SCP-4000: To Lose One's Soul
rating: +91+x
chapel.jpg

A chapel in Dzibilchaltun, believed to have been damaged by entities associated with SCP-4000

Item #: SCP-4000

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: The area around SCP-4000 has been disguised as an archaeological dig site, and is to be monitored by an approved Foundation security contractor. Persons attempting to breach the containment area are to be detained and questioned before release.

Description: SCP-4000 is the mummified corpse of Cristóbal Bazán, who was killed by one or more hostile ontokinetic entities on January 21, 1610 in the town of Dzibilchaltun, Yucatán, Mexico. SCP-4000 lies at the center of a two-meter-radius crater on the outskirts of the town, and has proven resistant to all efforts to move or damage it. Pickaxes, drills, and explosives have failed to puncture or damage SCP-4000, and it has resisted up to 900 kilonewtons of lateral force. Owing to its low containment priority and minimal risk of breach, no further attempts to move or damage SCP-4000 are scheduled at this time. Additionally, SCP-4000 maintains a consistent temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, regardless of local air temperature.

At the time of his death, Cristóbal Bazán was the slave of Regidor Juan Carlos de Palencia, and is believed to have been killed while contacting one or more hostile ontokinetic entities as part of an escape attempt. Recovered fragments from Bazán's personal journal, and other accounts from citizens of Dzibilchaltun, have been transcribed and translated below by Dr. Costanza Dias de Mérida.

Journal of Cristóbal Bazán, 1/10/1610

Blessed Mary, Mother of God, please have mercy on my body and my soul.

Señor de Palencia beat me again today, worse than any beating I have yet received in my long life in New Spain. He began with his fists, then used the lash once his fists grew tired. He rent my flesh with it, and with each blow I swore on Your name that the pain could not become more intense. He beat me until I thought I would die, but my wretched body clung to life all the same. He beat me until I could not move, and left me there to bleed in the dust until Catalina came to drag my lifeless body back to our cabin. Would that she had not returned to me, and let the flies consume me. That would have been a fate preferable to mine.

After dinner, as I was preparing to go to bed, Luis the farmhand stumbled through my door. I could tell by the bruises on his head and neck that Señor had not stopped with me. I bade him sit beside me, and he spoke in hushed tones of a friend he knew from Córdoba who had managed to escape his master. Luis told me that if Señor ever beat me like that again, there were words I could say that would grant me a brief freedom from his wrath.

Reniego de dios. I almost struck him then and there. Denounce God! If my body had not been weak with pain, I would have left the house. Luis saw my anger, and explained.

If I said those cursed words, I would be committing blasphemy. A crime against God, but also against the Church. I would be hauled before the Inquisition, a full day's ride away from my home in Dzibilchaltun. A blessed respite! And, Luis said, if I convinced them that Señor's abuse would damn my soul by forcing me to truly denounce God, they could transfer me to another master. Freedom! Relief! And all I had to do was publicly blaspheme my blessed Savior. The choice sits in my breast like an iron weight. For His sake, may I never again suffer such cruelty. May God grant me the strength to bear my beatings with courage.

Journal of Cristóbal Bazán, 1/12/1610

Holy Mary, protector of the innocent, forgive my soul for what I have done.

I promised myself I would never succumb. For You, Mary, I held my wretched tongue through the lash and the whip. I told myself, as my wounds burned in the scorching sun, that I would sooner die than forsake Your name.

But today, Señor's lash cut me deep. Today, Señor poured pitch in my wounds. My hands falter, my ink spills. Today, as my veins ran red with fire and tar, I cried out those cursed words that I shall not deign to write again for fear of eternal damnation. May God strike me down for what I have done.

But Luis was right. I have been taken to Mérida, where I stand trial for blasphemy against God. My cell is cold. My wounds ache, and my heart aches more for my Catalina. But for now, I am free from Señor and his wrath. For a few blessed days, my body can rest.

May God have mercy on my sinful soul. May His grace enfold me.

Journal of Cristóbal Bazán, 1/14/1610

Loving Mary, guardian of the faithful, pray for me.

I begged the Inquisitors not to send me back. I told them that my master's wrath was so powerful that it would make any Christian denounce his faith in God. My body will heal, I said, but my soul might be doomed forever. All the while, I told myself that I would come back for my Catalina, that I would not be deserting her for good.

That was a damned lie. Perhaps I am lucky that they denied me. I am to spend a day praying for mercy at the cathedral here, and then I am to return. To Señor, to the lash and the chain and the fields, but also to my Catalina. Perhaps I can stay for her.

Someone is coming.


