It was a bitter little joke with himself; if someone said "how are you?" in a normal voice it was just a pleasantry, something to to say as a greeting or to pass time, but if they said it with that very specific look of sympathy on their face, it had to be exact, no deviations, they were referring to one thing in particular, and one thing only. Incident 035-XX-03. Or in his terminology, suicide attempt 3.
"Look, there's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a Keter class SCP. You shouldn't feel guilty or less of a person."
"For years, I had been chemically altering my brain with drugs, performing auto-hypnosis, shocking myself with electricity, mediating, consulting with gurus… that's why I became a psychologist. I wanted to analyze my own mind. I though that was the path- it seemed to me that there were secrets locked inside the human brain, and with a little good old rational thought and experimentation they could be discovered. I was actually excited about speaking with 035… I was giddy at the thought of what it could reveal to me, even if it would be in a harmful light. And then within, what, three fucking minutes I run out and slit my wri-
"Maybe all this searching wasn't just for fun… maybe those esoteric practices weren't for intellectual enlightenment but to find something inside you that was hurting. And 35 saw that weakness, saw the search. Because when I look at you, I don't see a psychonaut, I don't see a carefree explorer of the ego, I see someone with a very practical purpose. On one side this makes you fragile, yes, but it also makes you sensitive, and not arrogant, like the first one would. Not self obsessed. You're doing all this for a practical reason."
"And what is that reason?"
Before Claire could answer her beeper went off and she sighed, "look, I've got to go…" She paused, and murmured, "physician, heal thyself." with a hand on his shoulder, then turned to leave.
He whispered "I'm trying." to himself, but, inexplicably, all he could think of was The Complex, enormous in the foreground of his mind.
"Ok, here's what I think:" Doctor Breshear, Doctor Plud, and Doctor Corun were walking down the crowded hall together, dodging the hordes of people and somehow managing to have a conversation at the same time. "173, XXX, 682, they're all in the same place, in the dream. But how is this possible? I mean, in reality they're at different sites. Far away, separate. And don't say its just people projecting, because half of these chumps have never even seen or heard of these things."
"Yeah," said Doctor Plud, "and Brian Rasbcull even said he had a dream where he was being devoured by that tar baby thing. There were these tendrils crawling after him, hopping from wall to wall. And that's kept way over at site ██ . And then Jessica mentioned in her dream SCP-017 attacked her. They shouldn't be together in one area together. They aren't even kept in the same facility."
"Exactly. I think I know how to explai-", he deftly dodged around two other people having a conversation probably about something just as bizarre. "This is my idea. They're all kept together for a reason. Its not just our minds playing tricks on us. In this alternate reality or future where The Complex exists, all these SCPS really are stored like that. In one place."
"But why? Thats incredibly foolish!"
"I think it's because if you give up the science and exclusively focus on the containment, you don't need safety measures and precautions to protect researchers, because there are'nt any. The objects just get thrown in. They're locked in and then forgotten about. All of them. Thats the only purpose of the building. Thats why it doesn't have special divisions, or sealing doors, or cares about mixing dangerous SCPs."
"A prison. Jesus… That makes sense. It certainly looks like one."
"Yeah, and that's the reason why it's so huge, too. What's the best way to keep the minotaur, my friend?
The group centered around the small box, light reflecting off their eager faces. The destroyed TV, even though it had a large hole in it, still had a dancing picture projecting from the front, some wondrous kinetic slapstick comedy. The Orphans giggled and stayed in awe, mouths open. The light was the only source of illumination, they huddled around it like it was a campfire. Professor Vudloom, Thomas, and Doctor Furkis were the only adults, the rest were tiny ragged children.
"Bobby, when will you take me to the Hunter?" Thomas asked a boy with a flute on a string around his neck, who never looked away from the screen.
"Tomorrow. I promise. As soon as we wake up" he said and then yawned. "Its about the right time to go to bed anyways."
