The muffled sound reminded her of fireworks. A dull "boom, boom" in the distance that echoed over the landscape. She was half-asleep when it happened, before her phone rang. Groaning, she rolled over, vaguely noting that her husband wasn't in bed, and placed it to her ear.
"H'lo?" She grumbled, musing over the cottony mouth she got from sleeping. Gears' voice answered, dead as always.
"Doctor Rights, we are requesting that you return to Site 17 for immediate safehouse procedure Gamma-Phi-18."
Her brain sluggishly tried to recall what the hell that was. There was a long silence. Fireworks again. Finally, he repeated himself, monotone.
"Gather your family, and come to work." He hung up.
Was this a weird dream? She looked at the clock. 4:15. Nope, just really goddamn early. And who the fuck was shooting off fireworks? The dull booming was constant, now, and she struggled to get up and pull on sweatpants, making her way downstairs. The TV was on, her husband before it, and she went to put a hand on his shoulder.
"Christopher, hey." She squeezed his shoulder. He didn't look up from the TV. She glanced at it, and froze, instantly awake. It was the local news channel, video of brilliant white fireworks in the sky. The camera panned down, to where the reporter, in a panic, was gesturing and shouting to a perfectly whitewashed sculpture of a human being, frozen in mid-run. It could have been a statue, were it not for the impossible detail. And the many other white-coated items in view. A house, cars, a bird in mid-flight.
She hauled Christopher to his feet, snapping him out of his stupor. "Get the kids!" She barked, in his face, and he stared at her.
"We….we should stay inside."
"Nope!" She released him, and motioned to the kids' rooms, turning to the door. She had to get the car started, dashing upstairs to grab her phone and keys, returning downstairs just as the cries of an interrupted toddler started to go through the house. Christopher stepped out, carrying the little boy, and she nodded to him, hustling to the garage. She waited in the car, checking her phone again. Low signal. Finally, he stepped into the garage, carting the still-bawling toddler and a frightened five-year-old girl behind him.
"Ophelia, you get in the front seat. You're riding like a big girl for this!" She shouted out the window, and the girl perked up, a bit, hurrying around. "Christopher, get in the back. You can put Chester in while we're moving." He nodded, and did so, frowning at his wife.
"…I promise, I'll explain later," she said, softly, making sure Ophelia was buckled in and Christopher was getting the boy into his carseat before pulling out of the garage. Outside, the neighborhood was a mixture of panic and reserve. Most people were hiding inside. Some, though…were out, sitting on rooftops, standing in yards, frantically packing cars.
The second she heard Chester's restraint belt click into place, she floored it, steering the family van wildly around people and cars alike in the street. They came across a massive white splatter on the street, and she curved around it. Out of the neighborhood, out of the suburbs…into the surrounding fields.
The little boy fell back asleep. Christopher and Ophelia stared out the windows, uncertain and horrified. There were white items everywhere, splatters over cornfields, perfectly preserved white trees. A few people, here and there, cars, stopped in the street, the people inside frozen perfectly.
Rights tried not to look, until she barreled through the gates of the compound, slowing only to roll down the window so the guard could see her. He waved her through, and she pulled into the parking lot, where several others were waiting, being led in. There weren't that many, actually, when she looked over it. Only a dozen or so, but there were several white splatters on the asphalt, a handful of white cars…
She skidded to a stop. "Get the kids out!" She shouted at Christopher, hopping out and looking around, finding herself face to face with Gears. He looked at her impassively, and checked her name off of a list. "What the fuck is going on?!"
"We believe SCP-7843-1 either breached containment, or was released by a hostile group."
Dr. Rights gestured emphatically in the arm, trying to work up words, though now her lack of sleep and preparation were catching up to her. Christopher called from behind her.
"One moment!" She shouted back. He must've been struggling with the child restraint, still. Ophelia opened the car door and sat there, legs swinging, looking around uncomfortably. Rights glanced at them, then back to Gears, wincing as several of the booming sounds grew louder, then faded again. She looked up, the white fireworks were starting to leave cracks in the sky, she could see them in the distance. Like cracks on a windshield, centered and spreading.
