The Administrator looked at a watch. Ten minutes past five, and Fritz had failed to make his appearance. It sighed. Why did they always have to make it get up after them? They were old enough to know better. Ancient skin snapped and crackled as the neck turned to see the silver, scratched watch. Another arm showed a different time, this one saying it was eleven minutes after five. His patience was at an end.
But, before it could lift itself out of the office, there was a knock at the door. A new arm reached out from the left coat pocket and opened it, brushing the dust of this new visitor's shoulders as he walked in.
"Hello, uh, Commander. Please, have an, uh, a seat." One of the ruined hands gestured to a hard wooden chair in front of The Administrator's desk.
As he walked to the seat, Fritz did his best to look at anything that wasn't The Administrator. On the walls, he noted several decorations. Among the displays were a framed shovel, several astronomical models, and a photograph of a meteor. He closed his eyes as his hands gripped the seat, trying for the longest blink of his life. Finally, he couldn't stop it any longer.
Fritz opened his eyes. Seated before him was a decrepit monstrosity, with twisted charcoal skin and sunken orange eyes. The hair, or what was left of it, was glowing a shimmering white. The limbs were twisted and gnarled, sticking stiffly and uselessly from the main body. Surrounding it was a steel mesh, which held it inside a large overcoat. The coat of many arms.
Now, I'm positive that, uh, that you know why I've called you in here.
Fritz tried to open his mouth and explain himself, but the very instrument of speech seemed to have abandoned him. From his dry, nerve-wracked throat, all he could manage was a low cough.
… Well, uh, to review, the incident which occurred under your watch… resulting in the deaths of several major, uh, important researchers, and, uh, catastrophic damages. What… what do you have to say for yourself, Fritz?
Fritz looked down. There was nothing for him to say.
A blacked, pus-dripping arm, as thin as an olive branch, unfurled from its collar, and slowly stretched until it came to a filing cabinet located on the western wall of this office. Opening it, it rustled through some papers, until it came up with a file. Curling back into the coat, it dropped the file on the desk.
Now, Fritz, we've, uh, reviewed your personnel file. Due to the extra amount of time you've spent with the, uh, SCP-085 object, and the multiple reports from your late subordinate, Lieutenant Masipag, who, uh, who complained about the time you spent… testing. We've interviewed Cassie, and determined the nature of the testing.
Ten full seconds passed, and neither man nor being spoke.
And, uh, so… due to high crimes and misdemeanors against the Foundation's mission, including gross negligence and inappropriate usage of an anomalous object, you are sentenced to die. This will be carried out at high noon, uh, tomorrow.
Fritz froze in his seat. All around him, the room seemed to be compressing in on itself. This couldn't be happening. This was wrong. Impossible. The words echoed in his mind, shoving every other thought to the far reaches of his mind, until only the sobering and tombstone-still realization thundered through his shattered thoughts, like a final cavalry charge through a demented thought. He was finished.
"B-but sir, surely this is an.. overreaction? I don't think- I mean, surely I deserve to at least keep my life through this? Why waste another life?"
No, uh, I apologize, but this is just how things have turned out, Commander. You've caused a great deal, uh, much anguish to, er, many of our comrades, and somebody simply has to be responsible.
"But…" Fritz struggled to find the words. "What about the people who didn't prevent me from abus- from using the containment supervision to see C- SCP-085?"
The Administrator's body did not hold even a single withered hope. No pity, or remorse, or sadness could be detected from his rasping tone.
You seem to, uh, appear to be having difficulty with your phrasing, Commander.
Fritz opened his mouth once more, but words failed.
Maybe, uh, perhaps, or, even if what you say is true, it doesn't matter, Commander. You are still, uh, the primary bearer of responsibility. I'm afraid it's, uh, time to face the music, so to speak.
Before Fritz could utter another word, there was a creaking behind him. Two men, in identical, brown and gray uniforms stepped inside. Wordlessly, they hoisted him up by his arms, and began the long escort to the brig.
I shall, uh, be sending somebody down in around an hour, Commander, if you require anything further. Good day, to, uh, you.
The doors slammed shut, and a stuffed silence permeated the air.
From his overcoat, a long arm emerged, crossing itself in front of him.
Yes, yes, but, uh, being callous, it's better than having to empathize with a man like him. He was going to come down this road eventually.
It twisted, snapping skin and ligaments as it curled around his infantile form.
I'm sorry it had to be so explosive, too. I suppose, I suppose this is just how it happens, sometimes.
The arms moved in assent, nestling below him and cradling him. He would need his rest.
When the universe demands the absurd and impossible, we shall be there to stand and protect the rest of humanity…
Without another word, his ruined eyelids shut, and he was at peace.