"Nooooo!" whined another child. "Let's wait until they decide to stop."
The group stared at the broken device for about ten more minutes until the the show became fuzzy and disconnected. The glow faded. The smallest child hiccuped frightenedly ,"Please, can we keep them to make us light? It's scary out here!"
"I don't have any coins left."
"Neither do I…"
The gang leader, a skinny boy with a dirty face, said harshly, "If you want light, Odis, you have to pay for it."
"But I got no coins…" he said on the verge of tears.
"Here, here." said Thomas, handing him a tiny white coin, a piece of pressed sugar. The boy gleefully seized it and slipped it through a makeshift slot in the broken TV. Immediately the static dispersed and a swarm of butterflies devoured the coin. The boy said, almost as if he was reciting, "Be bright, be light!" in a singsong voice, and the swarm condensed into a glowing orb that provided a radius free of shadows, the boy curled up satisfied next to it. Tom leaned back and closed his eyes, head close to an overturned cafeteria table.
They marched on, most wearing black like a parade of mourners. A few still donned tattered lab coats. They walked through the burning city, fires at every corner, and most skyscrapers mere skeletons of metal. They walked on tirelessly, relentlessly, the famous researchers and legendary scientists of the Foundation. The big names, the groundbreaking minds. There was a sadness to them, a sense that they were leaving the world, saying good bye to… something. Some held locked boxes or pulled cages, some carried folders or stacks of paper. On a particular street corner, attached to a building, a telescreen showed an authoritative looking man, a rosary around his neck, pointing and shouting directly at them. There was the constant sound of gunshots, and children peeked from shattered windows to watch the progression. Soon after passing the overturned cars and broken highways they reached a forest and weaved a path though the trees, most missing their leaves and having a sickly look, victims of the recent nuclear war. Then they came to The Complex, which was ready for them. Its giant door opened silently, and they began to enter one by one, the greatest intellects of the century, now on the run from a power that knew no bounds. Doctor Clef stepped inside, a shotgun over his shoulder, a thick scar on his face. Doctor Snorlison walked in, hesitantly, a wounded Doctor Gears over his shoulder, and stopped at the entrance, whispering, "I choose this. I will not lose the wonder that is with me every day." Doctor Rights walked in sobbing lightly, and Jack Bright put his arm around her, comforting her, saying, "The world he's creating out there isn't meant for us. The SCPs, they're our lives. Who we are. Do you really want to live a boring existence anyways?" Kain entered last, in his walker, and then stood silently for a moment, before closing the doors with his robotic arms. There was a very final thud, and then the many locks went into place.
The cafeteria at Site 17 was abuzz as large clusters of people discussed the latest and most disturbing dream, which was apparently the same for everyone. The crowd wasn't just local. A lot of researchers from other places had come to meet here too, even if just to stop by for a quick talk. Thomas and Doctor Aklaize stood next to each other, slightly overwhelmed by both the noise and the dream's revelation, which seemingly detailed every single member of the foundation, scientist, personnel, and maintenance crew alike making a sorrowful journey into The Complex. A few friends from site 34 stopped by Thomas to say hi.
"Weird isn't it?"
"I mean, for the same dream to start for everyone at the same time, a week ago…?"
Thomas froze. "A week? For us it started a mon-" his mind raced wildly, touching on the theories he had learned during his work with a prophecy research team. They had determined that messages from the future worked in three ways: either by a random scatter effect, people 'chosen' who have the best chance of stopping whatever was meant to happen (or in the worst case, to actually accidentally cause it), or they acted in manner predicted by the Thesmne-Grunbin Relativity Intensity Ripple Effect, where those most connected to the event would have the most vivid dreams and then it would then spread out becoming weaker and weaker, until a a circle could be graphed with the cause in the middle and then the signals 'rippling out'. He stepped backwards, shocked and bumped into a table. It was the same tabl-
"This is The Complex! Site 19 is the Complex!" he shouted, pointing at the ground emphatically.