"Please make your way inside, to the designated shelter areas," Gears said. Rights glared at him.
"What are we doing?"
"I am not certain what you mean by this question."
"This is nationwide, isn't it? Worldwide? What the god damn hell are we doing about this?!"
"Mom! Mom!" Ophelia shouted, upset.
"…There will be a controlled release of SCP-7778 into the upper atmosphere, once the satellites reach optimum height." She stared. "This will occur in thirty-seven minutes, approximately. Please retrieve your family and-"
He didn't finish his sentence, and she almost didn't see him react, so focused she was on his impassive, unmoving face, when his hand fisted in her shirt, and dragged her forwards, roughly. She hit the ground at his feet, hard, and cursed, tensing as she saw white splatter here and there, meters away but still too close. A scream was cut off, and she saw one of the splatters hit another researcher, and in a moment he was nothing, a blank white statue of himself, in mid-stride, his coat billowing behind him.
Gears looked behind her.
She didn't hear anything.
She got to her feet slowly, taking in a very, very deep breath.
"Doctor Rights, please go indoors."
"…" She stared at him. The remaining few in the parking lot were bolting their way inside.
"…Please go indoors, to the designated shelter area. Do not turn around."
She didn't listen, and turned on her heel. The white had hit the van head-on, and it, and the short area surrounding it, were completely washed. Inside the open doors, she could see Christopher, hunched over Chester's peacefully sleeping face, his hands locked in mid-struggle with a twisted belt. Ophelia's mouth was open, mid-yell, brows low and fingers gripping the edge of her seat with concern.
Every last detail of them, down to their eyelashes, perfectly preserved, and washed white.
She was not entirely certain what happened next, other than that it was exceedingly rough, and she knew bruises were going to form on her arm where he grabbed her and hauled her inside, ignoring her kicks and screams. It wasn't until she was flung onto a couch that her thoughts seemed to catch up to her, and she decided to stop screaming and fighting and start curling up and crying. Going through the emotional training was not anything like the real thing, she thought in the back of her mind.
A quarter-hour passed, and she felt good enough to sit up and look around. One of the lower lounges, re-purposed. The doors were shut, and there were a few dozen individuals waiting around.
"…Where is everybody?"
"There are nineteen designated safety areas for staff in Site 17." Gears was sitting next to her, looking over a checklist. She stole a glance and rubbed her bleary eyes. Names. Very few of them were checked off.
"What about the skips?"
"SCP Containment is self-sealed under Emergency Protocols. They should remain unaffected, as us."
She sat back against the couch, going over every question in her mind, trying to pick the important ones.
"…When is the reset set for?"
"The first instance of SCP-7843-1 was detected at Midnight, Central Time. The reset is set to return to one minute before the first detonation occurred, and the phenomenon became self-propagating."
She forgot her questions, and another jag of crying hit her. A few of the other researchers looked at her with mixtures of pity and empathy. She caught her breath, and Gears handed her a pen.
"…What's this for?"
"Do you remember the report you submitted while applying for your current position? It was about the possibility for physical evidence to remain after preternaturally memetic or reality-altering events." She stared at him, blankly, as he stood and pulled more pens from his pocket, handing them out around the room. "We are presented with a unique opportunity here, to retain information of an information-erasure event. While the Foundation already has pre-set means to record these hours, this will serve as a baseline test for the possibility of personal information retention."
Everybody else seemed to get it at once, with a collective series of "oh"s and "ah"s and "this is retarded"s.
Rights looked down at her hands.
"There are four to five minutes remaining until SCP-7778's release. Please take this opportunity to manufacture evidence." Gears announced, and sat back down, all out of pens, looking over his sheet again.
