"Jesus, the food is getting worse by the day," Agent Lee said.
"Tell me about it," Agent Eastman said. "I think this is another immortal-lizard sandwich. And from the taste…" Eastman took a bite. "…I'd say this was removed with a leaky blowtorch. From the dark-meat side."
Lee chuckled. You had to bitch about the food when you couldn't deal with whatever else was wrong. "So who else is coming to this bountiful feast? Allen's got lunch right now, doesn't he?"
"Yeah, Allen should be here any minute. Milton shouldn't be far…oh, shit. Never mind." Eastman looked down darkly.
"Yeah. He caught it yesterday." Lee leaned forward and whispered, "He had an errand to run…downstairs."
"Shit." Eastman took another bite. "How far down?"
"Not as far as you'd think." Lee glanced around to see if anyone was listening; he had heard that RAISA had started putting "morale officers" throughout the Site, making sure that people stayed upbeat while their friends kept disappearing. Other than the cafeteria being a bit sparser than usual, nobody seemed to be taking particular interest in them. "Barely halfway through the Keter levels."
"That's at least eight floors from the bottom of the site," Eastman said.
"The bottom of the site that we know about," Lee said. "We have to know now that there's something down there that they're not telling us."
"Obviously, we don't have to know," Eastman said, "or else we would know. I don't want any amnesiac treatments that I can avoid."
"Have you ever considered…" Lee glanced around again. "Have you ever considered that maybe we have a right to know things that our current employers might not want us to?"
Eastman blanched. Leaning forward, he whispered, "No, and neither should you. We got good fucking jobs, that just happen to be for people who like to keep secrets. And who keep secrets the Benjamin Franklin way. Y'know, 'three can keep a secret if two of them are dead'?"
"Listen," Lee whispered back, "I know you know something. I know there're some people who have…who have a different idea about what people like us should know. Especially when it's our asses on the line."
"Our asses are always on the line," Eastman said. "What the fuck does it matter if we get our neck snapped by a statue, or stuck in a desert behind a mirror, or if we just…disappear? Dead is dead. And for all we know, O5 could be sending a team down to the basement as we speak. I don't get paid to think. I get paid to shoot shit."
Lee sighed. "There's a big difference between an assigned job, a posting, where they tell you what you're getting into, give you a fighting chance to make it back, and a big-ass death trap in the basement of Site 19. Something powerful enough to shut down security cameras, unlock doors, make one of us disappear, without letting us shoot back. I've talked to some people who checked out the scene of the disappearance, okay? No signs of struggle. No bullet holes, no scrapes, no blood, nothing. People just vanishing into midair. And yeah, that scares the shit out of me.
Eastman looked at Lee for a long time. "You're sure this is what you wanna do? Risks or no?"
"Okay. Come with me." Eastman checked his Grayberry. "My phone says we have an hour before anyone comes looking for us. If you want to do this, now's the time."
"You sure you want to have your Foundation phone on you when we're about to…to do this?"
"It'd be more suspicious if we didn't carry them. I've got the tracker off, though. You might want to do the same."
"You can turn it off?" Lee was shocked.
"Yeah, give me yours." Lee handed it over to Eastman, who put an SD chip in the back and handed it back. Lee looked at the screen, which showed a skull-and-crossbones logo with the words "I SOLEMNLY SWEAR I AM UP TO NO GOOD" below it.
"You ready for this? There's no going back now," Eastman said.
"Absolutely," Lee said.
They walked to the nearest elevator. Eastman pushed a series of buttons, and the elevator began to move.
"Okay," he said to Lee, "here's what we know. There's an SCP that doesn't have a number, something that isn't supposed to be here. Some people have been having some strange dreams, the same one, about a room at the bottom of Site 19."
"Yeah, I had one a couple of nights ago," Lee said.
Eastman looked at him. "What did you see?"
"Just weird shit. I was sitting in a chair looking at a table with some ice on it. Some part of me knew that I was in the basement of Site 19, even though nothing around me looked like it. It was hot in the room, so hot, but the ice didn't melt. I know there was something goddamn strange about the ice not melting. It wasn't dream physics, even the dream version of me knew something unnatural going on. I just kept staring at the ice, for minutes at a time. Suddenly, I had the oddest feeling."
"Like there was something very important happening behind you, right?" Eastman looked at him with a sort of desperate tone to his voice. "Like something was about to happen behind you that you had to see?"
"Wait, you had it too?''
"Similar," Eastman said. "Except it wasn't ice. It was one of those Newton's cradles, the little toy with the balls that just tap-tap-tap back and forth. I never saw anyone touch the thing, but it just kept going. Suddenly, I saw a man in a suit, someone I didn't recognize, standing right behind the thing. He put these two wooden blocks on either side of it, just to where the balls would touch them before rolling back down. He stood there and stared right into my eyes while I watched the cradle. It felt like hours before I realized what he wanted me to notice."
"It didn't slow down," Lee said. "It never slowed down. It just kept going on its own. Forever."
"What did you see behind you?" Eastman asked. "What was happening in the room behind you?"
"Hollis was there." Lee was now staring directly into space, barely focusing. "Hollis was arguing with someone."
"Holzman. It was Holzman." Eastman's trance was identical to Lee's.
"I know it was Holzman and Hollis, and they were fighting over the reverser."
"The numberless SCP." A dinging sound snapped Eastman out of his reverie. "C'mon, Lee. We're here." He shook his companion to wake him.
Lee shook his head to clear it. "Right, right." They walked out of the elevator.
There was a single, small room. Maps and notes covered the walls. Lee looked at some of the notes. Research failed to create an environment…entropy increased…it
SCP…not only decreases but reverses
All events will tend towards order.
an endless unstoppable fuel source for the ultimate engine of destruction. And if not that, then what? Men living forever
"This is what we know," Eastman said.
"Where are we exactly?" Lee asked.
"A little ways down. Why?"
"Down, as in…towards the basement?"
"Nobody's been lost this high up yet. It shouldn't be a threat." Eastman shrugged. "Why do you ask?"
"Because I think I get how people disappear without a trace," Lee said, turning his back.
Lee snapped around, his service pistol in his hand, and shot Eastman once directly in the head. Lee's accuracy with guns had never been so great before, but now, he knew he could do anything. The Reverser would tell him what to do. It was so smart.
"They walked downstairs," Lee said to no one in particular. Eastman's body lay on the floor. He was not bleeding. Lee walked over and stood over the body.
"The radiation will keep you from actually dying, but the bullet will keep you immobile. You'll keep dying, but you'll never actually die. Thank you for your help."
Lee turned and walked back to the elevator, punching a different series of buttons to go further down. As the doors closed, he heard Eastman moan.
"Don't worry, buddy," Lee said. "I'll leave the door open for you."