An Inquisitor. Pablo Dias de Mérida. I knew not what he wanted with me. He entered my cell just as I was hiding my journal, and I was sure he had seen me. But he came and knelt before me.

He looked into my eyes and begged for my forgiveness. When he was young, he loved a mulatta, a young woman with rich brown skin like mine, and she had been killed for it. She had been beaten and tormented just as I had, but her fragile body could not bear it. He told me that my testimony had taken him back to that awful moment in the fields outside Villahermosa where his love was martyred, and that he saw in my eyes the same agony he had seen in hers. He stood silently for a long while, then reached into his robe and produced a small, tattered journal. He said it had been confiscated from a witch in Campeche, and that he was entrusting me with the power it contained. He told me that in my hour of greatest need, it would grant me my freedom.

He told me that he knew I had the courage to do what had to be done.

The journal is empty, save for a list of materials and a short poem.1 I assume I am to gather the materials and recite the incantation. This does not sit well with me. Witchcraft is itself a form of blasphemy. I shudder at the thought.

I will keep the journal. If nothing else, I cannot leave it in my cell.

Journal of Cristóbal Bazán, 1/15/1610

Señor de Palencia is afraid of me now. I left my cabin late this evening to see him beating one of the stable-boys, a zambo by the name of Miguel. He was using a horse-whip to tear into his skin. The boy couldn't have been older than ten. He did not break eye contact with me as he brought the lash down. I have brought the boy back to my cabin. Catalina is pouring soup down his throat. Truly, she is an angel come to Earth.

I remember the first time Catalina nursed me back to health. We must have been fifteen. I had fallen asleep in the hayloft, and Señor's father had cut my back into ribbons as punishment. She fed me soup from a gourd and washed my wounds with clean water. Señor brought her back to his house later that night, and I slept the most comfortable sleep of my short life, belly full of soup and heart full of love. I will never know the torments Catalina suffered at Señor's hands as I slumbered in her cabin. I have no doubt that she knew mine ten times over.

I returned to the site of the beating and collected a bloody scrap of fabric from the boy's clothes. It is the first item on the Inquisitor's list. If Señor thinks this will scare me, he is wrong. Miguel is brave, and he will be well soon.

Journal of Cristóbal Bazán, 1/18/1610

Blood of the broken, taken from the boy last week.

Flesh of the weak. One of Señor's hunting dogs has grown ill. I have retrieved its paw. Stupid cur.

Teeth of the faithful. I know not where to get these.

Heart of the cruel. I will save this until I need it most.

The pitch hardly burns anymore. My skin has been seared to the texture of bark. My flesh crawls with the scars of my torment. I have experienced pain beyond pain, suffering beyond suffering, fear beyond fear. I read the witch's journal every night and picture the darkness within it. With every lash, my temptation grows stronger.

Merciful Mary, blessed among women, grant me the strength to keep my faith. May I never denouce Your name through the wretched sin of witchcraft. If I should stoop so low as to defile You through this most detestable act, may my soul forever be damned.

Journal of Cristóbal Bazán, 1/20/1610

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and in the name of the Virgin Mary, I pray.

Protect us from the wrath of our masters. Heal Miguel's body, and Catalina's soul. Grant Luis the wisdom to know when to hold his tongue around Señor, and grant me the will to protect them all from harm.

I know that in my weakness I am unworthy of You, O God, and I know that only in Your infinite grace am I saved. Glory to You, and to Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, and to the blessed Virgin Mary, forever and ever.


Excerpt from the Inquisition of Catalina Rodríguez, 1/24/1610

…Señor had beaten him bloody, torn his flesh with the whip as I had seen him do so many countless times before. Cristóbal was on the ground, face-down, and Señor picked him up by the hair. He bade one of the boys fetch him a hot poker from the fire, and he pried my Cristóbal's mouth open, and he thrust the poker through his teeth. I heard the hiss of Cristóbal's flesh, and his screams, and Señor's heavy breathing, and I still hear them now, as sure as I am standing before you. I tell you now I have never seen such wanton cruelty. My Cristóbal… Señor ripped the poker out from his mouth, and Cristóbal's front teeth scattered in the dirt, and I was sure he would die. I was sure Señor would strike him over the head with the poker, and he would die.

But Cristóbal, my Cristóbal, reached into his belt, and pulled out a small object wrapped in a bloody cloth. He scrambled to pick up the fragments of his teeth that were strewn about the dirt, and he clutched them to his breast as blood poured from his mouth. He whispered something… I know not what. And I saw his eyes. They were not the eyes of my Cristóbal, Inquisitor. He whispered a few short words through his bloody mouth and broken teeth, and I felt the air around me grow cold. I rushed over to Cristóbal and grabbed him by the shoulders, begging him to stop whatever he was doing, to come back to me.