Rights stared at her bare arms, still in her pajama top. She looked up. One researcher was frantically scrawling on the walls, another was opening magazines and writing inside of them, on every page, methodically and quick. One of them started writing on the inside of his labcoat. She looked at her arms again…and began to write.
Over the next several minutes, many things happened. Most importantly, though, the walls began to fade. They could be seen through, and before long they could see all the way to other saferooms. There was some waving and gesturing back and forth. She looked down, between her feet, and saw SCPs peering back up at her. The furniture went next. Some items were retaining, but many things, including the edge of Rights' slippers, were started to fade as well.
She kept writing, they all did. There was little else to do. Dr. Gears' list disappeared out of his hands, and he sat there, eyes closed, arms at his side like a puppet with no strings. Finally, Rights ran out of important things to write. She had started at the elbow of her left arm, and extended down to the back of her hand, with her tiny, neat handwriting. Names, dates, appearances…
"Hey, Gears?," Rights asked, looking down at her feet. Her ankles faded, revealing yellow fat and red muscle beneath. Her toes, just rapidly-fading bones, flexed. So weird.
He didn't look at her, but opened his eyes.
"…what about you?"
"Erasure events typically use manipulation of the emotional connection with memories to alter an individual's perception of events, rather than manipulating the events themselves."
"Ah…so…will you be affected?"
"In the case of an erasure event, I often am not. Other times, I am. It is variable."
She sat back. Wait.
"Has this happened before?," she asked, suddenly.
She stared at the ceiling. Maybe it would be okay.
"One minute." He said. Everybody sat down, tired…and waited.
It was the longest sixty seconds in the whole of her existence. Everything was fading to white. She couldn't feel her arms anymore, and when she glanced down, they were gone. The tip of her nose disappeared. She saw another researcher, fading faster, reduced down to bones and nerves and a cluster of half-there organs, before he vanished altogether.
She closed her eyes.
The darkness itself faded to white.
GOOD MORNING. DO DOO DOOO…BUH BA BOP BAH BA DA DA DA DA BA- GOOD MORNING! DO DOO DOOO…BUH BA BOP BAH BA DA DA-
She flopped her arm to the bedside table like it was a dying fish, and managed to knock her alarm clock out of reach before she finally rolled across the empty bed and reached it, jamming on the off button violently. With a soft groan, she checked the time. 5:31.
It took considerable effort to get out of bed that morning. Every thought seemed to drag like concrete, every movement ached. She stumbled to the shower, and winced at herself in the mirror after turning on the water. It was only after she stuck her hand under the flow to test the temperature that she noticed the smeared ink rapidly washing off her skin, and quickly pulled her arm back. Weird, had she been writing on herself in her sleep? She looked over the remaining words, smudged from sweat and sleep.
"…Ophelia, November 1st, five years old, brown ha….hair? Is that hair?" She read and mused aloud, squinting. "Huh…okay, more…uhm…Topher…October 24, oh, well, that's easy." Her brain chugged to life. She heard her husband stir in the bedroom, and groan, rolling over in his sleep. As if on cue, she could hear her daughter darting around the hallway downstairs, to the TV. Weekend! Time for cartoons!
After several minutes of squinting, she realized that there was nothing else decipherable on her arm. Why had she been writing about her husband and kid? There were only other words that didn't make sense. Daysitting? No, Ophelia was in kindergarten…Blonde? No, everybody was Brunette.
She shook her head. Probably not important, she rationalized, shuffling into the shower and scrubbing her arm clean. The rest of the morning went featurelessly. She complained to Christopher that the toddler bed was still set up in Ophelia's old room, now relegated to storage, and he asked her why there was a box of diapers in the closet. They didn't think about it.
She didn't think about it until she arrived at work, smiling at the guard as she pulled through the gate leisurely. The only thing odd about the day was when they called for a meeting and announced that SCP-7778 had been released last night, and to report any suspicious behavior or items found, as they could be classified as evidence.
She was glad she must've slept through that. Sounded like a real clusterfuck.