Then I noticed Señor.

He had fallen to the ground, clutching his breast. I saw his veins turn black, his eyes bulge. He opened his mouth to scream, and a thick cloud of black smoke poured from it. All this time I was begging at the lap of my Cristóbal to stop this madness, to denounce whatever evil he had beckoned into the world. But Cristóbal was silent. He did not acknowledge me. And by that point, it was too late.


Excerpt from the Inquisition of Luis Pérez, 1/23/1610

The demon—I call it that, for it can only have been such—stood about three meters high. Its body was black as night, and its flesh rippled and shone like water. It seemed to pour out of Señor de Palencia's mouth like a plume of smoke. I almost felt bad. In the center of the rippling body, there was an eye—a single eye, easily the size of a small child, scanning and staring and beaming out at the landscape around us.

I felt my every muscle freeze, though I must have been sixty meters away. I have never felt such terror. The air was colder than ice. I swear to you, Cristó summoned the devil that day. Whatever that thing was… I know it was the devil himself. And I know who I thank for the fact that I am alive to tell it.


Excerpt from the Inquisition of Catalina Rodríguez, 1/24/1610

That was when the thing began to speak. I did not hear it with my ears, but with my heart. And it spoke no words; the beast spoke truest terror into my very soul. But it was not speaking to me.

It was speaking to my Cristóbal.

It told him of vengeance, Inquisitor. Unfathomable vengeance. Vengeance for every lash, every beating, every act of brutality, not just against Cristóbal but against every mulatto in New Spain. It promised him vengeance a hundredfold, a thousandfold, unending vengeance for every man, woman, and child Señor and his kind had hurt. And I saw in Cristóbal's eyes the pain he had suffered. I saw that it was not just his pain, but my pain, and Miguel's pain, and the pain of every slave in every colony in the New World. And all he had to do was surrender. All he had to do was lose his soul, and the pain would be gone.


Excerpt from the Inquisition of Luis Pérez, 1/23/1610

And the images in my mind—of whips, and beatings, and fire, and revenge—kept coming. I'm no stranger to that, mind you, but my head was starting to spin. I could hear some of the children screaming over by the farmhouse, and that was when I saw her.

Above the demon, wreathed in light, a woman, arms outstretched and eyes closed in prayer. She had on a simple robe, and her face betrayed no fear. Everyone else saw her, too, shining above the abomination with perfect serenity. The Virgin Mary.

Blessed Mary, Mother of God! If I had been able to move, I would have fallen to my knees in reverence, your honor. Here, in the middle of this violence and death and darkness, none other than She was able to intercede. None other than She could have saved us that day.


Excerpt from the Inquisition of Catalina Rodríguez, 1/24/1610

Suddenly, the pictures faded. The Virgin Mary appeared before us, and the death and fear and vengeance gave way in Her presence. I was blinded by Her light, and saw in its infinite wonder the gates of Heaven. And a choir of angels rang out in the light, and they sang:

Bienaventurados los pobres en espíritu, pues de ellos es el reino de los cielos.
Bienaventurados los que lloran, pues ellos serán consolados.
Bienaventurados los humildes, pues ellos heredarán la tierra.
Bienaventurados los que tienen hambre y sed de justicia, pues ellos serán saciados.
Bienaventurados los misericordiosos, pues ellos recibirán misericordia.
Bienaventurados los de limpio corazón, pues ellos verán a Dios.
Bienaventurados los que procuran la paz, pues ellos serán llamados hijos de Dios.

And I looked into the eyes of my Cristóbal, and I saw that he had heard them too. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

I saw him rise up from the dirt and make the sign of the cross with his fingers, and I heard the demon roar. It struck him like a serpent, and its watery flesh enveloped his body, and then there was a blinding flash of light.

And my Cristóbal was no more.

Thanks be to God, for I know his soul is in heaven. I know he is with God now, and I know that we were saved through the mercy of Christ in him.

Please, I am tired. Give me a drink and let me rest.


Excerpt from the Inquisition of Luis Pérez, 1/23/1610

We wrapped his body in cloth and said his last rites. Diego de Palencia is our master now. He is nothing like his father—but give him time.

We no longer speak of what happened that day outside the farmhouse. But we will speak of Cristó, now and forever. We will speak of his final act of mercy. We know that no cruelty can last.

Bienaventurados aquellos que han sido perseguidos por causa de la justicia, pues de ellos es el reino de los cielos.

Amen.

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